USA

Islamic State leader Abu Ibrahim al-Qurayshi killed in Syria, US says

Biden said the death of Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi had "removed a major terrorist threat to the world".

Qurayshi detonated a bomb that killed himself and members of his own family "in a final act of desperate cowardice", the president added.

Syrian first responders said they found the bodies of 13 people after the raid.

The operation targeted a two-storey residential building on the outskirts of the opposition-held town of Atmeh, which is in northern Idlib province and is close to the border with Turkey.

Millions under weather alerts as major winter storm hits US and Canada

Thousands of flights have been cancelled, and power cuts have been reported in some south-eastern states.

Virginia, Georgia, and North and South Carolina declared states of emergency.

The US National Weather Service (NWS) said the storm would hit much of the eastern third of the country over the next two days, with more than 1ft (30cm) of snow expected in some areas.

The huge storm system is approaching the eastern US from the Midwest.

Snow and ice could result in "dangerous travel, power outages, and tree damage", the NWS warned.

Omicron variant drives surge in Covid-19 cases across US

The fast-spreading Omicron variant of the coronavirus has become dominant in the United States with lightning speed, and claimed the life on Monday of an unvaccinated man in Texas, officials said.

The spike in Covid-19 cases is alarming public health officials, who fear an explosion of infections after the Christmas and New Year's holidays.

The Omicron variant now accounts for 73 percent of US coronavirus infections based on sequencing data for the week ended on Saturday, the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention said on Monday.

China denounces US-UK-Australia pact as irresponsible

The deal will see the US and UK give Australia the technology to build nuclear-powered submarines for the first time.

It is being widely viewed as an effort to counter China's influence in the contested South China Sea.

The region has been a flashpoint for years and tensions there remain high.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said the alliance risked "severely damaging regional peace... and intensifying the arms race".

Tags: 

Pfizer becomes first Covid vaccine to gain full FDA approval

The vaccine had initially been given emergency use authorisation. Its two jabs, three weeks apart, are now fully approved for those aged 16 and older.

The approval is expected to set off more vaccine mandates by employers and organisations across the country.

It comes amid lingering vaccine hesitancy among many Americans.

In a statement, the FDA said its review for approval included data from approximately 44,000 people. The vaccine, which will now be marketed as Comirnaty, was found to be 91% effective in preventing Covid disease.

US opens official investigation into self-driving tech

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said it was acting following 11 Tesla crashes since 2018 involving emergency vehicles.

In some cases, the Tesla vehicles "crashed directly into the vehicles of first responders", it said.

The investigation will cover roughly 765,000 Tesla cars made since 2014.

That includes those in the Model Y, Model X, Model S and Model 3, the NHTSA said - the entire current range.

Sunisa Lee takes gymnastics all-around gold as Simone Biles watches from stands

The 18-year-old Olympic debutant, who helped the USA win team silver on Tuesday, finished on 57.433.

Brazil's Rebeca Andrade won silver and Russian Angelina Melnikova bronze.

Jessica Gadirova's 10th place was the best result ever by a British woman in the event.

Andrade's score of 57.298 secured Brazil's first ever women's gymnastics medal at the Games, while Melnikova took bronze with 57.199.

"It's my first world ranking, so I know where I am and where I stand," said 16-year-old Gadirova, whose twin sister Jennifer finished 13th.

France stun reigning champions USA to end 25-game win streak

Evan Fournier poured in 28 points for the French as the Americans, who have won gold in the past three Games, were beaten for the first time since 2004.

A strong third quarter, where France outscored Gregg Popovich's star-studded team 25-11, proved decisive.

Rudy Gobert was also influential with 14 points and nine rebounds.

It was a disastrous start for Team USA who struggled in their preparation for the tournament, losing warm-up matches to Nigeria and Australia.

They looked to have taken control of the game with an eight-point half-time lead.

Jeff Bezos and Sir Richard Branson not yet astronauts, US says

New Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) rules say astronaut hopefuls must be part of the flight crew and make contributions to space flight safety.

That means Jeff Bezos and Sir Richard Branson may not yet be astronauts in the eyes of the US government.

These are the first changes since the FAA wings programme began in 2004.

The Commercial Astronaut Wings programme updates were announced on Tuesday - the same day thatĀ Amazon's Bezos flew aboard a Blue Origin rocket to the edge of space.

'Heartbreaking' conditions in US migrant child camp

In recent months, the US has seen a massive rise in migrants and asylum seekers from Central America. Violence, natural disasters and pandemic-related economic strife are some of the reasons behind the influx, experts say.

Some have also suggested the perception of a more lenient administration under Democrat Joe Biden has contributed to the crisis, though the White House has urged migrants against journeying to the US border.