Between my dad's love for upstate New York's sharp cheddars and the annual gift-pack of farmhouse cheeses my brother sends from California, cheese figures pretty heavily in my holiday season. This year Bronwen and Francis Percival's new book, Reinventing the Wheel: Milk, Microbes, and the Fight for Real Cheese, makes that not just cause for pleasure, but reflection as well.

A viral video making the rounds Friday has one of President Trump's judicial nominees in an uncomfortable spotlight.

Matthew Petersen has been nominated for a judgeship on the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, one of the nation's most important federal courts. Petersen is now a member of the Federal Election Commission.

But his trouble began during Wednesday's confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee when, among a panel of five nominees, he alone told Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., that he had never tried a case in court.

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The average American reads at an 8th-grade level, but the patient information that doctors and hospitals provide often presumes that people have much more advanced reading skills.

So some researchers decided to see what happens when 9-year-olds write the patient guides.

Britain's senior-most military officer is warning that an improving Russian navy poses risks to undersea communications and Internet cables, saying any disruption could do "catastrophic" damage to the economy.

Air Chief Marshal Sir Stuart Peach said Britain and NATO need to prioritize protecting communications cables running along the seabed between countries and continents to prevent them being severed.

Behold, the cocktail avocado. No, that's not a weird cucumber. It's the latest in avocado innovation, on offer at British retail chain Marks & Spencer.

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U.S. retailers are looking forward to a strong holiday season this year after new numbers show higher than expected sales for November.

The Commerce Department said Thursday that retail and food sales were up 5.8 percent last month over November 2016, according to advance estimates. And, sales were up a seasonally adjusted 0.8 percent from October of this year.

A risky move by one of the defense teams has led to unusual drama in the seemingly-endless pre-trial proceedings of the 9/11 war crimes case.

Defense attorney Walter Ruiz decided to roll the dice and challenge the prosecution to prove that his client, alleged 9/11 money man Mustafa al Hawsawi, should be tried as a war criminal.

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It's no secret that we've had a rough fall and winter with natural disasters. Even as we write this, fires burn in Southern California, adding to the previous wildfires in the northern part of the state that burned over 245,000 acres in October.

Hurricanes Irma and Harvey devastated communities across Florida and Texas, while touching communities in Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, the Carolinas and Louisiana.

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First, it looked like the GOP tax bill was going to be a done deal by Christmas. Now, who knows?

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Remembering What Makes The Holidays Special

18 hours ago

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Debra Thompson is throwing a block party. She has good weather for it — never a sure thing in Chicago — a warm and sunny autumn afternoon. Music is playing, hot dogs are grilling.

But this party isn't just for fun. Thompson is the volunteer chairwoman of Englewood Village, an organization that connects low-income older adults on the city's South Side with services from nutrition to job assistance to home repair. And this is how she is reaching out to potential new members.

On Friday, nine federal judges in Chicago will continue a rare joint hearing to decide whether discrimination is the reason why U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agents stage phony drug stash house stings in mostly black neighborhoods in Chicago.

The judges decided to get together instead of hearing 12 cases they were overseeing separately.

One attorney says while he's never seen anything like the judges' panel before, the phony drug stash house sting operation aimed at suspects is not new.

'The Atlantic': What Putin Really Wants

19 hours ago

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With lawmakers in the House and Senate announcing that they've reached a deal, affordable housing advocates are anxiously waiting to see which version of the bill wins out with regard to housing. They say the House bill has a poison pill in it.

"The effect would be devastating," says Diane Yentel, president of the National Low Income Housing Coalition. "It would mean a loss of around 800,000 affordable rental homes over the next 10 years."

The Army's Green Berets have gained a reputation over the decades for their toughness and fighting skills. They served with local forces in Vietnam, and in recent years, they've deployed repeatedly to Iraq and Afghanistan. The list of their deployments continues to grow: Niger. Somalia. Yemen. Syria. Philippines.

Now a fight appears to be growing inside the Green Beret community.

President Trump, minutes before heading to speak at the FBI's National Academy, lashed out at the bureau, saying, "It's a shame what's happened with the FBI" and claiming there are "a lot of very angry people that are seeing it."

Effortless storytelling is at the heart of This Is The Kit. And the stories the band's only permanent member, Kate Stables, weaves are profound but sweet with a tone that quietly reels you in.

The Last Jedi — the newest chapter in the Star Wars saga — marks the return of actors Mark Hamill, Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver and the late Carrie Fisher to their Force Awakens characters. The space opera was written and directed by Rian Johnson, who's also set to work on the next Star Wars trilogy.

Johnson has been a Star Wars fan since he was a little boy in Denver, playing with his action figures.

After the storm blew out her windows, Maria Enid Rodriguez lost water, Internet, power and her entire home office. Her company offered her a one-way ticket to be with family in New Britain, Conn. Rodriguez refused. She said that it was a round trip ticket or nothing. She wanted to come back.

"I went to New Britain for 10 days," she said, through her tears. "Not for me. For them. For my daughters. They have to see me, that I was okay."

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