Tag Archives: research

FEMA director calls San Juan mayor’s concerns ‘political noise.’

Sorry to ruin the party, but a report from the Food Climate Research Network casts doubt on recent suggestions that pasture-raised cattle could sequester massive amounts of carbon in the soil.

By nibbling plants and stimulating new root growth, the old argument goes, cows can encourage deeper root networks, which suck up more carbon. Proponents of grass-fed meat have embraced these findings, saying that pasture-raised livestock could mitigate the impact of meat consumption on the environment.

The new report — cleverly titled “Grazed and Confused?” — acknowledges that pastured cattle can be carbon negative, but this depends on the right soil and weather conditions. In most places, according to the report, grazers produce much more greenhouse gas than they add to the ground. It is an “inconvenient truth,” the authors write, that most studies show grass-fed beef has a bigger carbon footprint than feedlot meat. “Increasing grass-fed ruminant numbers is, therefore, a self-defeating climate strategy,” the report concludes.

Fortunately, grass-fed beef is not the only solution being bandied about: Research shows that a small dose of seaweed in livestock feed could drastically reduce methane emissions. And if you really want to reduce your impact on the climate you could, you know, stop eating meat.

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FEMA director calls San Juan mayor’s concerns ‘political noise.’

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Dark Matter and the Dinosaurs – Lisa Randall

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Dark Matter and the Dinosaurs

The Astounding Interconnectedness of the Universe

Lisa Randall

Genre: Earth Sciences

Price: $11.99

Publish Date: October 27, 2015

Publisher: Ecco

Seller: HarperCollins


In this brilliant exploration of our cosmic environment, the renowned particle physicist and New York Times bestselling author of Warped Passages and Knocking on Heaven’s Door uses her research into dark matter to illuminate the startling connections between the furthest reaches of space and life here on Earth. Sixty-six million years ago, an object the size of a city descended from space to crash into Earth, creating a devastating cataclysm that killed off the dinosaurs, along with three-quarters of the other species on the planet. What was its origin? In Dark Matter and the Dinosaurs, Lisa Randall proposes it was a comet that was dislodged from its orbit as the Solar System passed through a disk of dark matter embedded in the Milky Way. In a sense, it might have been dark matter that killed the dinosaurs. Working through the background and consequences of this proposal, Randall shares with us the latest findings—established and speculative—regarding the nature and role of dark matter and the origin of the Universe, our galaxy, our Solar System, and life, along with the process by which scientists explore new concepts. In Dark Matter and the Dinosaurs, Randall tells a breathtaking story that weaves together the cosmos’ history and our own, illuminating the deep relationships that are critical to our world and the astonishing beauty inherent in the most familiar things.

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Dark Matter and the Dinosaurs – Lisa Randall

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How Going Zero Waste Made Me a Better Person

One year ago, my husband and I sat down at the dinner table with coffee in hand?to chat about the possibility of pursuing zero waste in our home. I had recently read an article on?’living your values’?by?the lovely Lauren Singer, and felt extremely convicted to better manage my own environmental impact?and carbon footprint.

My life has never been the same since.

If there is one thing that going zero waste over this past year has taught me, it is that most issues of sustainable living?can be solved by pursuing a daily posture of mindfulness.?What do I mean by that? To me, mindfulness, or living consciously, means recognizing that every action I?take?large or small?has a direct impact on the health of the planet and our global community as a whole.

In?The Art of Power, Thich Nhat Hanh explains:

Everything is related to everything else. Your well-being and the well-being of your family are essential elements in bringing about the well-being of your business or of any organization where you work. Finding ways to protect yourself and promote your own well-being is the most basic investment you can make. This will have an impact on your family and work environment, but first of all it will result in an improvement in the quality of your own life.

In other words,?intentionally stepping out of my?natural, autopilot-like way?brings about goodness?in both my own life?and that of my?community. This is the very root of mindful?living.

