US regulators lift in-person restrictions on abortion pill
The Food and Drug Administration on Thursday permanently removed a major obstacle for women seeking abortion pills, eliminating a long-standing requirement that they pick up the medication in person.
Millions of American women will now be able to get a prescription via an online consultation and receive the pills through the mail. FDA officials said a scientific review supported broadening access, including no longer limiting dispensing to a small number of specialty clinics and doctor’s offices.
But prescribers will still need to undergo certification and training. Additionally, the agency said dispensing pharmacies will have to be certified.
Biden acknowledges $2T bill stalled, but vows it will pass
President Joe Biden on Thursday all but acknowledged negotiations over his sweeping domestic policy package will likely push into the new year, as he does not yet have the votes in the Senate to lift the roughly $2 trillion bill to passage.
Biden issued a statement in the evening as it became increasingly apparent the Democratic senators would not meet their Christmas deadline, in large part because of unyielding opposition from one holdout: Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia.
NKorea calls for unity on anniversary of Kim Jong Il’s death
North Korea on Friday commemorated the 10th anniversary of former leader Kim Jong Il’s death with calls for greater public loyalty toward his son and current leader Kim Jong Un, who is struggling to navigate the country out of deepening pandemic-related hardships.
In his 10 years at the helm of North Korea since his father’s death, Kim Jong Un, 37, has secured the same absolute power enjoyed by Kim Jong Il and Kim Il Sung, the current leader’s grandfather and state founder. Despite massive economic shocks caused by draconian anti-virus measures and long-dormant diplomacy with the United States, North Korea shows no signs of political instability and few outside experts question Kim’s grip on power.
Senate parliamentarian deals Democrats blow on immigration
Democrats must drop an effort to let millions of immigrants remain temporarily in the U.S. from their expansive social and environment bill, the Senate parliamentarian decided Thursday, dealing the latest blow to a longtime priority of the party, migrant advocates and progressives.
The opinion by Elizabeth MacDonough, the Senate’s nonpartisan arbiter of its rules, all but certainly means Democrats will ultimately have to pull the proposal from their 10-year, roughly $2 trillion package. The measure carries health care, family services and climate change initiatives, mostly paid for with higher taxes on corporations and the rich, that are top priorities for President Joe Biden.
When the Senate considers the overall legislation — which is currently stalled — Democrats are expected to try reviving the immigration provisions, or perhaps even stronger language giving migrants a way to become permanent residents or citizens. But such efforts would face solid opposition from Republicans and probably a small number of Democrats, which would be enough for defeat in the 50-50 chamber.
Flush with vaccines, Asia sees return to normal slip out of reach
COVID-19 vaccines promised to be the Asia-Pacific’s ticket to returning to normal life.
Nearly a year after the jabs arrived, life across the region is far from normal, as authorities continue to restrict freedoms, particularly when it comes to travel, despite peaking vaccination rates.
The sobering reality, which has been underscored by the emergence of the Omicron variant, raises questions about the region’s end goal in fighting a virus that scientists broadly agree will exist and mutate for the rest of our lives.
Authorities’ failure to stick with pledges to live with COVID-19 despite world-leading vaccination rates raises the spectre of never-ending restrictions – and a region that is permanently less free and interconnected – unless societies can learn to adapt to higher rates of disease.
US sanctions China’s biotech sector over Uighur rights abuses
The Biden administration has slapped trade sanctions on several Chinese companies and institutions, citing national security and China’s oppression of its largely Muslim Uighur minority population.
The US Commerce Department said on Thursday that it was blacklisting a number of Chinese technology companies, accusing the government in Beijing of advancing high-tech surveillance on the Uighurs.
The move, which bars the listed companies from trading or exchanging products with the United States, was announced on the same day the US Congress passed legislation targeting exports from China’s western Xinjiang region.
A Talking Crow Befriending a School Has a Foul-Mouth But is Still Beloved by Kids in Oregon
In one Oregon town, kids at a local school noticed that a particularly nosey and brave crow seemed dead-set on getting into the classroom.
Sure enough. Finding an open window at Allen Dale Elementary School, the bird made its way into a fifth-grade classroom and started helping itself to some snacks—all the while adoring the attention from the kids, and being quite friendly.
Oh, and it began talking.
According to local reporting from The Oregonian, the crow was actually a rescued bird that was all grown up and had lived with a family in the community for years, since it was a baby. None of the students or teachers knew that however, and its calm demeanor and vocabulary left them stunned.