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Popular US national parks to hike fees to $35, not $70

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The U.S. Interior Department will hike fees at the most popular national parks to $35 a vehicle, backing off a plan that would have cost visitors $70 a vehicle to visit Yellowstone and other well-known parks, the agency said on Thursday.

The new plan boosts fees at 117 parks by $5, up from the current $30 but half the figure the Interior Department proposed in October for peak-season visitors at 17 heavily visited parks, it said in a statement.

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 The fee increase would help finance a $11.6 billion backlog of maintenance and improvements. The proposal generated a wave of protests, and the Interior Department had to extend its comment period by 30 days to accommodate the more than 100,000 responses it received.
“This new fee structure addresses many of the concerns and ideas provided by the public regarding how to best address fee revenue for parks,” the department’s statement said.

 The new charges go into effect on June 1, and more than two-thirds of national parks will remain free to enter, it said.
Federal law requires that 80 percent of revenue generated at a national park remains where it is collected. The remaining funds can be funneled to other projects within the system.

Reporting by Ian Simpson; editing by Diane Craft

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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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If impeachment comes to the Senate – 5 questions answered

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Editor’s note: If the House of Representatives concludes its impeachment inquiry by passing articles of impeachment of President Donald Trump, attention will turn to the Senate. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, is known as a master of the Senate’s rules, and has been raising campaign donations with ads touting the power he would have over impeachment proceedings. Constitutional scholar Sarah Burns from the Rochester Institute of Technology answers some crucial questions already arising about what McConnell might be able to do, to either slow down the process or speed things along.

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Andrew Yang’s ‘freedom dividend’ echoes a 1930s basic income proposal that reshaped Social Security

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Entrepreneur and political novice Andrew Yang is hoping a wild gambit will help him win the Democratic presidential nomination: give 10 American families US$1,000 a month.

The announcement of a test run of his signature universal basic income proposal, which Yang argues is necessary to counter automation’s threat to millions of American jobs, garnered cheers from the student audience at the September debate and gave his candidacy a boost. At least half a million people have entered Yang’s basic income raffle.

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