Washington, D.C.

Blood donation rules may shift

The Food and Drug Administration published proposed guidelines that would allow gay men to donate blood for the first time in 30 years, a move that follows a recommendation from an agency advisory committee late last year. The draft of the new guidelines states that a man should be barred from giving blood for only one year after he has had sex with another man. The FDA previously banned blood donations from any man who has had sex with another man any time since 1977. An agency task force writes in the new guidelines that the change would not diminish the safety of the blood supply and might significantly increase the pool of donors. The task force considered a ban of shorter than one year, since tests can pick up the presence of HIV in blood much earlier than that, but decided to go with a time frame that has been adopted elsewhere in the world.

Migrant families could be split

Federal officials are threatening to split up mothers and children if they're forced to dismantle three family detention centers holding nearly 1,000 migrant women and children, most of whom said they fled violence in Central America. U.S. Department of Justice lawyers began intense talks this week with attorneys representing the interests of migrant mothers. They will try to negotiate a way to keep the facilities open after a federal court in California distributed a draft ruling concluding that the Obama administration's use of family detention centers violates an 18-year-old court settlement regarding the detention of migrant children. U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee gave the two sides until May 24 to come up with an agreement before she is expected to enter an official ruling.


Attacks kill Shiite pilgrims

Attacks on Shiite pilgrims commemorating the death of 8th century Shiite Imam Moussa al-Kazim killed 19 people and wounded more than 50 in Baghdad. The largest of the attacks happened when a suicide bomber attacked pilgrims returning from the shrine. The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant claimed responsibility.


France seeks trade embargo's end

President Francois Hollande of France called for an end to the U.S. trade embargo against Cuba, where he met with Fidel Castro in the first visit by a Western head of state to Havana since the United States announced plans in December to re-establish diplomatic relations with the country. Hollande said that Castro, 88, who led the Cuban revolution, had "a lot to say."

South Korea

Sentence cut in ferry sinking

An appeals court reduced the prison sentence given to the head of the company that operated the Sewol ferry, which sank last year, killing more than 300 people. The High Court in Gwangju lowered Kim Han-sik's sentence to seven years from 10 years. Kim, 72, the chief executive of Chonghaejin Marine Co., had received the 10-year sentence from a lower court in November. The presiding High Court judge, Seo Kyong-hwan, said that he reduced Kim's sentence after considering the lighter punishments given to other defendants in connection with the April 2014 sinking of the Sewol. The ship's captain, Lee Jun-seok, was convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison.

News services