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Analysis, background reports and updates from the PBS NewsHour putting today's news in context.

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    A woman, suffering from Alzheimer's desease, walks in a corridor on March 18, 2011 in a retirement house in Angervilliers, eastern France. AFP PHOTO / SEBASTIEN BOZON (Photo credit should read SEBASTIEN BOZON/AFP/Getty Images)

    A woman suffering from Alzheimer’s disease walks down a hallway. Photo by SEBASTIEN BOZON/AFP/Getty Images

    It is fitting that a disease of forgetting is named for a person who is all but forgotten.

    Wednesday marks the 153rd birthday of Alois Alzheimer, the German psychiatrist who is often credited for first describing the clinical and micro-anatomic features of a brain disease that steals the memories of millions of people each year.

    There are, of course, many causes of dementia, a term derived from the Latin word, ‘demens,’ which means “without mind.” (The prefix ‘de’ connotes “off” or “not” and the noun ‘mens’ refers to the mind).

    WATCH: This is what Alzheimer’s looks like: ‘It looks like me’

    Most commonly described among the elderly, the devastating loss of memory and other cognitive functions associated with dementia can result from traumatic injuries to the head and brain, cerebro-vascular events, or strokes, untreated metabolic and endocrine diseases, and many other maladies.

    For centuries, doctors had no clue as to the cause or causes of dementia. Even when autopsies were conducted at various points of history, brain analyses were not always performed and when they were, poorly understood. By the mid-nineteenth century, however, more and more scientists began to search for the anatomical seat of specific diseases and this was especially so with the pathology of many entities all lumped together under the term “senile dementia.”

    Photo of Alois Alzheimer

    Photo of Alois Alzheimer

    Alois Alzheimer was born on June 14, 1864, in the German village of Marktbreit am Main, in Bavaria. The second son of a notary, he attended the Royal Humanistic Gymnasium and proceeded to focus on medicine in Berlin he studied under the famed anatomist Heinrich Wilhelm Gottfried von Waldeyer), Tübingen, and Würzburg. In 1887, Alzheimer wrote his medical school thesis on the wax-producing ceruminal glands of the ear. He took his first professional post in December of 1888 as a clinical assistant at the Municipal Asylum for the Insane and Epileptics (Städtischen Anstalt für Irre und Epileptische) in Frankfurt am Main where he toiled for 14 years. Under the tutelage of the micro-anatomist Franz Nissel, Alois mastered the difficult tasks of preparing and staining microscopic specimens of brain and nervous tissue from his deceased psychiatric patients.

    The patient who helped unlock the anatomical puzzle of Alzheimer’s disease was named Auguste Deter. She came to Dr. Alzheimer’s attention on Nov. 26, 1901, the day after she was admitted to the municipal asylum. Alois found her sitting on the bed in her room with a helpless, if not befuddled, expression on her face. Although she had enjoyed a loving marriage for over 28 years, she began experiencing changes in her personality at the age of 51, expressed as jealously towards her husband, progressive memory loss, suicidal thoughts, paranoia, shouting spells, and the fear that others might try to kill her.

    READ MORE: How Florence Nightingale cleaned up ‘hell on earth’ hospitals and became an international hero

    Confined to the asylum, Frau Deter’s health deteriorated at a dizzying pace, much to the consternation of her doctors and family members. She lost the ability to speak and spent most of her last months in bed, depressed, indifferent, and balled up in a fetal position. On April 8, 1906, a little more than a month before her 56th birthday, she died of overwhelming sepsis, believed to have been caused by a nasty bed sore expanding from her sacral spine to the left hip.

    By this time, Dr. Alzheimer was working at the Royal Psychiatric Clinic at the University of Munich. At Munich, he supervised the famed Anatomical Laboratory founded by Dr. Emil Kraepelin, who is often referred to as the father of scientific psychiatry and a strong proponent of linking psychiatry to the emerging science of neuropathology. Dr. Alzheimer joined Professor Kraepelin in 1902 when the latter was still at Heidelberg University, and then followed him to Munich in 1903.

    Alzheimer continued to monitor Deter’s disastrous progress from a distance and, after she died, he asked his colleagues in Frankfurt to send him her brain. After preparing a series of slides and studying them under the microscope, Alzheimer described the classic pathological features of the disease: a massive loss of neurons and the presence of amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles.

    Dr. Alzheimer presented his findings on Nov. 3, 1906, at a meeting of the Southwest German Psychiatrists in Tübingen. After his presentation of “a peculiar disease of the cerebral cortex,” the doctor was welcomed with a deafening silence. According to several accounts of the event, the audience exhibited far more interest in the next presentation on compulsive masturbation. The chairman of the session tried to ease the psychiatrist’s embarrassment by stating, “So then, respected colleague Alzheimer, I thank you for your remarks, clearly there is no desire for discussion.”

    Alzheimer continued to toil in relative obscurity, under the guidance of Dr. Kraepelin, before developing bacterial endocarditis, a severe infection of the heart, and dying on Dec. 19, 1915. He was only 51.

    Today, Alzheimer’s disease is the cause of some 60 to 70 percent of all cases of dementia and affects more than 30 million people around the globe. Although the majority of these people are over the age of 65, approximately 5 percent, like Frau Deter, develop the illness much earlier.

    One can only wonder if Alzheimer might have felt pride or horror at his name being so closely associated with one of the most devastating neurodegenerative disorders known to humankind.

    In the United States alone, more than 5.5 million people have Alzheimer’s disease, and every 66 seconds someone develops it. The cost to care for these patients is more than $259 billion per year. By 2050, experts predict there will be more than 16 million Americans with Alzheimer’s disease and the annual cost to care for them could be as high as $1.1 trillion. More than 15 million Americans currently provide care for people with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. In 2016, this added up to 18.2 billion hours, valued at over $230 billion. Although deaths from heart disease has decreased by 14 percent since 2000, deaths from Alzheimer’s have increased by 89 percent, making it the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. It kills more Americans than breast cancer and prostate cancer combined. Indeed, one out of 3 senior citizens dies with Alzheimer’s or another dementia.

    It is an odd quirk of the medical profession that so many physicians race to be the first to describe a particular illness. The goal, of course, is that their name might be forever linked to various wars of biological devastation taking place within the bodies of their patients. One can only wonder, on this anniversary of his birth, if Dr. Alois Alzheimer might have taken pride or experienced a deep-seated sense of horror at his name being so closely associated with one of the most devastating, and increasingly common, neurodegenerative disorders known to humankind.

    The post Dr. Alzheimer and the patient who helped reveal a devastating disease appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Artist Yoko Ono gestures before she was honored as 'Illustrious Visitor' by Mexico City's mayor Miguel Angel Mancera at Mexico City's town hall in 2016. Photo by Edgard Garrido/Reuters

    Artist Yoko Ono gestures before she was honored as ‘Illustrious Visitor’ by Mexico City’s mayor Miguel Angel Mancera at Mexico City’s town hall in 2016. Photo by Edgard Garrido/Reuters

    Forty-six years after its release, Yoko Ono will receive an official songwriting credit for the hit 1971 song “Imagine,” co-written by her husband John Lennon.

    In a 1980 BBC interview, Lennon said the song “should be credited as a Lennon-Ono song because a lot of it — the lyric and the concept — came from Yoko.” He said he received inspiration from Ono’s 1964 book “Grapefruit.”

    Ono, 84, and her son Sean Ono Lennon accepted the Centennial Song award for “Imagine” Wednesday at a National Music Publishers Association ceremony in New York, where CEO David Israelite announced that Ono will be added as a co-writer, Variety reported.

    During the event, Israelite played parts of the BBC interview with Lennon and Ono, which has the former Beatles musician explaining how his wife’s book was inspiration for the song and why she was originally left off the credits.

    “There’s a lot of pieces in it saying imagine this or imagine that,” Lennon said in the video. “I know she helped on a lot of the lyrics, but I wasn’t man enough to let her have credit for it. I was still selfish enough and unaware enough to take that contribution without acknowledging it,” he added.

    Under U.S. copyright law, a song enters the public domain 70 years after its creator dies. Lennon died in December 1980 after he was shot by Mark David Chapman in New York City. Adding Ono to “Imagine” will extend the song’s copyright by 70 years past her death. Ono is already a beneficiary of Lennon’s estate, so how royalties from the song are distributed likely will not change significantly, according to Variety.

    Yoko accepted the award in a wheelchair, noting that a recent illness provided her with a different view of the famous song.

    “This is the best time of my life,” Ono is quoted as saying as she accepted the award.

    During the award ceremony, Patti Smith sang an emotional rendition of “Imagine” with her daughter playing the piano.

    Sean Lennon said on Instagram that the event was the “proudest day of my life.”

    “When they officially acknowledged — through my father’s account — that my mother co-wrote Imagine, the song of the century, it may have been the happiest day of mine and [my] mother’s life,” Sean Lennon told Billboard magazine.

    READ MORE: Few people can name five female artists — can you?

    The post 46 years later, Yoko Ono gets songwriting credit with John Lennon for ‘Imagine’ appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Former FBI Director Comey testifies before a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing in Washington

    CNN has sued the Justice Department for copies of memos made by Former FBI Director James Comey, seen here June 8 during his testimony before a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Russia’s alleged interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election in Washington, D.C. Photo by REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst.

    WASHINGTON — CNN is suing the Justice Department for copies of fired FBI Director James Comey’s personal memos on his interactions with President Donald Trump.

    Comey prepared multiple contemporaneous memos documenting conversations with Trump that made him uneasy in the weeks before his May 9 firing.

    One memo recounts a February request from Trump, during a private meeting in the Oval Office, that Comey end an investigation into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.

    READ MORE: Important takeaways from Comey’s Senate hearing

    Details from some memos were made public in news media accounts in the days after he was fired, and Comey himself detailed his conversations with Trump at a Senate hearing last week.

    The lawsuit said CNN asked for the memos on May 16 in a Freedom of Information Act request, but said the FBI had not turned them over yet even though the Justice Department’s Office of Information had granted a request for expedited processing.

    READ MORE: What does Comey’s testimony mean for the Russia probe?

    In its complaint, CNN argues that the “urgency and national public importance” in releasing those memos is “unquestionable.”

    “As of the date of this filing, the FBI has not provided any substantive response to CNN,” says the lawsuit, which is dated Thursday. “It has not produced any of the requested records.”

    The Associated Press has requested the same records. The FBI has responded by saying that it has received that request.

    The post CNN sues Justice Department for copies of Comey’s memos on Trump appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    WASHINGTON — Republicans and Democrats fight for bragging rights Thursday in the annual Congressional Baseball game as one unit — Team Scalise.

    The opposing sides are paying tribute to Rep. Steve Scalise, the House majority whip who was critically wounded when a gunman opened fire at a Republican baseball practice in Virginia on Wednesday. Scalise was fielding balls at second base when he was hit in the hip, and sustained grievous injuries as the bullet traveled through his pelvis and injured internal organs.

    The Congressional Baseball Game will begin at 7 p.m. ET. Watch live in the player above.

    The players planned to wear some Louisiana State University gear in honor of Scalise, a graduate of the school.

    “Tonight we will go to the game, play our hardest, but we will all be Team Scalise,” House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi told reporters.

    The game, which dates to 1909 and is a summertime tradition on Capitol Hill, is a rare example of bipartisanship in an increasingly polarized Washington. Aging former Little Leaguers now in Congress don their spikes and dust off their gloves in a game played for claiming top dog status and to benefit several charities.

    The charities are the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Washington, Washington Literacy Center, the Washington Nationals Dream Foundation and, after Wednesday’s shooting, the Capitol Police Memorial Fund.


    Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, and Rep. Mike Doyle, D-Pa., managers of the two congressional baseball teams, talk Wednesday with Judy Woodruff about the shooting and the game.

