Colin Dwyer

Updated at 7:25 p.m. ET

Ursula K. Le Guin, a prolific novelist best known for the Earthsea series and The Left Hand of Darkness, died Monday at the age of 88. Across more than 20 novels and scores of short stories, Le Guin crafted fantastic worlds to grapple with profoundly difficult questions here on Earth, from class divisions to feminist theory.

It was 8:07 a.m. when the alert hit phones across Hawaii.

"BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII," it declared in no uncertain terms. "SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL."

Just two minutes later Gov. David Ige learned the alert was a mistake.

Then, an additional 15 minutes passed.

Updated at 10 a.m. ET Wednesday

Three months after Hong Kong-based publisher Gui Minhai left police custody in China, where he had languished for more than two years after disappearing under murky circumstances, Chinese authorities again arrested him on Saturday.

Gui, a Swedish citizen, had been on a train with two Swedish diplomats to seek medical treatment in Beijing.

For more than two months, starlings have been flocking to Ireland's County Cork in increasing numbers — and so have the birdwatchers hoping to catch a glimpse.

Those observers caught a showstopper of a performance earlier this month.

In the depths of World War II, Swedish authorities decided their citizens needed to know what to do if the fighting finally arrived on their doorstep. Though they maintained neutrality, it was hard to believe they could continue to do so — especially as, one by one, their Nordic neighbors got caught in the tides of violence.

So they decided on a handy pamphlet, delivered to households across Sweden. Roughly translated to "If War Comes," the pamphlets offered tips for how to interpret sirens and what to take along in the case of evacuation.

Editor's note: This report includes disturbing descriptions of child abuse.

Updated at 5:30 p.m. ET

Now, there is ample reason for you to cover your nose when you sneeze. It's flu season, after all, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has made it quite clear it doesn't want you spreading your germs with reckless abandon.

But let's not go overboard here, people.

Peter Madsen, the Danish inventor whose brief, grisly voyage in a private submarine ended in a reporter's disappearance and death, has been formally charged with homicide. Prosecutors in Copenhagen announced Tuesday that his charges also include "indecent handling of a corpse, and other sexual relations than intercourse with the female Swedish journalist, Kim Wall."

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KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

More than a month after the Thomas Fire took hold in California's Ventura and Santa Barbara counties, firefighters have reached 100 percent containment of the deadly blaze. The announcement Friday marks a hard-fought triumph over the wildfire, which earlier this month became the largest in modern state history.

The Thomas Fire has been blamed for two deaths and the destruction of more than 1,000 structures. Its historic toll in Southern California — more than 280,000 acres ravaged — also led to another deadly disaster: the mudslides this month in Santa Barbara County.

Updated at 12:45 p.m. ET

One day after President Trump referred to African nations as "shithole countries," adding that the U.S. should want immigrants from countries such as Norway rather than from Haiti or El Salvador, the countries that came in for the president's criticism are offering some responses of their own.

It may have taken a marathon — but the party leaders who walked into a negotiating room in Berlin roughly 24 hours earlier emerged Friday morning with smiles on their faces and a preliminary deal in hand.

Two days after a young girl named Zainab was discovered dead in a trash heap in the city of Kasur, strangled after a brutal rape, widespread shock has escalated into protests across Pakistan. Outraged at the perceived inaction of local authorities, demonstrators have amplified the rage and despair of the girl's father.

Nearly two weeks after Logan Paul posted a YouTube video depicting an apparent suicide victim — and just over a week after he removed it and apologized — the online video platform has announced it is scaling back its relationship with the vlogging star.

Carles Puigdemont aims to return to office as president of Catalonia — despite the fact it's unlikely he'll actually return there in person. He's currently living in Belgium, facing immediate arrest if he goes back home.

For a few fleeting hours Sunday, people perched in the arid heights of northwest Algeria caught sight of something rarely seen: the Sahara Desert, shrouded in white. Residents of Ain Sefra, a small town surrounded by the Atlas Mountains of Northern Africa, walked outside to find a dusting of snow underfoot — and more than a foot of it crowding the town's outer boundaries.

Pfizer has announced plans to end its research efforts to discover new drugs for Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases. The pharmaceutical giant explained its decision, which will entail roughly 300 layoffs, as a move to better position itself "to bring new therapies to patients who need them."

For those who have been in the grips of the winter weather buffeting the Northeastern U.S. and Nova Scotia, suffering the throes of bitter winds and whipping snow, there might be some solace in knowing that somewhere in the world, warmth still exists.

In fact, so much warmth exists, it is literally melting a major roadway in Australia.

Alex Trebek, the face of the Jeopardy! franchise for more than three decades, will be taking time off from the syndicated game show while he recovers from brain surgery. He announced the hiatus in a video posted to the show's online accounts Thursday.

A federal trial in New York City, which saw a Turkish banker tried on allegations of evading U.S. sanctions on Iran, ended Wednesday with his conviction on five of six charges — including bank fraud and several conspiracies to defraud American financial institutions.

Across the country, U.S. residents have awakened to a new year, new resolutions — and a whole host of new rules to keep track of. Hundreds of new state laws took effect across the country Monday, and they're sure to reshape the political and legal landscape in the coming months.

They run a vast gamut — from recreational marijuana and paid leave time, to traveling barbers and exotic pets — so you'll have to forgive us if we pick just a few to focus on. Here is a glimpse of some notable new laws, in brief.

As China steps into the new year, it is doing so without a once-thriving facet of its economy: the ivory trade. The country's ban on the domestic sale and processing of ivory and its products took effect on Sunday, making good on a commitment Chinese authorities made at the beginning of 2017.

Updated at 8:20 p.m. ET

Nearly three months since Catalans cast their votes for independence from Spain, setting off a weekslong showdown between their regional government and Madrid, Catalonia opened its polls again on Thursday — and promptly put pro-independence parties back in control, by a very slim margin.

Updated at 1:30 p.m. ET

The United Nations General Assembly has overwhelmingly rejected the Trump administration's decision to recognize the disputed city of Jerusalem as Israel's capital. By a 128-9 vote Thursday, the diplomats gathered in New York City ignored U.S. objections and approved a nonbinding resolution calling on countries to avoid moving their embassies to Jerusalem.

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