FDA approves sleeping pill for people with insomnia

Merck & Co. has won federal approval for a new type of sleeping pill designed to help people with insomnia stay asleep.

The tablet, Belsomra, works by temporarily blocking chemicals known as orexins that control the sleep cycle and can keep people awake at night. It is unclear whether the new drug is safer or more effective than older drugs because it was tested against a dummy pill, rather than other sleeping medications.

The Food and Drug Administration approved the drug Wednesday in four different doses for various degrees of insomnia. The agency noted that patients who took the highest dose, 20 milligrams, experienced drowsiness and difficulty driving the next morning.

— Associated Press

Singer pleads guilty to careless driving

Pop star Justin Bieber pleaded guilty to lesser charges Wednesday to resolve a criminal case brought by Miami Beach police, who initially said he was caught drag racing in a Lamborghini under the influence of alcohol and drugs.

The agreement with prosecutors requires the Canadian singer, who was not in court, to attend a 12-hour anger-management class, watch online videos about tragic drunken driving cases and donate $50,000 to a children’s charity.

As part of the deal, Bieber pleaded guilty to careless driving, a civil infraction, and resisting an officer without violence, a misdemeanor in the Jan. 23 incident. In return, the state dropped a charge of driving under the influence.

In approving the plea deal, Miami-Dade Circuit Judge William Altfield said he hoped Bieber, 20, was aware that his actions had consequences due to his status as a celebrity and a role model for young people.

— Reuters

Gun forces lockdown of Atlanta school: Atlanta schools officials said two students were taken into custody Wednesday after a report of a student carrying a gun on campus prompted a lockdown. Atlanta police Sgt. Greg Lyon said no injuries were reported and no shots were fired at Frederick Douglass High School in northwest Atlanta.

Satellite launched: A commercial satellite designed to produce high-resolution images of Earth from space was launched from the Vandenberg Air Force Base on California’s Central Coast atop an Atlas V rocket Wednesday. WorldView-3 belongs to Colorado-based DigitalGlobe and was built by Ball Aerospace & Technologies. Lockheed Martin and the United Launch Alliance are also partners in the project. DigitalGlobe says the satellite will be able to capture images of objects as small as 1-foot across.

Underground explosions rock Indianapolis: A series of small underground transformer explosions rocked downtown Indianapolis on Wednesday afternoon and forced evacuations. Fire department officials said the explosions about two blocks south of Monument Circle shook windows and shut down traffic in both directions for at least two hours.

— From news services