NPR Blogs

California has a giant rodent problem.

To clarify, it's not that California has a huge problem with run-of-the-mill rats, it's that the state has an emerging problem with jumbo-sized critters.

Nutria, otherwise called Myocaster coypus, were thought to have been eradicated from the state's wetlands and rivers as far back as 1965 but they have mysteriously reappeared in three counties over the last year, California Department of Fish and Wildlife spokesman Peter Tira told NPR.

Two Baltimore plainclothes police detectives were convicted Monday of racketeering, robbery and fraud in a trial involving a wide range of criminal activities by an elite police unit charged with reducing the number of illegal guns on that city's streets.

Detectives Daniel Hersl, 48, and Marcus Taylor, 31, were members of the Gun Trace Task Force. They were convicted with the help of testimony by four former members of the unit.

There are a lot of ways to be really into Disney as an adult. You can go on a Disney cruise, attend the three-day Disney convention, or get married at one of the parks.

Suddenly, in 2013, a whole new vein of fandom sprouted: Disneyland social clubs.

Political turmoil in the communities of Colorado City, Ariz., and Hildale, Utah, have resulted in the resignations of nearly a dozen city and utility board employees.

The communities are the longtime home of a polygamous sect, the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, which has been the target of state and federal investigations and lawsuits. FLDS leader Warren Jeffs is serving a life sentence for sexual assault of children.

Ukrainian authorities have deported Mikheil Saakashvili, the former Georgian president who has emerged as a vocal antagonist of the government in Kiev. Ukraine's border agency confirmed his deportation to Poland on Monday, while videos on social media purported to show Saakashvili getting seized by masked men.

South African police say a suspected poacher was eaten by a pride of lions at a big game park in the province of Limpopo.

The animals "ate his body, nearly all of it, and just left his head and some remains," Limpopo police spokesman Moatshe Ngoepe told AFP. "It seems the victim was poaching in the game park when he was attacked and killed by lions."

A loaded hunting rifle, found near the man's remains, appears to be the main reason police think the individual was a poacher.

Dozens of writers and illustrators earned some of the highest honors in children's literature at a joyous gathering hosted by the American Library Association in Denver on Monday. But just two managed to snag the best-known, most prestigious annual prizes for books aimed at young readers.

Erin Entrada Kelly's Hello, Universe won the Newbery Medal for outstanding contribution to children's literature, and Matthew Cordell's Wolf in the Snow won the Caldecott Medal for most distinguished American picture book for children.

Brand new portraits of former president Barack Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama — wearing matching calm, strong expressions — were revealed on Monday at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C.

Kehinde Wiley painted Barack Obama sitting in a chair, elbows in his knees, leaning forward with an intense expression. The background, typical of a Wiley painting, is a riotous pattern of intense greens.

"Pretty sharp," Obama said with a grin.

More than 70 years after a bomb was dropped on London, its discovery has prompted authorities to cancel flights all day Monday at London City Airport.

The unexploded bomb is a "German 500kg fused device," according to local authorities. It was found early Sunday in the River Thames, as part of planned work at a dock near the airport, Metropolitan Police said in a statement.

South Africa's ANC party is making yet another attempt to oust embattled South African President Jacob Zuma — the latest in an escalating campaign that has played out in slow motion.

The African National Congress already replaced Zuma as head of the party with Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, a move signaling that Ramaphosa will be the party's presidential candidate in 2019.

Carlos Cordeiro is the new president of the U.S. Soccer Federation, succeeding his boss, Sunil Gulati, in a final vote over the weekend that concluded a contentious race.

Much of northern Puerto Rico that had seen power finally restored months after Hurricane Maria, was in darkness again on Sunday following an explosion and fire at an electrical substation.

The Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority, or PREPA, says several areas are without power, after an explosion and fire at the substation in Monacillo on the outskirts of the capital, San Juan.

NPR's Adrian Florido, reporting from San Juan, says the blackout affects the heavily populated northern part of the island after the explosion that occurred at about 9 p.m. Sunday.

Harvey Weinstein, the Hollywood megaproducer accused of sexual harassment and assault dating back decades, has been slapped with a civil rights lawsuit by New York's attorney general. Eric Schneiderman announced the suit Sunday, saying his office has sued not only Weinstein, but also his brother, Robert, and The Weinstein Company.

