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The nation's economic engine slowed considerably in recent months, as it faced off against a winter wave of coronavirus infections.

The Commerce Department reported Thursday that the nation's gross domestic product grew just under 1% in October, November and December — a marked downshift from the three previous months. On an annualized basis, the economy grew 4 percent in the fourth quarter.

Pakistan's Supreme Court ordered the release on Thursday of a British national who was convicted of kidnapping and murdering Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl.

The decision comes nearly two decades after the journalist's body was found in a shallow grave in the Pakistani port city of Karachi. A videotape showing Pearl's beheading, send to the U.S. consulate, came in the context of the war on terror after Sept. 11, 2001. Pearl's murder became a portent for the cinematic violence committed by Islamic extremist groups in the years after.

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Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

The U.S. is working to vaccinate a high percentage of its population against COVID-19 as soon as possible to stop the spread of the disease and end the outbreak in the country.

The mission becomes even more urgent as coronavirus variants emerge around the world, raising concerns that the virus could evade our efforts to control it, if the spread is not curbed quickly.

President Biden will sign two executive actions Thursday that are designed to expand access to reproductive health care and health insurance through the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid.

A presidential memorandum will instruct the Department of Health and Human Services to open a special enrollment period for the Affordable Care Act through HealthCare.gov, the federally run health insurance marketplace. The enrollment period will run Feb. 15 to May 15, giving Americans who have lost their employer-based health insurance due to the pandemic an opportunity to sign up for coverage.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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