TIME Healthcare

FDA Recommends Easing Ban on Blood Donations From Gay Men

From an indefinite ban to one year since last sexual contact

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Tuesday announced it would recommend allowing men who have sex with men to donate blood one year after their last sexual contact, in a move that would ease a decades-long indefinite ban and likely boost the national donor supply.

“Over the past several years, in collaboration with other government agencies, the FDA has carefully examined and considered the available scientific evidence relevant to its blood donor deferral policy for men who have sex with men,” FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg said in the statement. “The agency will take the necessary steps to recommend a change to the blood donor deferral period for men who have sex with men from indefinite deferral to one year since the last sexual contact.”

The health regulatory agency said it plans to introduce a draft guidance that recommends the proposed policy change next year. The adjustment follows the recommendation by the Department of Health and Human Services in November to end the lifetime restriction, in place since the AIDS crisis began in the 1980s, and remains consistent with the deferral periods for other men and women who are considered at increased risk for HIV infection.

Read next: Why New FDA Recommendations Against a Gay Blood Ban Are Meaningless

TIME Accidents

Two Planes Clip Wings at New York Airport

No injuries or significant delays were reported

Two planes clipped wings at a New York City airport on Tuesday morning but damages appeared slight and no injuries were reported.

The Denver-bound Southwest Airlines flight, which had 143 passengers and five crew members aboard, damaged its left winglet when it made contact at LaGuardia Airport with an American Airlines flight just in from Dallas and carrying 149 passengers and six crew members, CBS reports. The latter aircraft sustained damage to its tail wing.

The incident did not cause significant delays, the Port Authority says, DNAinfo reports.

[CBS]

TIME States

Florida Surpasses New York to Become 3rd Most Populous State

USA Florida Miami South Beach Spring Break Crowded Beach
Robert Clare—Getty Images

And North Dakota is the fastest-growing one

Florida has overtaken New York as the third most populous state in the country.

The Sunshine State added 293,000 new residents between July 1, 2013 and July 1 of this year, according to the U.S. Census bureau, reaching a total population of 19.9 million. New York added only 51,000 people during the same period, amounting to a total of 19.7 million.

North Dakota saw the fastest growth at an increase of 2.16%, while the overall U.S. population increased 0.75% to 318.9 million. California and Texas remain the first and second most populous states, with 38.8 million and 26.95 million, respectively.

TIME foreign affairs

High School Revisited: Kim Jong Un Gets an Invite from Russia

NKOREA-POLITICS-MILITARY
AFP / Getty Images North Korea leader Kim Jong un, seated at right, visits a command center of the North Korean army in this undated photograph provided by North Korea.

Chilly relations persist between North Korea and China, its traditional date

It’s possible to see North Korea’s alleged cyber attack on Sony Pictures Entertainment as little more than high schoolers intercepting notes sent from desk to desk during class when the teacher wasn’t looking.

But geo-strategically, the schoolhouse drama ratcheted up Monday, when the Russians confirmed that they have invited Kim Jong Un to Moscow next May—before the North Korean leader meets with the leadership of China, his country’s historic benefactor.

Russian presidential aide Yury Ushakov said that Kim has been invited to Russia’s 70th anniversary celebrating the end of World War II. “Invitations have been sent to many leaders of countries, including Kim Jong Un,” he told reporters. “Signals have been received that he means to come to Moscow and participate in the celebrations.”

READ MORE North Korea’s Internet Comes Back on After About 9 Hours

All the international chest-thumping over the U.S. claim that North Korea hacked into Sony’s computers, destroying data and posting embarrassing revelations about the company’s internal workings for all the world to read, misses a bigger point: Beijing is not happy with Kim Jong Un, and Moscow’s move on the Outstanding Leader highlights just how far he has fallen in Beijing’s esteem.

Kim has counted on financial support from China to keep his impoverished nation alive. With the price of oil collapsing, there’s little chance that Russian President Vladimir Putin will be able to offer much financial aid to Pyongyang.

In a further example of warming ties, the official North Korean news agency on Sunday hailed the publication of Kim’s Let Us Brilliantly Accomplish the Revolutionary Cause of Juche, Holding Kim Jong Il in High Esteem as the Eternal General Secretary of Our Party in Russia. “Juche” is Korean for self-reliance, a mantra of Kim Jong Il, the father of the current North Korean leader.

