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Emails show State Department raised serious ethics concerns about Trump’s secretary of transportation

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Officials in the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) spent months planning for Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao’s visit to China, but after all that planning and preparation, the trip was canceled. And the New York Times’ Eric Lipton is reporting that the State Department “raised ethics concerns” in response to some of Chao’s actions when the trip was being planned.

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In a Twitter thread, Lipton notes that the ethics concerns came about because in China, Chao’s “family was in the shipping business.” Chao, who is married to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, “took a particular interest in picking out gifts for officials she would meet in China,” Lipton tweets.

Lipton, in the thread, posts an August 27, 2017 e-mail from Chao in which she discusses possible gifts for Chinese officials. Chao, in the e-mail, writes, “When I was secretary of labor, I had a number of White House logo souvenirs like: candy bars, leather portfolios, etc. …. Can you find out how to get these White House gifts for us to bring as gifts to VIPs in China? Get a list, prices/items, etc. They will NOT be given out like water or candy…. but to special people.”

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Lipton, in his thread, reports that the DOT “went to great lengths” to “hide any evidence from THE NYT that Chao’s staff was communicating with FOREMOST (the family shipping company that does business in China) while they worked to prepare for this trip. Everything is redacted. Well, almost everything.”

Lipton also explains that after ethics questions were raised by the State Department, the trip was canceled “within a matter of days.”

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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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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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