President seeks $500M for Syria
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama asked Congress Thursday for $500 million to train and arm vetted members of the Syrian opposition, as the U.S. struggles for a way to stem a civil war that has also fueled the al-Qaida inspired insurgency in neighboring Iraq.
The military training program would deepen the Obama administration’s involvement in the more than four-year conflict between rebels and forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad. If approved by Congress, the program would supplement a covert train-and-assistance program run by U.S. intelligence agencies.
The Syria program is part of a broader $65.8 billion overseas operations request that the administration sent to Capitol Hill Thursday. The package includes $1 billion to help stabilize nations bordering Syria that are struggling with the effects of the civil war. It also formalizes a request for a previously announced $1 billion to strengthen the U.S. military presence in Central and Eastern Europe.
FDA will regulate fecal transplants
WASHINGTON (AP) — Imagine a low-cost treatment for a life-threatening infection that could cure up to 90 percent of patients with minimal side effects, often in a few days.
It may sound like a miracle drug, but this cutting-edge treatment is profoundly simple — though icky: take the stool of healthy patients to cure those with hard-to-treat intestinal infections.
A small but growing number of physicians have begun using these so-called fecal transplants to treat Clostridium difficile, commonly referred to as C-diff, a bacterial infection that causes nausea, cramping and diarrhea. The germ afflicts a half-million Americans annually and kills about 15,000 of them.
But fecal transplants pose a challenge for the Food and Drug Administration, which has decided to regulate the treatment as an experimental drug. Stool transplants don’t fit neatly into the agency’s standard framework.
NYC ban on big sodas is canned
NEW YORK (AP) — Big sodas can stay on the menu in the Big Apple after New York state’s highest court refused Thursday to reinstate the city’s first-of-its-kind size limit on sugary drinks. But city officials suggested they might be willing to revisit the supersize-soda ban.
The Court of Appeals found that the city Board of Health overstepped its bounds by imposing a 16-ounce cap on sugary beverages sold in restaurants, delis, movie theaters, stadiums and street carts. The appointed board tread on the policy-making turf of the elected City Council, the court said.