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Republican McCain wavers on Trump’s White House budget chief nominee

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Senator John McCain said on Wednesday he is leaning against voting to confirm U.S. President Donald Trump’s nominee to be White House budget director, Representative Mick Mulvaney.

A Senate vote on Mulvaney, a leading member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus who represents South Carolina, was expected on Thursday at 7 a.m.

Wavering support from McCain alone would not jeopardize Mulvaney’s confirmation, but the Arizona senator and former presidential candidate could sway other Republicans. A Senate panel only narrowly backed the nominee earlier this month in a party-line vote.

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Republicans have 52 of the 100 Senate seats and are able to approve Trump’s nominees if they can hold together a majority.

McCain, who chairs the Senate Armed Services Committee that oversees defense spending, a massive part of the U.S. budget, told CNN he is concerned about Mulvaney’s opposition to such spending.

CNN, citing sources familiar with the matter, said fellow Republican Senator Thad Cochran also shares those concerns and is not sure he can support Trump’s nominee.

Democrats have criticized Mulvaney for taking a hard fiscal line on popular social programs and for not paying more than $15,000 in taxes in relation to a household employee until after he was nominated.

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He has said he favors raising the Social Security retirement age to 70 and means-testing beneficiaries of the Medicare healthcare program. These positions have drawn the ire of Senator Bernie Sanders, an independent who caucuses with Democrats and sought the party’s presidential nomination in 2016.

(Reporting by Richard Cowan and Susan Cornwell; Writing by Susan Heavey; Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh and David Gregorio)

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Federal judge overturns ObamaCare’s transgender protections, because Jesus

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A U.S. District Court judge in Texas has overturned the protections written into ObamaCare for transgender people, ruling they violate the religious rights of healthcare providers who hold religious beliefs that oppose the existence of transgender people.

On Tuesday Judge Reed O'Connor, appointed by President George W. Bush, "vacated an Obama-era regulation that prohibited providers and insurers who receive federal money from denying treatment or coverage to anyone based on sex, gender identity or termination of pregnancy," The Hill reports.

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Sanctuaries protecting gun rights and the unborn challenge the legitimacy and role of federal law

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In June 2019, the small Texas town of Waskom declared itself a “Sanctuary City for the Unborn.”

Waskom’s city council passed an ordinance that labels groups – like Planned Parenthood, NARAL and others – that perform abortions or assist women in obtaining them “criminal organizations.”

The ordinance borrows from a similar resolution passed in March by Roswell, New Mexico. Unlike the merely rhetorical Roswell resolution, however, the Texas law bans most abortions within city limits. There are no abortion providers in the town, so it is not clear how the town would enforce the ordinance. It might, perhaps, deter an organization from opening a clinic.

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Quantum dots that light up TVs could be used for brain research

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While many people love colorful photos of landscapes, flowers or rainbows, some biomedical researchers treasure vivid images on a much smaller scale – as tiny as one-thousandth the width of a human hair.

To study the micro world and help advance medical knowledge and treatments, these scientists use fluorescent nano-sized particles.

Quantum dots are one type of nanoparticle, more commonly known for their use in TV screens. They’re super tiny crystals that can transport electrons. When UV light hits these semiconducting particles, they can emit light of various colors.

That fluorescence allows scientists to use them to study hidden or otherwise cryptic parts of cells, organs and other structures.

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