Singer Prince died of accidental painkiller overdose: medical examiner

CHICAGO Music superstar Prince, who was found dead in his home in a Minneapolis suburb in late April, died of an accidental, self-administered overdose of an opioid painkiller, the county medical examiner said in a death report on Thursday.The Midwest Medical Examiner's Office in Anoka County, Minnesota, had been investigating the 57-year-old singer's death since he was discovered in an elevator in his home and studio on April 21."The decedent self-administered fentanyl," the medical examiner's report said, listing cause of death as "fentanyl toxicity" and noting it was accidental.The investigation into Prince's death has centered on painkillers after prescription opioid medication was found at the scene and after reports he had been struggling with an addiction and had been scheduled to meet with a doctor who specializes in treating dependency. Fentanyl is a highly addictive opiate that is more powerful than morphine and is used to treat patients with severe pain, often after surgeries. It took weeks for officials to release the cause of death because they were waiting for the results of toxicity tests.The Minneapolis Star Tribune said it was not clear whether fentanyl had been prescribed to Prince and if so, which doctor prescribed it. Fentanyl is often sold illegally and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control has said that rising drug overdose deaths in the United States are linked to increased use of illicitly manufactured fentanyl.The local prosecutor, Carver County Attorney Mark Metz, said the county sheriff's office continues to investigate Prince's death, assisted by federal authorities, but at this point has not handed over the results of the probe to prosecutors. "They will be looking at many different things," Metz told Reuters by telephone.Prince, whose full name was Prince Rogers Nelson, did not leave a will, and his multimillion-dollar estate including royalties from his more than 30 albums is being handled by a court. The songwriter's hits include "Purple Rain" and "When Doves Cry." (Additional reporting by Megan Cassella in Washington; Editing by Frances Kerry, Peter Cooney and Bill Rigby)

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Spellers from Texas, N.Y. state battle to tie in U.S. Spelling Bee

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. Nihar Janga, a fifth-grader from Austin, Texas, and Jairam Hathwar, a seventh-grader from Painted Post, New York, were named co-champions of the U.S. Scripps National Spelling Bee on Thursday after battling 25 rounds head to head.The late-night duel twice saw Nihar, 11, fail to capitalize on mistakes by Jairam, 13, and claim the title outright.They ended co-winners when Jairam nailed "feldenkrais," a method of education, and Nihar aced "gesellschaft," a type of social relationship."I'm just speechless," Jairam told reporters after the contest that was televised on cable network ESPN and repeatedly saw the audience in a hotel ballroom burst into cheers.Nihar, the youngest champion since 2002, thanked his mother and added: "I can't say anything. I'm just in fifth grade."Jairam and Nihar will each receive a $40,000 cash prize. The tie is the third in a row in the Bee, a U.S. institution since 1925. The contest had instituted a 25-round spell-off to try and avoid just such a deadlock. Nihar dazzled the audience by his grasp of words. When given "biniou," he asked pronouncer Jacques Bailly, "Is that a Breton bagpipe?" then whizzed through it with head down, hands at side and shifting slightly foot to foot.Given "taoiseach," he said, "Is that an Irish word for prime minister?" and nailed it, bringing cheers from the crowd.Jairam created an opening for Nihar when he stumbled on "draathaar," a king of dog, wincing when he realized his mistake. Nihar then bobbled "ayacohuite," a Mexican tree, giving Jairam new life. "Hello again," Jairam said to Bailly when he stepped up to the microphone. Even as the boys battled head to head, they gave each other encouraging hand slaps as they returned from the microphone.After several more rounds, Jairam misspelled "mischsprache," a fused language. Nihar failed again to knock him out by missing on "tetradrahm," a kind of coin.One more round, and Bailly said, "This is a beautiful moment. If you both spell the next word correctly, you will be declared co-champions." They did, and the room erupted in confetti and cheers. Jairam and Nihar are the ninth consecutive spellers of South Asian ancestry, and the 12th in 16 years, to win the Bee. Jairam's brother Sriram was the 2014 co-champion. The finalists were winnowed from more than 280 spelling whizzes after two days of written and oral tests in a Washington suburb. (Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe, Peter Cooney and Michael Perry)

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Better weather expected to damp down Canadian wildfire

CALGARY, Alberta Firefighters battling a wildfire that has threatened oil sands facilities north of Fort McMurray, Alberta, looked to cooler weather, a change in winds and the promise of rain to help them on Thursday.A shift in wind direction from west to east is expected to push the fire back toward areas it has already burned, limiting its growth, wildfire information officer Travis Fairweather said on Thursday."That should hopefully result in a little less activity than we've seen in the last couple of days," he said.The fire, which hit Fort McMurray in early May, destroying entire neighborhoods, surged north on Tuesday, forcing the evacuation of 8,000 oil sand workers, destroying a work camp and prolonging a shutdown that has cut Canadian oil output by a million barrels a day.Fairweather did not expect the fire to damage any oil sands facilities on Thursday. The fire covered 483,084 hectares (1.2 million acres) as of Thursday morning, up some 61,000 hectares from the day before. Fairweather said cooler weather and the chance of rain on Thursday also would help contain the fire.Some of the 90,000 evacuees who fled Fort McMurray as the massive blaze breached the city may be allowed to return as soon as June 1, officials said on Wednesday, if air quality improves and other safety conditions are met.Some oil sands operations directly north of the city remained shuttered, although firefighters held the blaze back from Suncor Energy and Syncrude Canada facilities on Wednesday. The fire destroyed a 665-room lodge for oil sands workers on Tuesday but officials said on Wednesday they were not aware of further industry damage.Tuesday's evacuations were a setback for producers, suggesting production may be suspended for longer than companies and analysts had previously anticipated.The province's plan to gradually allow residents back into the city offered hope but also trepidation. "It's exciting news but you are also scared to see what you get when you get back," said Fort McMurray resident Ria Dickason, adding that she was concerned about smoky air. The air quality health index, which usually stands between 1 and 10, hit 51 on Wednesday morning, before improving to 11. "We won't go back if it's anything close to the levels it's at now," Dickason said. "My daughter has asthma so we are more alert to it." (Additional reporting by Allison Martell and Ethan Lou in Toronto; Editing by Bill Trott)

