Dec 19, 2017

EPA cuts ties with Republican media-tracking firm

Headquarters of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 2013. Photo: Matt McClain / The Washington Post via Getty Images.

The Environmental Protection Agency has terminated a $120,000 contract with Definers Public Affairs, a Republican media-tracking and opposition-research firm, according to a Washington Post report. "How we consume the news has changed...and we hope to find a vendor that can provide us with real-time news clips at a rate that is cheaper than our previous vendor," said EPA spokesman Jahan Wilcox.

Why it matters: The contract between the EPA and Definers was first reported on by Mother Jones; the New York Times later reported that the VP of Definers had filed "at least 40 Freedom of Information Act requests to the EPA," and that many regarded "employees known to be questioning management" since EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt's confirmation. President of the firm, Joe Pounder, said in a statement to the Post that the Definers wouldn't offer its services to government agencies.

Go deeper

Israeli election: Netanyahu has momentum despite corruption case

Netanyahu campaigns with a friend behind him. Photo: Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu enters Israel's third elections in 10 months with momentum — and with his corruption trial looming just two weeks after the vote.

Why it matters: Israeli politics have been deadlocked for nearly a year as Netanyahu and his centrist rival, Benny Gantz, grapple for power. Monday's vote could provide the breakthrough, or set Israel on course for yet another election.

Go deeperArrow11 mins ago - World

Democrats lay out demands for coronavirus funding

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer released a joint statement Thursday outlining their demands for coronavirus funding, including a guarantee that the eventual vaccine is affordable.

The big picture: Pelosi criticized the Trump administration's response to the coronavirus outbreak, calling it "chaotic" and chiding President Trump for "name-calling" and "playing politics." She added at a press conference that bipartisan congressional leaders are nearing an agreement on emergency funding.

Coronavirus updates: Japan closes schools and Saudi Arabia bans holy site visits

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens.

The novel coronavirus is now affecting every continent but Antarctica and the WHO said Wednesday the number of new cases reported outside China has exceeded those inside the country for the first time.

The big picture: COVID-19 has killed more than 2,800 people and infected over 82,000 others in some 50 countries and territories. As Denmark and Estonia reported their first cases Thursday, Scott Morrison, prime minister of Australia — which has 23 confirmed infections — told a news conference, "The risk of a global pandemic is very much upon us."

Go deeperArrowUpdated 2 hours ago - Health