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Newsmonger: DiGiovanni ethics breakdown, War on Planned Parenthood hurt family planning in Texas, Radioactive waste en route from Vermont to Texas

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Mayor Castro and Sculley both chalked it up to a "learning experience," though Castro is now working to expand the city's ethics language to eliminate the shades of gray DiGiovanni is now styling.

War on Planned Parenthood hurt family planning in Texas

Texas lawmakers hoped to stick it to Planned Parenthood when they axed two thirds of the state's family planning budget last year. Those cuts are already cutting away the safety net for low-income women across the Texas, resulting in over 50 closed clinics and reduced access to women's health care, according to a report last week from the New England Journal of Medicine. The report is based on research of the Texas Policy Evaluation Project at University of Texas' Population Research Center. According to the authors' research, the funding cuts have already worked to restrict access to the most effective forms of birth control, and women who have care are now purchasing fewer contraceptives per visit, which can result in lower contraceptive "continuation rates" and increased unplanned pregnancies.

San Antonio is already feeling the impact. University Health System announced last week it's closed four of its eight clinics that provide family planning after its annual state funding was cut from $2 million to $600,000. The closures mean even more local low-income women will likely go without preventative services like cervical cancer screens. The cost of well-woman checks have increased since the cuts and closures, the authors also note, meaning preventative health screenings "remain out of reach for some of the poorest women."

Radioactive waste en route from Vermont to Texas

Radioactive waste from Vermont's lone nuclear reactor began the long trip to West Texas recently, the Texas Low-Level Radioactive Waste Disposal Compact Commission announced last week from Vermont. Eventually, more than 2 million cubic feet of toxic and radioactive trash will be shipped across the country and across Texas to a western corner of Andrews County a few miles from the New Mexico state line to be buried by Waste Control Specialists, a for-profit company owned by Dallas billionaire and prominent Perry supporter Harold Simmons. Though originally designated for compact members Texas and Vermont (and Maine, which dropped out after years of trouble getting the facility licensed), last year the TLLRWDCC voted to allow 36 other states access to the dump on a case-by-case basis. Disposal operations began earlier this year, but the company has been allowed to store hazardous and radioactive materials for years. San Antonio's Emergency Management Coordinator said that such trucks are limited to 410 and 1604 and cannot cross the city on US 281 or I-35, but other than that they are essentially free to run on any road in the state as long as the contractor shipping the waste determines it to be the "shortest and safest" route possible, said Texas Department of State Health Services spokesperson Chris Van Deusen. "They may bypass cities, go around on the beltway or whatever … they don't want to get bogged down in traffic like everyone else."

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