    “Baseball is the American game, to be able to play it, and that’s why we have to play this game tonight,” said Rep. Roger Williams, R-Texas, who injured his ankle in the chaos Wednesday and will watch from the third-base coaching box. “It’s bipartisan, it’s a charity, for crying out loud, it’s in Washington D.C., we’ll be able to honor Scalise and those others who have hurt.”

    Once a relatively cozy affair, played at a minor league ballpark in Maryland, the game has gone big time in recent years and has been played at Nationals Park, just a few blocks from the Capitol.

    Major League Baseball Commissioner Robert D. Manfred, Jr., offered his thoughts and prayers after the shooting and endorsed the decision to play ball. He said he hoped the game would help heal emotional wounds.

    In the history of the contest, Republicans and Democrats each have won 39 games with one tie.

    The post WATCH LIVE: Congress plays baseball for charity one day after shooting appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    transgender flag, trans, trans flag

    People gather at the Equality March for Unity and Pride in Washington, D.C., on June 11, 2017. Photo by Dayana Morales Gomez

    Oregon officials voted Thursday to add a gender-neutral option on state IDs, making it the first state in the country to recognize non-binary people on their driver’s licenses.

    The unanimous decision by the Oregon Transportation Commission is the final step in a year-long process that began in June 2016, when Portland resident Jamie Shupe became the first legally non-binary person — identifying as neither male nor female — in the country.

    The option, which will be available starting July 3, will make a difference for non-binary and transgender people for whom using an ID marked “M” or “F” is inaccurate or even dangerous, advocates say.

    “I think this will make a real difference in people’s lives, and I think it is a great step for removing even more barriers,” said Amy Herzfeld-Copple, co-director of LGBTQ advocacy group Basic Rights Oregon.

    While transgender and non-binary issues have gained greater prominence around the country, only several states have addressed the issue of identification. In May, California state senators approved SB 179, which would add a non-binary option on state driver’s licenses, with a 26-12 vote. It is currently under consideration in the state’s House of Representatives.

    Herzfeld-Copple said she hopes Oregon’s decision can serve as an example for other states. “Often, really important policy changes don’t happen as the result of legislation, but as a result of working directly with agencies to remove barriers,” she said. “This will be helpful in writing a playbook for other states.”

    jamie_shupe_2

    Jamie Shupe appears at at Pioneer Courthouse Square in Portland, Oregon, on March 31, 2016, Transgender Day of Visibility. Photo courtesy of Jamie Shupe

    Shupe, who uses the pronoun “they,” was born in Maryland in 1963 and grew up there before joining the military at age 19. Having struggled with gender dysphoria for years during their military service, Shupe found community in a genderqueer support group after moving to Oregon in November 2014.

    In April 2016, Shupe petitioned the Multnomah County court for a sex change, a routine step in states that require a court order in order to change a license. But unlike other requests, Shupe asked to identify as “non-binary,” a gender that is neither male nor female.

    Shupe’s request was granted through a court order by Judge Amy Holmes Hehn. Walking out of the courtroom that day, Shupe was elated but terrified that “that this whole thing might die with me.”

    It was “a really lonely and scary feeling to be the only person … that was in possession of the court order that just broke the gender binary in this nation,” they said in an email.

    After the Oregon DMV received the court order, it began researching how to add a new option on driver’s licenses for people like Shupe. This process included creating an advisory committee with representatives from the Oregon state police, advocacy group Basic Rights Oregon, the Oregon Department of Justice and non-binary or genderqueer individuals, among others. The department decided to offer “X” as an alternative choice to “M” or “F.”

    From April 1 to May 12, the DMV held a public comment period and two hearings in Eugene and Portland. During that process, the DMV collected 83 written and oral comments, 71 of which favored making the change. DMV spokesman David House told the NewsHour in May that public feedback was “overwhelmingly positive.”

    People who supported the change told the DMV in public comments that adding the “X” option is an important step for people whose appearance does not match the marker on their ID, which can leave them vulnerable to harassment, discrimination or violence.

    “This small, significant change is about affording me and others like me the same basic dignity as those who see an “M” or an “F” on their driver’s license and feel accurately represented; to be who we are without being subjected to suspicion or ridicule,” read one comment.

    READ MORE: The complications of ID for non-binary people — and how it could change soon

    At least one comment against the change raised the concern that an ID reading “X” would make it harder for police or others to identify people. But, LGBTQ law organization Lambda Legal noted in a public comment that “there is no evidence to support arguments that making nonbinary gender markers available will negatively affect public safety.”

    Non-binary advocates have also raised the concern that IDs marked “X” could be incompatible with health care systems, housing programs and other institutions.

    Internationally, the “X” option is acceptable under United Nations aviation standards, and at least eight countries allow a third gender option on either passports or national ID cards, including Australia, Germany, New Zealand, Bangladesh and Pakistan, according to Lambda Legal. Ontario, Canada, began issuing licenses marked “X” in March. And the change will be consistent with the REAL ID Act, which requires that driver’s licenses list a sex designation but leave definitions up to states.

    Meanwhile, a small group of people in California have followed Shupe’s lead by obtaining court orders that legally identify them as non-binary. Sara Kelly Keenan became the first person in California — and the second person in the country — to do so in September. Today, about 20 people in the U.S. are legally non-binary, said Douglas Lorenz, communications director for the Intersex and Genderqueer Recognition Project, which has advised about 20 people making this change.

    READ MORE: Nation’s first known ‘intersex’ birth certificate issued in New York City

    LGBTQ advocates say this decision supports the case of Dana Zzyym, an intersex veteran who sued the State Department after they were denied a passport. Instead of selecting “male” or “female,” Zzyym wrote “intersex” on the passport application.

    A federal judge ruled in Zzyym’s favor in November, directing the State Department to reconsider its policy on passport options. The State Department has not announced any changes since then.

    “This decision should provide even more support for the arguments we are making in federal court … that allowing accurate gender markers is necessary and required constitutionally, and just by common sense,” said Hayley Gorenberg, the deputy legal director and general counsel for Lambda Legal. “I certainly hope that this decision by the state of Oregon to do the right thing and give people accurate ID documents will influence the case for Dana and other people in their position.”

    Shupe said via email that they were thankful for the people “who not only believed in me, but also in what I wanted to accomplish on behalf of all of the various communities that are stakeholders in this historic human rights victory for sex and gender.”

    The post Oregon becomes first state to add gender-neutral option on driver’s licenses appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Now to another in our Brief But Spectacular series, where we ask people to describe their passions.

    Tonight, we hear from legendary talk show host Dick Cavett, whose in-depth discussions kept American television audiences entertained and intellectually engaged for more than five decades.

    His latest book is “Brief Encounters: Conversations, Magic Moments, and Assorted Hijinks.”

    DICK CAVETT, Author, “Brief Encounters: Conversations, Magic Moments, and Assorted Hijinks”: Somebody said once, what’s the secret of doing a successful, what’s the Brits call a chat show?

    If there is a secret, it was enunciated by the great Jack Paar. He said, “Kid, don’t do interviews.”

    And I said, “Well, what do I do Jack, read to them?”

    He said, “Make it a conversation.”

    People ask me, what kind of show did you decide to do or how would you describe your show? And I have never been able to come up with an answer for that, because of the fact that I never had any plan. All I knew was I was being thrown into and responsible for 90 minutes of live television.

    But I had the advantage of having seen great examples of what I would be doing by Jack Paar, Merv Griffin, Johnny Carson, all of whom I wrote for.

    JOHNNY CARSON, “The Tonight Show”: Would you welcome, please, Mr. Dick Cavett?

    (APPLAUSE)

    DICK CAVETT: With Johnny, of course, you could turn him on in your head, how he will word it, how many syllables he will use. All of that comes together to make you able to write a line that they can come out and say and sound like themselves.

    Will you welcome, please, Mr. Marlon Brando?

    (APPLAUSE)

    DICK CAVETT: I was just slap-happy delirious to have Marlon Brando on.

    And my director admitted later that he said, when Brando threw that million-dollar grin in a close-up shot, I couldn’t cut away.

    My wife’s favorite line from that show is when I said:

    Were you happy with the way “The Godfather” came out?

    MARLON BRANDO, Actor: I would rather not talk about movies. I don’t think they’re…

    (LAUGHTER)

    DICK CAVETT: I had the luck of meeting and sitting with Katharine Hepburn, Bette Davis, Orson Welles, Fred Astaire, Groucho Marx, Alfred Hitchcock, Robert Mitchum, oh, and the great John Huston.

    Somebody semi-humorously warned me, “You’re becoming the poster boy for depression,” because I would — chose to talk about it, because I found that, when I did, it helped people.

    I did shows with it, a thing that is an ungodly task, as you stand there sing merrily with Ethel Merman, and you feel like roadkill.

    And people will say to Robin Williams, you have the thrill of going out on stage and getting an audience screaming with happiness in their life.

    And, incidentally, I saw Robin come off one night after doing that and saying: “I could make those people happy. Why can’t I make myself that happy?”

    That’s central to the problem. When people ask me, who’s doing what you did, or is there a show that is similar to what you were doing, I don’t think there’s anything exactly like it, partly because it’s just — the medium has changed a lot.

    I might be more like parts of Jon Stewart and certainly parts of Stephen Colbert. But people tell me nothing is quite like it. And I wish somebody would tell me exactly what they mean.

    My name is Dick Cavett, and this is my, how shall I say, Brief But Spectacular take on my life and conversation, I guess.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: What a life and a walk down memory lane.

    The post How Dick Cavett brought the art of conversation to TV appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    JUDY WOODRUFF: When the death camps and ghettos of Europe were liberated at the end of World War II, a psychologist from Chicago visited former prisoners and recorded dozens of interviews.

    David Boder’s recordings are among the earliest testimonies from Holocaust survivors. And long-missing reels of songs from this collection were recently discovered at the University of Akron, Ohio.

    From PBS station WVIZ ideastream in Cleveland, David C. Barnett reports.

    DAVID C. BARNETT: Jon Endres gingerly threads a thin silver strand of wire through a machine that will reproduce some sounds unheard for decades.

    JON ENDRES, Media Specialist, University of Akron: It runs much like a reel-to-reel tape player, if you remember those.

    DAVID C. BARNETT: Endres is a media specialist at the University of Akron. His colleague James Newhall spent three years building this playback machine from spare parts scrounged from electronic stores and eBay.

    The goal was to play some mysterious recordings made by psychologist David Boder over 70 years ago on a wire recorder.

    DAVID BAKER, Cummings Center for the History of Psychology: One of Boder’s areas of interest and an important area of his work was his work on the measurement of trauma. That was the basis of his grant in 1946 to travel to Europe to interview a group of traumatized people. And this included many survivors of the Holocaust.

    A collection of Boder material was deposited here in 1967. So, it included some instruments and apparatus, documents, and it included a box of wire recordings.

    MAN: One, two, three, one two, three.

    DAVID BAKER: Scholars were telling us that there was a missing reel. There was a reel of songs that were sung to Boder by Holocaust survivors in a camp in France after the war.

    We had a box of reels, and scholars would ask from time to time, do you know what’s on those? And we had to say, no, we don’t.

    DAVID C. BARNETT: But now they do.

    MAN: We are reproducing on this spool a set of songs that have been recorded 50 kilometers of Paris at a colony of displaced persons.

    DAVID C. BARNETT: Baker says the recent discovery of this long-missing reel of songs in the Cummings Center archives has sparked worldwide interest.

    DAVID BAKER: Two of the songs were sung by a woman named Guta Frank. Guta Frank had survived a number of the ghettos in Poland, eventually ending up in a — doing forced labor at a munitions factory.

    One song they translated for us: “Our village is burning.”

    In singing the song, she changed the lyric from, “Our village is burning” to “The Jewish people are burning.” In introducing the song, Guta Frank discussed the fact that the composer’s daughter would sing this song in basements in the Krakow ghetto, inspiring people to rebel against the Nazis.

