H.J. Mai | WAMC

H.J. Mai

The opioid crisis in the U.S. has never gone away.

Almost every year, more people die of opioid overdoses than in the year before. More than a half-million people have died from prescription painkillers, heroin and illicit fentanyl since 1999. Provisional data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that more than 66,000 people died of an opioid overdose in the U.S. in the 12 months to September 2020, a huge jump from the previous 12 months.

The shutdown of one of the largest refined products pipelines in the United States following a ransomware attack has prompted speculation about what could happen to gas and diesel prices if the shutdown continues.

Archaeologists discovered the fossilized remains of nine Neanderthals at a prehistoric cave site south of Rome, the Italian Cultural Ministry announced on Saturday.

The oldest of the remains date from between 90,000 and 100,000 years ago, while the other eight are believed to be younger, dating from 50,000 to 68,000 years ago.

Violence, which has been ongoing for several nights, continued in Jerusalem as Palestinians clashed with Israeli police on Saturday, leaving many injured.

Protesters threw rocks and water bottles at police. Officers responded with rubber bullets, stun grenades and water cannons.

For Denver-based flight attendant Ken Kyle, getting a coronavirus vaccine was as convenient as pulling up to the place he knows so well.

"It was great to be able to be vaccinated at the airport," Kyle says, quipping: "You know where you're going."

Kyle is one of a growing number of workers who are benefitting from a strong push by some companies to provide shots at employment sites, all in coordination with local and state health authorities.

Hot dogs. Peanuts. Cold Beer. Food – especially the unhealthy kind – has long been an indelible part of the baseball fan experience.

And as a new baseball season kicks off, all those ballpark staples will still be available. How that food gets to you, however, will be a different matter.

With the Major League Baseball season starting off with much reduced capacity at most ballparks and with social distancing rules, teams have had to think hard about how to interact with their fans.

Former NASA Flight Director and Administrator Glynn Lunney, who played a key role during some of NASA's most historic events, including the Apollo 11 moon landing, died on Friday at the age of 84.

He was also credited for his quick decision-making during the Apollo 13 mission, which helped save the lives of the three astronauts aboard the disabled spacecraft.

Updated March 20, 2021 at 2:33 PM ET

Several European countries have instituted new lockdown restrictions, while others are considering tightening their rules in order to curb the spread of the coronavirus as case numbers across the continent are surging once again.

In France, a new partial lockdown took effect at midnight on Friday. Some 21 million people across 16 regions, including Paris, are affected by the new measures. The French government decided to take the step amid fears of a third wave.

This year's Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games will take place without any overseas spectators after organizers decided to ban international fans from attending the events over COVID-19 concerns.

The decision was made during a virtual meeting between the various stakeholders on Saturday.

A surge in anti-Asian attacks reported since the start of the pandemic has left Asian Americans across the country scared and concerned, but a Los Angeles-based civil rights group says the actual number of hate incidents could be even higher.

"There are far more people who have not reported incidents than those who have," Connie Chung Joe, CEO of Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Los Angeles, told NPR.

Three people were killed, including the suspected shooter, in a shooting at a gun store in the New Orleans suburb of Metairie, La., on Saturday afternoon. Two others wounded by gunfire were hospitalized.

The Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office is investigating the shooting that took place at the Jefferson Gun Outlet, a gun store and shooting range.

Police said that when deputies arrived at the scene at around 2:50 p.m. local time (3:50 p.m. ET), they found multiple people with gunshot wounds.

Pope Francis accepted the resignation of Cardinal Robert Sarah of Guinea as head of the Vatican's liturgy department, removing a conservative who was seen as an opponent of the pontiff's vision for the church.

In a statement released on Saturday, the Holy See Press Office announced that Sarah had stepped down from his leadership position. The Vatican did not provide any reason for his resignation or name a successor.

A United Airlines flight bound for Honolulu, Hawaii was forced to make an emergency landing at Denver International Airport on Saturday afternoon after experiencing an engine failure shortly after takeoff.

Images circulating on social media appeared to show aircraft debris landing in several locations across the Denver metro area.

No injuries have been reported.

The U.S. Capitol Police has suspended six officers with pay for their actions on Jan. 6, when a pro-Trump mob attacked the U.S. Capitol in an attempt to stop the certification of President Biden's Electoral College victory, according to a department statement.

An additional 29 officers remain under investigation as part of the department's ongoing probe into the events that unfolded that day.

The United States on Friday officially rejoined the Paris Agreement on climate change designed to limit global warming and avoid its potentially catastrophic impacts.

Nearly 200 nations have signed on to the landmark accord and committed to limit their greenhouse gas emissions in an attempt to keep global warming below 2 degrees Celsius - preferably below 1.5 degrees Celsius - compared to pre-industrial temperatures.