What Daily Mindfulness Looks Like for a Zero Waster

As every zero waster will tell you, going zero waste is not easy.?Every day, I make the conscious choice to go against the grain, defy cultural norms and accept inconveniences for the sake of the greater good.

For example, today I:

Brought a (spotless) mason jar to our local juice bar and asked them to fill it in place of a much more convenient styrofoam cup.
Turned down the opportunity to enjoy?free lunch at work because?doing so would have meant tossing a pile of trash, when I had a perfectly suitable lunch already waiting for me at home.
Asked?for dairy-free milk in my coffee because going vegan makes me feel good in more ways than one.

These small, daily?decisions may seem inconsequential, but over a lifetime their impact adds up. Had I chosen to go through my day on autopilot, I likely would have tossed the styrofoam cup, taken every freebie thrown at me, at the expense of the planet and left Starbucks with a stomachache and?a side of guilt. That’s no way to live!

So, I ask you this: What conveniences are you willing to sacrifice for the sake of the greater good? What changes can you make in your own life that will put you on the path toward contentment and happiness? What can you do to live a more mindful, conscious life?

Putting it into Practice

Moving yourself toward a fuller state of mindfulness is not something that happens overnight.?It will require a conscious effort that involves education, meditation and reflection. Ready to pursue more conscious living? These tips will help you get started!

1. Question everything.

The easiest way to step out of autopilot mode is to confront everything in your life with a critical eye. Do you really need that plastic straw to enjoy your drink? Would you be better off walking a few blocks to the grocery story, rather than driving your car? Question your choices and start making more intentional ones.

2. Educate yourself.

It’s hard to make a good decision when you aren’t yet equipped with the facts. These documentaries and books are a great place to start. Curious about transitioning to a plant-based diet? Do your research, then make the choice based on what you’ve learned. Want to experience?a stronger reaction to issues of waste? Look into?the detriments of using and throwing away plastics. You’ll never be the same!

3.?Start meditating.

When you wake in the morning, meditate on powerful ideas?like love, respect, empathy and interconnectedness. Sit in a comfortable position, close your eyes (or light a candle if you need a focal point to maintain focus) and consider how you fit into the big picture.?To get the most out of your?meditation, set clear, specific intentions?or try one of these exercises.

4. Equip yourself.

It’s so much easier to make good, conscious decisions when you have a sustainable alternative in front of you. Carry a?travel mug with you in your bag so that when the opportunity arises you can use it in place of a disposable cup. Equip yourself with the tools you need to be successful and you will be.

5. Practice empathy.

Cultivating your ability to understand (and subsequently feel) the feelings of another is an important step toward living your life more consciously. What do you think the people who live in the shadow of our landfills are experiencing? What about those who drink water contaminated by industrial?runoff driven by human consumption? Asking questions?like these will help you to greater identify with those outside your personal experience and help you form an emotional attachment to issues of sustainability.

How do you practice mindfulness and conscious living in your daily life? Do you have any tips for this community? Share your thoughts in the comments!

Related:
10 Tips for Creating a Zero Waste Home
How to Host a Zero Waste Dinner Party
10 Ways to Start Living Zero Waste

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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How Going Zero Waste Made Me a Better Person

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The Demon in the Freezer – Richard Preston

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The Demon in the Freezer
A True Story
Richard Preston

