Jaclyn Diaz

Updated at 4:30 a.m. ET

The U.K. has formally approved Pfizer's coronavirus vaccine, becoming the first Western country to OK its use for the general public.

The British regulatory agency, the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Authority, or MHRA, announced early Wednesday the approval of the vaccine from Pfizer and the German company BioNTech for emergency use. The vaccine promises up to 95% protection against COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.

The captain of a dive boat that caught fire last year off the coast of Santa Barbara, Calif., was indicted Tuesday on 34 counts of negligent manslaughter.

Thirty-three passengers and one crew member died during the early morning hours of Sept. 2, 2019, when a fast moving fire broke out on the 75-foot Conception. The boat was docked off Santa Cruz Island for a chartered three-day diving trip.

An armed gang launched an early morning attack on a southern Brazilian city Tuesday. The group methodically set up road blocks before going on a bank robbing and hostage-taking spree that ended in a gunfight with police.

The men attacked the Southern Brazilian city of Criciúma, located more than 800 miles south of Rio de Janeiro, and robbed several banks early Tuesday morning. Two people, one a police officer, were injured during the siege.

The coronavirus was present in the U.S. weeks earlier than scientists and public health officials previously thought, and before cases in China were publicly identified, according to a new government study published Monday.

The virus and the illness that it causes, COVID-19, were first identified in Wuhan, China, in December 2019, but it wasn't until about Jan. 20 that the first confirmed COVID-19 case, from a traveler returning from China, was found in the U.S.

Police searched the home and offices of the personal doctor of deceased soccer legend Diego Maradona, amid questions over his medical treatment.

Argentine prosecutors announced Sunday they are investigating the death of Maradona as well as his personal doctor, Leopoldo Luque, five days after the former player's death.

Paris' top prosecutor has filed preliminary charges against four police officers in connection with the beating of a Black man earlier this month.

French prosecutor Remy Heitz announced Sunday that he is asking that three of the four police officers remain in custody. A fourth, who arrived after the beating of Michel Zecler, will be conditionally released.

An Australian professor detained in Iran for 804 days for espionage has returned home following a reported swap for three Iranians jailed abroad.

In statements shared on social media, Kylie Moore-Gilbert thanked Australian officials and supporters who worked "tirelessly" to get her home.

Six U.S. oil executives held for three years in Venezuela were convicted and sentenced to lengthy prison terms Thursday.

Known as the Citgo 6, the men are all employees of the Houston-based refining company of the same name, which is owned by Venezuela's state oil company, PDVSA.

Five of the men, Gustavo Cárdenas, Jorge Toledo, Jose Luis Zambrano and Alirio Zambrano, and Tomeu Vadell, all U.S. citizens, were sentenced to eight years and 10 months. Jose Pereira, a permanent resident of the U.S., received 13 years, The Associated Press reports.

Germany is extending its current coronavirus lockdown measures through mid-December, Chancellor Angela Merkel announced this week.

The country will remain under measures introduced in early November that include limits on private gatherings and it will keep bars, restaurants, and museums closed.

Residents will be given some leeway around the Christmas holiday. Members of one household can meet up with 10 people between Dec. 23 to Jan. 1. Children under 14 are exempt.

Updated at 3:27 p.m. ET

The U.S. Supreme Court has temporarily barred New York from enforcing strict attendance limits on places of worship in areas designated coronavirus hot spots, in a decision released just before midnight on Wednesday.

France will begin easing COVID-19 restrictions in the country this week after the nation passed the peak of the virus's second wave, President Emmanuel Macron announced Tuesday.

Russia says it caught a U.S. Navy ship illegally operating in Russian waters in the Sea of Japan and "chased off" the offending ship on Tuesday.

The area in question has been claimed by Russia as part of its territorial waters since 1984, but the U.S. does not recognize that claim.

Updated at 5:03 a.m. ET

International travelers heading to England could cut their mandatory quarantine time by more than half under new rules announced by the British government Tuesday.

Starting Dec. 15, certain travelers could cut their 14-day mandatory quarantine down to five days if they take a COVID-19 test and the results are negative.

Updated at 2:20 a.m. ET

David Dinkins, New York City's only African American mayor, died Monday night at 93.

Dinkins led New York in the early 1990s as its mayor, a position he called "the greatest job there is."

