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Author: ProPublica

Of Mice and Men: How Joe Tsien became a celebrated scientist without a country

Celebrated scientist Joe Tsien retreated to China after his Georgia university and the U.S. government began investigating him. He says he is a victim of anti-Asian discrimination, but key parts of his story do not add up. On September 9, 1999, David Letterman entertained millions of television viewers by riffing on a scientific breakthrough that had made an obscure Princeton assistant professor famous overnight. The late-night host’s top-10 list of “Term Paper Topics Written by Genius Mice” — including “A Sociological Study of Why Cats Suck” and “Outsmarting The Mousetrap: Just Take The Cheese Off Really, Really Fast” —...

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Efforts by White nature conservationists are upending a generations-old way of life for Black farmers

In Pembroke, the well-intended efforts of mostly white nature conservationists overlook one thing: The township’s Black farming community has never fully supported them. Now, a generations-old way of life is threatened by the push for conservation. The Sweet Fern Savanna Land and Water Reserve, in the heart of Pembroke Township, Illinois, offers a glimpse into what much of the area looked like before European settlers drained swamps and cleared forests to grow corn and soybeans. At least 18 threatened or endangered plant and animal species, including the ornate box turtle and regal fritillary butterfly, have been sighted here. Mature...

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ProPublica Report: Ron Johnson finagled $200M tax break for Uihleins and his other wealthy benefactors

Billionaire business owners deployed lobbyists to make sure Trump’s 2017 tax bill was tailored to their benefit. Confidential IRS records show the windfall that followed was due in large part to assistance from Senator Ron Johnson. In November 2017, with the administration of President Donald Trump rushing to get a massive tax overhaul through Congress, Senator Ron Johnson stunned his colleagues by announcing he would vote “no.” Making the rounds on cable TV, the Wisconsin Republican became the first GOP senator to declare his opposition, spooking Senate leaders who were pushing to quickly pass the tax bill with their...

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New details suggest senior Trump officials worked to appease leaders of the January 6 insurrection

On December 19, 2020, Then-President Donald Trump blasted out a tweet to his 88 million followers, inviting supporters to Washington for a “wild” protest. One of his senior advisers had released a 36-page report alleging significant evidence of election fraud that could reverse Joe Biden’s victory. “A great report,” Trump wrote. “Statistically impossible to have lost the 2020 Election. Big protest in DC on January 6th. Be there, will be wild!” The tweet worked like a starter’s pistol, with two pro-Trump factions competing to take control of the “big protest.” On one side stood Women for America First, led...

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Medical Debt: Wisconsin hospitals continued legal proceedings against patients during the pandemic

Last year as COVID-19 laid siege to the nation, many U.S. hospitals dramatically reduced their aggressive tactics to collect medical debt. Some ceased entirely. But not all. There was a nearly 90% drop overall in legal actions between 2019 and the first seven months of 2020 by the nation’s largest hospitals and health systems, according to a new report by Johns Hopkins University. Still, researchers told ProPublica that they identified at least 16 institutions that pursued lawsuits, wage garnishments and liens against their patients in the first seven months of 2020. The Johns Hopkins findings – which first reported the...

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Investigation finds Trump officials gave millions in COVID-19 response contracts to unproven companies

A top adviser to former President Donald Trump pressured agency officials to reward politically connected or otherwise untested companies with hundreds of millions of dollars in contracts as part of a chaotic response to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the early findings of an inquiry led by House Democrats. Peter Navarro, who served as Trump’s deputy assistant and trade adviser, essentially verbally awarded a $96 million deal for respirators to a company with White House connections. Later, officials at the Federal Emergency Management Agency were pressured to sign the contract after the fact, according to correspondence obtained by congressional...

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