    DAVID C. BARNETT: For concentration camp prisoners who had no means of writing down and preserving what was happening to them, they could sing songs about it to each other and pass the stories down in an oral tradition.

    Australian researcher Joseph Toltz focuses the music of the Holocaust. And, in this specialized field, he’s heard it all.

    JOSEPH TOLTZ, Researcher: This was a beloved song that traveled around the entire Yiddish-speaking world, even to America and other places.

    DAVID C. BARNETT: Toltz is particularly impressed with the clarity of the Akron recordings.

    JOSEPH TOLTZ: This is a technology that is 60, 70 years old and completely outdated. And they have done it in such a way that has brought a completely new quality to the sound that is sort of trapped in these wire recordings.

    DAVID C. BARNETT: Jon Endres was the one who made the digital transfer.

    JON ENDRES: I remember hearing Krakow. And I remember recognizing some of the more German words in Yiddish, and knowing full well they were saying things along the lines of burning and dying, and it was extremely intense.

    DAVID BAKER: It’s a bit like hearing the voice of a ghost. Here are voices that have been silent for 70 years. And, all of a sudden, they’re singing. And they’re singing to us.

    DAVID C. BARNETT: For the PBS NewsHour, I’m David C. Barnett in Akron, Ohio.

    The post Long-silenced songs of Holocaust survivors are rediscovered appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Vice President Mike Pence addresses Chamber of Commerce "Invest in America!" summit in Washington, D.C. Photo by Mary F. Calvert/Reuters

    Vice President Mike Pence has hired outside legal counsel to oversee his response to investigations into possible collusion between Russia and President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign. Photo by Mary F. Calvert/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — Vice President Mike Pence has hired outside legal counsel to oversee his response to investigations into possible collusion between Russia and President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign.

    Pence’s office confirmed Thursday that he retained Richard Cullen, chairman of McGuireWoods LLP, to assist him in responding to inquiries by special counsel Robert Mueller.

    “The vice president is focused entirely on his duties and promoting the president’s agenda and looks forward to a swift conclusion of this matter,” Pence spokesman Jarrod Agen said in a statement.

    READ MORE: Trump confidant: ‘I think he’s considering perhaps terminating the special counsel’

    Cullen previously served as Virginia attorney general and U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia.

    The president has also hired outside counsel, attorney Marc Kasowitz, to handle Russia-related inquiries.

    The special counsel and congressional committees are investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 election and possible connections with Trump’s campaign.

    The president denies doing anything wrong and calls the efforts a “witch hunt.”

    READ MORE: President Trump tweets of ‘witch hunt’ amid ongoing Russia investigation

    The post Pence hires outside legal counsel for Russia probe appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    JUDY WOODRUFF: This week marks the 50th anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court decision Loving vs. Virginia.

    In 1967, the justices struck down Virginia’s laws prohibiting interracial marriage.

    In her latest book, “Loving: Interracial Intimacy in America and the Threat to White Supremacy,” Georgetown University law Professor Sheryll Cashin explores the history of white supremacy in this country and how relationships between different races challenge that ideology.

    As part of our Race Matters series, I sat down with Cashin yesterday.

    Sheryll Cashin, thank you very much for joining us.

    So, the title of the book refers to the Virginia couple, Richard Loving, his wife, Mildred, who were arrested, thrown in jail for the crime of marrying each other in the state of Virginia in the 1950s, and then, in 1967, the Supreme Court decision.

    But your story, your telling of this story, the book, goes much earlier than that, to the — before the beginning of this country.

    SHERYLL CASHIN, Author, “Loving: Interracial Intimacy in America and the Threat to White Supremacy”: The anti-miscegenation law was created as part of the law of slavery.

    In the 1600s, you had white indentured servants and black indentured servants and slaves working together, fraternizing together. And when slave owners wanted to transition to black chattel slavery, they had this problem. And so they put in slave codes laws that penalized interracial sex and marriage. And that was — began in the 1660s.

    And so, for the next 300 years, you had the state of Virginia and other states trying to separate people like Mildred and Richard Loving.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Going back to the beginning, was this something that was just bred in the psyche of the people who lived in this country? Where did it come from?

    SHERYLL CASHIN: Well, in the elite capitalist class, the landed gentry that could afford to buy big estates and own people, this idea of the supremacy of the white Christian goes back to the Crusades.

    But there is much evidence that, in colonial Virginia, in the colonies, the working bonded people didn’t have a concept of whiteness or supremacy or race at all. They related to each other as struggling people.

    It’s only when the slave owning class needs to teach people to treat each other differently based on race for utilitarian reasons that that begins.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: What were the forces along the way in the history of this country that were pushing against people coming together, that were working against, not just intermarriage, but friendships, any kind of connections between the races?

    SHERYLL CASHIN: Right.

    Wherever you have a regime of the color line, whether it’s slavery or Jim Crow or a divide-and-conquer kind of politics, there’s an economic story there.

    What the elites most feared was that struggling whites and people of color would come together in politics to demand more of economic elites.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: But, along the way, as you point out throughout the book, there were also forces at work to bring the two — not just the two, but to bring all races together.

    SHERYLL CASHIN: America has been in this dance from the beginning.

    There have been two ideas, the beautiful, egalitarian, fundamental idea of universal human dignity in Thomas Jefferson’s words in the Declaration of Independence, but also this regime of white supremacy that is really designed to help with capitalism.

    And throughout this period, there have always been a small cadre of people that crossed lines for alliance or for love. And I feature some of those people. Some of my favorites are Frederick Douglass and Thaddeus Stevens, who not only were radical in their politics, but were radical enough to have women of a different race as their lovers or common law wives or — or wives.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Why were they able to prevail in some instances?

    SHERYLL CASHIN: The radical Republicans behind Reconstruction prevailed with the idea that people of color and progressive open-minded whites would come together in politics for the common good and create things like public education.

    My bottom line point is that the class of what I call culturally dexterous person that’s open to difference in this country and wants to make it work is growing.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And that’s what I wanted to ask you, because you do use the term cultural dexterity throughout.

    SHERYLL CASHIN: Right.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: What do you mean by that?

    SHERYLL CASHIN: So, cultural dexterity is the ability to enter a situation where you are outnumbered by a different group and experience that with comfort, even wonder, an enhanced capacity for dealing with people of a different group.

    It’s the opposite of colorblindness. It’s the ability to see and understand difference and accept it, rather than sort of demanding that someone else assimilate to your cultural norms.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Why do you think it’s spreading? I know there are people who look at the racial divide in this country today and say, yes, we have made progress, but we have such a long way to go.

    SHERYLL CASHIN: Yes, I will agree. I acknowledge that we’re in a state of toxic polarity.

    But all I’m saying is that I believe we’re going to get to a point where a critical mass of folks, particularly white people in this country, have accepted the loss of centrality of whiteness. And when you combine those folks with growing populations of people of color, you’re going to get a majority coalition that will fight together for the common good.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Even if, along the way, you may always have a group of people who fiercely believe something different.

    SHERYLL CASHIN: Yes.

    I’m not saying that interracial relationships are going to make racism go away, or — nothing like that. There will always probably be some people, unfortunately, that are racist. But I think they’re a minority now. And I think they will continue to be a minority in this country.

    And what gives me hope is that there is a growing population of folks who like diversity and want to make it work and want to be part of the coalition for bringing everybody along.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Sheryll Cashin, the book is “Loving: Interracial Intimacy in America and the Threat to White Supremacy,”

    Thank you very much.

    SHERYLL CASHIN: Thank you so much.

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: But first: how a little-known program designed to attract foreign investment is increasingly under the microscope, for economic reasons and political ones. Thousands of investors apply and participate annually, and one real estate business in particular has put it back in the spotlight in recent months: the family of Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law.

    Our economics reporter, Paul Solman, has covered the controversies around the program before.

    Here’s his latest update. It’s part of our weekly series Making Sense.

    PAUL SOLMAN: The soaring real estate market in Jersey City, New Jersey, due south of Wall Street, a city becoming famous for its many murals and its wave of emigres from Manhattan and Brooklyn fleeing sky-high rents.

    One neighborhood that’s on the rise, Journal Square, named after the 150-year Journal News.

    One of its latter-day reporters, Terrence McDonald.

    TERRENCE MCDONALD, The Jersey Journal: This was our old headquarters. And Jared Kushner’s company bought that and bought the office building next door and bought this whole vacant lot right here.

    PAUL SOLMAN: Jared Kushner is, of course, President Trump’s son-in-law.

    And what are they going to build?

    TERRENCE MCDONALD: The plan is to build two towers on this vacant lot and one tower across the street, 72 stories, mostly residential and also commercial retail on the bottom.

    PAUL SOLMAN: Now, you may have heard about this development last month, when Jared Kushner’s sister pitched it to investors in China.

    MAN: CNN found out about this event because of this ad. It was actually posted in the elevator of our building here in Beijing.

    PAUL SOLMAN: So, reporters went, including CNN’s Matt Rivers, and most were promptly shown the door, which only provoked more coverage.

    Why the selective secrecy? For one thing, Nicole Kushner Meyer may have thought twice about the optics or my-optics of trading on her family connection to the president, though Kushner companies later said Meyer — quote — “apologizes if that mention of her brother was in any way interpreted as an attempt to lure investors” — unquote.

    But also iffy, the investment itself, criticized for selling U.S. citizenship for cash, the embattled EB-5 visa program, in which foreigners who ante up a million dollars to create 10 U.S. jobs are granted permanent residency, and eventual U.S. citizenship, for themselves and for all immediate family members under age 21.

    Now, the Kushners, who declined to comment for this story, have used EB-5 investments before, also here in Jersey City.

    JARED KUSHNER, Senior Presidential Adviser: As a company, we have done a lot of projects, but I have actually never done a groundbreaking before.

    PAUL SOLMAN: Fifty million dollars of Chinese cash for visas helped build Trump Bay Street, the president licensing his name to his son-in-law’s company, the financing at below-market rates.

    TERRENCE MCDONALD: This is one of the newer luxury high-rises here in Jersey City. The highest price I saw was on the 48th floor. It’s a 50-story building. It was about $5,000 a month for a two-bedroom/two-bathroom apartment.

    PAUL SOLMAN: Luxury apartments, just a few minutes by subway from Manhattan. But, hey, Congress decided, during a recession in 1990, that a million dollars to create 10 jobs is a good deal for the U.S. economy, no matter what the project.

    It turns out, however, that the investors in Kushner’s project only had to put up $500,000, half-price tickets to citizenship for themselves and their entire families, thanks to a clause that takes 50 percent off if you create the jobs in a — quote — “high-unemployment area” — unquote.

    But wait a minute. The unemployment rate around Trump Bay Street was very low.

    NORMAN ODER, Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Report: There is an essential dodge here going on. There’s something really fake going on.

    PAUL SOLMAN: Journalist Norman Oder was the first to report on the loophole that the Kushners, and pretty much all urban developers who use the EB-5 program, exploit.

    NORMAN ODER: EB-5 investments are supposed to be a million dollars unless it’s in a rural area or an area of high unemployment. That’s called a targeted employment area. Then it’s $500,000. Guess what? Every project is finagled into a high-unemployment area.

    PAUL SOLMAN: So how do you do that?

    NORMAN ODER: You have to connect census tracts.

    PAUL SOLMAN: So, let’s walk you through the process that played out here in Jersey City.

    TERRENCE MCDONALD: We’re about one mile away from Trump Bay Street.

    PAUL SOLMAN: But we’re still in the EB-5 district.

    TERRENCE MCDONALD: Yes, we are.

    PAUL SOLMAN: EB-5 visa investors can pay half-price if they’re investing in an area with a jobless rate one-and-a-half times the national average.

    I can see that we’re gradually getting into dicier territory here.

    TERRENCE MCDONALD: We’re about two miles away from Trump Bay Street now in an area of the city that has struggled with violence and with crime and with poverty.

