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This year’s Nobel Prize season approaches as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has shattered decades of almost uninterrupted peace in Europe and raised the risks of a nuclear disaster. The famously secretive Nobel Committee never leaks or hints who will win its prizes for medicine, physics, chemistry, literature, economics or peace. The awards will be announced starting next Monday. But there is no lack of causes deserving the spotlight that comes with winning the world’s most prestigious prize. There are wars in Ukraine and Ethiopia, disruptions to supplies of energy, food and financial stability, the climate crisis, and the ongoing fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.

    China is dismissing complaints from two U.S. lawmakers over the quarantining of American diplomats and their family members under the country's strict COVID-19 regulations. A Foreign Ministry spokesperson says China's epidemic protocols apply to both Chinese and foreigners and are open and transparent. She called the statements by the U.S. lawmakers “really absurd and completely groundless.” Republican Congressmen James Comer and Michael McCaul wrote to Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Wednesday asking for clarification of the quarantines. The U.S. Embassy had no immediate comment on the letter.

      Far fewer Chinese are expected to be traveling during the upcoming “Golden Week” National Day holiday, amid rigid anti-COVID-19 restrictions and calls from health officials for people to stay put. China’s transport ministry is estimating some 210 million trips will be made by road during the week-long holiday that begins Saturday, down 30% compared to the same time last year. China remains the only major country that has yet to reopen and continues to enforce strict case tracing, quarantines and mask-wearing policies, along with rolling lockdowns affecting millions and health designations preventing people from traveling. On Friday in Beijing, President Xi Jinping led top leaders in placing flower baskets at a memorial to revolutionary martyrs.

        Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa sustained neck and head injuries after being slammed to the ground Thursday night against the Cincinnati Bengals, and was stretchered from the field. The Dolphins said Tagovailoa was conscious and had movement in all his extremities after being taken by stretcher from the field and to University of Cincinnati Medical Center. The Dolphins said after their 27-15 loss to the Bengals that Tagovailoa was expected to be released from the hospital and fly home with the team. Miami coach Mike McDaniel said Tagovailoa sustained a concussion when was chased down and sacked by Josh Tupou with about six minutes left in the first half. He remained down for more than seven minutes before being loaded on a backboard and removed via stretcher.

          A former vice governor of China’s sprawling Tibet region has been indicted on charges of accepting bribes. The government said Zhang Yongze “took advantage of his former positions and power to seek benefits for others” in obtaining contracts and promotions, while illegally accepting money and valuables in return. Zhang’s case is being handled by prosecutors and courts in another province, as is typical where high-ranking officials and serious charges are involved. Zhang is the latest former leader to be indicted, just weeks before a congress of the Communist Party whose leader Xi Jinping has made fighting corruption a signature issue. Xi is expected to try to break with tradition and award himself a third five-year term as leader.

          U.S. health officials have approved a much-debated drug to treat the deadly illness known as Lou Gehrig's disease. The approval Thursday follows an intense lobbying campaign by patients and advocates, though it's also likely to raise questions about the standards used to review experimental medicines. The Food and Drug Administration approved the medication from Amylyx Pharmaceuticals based on results from one small, mid-stage study. The agency's internal scientists repeatedly said the company's results were not convincing. But thousands of patients have urged the FDA to be flexible and grant patients' access. Lou Gehrig’s disease has no cure and most patients die within five years of initial symptoms.

          The family of a woman who died after she was accidentally served dishwashing liquid as drinking juice at a San Francisco Bay Area care home has sued the facility. The suit filed Thursday concerns the death of 93-year-old Trudy Maxwell. She was one of three people hospitalized after accidentally being served dishwashing liquid instead of drinking juice on Aug. 28 at Atria Park Senior Living Facility in San Mateo. The lawsuit contends the liquid was more toxic than Drano and destroyed her digestive tract. It alleges wrongful death, negligence and elder abuse and neglect. Another resident, 93-year-old Peter Schroder, also died and his family also has sued. Atria says it's working with authorities to review the incident.

          Six Republican-led states are suing the Biden administration to try and halt its plan to forgive student loan debt for millions of Americans. They're accusing it of overstepping its executive powers. It’s at least the second legal challenge this week to the sweeping proposal laid out by President Joe Biden in late August, when he said his administration would cancel up to $20,000 in education debt for millions of borrowers. As the lawsuit was being filed, the administration quietly scaled back eligibility rules for the debt relief, eliminating a relatively small group of borrowers who are the subject of legal debate in the suit.

          The new director of the federal Bureau of Prisons vows that “the buck stops" with her when it comes to fixing the crisis-plagued agency. Colette Peters appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday and ticked off a list of top priorities, from solving a staffing crisis to ending widespread misconduct. Her testimony was a stark departure from the combative nature of her predecessor, who drew bipartisan rebukes for foisting blame on others and refusing to accept responsibility. The Bureau of Prisons has been under increasing scrutiny from Congress amid myriad crises, including rampant sexual abuse of inmates and other staff criminal conduct, chronic understaffing, escapes and deaths.

          California’s insurance commissioner has ordered nearly 50 auto insurers to provide detailed information about their claims costs during the pandemic. It's Commissioner Ricardo Lara's latest attempt to compensate consumers he says were overcharged as traffic virtually disappeared after the nation’s largest automobile insurance market imposed the first U.S. coronavirus stay-home order. Lara on Thursday gave the state’s major insurers 30 days to respond. It’s the latest salvo in a dispute over whether Lara’s delay in considering rate hike requests threatens insurance companies’ ability to write policies in California. Insurers say they are now losing money, with inflation and supply chain shortages compounding the cost of increased claims due to worsening driving habits.

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          Michael Curry, the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, says he has tested positive for COVID-19. Curry said his symptoms are mild so far, and asked for prayers for a speedy recovery. He plans to participate in upcoming events either remotely or through pre-recorded messages. Curry became leader of the denomination in 2015 — he's the first African American to hold the church's top post. Among his recent high-profile appearances was a Sept. 21 service at Washington National Cathedral honoring the life of Queen Elizabeth II. Curry delivered the homily.

          A new report finds that U.S. companies added women to their boards of director at a slower pace this year compared with last year as the COVID-19 pandemic and a difficult economy shifts priorities. Women have continued to make gains, now holding a record 28% of board seats on the Russell 3000 index of publicly traded companies. But during the first six months of 2022, the share of new seats going to women declined by 8 percentage points compared to the preceding six months. That's according to an annual report released by the advocacy group 50/50 Women on Boards, using data from executive data firm Equilar.

          Oregon is set to become the first state in the nation to cover certain climate change expenses under its Medicaid program. State health officials say the low-income health plan will cover devices such as air conditioners, air filters and generators for people with medical conditions who live in areas where a weather emergency has been declared. The measure is included in Oregon's renewed Medicaid waiver. Oregon will pay for it with $1 billion in new federal funding. Under the waiver, the state will also become the first to keep children continuously enrolled in Medicaid until age 6.

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