10 things you need to know today: March 2, 2023
Intelligence report says 'Havana syndrome' not caused by foreign adversary, Eli Lilly cuts insulin costs, and more
Intelligence report: 'Havana syndrome' not caused by foreign adversary
A U.S. intelligence report concluded that the mysterious ailment known as "Havana syndrome" that has affected hundreds of U.S. diplomats, intelligence personnel, and other workers abroad was not caused by the actions of a foreign adversary, The Washington Post reported Wednesday. The assessment came after a years-long investigation by the CIA and other intelligence agencies to determine what was causing the ailments, which included headaches, other pains, and emotional distress. It first appeared in Havana, Cuba. Many of the people who suffered the traumatic, painful acoustic sensations believe they were targeted in deliberate attacks by Russia or another government.
Eli Lilly slashes insulin prices
Eli Lilly and Co. announced Wednesday that it would cut the price of its most commonly prescribed insulin by 70 percent in the fourth quarter this year. The drugmaker also said it would cap out-of-pocket costs for insulin at $35 per month for privately insured and uninsured diabetes patients, matching the new cap for Medicare recipients. The move came after President Biden pushed to extend the cap to most Americans, a change patient advocates have called for after reports that some diabetes patients were having to ration their medicine due to rising costs. Experts estimate that Eli Lilly's cap will help about two million people pay for the life-saving drug.
Senate votes to overturn Biden retirement-fund rule, setting up likely veto
The Senate on Wednesday passed a resolution seeking to overturn a Biden administration rule letting retirement-fund managers consider the impact of climate change and other environmental and social factors when choosing investments. The legislation passed 50 to 46, with Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Jon Tester (D-Mont.) voting with Republicans. Conservatives have criticized the rule as a "woke" policy forcing a liberal agenda that will cost retirees money. Most Democrats say the Labor Department rule will help investors. The House passed the measure earlier this week, so it heads next to President Biden, setting the stage for what could be the first veto of his presidency.
Biden touts Democratic legislative wins ahead of likely re-election bid
President Biden, gearing up for an expected 2024 re-election bid and Democrats' attempt to retake the House, touted Democratic legislative accomplishments on Wednesday and urged fellow Democrats to do the same. "Folks, you all know how much we've gotten done, but a lot of the country still doesn't know," Biden said at the House Democratic Caucus Issues Conference in Baltimore. Biden pointed to projects funded in the $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill, including the newly-named Frederick Douglass Tunnel being rebuilt in Baltimore. He urged lawmakers to tout the infrastructure bill, the American Rescue Plan, the CHIPS and Science Act, the Inflation Reduction Act, the Respect for Marriage Act, and other legislation.
SpaceX launches 6th crewed space flight for NASA
SpaceX on Thursday successfully launched a Falcon 9 rocket with a four-person Crew-6 capsule headed for the International Space Station on a mission for NASA. The autonomously operated Crew Dragon capsule called Endeavor is carrying two NASA astronauts, a Russian cosmonaut, and a United Arab Emirates astronaut. The rocket's upper stage put the Crew Dragon into orbit and the reusable lower-stage Falcon booster returned to Earth and landed on a recovery vessel. Crew-6 is the SpaceX's sixth operational crewed mission for NASA. Elon Musk's private space-flight company also conducted a test flight, Demo-2, that sent two astronauts toward the ISS in May 2020.
California board denies parole for RFK assassin Sirhan Sirhan
A California panel on Wednesday denied parole to Sirhan Sirhan, who assassinated then-presidential-candidate Robert F. Kennedy in 1968. Sirhan, 78, is a Christian Palestinian from Jordan. He acknowledges he was mad at Kennedy for his support of Israel, but doesn't remember shooting him. He says he was drinking that night, when the New York senator claimed victory in California's Democratic primary. Sirhan's lawyer Angela Berry argued that psychiatrists have said for decades Sirhan was no longer a danger to society. Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) last year rejected a determination by a different parole board that Sirhan should be eligible for release. Newsom said Sirhan still posed a threat and hadn't taken responsibility for the assassination.
Judge says Starbucks violated labor law in effort to stop union
A federal administrative law judge ruled Wednesday that Starbucks committed "egregious and widespread" labor-law violations when it tried to stop union-organizing campaigns at its coffee stores. Judge Michael Rosas ordered the company to reopen closed stores and provide back pay and damages to employees who started the nationwide effort to unionize Starbucks employees. Rosas wrote that the company showed "a general disregard for the employees' fundamental rights," retaliating against those affiliated with Starbucks Workers United. The case covered complaints of unfair labor practices at 21 Buffalo-area stores. Since the union drive began, 268 of Starbucks' 9,000 company-owned U.S. stores have unionized. Starbucks called the ruling "inappropriate," saying the workers were fired for violating company policies, not in retaliation for union affiliation.
Bishop says sexual abuse lawsuits could drive California diocese to bankruptcy
Hundreds of newly filed sexual abuse lawsuits could bankrupt the Catholic Diocese of Sacramento, the diocese's bishop, Jaime Soto, wrote this week in a letter to church members, the Los Angeles Times reported Wednesday. The lawsuits came after Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) signed a law in 2019 temporarily lifting the statute of limitations on child sexual abuse lawsuits. The legislation raised the maximum age for victims to file civil suits from 26 to 40, and created a three-year window for people of any age to file suits. That window closed at the end of 2022. The diocese faces more than 200 child sexual abuse lawsuits made possible by the law. Soto wrote that "this staggering number of claims is truly heartbreaking."
Greek stationmaster arrested as train-crash toll rises
Greek authorities on Wednesday arrested a stationmaster in connection with the fiery, head-on collision of passenger and freight trains near the town of Tempe in northern Greece. The death toll from the disaster rose to at least 47, with more than 80 injured. The train was carrying 350 people from Athens to Thessaloniki, the country's second biggest city and a popular tourist destination. Multiple cars derailed, at least three bursting into flames in the high-speed wreck. Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis promised an independent investigation, saying the accident appeared "mainly due to a tragic human error." The Greek government declared three days of national mourning.
Harry and Meghan asked to vacate Frogmore Cottage
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have been asked to "vacate" their residence at Frogmore Cottage, a spokesperson for the couple confirmed on Wednesday. Harry, Meghan, and their two children live in Southern California, and have used Frogmore Cottage as their home base during visits to the United Kingdom since stepping down from duties as senior members of the royal family. Frogmore is part of the Crown Estate, and Harry's late grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II, gave it to them as their primary residence when they still lived full-time in England. In January 2020, when Harry and Meghan quit being working royals, they repaid the $3.2 million of taxpayer money that had been used to renovate the property.