    PAUL SOLMAN: In 2014, when the Kushners and their partners were pitching Chinese visa seekers, the national unemployment rate was just over 6 percent.

    So now we’re how far away from downtown?

    TERRENCE MCDONALD: We’re about three, a little more than three miles away from Trump Bay Street now, on Ocean Avenue.

    PAUL SOLMAN: And we’re in a substantially worse neighborhood now.

    TERRENCE MCDONALD: Yes, yes, businesses that are closed. And this area does struggle with violence even more than the neighborhood we were just in.

    PAUL SOLMAN: We’re walking the so-called targeted employment area the developers created, with an average jobless rate of more than 9 percent.

    TERRENCE MCDONALD: The unemployment rate where Trump Bay Street is, about four miles away, is so low that they have to include a huge swathe of the inner city and lower half of the city to make the rate work.

    PAUL SOLMAN: The only requirement, the employment area has to be made up of neighborhoods that border each other.

    TERRENCE MCDONALD: So, we’re about at the end of the line here. That’s Bayonne on the other side of the train tracks.

    PAUL SOLMAN: About five miles and a whole lot of shoe leather south of Trump Bay Street, a gerrymandered, but legal district made up of 16 different census tracts, with an overall unemployment rate of 9.8 percent, when the national average was 6.

    The claim is that Trump Bay Street created more than 1,280 jobs. But did it actually help the poor parts of town that made its financing attractive?

    So, you work in construction.

    JIHAD DARNELL GAESDEN, Construction Worker: Absolutely.

    PAUL SOLMAN: Did you try to get a job downtown?

    JIHAD DARNELL GAESDEN: Several of us tried to get a job downtown. But they’re not hiring us. I don’t know no one at all who has no type of job from downtown at Trump Towers or who informed anyone else about the jobs.

    TERRENCE MCDONALD: Do you think that the construction of these luxury high-rises downtown has benefited this area of the city at all?

    JIHAD DARNELL GAESDEN: No. Look around. People — a lot of people need help around here.

    PAUL SOLMAN: Any of the contractors you know work downtown?

    WOMAN: No. No.

    PAUL SOLMAN: You either?

    WOMAN: No.

    PAUL SOLMAN: What do you think of the idea, though, of you being included in this area that then allows them to get the foreign money to build the towers?

    WOMAN: I don’t think that’s fair.

    MAYOR STEVEN FULOP, Jersey City: The intention of the EB-5 program are to subsidize areas in a city or community that are lower-income, in needs of jobs, and don’t have development.

    PAUL SOLMAN: Not to subsidize areas that don’t need it, says Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop.

    STEVEN FULOP: The media scrutiny on this stuff has brought a lot of that to light, and there will probably be policy changes in Washington as a result of it.

    PAUL SOLMAN: Well, there’s been legislation to try to reform EB-5 for years.

    STEVEN FULOP: I think now you’re in a unique moment in time where there’s more scrutiny and more awareness around it.

    PAUL SOLMAN: Mayor Fulop, a Democrat up for reelection this fall, is also more aware. The day after the story broke about Nicole Kushner Meyer’s efforts in China, he withdrew his support for a usually standard 30-year tax abatement and $30 million municipal bond that the Kushners and their partners had applied for to build one Journal Square.

    So, where’s the mayor right now?

    STEVEN FULOP: We’re not giving the subsidy. We have clearly said that, and they say they can’t move forward without it. So we will see where it goes from here.

    PAUL SOLMAN: Where it’s gone is that, just yesterday, the Kushner consortium withdrew its tax break request. According to the private company helping raise $150 million in EB-5 money, 6,600 new jobs are now on hold. But they would be in a prospering part of town with just a 4 percent jobless rate.

    The poorer neighborhoods to the south? Their job was to boost the average unemployment rate high enough to qualify investors for the half-price visas.

    For the PBS NewsHour, this is economics correspondent Paul Solman reporting from Jersey City.

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: A new flash point in the tense and fraying alliance between the United States and Turkey, after Turkish security forces attacked protesters during President Erdogan’s recent visit to Washington, D.C.

    Hari Sreenivasan has our report.

    And a warning: Images in this report may disturb some viewers.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: It’s been one month since attackers launched into protesters outside the Turkish ambassador’s residence in Washington.

    Now D.C. officials have issued warrants on assault charges.

    Police Chief Peter Newsham:

    PETER NEWSHAM, Chief, D.C. Police Department: We all saw the violence that was perpetrated against peaceful demonstrators here in Washington, D.C., and it’s just something we’re not going to tolerate.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: The demonstrators had gathered at a park shortly after Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, met with President Trump at the White House. Then, as Erdogan arrived at the ambassador’s residence, trouble started.

    Video showed security guards and supporters teeing off on the protesters. D.C. police officers tried to separate and calm the crowd, but nine people were hurt. Two people were arrested that day, and two more were apprehended by U.S. Marshals yesterday.

    Now there are 12 new warrants for Turkish security officers. Most, if not all, returned home after the attack. Two Canadians are also being sought. It’s unclear why they allegedly joined the melee.

    Chief Newsham is calling for the suspects to surrender and not fight extradition.

    PETER NEWSHAM: If you are a law-abiding person, and you feel like you didn’t do anything wrong, then please present yourself here to answer to these charges.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Erdogan responded to the charges, and said the demonstrators were associated with Kurdish militants who’ve been engaged in a long insurgency against the Turkish government.

    PRESIDENT RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN, Turkey (through interpreter): Of course we’re going the fight this on legal and political grounds. What kind of law is this? If my security guards are not going to protect me, why would I bring them with me to America?

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Meanwhile, Erdogan’s role in all of this remains a question. After the incident, The New York Times examined the video and spotted Erdogan’s head of security leaning into the president’s car, and then speaking into his earpiece, just before three guards ran toward the protesters.

    At the time, the State Department said it communicated — quote — “concerns” to Turkey over the confrontation, and today said — quote — “We will weigh additional actions.”

    STEVEN COOK, Council on Foreign Relations: President Erdogan’s security team irresponsible, unprofessional and violent.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Steven Cook is a senior fellow with the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington. He says relations between Washington and Ankara are as bad as they have ever been.

    STEVEN COOK: Charging President Erdogan’s security team with crimes is going to add another element of tension between the two countries. This tension will no doubt be used by the Turkish leadership to advance their own political agenda, which is only going to cause raw feelings here in Washington.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: The U.S. and Turkey are already at odds over Kurdish forces fighting in Syria. And the Turks have demanded the U.S. extradite exiled cleric Fethullah Gulen for allegedly organizing last summer’s failed coup.

    For the PBS NewsHour, I’m Hari Sreenivasan.

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: As we reported earlier in the program, the Senate today overwhelmingly passed new sanctions against Iran. But a key amendment makes that bill even broader. It now includes sanctions aimed at Russia. This is five months after U.S. intelligence agencies made public that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered cyber-interference in the 2016 election.

    Lisa Desjardins has been following the vote, and she joins me now.

    So, Lisa, tell us what these Russia sanctions are.

    LISA DESJARDINS: These are not just symbolic, Judy. These are significant sanctions.

    Let’s take a quick look. First of all, they target Russian industries, especially the energy sector. Those sanctions would include things limiting U.S. companies, prohibiting them from working with Russian firms, say, exploring the Arctic. That’s a big deal.

    Also, this would target individuals working in defense or intelligence, individual Russians. There are some new powers in here. The Treasury would get access to U.S. bank records of Russian oligarchs. Also, $250 million for a countering Russia influence fund that would focus on cyber-security, but also could be some U.S. propaganda.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And, separately, the Senate passed an amendment to this that affects the president. Tell us about that.

    LISA DESJARDINS: This is remarkable, Judy.

    This is a Republican Congress asserting power with a Republican president in office. Let’s look at exactly how that would work. If this president wanted to roll back any of these sanctions, he would have to give Congress 30-day notice under this amendment.

    Congress could then disapprove and ultimately block the president from rolling back sanctions with a two-thirds vote. Essentially, Judy, what the Senate is saying here is, we think Congress should set Russia policy now, not the president.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And what is the White House saying about all this?

    LISA DESJARDINS: The White House today said it’s reviewing these sanctions.

    No secret the president is in a very tricky position here, not just because of this Russia investigation, but because he and his secretary of state have said they don’t think this is a good time to increase sanctions on Russia. They think it could backfire.

    But it’s interesting, Judy, the Senate attached these Russia sanctions to an Iran sanctions bill that the president wants to sign. Meanwhile, Democrats are worried about the Iran sanctions, worried that that could cause problems with the Iran deal, which leaves the president deciding, does he swallow these Russia sanctions that go with an Iran deal he likes at a time of the Russia investigation?

    We have to wait and see.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And in two seconds, if the president were to veto this, the assumption is, it would be overridden?

    LISA DESJARDINS: That’s correct. It passed with 98 votes in the Senate. Absolutely, they would override that veto.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Lisa Desjardins, thank you.

    LISA DESJARDINS: My pleasure.

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence met behind closed doors this week with three key figures in their expanding Russia investigation, National Security Director Mike Rogers, the director of national intelligence, Dan Coats, and special counsel Robert Mueller.

    And with us now, the committee’s top Democrat, its vice chairman, Virginia Senator Mark Warner.

    Senator, first off, you — we have been hearing, been discussing with NPR’s Carrie Johnson the fact that the special counsel has expanded his investigation to include potential obstruction of justice.

    Is that something your committee is doing as well?

    SEN. MARK WARNER, D-Va.: Well, Judy, I’m not going to comment on the expanse of special counselor Mueller’s investigation.

    I do think it’s an indication of how serious it is that he is obviously recruiting some of the top talent from around the country to assist him in this effort. It shows how seriously he’s taking this effort, and, frankly, how seriously the vast majority of elected officials, Democrats and Republicans, who realize that the Russian intervention was massive in our elections. We have got to get to the bottom of it. We have got to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

    It really appears that the only elected official maybe in Washington that doesn’t accept the potential dangerousness of the Russian intervention is actually the president of the United States.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, that’s what I wanted to ask you about. The president has been actively tweeting today. Among other things, he said they went after a — he said they made up a phony collusion with the Russians story, they found zero proof, and now, he said, they’re going after obstruction of justice because they found nothing.

    SEN. MARK WARNER: That’s, you know, just factually not appropriate.

    You know, we are still early on into particularly some of the individuals that were affiliated with the Trump campaign and their potential contacts or communications with Russians. We thought we would be further along, but for the fact that the president, in an unprecedented way, fired the FBI director, Jim Comey.

    We have had obviously a pattern here where there are at least reports of other individuals that were at least contacted by the president. I’m not going to comment on the specifics of the individuals we saw. And that’s — we need to keep confidential.

    But we do have the former National Security Adviser General Flynn who was fired because he didn’t come forward with his contacts with the Russians. We have had the attorney general recuse himself because he didn’t fully disclose his contacts with the Russians.

    If the president’s rendition is true, you know, that there’s no there there, why wouldn’t he collaborate with the investigation to get this cleared up, as opposed to his constant tweetage saying that this is a witch-hunt and fake news?

    I don’t think there’s any member of the Senate that believes this is fake news that the Russians interfered, just as they interfered in France, just as they will probably interfere in the German elections coming up later this year. And it’s a national security threat.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, while we’re talking about the question of whether there is obstruction or not, I know your committee met this week, as we have just reported, with Dan Coats, the director of national intelligence, and also with the National Security Agency director, Mike Rogers, in both cases, presumably asking questions that they wouldn’t — they were not willing the answer in open session.

    Were they able to shed any more light on this question of whether they — go ahead, yes.

    (CROSSTALK)

    SEN. MARK WARNER: I’m not going to get into the content of their testimony.

    I will say that it’s very important that sources and methods in terms of how we discovered Russian intervention, that that is maintained and preserved, and there’s an appropriate classified portion. I do think there are questions that still need to be explored about, if a president was calling on these subjects, how much of that is classified.

