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The U.S. plans to make it easier for gay and bisexual men to give blood. The Food and Drug Administration proposed easing restrictions on groups that typically face higher risks of HIV. The agency wants to drop the three-month abstinence requirement for donations from men who have sex with men. Donors would instead be screened with a questionnaire that evaluates individual risks for HIV, including sexual behavior. As a result, gay and bisexual men in monogamous relationships could soon be able to donate blood for the first time in decades. The U.S. and other countries began restricting blood donations during the AIDS crisis of the early 1980s.

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The top Air Force general in charge of the nation’s air- and ground-launched nuclear missiles has requested an official investigation into the number of officers who are reporting blood cancer diagnoses after serving at Malmstrom Air Force Base in Montana. The illnesses became publicly known this week after The Associated Press obtained a military brief that at least nine missileers were reporting diagnoses of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. One of the officers has died. Missileers are the officers who serve in underground bunkers near silo-based Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles and are responsible for turning launch keys if ordered.

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A New Jersey man who joined a mob’s attack on the U.S. Capitol has been sentenced to more than six years in prison for using pepper spray to assault police officers, one of whom died a day after the siege. Julian Khater didn’t mention the death of Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick in a written statement he read aloud before U.S. District Judge Thomas Hogan sentenced him to six years and eight months of imprisonment. A medical examiner concluded that the 42-year-old officer suffered two strokes and died of natural causes a day after the Capitol riot on Jan. 6, 2021.

A man who caused evacuations and an hourslong standoff with police on Capitol Hill when he claimed he had a bomb in his pickup truck outside the Library of Congress has pleaded guilty to a charge of threatening to use an explosive. Floyd Ray Roseberry, of Grover, North Carolina, pleaded guilty to the felony charge in Washington federal court. He faces up to 10 years behind bars and is scheduled to be sentenced in June. An email seeking comment was sent to his attorney on Friday. Roseberry drove a black pickup truck onto the sidewalk outside the Library of Congress in August 2021 and began shouting to people in the street that he had a bomb.

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For the second time this month, House Republicans have advanced a measure to restrict presidential use of the nation’s emergency oil stockpile — a proposal that has already drawn a White House veto threat. A GOP bill approved Friday would require the government to offset any non-emergency withdrawals from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve with new drilling on public lands and oceans. Republicans accuse President Joe Biden of abusing the reserve for political reasons to keep gas prices low, while Biden says tapping the reserve was needed last year in response to a ban on Russian oil imports following Russia's invasion of Ukraine. The bill was approved on a near party-line vote. It now heads to the Democratic-controlled Senate, where it is expected to languish.

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The Federal Reserve’s preferred inflation gauge eased further in December, and consumer spending fell — the latest evidence that the Fed’s series of interest rate hikes are slowing the economy. Prices rose 5% last month from a year earlier, down from the 5.5% year-over-year increase in November. It was the third straight drop. Consumer spending fell 0.2% from November to December and was revised lower to show a drop of 0.1% from October to November. Last year’s holiday sales were sluggish for many retailers, and the overall spending figures for the final two months of 2022 were the weakest in two years.

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The federal government will allow Medicaid dollars to treat some people in prisons, jails or juvenile detention centers for the first time ever. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced Thursday that it will allow California inmates to access limited services, including substance use treatment and mental health diagnoses, 90 days before being released. Since Medicaid was established, federal law has prohibited Medicaid money from being used for people who are in custody, with inmates having access to their health care coverage suspended.

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Attorney General Merrick Garland and other U.S. officials say the FBI and international partners have at least temporarily disrupted the network of a prolific ransomware gang they infiltrated last year. And as a result they have saved victims, including hospitals and school districts, a potential  $130 million in ransom payments. Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco says that: “Simply put, using lawful means we hacked the hackers.” Officials say the gang known as Hive, operates one of the world’s top five ransomware networks. FBI Director Christopher Wray says the FBI quietly gained access to Hive's control panel in July and was able to obtain software keys to decrypt the network of some 1,300 victims globally.

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The U.S. economy expanded at a 2.9% annual pace from October through December, ending 2022 with momentum despite the pressure of high interest rates and widespread fears of a looming recession. Thursday’s government estimate showed that the nation’s gross domestic product — the broadest gauge of economic output — decelerated last quarter from the 3.2% annual growth rate it had posted from July through September. Most economists think the economy will slow further in the current quarter and slide into at least a mild recession by midyear. The economy got a boost last quarter from resilient consumer spending and the restocking of supplies by businesses. Federal government spending also helped lift GDP.

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The second consecutive quarter of economic growth that the government reported Thursday underscored that the nation isn’t in a recession despite high inflation and the Federal Reserve’s aggressive interest rate hikes. Yet the U.S. economy is hardly in the clear. The solid growth last quarter will do little to alter the widespread view of economists that a recession is likely sometime this year. For now, the economy expanded at a 2.9% annual rate in the fourth quarter, though some of the underlying figures weren’t as healthy. Consumer spending, for example, grew at a slower pace than in the previous quarter, and business investment was weak. So what is the likelihood of a recession?

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Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin is trying to delay new tax credits for electric vehicles, a key feature of President Joe Biden’s landmark climate law. Manchin says Treasury Department guidelines allow manufacturers in Europe and other countries to bypass requirements that significant portions of EV batteries be produced in North America. Release of the West Virginia senator's legislation coincided with Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm's visit to the Washington, D.C., Auto Show on Wednesday to highlight the Biden administration’s efforts to boost EVs. Tax credits of up to $7,500 per vehicle are intended to spur EV sales and domestic production of vehicles and batteries while reducing planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions.

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Supporters of abortion rights have filed separate lawsuits challenging abortion pill restrictions in North Carolina and West Virginia. The lawsuits were filed Wednesday. They are the opening salvo in what’s expected to a be a protracted legal battle over access to the medications. The lawsuits argue that state limits on the drugs run afoul of the federal authority of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The agency has approved the abortion pill as a safe and effective method for ending pregnancy. More than half of U.S. abortions are now done with pills rather than surgery.

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The government says a record 16.3 million people sought health insurance through the Affordable Care Act this year. That's double the number covered when the marketplaces first launched nearly a decade ago. More than 3 million new members have joined the marketplace, which is also known as “Obamacare." The Biden administration says it worked with nonprofit groups and invested in program specialists who helped sign up people in low-income, immigrant, Black and Latino communities. President Joe Biden and a Democratic-led Congress have also committed millions of dollars over the past two years into unlocking low-cost insurance plans for more people.

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The Justice Department and eight states have filed an antitrust suit against Google. The suit seeks to shatter Google's alleged monopoly on the entire ecosystem of online advertising as a hurtful burden to advertisers, consumers and even the U.S. government. The government alleges that Google’s plan to assert dominance has been to “neutralize or eliminate” rivals through acquisitions and to force advertisers to use its products by making it difficult to use competitors’ products. Google’s parent company, Alphabet Inc., says the suit “doubles down on a flawed argument that would slow innovation, raise advertising fees, and make it harder for thousands of small businesses and publishers to grow.”

The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists says the world is closer to Armageddon than it has ever been. The science-based advocacy group is moving its famous Doomsday Clock to just 90 seconds before midnight. That's 10 seconds closer to striking 12 than last year. The group Tuesday says the big reason is Russia's invasion of Ukraine and Vladimir Putin's veiled threats about nuclear weapon use. The scientists say other existential threats include nuclear weapon increases in China, uranium enrichment in Iran, missile tests in North Korea, bio-threats such as a pandemic or lab accident and worsening climate change. No doomsday has happened yet.