Genre: Life Sciences

Price: $1.99

Publish Date: October 8, 2002

Publisher: Random House Publishing Group

Seller: Penguin Random House LLC


“The bard of biological weapons captures the drama of the front lines.” -Richard Danzig, former secretary of the navy The first major bioterror event in the United States-the anthrax attacks in October 2001-was a clarion call for scientists who work with “hot” agents to find ways of protecting civilian populations against biological weapons. In The Demon in the Freezer , his first nonfiction book since The Hot Zone , a #1 New York Times bestseller, Richard Preston takes us into the heart of Usamriid, the United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases at Fort Detrick, Maryland, once the headquarters of the U.S. biological weapons program and now the epicenter of national biodefense. Peter Jahrling, the top scientist at Usamriid, a wry virologist who cut his teeth on Ebola, one of the world’s most lethal emerging viruses, has ORCON security clearance that gives him access to top secret information on bioweapons. His most urgent priority is to develop a drug that will take on smallpox-and win. Eradicated from the planet in 1979 in one of the great triumphs of modern science, the smallpox virus now resides, officially, in only two high-security freezers-at the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta and in Siberia, at a Russian virology institute called Vector. But the demon in the freezer has been set loose. It is almost certain that illegal stocks are in the possession of hostile states, including Iraq and North Korea. Jahrling is haunted by the thought that biologists in secret labs are using genetic engineering to create a new superpox virus, a smallpox resistant to all vaccines. Usamriid went into a state of Delta Alert on September 11 and activated its emergency response teams when the first anthrax letters were opened in New York and Washington, D.C. Preston reports, in unprecedented detail, on the government’s response to the attacks and takes us into the ongoing FBI investigation. His story is based on interviews with top-level FBI agents and with Dr. Steven Hatfill. Jahrling is leading a team of scientists doing controversial experiments with live smallpox virus at CDC. Preston takes us into the lab where Jahrling is reawakening smallpox and explains, with cool and devastating precision, what may be at stake if his last bold experiment fails.

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The Demon in the Freezer – Richard Preston

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That French plan to attract climate scientists? It’s working.

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That French plan to attract climate scientists? It’s working.

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The Undoing Project: A Friendship That Changed Our Minds (Signed Edition) – Michael Lewis

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The Undoing Project: A Friendship That Changed Our Minds (Signed Edition)

Michael Lewis

Genre: Science & Nature

Price: $14.99

Publish Date: December 6, 2016

Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company

Seller: W. W. Norton


How a Nobel Prize–winning theory of the mind altered our perception of reality. Forty years ago, Israeli psychologists Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky wrote a series of breathtakingly original studies undoing our assumptions about the decision-making process. Their papers showed the ways in which the human mind erred, systematically, when forced to make judgments in uncertain situations. Their work created the field of behavioral economics, revolutionized Big Data studies, advanced evidence-based medicine, led to a new approach to government regulation, and made much of Michael Lewis’s own work possible. Kahneman and Tversky are more responsible than anybody for the powerful trend to mistrust human intuition and defer to algorithms. The Undoing Project is about a compelling collaboration between two men who have the dimensions of great literary figures. They became heroes in the university and on the battlefield—both had important careers in the Israeli military—and their research was deeply linked to their extraordinary life experiences. Amos Tversky was a brilliant, self-confident warrior and extrovert, the center of rapt attention in any room; Kahneman, a fugitive from the Nazis in his childhood, was an introvert whose questing self-doubt was the seedbed of his ideas. They became one of the greatest partnerships in the history of science, working together so closely that they couldn’t remember whose brain originated which ideas, or who should claim credit. They flipped a coin to decide the lead authorship on the first paper they wrote, and simply alternated thereafter. This story about the workings of the human mind is explored through the personalities of two fascinating individuals so fundamentally different from each other that they seem unlikely friends or colleagues. In the process they may well have changed, for good, mankind’s view of its own mind.

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The Undoing Project: A Friendship That Changed Our Minds (Signed Edition) – Michael Lewis

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A climate research expedition was halted by … climate change.

There’s been much high-profile gushing over the spaceship-in-Eden–themed campus that Apple spent six years and $5 billion building in Silicon Valley, but it turns out techno-utopias don’t make great neighbors.

“Apple’s new HQ is a retrograde, literally inward-looking building with contempt for the city where it lives and cities in general,” writes Adam Rogers at Wired, in an indictment of the company’s approach to transportation, housing, and economics in the Bay Area.

