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Former Irish Republican Army commander Martin McGuinness, who left violence behind to choose peace — and who eventually met Queen Elizabeth II — has died at age 66. For nearly a decade, McGuinness served as Northern Ireland's deputy first minister.

From London, NPR's Frank Langfitt reports:

"McGuinness retired from politics in January, suffering from a rare genetic disease. Today, he was lauded for his crucial role in the 1998 Good Friday Agreement which brought peace to Northern Ireland.

Risk Of Death In Connecticut Linked To Where You Live

Mar 14, 2017

Connecticut has seen significant reductions in deaths from breast and colon cancer in the last three decades, but the state exceeds the national mortality rate for uterine cancer and three other cancers, as well as for mental health and substance use disorders.

Updated at 12:38 p.m. ET

Bill Paxton, prolific actor and big-screen fixture for decades, has died at the age of 61. In a statement released to media outlets Sunday, a family representative says Paxton died of complications from surgery.

"A loving husband and father, Bill began his career in Hollywood working on films in the art department and went on to have an illustrious career spanning four decades as a beloved and prolific actor and filmmaker," the statement reads.

It's the stuff of spy novels.

Mary Tyler Moore, who died Wednesday, wasn't just beloved. She was the kind of beloved where they build you a statue. Moore's statue is in Minneapolis, where her best-known character, Mary Richards of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, worked for the fictional television station WJM. She'd already won two Emmys playing Laura Petrie on The Dick Van Dyke Show, but Moore cemented her icon status when Mary Richards walked into that job interview. Even if she got off to a rough start with Lou Grant, her soon-to-be boss, who kept a bottle of whiskey in his desk.

The last person to leave footprints on the moon has died. NASA reported that Gene Cernan died Monday at the age of 82, surrounded by his family.

Gene Cernan flew in space three times, including twice to the moon. Cernan was big, brash and gregarious. And if he hadn't been lucky, he could have missed his chance to walk on the moon.

Ryan Caron King / WNPR

The number of deaths from heroin and synthetic opioids continues to rise in New England, according to data just released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

There aren't many Shakers left.

Sister Frances Carr, one of three remaining members of the religious group commonly known as the Shakers, died Monday at the age of 89.

According to the group's website, Carr died due to cancer at the Shaker community at Sabbathday Lake in New Gloucester, Maine, "surrounded by the community and her nieces."

Updated at 1:39 p.m. Thursday

Carrie Fisher, the actress who became a pop culture icon for her performance as Princess Leia in Star Wars, has died at age 60.

Fisher had suffered a massive heart attack last week on a flight from London to Los Angeles. On Sunday, her family said she was in stable condition.

A representative of Fisher's daughter, Bille Lourd, confirmed that Fisher died on Tuesday morning.

Fisher shot to fame at the age of 19, when she took on her instantly iconic role in Star Wars.

Harriet Jones / WNPR

A man who used his recovery from opioid addiction to inspire others has been shot dead in a confrontation outside a bar in Groton. Joey Gingerella, who was 24, was apparently intervening after he saw a man assaulting a woman in the parking lot of Ryan’s Pub. 

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Nancy Butler was first touched by God while listening to bible stories at the Methodist bible camp she attended when she was nine-years-old. By the end of the week, she was ready to give her life to God, first through through daily prayer and bible readings, later by founding one of the first inclusive evangelical churches that welcomed everyone regardless of sexual orientation.  God became the center of her life - but she kept it private from others. 

Two Massachusetts roommates recently set out to solve the more than 30-year-old mystery of a South American plane crash. What they found was a grim reminder of the tragedy that may or may not provide some answers about what happened that day.

It all started with some curiosity and a Google search. That's what led Dan Futrell to Eastern Air Lines Flight 980, which flew into a Bolivian mountain on New Year's Day in 1985.

"The highest recorded commercial plane crash, as far as we know in the history of aviation, at 19,600 feet," he says.

