International news briefs: May 1

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United States to arm Syrian rebels

According to a Washington Post article by Karen DeYoung, senior officials in President Obama’s administration said Tuesday that the United States is preparing to send lethal weaponry to forces in Syria that are intent on overthrowing the regime of President Bashar al-Assad. Although the officials stressed that political negotiation remains the preferred option, they said the U.S. will assert more aggressive leadership among allies and partners seeking to remove al-Assad from power.

The administration is also reportedly talking with Russian President Vladimir Putin in an attempt to convince him to withdraw his support for al-Assad. Secretary of State John Kerry will fly to Moscow in the coming days to meet with Putin personally, the Post said.

The conflict has drawn international attention recently amidst evidence of chemical weapons use by both sides in the civil war, which has killed more than 70,000 people and scattered millions of refugees into bordering countries.

Morning-after pill to be available over the counter for women 15 and older

CNN said Tuesday that the United States’ Food and Drug Administration approved the availability of the Plan B One-Step emergency contraception pill without a prescription to women aged 15 or older. The pill’s packaging will now carry a warning that age verification is required for purchase, and it will not be sold in locations that cannot verify age.

According to a Tuesday CNN article by Elizabeth Landau, the ruling does not pertain to two other brands of emergency contraceptive, one of which is available over-the-counter for women aged 17 and over, and another available with a prescription for all ages.

One World Trade Center set to become tallest building in U.S.

After weather delayed the installation of the final pieces of a 408-foot spire on top of New York City’s One World Trade Center, CNN said the building would become the tallest in the country later this week. After the spire is installed, the tower will reach a symbolic height of 1,776 feet.

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