The Ring — well, they can’t call it The Circle — is a solar-powered, passively cooled marvel of engineering, sure. But when it opens, it will house 12,000 Apple employees, 90 percent of whom will be making lengthy commutes to Cupertino and back every day. (San Francisco is 45 miles away.)

To accommodate that, Apple Park features a whopping 9,000 parking spots (presumably the other 3,000 employees will use the private shuttle bus instead). Those 9,000 cars will be an added burden on the region’s traffic problems, as Wired reports, not to mention that whole global carbon pollution thing.

You can read Roger’s full piece here, but the takeaway is simple: With so much money, Apple could have made meaningful improvements to the community — building state-of-the-art mass transit, for example — but chose to make a sparkly, exclusionary statement instead.

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A climate research expedition was halted by … climate change.

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Check out what career government staff is doing to fly under Trump’s radar.

A report on the employment practices of green groups finds that the sector, despite its socially progressive reputation, is still overwhelmingly the bastion of white men.

According to the study, released by Green 2.0, roughly 3 out of 10 people at environmental organizations are people of color, but at the senior staff level, the figure drops closer to 1 out of 10. And at all levels, from full-time employees to board members, men make up three-quarters or more of NGO staffs.

Click to embiggen.Green 2.0

The new report, titled “Beyond Diversity: A Roadmap to Building an Inclusive Organization,” relied on more than 85 interviews of executives and HR reps and recruiters at environmental organizations.

Representatives of NGOs and foundations largely agreed on the benefits of having a more diverse workforce, from the added perspectives in addressing environmental problems to a deeper focus on environmental justice to allowing the movement to engage a wider audience.

The most worrisome finding is that fewer than 40 percent of environmental groups even had diversity plans in place to ensure they’re more inclusive. According to the report, “Research shows that diversity plans increases the odds of black men in management positions significantly.”

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Check out what career government staff is doing to fly under Trump’s radar.

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A Cup of Tea for Your Garden: How & Why to Make Compost Tea

Compost tea is an easy, organic way to enhance your soil. It is rich in nutrients and microorganisms vital for plant and soil health. Compost tea is made by soaking composted materials in water, and then using the water in your garden.

There are a few different methods of making compost tea. Each one needs a relatively small amount of organic matter, and only takes a few days, or less, of brewing. Many gardeners find the benefits for their gardens are worth the little extra effort of brewing compost tea.

Benefits of Compost Tea

1. Provides a wide range of nutrients.

Compost tea contains all the water-soluble nutrients from your compost. This means that the richer your compost is, the more nutritious your tea will be.

The nutrients will naturally be more diluted than in straight compost, so there is no danger of harming your plants by over-fertilizing. You can give your plants compost tea regularly for gentle, ongoing nutrition support.

2. Boosts soil microorganisms.

Beneficial fungi, bacteria, nematodes and protozoa all naturally live in a healthy compost pile. Many of these microorganisms will multiply in a compost tea.

Microorganisms are what keep soils, and what grows in them, alive. A small particle of soil can contain thousands of different species of microbes. They break down organic matter, recycle nutrients, maintain soil structure, promote plant growth and control pests.

When you apply the high numbers of microbes typically found in compost tea, it will help the local plants and ecosystem literally from the ground up.

3. Suppresses diseases

Theres increasing evidence that plant diseases can be suppressed by treating plants with compost teas. Teas brewed from all different methods appear to have benefits.

This is most likely due to the enhanced microbial populations. They support plant health, and stronger plants are less disease-prone. Also, the beneficial microorganisms can out-compete and inhibit the harmful species both above and below ground.

What to Put in Your Compost Tea

The most important ingredient is, of course, high-quality compost. Compost made from diverse, healthy organic matter will give you the best compost tea. Well-aged compost is also preferable because the older it is, the more microorganisms it will have. It should have been decomposing for at least a few months.

The particles in your compost should be small and well broken down. This will make the nutrients and microorganisms more easily available to be released into the water.