At first glance the images are unremarkable. They're grainy, ill-defined, seemingly more akin to television static or an 8-bit video game than they are to the high-resolution masterworks sent back by the Hubble Space Telescope.

But take another look.

The formal 142nd Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show kicks off Monday, although it's not like one of its perfectly poised pooch contenders would kick. The canines that are more into moving than grooming competed in Saturday's Masters Agility Championship in New York City.

That is where a black and white border collie named Fame(US) — pronounced "famous" — lived up to her name, winning the contest that tests dogs' agility and speed as they maneuver through an obstacle course.

Those seeking five-star accommodations in Riyadh now have one more option available, after the Ritz-Carlton reopened its doors on Sunday, more than three months after being converted into an ad-hoc luxury prison for some of Saudi Arabia's most prominent prisoners.

A Grand Canyon sightseeing helicopter crashed at the bottom of a rocky ravine early Saturday evening, killing three people and seriously injuring four others, according to police.

Updated at 11:40 a.m. ET

A Saratov Airlines plane crashed about 25 miles from Moscow where it took off, evidently killing everyone on board, said Russia's Transport Minister.

The plane disappeared from radar shortly after takeoff from Domodedovo Airport at 2:21 p.m. local time, en route to the Russian city of Orsk located about 1,000 miles southeast, reports the TASS news agency.

There were 65 passengers and six crew members on board, says TASS.

Mary Lou McDonald was elected the new leader of Sinn Fein at a conference in Dublin on Saturday, in what represents a major shift for the left-wing Irish republican party.

In a first, the party's leadership is entirely female; McDonald is only the second woman to have led Sinn Fein, which was founded in the early 1900s. Another woman, Michelle O'Neill, was elected as vice president Saturday. Both women ran unopposed.

Updated 5:22 a.m. ET Sunday

Israeli airstrikes in Syria killed at least six members of the Syrian military or allied militia members Saturday, a monitor group said Sunday, after Israel said an Iranian drone violated its airspace.

Fiona the hippo may be one of the greatest living social media stars of the decade, but in terms of those who aren't living, look no further than Sue the Tyrannosaurus rex.

Though she's a fossil, Sue is a true Chicagoan and has been on display in her home at The Field Museum since 2000.

Like many of us these days, Sue is sassy and shares her hot takes on Twitter with adoring fans.

A federal appeals court in Colorado ruled that nine immigrant detainees who are challenging alleged conditions of forced labor at a detention facility in that state can represent a class of about 60,000 others who were detained at the same site.

The Albuquerque Journal issued an apology Thursday for running a nationally syndicated cartoon that has been assailed as a racist attack on Latino immigrants by critics.

"In hindsight, instead of generating debate, this cartoon only inflamed emotions. This was not the intent, and for that, the Journal apologizes," Editor Karen Moses wrote in the paper.

There are a lot of requirements if you want to vote in Kansas. You must be 18 years old. You need to show a photo ID at your polling place and show proof of U.S. citizenship when you register to vote. The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights says the state's voter ID laws are among the strictest in the nation.

But when it comes to the rules about who can run for state office? There are no rules.

Just days after a monthlong hiatus from making megabucks-generating videos, YouTube vlogger Logan Paul is in trouble again for creating more questionable content.

As a police corruption trial in Baltimore reveals major allegations of misconduct, the city's police commissioner-designate is announcing changes.

Darryl DeSousa says the department is starting a new police corruption unit, as well as an Inspectional Services and Integrity Division that will conduct random polygraph tests for police in specialized units.

Who is that dour man?

Massachusetts' highest court owns his portrait — it hangs on a wall outside the chief justice's chambers — but the court's officials have no idea who he is.

They're hoping you might have an idea.

Benjamin Swasey, of member station WBUR, reports:

Reuters has published an extensive report into the killing of 10 Rohingya men in Myanmar in September, pulling from photographs and eyewitness accounts to describe how villagers and paramilitary forces killed the men execution-style and buried them in one grave.

The investigation made headlines long before it was published.

Uber has reached a settlement valued at $245 million with Google's self-driving car subsidiary Waymo, in a major trade secrets trial that began Monday.

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