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In the Philippines, Blinken Vows to Strengthen Military Ties

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MANILA — President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. of the Philippines and Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken said on Saturday that their nations were committed to strengthening their military alliance, and that their governments would need to deal with rising tensions in Asia, including those involving China and Taiwan.

Mr. Marcos said at the start of a meeting with Mr. Blinken in the presidential palace that Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan had not, in his opinion, intensified those tensions; rather, it “demonstrated how the intensity of the conflict has been at that level for a good while now, but we sort of got used to the idea and then put it aside.”

Mr. Marcos’s comment came as China continued to hold military exercises in the waters near Taiwan, two days after it fired 11 ballistic missiles into the same area, five of them landing in waters that are part of Japan’s exclusive economic zone.

The United States, Japan and other nations have issued statements denouncing China’s actions and calling for de-escalation. The words by Mr. Marcos also supported the assertion by Mr. Blinken and other American officials that Ms. Pelosi’s visit was consistent with U.S. policy on Taiwan, not a shifting of the status quo.

Mr. Marcos also spoke of building on the mutual defense arrangement between the United States and the Philippines. The two countries are treaty allies, and the U.S. military has long maintained a presence in the Philippines. American officials have been discussing possible greater access to military bases in the country, doing more exercises between the two militaries and making their defense systems more interoperable — part of Washington’s Indo-Pacific strategy aimed at increasing cooperation with allies and partners to counterbalance China.

Mr. Marcos talked about the need “to evolve that relationship in the face of all the changes that we have been seeing,” adding that “the Mutual Defense Treaty is in constant evolution.”

Mr. Blinken agreed. “The alliance is strong,” he said, “and, I believe, can grow even stronger.”

Mr. Marcos was sworn in at the end of June after being elected the 17th president of the Philippines in a landslide victory. He is the son and namesake of a former dictator who fled to Hawaii with his family in 1986 after a peaceful uprising by citizens furious at the father’s brazen corruption. The elder Marcos died in Hawaii in 1989.

The question of how to confront China on its assertive behavior in the region while at the same time dealing with it as an important economic partner was one that arose throughout Mr. Blinken’s meetings with Philippine officials on Saturday, as well as in his discussions with other Asian dignitaries at a regional summit in Cambodia this week.

After Mr. Blinken and Enrique A. Manalo, the foreign minister of the Philippines, met by video, Mr. Manalo said in response to a question at a news conference that the two countries could explore the possibility of joint naval patrols in the Pacific.

Mr. Manalo spoke with Mr. Blinken by video and took part virtually in the news conference because he had tested positive for the coronavirus.

Mr. Blinken told reporters that in his discussions, he had affirmed the “ironclad” commitment of the United States to defending the Philippines and had said that any armed attack on the Philippine military would trigger pledges in their mutual defense treaty.

He also denounced illegal fishing and environmental destruction in Asian waters by “outside actors.” Together, those comments were a clear reference to actions by China. For years, nations in the region have complained of illegal fishing by Chinese boats, which are believed to operate throughout the seas with the approval of China’s Navy.

The Chinese government has made expansive claims to territorial control of the waters and land features in the South China Sea, despite competing claims by Taiwan and Southeast Asian nations, including the Philippines, and the insistence by Washington that all nations maintain freedom of navigation.

Ships from China and the Philippines faced off over the Scarborough Shoal, and an international court in The Hague ruled in 2016 that the shoal was sovereign territory of the Philippines, and that China could not claim the entire South China Sea as its own. China has continued to send ships to the area and assert control of it.

Mr. Marcos’s predecessor, Rodrigo Duterte, tried to adopt more conciliatory policies toward China, including backing down from strong territorial assertions over the South China Sea. But Mr. Marcos has pledged to uphold the ruling of the international court — a decision that will almost certainly bring his government into conflict with China.

Mr. Duterte, who held office for six years, at one point moved to end an important military agreement between the United States and the Philippines. That and other actions by Mr. Duterte, who was widely criticized for human rights abuses and authoritarian practices, strained the relationship between Manila and Washington.

But last year, Mr. Duterte reaffirmed the Visiting Forces Agreement between the countries, which the Philippine military strongly supports. The agreement sets terms for the rotation of American troops through the Philippines for drills and exercises.

In the news conference with Mr. Manalo, Mr. Blinken also criticized China for its decision on Friday to break off eight areas of cooperation and dialogue with the United States over Ms. Pelosi’s Taiwan visit, including military-to-military talks and climate change negotiations.