If you have a worm box, worm castings also make excellent compost tea.

Its best to use well water or rain water if possible. If youre using tap water that contains chlorine, let it sit overnight for the chlorine to dissipate.

Manure isnt ideal for tea because its not as nutritionally well-balanced as a good compost. Research manure tea brewing before attempting it to make sure you dont spread possible manure-borne diseases.

Also, be cautious about adding extra ingredients to your compost tea. Plain compost naturally goes through a period of high temperatures as it decomposes. This will usually kill most pathogens.

But, some compost tea brewers recommend adding ingredients to increase the bacteria diversity in the tea. This is more common in aerated teas, which may add molasses, kelp, humic acid, fish hydrolase or other products.

These additives have not been heat-treated like compost and are shown to potentially increase dangerous bacteria like E. coli and Salmonella in compost teas. If youre using additives in your teas, avoid applying them to food crops.

Brewing Methods

One of the most important factors for a healthy compost tea is air. The beneficial microbes need oxygen in the water to reproduce. If you allow a tea to become stagnant, it promotes anaerobic, potentially harmful microbes to take hold.

You can maintain oxygen in your tea by either hand-stirring or installing an electric bubbler. Both methods are described below.

1. Anaerobic

This is the easiest method. You simply need to put some compost in a bucket, add water and let it steep for up to three weeks. Stirring it a couple times a day will help keep it oxygenated.

Any size of bucket or container will work, depending on how much compost tea you need. A good ratio is around one part compost to 3-10 parts water. If you make a more concentrated batch, you can dilute it more as you apply it.

Leaving your tea to steep longer will give the beneficial microorganisms more time to multiply. But dont leave your tea for much longer than three weeks, because it can start to stagnate and kill the beneficial microbes.

CaliKim has a great video that goes over the basics of anaerobic brewing.

2. Aerobic

Anaerobic teas have been brewed for centuries, but aerobic teas are a modern invention. They involve inserting an aeration device into your brewing compost tea, such as an aquarium pump. This will provide much more oxygen than simply stirring an anaerobic tea.

Instead of mixing compost directly into the water, it is suspended in a porous bag. This makes it easier to run a bubbler through the water. The nutrients and microbes will slowly leach out of the compost and into the water. It is only brewed for up to 24 hours.

A ratio of one part compost to 10-50 parts water is recommended, which is less than an anaerobic tea. This means the nutrients will be more dilute as there is less organic matter in the solution.

Its said this increased oxygen will produce more and better microbe populations. Currently, there is limited research to prove whether or not this is true. In fact, anaerobic compost teas are shown to have somewhat better disease controlling effects.

The only way to find out for sure is by experimenting with it in your own yard. If youd like to make your own aerated compost, Fine Gardening has an excellent description of how to set up a home bubbler system.

Many pre-made systems are available commercially if you dont want to make your own. Ask your local garden center if they can recommend one, or find one online.

You can also buy fresh compost tea at many garden centers. These are a good option if you dont have the time or interest in brewing your own.

Pre-packaged compost teas are available as well, although their quality is questionable. Alive and active microorganisms are a vital part of compost tea. These would be difficult to package for any length of time.

Using Your Compost Tea

Compost tea can be applied to any plants, either in the ground or in containers. Use it freely on your vegetables, flowering plants, trees, shrubs or lawn.

Most compost tea wont need dilution, unless you only have a small amount and want to make it go farther.

You can use compost tea as a drench by simply watering your plants with it.

Compost tea can also be applied as a foliar spray. Strain your tea through cheese cloth or a fine sieve first to remove any particles that could clog your sprayer. Adding a couple drops of mild dishwashing liquid will help the tea adhere to leaves better.

Foliar feeding with compost tea is shown to boost a plants immediate uptake of nutrients. Although, it doesnt appear to have any benefit on long-term soil fertility.

