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Pence will not appeal subpoena for Trump investigation, Masters tees off: 5 Things podcast

On today’s episode of the 5 Things podcast: Pence will not appeal subpoena for testimony in Trump investigation

Former Vice President Mike Pence will not appeal a subpoena for testimony in an investigation into Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election. Plus, thousands of students walk out of class to demand action for gun safety, USA TODAY National Correspondent Elizabeth Weise looks into illegal eel in U.S. sushi, USA TODAY Senior Tech and Economic Opportunity Reporter Jessica Guynn says Facebook is handing over more control of its algorithm to users, and the Masters tees off in Georgia.

Podcasts: True crime, in-depth interviews and more USA TODAY podcasts right here.

Hit play on the player above to hear the podcast and follow along with the transcript below. This transcript was automatically generated, and then edited for clarity in its current form. There may be some differences between the audio and the text.

Taylor Wilson:

Good morning. I’m Taylor Wilson and this is 5 Things you need to know Thursday, the 6th of April 2023. Today, what former Vice President Mike Pence’s testimony could mean for an investigation surrounding Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election. Plus, students walk out of class to demand gun safety, and there may be illegal eel in your sushi.

Former Vice President Mike Pence will not appeal a judge’s order for grand jury testimony as part of an investigation into Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election. Trump could still appeal the decision to try and guard his conversations with Pence leading up to the January 6th Capitol attack. Pence’s account of those talks could be potentially damaging to Trump. He was key to Trump’s strategy to block Biden’s election. The strategy called for Pence in his role as President of the Senate to reject electors from several contested states that Biden won, but Pence refused to participate. Pence’s decision comes a day after Trump appeared in a Manhattan court in a separate criminal case, pleading not guilty to 34 felony counts.

Thousands of students nationwide walked out of class yesterday to demand that lawmakers take action on gun safety. The mass protest follows the deadly shooting at a Nashville elementary school last week. The advocacy group, Everytown for Gun Safety, coordinated the walkouts through Students Demand Action and said there were more than 300 demonstrations across 41 states and DC to kick off a week of action by advocates and gun violence survivors. That includes in Uvalde, Texas. Dozens of high school students left class yesterday, a year after a shooting left 19 children and two teachers dead there. President Joe Biden is calling on Congress to act, saying he’s exhausted measures through executive action.

A shocking amount of illegal eel can be found in American sushi. So what’s the big deal? I spoke with USA TODAY National Correspondent Elizabeth Weiss to find out. Hello, Beth.

Elizabeth Weise:

Hello. How are you?

Taylor Wilson:

Good, thank you. Thanks for coming back on the program. So what did this study find about the eel being sold in North America and also all over the world?

Elizabeth Weise:

So this was just a crazy story. I mean, I saw when the paper came out and I was like, oh, that’s interesting. Eel, didn’t know much about eel when I read it. Then I talked to the researchers in the UK and I was like, oh my goodness, who knew? Illegal smuggled eel babies going… I mean, I just, it’s crazy.

I’d started because one of the researchers was doing some work here, actually in the San Francisco Bay Area where I am, a bunch of years back, and she started to see a lot of eel on the restaurant menus at Japanese restaurants. So she saw it and she thought, it’s really interesting. I wonder where that eel is coming from because Japanese eel, which is where sushi originally would’ve been, is threatened.

Fast-forward a bunch of years, she ends up in the University College London, where she connects up with some researchers at the University of Exeter and they started collecting samples of unagi, which is the Japanese word for eel from sushi restaurants, in Europe, in the United Kingdom and in America. And then they went and did DNA analysis of it all, and they were really surprised to find that almost none of it is Japanese eel. Most of it is European eel, which it really shouldn’t be because you’re not allowed to export European eel. And then a chunk of it is American eel.

Taylor Wilson:

Beth, what is the big deal here? Why is it such a problem that European eel is being exported in this way?

Elizabeth Weise:

European eel is highly endangered. It has been so overfished and there’s been such changes both in the climate and in the river systems in Europe, that they believe it’s at now probably five to 10% of what it once was historically. And so back in 2010, the European Union passed a law that you can no longer export eel from Europe. So there shouldn’t be European eel anywhere except in Europe. But it turns out there’s a lot of it here, and this is where the strange part comes in. Eel have this really crazy complex lifestyle where they spawn out in the open ocean, the little baby eel, which are called glass eel, which are transparent, swim up rivers into freshwater. That’s where they grow. And then when they’re ready to spawn, after sometimes as much as 10 years, they go back to the ocean.

