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Stories You Might Have Missed This Week

Doctors are caught in an illicit opioid scheme, Washington State moves toward renewable energy, and a fireball lights up the Mid-Atlantic.
Two Perseid meteors streak across the sky on August 13th, 2015, in the Spring Mountains National Recreation Area, Nevada.

Two Perseid meteors streak across the sky on August 13th, 2015, in the Spring Mountains National Recreation Area, Nevada.

This week at Pacific Standard, we brought you stories about why it's hard to keep far-right extremists out of the United States military, what Elizabeth Warren's public lands proposal has to do with environmental justice, and how traditional Lakota culture is helping treat child trauma in South Dakota.

We also shared informative conversations about two of the week's biggest news events: The "Yoda of Official Secrecy" spoke to us about the redaction process and the Mueller report, and an art historian explained why the Notre Dame fire is a loss of collective memory.

But as usual, we're keeping an eye on plenty of other unfolding stories. Here are a few more news items that caught our attention this week.

Doctors Across Seven States Are Charged With Illegally Distributing Opioid Prescriptions in Exchange for Sex or Cash

Indictments unsealed on Wednesday in federal court in Ohio accuse more than 50 medical professionals of involvement in illegal opioid prescription schemes, according to the Department of Justice. The cases account for a total of about 350,000 prescriptions, some of which were simply given with no explicit reason, while others were for unnecessary medical procedures.

The indictments are the result of four months of investigation by the Appalachian Regional Prescription Opioid Strike Force, a new group under the Department of Justice's Criminal Division that first convened in December. "The opioid epidemic is the deadliest drug crisis in American history, and Appalachia has suffered the consequences more than perhaps any other region," Attorney General William Barr said in a statement.

Washington State Is Close to Passing a Clean Energy Bill

A bill that would require 100 percent carbon-free power in Washington State by 2045 has now passed both houses in the state. The legislation would also require coal to be phased out by 2025 and the state's electricity to be carbon-neutral by 2030.

The bill was amended by the House, so it will now face a final vote in the Senate before it reaches the governor's desk. Governor Jay Inslee, who has been pushing this legislation and has vowed to make climate change the most important issue in his campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination, is very likely to sign the bill, making Washington the fourth state to pass such a law.

An Exploding Meteor Lit Up the Sky Along the East Coast

On Tuesday night around 11 p.m., a green meteor bright enough to be visible from Vermont to North Carolina streaked across the sky, according to Accuweather. Meteors that burn so brightly are called fireballs. This fireball had—or created—the spotlight for an unusually long time; video footage shows it lasting almost 10 seconds.

The meteor burned up over the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of New Jersey, with some local residents reporting that their houses shook as it passed.