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NPR poll: Trump’s hush money trial is unlikely to sway most people’s votes; Giant pandas are heading to Washington

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Today's top stories

Trump supporters and their opponents spar outside of the criminal court where the former president is on trial on Wednesday in New York City.
Stephanie Keith / Getty Images
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Getty Images
Trump supporters and their opponents spar outside of the criminal court where the former president is on trial on Wednesday in New York City.

Jury deliberations resume today in former President Donald Trump's hush money trial. Yesterday, New York Judge Juan Merchan delivered jury instructions for an hour and reminded jurors of their promise to be impartial. Guilty or not, a new NPR poll shows the trial's outcome won't impact most people's votes. Two-thirds of respondents said a guilty verdict would make no difference. Three-quarters said the same of a not guilty verdict. Another 15% said a guilty verdict would make them more likely to vote for Trump.

  • 🎧 NPR's Domenico Montanaro tells Up First that respondents had very different takes on the trial. One told NPR producer Janet Woojeong Lee that the trial affirmed for him that nobody should vote for Trump. Another called the trial a "farce." Montanaro says this is the world we live in. "People have very different views of our politics…especially of Donald Trump. And those views are, for the most part, very locked in."


​​​Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito has declined to recuse himself from two cases related to the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol. Members of Congress called for his recusal after news reports said two flags linked to Trump supporters who falsely believe the 2020 election was stolen were flown outside of his homes. Democratic lawmakers argue that the flags meant he would be unable to be impartial in the cases. Alito said it was his wife’s decision to fly both flags, adding that neither he nor his wife was aware of the modern political connotations associated with them.

Giant pandas are returning to D.C.'s National Zoo. Zoo officials say two new adolescent pandas, Bao Li and Qing Bao, will arrive from China by the end of the year. The cute creatures have been a fan favorite of visitors ever since the first pair arrived in 1972 as a historic token of China's friendship. Last November, the second pair, Mei Xiang and Tian Tian, departed for China after 23 years without an agreement to secure a new pair. The new panda loan has a 10-year term, though previous loans have been extended. Cubs born to the pair will belong to China and must be sent back when they turn 4 years old.

Deep dive

Ivan-balvan / Getty Images/iStockphoto
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Getty Images/iStockphoto

In our screen-dominated world, text messages, Google calendars and Notes app grocery lists have largely replaced handwritten letters, physical planners and sticky notes. Many schools have started to introduce computers as early as preschool — meaning kids learn how to type before they learn how to write by hand. A growing body of research shows that giving up this slower, more tactile way of expression may have consequences.

  • ✍️ Handwriting is one of the most complex motor skills the brain is capable of. It requires a more fine-tuned connection between the motor and visual systems and more deeply engages our brain than typing.
  • ✍️ Kids learn to recognize letters better when they see variable handwritten examples compared to uniform typed examples. Letter recognition in early childhood is a large predictor of future reading and math attainment.
  • ✍️ For adults, writing by hand can force you to slow down and process information better.
  • ✍️ Tech junkies don't have to ditch their digital tools to get these benefits. Research suggests writing with a stylus on a screen activates the same brain pathways as using pen and paper.

Today's listen

Yo-Yo Ma performs in Washington, D.C., on June 25, 2018.
Larry French / Getty Images North America
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Getty Images North America
Yo-Yo Ma performs in Washington, D.C. on June 25, 2018.

25 years ago, a high school student asked Yo-Yo Ma if his famed 1700s cello had a name. He replied no but offered to play her some music and let her name it. That's how the name Petunia stuck. Ma shared this story with Fresh Air's Terry Gross at an event at WHYY, where he received the NPR Network station's annual Lifelong Learning Award. Over the course of his career, Ma — a child prodigy — has played for nine American presidents and earned 19 Grammys and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. He most recently played at a memorial at D.C.'s National Cathedral to honor the seven World Central Kitchen aid workers killed last month by Israeli airstrikes in Gaza.

  • 🎧 Listen to Ma play music on Petunia and discuss how music can "make you think you are touching infinity."

3 things to know before you go

Satchel Paige of the Monarchs talks with Josh Gibson of the Homestead Grays before a game in Kansas City in 1941.
Mark Rucker / Transcendental Graphics, Getty Images
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Transcendental Graphics, Getty Images
Satchel Paige of the Monarchs talks with Josh Gibson of the Homestead Grays before a game in Kansas City in 1941.

  1. Hundreds of Black athletes are now officially part of Major League Baseball after they were shut out of it a century ago. The MLB announced it added 2,300 Negro Leagues players from 1920 to 1948 into its records.
  2. Babesiosis, a potentially deadly tickborne disease, is on the rise in New England due to climate change and increased human interaction with ticks. Cases more than doubled from 2011 to 2019, according to the CDC. (via WGBH)
  3. Minnesota has won the inaugural championship of the Professional Women’s Hockey League after defeating Boston 3-0 last night.

This newsletter was edited by Majd Al-Waheidi.

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