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China tech workers asleep on the job - with the boss's blessing

BEIJING Dai Xiang has slept his way to the top.The 40-year-old Beijinger got his start as an engineer, pulling 72-hour shifts at a machinery company while catching naps on the floor. After a switch to the tech industry and around 15 years of catching naps on desks and other flat surfaces, Dai co-founded his own cloud computing firm, BaishanCloud, last year. One of his first orders of business - installing 12 bunk beds in a secluded corner of the office."For technology, it's more of a brain activity. Workers need time to find inspiration," Dai said. "Our rest area isn't just for sleeping at night, the midday is also OK."Office workers sleeping on the job has long been a common sight in China, where inefficiency and a surplus of cheap labor can give workers plenty of downtown in many industries. But China's technology sector is different. Business is booming faster than many start-up firms can hire new staff, forcing workers to burn the midnight oil to meet deadlines."The pace of Chinese internet company growth is extremely fast. I've been to the U.S. and the competitive environment there isn't as intense as in China," said Cui Meng, general manager and co-founder of start-up data company Goopal. The company's programmers, in particular, work overtime every day, he said. To get them through, they are allowed to sleep around lunchtime and after 9 p.m., either facedown at their desk or by commandeering the sofa or a beanbag chair.LIVING AT THE OFFICEAt its most extreme, some tech company employees even live at the office during the work week. Liu Zhanyu at DouMiYouPin, a recruitment and human resources platform, bunks down in a converted conference room Monday-to-Friday to avoid the daily commute of more than an hour to his home in Beijing's far eastern suburbs.The head of the "large clients" department usually retires to the room shared with one or two others between midnight and 3 a.m."We have to get up at 8:30 a.m. because all our co-workers come to work at 9:30 and we wash in the same bathroom everyone uses," said Liu.While workers across companies said the potential pay-off of working at a start-up was worth the long hours, they aren't without a social cost. "My kid misses me, I get home and he lunges at me like a small wolf," Liu said, speaking about his three-year-old son who he only sees on weekends. "That makes me feel a bit guilty."Programer Xiang Shiyang, 28, works until 3 or 4 a.m. at least twice a week at Renren Credit Management, which uses big data to help firms manage financial risk, leaving little room to socialize outside of work."I don't have that many opportunities or much time to find a girlfriend," he said.The company provides cots for workers like Xiang to sleep on during late nights."Actually working overtime is a very casual thing," he said. "Because I've invested the whole of my being into this company." (Writing by Jake Spring; Editing by Alex Richardson)

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Russia defends transparency of Sochi doping controls

MOSCOW Russia's sports ministry said on Monday it was "certain" about the transparency of its doping controls during the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, and that independent observers had managed the testing operation daily. The ministry was responding to allegations of a testing cover-up at the Sochi Games that included the use of intelligence agents from the country's Federal Security Service, known as the FSB."We are... certain about the transparency of doping controls during the Olympic Games," the ministry said in a statement. "In addition to Russian specialists, doping control stations also employed foreign experts."Furthermore, a team of independent observers managed the doping control operations on a daily basis during the Games." Whistleblower Vitaly Stepanov told CBS News in an interview aired on Sunday that the former head of Russia's drug testing laboratory, Grigory Rodchenkov, had informed him he had evidence of a testing cover-up during more than 15 hours of taped conversations.Rodchenkov also said that at least four Russian gold medalists in 2014 were using steroids, CBS News investigative program '60 Minutes' reported.Reuters was unable to independently confirm the disclosures in the '60 Minutes' report. Neither Rodchenkov nor Stepanov were immediately available for comment on Sunday. Stepanov told '60 Minutes' that Rodchenkov had told him "FSB agents worked as doping control officers during the Sochi Games, that FSB tried to control every single step of the anti-doping process in Sochi".FULL INVESTIGATIONStepanov previously worked for Russia's anti-doping agency (RUSADA) and is now living in the United States. "Since the revelations by Stepanov originally appeared in 2015, a full investigation has been carried out into activities by the Russian state, RUSADA and all relevant parties," the ministry said in its statement."Subsequently, we agreed a 'road map' with WADA (the World Anti-Doping Agency) to reform the anti-doping process so that the tests are being carried out by UKAD (UK Anti-Doping), using samples gathered by foreign companies, and analyzing all tests in accredited labs."These efforts thus ensure the independence and transparency of doping control in Russia, which is fully supported by the state."     Russia is banned from all track and field competitions, including the Rio Olympics in August, after an independent WADA commission last November revealed widespread state-sponsored doping.UKAD is ensuring that targeted and intelligence-led testing is being carried out on Russian athletes inside and outside the country.    Russian athletes will be allowed to return to competition when the country can prove it has met several conditions regarding its anti-doping operation, WADA and the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) have said.   WADA spokesman Ben Nichols told Reuters on Sunday that the allegations about Russian intelligence involvement in a doping cover-up, and that four Sochi gold medalists were doping, were "very disturbing" and that his organization would look into them. (Reporting by Ian Chadband; Editing by Catherine Evans and Tony Jimenez)

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