Bill Chappell

Drone operators were preparing to launch a daring rescue mission to carry several dogs out of a volcano's lava zone when they realized something had changed: All of the dogs were already gone.

It was apparently the work of a group of mysterious rescuers who left a spray-painted banner reading, "The dogs are fine." The message was signed "A Team."

The dogs' plight has made headlines for weeks after emergency teams realized the animals had been stranded by lava from a volcano's prolonged eruption on the island of La Palma, Spain.

Nikolas Cruz pleaded guilty Wednesday to killing 17 people — 14 students and three staff members — at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., avoiding a trial but setting up a fight over his punishment for the 2018 attack.

Cruz's defense team is hoping to avoid the death sentence that prosecutors are seeking.

Several dogs that are stranded by lava from a volcano on the island of La Palma, Spain, could soon be rescued, if a drone company has its way. Aerocamaras says its team of drone operators has now received the permits it needs to try a unique rescue, in which a drone will drop a net on each dog, then whisk it to safety.

"Our pilots are conducting tests together with the emergency teams at this moment," the company said on Tuesday, after it announced that the operation had been given the green light.

People with mild or moderate hearing loss could soon be able to buy hearing aids without a medical exam or special fitting, under a new rule being proposed by the Food and Drug Administration. The agency says 37.5 million American adults have difficulty hearing.

A Thomas Jefferson statue is on its way out of New York's City Council Chamber, after members of the Public Design Commission agreed to take the nation's third president and well-known slaveowner off of his pedestal.

The statue currently occupies a prominent spot near the chamber's main dais, where Jefferson has towered over council members for more than 100 years.

U.S. women's volleyball is second to none, sitting atop the world rankings. The game is thriving from the youth level up to the Olympics. But every year, the top U.S. women head to international leagues after college.

That's because the rest of the world has something the U.S. does not: dozens of women's pro volleyball leagues that are crucial for players to reach the highest level of their sport.

"We have 400 girls that have to go abroad if they want to continue in the world of volleyball," Katlyn Gao, the CEO of a new pro league called League One Volleyball, told NPR.

Updated October 15, 2021 at 3:20 PM ET

A British bakery has been forced to pull its top-selling cookies from the market, after regulators informed the owner that the sprinkles are illegal. The U.S.-made sprinkles contain a coloring that's legal for some uses — but not for sprinkling.

Nikolas Cruz will plead guilty next Wednesday to killing 14 students and three staff members at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., his defense team says.

With the admission of guilt in the 2018 mass shooting, Cruz's legal team will focus on the penalty phase of the trial, hoping to secure a punishment of 17 consecutive life sentences for their client, rather than the death penalty that prosecutors are seeking.

Texas lawmakers are considering legislation that would give workers legal grounds to refuse COVID-19 vaccine mandates for "reasons of conscience" — and to sue their employers if they don't agree. The measure would codify Gov. Greg Abbott's ban on vaccine mandates into state law.

Jon Gruden's exit as an NFL coach is prompting calls for the league to release more information from the investigation that unearthed years' worth of misogynistic, homophobic and racist emails.

Some of the loudest calls are coming from former cheerleaders and other employees whose mistreatment by the Washington Football Team (WFT) prompted the NFL inquiry in the first place.

Parents whose children have been infected with the coronavirus in Wisconsin have an unlikely ally: a brewery and its super PAC.

Filing lawsuits in both of Wisconsin's federal court districts, the parents are suing school districts for rescinding mask requirements and flouting other federal and state health guidance. They're backed by the Minocqua Brewing Company of Minocqua, Wis., which sells what it calls "progressive beer" — and whose owner is using its political action committee to help fund the legal fight.

Updated October 12, 2021 at 3:38 PM ET

Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents will no longer conduct mass raids on workplaces where undocumented immigrants are employed, according to a new order by Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.

The real problem, Mayorkas said in a memorandum released Tuesday, are "exploitative employers," not unauthorized workers.

Norway just hit a record in its move to phase out cars that rely on fossil fuels.

More than 9 in 10 new cars sold there in September were either electric or rechargeable hybrids, according to the Norwegian Information Council for Road Traffic, or OFV. Of all new passenger cars sold so far in 2021, less than 5% are gas-powered. A slightly smaller percentage use diesel.

A large hospital system in Colorado says people on its organ transplant wait list won't be offered an organ if they refuse to get the COVID-19 vaccine, citing the "significant risk the virus poses to transplant recipients."

UCHealth, which operates 12 hospitals from its headquarters in Aurora, Colo., says it has long been standard practice to require many organ recipients or donors to get vaccines such as hepatitis B or the MMR shot.

Jannique Martinez's home sits in a tidy cul-de-sac in Virginia Beach, Va., where she lives with her husband and kids and hosts the occasional bake sale. There's just one problem, and it's a loud one: a man who lives next door blares monkey sounds, banjo music and racist slurs at Martinez and her family — a situation that went on for months.

The police said there was nothing they could do to stop the offensive noise. But since the community held a rally to support Martinez on her block, the cacophony has gotten much quieter.

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