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Up First briefing: Trump's Georgia indictment; DA Fani Willis; microbes and kimchi

Former President Donald Trump listens as he is introduced to speak at the South Carolina Statehouse, Saturday, Jan. 28, 2023, in Columbia, S.C.
Alex Brandon
/
AP
Former President Donald Trump listens as he is introduced to speak at the South Carolina Statehouse, Saturday, Jan. 28, 2023, in Columbia, S.C.

Good morning. You're reading the Up First newsletter. Subscribe here to get it delivered to your inbox, and listen to the Up First podcast for all the news you need to start your day.

Today's top stories

A grand jury in Atlanta indicted Trump late last night for his role in failed efforts to overturn Georgia's 2020 election results. The 41-count indictment also names 18 others, including former Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani and former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows. All 19 defendants are accused of violating the state's Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, or RICO.

  • On Up First this morning, Georgia Public Broadcasting's Stephen Fowler says the Fulton County DA used RICO — originally meant to go after the mob — "creatively as this narrative tool to target alleged criminal enterprises." Trump and his allies are accused of engaging in more than 160 acts that are not all illegal but show there's a "broader conspiracy afoot to do illegal things." Fowler describes them as "building blocks that make up the wall of actions to overturn the election" rather than blatantly illegal acts.
  • Fani Willis is the district attorney charging Trump. She's the first woman elected to her role in Fulton County, where Atlanta is, and she's no stranger to high-stakes cases. She's won 11 convictions in the Atlanta Public Schools cheating scandal and is currently seeking the death penalty and hate crime enhancements against the shooter who allegedly killed eight people in Atlanta-area spas in 2021, including six Asian women.
  • Get more details of the indictment with NPR's live blog.
  • Photos from the courthouse showed reporters' and the public's anticipation as they waited for the grand jury's decision.
  • Listen to Trump's phone call with Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, exhorting him to "find 11,780 votes" and undo Biden's victory ahead of the counting of Electoral College votes.
  • From Our Hosts

    This essay is written by Leila Fadel, who hosts Morning Edition and Up First. She was previously an NPR national correspondent covering race and identity and prior to that an international correspondent based in Cairo.

    There's something that Pidgeon Pagonis told me when we sat down to discuss their memoir, Nobody Needs to Know, that hurt my heart.

    "Everyone had been lying to me my entire life."

    / Sarah Joyce/Courtesy of TOPPLE/Little A
    /
    Sarah Joyce/Courtesy of TOPPLE/Little A

    The intersex advocate was raised as a girl. They didn't know the real reason they didn't get a period. They didn't know the real reason doctors operated on them throughout their childhood. They didn't know that the painful and invasive surgeries weren't actually necessary.

    They discovered the truth by accident in a college freshman gender studies class. They were intersex. It upended Pagonis' world. It changed their understanding of their past and put them on a future path of activism. The book takes the reader on the same journey Pagonis lived. It's filled with heartbreak, healing and triumph. But after this book, they say they're done telling the story of their past. From now on, they'll only look forward. Listen here.

    Leila Fadel, Morning Edition host

    Weekly dose of wonder

    Ingredients, temperature time and microbes all affect how fermented foods taste. As kimchi ferments, the flavors will change over time.
    / Meredith Rizzo for NPR
    /
    Meredith Rizzo for NPR
    Ingredients, temperature time and microbes all affect how fermented foods taste. As kimchi ferments, the flavors will change over time.

    Weekly Dose of Wonder highlights wondrous, awe-inspiring stories that deepen our connection to the natural world and humanity.

    Why do some foods improve with age, while others spoil? NPR's Pien Huang set out to find the answer by spending time with Chef Patrice Cunningham to learn how to make kimchi. Through the process, Huang came to appreciate the tiny microbes that transform cabbage into kimchi, milk into yogurt, soybeans into soy sauce, and so many more delicious things we enjoy.

    It's an appreciation that also unites me and my fiancé. Kimchi is a big part of my diet as an Asian American, and his German family introduced me to sauerkraut. Listen to learn the science behind and health benefits of the wonder-inducing process of fermentation. Or, read the story here.

    3 things to know before you go

    Nick Maier measures a wood panel for the interior of the miniature house that a giant troll sculpture will be peeking into in Southwest Portland on Aug. 8, 2023.
    / Caden Perry / OPB
    /
    Caden Perry / OPB
    Nick Maier measures a wood panel for the interior of the miniature house that a giant troll sculpture will be peeking into in Southwest Portland on Aug. 8, 2023.

  • Trolls are taking over the Pacific Northwest. Artist Thomas Dambo will install six whimsical giant troll sculptures made of reclaimed materials like scrap wood, old pallets and twigs across Washington state. They'll be there for at least three years, so plan your trip! (via OPB)
  • Jamal Jawad's luck went from bad to worse when he opened his frozen custard shop: The pandemic came then two cars crashed into his store. Through perseverance, he now has three stores and a partnership with the Detroit Pistons
  • Retired NFL star Michael Oher, the subject of the film The Blind Side, says the wealthy Tuohy family never adopted him. He alleges they tricked him into a conservatorship and profited from his name, image and likeness, while he never received money for The Blind Side's success.
  • This newsletter was edited by Majd Al-Waheidi.

    Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.