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House Repubs keep up federal shutdown threat over Planned Parenthood

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As a possible U.S. government shutdown loomed, the leader of the House of Representatives’ most conservative Republicans vowed on Monday to oppose any stop-gap funding bill that keeps federal money flowing to Planned Parenthood.

In a showdown that threatens to jolt financial markets and the economy, Republican leaders were struggling to craft a government funding extension that meets anti-abortion conservatives’ demands to cut off the women’s healthcare group.

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Congress has five legislative days left before the fiscal year ends. On Oct. 1. If no action is taken, funding will run out for “non-essential” agencies and personnel. Republican House Speaker John Boehner has yet to articulate a plan.

“Our position is, we’re not going to vote for something that allows money to continue to go to Planned Parenthood,” Representative Jim Jordan said in a telephone interview from his Ohio district. He chairs the Freedom Caucus, a splinter group of the House’s most conservative Republicans.

Though they number only about three dozen, they have managed to exert outsized influence over the House and Boehner.

Jordan said there would be plenty of House votes for a plan to extend current levels of agency funding but shift Planned Parenthood’s funds to other women’s healthcare groups.

That sort of measure was expected to face opposition from Democrats and President Barack Obama. They have been supportive of Planned Parenthood since it came under attack weeks ago over a series of videos that allege the group sold aborted fetal tissue. Planned Parenthood has said it has done nothing wrong.

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Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have pledged to avoid a repeat of a 17-day government shutdown in October 2013, but also want to punish Planned Parenthood, a perennial target for Republicans.

While Boehner tries to advance a funding bill and tamp down a possible conservative revolt, the Senate might take the lead, with McConnell maneuvering for a politically palatable solution.

In McConnell’s hometown of Louisville, Kentucky, Sandra Dittmeier said Republicans should not be “holding the government hostage” over Planned Parenthood.

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Walking into the KentuckyOne Health Medical Mall, Dittmeier said Planned Parenthood may be controversial, but does some good and should be left alone.

“If they (Republicans) want to raise teenage girls’ babies, go for it I guess. I just really, really hate the whole method they’re going about it,” she said.

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New Zealand suspends America’s Cup funding after fraud, spy claims

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New Zealand froze payments to America's Cup organizers Thursday as officials investigate fraud claims in the lead-up to next year's prestigious yachting regatta in Auckland.

Government officials said they had suspended payments to America's Cup Events Limited, the private company organizing the race, following allegations of spying and misuse of public money.

"We are not intending to make further payments to ACE. This will be revisited pending the outcome of the process," the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment said in a statement.

The ministry has previously said it was investigating "structural and financial matters" surrounding the organization of the race but provided no further details.

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Trump supporters funded a private border wall that’s already at risk of falling down

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Tommy Fisher billed his new privately funded border wall as the future of deterrence, a quick-to-build steel fortress that spans 3 miles in one of the busiest Border Patrol sectors.

Unlike a generation of wall builders before him, he said he figured out how to build a structure directly on the banks of the Rio Grande, a risky but potentially game-changing step when it came to the nation’s border wall system.

Fisher has leveraged his self-described “Lamborghini” of walls to win more than $1.7 billion worth of federal contracts in Arizona.

But his showcase piece is showing signs of runoff erosion and, if it’s not fixed, could be in danger of falling into the Rio Grande, according to engineers and hydrologists who reviewed photos of the wall for ProPublica and The Texas Tribune. It never should have been built so close to the river, they say.

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Study uncovers most effective non-medical face mask for protecting against coronavirus

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A study conducted by researchers at Florida Atlantic University has found that the best type of non-medical face mask to protect against coronavirus is a stitched mask made from two layers of quilting fabric.With mask-wearing mandatory or at least encouraged in many areas to slow the spread of the virus, many Americans have taken to making DIY masks or buying low-cost ones from the store. While none of these masks reach the level of effectiveness that medical-grade masks and respirators do, some of them are still better than others.In the study, researchers used a mannequin head, a manual pump... (more…)

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