Experts wary of lifting ban on gay men donating blood

Government health advisers have concerns about lifting a nationwide ban on blood donations from gay and bisexual men, despite growing pressure against the policy from gay rights advocates, medical experts and blood banks.

The ban dates from the first years of the AIDS epidemic and was intended to protect the U.S. blood supply from exposure to the little-understood disease. But many medical groups, including the American Medical Association, say the policy is no longer supported by science, given advances in HIV testing. And gay activists say the lifetime ban is discriminatory and perpetuates negative stereotypes against homosexual men.

Still, blood safety experts urged the Food and Drug Administration to exercise caution in making any changes to current policy, saying the impact on the blood supply is difficult to predict.


Moderate conservative replaces Ford as mayor

Toronto’s new mayor pledged better days are ahead and thanked an ailing Rob Ford for his public service as he took the oath of office on Tuesday.

John Tory, a straight-laced, button-down moderate conservative, formally replaced Ford as mayor of Canada’s largest city. Ford’s term was plagued by scandals involving public drinking and crack cocaine use.

Despite having cancer, Ford opted to seek the suburban City Council seat where he launched his political career and where his everyman style and conservative fiscal policies first gained a faithful following that became known as Ford Nation.

He won his old seat in a landslide.


Baghdad, Kurdish region reach deal on sales of oil

Iraq’s central government and the country’s semiautonomous Kurdish region reached a deal on oil sales Tuesday that officials in Baghdad are hailing as a major victory for the new administration of Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi.

The deal potentially could resolve a long-standing dispute that earlier this year had the Kurds threatening to schedule a vote on independence, a move that would have possibly led to the breakup of the country at the same time that the Islamic State had seized much of northern and central Iraq.