Wednesday’s top stories
Relatives of American hostages and political prisoners held overseas are increasingly impatient for a meeting with President Biden.
Driving the news: Last week's release of a U.S. journalist held in Myanmar has elevated some expectations. So, too, did four years of Donald Trump's unusually public enthusiasm for and prioritization of hostage negotiations — with some notable successes.
Pharmacies and insurers are increasingly competing to directly hire doctors and nurse practitioners as they move deeper into primary health care delivery.
Driving the news: The latest example is CVS Health's latest plan to reduce its retail locations as it pours more resources into its digital health delivery and health hub locations.
Why it matters: Primary care is the starting point for all other points of health care. Companies that own more of those interactions are offering convenience to consumers, while also standing to make more money.
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Taiwan is among the 110 delegations invited to President Biden's "Summit for Democracy" next month, according to a list released by the State Department on Tuesday night.
Why it matters: Taiwan's inclusion is sure to infuriate the Chinese government, which views the self-governing island as a breakaway territory and opposes any attempts to legitimize it on the international stage.
A federal jury in Charlottesville, Virginia, found prominent white supremacists Richard Spencer, Jason Kessler and Christopher Cantwell, and others liable for civil conspiracy in the 2017 "Unite the Right" rally, AP reports.
Why it matters: The ruling came after a nearly month-long trial and awarded more than $25 million to nine people who suffered injuries at the violent demonstrations.
Darrell Brooks, the alleged driver of an SUV that plowed into a crowd gathered at a Christmas parade in Waukesha, Wisconsin, on Sunday, was charged with five counts of first-degree intentional homicide on Tuesday.
Driving the news: The incident left 62 people injured as of Tuesday, according to court documents.
Nintendo of America president Doug Bowser has joined the chorus of industry figures criticizing Activision Blizzard and its leadership over recent reports of company harassment and abuse.
Driving the news: Fanbyte first reported on the memo in which Bowser called the accusations "distressing and disturbing. They run counter to my values as well as Nintendo's beliefs, values and policies."
No one really wants this job, but millions of households may need their own Thanksgiving bouncer. The cover charge is a negative COVID test, done ahead of arrival or outside the front door.
Why it matters: Normalizing rapid tests is a practical way to help extended families feel a little more normal around the holiday dinner table.
A federal jury said Tuesday that Walgreens, CVS and Walmart recklessly distributed pain pills in two Ohio counties and played a hand in the hundreds of overdose deaths that plagued the communities, AP reports.
Why it matters: It's the first verdict for pharmacy companies in a case involving the opioid crisis, per AP. The verdict — with a judge set to rule on damages this spring — could set a precedent for other local governments that seek to hold pharmacies accountable.
Apple filed a lawsuit Tuesday against the Israeli cyber intelligence companies NSO Group and its parent company to "hold it accountable for the surveillance and targeting of Apple users," the company announced.
Details: Apple is also seeking a permanent injunction to ban NSO Group from using Apple devices, software, or services, per a press release.
Young adult Latino authors, ranging from Ashley Hope Pérez to Benjamin Alire Sáenz, are facing threats from conservative school boards that want to remove their work from schools for tackling issues of race and sexuality.
Why it matters: The growing backlash against lessons on slavery, racism and LGBTQ issues in classrooms has engulfed young adult Latino authors whose work is often overlooked in discussions about race in education materials.
While China's sweeping new data privacy laws have left tech companies confused about how to comply, they also put the U.S. even further behind in the global race to set digital standards.
What's happening: China enacted its Personal Information Privacy Law earlier this month, following Europe as the second major international player to have its own sweeping data privacy regulations.
Lawmakers, local reporters and journalism advocates are sounding the alarm over a takeover attempt of local newspaper group Lee Enterprises by Alden Global Capital, a hedge fund known for cutting journalists at local papers to maximize profits.
Why it matters: Roughly half of America’s daily newspapers are already controlled by investment groups. Alden's takeover would make it a clear majority.
President Biden directed the Department of Energy on Tuesday to release 50 million barrels of oil from the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve to help lower fuel prices.
Why it matters: It's the Biden administration's most direct effort yet to tamp down on high gasoline prices that have become a political headache for the White House amid wider inflation.
The Biden administration is sounding the alarm over the deteriorating security situation in Ethiopia, where the government in Addis Ababa has called on civilians to arm themselves against rebels marching on the capital.
Why it matters: The collapse of Ethiopia — a major African country with a population of 115 million — could cause a massive humanitarian crisis and destabilize the entire region.
SpaceX is set to launch a NASA spacecraft on a mission to learn how to change the course of an asteroid in deep space.
Why it matters: The mission — called the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) — will test the technology needed to redirect a dangerous asteroid if one is ever found on course with Earth.
Federal officials waited months before making all American adults eligible for a COVID-19 booster shot — meaning millions of Americans may not have the strongest possible protection as they head into holiday travel.
Why it matters: Critics say the confusing process undermined what has now become a critical effort to stave off another wave of the pandemic.
Two-in-three Americans will celebrate this Thanksgiving with friends or family outside their immediate households, and about half of those say their gatherings could include unvaccinated people, according to the latest installment of the Axios/Ipsos Coronavirus Index.
Why it matters: Vaccinations and booster shots are giving more people confidence to resume traditions like sitting around a packed table with masks off. But many are doing so with heightened awareness of what they don't know when it comes to their holiday companions.
Canadian officials warn a "parade of storms" is set to pummel British Columbia with more heavy rains this week.
Why it matters: The province is still reeling from last week's "atmospheric river event" that hit the Pacific Northwest, triggering record rainfall, extensive flooding and mudslides. The deadly storm displaced thousands of people, CBC News notes.
Why it matters: In the aftermath of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting that left 17 people dead, it emerged that there were several instances of authorities failing to step in both before and during the attack, notably the FBI.
Four Black men wrongly charged with rape were exonerated Monday, more than 70 after being convicted of what prosecutors now say were baseless charges.
Why it matters: Prosecutors said the case against the men, who all died before it was re-examined by Florida officials, "lacked due process and would not be tried today," the New York Times reports.
Migrants are "dying in the snow" along the Belarus-Poland border, caught in freezing temperatures between hostile border guards from both countries and cut off from lifesaving aid, Stefan Lehmeier of the International Rescue Committee told Axios.
Context: Lehmeier spoke by phone with Axios Monday, immediately after helping to administer first aid to three Iraqi men suffering from hypothermia in a forest on the Polish side of the border. Lehmeier and his fellow aid workers gave them blankets, hot soup and waterproof boots.