READ MORE The Interview Is Not the First Time Hollywood Bowed To a Dictator

Kim has never visited a foreign country since taking over North Korea following the death of his father, Kim Jong Il, in 2011. China would be the natural place for his debut on the world stage, given the alliance between the two nations that dates back more than a half-century to the Korean War.

But strains between the two longtime allies began to show following missile and nuclear-weapons tests, including a 2013 atomic blast after Kim assumed command. The Chinese government summoned Pyongyang’s ambassador to the foreign ministry in Beijing to decry that test, and reduced energy shipments to North Korea.

Relations between Beijing and Pyongyang remain chilly. Chinese President Xi Jinping visited South Korea in July, the first time that a Chinese leader visited Seoul before Pyongyang. “The Chinese are so displeased with Kim’s leadership style and actions that Chinese President Xi has visited Seoul and hosted South Korean president Park in Beijing, but Xi has not visited Pyongyang and has not invited Kim to Beijing,” former Defense Intelligence Agency analyst John McCreary wrote Monday. “Last week in Beijing, President Xi met the speaker of the South Korean national assembly, apparently to emphasize Chinese preferences.”

Adding to the pressure, China is investigating North Korea’s possible role in the Sony hack, Bloomberg reported Monday.

READ MORE Ukraine Inches Closer to NATO in Important Vote

Things could get dicey in Moscow if Kim accepts Putin’s invite. In another flashback to high school, Moscow also has invited South Korean President Park Geun-hye to the anniversary celebration. If both attend, it could lead to the first meeting between the two Korean leaders.

TIME Economy

U.S. Economy Notches its Best Performance in Over a Decade

Dow Rises Over 400 Points Day After Fed Signals No Rise In Interest Rates
Andrew Burton—Getty Images Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange in Nwe York City on Dec. 18, 2014.

The improved reading was a result of an increase in personal consumption

The U.S. economy’s third-quarter performance is the strongest the nation has recorded in more than 10 years, as consumers continue to spend more as they feel emboldened by a stronger job market, a stronger housing market and rising stocks.

Gross domestic product for the third-quarter leapt a better-than-expected 5% according to the Commerce Department’s “third” estimate. That growth exceeded the prior quarter’s 4.6% increase. It also was the greatest advance since the third quarter of 2003, according to Bloomberg.

Economists had projected a 4.3% jump in GDP for the latest reading of the economy, according to a poll conducted by Bloomberg. And no economist polled by Bloomberg had expected a revision as high as the Commerce Department reported: the consensus range was between 4% to 4.5%.

The improved reading was a result of an increase in personal consumption that was more than the Commerce Department had initially reported, as well as greater federal, state and local government spending, an increase in exports and residential fixed investment. Imports, however, decreased.

There had been some indications the economy was performing well even before the Commerce Department report. Retail sales leapt a better-than-expected 0.7% in November, the strongest growth the Commerce Department has reported since March of this year. Fortune earlier this week reported that U.S. shoppers spent a record $42 billion on Saturday and Sunday, the final weekend before Christmas and signaling Americans are perhaps more willing to open up their wallets as they enjoy savings from lower prices at the pump and feel emboldened by a stronger stock market and improves in housing and employment.

This article originally appeared on Fortune.com

TIME weather

Winds and Snow Threaten Travel Chaos in Christmas Week Storm

Meterologists warn of possible isolated tornadoes too

A huge weather system packing gusting winds, thunderstorms, snow and even the odd twister is threatening Tuesday to put a damper on millions of Americans’ holiday travel plans. Significant road and air travel delays are expected across the East Coast on Tuesday and Wednesday courtesy of a messy mix of rain, wind, clouds and fog, according to forecasters.

“The Gulf Coast will see the worst of the severe weather on Tuesday, with thunderstorms, as much as 3 to 5 inches of rain and damaging winds right across Louisiana and into…

Read the rest of the story from our partners at NBC News

TIME christmas

Behind the Red Suit: A Look at the Santa Industry

He’s the jolly man in a suit of red, who squeezes his way through chimneys to deliver Christmas presents year after year. But who's the man behind the beard?

