Scott Neuman

The U.S., Russia and China all have them. And now, North Korea claims to as well: hypersonic weapons.

These aerial vehicles go a step further than the kind of ballistic missiles that Pyongyang has periodically tested over the years. They can fly fast and maneuver in ways that make them extremely difficult to detect and destroy.

It's a developmental leap that North Korea appears to have quickly bridged. If fully realized, the new capability could present a significant challenge to U.S.- and South Korean-based missile defense systems.

Dozens of Ukrainian government sites have been hit by an ominous cyberattack, with hackers warning people to "be afraid and expect the worst."

The attack took over websites of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Cabinet of ministers and security and defense council, posting a message on screens in Ukrainian, Russian and Polish that read: "Ukrainian! All your personal data was uploaded to the public network. All data on the computer is destroyed, it is impossible to restore it."

Wildfires, hurricanes, tornadoes and a winter storm and cold wave were among 20 weather and climate disasters in the U.S. last year that cost $1 billion or more, totaling $145 billion and killing 688 people, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

In an overview of an annual report released on Monday by NOAA, scientists also said that 2021 ranked as the fourth-warmest year on record in the United States, with December 2021 being the warmest December ever recorded. The full report is due out Thursday.

The new year has gotten off to a very bad start in Kazakhstan. On Jan. 1, the government lifted a price cap on fuel, setting off a sudden and steep increase in the cost of liquefied petroleum gas, which most people in the Central Asian nation use to run their vehicles. That move sparked widespread protests that turned violent as security forces cracked down.

French President Emmanuel Macron is being condemned by political opponents following an interview this week in which he employed a vulgarity to say he wants to aggravate people who refuse to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

"The unvaccinated, I really want to piss them off," Macron told Le Parisien. "And so, we're going to continue doing so until the end. That's the strategy."

While not exact, the translation of the slang phrase was widely picked up by French media publishing in English.

Updated January 4, 2022 at 9:25 PM ET

Drivers along a 50-mile stretch of Interstate 95 in Virginia, south of the nation's capital, are no longer trapped in freezing temperatures after heavy snowfall contributed to spinouts and crashes.

Richard Leakey, the world-renowned paleoanthropologist-turned-conservationist, has died at 77.

Leakey was a native Kenyan. His death was announced late Sunday by the country's president, Uhuru Kenyatta.

A cause of death was not given.

Leakey, whose famous parents, Louis and Mary Leakey, made profound contributions to the understanding of human evolution through key fossil finds of early hominids, also made important discoveries of his own in the field.

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin has tested positive for COVID-19.

"I tested positive this morning for COVID-19. I requested the test today after exhibiting symptoms while at home on leave," Austin said in a statement late Sunday. "My symptoms are mild, and I am following my physician's directions."

The James Webb Space Telescope, on a long and winding journey to its job site a million miles from Earth, has begun the key task of unfurling a giant umbrella-like shield to protect its delicate instruments from the intense radiation of the sun.

Winter storms sweeping parts of the Western U.S. and the Pacific Northwest have brought heavy snow and record low temperatures in some areas — and there's more to come.

A winter storm warning continues into Wednesday for parts of the border area of Northern California and Nevada.

COVID-19 cases are up across the country, fueled in large part by the highly contagious omicron variant.

Even with a surge in cases and a scramble for more testing, a smaller percentage of infected people are winding up in the hospital with COVID-19 symptoms compared to earlier strains.

Pioneering biologist, environmental activist and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Edward O. Wilson has died. He was 92.

The Kellogg's strike is over.

The union representing striking workers at four Kellogg Co. breakfast cereal plants has ratified a deal to end an 11-week work stoppage.

The heads of the two largest commercial jet makers, Boeing and Airbus, are warning against a plan to deploy new 5G wireless networks starting next month, saying interference from the upgrade could pose a danger to vital aircraft systems.

In a statement emailed to NPR, Boeing said the aerospace industry was "focused on fully evaluating and addressing the potential for 5G interference with radio altimeters."

Peng Shuai, the Chinese tennis star who took to social media last month to accuse a former top Communist Party official of sexual assault insisted in an interview on Sunday that it had all been a misunderstanding.