Dinkins' office operations manager, Lynda Hamilton, confirmed his death to NPR early Tuesday.

U.K.-based pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca has developed a vaccine that initial results show to be "highly effective in preventing" COVID-19, the company announced Monday.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is raising concerns with the leaders of the world's wealthiest countries that when a coronavirus vaccine becomes available, poorer countries could miss out.

Speaking on Sunday during a two-day virtual G20 global summit, Merkel said progress toward developing a system for distribution to less wealthy countries has been slow and that she would raise the issue with the global vaccine alliance, GAVI.

Patrick Quinn, the co-creator of the viral Ice Bucket Challenge, has died at the age of 37 after a seven-year fight with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, commonly known as ALS or Lou Gehrig's disease.

The Ice Bucket Challenge, which took the Internet by storm in 2014, raised $115 million for the ALS Association and more than $220 million around the world for ALS research, according to the association.

Updated at 12:50 p.m. ET

President-elect Joe Biden will nominate Antony Blinken for the coveted secretary of state post.

Blinken, 58, has extensive foreign policy experience, serving as deputy secretary of state and deputy national security adviser under President Barack Obama.

South Australia officials say a worker at a pizza shop lied about the circumstances of his exposure to the coronavirus, leading the region to a strict lockdown earlier this week.

South Australia Premier Steven Marshall announced the six-day coronavirus lockdown on Monday to curtail a growing virus outbreak in the area. As a result, schools were closed and outdoor exercise and non-essential businesses were banned.

Top House Democrats have sent a letter demanding that General Services Administration Chief Emily W. Murphy brief lawmakers on why she has yet to ascertain Joe Biden's election win — a necessary first step before the president-elect can receive resources for a transition of government.

The move comes as President Trump and his campaign have refused to concede the election, instead contesting results from the Nov. 3 vote in a series of failed lawsuits. Murphy, who was appointed by Trump in 2017, has so far withheld her official decision.

Members of the Australian special forces allegedly killed 39 people during operations in Afghanistan in violation of international law, according to the findings of a long-awaited report.

California has reached more than 1 million confirmed coronavirus cases, becoming only the second state to reach the bleak milestone since the start of the pandemic.

The most populous state in the country crossed the million mark on Thursday, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University.

Updated at 7:40 p.m. ET

Former federal prosecutors used "poor judgment" in crafting the 2008 nonprosecution deal for Jeffrey Epstein but didn't commit professional misconduct or break the law, the Justice Department announced Thursday.

Updated at 3:28 p.m. ET

A federal appeals court in Boston has ruled Harvard doesn't intentionally discriminate against Asian American applicants in its admissions process.

The panel of judges upheld a federal district court's decision from last year, teeing up a possible case in front of the U.S. Supreme Court.

Updated at 6:38 p.m. ET

The Los Angeles County coroner's office announced Tuesday it will open an independent inquiry into the sheriff's deputy-involved death of an 18-year-old man shot in June.

Emily Harrington climbed her way into the history books last week, becoming the first woman to free-climb the Golden Gate route of Yosemite National Park's El Capitan in less than one day.

Harrington, 34, topped the 3,000-foot mountain last Wednesday in 21 hours, 13 minutes and 51 seconds, making her the fourth woman to free-climb the monolith featured in the Oscar-winning documentary Free Solo.

Updated at 4 p.m. ET

A 19-year-old Wisconsin man has been charged with illegally providing the gun that prosecutors say Kyle Rittenhouse, 17, used to fatally shoot two men and injure a third during a protest this summer in Kenosha, Wis.

The police chief of a small town in Arkansas resigned Saturday after posts attributed to him calling for violence and harassment against Democrats were widely circulated. The town's mayor says the inflammatory remarks don't reflect the community.

Updated at 1:10 p.m. ET

Twitter permanently suspended an account associated with former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon after he suggested in a video posted online Thursday that Dr. Anthony Fauci and FBI Director Christopher Wray should be beheaded.

Bannon made the comments calling for medieval violence during a livestream of his talk show and podcast, War Room: Pandemic.

The four former Minneapolis police officers charged in the death of George Floyd will be tried together, a judge decided Thursday. He also rejected the former officer's requests to move the case outside of the Minneapolis area.

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