    I’m not going to comment again on any specifics, but these are all — and what I worry about is, is there a pattern emerging? And that’s something, again, that time will tell and, obviously, the special counsel, Mueller, will continue to look into.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: You met with the special counsel, as we said, yesterday, you and Chairman Richard Burr.

    Can you explain for us the difference between the mission of what you’re doing, your committee, and the House Intelligence Committee, vs. what Mr. Mueller is doing?

    SEN. MARK WARNER: Sure.

    Well, special counsel Mueller has got a criminal standard. In many cases, that criminal standard is quite high. He will have to — if he chooses to bring charges against anyone, they will have to meet those legal standards.

    We’re leading a counterintelligence investigation that started with looking at Russian interference in our election, was broadened to include any potential communication or collaboration between officials in part of either campaign, and the focus is generally on folks affiliated with the Trump campaign, and the Russians.

    We have actually not had a chance to get to many of the witnesses that have been at least bandied about because, again, this — we have been superseded in a way by the firing of Director Comey, then President Trump disparages Director Comey in front of the Russians, saying on national television that he fired him because of the Russia investigation, all things that, at least for this senator, raise a lot of questions that I’m still trying to sort through.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, no concern you’re going to get in each other’s way, that what your committee…

    (CROSSTALK)

    SEN. MARK WARNER: I think that’s something that we have to make sure there’s appropriate deconfliction.

    At the end of the day, you know, the criminal investigation, we can’t do anything that would interfere with that criminal investigation. And, you know, I’m not going to, again, comment about our conversations with special counsel Mueller, but I think it was a good first step, and I think we will have to have ongoing communications.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Just one final quick question.

    Vice President Mike Pence, it was announced today, has hired his own private counsel to address any issues arising out of the Russia investigation. Do you have a comment on that?

    SEN. MARK WARNER: No, I don’t have a comment, but I just — other than the fact that it would be helpful if the administration actually collaborated and cooperated with all of us.

    What the Russians did in 2016 in the United States, the Russians have also done in the French elections, they will do in the German elections. And, as a state that has statewide elections this year, I’m concerned about their ongoing efforts to try to, frankly, sow chaos in our democratic process.

    And let me be clear. This is not about relitigating 2016.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Right.

    SEN. MARK WARNER: It’s not about the Russians being for Republicans or Democrats. The Russians are for their own interests. And we have to be careful about this new form of conflict.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: But just very quickly, Senator, so I understand, you’re saying the administration is not collaborating right now with you?

    SEN. MARK WARNER: I wish there was closer cooperation.

    There are a number of members of the administration who volunteered to come forward. There are a number of individuals that work on the Trump campaign. But I don’t see what value is added by the president’s constant dismissal of the seriousness of this threat.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Senator Mark Warner, the vice chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, we thank you.

    SEN. MARK WARNER: Thank you, Judy.

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    Former FBI Director Robert Mueller at the Justice Department headquarters in 2013. Photo by Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: And now for more on the special counsel’s investigation into the president for possible obstruction of justice, we are joined by Carrie Johnson. She’s the justice correspondent for NPR.

    Carrie, welcome back to the program.

    CARRIE JOHNSON, NPR: Happy to be here.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: First of all, define for us, what is obstruction of justice?

    CARRIE JOHNSON: There’s a bunch of obstruction of justice statutes on the books, Judy, but, in plain language, it means trying to interfere with or impede an official proceeding, something like a grand jury investigation, a congressional investigation.

    And prosecutors would have to prove some kind of bad intent by the person involved.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And so tell us what you have been able to learn about how the special counsel is looking into this. And, by the way, we know it’s been reported that they’re also looking into potential financial misdeeds.

    CARRIE JOHNSON: Yes, the special counsel investigation appears to be running on three tracks now, one probing any Russian interference in the election, two, probing any financial misdealings in connection with that interference by associates of the Trump campaign and Russians, and, three, probing obstruction of justice by the president himself in the firing of James Comey, the FBI director he ousted last month because, he later said, to take some pressure off the Russia thing.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, this is clearly, Carrie, an expansion of what it was originally said the special counsel’s mission was here.

    CARRIE JOHNSON: I think it’s another layer.

    We knew at the time that the deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein, appointed Bob Mueller special counsel that his mandate included crimes that arose or may have arisen in connection with the investigation. Of course, obstruction of justice may have arisen in connection with this investigation in the president and his leaning on Comey allegedly to go light on Michael Flynn, the national security adviser.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: We have also been hearing in the last few days, Carrie, about some of the professionals that the special counsel, Bob Mueller, has hired, brought on board for his team. Tell us about them.

    CARRIE JOHNSON: It’s a breathtaking array of prosecutorial talent, Judy, from a man who had experience prosecuting the Watergate scandal, a former FBI agent, Andrew Weissmann, who led the Justice Department’s fraud and money-laundering section, Jeannie Rhee, who had been a top lawyer in the Obama administration’s DOJ, finally, Michael Dreeben, the deputy solicitor general, the man many lawyers in Justice think is the most respected guy in the whole department.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, what does that tell you about what Mr. Mueller and they will be — and his team will be looking for?

    CARRIE JOHNSON: Well, it signals that special counsel Mueller knows there are a number of thorny legal issues involved here, everything from financial dealings and tracking the money, to complicated questions of executive privilege with respect to the president, his aides, and conversations he might have had with people outside the government as well.

    And Michael Dreeben, the deputy solicitor general, is well-known for making criminal convictions stick in appeals courts. So they’re settling in for the long haul here.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Is it your understanding, from what you have been able to learn, that Mr. Mueller is now finished, that the team is done, or that he’s continuing to hire, bring people on?

    CARRIE JOHNSON: They have not given us a formal update. He’s not yet submitted a formal budget to the Justice Department. And I’m hearing from sources in and outside the government that more people are clamoring to join this team.

    They view it as a major public service. And working with Bob Mueller, who had been the FBI director for 12 years, with his reputation for integrity, is something that a lot of people inside the government want to do still.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And, finally, what are you hearing about how long this could go on? How long is it going to take?

    CARRIE JOHNSON: There is no prediction at this point.

    Of course, all these investigators could dig and dig and dig and find nothing. At the end of that time, they may want to do a report that becomes public, or they may find something they want to charge with a grand jury. And it’s unpredictable right now who they might charge, if anyone, and whether that person might want to fight it out in court for months or years to come.

    Finally, Judy, with respect to the president himself, no evidence yet he will face any charges whatsoever, but there is a complicated legal question of whether you can actually indict a sitting president of the United States or turn that evidence over to Congress for possible impeachment.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: A complicated legal question. And we can assume some folks are looking into that.

    CARRIE JOHNSON: I think a lot of folks are looking into that. It arose during Watergate, of course, and was never fully answered. We may yet get an answer in this investigation before it’s over.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Carrie Johnson of NPR, we thank you.

    CARRIE JOHNSON: Thank you.

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: President Trump is now under scrutiny for possible obstruction of justice, and he’s fighting back.

    This follows news reports that special counsel Bob Mueller has broadened his probe originally focused on Russia meddling in the election. On Twitter today, the president complained — quote — “They made up a phony collusion with the Russians story, found zero proof, so now they go for obstruction of justice. Nice.”

    Later, Mr. Trump charged that Hillary Clinton committed a list of infractions, and was cleared anyway.

    There’s also word that Vice President Mike Pence has hired outside legal counsel to deal with the Russia investigations. His office tells The Washington Post that former U.S. attorney Richard Cullen will handle inquiries from congressional committees and the special counsel. The president hired his own private lawyer last month.

    We will examine all of this, and talk to the vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Senator Mark Warner, right after the news summary.

    The U.S. Senate today overwhelmingly approved new sanctions against both Iran and Russia. The overall bill is aimed at Iran’s missile program. An amendment expands sanctions on Russia for meddling in last year’s election.

    Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said today it sends a message to Russian President Vladimir Putin and to President Trump.

    SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER, D-N.Y., Minority Leader: Not only did we pass a new round of tough sanctions for Russia’s meddling in our election. We codified existing sanctions into law, making them harder to lift. Any idea of the president’s that he can lift sanctions on his own for whatever reason are dashed by this legislation.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Putin fired back during a national call-in show in Moscow, and said the sanctions say more about the U.S. than about Russia.

    PRESIDENT VLADIMIR PUTIN, Russia (through interpreter): Why have they started to talk about introducing these sanctions with no grounds? Of course it is evidence of continuing internal political struggle in the United States. If there weren’t other problems, they would have thought up something else to hold Russia back, as it has always been, a policy of holding Russia back.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: We will take a closer look at the Senate’s sanctions bill a little later in the program.

    A leading Republican in the House of Representatives, Majority Whip Steve Scalise, remains in critical condition tonight after a gunman shot him during a congressional baseball practice. A lobbyist who was wounded is also in critical condition. President Trump visited Scalise in a Washington hospital last night.

    Today, at the White House, he said Scalise’s recovery will be more difficult than people thought.

    PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: He’s in some trouble. He’s a great fighter and he’s going to be OK, we hope.

    And Steve in his own way may have brought some unity to our long divided country. And I have a feeling that Steve has made a great sacrifice, but there could be some unity being brought to our country. Let’s hope so.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The gunman, James Hodgkinson of Illinois, died after being shot by police. Meanwhile, the annual congressional baseball game is being played tonight, raising money for charity.

    The American college student released from North Korea, and now in a coma, has a massive loss of brain tissue. Doctors at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center said today that Otto Warmbier suffered a severe neurological injury. They could not say if he was beaten. Warmbier’s father condemned the North Koreans, but said the family wants to move on.

    FRED WARMBIER, Father of Otto Warmbier: What I would say to the North Korean regime, I would say I’m so proud of Otto, my son, who has been in a pariah regime for the last 18 months, brutalized and terrorized. And he’s now home with his family. And I’m just tremendously proud of Otto. His spirit is with us.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The State Department now says that a U.S. diplomat who went to North Korea to secure Warmbier’s release also contacted three other Americans being held. The department wouldn’t comment on their conditions.

    In London, rescue crews have pulled more bodies from a burned-out apartment tower. The death toll in Wednesday’s fire reached at least 17 today, amid rising outrage.

    Paul Davies of Independent Television News has this report.

    PAUL DAVIES: A second dawn brought no end to the agony. There are no flames now, but this smoldering shell that was once home to so many families still holds an unknown number of their bodies.

    Fire crews believe, in flats not yet safe to enter, there are a whole families who couldn’t get out or obeyed the instruction to stay put. Many, many remain missing. And it could take weeks to confirm their fate.

    DANY COTTON, Commissioner, London Fire Brigade: It’s the upper floors that will be more challenging and will need some additional shoring for us to be able to get in there. The size of this building, it could take weeks. I want to be realistic. This is a very long process.

    PAUL DAVIES: These images show the destruction on the ground floor of Grenfell Tower. This is the area least affected by that all-consuming fire. As this photograph shows, it gets worse as you go up. Very few escaped the higher floors.

    If the initial response to this tragedy was horror, as the hours have passed, there have been mounting questions and mounting anger.

    WOMAN: There is a system in place. That is the product. That is it.

    WOMAN: There’s nothing at all. Yes, but they’re lying.

    PAUL DAVIES: Labor’s leader visiting the area heard the concerns of residents who say fears they’d expressed about the tower’s safety were ignored.

    MAN: Someone has to be held accountable. Someone has to be held responsible. We don’t want it kicked to the long grass. We don’t want the government to sort of hide with some hollow platitude about lessons being learned.

    PAUL DAVIES: The prime minister paid her own private visit to Grenfell Tower this morning and was criticized for meeting only the emergency teams, and not the local community.

    AFAF BADR, London Resident: People are very angry. People are crying. People are lost, missing. She’s the prime minister. Where is she?

    PAUL DAVIES: London’s mayor visiting the scene said anger was understandable.

