NPR National Stories

Nearly 3,000 delegates from around the world are gathering this week in one of the most expensive cities in Europe to debate the fate of the World Health Organization.

There's one main question on the table: Will the WHO be given the power and money it needs to be the world's leading health agency, or will it plod forward in its current state — as a weak, bureaucratic agency of the U.N. known more for providing advice than taking action.

An avian flu outbreak is sweeping across the Midwest at a frightening pace, ravaging chicken and turkey farms and leaving officials stumped about the virus's seemingly unstoppable spread.

The weed-whacker is a frequent companion to the sounds of chirping birds and rustling pines at Ross Frank's ranch in Chumstick, Wash. With forested land on all sides, he's clearing dense brush beneath a stand of by his house.

"So we're turning that around manually and mimicking what fire would have done naturally," he says.

In Pennsylvania, it's estimated opioids like heroin killed at least 1,300 people last year. In Massachusetts, more than 1,000 have died, and in Connecticut, heroin deaths jumped more than 85 percent in two years.

But figuring out the size and scope of the problem is harder than many people think.

Pennsylvania, like many states, doesn't require reporting of specific details on drug overdoses, and whatever other information is available is at least two years old.

Last month, a Chinese government think tank bashed history professors from Harvard, Georgetown and other leading American universities regarding things they wrote — at least 15 years ago — about events that occurred more than two centuries ago.

"This was a uniquely vitriolic attack," says Georgetown's Jim Millward. The article calls him as "arrogant," "overbearing" and an "imperialist," and dismisses Millward's and his colleagues' scholarship as "academically absurd."

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