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Nominee for US EPA chemical safety withdraws: Bloomberg

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A former chemical industry consultant nominated by the Trump administration to head the Environmental Protection Agency’s chemical safety and pollution prevention office has withdrawn his nomination, Bloomberg reported on Wednesday.

Michael Dourson notified the administration of his decision on Wednesday after Republican senators raised concerns about his past work and possible conflicts of interest, said Bloomberg, which cited an unnamed official for the report.

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Dourson, a former professor at the University of Cincinnati who has worked as a consultant for chemical companies, was one of several people whose nominations for top EPA positions were approved by the Senate environment panel in October in a 11-10 vote along party lines.

Bloomberg said several Republican senators refused to support Dourson, including Richard Burr and Thom Tillis, both of North Carolina, who raised concerns about contaminated water at the Camp Lejeune military base in their state.

The White House did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment. A spokeswoman for Burr said she could not confirm that Dourson had withdrawn.

Tom Carper, the top Democrat on the Senate environment panel, said in a statement, “Dourson, an individual who has spent most of his career promoting less protective chemical safety standards, had no business overseeing our nation’s chemical safety laws.”

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Environmental group Earthjustice hailed the news as a “victory for all children, workers and communities who deserve the strongest protections from exposure to toxic chemicals and pesticides.”

Dourson, while a consultant, had assessed some chemicals, including PFOA, used to make Teflon non-stick surfaces, to be safe at levels far higher than considered acceptable by the EPA.

(Reporting by Roberta Rampton and Valerie Volcovici; Writing by Mohammad Zargham; Editing by Leslie Adler)

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Iran says seized British-flagged tanker ‘free’ to leave

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Iran said on Monday that a British-flagged oil tanker is "free" to leave more than two months after it was seized in the Gulf.

"The legal process has finished and based on that the conditions for letting the oil tanker go free have been fulfilled and the oil tanker can move," government spokesman Ali Rabiei told a news conference.

He did not specify when the Swedish-owned vessel would be allowed to set sail.

The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps surrounded the Stena Impero with attack boats before rappelling onto the deck of the tanker in the Strait of Hormuz on July 19.

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MSNBC’s Morning Joe fact-checks Trump’s ‘slimy’ lies about Biden: ‘He’s rigging the election!’

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MSNBC's Joe Scarborough threw cold water on President Donald Trump's accusations against Joe Biden, as the Ukraine scandal continues to widen.

The "Morning Joe" host ripped the president for pressuring Ukraine's president to dig up dirt on Biden and then leaning on states to cancel Republican primaries to snuff out three challengers' campaigns.

"You talk about an inside game, rigging the process, and we talked about how Donald Trump is rigging the process on the Republican side to make sure that as many states as possible cancel democratic elections for the primary," Scarborough said. "I mean, he's learning from Vladimir Putin the way you get 100 percent of the vote is you just cancel the elections, and that's what Donald Trump is getting Republican operatives to do across the country."

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Trump condemned for moving to ‘roll back the clock’ as letter exposes his attempt to form anti-abortion UN coalition

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"It's not just abortion that they care about, they care about women's ability to exercise autonomy over their bodies and about denying them critical access to the services they need."

Global women's rights advocates raised alarm Monday after a leaked letter showed the Trump administration is pressuring U.N. member nations to join an international anti-abortion coalition.

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