September 5, 2014

New FDA restrictions on the levels of harmless bacteria found in imported cheese have effectively banned a number of artisan French cheeses, including Roquefort, Morbier, and Tomme de Savoie. The restricted bacteria already exist in the human stomach, and the banned cheeses have not changed their recipes for years.

While the restriction is already affecting imports, domestic cheese producers are under the FDA gun, too. Raw milk cheesemakers may be put out of business over a change they say is capricious at best. "There was no health risk in all the years we operated" under the old regulations, says David Gremmels of Rogue Creamery in Oregon, "We look at this as an arbitrary change."

Microbiologist and cheesemaker Cary Bryant says that the new restrictions could actually do public health more harm than good: "People need some microbial diversity in their life. This is going to create people with immune systems that can never handle anything." In addition to no microbial diversity, if the FDA persists in this measure, we may simply have no cheese: Even aged parmesan — which is about as safe as cheese can be — has come under scrutiny thanks to the ban. Bonnie Kristian

12:05 p.m.

Duolingo stockholders, rejoice!

If you've been wondering how to fill your spare time in quarantine, might we suggest taking up Chinese — because according to President Trump, there's a chance you'll have to learn it come November.

In an interview with conservative talk-show host Hugh Hewitt, Trump repeatedly blasted China, saying the country is pulling for a win from former Vice President Joe Biden.

"If I don't win the election, China will own the United States," Trump claimed. "You're gonna have to learn to speak Chinese."

Trump, who once had a self-described "great" relationship with Chinese President Xi Jinping, said he is "no longer very good" with the leader "because of what they did with the China virus," by which he means the coronavirus. The president also asserted China has had "the worst year in 67 years" because the U.S. "tariffed the hell out of them."

U.S. intelligence officials did say last week that Russia and China have lined up on opposite sides of the upcoming presidential election, with the latter reportedly hoping "that President Trump — whom Beijing sees as unpredictable — does not win re-election." On the flip side, Russia is reportedly using a "range of measures" to take down Biden. Luckily, Duolingo carries Russian, too.

The rest of the interview contained similar grumbling, with the president bashing the "nasty" NBA, baselessly claiming we're "getting to an end" on coronavirus, and suggesting Biden is the "dumbest" U.S. senator. Marianne Dodson

11:57 a.m.

Cardi B knows her fans are expecting greatness from her second album, which has been delayed by the coronavirus pandemic. "I have to deliver," she said in a cover interview for the September edition of Elle. But she doesn't want people to buy her music just because she is Cardi B, she is focused on putting out "really good music."

Her sophomore album will feature her "Lemonade moments," — a look into her personal relationships à la Beyoncé's Lemonade. Her relationship with husband Offset, of rapper group Migos, has played out in the public eye, but Cardi B doesn't like to talk about love. If people are so curious to know details of her personal life, she says she is going to put it in the music. "I'm not going to give it to you all for free."

But above all, her music is going to make a woman feel like a "bad b--ch," she says. "When you make a woman feel like she's the baddest b--ch in the room, to me, that's female empowerment."

The album doesn't have a set release date but in an Instagram post celebrating the second anniversary of her first album, Cardi B wrote "I'm workin on her sister so I can birth her this year."

Read more at Elle. Taylor Watson

11:56 a.m.

Across 20 major U.S. cities, The New York Times reports, the murder rate was on average 37 percent higher at the end of June than it was at the end of May. While an uptick in violent crime is generally associated with warmer months, the increase is usually more subtle. For instance, the murder rate increase in those cities a year ago was just 6 percent over that span, per the Times.

The Times notes the change is especially pronounced in Kansas City, which has already seen 122 people killed this year, compared to 90 through the same period last year. The city has also already matched the number of nonfatal shootings — 490 — that occurred in all of 2019.

Experts are mostly stumped as to what the main cause is. At first glance, coronavirus lockdowns would seem to be a catalyst, especially considering many of the incidents involved random violence, perhaps a sign of frustration or the "destabilization of community institutions." They very well may have played a role, but the Times notes the murder rate was on the rise in many cities before the pandemic, and overall crime is still down in most places, including all types of major crimes aside from murder, aggravated assault, and, occasionally, car theft. "I'm sure there will be academic studies for years to come as to what caused the spike of 2020," said Tim Garrison, the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Missouri. Read more at The New York Times. Tim O'Donnell

11:27 a.m.