Nobody’s figured out how to grow eels in ponds. So what you have to do is you have to go out to these rivers when the baby eel are swimming upstream, and you capture these glass eel, as they’re called, and then they get shipped mostly to Asia and actually primarily to China. So that means that somebody is going out into Europe and harvesting lots and lots of these glass eels, or the baby eel, which you can’t do. So where are they coming from? It turns out there’s whole organized crime groups in Europe that organize this massive illegal trade in European glass eels. So poachers use nets to get them from European rivers and streams. They sell them to middlemen, and these things can go for thousands of dollars a pound, and then they’re sold to smugglers who smuggle them to Asia.

Taylor Wilson:

So here’s the big question, Beth, for all of our sushi lovers. Can they, should they, morally speaking, continue to eat unagi or eel in sushi?

Elizabeth Weise:

The problem is you cannot look at a piece of unagi on a piece of sushi and have any idea which of these eel types – European, Japanese or American – it is. So if you don’t want to contribute to more overfishing of a very endangered species in Europe, you probably should avoid unagi. When you talk to people in the seafood world, they say you should always know where your seafood comes from, and sometimes that means you actually have to see the fish it came from. That is not so easy, however.

Taylor Wilson:

Elizabeth Weise, thanks so much.

Elizabeth Weise:

You’re so welcome.

Taylor Wilson:

If you’re tired of what you see in your Facebook feed, don’t worry. The company says it’s handing over more control of its algorithm to users. USA TODAY Senior Tech and Economic Opportunity Reporter Jessica Guynn has more. Hello, Jessica, welcome to 5 Things.

Jessica Guynn:

Hello, thank you so much for having me.

Taylor Wilson:

So Facebook says it’s putting more power in users’ hands when it comes to the algorithm. How’s this going to work?

Jessica Guynn:

Well, this is one in a series of adjustments Facebook is making that it says will give users a bit more control over what they see in their Facebook newsfeed. Basically, in coming weeks, you’ll start getting the option to see more content that Facebook users say users generally don’t want to see, like clickbait, spam or unoriginal news articles. Or you can see less of it, or you can opt out of seeing it at all. You also get some more control over sensitive content, and what they mean by that is like graphic or violent posts.

Taylor Wilson:

So why is Facebook doing this now?

Jessica Guynn:

This is part of an industry effort to give users more control, or at least seem like they’re giving users more control, as companies like Facebook and other social media companies come under fire from lawmakers, regulators, parents, all of us. And the problem that they’ve run into, among others, is that, as we documented with the Facebook whistleblower in the Facebook Papers, Facebook knew for a long time that these really powerful algorithms that decide what we see in our newsfeeds were driving pretty divisive and harmful content. So now it’s just trying to show that it’s listening and appease everyone, but it’s also trying to appease advertisers. So it’s a pretty tough balancing act.

Taylor Wilson:

Jessica, is this part of a shift in general where tech users want more control over their experience?

Jessica Guynn:

I’ve been talking recently with researchers who’ve identified control, control over what we see in our feeds, control over our data, and how it’s used as an issue that people really care about. And that’s relatable, right? And I feel like I’ve been there. You’ve been there. I’ve sworn under my breath more than a few times, whether it’s at my Facebook newsfeed or some autocorrect nuttiness that I can’t change. So I think that companies are understanding that people are frustrated.

Taylor Wilson:

Jessica Guynn, thanks so much.

Jessica Guynn:

Thanks for having me.

Taylor Wilson:

It’s a tradition unlike any other, the Masters. The biggest golf tournament of the year begins today in Augusta, Georgia. Last year’s winner, American Scotty Scheffler, is trying to become the first consecutive champion since Tiger Woods in 2001 and 2002. Speaking of Tiger, the 47-year-old will participate this year. The last time he won a major was at the Masters in 2019. This year’s tournament is not without controversy. 18 LIV golfers have accepted invitations to play. That decision has been criticized by people who say Augusta National is offering legitimacy to the LIV Golf tour, which is funded by the sovereign wealth fund of Saudi Arabia, a government with a track record of human rights violations. But LIV Golf CEO and Commissioner Greg Norman was not invited to attend.

As for the golf, the first group tees off at 8:00 AM Eastern Time with the last tee time set for two o’clock. You can watch on ESPN and masters.com before coverage shifts to CBS on Saturday and Sunday. The tournament may lose some time to weather delays though, with rain in the forecast beginning tomorrow.

Thanks for listening to 5 Things. You can find us every day of the week right here, wherever you get your audio. I’m back tomorrow with more of 5 Things from USA TODAY.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Pence will not appeal Trump subpoena, Masters begins: 5 Things podcast

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