“Suspending climate cooperation doesn’t punish the United States; it punishes the world, particularly in the developing world,” he said. “We should not hold hostage matters of global concern because of differences between our two countries.”

Mr. Blinken said he warned Wang Yi, the foreign minister of China, at a meeting of foreign ministers on Friday morning at the summit in Cambodia against continuing escalatory actions over Ms. Pelosi’s visit. Hours later, the Chinese Foreign Ministry announced the suspension of the areas of cooperation.

“I think maintaining dialogue is arguably even more important when we’re in a period of heightened tensions, as we are now,” Mr. Blinken said at the news conference in Manila.

After the news conference, Mr. Blinken visited a Covid-19 vaccination clinic at the Manila Zoo and watched a young boy and a young girl get inoculated. Down on a knee, he told the boy he had gotten four shots himself. He later talked about the need for nations to work together to stem the coronavirus pandemic, and he fed fruit to an elephant from Sri Lanka before leaving the zoo.

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The F.D.A. Now Says It Plainly: Morning-After Pills Are Not Abortion Pills

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The F.D.A. said it made the change now because it had completed a review of a 2018 application to alter the label that was submitted by Foundation Consumer Healthcare, a company that in 2017 bought the Plan B brand from Teva Pharmaceutical Industries. Agency officials said the pandemic delayed the review process and that the timing was not motivated by political considerations.

A spokeswoman for the company, Dani Hirsch, said in an interview that for its 2018 application, the company had not conducted any new studies but had submitted “what was already out there.”

In a statement, the company’s marketing director, Tara Evans, said “the misconception that Plan B works by interfering with implantation can present barriers to broader emergency contraception access. The Plan B labeling correction will help protect continued over-the-counter emergency contraception access and reduce confusion about how Plan B works and further clarify that Plan B does not affect implantation.”

Plan B One-Step and its generic versions — including brands like Take Action, My Way and Option 2 — contain levonorgestrel, one of a class of hormones called progestins that are also found at lower doses in birth control pills and intrauterine devices. The pills are most effective in preventing pregnancy if taken within 72 hours of sexual intercourse, although they can sometimes work if taken within five days.

Another type of morning-after pill, marketed as Ella and containing a compound called ulipristal acetate, is only available by prescription and is not affected by the F.D.A.’s label change. There has been less research on this type of pill, but studies suggest that it is highly unlikely to prevent implantation of a fertilized egg. In 2009, after months of scrutiny, Ella was approved for sale in overwhelmingly Catholic Italy, where laws would have barred it if it had been considered to induce abortions.

According to data published in 2021 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly one-quarter of women of reproductive age who have sex with men answered yes to the question: “Have you ever used emergency contraception, also known as ‘Plan B,’ ‘Preven,’ ‘Ella,’ ‘Next Choice,’ or ‘Morning after’ pills?” The agency did not break down the data by the type of pills taken.

As far back as the 1999 approval process, the maker of Plan B — Barr Pharmaceuticals, later acquired by Teva — asked the F.D.A. not to list an implantation effect on the label, The Times reported in 2012.

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Who are Caroline Ellison’s parents? Fraudster’s mom and dad are MIT economists

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This apple fell far from the tree.

Caroline Ellison — who pleaded guilty to fraud charges related to her role in the FTX cryptocurrency scandal, which led to the extradition of Sam Bankman-Fried this week — is the daughter of high-profile economists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

According to his curriculum vitae, Ellison’s father, Glenn Ellison, was educated at Harvard, Cambridge and MIT before becoming the Gregory K. Palm (1970) Professor of Economics at the latter. 

In addition to coaching youth softball and his daughters’ middle school math teams, he writes “Hard Math,” a series of textbooks and workbooks about teaching arithmetic to younger students.

Glenn Ellison is also an Elected Fellow of the Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory and American Academy of Arts & Sciences.

Caroline Ellison’s parents, Glenn and Sara Ellison, outside their Newton, Mass., home in early December.
Robert Miller

Ellison’s mother, Sara Ellison, is also an accomplished academic. Armed with an undergraduate degree from Purdue University and a mathematical statistics diploma from Cambridge University, her profile shows she completed a doctorate at MIT in 1993. 

Sara Ellison is currently a senior lecturer in the department alongside her husband.

“We were definitely exposed to a lot of economics [growing up],” Ellison, 28, once told Forbes.

