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US cannot cut teen pregnancy prevention grants : federal judge

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A federal judge has blocked U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration from terminating grant funding for teen pregnancy prevention programs run by affiliates of Planned Parenthood, saying the decision was arbitrary.

U.S. District Judge Thomas Rice in Spokane, Washington, ruled on Tuesday that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services had failed to satisfactorily explain why it decided in July to terminate the five-year grants two years early.

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HHS failed to follow proper administrative procedures and “arbitrarily and capriciously” terminated the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program, which provides grants for evidence-based teen pregnancy prevention programs, Rice said.

He rejected the administration’s contention that a ruling favoring Planned Parenthood would “handcuff” policymakers and force the government to continue funding multi-year grant projects even when they are not in its best interest.

“The Court does not seek to ‘handcuff policymakers,’ but merely finds that Plaintiffs have established that an agency must follow its own regulations in terminating a program,” Rice wrote.

The ruling was hailed by the plaintiffs in the case, Planned Parenthood of Greater Washington and North Idaho, Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and Hawaiian Islands and Planned Parenthood of the Heartland.

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It followed a similar decision last week by a federal judge in Washington, D.C. who ruled in favor of four other grant recipients in finding the administration’s cuts were unlawful.

“The courts confirmed that the Trump-Pence administration’s attempt to impose its ideological agenda on young people is unlawful,” Dawn Laguens, executive vice president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said in a statement.

HHS did not respond to a request for comment on Wednesday.

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The case was among four announced in February by Planned Parenthood, a non-profit that provides contraception, health screenings and abortions, and other services including those centered on the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program.

Congress created the program in 2010 during of Democratic President Barack Obama’s administration.

Congress has continued to appropriate about $110 million annually for the program since then. HHS currently funds 84 grants, and Planned Parenthood says the program serves 1.2 million young people nationally.

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In July, however, HHS told recipients of 81 of the five-year grants that it would be terminating their agreements two years early. The remaining three were terminated in September.

The Planned Parenthood affiliates in their lawsuit called the decision part of the Republican Trump administration’s “broader political agenda against sexual and reproductive health and evidence-based and science-based programs.”

Trump’s Vice President Mike Pence, a former Indiana governor and strident opponent of abortion, has pushed Congress to defund Planned Parenthood.

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Reporting by Nate Raymond in Boston; Editing by Tom Brown

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Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

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70 US mayors issue scathing letter demanding Trump USDA call off effort to strip food stamps from 3 million people

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"Executive action should not be used to hurt individuals, families, and communities."

In a letter Wednesday to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, mayors from 70 cities across the country expressed their "strong opposition" to the Trump administration's proposed federal rule that could cut off food stamps for more than 3 million people.

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US raps China for ‘escalation’ in South China Sea

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The United States on Thursday sharpened its criticism of China's activities in disputed areas of the South China Sea, slamming an "escalation" in efforts to intimidate other claimants" such as Vietnam.

China redeployed a government-owned survey vessel -- with armed escorts -- into the waters off Vietnam earlier this month, the US said.

Hanoi says those waters are part of its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

The move could reignite a spat between Beijing and Vietnam over rights to the resource-rich waters in the South China Sea. Other countries in Southeast Asia also have claimed parts of the sea.

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2020 Election

‘Unhinged, erratic and nuts’: Conservative warns Trump’s ‘chosen one’ outburst should set off alarms

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In her column for the Washington Post, conservative never-Trumper Jennifer Rubin implored Republicans to look deep down inside themselves and stop defending Donald Trump after the president bizarrely declared himself the "chosen one" while speaking to the press on Wednesday.

Under a headline, "Trump’s unhinged display should frighten everyone,"Rubin ticked off comments made by the president in the past week since he returned from vacation including expressing a desire to buy Greenland, proposing -- then backing off -- new tax policies and calling Jews "disloyal" and wondered what it will take for people to see that the president is "nuts."

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