    MAYOR SADIQ KHAN, London: We can see the anger in the community, justifiably so, because many members of the community have been saying …

    WOMAN: Not just the community. It’s everyone outside as well.

    MAN: Fed up with these politicians. No handshakes. We want action, not handshakes.

    PAUL DAVIES: Sadiq Khan said the inquiry should be immediate and that no one should have to wait two years to find out why this happened.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Both Britain’s national government and local police have now opened investigations into the fire.

    Islamist fighters in Somalia attacked a popular restaurant overnight and killed at least 31 people. It happened in the country’s capital, Mogadishu, and involved five gunmen. The Al-Shabaab militants detonated a car bomb, and then stormed inside, taking hostages. Witnesses said they shot victims at point-blank range. Somali security forces finally killed the gunmen early this morning.

    Back in this country, jurors in the Bill Cosby sexual assault trial deliberated into the evening again, after reporting that they’re deadlocked. The judge in Norristown, Pennsylvania, told them to keep at it. The 79-year-old Cosby is accused of drugging and molesting a woman in 2004.

    And on Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average lost 14 points to close below 21360. The Nasdaq fell 29, and the S&P 500 slipped five.

    The post News Wrap: U.S. student freed from North Korea suffered severe brain injury appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Full Frame Shot Of Books In Shelves

    Credit: Getty

    From Virginia Woolf’s 1917 launch of Hogarth Press to the oft-told story of how John Kennedy Toole’s “Confederacy of Dunces” — years after his suicide and countless rejections from major publishing houses — was finally published, small and independent presses have been producing brilliant, beloved, strange and daring works of literature for decades. And yet the majority of book coverage today remains of books from bigger houses.

    Books from independent publishers “offer diversity in literature and access to ideas that are often not embraced by larger commercial presses,” said Mary Bisbee-Beek, a Portland-based book publicist who began her indie publishing career in San Francisco in 1979. They also, as the website Bustle points out, “provide platforms for silenced voices, for populations ignored by mainstream media, for those whose stories would otherwise never be shared.” And they have always taken more risks.

    In a nod to that history, Bisbee-Beek recommended four novels, a short story translation, a memoir and a play (for good measure) — all from independent presses — that you should be reading right now.

    In her words:

    Credit: Spuyten Duyvil Publishing

    Credit: Spuyten Duyvil Publishing

    “Stories About Tacit,” by Cecil Bødker, translated by Michael Goldman
    Publisher: Spuyten Duyvil

    This thin, elegant translation from the Danish is a complete delight and a surprise. Reading these stories reminded me of being new in town and getting to know the neighbors — discovering their sensitive spots and reveling in unpredictability and universal connections. The stories and characters are captivating beyond measure. And Cecil Bødker is one of contemporary Denmark’s most highly awarded and prolific female authors. Michael Goldman, a literary translator and poet, lives and works in Western Massachusetts.

    Credit: Oregon State University Press

    Credit: Oregon State University Press

    “On The Ragged Edge Medicine Doctoring Among the Dispossessed,” by Patricia Kullberg
    Publisher: Oregon State University Press

    This book offers a unique and personal glimpse into a medical practice for the homeless and urban poor in Portland, Oregon. Told through 15 patient vignettes and drawn from the author’s decades of experience on the front lines, this memoir illuminates the impact of poverty on the delivery of health services and the ways that people adapt and survive (or don’t survive) in conditions of abuse and deprivation. Though set in Portland, this is a universal story-line; no matter where the reader lives, they will recognize people that they see on the street everyday.

    About the author: Patricia Kullberg has written award-winning articles about health and medicine and for more than 20 years served as Medical Director at the Multnomah County Health Department and as primary care doctor for persons living with mental, physical and addiction disorders.

    “Sweat,” by Lynn Nottage
    From the Theatre Communications Group

    Plays are literature! Pulitzer Prize-winning “Sweat” portrays a group of down-and-out factory workers struggling to keep their present lives in balance, ignorant to the financial devastation looming in their near future. Based on extensive research and interviews with residents of Reading, Pennsylvania, “Sweat” is a topical reflection of the present and poignant outcome of America’s economic decline. And Lynn Nottage is the recipient of two Pulitzer Prize Awards for Drama for “Sweat” and “Ruined.” She is the first woman playwright to be honored twice.

    Credit: University of Massachusetts Press

    Credit: University of Massachusetts Press

    “All the News I Need,” by Joan Frank
    University of Massachusetts Press
    Winner of the Juniper Prize for Fiction

    Frances Ferguson and Oliver Gaffney, friends by default, find themselves in the same boat. They’re both in their early 60’s, their partners have both died; they each love routine but feel anxious that life is passing them by. Unlikely travel companions, they nevertheless decide to kick out the jams and travel together to Paris. The aftermath of their funny, bittersweet journey suggests that small changes within our reach are the ones that may help save us in the long run. This is a quiet, unexpected jewel. Joan Frank is the author of five books of fiction and a collection of essays on the writing life.

    Credit: Ooligan Press

    Credit: Ooligan Press

    “At The Waterline,” by Brian K. Friesen
    Publisher: Ooligan Press

    One windy night on the Willamette River, a young man with romantic notions about sailing crashes his boat into a railroad bridge, nearly killing his wife. Divorced, ashamed, and haunted by the tragedy, Chad tries to leave the river and its memories behind, only to be drawn back years later. At a ramshackle marina north of Portland, he lives and works among a motley assortment of houseboat dwellers and liveaboards, always rendering them with compassion. Each have their own story and reasons to distrust or embrace a newcomer who can’t quite commit to being one of them. Brian Friesen’s personal experience living and working on the Columbia River lends his scenes of life on the water the texture of truth. This is his debut novel.

    Credit: University of Nevada Press

    Credit: University of Nevada Press

    “Saints of Rattlesnake Mountain: Stories,” by Don Waters
    Publisher: University of Nevada Press

    These stories capture the spirit of the Southwest and its people. Don Waters assembles a cast of unconventional characters and captures their foibles and imperfections. And as these modern-day martyrs and spiritually-haunted survivors strive for some kind of redemption, Waters always renders them with compassion. This book is ingenious, sometimes forbidding, often absurd, and altogether original. Don Waters is the author of two previous books, and winner of the Iowa Short Fiction Prize.

    Credit: Red Hen Press

    Credit: Red Hen Press

    “Kinship of Clover,” by Ellen Meeropol
    Publisher: Red Hen Press

    Jeremy was 9 when the vines first wrapped themselves around him and burrowed into his skin. Now a college botany major, Jeremy is desperately looking for a way to listen to the plants and stave off their extinction. But when the grip of the vines becomes too intense and Health Services starts asking questions, he flees and fate puts him face-to-face with a group of climate justice activists who assure him they have a plan to save the planet, and his plants. With guest appearances from childhood friends and neighbors, Jeremy grapples with saving the plants against protecting the ones that he loves – all while trying to answer the most critical question of all: How do you stay true to the people you care about while trying to change the world?

    Ellen Meeropol is fascinated by characters balanced on the fault line between political turmoil and human connection. She is a founding member of the Straw Dog Writers Guild, a former nurse practitioner and part-time bookseller.

    The post The 7 best books from indie publishers right now appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Bumblebeer — Only two species of yeast --- ale yeast and lager yeast -- have been used for traditional beer brewing over the last 600 years. A lab in North Carolina may have found a third in the strangest place: On bees and wasps. Photo by Matt Ehrichs

    Anne Madden bends creatures to her will, with the deftness of a shepherd. But Madden is a microbe wrangler — her critters cover petri dishes. Rather than merely observe bacteria and fungi, Madden sees a community ready for work. If not for fungi, bacteria-fighting penicillin or heart-saving statins would not exist. If not for bacteria, the world would not have pickles. PICKLES!

    “We have to find it. We have to bring it into the lab, and then we have to convince it to do something,” Madden told the NewsHour inside a lab at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, where she works as an environmental microbiologist.

    These days, her experiments are buzzing, as she takes microbes — yeast — from bees and convinces them to brew beer.

    But don’t fret. It’s less gross than it sounds. No “mass bug-icide” was committed, and no insect body parts feature in the final suds.

    Rather, the discovery of bumblebeer yeast recalls a serendipitous science at the heart of beer history — and may also represent the first new yeast in 600 years capable of making traditional beer.

    Bumblebeer bubbles to the surface

    Bumblebeer began in 2014, as an academic science fair project.

    Rob Dunn, an applied ecologist at North Carolina State University, had joined forces with the campus research brewer John Sheppard to develop a science-themed exhibit for the World Beer Festival — due to be held the next year in Raleigh.

    Dunn was recruited because of his reputation for revealing the unseen organisms in our everyday lives. Over the years, his lab has conducted a series of bug censuses and found all sorts of freeloaders.

    The survey revealed that an ordinary home contains up to 200 types of bugs…

    One project had citizen scientists in Raleigh swab for dust around their houses, in search of trace DNA left behind by critters. The survey revealed that an ordinary home contains up to 200 types of bugs, a thriving ecosystem of carpet beetles, aphids, cockroaches, paper wasps, spiders and silverfish.

    That’s not even the strangest part.

    “So far, we’ve found that wealthy people have more kinds of insects in their houses, which some people loved, other people didn’t like that so much,” Dunn joked in his office covered with antique maps and glass cases full of bees, flies and butterflies.

    When the team expanded the survey to more than 700 homes nationwide, they discovered dust mites — whose feces and corpses trigger allergic reactions and asthma — are most abundant on the East Coast. Need respiratory relief? Head West.

    <strong>Invasive allergies.</strong> As part of a bug census, Rob Dunn's lab surveyed the geographical distributions of insects that cause allergies (dust mites) and indoor pests (ladybugs). Photo by Madden AA et al., Molecular Ecology, 2016.

    Invasive allergies. As part of a bug census, Rob Dunn’s lab surveyed the geographical distributions of insects that cause allergies (dust mites) and indoor pests (ladybugs). Photo by Madden AA et al., Molecular Ecology, 2016.

    Another census revealed that giant Japanese camel crickets, an invasive species, have “moved basement to basement across North America totally unnoticed,” Dunn said. “People don’t like them because they jump at you out of the dark.”

    The team estimated that 700 million of these thumb-sized crickets might exist across the eastern United States alone — which may ultimately work in our favor. They found new kinds of bacteria from the guts of these crickets can break down a waste product of the paper industry and turn it into energy.

    Few labs are equipped to find such microbes and bugs in such random environs, so if anyone could find a beer-making germ in the wild, it was Dunn’s team.

    But where to start?

    Dang, this yeast smells good

    Beer, wine and other booze is made with yeast — single-celled microorganisms from the fungus kingdom. More than 1,500 yeast species are known around the world, and yet humans have essentially relied on only two types of alcohol-producing yeast — ale yeast and lager yeast — since the earliest days of brewing 9,000 years ago.

    That’s because our partnership with beer-making yeast likely began by accident and evolved through happenstance. Scientists didn’t even realize yeast were living organisms until the 1830s, and it took Louis Pasteur another 20 years to discover how the microbes take sugars and chemically transform — ferment — them into alcohol.

    Yeast microbiologists believe the earliest brewers were flying blind, driven by the sweet smells made when yeast ferment a wet pile of sugar-rich grains or a piece of fruit rotting in an orchard.

    “It’s easy to imagine people thinking this smells just right to make a good bread. It smells just right to make a good beer, I’m going to save it,” Dunn said. And from that came bread, sourdough and beer recipes, passed down through generations.

    <Strong>Yeast feast</strong> Aside from beer, other foods made with yeast include cottage cheese, ketchup, sauerkraut, soy sauce, vinegar and yogurt. Photo by Getty Images

    Yeast feast. Aside from beer, other foods made with yeast include cottage cheese, ketchup, sauerkraut, soy sauce, vinegar and yogurt. Photo by Getty Images

    Those smells arise from an ancient relationship between yeast and insect pollinators, Madden said.