Updated December 17, 2021 at 1:49 PM ET

Pfizer-BioNTech announced Friday that they will expand ongoing clinical trials of their COVID-19 vaccine in children to include a third dose for participants as young as 6 months old.

The word "millipede" literally means "thousand feet." But until now, the moniker for the creepy invertebrates has been a bit of an exaggeration, with none of them sporting anything close to that many feet — or legs.

However, a new millipede discovered by Bruno Buzatto, a principal biologist at Bennelongia Environmental Consultants in Perth, Australia, lives up to the true meaning of its name.

German police confiscated weapons during raids in the eastern cities of Dresden and Heidenau on Wednesday in connection with an alleged plot by radical anti-vaccination activists to kill Saxony's governor.

Members of a group calling itself "Dresden Offlinevernetzung," or Dresden offline network, had discussed killing state premier Michael Kretschmer on the online platform Telegram, according to police.

O.J. Simpson is now "a completely free man," his attorney says after a Nevada parole board granted him early release for his 2008 conviction on armed robbery charges.

An insurer representing the Boy Scouts of America says it will contribute $800 million to settle more than 82,000 sexual abuse claims.

Chubb Ltd.'s Century Indemnity Company released a statement Monday saying that under the proposed agreement, "Century Indemnity Company and other Chubb companies will pay $800 million and obtain a broad release for all Chubb companies from BSA-related abuse claims."

Updated December 14, 2021 at 1:49 PM ET

The United Nations' weather agency has officially recognized a new record high temperature for the Arctic, confirming a reading of 38 degrees Celsius (100.4 Fahrenheit) taken in June 2020.

The World Meteorological Organization issued a statement on Tuesday calling the temperature reading "more befitting the Mediterranean than the Arctic."

Less than a year ago, when Comet Leonard was first discovered, it was still an incredibly dim and obscure chunk of rock traveling out near the orbit of Jupiter.

Now it has reached our neighborhood of the solar system on its journey toward the sun and is being billed as the brightest comet of the year.

Here's how to see it:

The parents of a teenager accused of killing four students and wounding seven others at a high school in Michigan this week could themselves face charges.

Oakland County prosecutor Karen McDonald said she is considering charges against the parents of 15-year-old Ethan Crumbley, the suspect in Tuesday's mass shooting at Oxford High School in suburban Detroit.

Updated December 1, 2021 at 2:13 PM ET

The omicron coronavirus variant has now been found in two dozen countries and the World Health Organization says that although there's still much to be learned about the new strain, there's no indication that existing COVID-19 vaccines won't continue to save lives.

Scientists say they've witnessed a never-before-seen type of replication in organic robots created in the lab using frog cells. Among other things, the findings could have implications for regenerative medicine.

Updated November 29, 2021 at 3:42 PM ET

Former Defense Secretary Mark Esper has filed suit against the Pentagon, which he says has ordered him to redact portions of an "unvarnished and candid memoir" that he hopes to publish about his days in the Trump White House.

Esper, who was fired by then-President Donald Trump after the November 2020 election, says the Department of Defense, which he led for nearly 16 months, had "arbitrarily" redacted the manuscript for the book, A Sacred Oath.

The World Health Organization is warning that the new omicron variant of the coronavirus poses a "very high" global risk because of the possibility that it spreads more easily and might resist vaccines and immunity in people who were infected with previous strains.

The Food and Drug Administration has given its OK for fully vaccinated Americans who are age 18 and older to receive a COVID-19 booster shot.

The FDA on Friday granted emergency use authorization for a third dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, which had already been available to people 65 and older and to anyone 18 years and older who is at elevated risk of contracting COVID-19.

Updated November 18, 2021 at 1:27 PM ET

The head of the Women's Tennis Association is questioning the authenticity of an email he received purporting to be from Chinese star player Peng Shuai, who hasn't been heard from since she made sexual assault allegations against a top Communist Party official two weeks ago.

A standoff between migrants and Polish border guards has become the biggest challenge to the EU's borders in years. The crisis appears to be stoked by the leader of Belarus over the country's tensions with the bloc.

Poland's defense minister said on Wednesday that the crisis at the border with Belarus, where thousands of migrants are trying to cross, could take months to resolve, even as there were signs that the confrontation might be ratcheting down.