Updated 5 p.m. ET

The first American to orbit the Earth has died. John Glenn was the last surviving member of the original Mercury astronauts. He would later have a long political career as a U.S. senator, but that didn't stop his pioneering ways.

Glenn made history a second time in 1998, when he flew aboard the shuttle Discovery to become the oldest person to fly in space.

Glenn was 95 when he died; he had been hospitalized in an Ohio State University medical center in Columbus since last week.

Edoardo Di Falchi / Flickr

Why is there something rather than nothing? This has been described as perhaps the most sublime philosophical question of all. Today, on The Colin McEnroe Show, we answer it. But as we do, we realize that it's not just a philosophical quandary; it's a scientific, cultural, and theological one as well.

Connecticut House Democrats

Longtime Democratic state lawmaker Betty Boukus has died at the age of 73.  The Plainville state representative recently lost her bid for a 12th term in the General Assembly.  

A plane carrying a Brazilian professional soccer team crashed in the mountains near Medellín, Colombia, late Monday, killing 71 people.

Five people survived the crash of the charter plane, according to authorities. Officials initially reported that the plane was carrying 81 people and that, variously, 75 or 76 of them had died.

"The British Aerospace 146 aircraft was carrying Brazil's Chapecoense soccer team to a tournament in Medellín, Colombia's second-largest city," John Otis reports for NPR from the Colombian capital, Bogotá.

Carrie Fisher was an insecure 19-year-old when she appeared as Princess Leia in the first Star Wars movie, a role that would come to define her career. She tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross that despite becoming romantically involved with her older, married co-star, Harrison Ford, she often felt isolated on set.

"I didn't have anyone to confide in," she says. "I had no friends, and I couldn't talk about [the affair with Ford] because he was married."

Former Cuban leader Fidel Castro has died at age 90, according to Cuban state media, confirms NPR.

Castro, who took power in the Cuban Revolution in 1959, led his country for nearly 50 years.

After undergoing intestinal surgery, Castro had ceded power in July 2006 to his younger brother Raul, who announced his death late Friday on Cuban state television.

Under Fidel Castro's direction, Cuba became the one and only communist state in the Western Hemisphere.

Ryan Caron King / WNPR

Sherwood Taylor, a longtime Hartford resident who was attempting to overcome 50 years of addiction to heroin, died earlier this month of causes unrelated to drug overdose. He was just shy of 76 years old.

WNPR profiled Taylor earlier this year. 

A Queen Among Kings

Nov 21, 2016

The first time I ever saw Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings perform was circa 2002 at the Elbo Room, a tiny venue in San Francisco's Mission District. If you've ever been there, you know the Elbo Room doesn't need many bodies to pack the floor, and with the Dap-Kings crowding the diminutive stage, the full intensity of their act filled the space from practically the first note. I was already familiar with the group through its early records, but hadn't fully appreciated how much power Jones could pack into her stout, 5-foot frame as she sang, sweated, stamped, strutted, slayed.

Jeff Cohen / WNPR

The state’s chief medical examiner told lawmakers Friday that his budgetary shortfall will cost his office its national accreditation and threatens its performance. 

Updated at 4:59 p.m. ET

Soul singer Sharon Jones, lead singer of the group The Dap-Kings, has died, her publicist announced late Friday. She was 60.

She'd been fighting pancreatic cancer since 2013, when she took a break from touring to undergo extensive surgery and chemotherapy, Fresh Air wrote earlier this year. The cancer went into remission, but returned this year.

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Legendary comic strip artist Jerry Dumas died last week in Greenwich at the age of 86. Despite a two-year battle with cancer, Dumas continued to work on comic strips like "Beetle Bailey" until just recently.

Bay Path University / Facebook

Journalist Gwen Ifill, a co-host of the PBS NewsHour, died Monday of cancer. She was 61.

Ifill was born in New York, but her father’s work as a pastor led the family to Springfield in the early 1970s. 

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