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No, it was not a dream. There really was a 30-foot inflatable chicken behind the White House on Wednesday.

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Federal prosecutors have lots of ways to intensify pressure on the people they're investigating, from early morning FBI raids to leaning on relatives of those under government scrutiny.

But even by those measures, the special counsel investigating Russian interference in last year's presidential election is moving with unusual speed and assertiveness, according to half a dozen legal experts following the probe.

A recently unsealed FBI affidavit reveals that investigators in the U.S. have been looking into a global financial network which used fake eBay transactions to funnel money to an alleged operative in the U.S.

The network was run by senior Islamic State official Sitful Sujan, who was killed in a U.S.-led airstrike in December of 2015.

The Wall Street Journal reports:

Updated Aug. 11 at 6:45 p.m. ET

President Trump said Thursday that he was "very thankful" that Russian President Vladimir Putin had ordered the expulsion of hundreds of U.S. diplomats from the country in response to sanctions — because the administration needs to cut the State Department's budget anyway.

Updated at 6:55 p.m. ET

President Trump is doubling down on his incendiary rhetoric aimed at North Korea, saying on Thursday that his promise earlier in the week to meet Pyongyang's threats with "fire and fury" might have been too soft.

President Trump says he is ready to declare the nation's opioid crisis "a national emergency," saying it is a "serious problem the likes of which we have never had." Speaking to reporters at the entrance to his Bedminster, N.J., golf club, where he is on a working vacation, Trump promised "to spend a lot of time, a lot of effort and a lot of money on the opioid crisis."

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Today President Trump doubled down on his aggressive stance toward North Korea. He said maybe his threat to rain down fire and fury on the country wasn't tough enough.

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When people in several North Carolina precincts showed up to vote last November, weird things started to happen with the electronic systems used to check them in.

"Voters were going in and being told that they had already voted — and they hadn't," recalls Allison Riggs, an attorney with the Southern Coalition for Social Justice.

The electronic systems — known as poll books — also indicated that some voters had to show identification, even though they did not.

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Ten years ago, Fumiko Chino was the art director at a television production company in Houston, engaged to be married to a young Ph.D. candidate.

Today, she's a radiation oncologist at Duke University, studying the effects of financial strain on cancer patients. And she's a widow.

How she got from there to here is a story about how health care and money are intertwined in ways that doctors and patients don't like to talk about.

Nuclear Threat Initiative

Our guest on today’s show is former Georgia U.S. Senator Sam Nunn. Nunn served in the U.S. senate for 24 years. He was the chairman of the prestigious Armed Services Committee and of the Permanent Sub-Committee on Investigations. After retiring from the senate in 1997, he became the founder of the Nuclear Threat Initiative, a non-profit organization dedicated to preventing catastrophic attacks with weapons of mass destruction.

Delray Beach's charming downtown, palm trees and waves attract locals, vacationers and, increasingly, drug users who come here to try to get off opioids. In some parts of the small Florida community, there's a residential program for people recovering from addiction — a sober living house or "sober home" — on nearly every block. Sometimes two or three.

John Dean is very familiar with the Trump administration's declared war on leaks. Dean, who was President Richard Nixon's White House counsel, says Nixon's battle against leaks proved costly and led to the Watergate scandal.

Dean revealed the former Republican president's involvement in the attempted cover-up and pleaded guilty to his own role.

Every day, more than 10 Americans suffer amputations on what is by far the most dangerous woodworking tool: the table saw. Regulators in Washington, D.C., are moving closer to adopting a rule that would make new saws so much safer that they could prevent 99 percent of serious accidents.

Updated at 10:29 a.m.

The Senate is long gone. The House? Splitsville. The president is at his golf club in New Jersey. Only the hardiest swamp creatures continue to scuttle in and out of the half-empty offices of late-August Washington, D.C.

Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller and his team, however, haven't gone anywhere.

Utah Republicans will vote on Tuesday in a special primary in the race to succeed former Rep. Jason Chaffetz. Given how solidly Republican the district is, the race is seen as effectively crowning his eventual successor. It has also exposed growing divisions within the GOP over President Trump and the direction of the party.

The three candidates competing in the 3rd Congressional District primary on Aug. 15 are Provo Mayor John Curtis, former state lawmaker Chris Herrod and political newcomer Tanner Ainge, the son of Boston Celtics General Manager Danny Ainge.

Updated at 8:58 p.m. ET

The U.S. State Department says it expelled two Cuban diplomats earlier this year after several Americans at the U.S. Embassy in Havana experienced strange medical symptoms and were either recalled to the U.S. or allowed to come home.

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said the "incidents" were first discovered in late 2016, but she declined to provide any details.

Many countries are moving to repeal long-established laws that allow rapists to escape punishment if they marry their victims.

A handful of places have recently repealed these laws, including Tunisia, Morocco and, just last week, Jordan.

North Korea said it would finalize plans for missile launches near Guam by the middle of this month and then wait for a green light from leader Kim Jong Un before carrying them out.

The statement, disseminated by state-run news agency KCNA, comes amid an increasingly tense tit-for-tat between Pyongyang and Washington, as well as reports that U.S. intelligence has determined that North Korea can now fix nuclear warheads onto its ballistic missiles, including an ICBM thought capable of reaching the United States.

Even before media reports and a congressional hearing vilified Valeant Pharmaceuticals International for raising prices on a pair of lifesaving heart drugs, Dr. Umesh Khot knew something was very wrong.

Updated on Aug. 10 at 4 p.m. ET

President Trump is continuing to voice his frustration with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, tweeting on Thursday that the Kentucky Republican should "get back to work" after last month's failure to pass a health care alternative to the Affordable Care Act.

Five openly transgender members of the U.S. military are suing President Trump and other leaders of the U.S. government over Trump's declaration, over Twitter, that trans people will no longer be allowed to serve in the U.S. military. The suit alleges that Trump's directive is "arbitrary and capricious," unconstitutionally depriving the service members of due process.

Since spending his earliest years in a five-bedroom Tudor-style home in Queens, N.Y., President Trump now occupies far fancier digs. But for those who want an inside look at where it all began, Trump's childhood home is now available for rent on Airbnb.

"In 1946, Donald Trump was born to Fred and Mary Trump, and brought home to Jamaica Estates. Here they lived," the listing says.

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