    Yeast live in flower nectar, where the microbes feast on boatloads of sugar. The yeast produce alcohol, along with those sweet aromas that tickle our noses, which in turn attract the buzzing bugs. Bees sometimes get drunk off this fermented nectar.

    But flowers and fruits wilt in the cold of winter, which would kill the yeast too, meaning the microbes need a place to escape.

    “So the question remains, where are yeasts in the winter, where are yeasts hiding in the world?,” Madden asked. “Yeasts are particularly bad at moving themselves from place to place. They don’t have a lot of the skillsets that other microbes or other larger organisms have.”

    So the yeasts hitch rides on the insect pollinators, as they move from flower to flower. She said researchers had found winery yeasts in the winter on the bodies of hibernating wasps, which visit these sugar sources during the summer.

    “We actually think, based on some work from colleagues in Italy, it’s very likely that those first beers and breads were relying on yeasts from insects too,” Dunn said. Madden and Dunn began with a plan: to intercept yeast as they rode on bees or wasps, in hopes of finding one to make alcohol.

    But wild animals are filthy, covered or filled with thousands of microbes. You can’t just drop a bee into juice and hope for fermentation. Madden would need to combine her senses and modern microbiology.

    Forest of microbes A petri dish covered with the many microbes from a wasp's body. Photo by Matt Ehrichs

    Forest of microbes. A petri dish covered with the many microbes from a wasp’s body. Photo by Matt Ehrichs

    She started in North Carolina fields, where she caught a single paper wasp — a bug known to harbor large communities of yeast. She then transferred every microbe from its body to a petri dish. A couple days later, a forest of microbes appear on the dish.

    First, she looked to separate the yeast from other fungi or bacteria on the plate. “It’s about understanding when something glistens in a certain way,” Madden said. “It has got a different color than others. It’s slightly less slimy.” Next, she picked a handful of yeast candidates, grew them on a new dish and followed her nose. Fermenting yeast smell pleasant due to compounds called “organoleptics” that they make from sugar. The fruity and biscuity notes define the final taste of the beer.

    Her third task was running the DNA from these candidates through a National Institutes of Health database to ensure her picks weren’t related to pathogens. The final stage is a color-coded chemical test because to make beer, the yeast must be able to process maltose — a sugar found in malted barley. If the yeast can’t use those sugars, they are not going to produce alcohol.

    If the test tube turns bright yellow, then the yeast is a winner and ready for the brewhouse.

    Wild yeast, banished

    So far, Madden has found two yeasts, one from a single wasp and one from a single bee, capable of making beer.

    “To make all of the different bumblebeers that we’ve made, we’ve killed two bugs. You’ve likely killed more bugs on your way to a bar to get beer.”

    “People tend to ask us how many insects died to make beer, and the answer is very few. Once the yeast is separated, we can use the yeast for eternity without going back to those insects” Madden said. “To make all of the different bumblebeers that we’ve made, we’ve killed two bugs. You’ve likely killed more bugs on your way to a bar to get beer.”

    Her picks landed with John Sheppard, the North Carolina State research brewer, who found that bumblebeer yeast sits on unique pedestal in brewing. Many wild yeasts are considered contamination in the domestic beer industry because they produce a lot of off flavors, Sheppard said.

    But once upon a time, wild yeast were unavoidable in alcohol production. It’s pretty easy to contaminate your food when you don’t know microorganisms cover every inch of your body…and pretty much everything else.

    The first brewers recognized that the top portion of a beer barrel could be saved and reused to brew a consistent product. Little did they know it also contained a microbial stew made primarily of ale yeast (species: Saccharomyces cerevisiae). Sure, every now and again, their batches might get skunked by the other microbes in the stew — hello, sour beer! But the practice worked well in warmer regions where civilizations began.

    The tactic became less viable as folks moved into the colder climates of Germany and northern Europe, where the Big Bang of brewing ultimately happened.

    Only two species of yeast --- ale yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae; pictured above) and lager yeast -- have been used for traditional beer brewing for the last 600 years. A lab in North Carolina may have found a third in the strangest place: On bees. Photo by Mogana Das Murtey and Patchamuthu Ramasamy/via Wikimedia

    Tale of two yeast. Only two species of yeast — ale yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae; pictured above) and lager yeast — have been used for traditional beer brewing for the last 600 years. A lab in North Carolina may have found a third in the strangest place: On bees. Photo by Mogana Das Murtey and Patchamuthu Ramasamy/via Wikimedia

    In the early- and mid-1400s, Bavarian brewers stumbled upon lager yeast, which was technically the crud left behind in the bottom of the barrel.

    “All of a sudden, they could now brew at colder temperatures and get crisper cleaner flavors,” said Chris Todd Hittinger, a University of Wisconsin geneticist who isn’t involved with the bumblebeer project.

    Cold brewing made beer less likely to spoil, and sparked the domestic age of beermaking. In April 1516, Bavaria issued Reinheitsgebot — a “purity order” — that limited beer’s ingredients to barley malt, water, hops and bottom fermenters (lager yeast).

    Add the steam engine and colonialism, and lager-style beers eventually spread across the world. Today, cold-adapted lager yeast account for 90 percent of global beer markets, Hittinger said, such as for big brands like Miller, Budweiser, Heineken, Stella Artois and Corona. Ale yeast became reserved for the speciality menu: pale ales, India pale ales, stouts, porters and wheat beers.

    Paper carrier Madden started her search in North Carolina fields, where she caught a single paper wasp — a bug known to harbor large communities of yeast. Photo by Lauren Nichols

    Paper carrier. Madden started her search in North Carolina fields, where she caught a single paper wasp — a bug known to harbor large communities of yeast. Photo by Lauren Nichols

    Ale yeast and lager yeast became the standard bearers, because they make significant quantities of alcohol without adding natural flavors, Sheppard said.

    They’re basic Beckys — bland and easily influenced, with more in common than early brewers could have guessed.

    Thirty years ago, modern genetics revealed lager yeast to be a “living descendent” of ale yeast, created when the latter mated with a yeast strain identified as Saccharomyces eubayanus in 2011 by Hittinger and Argentine biologist Diego Libkind. Moreover, domestication pushed these strains through a genetic bottleneck, forcing them to produce more and more alcohol while simultaneously losing their traits needed for survival in the wild.

    And wild yeast? To brewers, wild yeast became the smelly friend you forget to invite to parties — banished by everyone except for imbibers of sour beers, where a funky taste is sought.

    Wild yeast, rising

    Enter bumblebeer yeast. It’s wild, yet can make traditional lager-style beer without stank flavors. But using bumblebeer yeast, Sheppard can also tweak the fermenting conditions, so a honey flavor emerges without adding honey. Tweak them again, and he can brew a light tangy sour beer.

    “The adaptable nature to these wild yeast means if you change the conditions, they’re going to give you quite different flavor profiles in the beer,” Sheppard said.

    The bumblebeer team is particularly interested in sour beers, which are usually difficult to concoct.

    “It’s true. The traditional sour beer process is much more complicated, because you have this community of organisms that starts the fermentation,” Hittinger said.

    People nab these unconventional organisms from inconceivable places. (One brewer in Oregon made a sour beer from wild yeast pulled from his beard.) But as a result of their unpredictability, a typical sour beer takes months or years to make.

    Bumblebeer does the same job in a couple of weeks. Dunn, Madden and Sheppard have patented and licensed these strains, which are Lachancea yeast — a group that diverged from ale and lager yeast 100 million years ago. Other researchers have tested Lachancea strains for beer production, but the bumblebeer strains are the first slated for commercialization. That’s partially because bumblebeer yeast, under the right conditions, pumps out 10 times more acid than these other strains, which is what creates the tangy taste of sour beer.

    Bumblebeerr A visitor checks out the bumblebeer exhibit at the 2015 World Beer Festival in Raleigh. Photo by Lauren Nichols

    Bee(r) on display. A visitor checks out the bumblebeer exhibit at the 2015 World Beer Festival in Raleigh. Photo by Lauren Nichols

    “There are more traits that differ as relate to mouth feel, flavor and aroma and industrial performance,” Madden said.

    They have also laid foundation needed to repeat the feat of discovering beer-producing strains in the wild.

    “[Bumblebeer] might be a new type of beer that’s somewhere between a sour beer and an ale beer,” Hittinger said.

    North Carolina’s Deep River Brewing rolled out the first suds made from bumblebeer yeast earlier this year.

    “So we’ve worked recently with one species of camel cricket, one bumblebee, one wasp — and we’ve found three things useful to society,” Dunn said. “Two are new yeasts for making beers, one is a new kind of bacteria for breaking down waste.”

    Now just imagine what might be hiding in the millions of unknown insects across globe, Dunn continued.

    “Who knows what we could discover there? It could be new compounds for medicine. It could be even more new yeasts for beer. It could be new bacteria that help us make energy.” Dunn said.

    “And we’ve barely started to look.”

    The post Your next happy hour buzz, brought to you by bees appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Valerie Castile, the mother of Philando Castile, looks at a photo button of her son during a press conference on the state capitol grounds in Saint Paul, Minnesota, in July. Philando Castile was fatally shot by police. Photo by Eric Miller/Reuters

    Valerie Castile, the mother of Philando Castile, looks at a photo button of her son during a press conference on the state capitol grounds in Saint Paul, Minnesota, in July. Philando Castile was fatally shot by police. Photo by Eric Miller/Reuters

    A jury has found a Minnesota police officer not guilty in the shooting death of Philando Castile during a traffic stop last summer.

    Jurors deliberated for more than 30 hours after closing arguments on Monday over the fate of officer Jeronimo Yanez, who faced one count of second-degree manslaughter and two counts of reckless discharge of a firearm in Castile’s death. The officer fatally shot Castile after pulling him over for a broken taillight outside St. Paul last year.

    The decision comes after the jury, which at one point told Judge William H. Leary that they were deadlocked, had asked to reexamine some of the evidence.

    The July 6, 2016, shooting received national attention when Castile’s girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, recorded the aftermath of the encounter on a Facebook Live video. Castile appeared in the video bloodied and slumped in the driver’s seat while Reynolds’ 4-year-old daughter is also in the car.

    “He killed my boyfriend,” Reynolds is heard saying in the video.

    “I told him not to reach for it!” an officer later identified as Yanez is heard yelling in the video. “I told him to get his hands up.”

    “I am incredibly disappointed with the jury’s verdict,” Reynolds said in a statement provided by her lawyer. She said Yanez pulled over Castile because he “looked like a suspect,” even though he complied with the officer’s orders.

    “It is a sad state of affairs when this type of criminal conduct is condoned simply because Yanez is a policeman,” she added. “God help America.”

    Before this week’s deliberations, the testimony revolved around whether Yanez saw Castile reach for a weapon. In court, an emotional Yanez testified that he feared for his life and acted in self-defense when he opened fire on Castile. The officer added that Castile failed to comply with repeated orders to not reach for the gun.

    The prosecution argued that Yanez never actually saw the gun and overreacted to Castile, who was legally carrying a gun.

    “Unfortunately, I am not shocked, [although] it is what I was hoping against. There is only a 35 percent conviction rate with on-duty police-involved shootings of individuals in cases from 2005 to 2017,” former Baltimore prosecutor Debbie Hines told the NewsHour.

    Many of the high-profile police shootings, including those in Ferguson, Missouri; Tulsa, Oklahoma; and Baltimore, have not resulted in officer convictions.

    After closing arguments on Monday, Castile’s mother Valerie took to Facebook to thank the community for their support throughout the trial and calling for solidarity while the jury made its decision.

    Valerie Castile also said Yanez had enough time to de-escalate the situation.

    “My son was no threat to this guy,” she said in the video, “but my son is still dead.”

    When the verdict was announced, Valerie Castile was seen storming out of the courtroom, Sarah Horner of Pioneer Press reported.