Make sure you use your tea as soon as its finished brewing to prevent any pathogen growth. If your compost tea smells bad, this likely means it hasnt gotten enough oxygen. Pour any rancid tea into an unused area of your compost and start a new batch of fresh tea.

Related
Which Type of Mulch is Best for Your Garden?
25+ Beneficial Plants That Ward Off Pests and Protect Your Garden
9 Beneficial Bugs and Insects to Welcome in the Garden

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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A Cup of Tea for Your Garden: How & Why to Make Compost Tea

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Trump Just Picked a Contraception Skeptic to Head Federal Family Planning Efforts

Mother Jones

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After appointing the former president of a powerful anti-abortion group to head public affairs at the Department of Health and Human Services, the Trump administration plans to bring another anti-abortion advocate into the ranks at HHS—this time to oversee the Title X program, which allocates nearly $300 million per year in family planning funds to providers across the country and shapes policy and regulation about topics like contraception and teen pregnancy.

Politico reported on Monday that the administration has tapped Teresa Manning, a law professor and former employee of two anti-abortion groups, to be the deputy assistant secretary of the Office of Population Affairs, the department within HHS that oversees Title X. Manning is currently listed in the HHS employee directory, although the White House did not confirm the appointment to Politico. Manning, an adjunct professor at the Antonin Scalia Law School at George Mason University, was formerly a legislative analyst at the conservative Family Research Council and a lobbyist for the National Right to Life Committee, the largest US organization opposing abortion.

Manning has questioned the efficacy of contraception in preventing pregnancy, and also said the government shouldn’t play a role in family planning—the foundational ideas behind the federal family planning program she will now be tasked with overseeing. In a 2003 radio interview, Manning noted that pro-choice advocates “promote contraception and birth control as a way to reduce the incidence of abortion. There really is no evidence to support that. In fact, the incidence of contraception use and the incidence of abortion go up hand in hand.” She also said that pro-choice advocates view abortion as a backup form of contraception for when birth control fails (oral contraception is effective over 99 percent of the time when taken properly): “Of course, contraception doesn’t work. Its efficacy is very low especially when you consider over years,” she said. Manning continued: “The prospect that contraception would always prevent the conception of a child is preposterous.”

Manning (who at the time had the last name Wagner) was quoted in a 2001 press release opposing the distribution of the morning-after pill over the counter, claiming the pills are abortifacients that “destroy the human life already conceived.” (Medical consensus disagrees, as the pills only prevent fertilization.) Manning also authored a 1999 article for the Family Research Council titled “The Empty Promise of Contraception.” The head of Trump’s HHS, former Georgia congressman Tom Price, also has a long history of opposing contraceptive access, including Obamacare’s mandate that health insurance cover birth control costs.

“I always shake my head. You know, family planning is what occurs between a husband and a wife and God,” Manning said during a 2003 panel about a book she edited. “And it doesn’t really involve the federal government, much less the United Nations, where we hear about family planning all the time. What are they doing in that business?”

In her new job at HHS, Manning will oversee a program that provides funding for contraception, STI testing, and other reproductive medical care for low-income and uninsured men and women across the country. According to the Guttmacher Institute, which provides research on reproductive health care, in 2015 Title X-funded clinics helped women avoid 822,300 unintended pregnancies.

“It is a cruel irony to appoint an opponent of birth control to oversee the nation’s only federal program dedicated to family planning,” said Dawn Laguens, the executive vice president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, in an emailed statement. “We are at the lowest rate of unintended pregnancy in 30 years and a historic low for teen pregnancy because of access to birth control. Someone who promotes myths about birth control and reproductive care should not be in charge of the office that is responsible for family planning at HHS.”

By law, Title X cannot fund abortion services, but the program has been swept up in the new administration’s efforts to signal a hard anti-abortion stance. Trump signed a law last month that would allow states to withhold Title X funds from reproductive health care providers who also offer abortions.

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Trump Just Picked a Contraception Skeptic to Head Federal Family Planning Efforts

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