WORLD

Belgium imposes ban on AZ jabs for people under 56

BRUSSELS — Belgium is disregarding Wednesday’s advice from the European Union’s drug regulator and imposing a four-week ban on administering the AstraZeneca vaccine to people aged under 56.

The European Medicines Agency said that even though it found a “possible link” between the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine and a rare clotting disorder, it placed no new restrictions on using the vaccine in people 18 and over. The EMA insisted that the benefits of the shot still largely outweigh the risks.

Mexico president justifies releaseof kingpin

MEXICO CITY — Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador on Wednesday defended the 2013 ruling that freed one of the drug lords most wanted by US authorities, even though Mexico’s Supreme Court later ruled it was a mistake.

Rafael Caro Quintero walked free while serving a 40-year sentence for the torture-murder of US Drug Enforcement Administration agent Enrique “Kiki” Camarena in 1985, and has since apparently resumed his role as violent drug trafficker.

Caro Quintero is at the top of the DEA’s Most Wanted list, with a $20 million reward for his capture.

López Obrador said Wednesday the legal appeal that led to Caro Quintero’s release was “justified” because supposedly no verdict had been handed down against the drug lord after 27 years in jail.

NATION

Alabama revises voter form; lawsuit ends

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — An atheist group asked a judge Wednesday to end its federal lawsuit against the state of Alabama since officials have revised its voter registration forms, which required an oath to God.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation and Secretary of State John Merrill ’s office jointly requested that a court dismiss the case, which was filed last year over a required oath for would-be voters that includes the words “so help me God,” court documents show.

The updated form still includes the wording, but it also has a box that allows registrants to opt out of the religious portion of the oath “because of a sincerely held belief.” Applicants still must “swear or affirm” to requirements including being a US citizen; being eligible to vote; and not being affiliated with groups that advocate the overthrow of the government.

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