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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.

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. 

Love, Politics, and Leonard Cohen

Nov 14, 2016
Rama / Creative Commons

Leonard Cohen, one of our greatest poets, died last Monday and was buried on Thursday next to his parents in a cemetery in Montreal. The cause of his death was leukemia. The likely cause of the leukemia was a lifetime of smoking. 

Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Leon Russell has died in Nashville at the age of 74. His wife, Jan, said through an intermediary that the legendary musician and songwriter had died Sunday in his sleep in Nashville.

Influential singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen has died at the age of 82, according to a publicist for his U.S. record label.

Cohen died Monday, but news of his death came out late Thursday. His Facebook page had this announcement:

"It is with profound sorrow we report that legendary poet, songwriter and artist, Leonard Cohen has passed away.
We have lost one of music's most revered and prolific visionaries.

Janet Reno, the first woman to serve as attorney general of the United States, died early Monday from complications of Parkinson's disease. Reno's goddaughter Gabrielle D'Alemberte and sister Margaret Hurchalla confirmed her passing to NPR.

Reno spent her final days at home in Miami surrounded by family and friends, D'Alemberte told The Associated Press. She was 78.

Reno served longer in the job than anyone had in 150 years. And her tenure was marked by tragedy and controversy. But she left office widely respected for her independence and accomplishments.

Young children and teenagers are increasingly likely to be poisoned by opioid painkillers that are often prescribed for other family members, a study finds.

The rate of children hospitalized for opioid poisoning increased 165 percent from 1997 to 2012, from about 1.40 per 100,000 kids to 3.71 per 100,000.

Asylum Hill Congregational Church

Gary Miller wasn’t primarily a musician; he was a clergyman.

As many thousands of you around here know, Gary was the senior minister at Asylum Hill Congregational Church in Hartford for 12 years, beginning in 1999. And he was beloved by that sprawling, interestingly diverse congregation.

On the final day of June 2015, Colin LePage rode waves of hope and despair. It started when LePage found his 30-year-old son, Chris, at home after an apparent overdose. Paramedics rushed Chris by helicopter to one of Boston's flagship medical centers.

Doctors revived Chris' heart, but struggled to stabilize his temperature and blood pressure. At some point, a doctor or nurse mentioned to LePage that his son had agreed to be an organ donor.

"There was no urgency or, 'Hey, you need to do this.' I could see genuine concern and sadness." LePage says, his voice quavering.

The last surviving leader of Israel's founding generation, Shimon Peres was a three-time prime minister, the architect of the country's secretive nuclear program and a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to make peace with the Palestinians.

Arturo Pardavila III, Flickr Creative Commons

This hour, we mourn the loss of 24-year-old Miami Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez, who died in a boat accident over the weekend. 

Golfing legend Arnold Palmer has died at 87.

Before Scott Kopytko joined the New York City Fire Department, he worked as a commodities broker in the South Tower at the World Trade Center. On Sept. 11, he rushed up the stairs of his old office building, trying to save lives with his fellow firefighters before the towers fell.

"He went to work, and he never came back," says his stepfather, Russell Mercer.

Ryan Caron King / WNPR

This Sunday marks the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. This hour, we hear from two people whose lives were forever changed by the tragedy. 

Drug Enforcement Agency

The rate of accidental drug overdose deaths in Connecticut grew again in the first six months of 2016, and the lab drug fentanyl is playing a big role in that. 

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Gene Wilder, the iconic actor who starred in "Blazing Saddles," "Young Frankenstein," and "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory," died at his home in Stamford, Connecticut on Sunday. He was 83.

Wilder's nephew said he passed away from complications from Alzheimer's disease.

Jeff Cohen / WNPR

Editor's note: Gene Wilder died Sunday at his home in Stamford, Connecticut. In 2014, WNPR's Jeff Cohen reported on a screening of "Blazing Saddles" with Wilder in attendance, followed by a Q&A with the actor. This was first published on October 30, 2014.

It's been 40 years since the release of the Mel Brooks' movie Blazing Saddles. I recently went to an anniversary screening and in the audience was one of the movie's stars: Gene Wilder.

More than a day after a powerful earthquake struck central Italy, rescue teams are desperately searching for survivors in the rubble of once-charming mountain towns.

At least 241 people died in the disaster, according to civil protection officials, The Associated Press reports. Many of the devastated communities are difficult to reach, and the exact number of missing persons isn't known.

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