Reese Oxner

Home to the London Stock Exchange, the Bank of England and scores of corporations, the financial district, known as the City, is normally teeming with activity.

But the scenes, sounds and scents of the normally busy City have been restrained thanks to the coronavirus pandemic.

Recently, people in the area noticed something else in the air.

The smell of cannabis.

World leaders are condemning pro-Trump extremists' storming of the U.S. Capitol in a futile bid to stop members of Congress from certifying the Electoral College ballots for President-elect Joe Biden. The spectacle transfixed people around the globe.

He was the last surviving member of the first climbing team to scale El Capitan in Yosemite National Park. And he spent his life fighting for conservation, protecting the Sierra Nevada in California.

But on New Year's Day, famed climber George Whitmore passed away at 89 due to COVID-19 complications, his wife Nancy told NPR.

Whitmore was one of the three-man team of climbers who were the first to reach the top of El Capitan in 1958 — carving a path known as "The Nose."

A hospital worker donned an inflatable, air-powered costume to spread cheer in a California emergency department on Christmas Day.

But now, dozens of hospital staff members have tested positive for the coronavirus, and the hospital said the costume may be to blame.

Hospital officials said 44 staff members tested positive between Dec. 27 and Jan. 3 in the emergency department at Kaiser Permanente San Jose Medical Center. One emergency department worker who had a shift on Christmas died from COVID-19 complications.

Updated at 6:41 p.m. ET

The United States has reached a sobering milestone while marking the new year.

On Friday, the first day of 2021, the U.S. recorded its 20 millionth confirmed coronavirus case since the beginning of the pandemic.

George Blake, the former British spy-turned-KGB double agent during the height of the Cold War, was buried Wednesday in Moscow, honored as a Russian national hero. The KGB mole escaped a U.K. prison in 1966 and fled to the Soviet Union.

Blake died Saturday in Moscow at the age of 98.

A powerful earthquake sent shockwaves through Croatia on Tuesday, causing major damage to a town south of the country's capital, Zagreb, and killing at least six, according to news reports quoting officials and residents.

The earthquake, with a magnitude 6.4, struck at about 6:20 a.m. ET., according to the European Mediterranean Seismological Center. The initial tremor was followed by a series of weaker aftershocks.

The U.S. is regulating greenhouse gas emissions from commercial aircraft for the first time. But critics are saying the rules will be ineffective.

The Environmental Protection Agency said Monday the rules are being finalized after first being made public in July.

The rules — modeled after international standards — require aircraft manufacturers to use fuel-efficient engines that release less heat-trapping carbon dioxide.

They require all new aircraft sold to commercial airlines to meet the requirements by 2028. The EPA acknowledges many already do.

Updated at 8 p.m. ET

An early-morning explosion ripped through downtown Nashville on Friday, injuring at least three people, shattering windows and damaging buildings.

Authorities believe the explosion was "an intentional act."

Police responded to reports of shots fired in the area at about 5:30 a.m. CT, when they encountered a recreational vehicle parked in front of the downtown AT&T building.

Amid the coronavirus pandemic, people around the world are celebrating a Christmas unlike any other.

Here are some scenes from this year's holiday season.

The so-called balloon boy incident captivated television audiences in 2009 as the parents of a 6-year-old — appropriately named Falcon — reported he had been carried away in a large, UFO-like balloon, thousands of feet in the air.

News media helicopters tracked the balloon. The National Guard sent another two helicopters in a rescue attempt. Denver International Airport was temporarily closed as thousands awaited news of the boy's fate.

How many followers does the U.S. president's official Twitter account have?

Right now it's over 33.2 million, but that number will drop to zero after President-elect Joe Biden takes over the official @POTUS account on Inauguration Day.

Twitter has confirmed that the institutional White House Twitter accounts will not "automatically retain their existing followers."

Updated at 8:30 a.m. ET

President-elect Joe Biden told Stephen Colbert he is "not concerned" about accusations against his son Hunter Biden amid the investigation by federal prosecutors into his son's tax affairs.

Colbert asked Biden about people in Washington who "are going to try to use your adult son as a cudgel against you," during The Late Show With Stephen Colbert that aired Thursday night.

Updated at 5:53 p.m. ET

Editor's note: This is a story about the pervasive nature of racial insensitivity in America and how it persists to this day, and contains terms some might find offensive.

On Monday, armed and masked gangsters attacked the Southern Brazilian city of Criciúma, in Santa Catarina state, just before midnight.

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