Behind the most famous and mysterious man in the world this time of year, there actually stand thousands of men. Men of all ages, sizes and backgrounds.

Many of these men, who are part of the greater Santa industry, have undergone professional Santa schooling to make sure that the legend of Santa lives on.

Timothy Connaghan, also known as a Santa Tim, is the author of the Santa manual Behind the Red Suit, and has groomed nearly 3,000 Santas and Mrs. Clauses over the past decade, through his traveling Santa school. He explains that many Santas nationwide undergo training to ensure their characters are, to a certain degree, uniform.

And despite donning the same red suit, these men emphasize that they hope their individual stories help to humanize the mythology of Santa.

“I guess Santa Claus once in a while gets grumpy,” said a guy who goes by Santa Andrew, while struggling into the backseat of a tiny cab. “No one is perfect in this world.”

Not even Santa. He, or better put, they are human after all.

TIME College football

Chaos as Miami Beach Bowl Turns into Brawl

Helmets were thrown and sucker punches were seen as well

Celebrating a bowl victory is supposed to be a proud moment. Unfortunately, Memphis and BYU turned in one of the uglier postgame bowl moments seen in years. After Memphis picked off a pass from BYU quarterback Christian Stewart to seal a wild 55-48 double-overtime victory, joy quickly turned ugly as players from both teams started exchanging punches instead of postgame handshakes.

Helmets were thrown and sucker punches were seen as well. It was eerily reminiscent of another college football game played in Miami years ago between Miami and FIU…

Read the rest of the story from our partners at NBC News

TIME Companies

Dov Charney, Bruised Ex-CEO of American Apparel, Down to Last $100,000

American Apparel ousted its CEO, Dov Charney, who has been the target of lawsuits alleging inappropriate sexual conduct with female employees in Los Angeles, California on June 19, 2014
Ringo Chiu—Zuma Press/Corbis American Apparel ousted its CEO, Dov Charney, who has been the target of lawsuits alleging inappropriate sexual conduct with female employees in Los Angeles, California on June 19, 2014

From CEO to ... a couch. Times are tough for American Apparel's controversial ex-CEO

Dov Charney, the ousted chief executive of American Apparel, is down to his last $100,000. He is also apparently sleeping on a friend’s couch in Manhattan’s Lower East Side. And he is “suing everyone, by the way,” as a Bloomberg reporter puts it.

Charney tells Bloomberg that he took a loan from hedge fund Standard General to boost his shares in American Apparel on the understanding that the investment firm would help him get back into the company, from which he had been suspended for six months.

But the investment firm hoodwinked him, he claims: Standard General controls Charney’s shares in American Apparel as collateral and added new members to the retailer’s board. That board last week fired Charney, whose blustery reign over American Apparel was marred by piles of lawsuits alleging sexual harassment and discrimination.

Standard General said in an emailed statement that it had “supported the independent, third-party and very thorough investigation into the allegations” against Charney that led to his firing by American Apparel’s board. The firm said its “objective is to help American Apparel grow and succeed.”

Now, this ex-CEO is penniless, in relative terms: American Apparel paid Charney, its founder, an annual salary of $800,000. The clothing purveyor is also worth about $226 million to $243 million.

Still, it’s not all bad news for Charney — he’s been linked with a possible takeover bid.

[Bloomberg]

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TIME Crime

Delta Worker Allegedly Helped Smuggle Guns on Planes

Delta Reports Quarterly Earnings
Scott Olson—Getty Images A passenger waits for her luggage in the Delta baggage claim at O'Hare International Airport in Chigcago on Oct. 24, 2012

Delta baggage handler was arrested Monday for allegedly smuggling firearms — some loaded — into the Hartsfield-Jackson airport in Atlanta, where he handed them off to an accomplice who flew to New York, federal law enforcement officials said.

The man, Eugene Harvey, was charged with “entering an airport area in violation of security requirements.”

Harvey, also a ramp agent, allegedly shuttled the firearms into the airport — avoiding detection since airport workers don’t go through TSA screening, according to an affidavit filed by a senior federal air marshal, George Randell Taylor …

Read the rest of the story from our partners at NBC News

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