Negotiations for the next coronavirus relief bill have not been going well, to say the least, and each side is eager to blame the other for the breakdown.

But White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, who has been representing the Trump administration alongside Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, is emerging as a particularly thorny player in the saga, as The Washington Post reports Meadows is the one drawing a "hard line" as negotiations continue. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who is also leading talks, even reportedly calls Meadows "The Enforcer." Publicly, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has said Meadows' views "are quite hardened and non-compromising, more so than Mnuchin."

The good cop / bad cop dynamic is apparently starting to wear on Democrats. But Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.), who presumably worked with Meadows back when he was a representative for North Carolina, seemed to think his stubbornness came as no surprise. Meadows was "well known on Capitol Hill for sabotaging negotiations," wrote Beyer on Twitter.

The stalled negotiations have led to a lapse in unemployment aid for millions of Americans who were previously receiving $600 per week as the pandemic keeps many out of work. While Mnuchin has seemingly been optimistic the two sides can make a deal, Meadows hasn't budged on insisting Democrats lower their demands and "come back with a counterproposal." Talks could be further delayed, in part because Meadows is reportedly "out for the week." Read more at The Washington Post. Summer Meza

10:53 a.m.

Madeleine Westerhout, the former director of Oval Office operations in the Trump administration, has a new book coming out on Tuesday in which she reveals she didn't vote for her old boss in 2016 because his "values didn't seem to align with my own."

But that anecdote apparently didn't bother President Trump, who has a history of rebelling against the books his former aides have written about their time in the White House. Instead, he called the publication a "great new book" and "an honest depiction" of the Trump White House. That's probably because despite her initial skepticism about the president, Westerhout said she soon realized she was wrong and now considers herself a big supporter of the president, even though she lost her job last year.

It's not the first time Trump has brushed off comments from Westerhout. The reason she was fired was because she once boasted to reporters that she believed she had a better relationship with Trump than his own daughters, but Trump called Westerhout a "very good person" and forgave her — though not enough to save her job. Tim O'Donnell

9:42 a.m.

It's time for a geography lesson with President Trump.

During an interview with Fox Sports on Tuesday, the president was asked about the situation in Hong Kong, where in recent months China has cracked down with a new national security law that threatens the city's autonomy, and where Hong Kong authorities arrested media tycoon Jimmy Lai earlier this week. Trump didn't exactly echo his national security adviser, Robert O'Brien, who previously said the U.S. is "deeply troubled" by Lai's arrest. He instead complained Hong Kong had made "a lot of money" the U.S. could have made because of "tremendous incentives."

But he did briefly wade into the political situation, simply to say that it's "a little bit tough from certain standpoints" because, when looking at a map, Hong Kong is "attached to" mainland China. And, well, there's no arguing with that. Tim O'Donnell

9:19 a.m.

Democrats announced the lineup of speakers at next week's Democratic National Convention on Tuesday, and all the usual suspects are included — former President Barack Obama, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), and several ex-presidential candidates, like Sens. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.).

But there's one name missing from the list that has pundits in a tizzy: Susan Rice, the Obama-era diplomat who is reportedly a top pick for vice president.

Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden hasn't announced his runningmate yet, and as he continues to punt the announcement, speculation has been escalating. He's already committed to selecting a woman, and is under some pressure to select a Black woman. But while another top contender, Harris, is listed as a speaker at the DNC, Rice is nowhere to be seen, despite her prominence and renewed spotlight as a VP possibility. Could she be the unnamed "Vice Presidential Nominee" slotted to speak on Wednesday?

It's far from hard evidence, but with analysts hungry for an update in the veepstakes, it's hard to ignore. The DNC is set to begin on Monday, and will largely consist of pre-recorded videos and virtual appearances, to avoid the originally-planned gathering in Milwaukee. Delegates have been asked to stay home, and Biden is expected to accept the nomination from Delaware. Summer Meza

Editor's note: This story has been updated to note Biden's plan to attend the DNC virtually.

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