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    PBS NewsHour’s Rhana Natour contributed to this report.

    READ MORE: How and why you should record the police

    The post Jury finds Minnesota officer not guilty in shooting death of Philando Castile appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Michelle Carter was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter today, convicted for urging her boyfriend to commit suicide over a series of text messages.

    Michelle Carter was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter today, convicted for urging her boyfriend to kill himself over a series of text messages.

    Michelle Carter, a woman who urged her boyfriend to kill himself through a series of text messages, was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter Friday in a Massachusetts juvenile court.

    Carter could face up to 20 years in prison for urging Conrad Roy III to take his own life. After exchanging intimate text messages about death for weeks, Roy intentionally filled his truck with carbon monoxide in a parking lot in July 2014.

    The landmark decision sets forth the rare legal principle that a person’s words can compel another person’s suicide.

    Juvenile Court Judge Lawrence Moniz handed the verdict to Carter after describing how she contributed to the circumstances of Roy’s death. The judge said that the 18-year-old Roy grew fearful as the truck filled with lethal gas, told Carter he was scared and attempted to exit, according to the Associated Press . Carter, who was 17 at the time, replied “get back in,” according to a friend to testified in the trial.

    Amid the other text messages scrutinized for the criminal case, Carter also wrote, “You’re finally going to be happy in heaven. No more pain. It’s okay to be scared and it’s normal. I mean, you’re about to die.”

    Roy was found dead from carbon monoxide poisoning in a store parking lot in Fairhaven, Massachusetts.

    Carter, now 20, will appear in court for sentencing in early August.

    “There are no winners here today,” Assistant District Attorney Katie Rayburn told reporters after the verdict’s announcement. “Two families have been torn apart and will be affected by this for years to come.”

    Last year, the case reached the state’s Supreme Court, which ruled that Carter could stand trial for her involvement in Roy’s death.

    Rayburn acknowledged that this was a “unique case that dealt with a lot of important issues in our society today, but in the end, the case was really about one young man and one young woman brought together by tragic circumstances.”

    Roy had struggled with depression and previously attempted to kill himself in 2013. Prosecutors had argued that Carter’s text messages compelled Roy to take his own life and helped him plan his suicide. The judge also agreed that Carter had convinced Roy that his suicide wouldn’t afflict his parents.

    “I think your parents know you’re in a really bad place,” one of Carter’s text messages to Roy read. “I’m not saying they want you to do it but I honestly feel like they can accept it,” the text continued.

    Defense attorney Joseph Cataldo argued that Roy’s talk of suicide “overwhelmed” Carter, while she dealt with her own “baggage.”

    “It’s sad, it’s tragic,” he said, adding, “It’s just not a homicide.”

    Martin Healy, of the Massachusetts Bar Association, said in a statement that the jury’s verdict will have “national implications and is a clarion call that seemingly remote and distant communications will not insulate individuals from heinous acts that could rise to the level of criminal culpability,” according to the Boston Herald.

    “The defendant’s fate was sealed through the use of her own words,” Healy continued. “The communications illustrated a deeply troubled defendant whose actions rose to the level of wanton and reckless disregard for the life of the victim,” he added.

    CNN legal analyst Danny Cevallos, however, said the verdict is not surprising, but concerning in how it “reflects a judicial willingness to expand legal liability for another person’s suicide, an act which by definition is a completely independent choice.”

    “Historically, suicide has been considered a superseding act which breaks the chain of legal causation,” he added.

    The post Judge finds woman in Massachusetts suicide texting case guilty of manslaughter appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    A pedestrian walks past the store "Army of Russia", located opposite the U.S. embassy, with an image of U.S. President-elect Donald Trump seen on the advertising board, in Moscow, Russia, January 20, 2017. The advertising board reads "Army of Russia. Extra 10 percent discount on the occasion of the inauguration of U.S. President Donald Trump. For employees of the embassy and U.S. citizens. January 20, 2017". REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin  FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES. - RTSWEIH

    A a store located opposite the U.S. embassy in Moscow, Russia advertised a discount on January 20, 2017 in honor of Donald Trump’s inauguration. Photo by REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin

    President Donald Trump lashed out this week in response to news that the special counsel investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election had widened to include an inquiry into his possible attempt to obstruct justice.

    “They made up a phony collusion with the Russians story, found zero proof, so now they go for obstruction of justice on the phony story. Nice,” Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter on Thursday.

    There is no sign, however, that the inquiry into collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign is off the table. To the contrary, Robert Mueller, the special counsel, has assembled a legal “dream team” whose members have expertise investigating a broad range of illegal acts that fall under the general rubric of collusion.

    But unlike obstruction of justice — which is clearly defined in the United States Code — there is no specific statute for collusion. Acts of collusion span the legal gamut, and include campaign finance violations, conspiracy, bribery, and fraud.

    For investigators in the Trump-Russia probe, “the initial problem is, what’s collusion?” said John Hueston, a former assistant U.S. attorney who served as the lead prosecutor for the Enron trial. “It’s just a very broad, ambiguous term.”

    In searching for evidence of collusion, investigators will need to decide which areas of the law to focus on, said Nate Persily, a constitutional law expert at Stanford University.

    “People have been analyzing this as a national security issue, with the relevant laws being ones that deal with treason, espionage, or other related crimes,” Persily said. But the rules governing campaign finance in the U.S. could prove to be the best starting point, he said.

    Acts of collusion span the legal gamut, and include campaign finance violations, conspiracy, bribery, and fraud.

    Federal Election Commission rules prohibit foreigners and foreign governments from spending money to influence American elections. The law works both ways: it’s also illegal for campaigns to accept financial contributions from individuals who are not U.S. citizens or permanent residents, or from any foreign entities, including companies and governments.

    If the Trump campaign or a pro-Trump political group accepted funds from a Russian source, that would represent an obvious case of illegal “coordination,” the official term under Federal Election Commission law that most closely resembles collusion, according to Larry Noble, who served as the agency’s general counsel from 1987 to 2000.

    But the guidelines against coordination cover a wide spectrum of activities that go well beyond a clear-cut transfer of money from a foreign bank account to a campaign’s coffers in the U.S.

    Foreign entities are barred from providing a campaign with any “thing of value,” such as useful information on a political opponent. In cases that don’t involve a direct transfer of money, there must be proof that a campaign understood the information it exchanged with a foreign entity would be used for the illegal purpose of influencing an election, said Noble, one of the nation’s leading experts on campaign finance law.

    “Let’s say you meet a Russian diplomat at a party and you say, ‘We have a great campaign and a shot of winning if we can win the Midwest,’” Noble said, describing in hypothetical terms the type of conversation that might have occurred during documented meetings that took place last year between Trump campaign associates and Russian officials.

    That exchange would not violate FEC law if the Trump campaign was unaware that Russia was trying to meddle in the election. But if the campaign believed Russia was interfering in the race, and went one step further by sharing information with Russian officials that campaign advisers knew could be helpful for Trump, that would constitute illegal coordination.

    It would not matter who initiated the dialogue, Noble said. The coordination standard would apply regardless of whether Trump campaign officials shared the information unprompted with Russia, or Russian officials reached out to the campaign to request information they could use to meddle in the election on Trump’s behalf.

    Former FBI Director James Comey testifies before a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Russia's alleged interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., June 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst     TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY - RTX39PKZ

    Former FBI Director James Comey testifies before a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Capitol Hill on June 8, 2017. Comey’s firing led to the appointment of a special counsel. Photo by REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

    But even then, proving coordination, or collusion, under campaign finance law would hinge on the type of information that was potentially shared between Russia and Trump’s campaign.

    The exchange of publicly available information before the Nov. 8 election would not violate FEC regulations. But an exchange of private or classified information, such as internal tracking polls or voter records, would be considered an illegal act of coordination.

    Some legal experts believe the rules apply to the emails of Democratic National Committee and Clinton campaign officials that were stolen and given to Wikileaks, which released them publicly in several waves over the final months of the 2016 election. U.S. intelligence agencies believe Russian hackers backed by the Kremlin stole the emails as part of a broader effort to interfere in the race on Trump’s behalf.

    The stolen emails qualify as collusion under campaign finance law, because they provided a valuable resource for Trump, who touted the Wikileaks documents numerous times throughout the election, Robert Bauer, a former White House counsel to President Barack Obama, wrote in a recent essay on collusion regulations.

    Given candidate Trump’s praise of Wikileaks and his public call for Russia to find more Clinton emails, “the Russians could only have been strengthened in the conviction that their efforts were welcome and had value,” Bauer wrote.

    Still, proving other aspects of potential collusion between Russia and Trump’s campaign might be more difficult to do under campaign finance law, Noble said.

    The regulations include a media exemption that allows U.S. news organizations to express opinions of candidates, including ones that criticize or endorse an individual. It’s unclear if the exemption would extend to foreign media outlets, like the state-owned media organizations and twitter bots in Russia that are widely believed to have spread fake news online during the 2016 election in an attempt to undermine Clinton’s candidacy.

    “When you start getting into the specifics of the law, there are some issues that are not necessarily resolved. And when you bring in foreign activity, you have to figure out how the law applies,” Noble said.

    People protest against U.S. President-elect Donald Trump as electors gather to cast their votes for U.S. president at the Pennsylvania State Capitol in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, U.S. December 19, 2016. Pennsylvania's twenty electors are assumed to be committed to Trump by virtue of his having won the popular vote in the state, but the vote that is usually routine takes place this year amid allegations of Russian hacking to try to influence the election. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst     TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY - RTX2VOWH

    Protestors hold signs of Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir-Putin at a rally in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania on December 19, 2016. Photo by REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

    In examining the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia, both during and after the election, the special counsel investigation will likely also focus on other areas of the law outside of campaign finance.

    There are laws on the books against hacking, bribery and tampering with votes that could come into play in the Trump-Russia investigation. A failure to properly disclose financial transactions with a foreign entity — something Michael Flynn is reportedly under investigation for — could also fall under the broad umbrella of collusion.

    Additionally, investigators could focus on bribery law if evidence turned up that individuals linked to Trump’s campaign were paid by Russia in exchange for promising future United States action on a specific policy, like lifting economic sanctions.

    In this case, however, recent court decisions have narrowed the definition of bribery. It remains unclear if a promise made by a candidate or campaign official in exchange for payment from a foreign government would constitute a “quid pro quo” bribe under federal law. A similar deal by an administration official would be easier to prosecute, legal experts said.

    Proving intent is often the biggest challenge for prosecutors in cases concerning collusion.

    And while the U.S. intelligence community and lawmakers from both parties agree that Russia meddled in the election, proving that Moscow colluded with the Trump campaign would have to be accompanied by clear evidence of intent.

    The Trump campaign could be investigated for conspiracy, if the probe turns up evidence that it devised a plan with Russia to change the outcome of the election and then took concrete steps to carry it out.

    If Russia came up with a plan to influence the election independently of the Trump campaign, but the campaign found out about it and “knowingly took a step to assist [in the effort], that could fall under what is colloquially called collusion, but would technically be called by a prosecutor aiding and abetting,” said Hueston, the former assistant U.S. attorney.

    Under the statutes for conspiracy and aiding and abetting, investigators would need to show that the Trump campaign acted intentionally in a manner that broke U.S. law. But proving intent is often the biggest challenge for prosecutors in cases concerning collusion, legal experts said. The same challenge exists in investigations into potential obstruction of justice.

    When it comes to collusion, it’s too early to know where Mueller’s special counsel investigation will lead, because there appear to be so many different angles to pursue, said Noble, who has worked in campaign finance law for four decades.

    “I’m not aware of another situation where we’ve seen allegations of a foreign country being this involved in our elections,” Noble said. “If there’s evidence of collusion under multiple different laws or agencies, Mueller will look at all of them.”

    The post Collusion is broad, murky and hard to prove appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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