Ellison, 28, plead guilty to fraud this week.
Ellison, 28, pleaded guilty to fraud this week.
Twitter / @AlamedaResearch
Caroline Ellison's sister, Anna, now lives in the West Village.
Caroline Ellison’s sister, Anna, now lives in the West Village.
BRIGITTE STELZER

Glenn and Sara Ellison were photographed by The Post outside their home in Newton, an affluent Boston suburb, earlier this month. Armed with several bags, they told reporters they were too “busy” to comment on the FTX scandal.

The eldest of three sisters — including Anna, 25, who now lives in Manhattan’s West Village — Ellison distinguished herself as a precocious math whiz at a young age. 

When she was just 8 years old, she reportedly presented her father with a paper analyzing stuffed animal prices at Toys ‘R’ Us.

Sam Bankman-Fried leaving Manhattan Federal Court on Thursday.
Sam Bankman-Fried leaving Manhattan federal court on Thursday.
Matthew McDermott
Both Glenn and Sara Ellison are economists at MIT.
Both Glenn and Sara Ellison are economists at MIT.
Robert Miller

She went on to compete in the Math Prize for Girls while at Newton North High School before studying mathematics at Stanford University, where former professor Ruth Stackman described her to Forbes as “bright, focused, [and] very mathy.”

Ellison and Bankman-Fried, 30, crossed paths at the Wall Street trading firm Jane Street. Bankman-Fried’s parents are also both university lecturers, at Stanford in California. They became good friends and she joined Alameda Research, the hedge fund arm of the FTX crypto exchange, in 2018. She then became CEO in 2021. However, the company remained owned 90% by Bankman-Fried and 10% by another member of his circle.

In addition to documenting her supposed foray into polyamory on Tumblr, Ellison once boasted about drug use on social media.

Sara Ellison completed a doctorate at MIT in 1993.
Sara Ellison completed a doctorate at MIT in 1993.
Robert Miller

“Nothing like regular amphetamine use to make you appreciate how dumb a lot of normal, non-medicated human experience is,” she tweeted in 2021.

Ellison reportedly admitted to Alameda employees that FTX had used client funds to bail out the fledgeling hedge fund during a video call in November. She was eventually terminated as CEO by insolvency professional and current FTX CEO John J. Ray III after FTX and Alameda filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

She pleaded guilty to federal fraud charges on Monday, and has subsequently been released on $250,000 bail.

Ellison was spotted getting coffee in New York City on Dec. 4.
Ellison was spotted getting coffee in New York City on Dec. 4.
Twitter / @AutismCapital

Although she could be sent to jail for up to 110 years for her part in the FTX-Alameda scandal — which has been said by federal prosecutors to have lost between $1 billion and $2 billion of customers’ cash — she is thought to have struck a deal with the feds for a much lighter sentence in return for her cooperation.

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Iran condemns Zelensky’s remarks to Congress as ‘baseless.’

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Iran has condemned President Volodymyr Zelensky’s remarks to the U.S. Congress, warning the Ukrainian leader against further accusing Tehran of supplying weapons to Russia for use in the war.

Mr. Zelensky told Congress on Wednesday that Iranian-made drones “sent to Russia in hundreds” had been threatening Ukraine’s critical infrastructure, a view shared by American and European officials. In Iran, he said, Russia had found an “ally in its genocidal policy.”

A spokesman for Iran’s foreign ministry, Nasser Kanaani, called Mr. Zelensky’s comments “rude” and “baseless.”

“Mr. Zelensky had better know that Iran’s strategic patience over such unfounded accusations is not endless,” Mr. Kanaani said in a statement on Thursday.

Although Iran has officially denied supplying Russia with the weapons since Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, U.S. officials have said that the first shipment was delivered in August.

Mr. Zelensky has said that drones used in Monday’s wave of predawn attacks on Kyiv and other Ukrainian cities were from a batch recently delivered to Russia by Iran. The strikes came after Biden administration officials said that Russia and Iran were strengthening their military ties into a “full-fledged defense partnership.”

The European Union last week condemned Iran’s military partnership with Russia as a gross violation of international law and announced new sanctions against Iranian individuals and entities over their roles in supplying the drones that Moscow has used to attack Ukrainian civilians and infrastructure. That followed a round of sanctions on Iranians over the drone deliveries in October.

Mr. Kanaani “once again emphasizes” that Iran has not supplied military equipment for use in Ukraine, the statement issued on Thursday added, and urged Mr. Zelensky to learn “the fate of some other political leaders” who were happy with U.S. support. It was not clear which other leaders the statement was referring to.

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