January 20, 2018
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After completing an autopsy, the coroner's office in Los Angeles concluded rock legend Tom Petty's October death resulted from an accidental drug overdose. Petty was found to have fentanyl, oxycodone, temazepam, alprazolam, citalopram, acetylfentanyl, and despropionyl fentanyl in his system when he died.

"Unfortunately Tom's body suffered from many serious ailments including emphysema, knee problems, and most significantly a fractured hip" for which he was prescribed strong painkillers, his family said in a statement Friday night.

"As a family we recognize this report may spark a further discussion on the opioid crisis and we feel that it is a healthy and necessary discussion and we hope in some way this report can save lives," the statement continued. "Many people who overdose begin with a legitimate injury or simply do not understand the potency and deadly nature of these medications." Bonnie Kristian

January 7, 2018
Korean Coast Guard/The Associated Press

A collision between an Iranian oil tanker and a Chinese freighter on Sunday left the tanker in flames and all 32 of its crew missing. The freighter was less severely damaged, and all 21 crew members were rescued Sunday morning.

The crash occurred off the coast of Shanghai, China, as the tanker headed north to deliver its cargo to South Korea. Rescue efforts are ongoing Sunday, but poor weather and the large fire billowing black smoke on the ship have limited emergency workers' options. Eight Chinese ships as well as one South Korean ship and one South Korean plane are working together on search and rescue operations. Bonnie Kristian

January 7, 2018
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One person was killed and another injured in Stockholm, Sweden, on Sunday after one of the victims picked up an unidentified item on the ground near a metro station. One outlet reported the explosive object was a hand grenade, but authorities have not confirmed that story.

Swedish police said the situation has "nothing to do with terrorism" and "we will have to wait for the technical investigation" to understand what happened. The man who picked up the object was hospitalized with injuries that soon proved fatal, while the other victim, a woman, was less gravely harmed. Bonnie Kristian

December 23, 2017
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At least 100 people were killed Friday by flash flooding and mudslides caused by Tropical Storm Tembin on the Philippines island of Mindanao, and dozens more remain missing Saturday morning. In the towns of Tubod and Piagapo, several homes were crushed by boulders moved by the mudslides. Rescuers have had trouble finding bodies of the storm's victims because of the mud.

"Many people were swept to the sea as flood waters quickly rose due to the high tide," said Manuel Luis Ochotorena, a disaster agency official. "They never heeded the warnings. They thought it was a weak storm but it dumped more rains." Bonnie Kristian

December 18, 2017
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Venezuela has long been in chaos. The South American country is plagued by a disastrous, multi-year recession and political instability, mismanagement, and corruption. There isn't enough bread, so the government has arrested bakers. There isn't enough food, so the military is trafficking limited supplies for personal profit. Pets are starving, as their owners can no longer spare them food, and, as The New York Times reported in a lengthy story Sunday, children are starving to death, too.

Times reporters conducted a five-month investigation, interviewing medical staff at hospitals across Venezuela. The doctors they spoke with reported a heart-rending increase in malnutrition cases among their youngest patients:

Parents ... go days without eating, shriveling to the weight of children themselves. Women line up at sterilization clinics to avoid having children they can't feed. Young boys leave home and join street gangs to scavenge for scraps, their bodies bearing the scars of knife fights with competitors. Crowds of adults storm dumpsters after restaurants close. Babies die because it is hard to find or afford infant formula, even in emergency rooms. [The New York Times]

Statistical information about the scale of the malnutrition crisis is difficult to find, as the Venezuelan government has attempted to suppress such damaging data. One 2015 report from the Venezuelan Ministry of Health offers a grim hint: It said the mortality rate for children younger than four weeks increased by 100 percent — from 0.02 percent to just over 2 percent — between 2012 and 2015.

Since then, Venezuela's man-made famine has only worsened, but President Nicolas Maduro continues to reject international aid. Read the rest of the Times report here. Bonnie Kristian

December 12, 2017

The brutality of prison camps in North Korea is on par with that of Nazi concentration camps, says Thomas Buergenthal, a former judge on the International Court of Justice who is now serving on a panel of human rights investigators probing whether North Korean leader Kim Jong Un should be tried for crimes against humanity. Buergenthal is also a survivor of the Auschwitz and Sachsenhausen concentration camps as well as a Polish ghetto.

"I believe that the conditions in the [North] Korean prison camps are as terrible, or even worse, than those I saw and experienced in my youth in these Nazi camps and in my long professional career in the human rights field," Buergenthal said after the panel completed its review.

"There is not a comparable situation anywhere in the world, past or present," said another panelist, Navi Pillay, a South African judge who served as the United Nations' high commissioner for human rights. "This is really an atrocity at the maximum level," Pillay added, "where the whole population is subject to intimidation."

The panel's investigation was initiated by the International Bar Association and examined testimony from experts as well as North Korean defectors, including camp prisoners and guards. A full report of the probe's findings will be published Tuesday. Bonnie Kristian

December 4, 2017

North Koreans who live near their government's underground nuclear weapons testing location are suffering serious effects of radiation poisoning, defectors from that region report. While there is almost no scientific evidence available to support their claims — because defectors are few and North Korea remains mostly closed to outsiders — with only one exception experts interviewed by NBC News said they do not doubt the reports.

"So many people died we began calling it 'ghost disease,'" Lee Jeong Hwa, a defector who escaped in 2010, told NBC. "We thought we were dying because we were poor and we ate badly. Now we know it was the radiation."

Another defector from the nuclear testing area, Rhee Yeong Sil, said before she fled her country in 2013, she saw her neighbor give birth to a baby with grave birth defects. "We couldn't determine the gender of the baby, because it didn't have any genitals," Rhee said. "In North Korea, deformed babies are usually killed. So the parents killed the baby." Rhee has been in contact with her family since she left North Korea four years ago, and she reports they are chronically ill with headaches and vomiting. Bonnie Kristian

November 26, 2017
CCTV/The Associated Press

A major explosion at a factory in Ningbo, China, a city south of Shanghai, killed two people and injured at least 30 more Sunday morning. The blast occurred around 9 a.m. local time, knocking down multiple buildings in a riverfront neighborhood.

Police are investigating the source of the explosion, which may have been a gas line leak. Casualties would have been higher, but several of the buildings destroyed were evacuated in preparation for demolition. Industrial accidents of this sort are relatively frequent in China. Bonnie Kristian

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