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Briefs

FDA lifts age limits on morning-after pill

– The morning-after pill is finally going over-the-counter.

The Food and Drug Administration on Thursday approved unrestricted sales of Plan B One-Step, lifting all age limits on the emergency contraceptive.

The move came a week after the Obama administration ended months of back-and-forth legal battles by promising a federal judge it would take that step. Women’s health advocates had pushed for easier access to next-day birth control for more than a decade.

“Over-the-counter access to emergency contraceptive products has the potential to further decrease the rate of unintended pregnancies in the United States,” FDA drug chief Dr. Janet Woodcock said in a statement announcing the approval.

It wasn’t clear how quickly Plan B One-Step would move from behind pharmacy counters to sit on drugstore shelves.

Security clearance for NSA leaker eyed

A government watchdog testified Thursday there may have been problems with the security clearance background check conducted on the 29-year-old federal contractor who disclosed previously secret National Security Agency programs for collecting phone records and Internet data.

Appearing at a Senate hearing, Patrick McFarland, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management’s inspector general, said USIS, the company that conducted the security clearance investigation of former NSA systems analyst Edward Snowden, is now under investigation itself.

McFarland declined to say what triggered the inquiry of USIS or whether the probe is related to Snowden.

But when asked by Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., whether there were any concerns about the USIS background check on Snowden, McFarland answered: “Yes, we do believe that there may be some problems.”

Third of women face domestic violence

In the first major global review of violence against women, a series of reports released Thursday found that about a third of women have been physically or sexually assaulted by a former or current partner.

The head of the World Health Organization, Dr. Margaret Chan, called it “a global health problem of epidemic proportions,” and other experts said screening for domestic violence should be added to all levels of health care.

Among the findings: 40 percent of women killed worldwide were slain by an intimate partner, and being assaulted by a partner was the most common kind of violence experienced by women.

Obama to nominate Comey for FBI today

President Barack Obama today plans to nominate President George W. Bush’s former No. 2 at the Justice Department, Jim Comey, to lead the FBI as the bureau grapples with privacy debates over a host of recently exposed investigative tactics.

If confirmed by the Senate, Comey would serve a 10-year tenure and replace Robert Mueller, who has held the job since the week before the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.

Mueller is set to resign Sept. 4 after overseeing the bureau’s transformation into one of the country’s chief weapons against terrorism.

The White House said in a statement that Obama would announce his choice of Comey this afternoon.

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