The extreme weather conditions in Texas, where a winter storm has caused widespread power outages, should serve as a reminder that climate change is real and the United States not fully prepared to deal with its impact, said White House homeland security adviser Liz Sherwood-Randall on Thursday.

Updated at 7:51 p.m. ET

The Texas Democratic Party is calling on Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, to resign or be expelled from office after the Republican lawmaker flew to Cancún, Mexico, for a family vacation in the middle of a deadly winter storm that has left millions of Texans without water and electricity.

Cruz has returned to Texas, calling the trip "a mistake."

In a statement issued Thursday, Texas Democratic Party Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa called the senator's trip to Cancún "deeply disturbing and disappointing."

White House deputy press secretary TJ Ducklo resigned on Saturday after a report emerged that he verbally threatened a reporter who was pursuing a story about his romantic relationship with another reporter.

Ducklo, who had been serving a weeklong suspension without pay for the incident, posted a statement on Twitter confirming his resignation.

Multiple winter storms are bringing snow, ice and dangerously cold temperatures to many parts of the country over the long holiday weekend.

More than 100 million Americans were under some sort of winter weather advisory on Saturday, according to the National Weather Service.

Sweden's gross domestic product took its largest tumble in a single quarter in modern history during the second quarter of this year, despite the country's decision to not shut down its economy.

U.S. airlines are boosting their flight schedules in preparation for the summer after experiencing an increase in customer demand, but returning to 2019 travel numbers will take years, according to an airline executive.

The coronavirus pandemic has completely disrupted the industry, with near empty flights and parked aircraft the most visible signs of trouble. However, the push to reopen the country has provided U.S. carriers with a glimmer of hope.

Sweden's controversial approach to fighting the coronavirus pandemic has so far failed to produce the expected results, and there are calls within the country for the government to change its strategy.

"We have a very vivid political debate," Karin Olofsdotter, Sweden's ambassador to the United States, told NPR. "I don't think people are protesting on the streets but ... there's a very big debate, if this [strategy] is the right thing to do or not, on Facebook and everywhere."

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has floated the idea of a four-day workweek to encourage domestic travel in the wake of the country's coronavirus lockdown.

Ardern raised the potential of a shortened workweek and more flexibility around leave in the workplace after meeting with local officials and tourism operators in the North Island-city of Rotorua.

Germany and France have proposed the creation of a fund of 500 billion euros (more than $540 billion) to support the recovery of the European Union's coronavirus-stricken economies. The fund would add to the more than half-trillion dollars in emergency relief measures the bloc's 27 leaders signed off on last month.

Germany's Bundesliga has become the first top international soccer league to return to the pitch after suspending its season due to the coronavirus pandemic in early March. The league restarted its season with a slate of six matches on Saturday, including the highly anticipated Revierderby (Ruhr valley derby) between Borussia Dortmund and FC Schalke.

The European Union's attempt to celebrate the 45th anniversary of the bloc's diplomatic relationship with China fell flat after an opinion piece co-authored by the EU's 27 ambassadors ran afoul of Beijing's censors.

The piece published in Wednesday's China Daily was notably different from the one posted on the EU embassy's website. The version on the website included a sentence that made reference to the origins of the coronavirus outbreak, which is believed to have started in the Chinese city of Wuhan late last year.

The U.N.'s humanitarian chief has warned that without global cooperation and financial assistance, the number of people dying from hunger or hunger-related diseases could double this year due to the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic.

"The effect of that is going to be, for the first time in probably in 30 years, a big increase in the number of people in extreme poverty, people living on less than $2 a day," said Mark Lowcock, U.N. Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, who was slated to make up to $40 million this year, decided to slash his salary to $0 as America's most popular and profitable sports league deals with the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.

The news of Goodell's pay cut coincided with an internal league memo, obtained by NPR, in which he announced executive pay reductions and furloughs of league employees.

Sweden's ambassador to the U.S. believes the country's controversial strategy of imposing only limited restrictions — and not locking down the country — is bearing success, with the capital, Stockholm, on course to reach herd immunity in the next few weeks.

"About 30% of people in Stockholm have reached a level of immunity," Karin Ulrika Olofsdotter told NPR. "We could reach herd immunity in the capital as early as next month."

Divisions among European nations over the structure of an economic recovery program continue after European Union leaders again failed to reach an agreement. But the group endorsed the recent recommendation of EU finance ministers for a short-term rescue package worth more than a half-trillion dollars.

The 27 EU leaders met via video conference on Thursday to discuss several proposals intended to stabilize the bloc's economy and support the domestic economies of the countries hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic.

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