Kat Lonsdorf

As winter turned to spring in the town of Miharu, Japan, a small group of workers pounded posts into the ground to lay a grand pathway at the base of a giant cherry tree. It was the same path they've laid every year, wide enough to give thousands of tourists a chance to walk up and marvel at the ancient tree, as its cascading branches fill with delicate pink flowers dipping toward the ground.

But with the coronavirus pandemic taking hold, it was starting to feel as if that pathway might be laid for no one.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced on Sunday that for the first time in days, the state has seen the daily number of deaths, hospitalizations and intubations as a result of COVID-19 decrease. More patients are also being discharged from hospitals.

"There's something a little bit different in the data today," Cuomo said, as state officials reported 594 new deaths on Sunday, down from 630 on Saturday.

The United States remains the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic, with confirmed cases now at more than 300,000 and deaths climbing toward 9,000.

In Europe, another global hot spot, Spain has surpassed Italy for the leading number of cases, with Germany and France not too far behind. Worldwide, there are over 1.2 million cases and nearly 66,000 deaths.

Takayuki Ueno looks out over an empty field along the coast in Fukushima, Japan, and points toward the ocean.

"There used to be houses here, and trees," he says, and then points in another direction. "And over there, too."

The wind whips across the open space. A small, new graveyard sits in an adjacent plot. Those houses were where his neighbors once lived.

Iraqi security forces launched a major crackdown on anti-government protesters Saturday from Baghdad to cities across the south after an influential Shiite cleric instrumental in the demonstrations withdrew his support.

New Zealand's months-long gun amnesty and buyback program ended Friday, with questionable success. The amnesty gave gun owners a chance to surrender certain firearms before facing legal recourse for having them after the country outlawed most semi-automatic and military-style firearms earlier this year.

A large portion of Australia is on fire after weeks of extreme heat, strong winds and drought that have created ideal conditions for hundreds of bushfires to thrive across the country. Several fires have been burning since November, particularly in the eastern state of New South Wales.

Violence erupted this weekend around a besieged Hong Kong university, as protesters threw petrol bombs and fired arrows at police in an attempt to keep control of the campus.

Gotabaya Rajapaksa, a former defense secretary and intelligence officer accused of committing human rights violations, has won Sri Lanka's closely fought presidential elections. His main opponent, Sajith Premadasa of the ruling United National Party (UNP), conceded defeat on Sunday, saying he will "honor the decision of the people."

It's a story fit for Hollywood.

An unidentified woman, her hair pulled up in pigtails and arms loaded with bags, sings a hauntingly beautiful rendition of a Puccini aria seemingly spontaneously on the platform of a Los Angeles Metro stop.

A video of the woman was posted to Twitter by the Los Angeles Police Department late Thursday evening.

Joseph Wilson, the former U.S. diplomat who publicly challenged the reasoning behind President George W. Bush's invasion of Iraq, died Friday. He was 69.

Wilson died of organ failure, his ex-wife, Valerie Plame, confirmed to several news outlets. Plame's identity as a CIA operative was revealed a week after Wilson contested the Bush administration in a 2003 New York Times op-ed. Plame and Wilson divorced in 2017.

Now that they're married, Laura and Adam Hardin clearly have figured it out: their two toddlers were pattering around upstairs in their modest home in a Washington, D.C., suburb when NPR visited recently. And Laura's belly was bulging with their third baby — a daughter born last week.

But Adam remembers some anxious moments on their honeymoon almost five years ago — the first time either of them had sex.

"Mostly I think I was concerned with, like, not wanting to hurt her," he says.

Before the Woolsey Fire raged near Malibu, Calif., in November, hundreds of bikers gathered each weekend at the Rock Store for pancakes or a cup of coffee before riding through the Santa Monica Mountains on the twisty road called "The Snake."

After the fire swept through the area, not much was left standing – except, somewhat miraculously, the popular biker bar.

Aleigha Sloan can't remember ever drinking a glass of water from the tap at her home.

That is "absolutely dangerous," the 17-year-old says, wrinkling her nose and making a face at the thought.

"You just don't touch that tap water unless absolutely necessary. I mean, like showers and things — you have to do what you have to do. But other than that, no," she says. "I don't know anybody that does."

It's a little after 8 a.m. on a Wednesday morning in downtown Harare, and Brandon Moyo has been waiting in line for the ATM for over four hours already. He's hoping to withdraw $20 — but it's not looking promising. There are over 20 people in front of him and bank officials have already warned they might run out of cash before he gets to the front.