Scott Neuman

Federal furloughs caused by sequestration could ground "Hurricane Hunter" aircraft, depriving forecasters of real-time measurements of storms during what's expected to be an especially active Atlantic hurricane season.

Researchers at Trinity College Dublin have some long awaited test results: After 69 years, they have captured on video a drop of pitch, also known as bitumen or asphalt.

With a camera trained on a glass funnel containing a generous dollop of the substance, so thick that it appears as a solid at room temperature, it finally happened.

You can see the dramatic moment in this video above, which proves conclusively that pitch is indeed a liquid, according to Nature.

More people around the globe view the United States positively than do China, but most of them also believe that Beijing is set to eclipse Washington as the world's dominant Superpower, according to a new Pew Research survey.

The crew of a North Korean ship carrying a clandestine cargo of Cold War-era weapons from Cuba has been charged with endangering public security by Panamanian authorities, who seized the vessel earlier this week.

The North Korean vessel en route from Cuba was seized as it attempted to transit the Panama Canal.

According to the BBC:

"[Panamanian] Prosecutor Javier Caraballo accused the 35 crew members of endangering public security by illegally transporting war material.

Nelson Mandela remains hospitalized, but his health is reportedly improving after spending five weeks in a Pretoria hospital with a lung infection.

Former South African President Thabo Mbeki, who succeeded Mandela, the country's first black president, says that the former anti-apartheid and Nobel laureate could be discharged soon.

Mandela has been in critical condition since June 8 when he was hospitalized with the recurring infection, which he first contracted during his 27 years as a political prison.

Amazon describes Robert Galbraith's best-selling novel, The Cuckoo's Calling, as "a brilliant debut mystery in a classic vein." But as brilliant and classically inclined as it might be, the real mystery until now has been all about the author.

It turns out that Robert Galbraith is the nom de plume of none other than J.K. Rowling, the famous creator of the phenomenally successful Harry Potter books.

At least 200 people are trapped inside a mosque in the Syrian capital, Damascus, as government forces rain artillery on rebel-held areas.

Rasha Elass, in Beirut, reports for NPR that the Syrian opposition has pleaded with the United Nations to intervene.

Hundreds of thousands of people in southeast China have been evacuated after a powerful typhoon barreled into the region, packing strong winds and heavy rain.

Typhoon Soulik made landfall in China's Fujian province Saturday afternoon after sweeping across Taiwan.

The typhoon comes as China is already battling torrential rainfall across large parts of the country, especially in Sichuan province. Some 200 people have been killed in floods, the worst in some areas of Sichuan in 50 years.

Civil rights groups reacted with disappointment to the not-guilty verdict in the George Zimmerman murder trial.

After the outcome became known late Saturday, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund said it would push for the Department of Justice to bring civil rights charges against Zimmerman, who was accused in the fatal shooting of 17-year-old black youth Trayvon Martin.

George Zimmerman's brother, Robert Zimmerman, Jr., tells NPR's Weekend Edition Sunday that despite the acquittal in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, it will be a "long time" before his brother's life returns to normal.

"Believe me, he is overwhelmed," the elder brother said in an interview with host Rachel Martin. "And now it is time for him to readjust to that concept of being a free man, in every sense of the word."

Months of intense media coverage, weeks of courtroom testimony and hours of jury deliberations boiled down to a not-guilty verdict for George Zimmerman, delivered by a jury of six women late Saturday.

The decision came 17 months after Zimmerman, a self-styled volunteer watchman, fatally shot unarmed black teen Trayvon Martin during a confrontation in a Sanford, Fla., community.

Unidentified attackers ambushed and killed seven United Nations peacekeepers in Sudan's southern Darfur region, the single-deadliest attack on the international force during its five years of deployment there.

The United Nations-African Union Mission in Darfur, or UNAMID, force engaged in an "extended firefight" with the assailants near Khor Abeche in south Darfur, Reuters said, quoting the peacekeeping force.

The Associated Press reports quotes U.N. forces spokesman Chris Cycmanick as saying the fight involved gunfire and possibly rocket-propelled grenades.

British investigators say they will lead a probe into a fire aboard a 787 Dreamliner as it sat empty on the tarmac at London-Heathrow Airport.

The fire broke out Friday aboard an Ethiopian Airlines plane about eight hours after it had taxied to the gate.

As we reported earlier, the jet suffered what a Heathrow spokesman described as an "onboard internal fire". Photographs appeared to show fire damage just forward of the tail section.

Although Buckingham Palace has never confirmed the exact date, Saturday is rumored to be the official due date for the child who will become the third in line to the British throne.

"There are really only two questions: boy or girl? And, what's the name?" Robert Hardman, a reporter with The Daily Mail, tells NPR's Weekend Edition Saturday.

Immigration officials in Russia say they've not received any application from Edward Snowden, the man accused of leaking top-secret NSA documents, a day after he told the media in Moscow that his plan was to seek temporary asylum.

Interfax news agency quotes Russian migration service head Konstantin Romodanovsky as saying no asylum request had been received as yet.

A loose rail is believed to have caused a train crash in France that's killed at least six people and injured dozens. Rescue workers on Saturday were still sifting through the twisted wreckage searching for possible survivors.

BBC quotes the state rail company SNCF as saying a metal bar connecting two rails came loose somewhere near the Paris suburb of Bretigny-sur-Orge.

Updated 10:27 p.m. ET

The jury in the murder trial of George Zimmerman on Saturday acquitted the former neighborhood watch volunteer of all charges in the 2012 fatal shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin during a scuffle in a gated Florida community.

The six-woman jury announced its verdict of not guilty at about 10 p.m. ET, after more than 16 hours of deliberations over two days.

Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani teen who was attacked by Taliban militants for promoting education for girls, received several standing ovations as she addressed the United Nations on Friday, calling on world leaders to provide free compulsory schooling to every child.

In October, Malala was shot in the head by Taliban militants who attacked a schoolbus she was on. She was targeted for her campaign promoting girls' rights.

"They thought that the bullets would silence us, but they failed," she said.

Attorney General Eric Holder announced a tightening of Justice Department guidelines for dealing with the sensitive issue of subpoenas of journalists' communications, weeks after embarrassing disclosures that his office had secretly obtained phone records and emails from reporters as part of a probe of unauthorized leaks.

The United States has joined Germany in calling for the release of ousted Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, who has been detained since a July 3 military coup in Cairo.

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said that Washington and Berlin were in agreement that Morsi should be freed.

The Islamist leader was deposed after massive, nationwide protests against his rule, and he's been held at an undisclosed location since then.

A Boeing 787 caught fire on the tarmac at London's Heathrow Airport on Friday, followed hours later by a technical problem aboard another 'Dreamliner' that forced the plane to turn back from a trans-Atlantic flight. The incidents sent Boeing's stock down more than 7 percent at one point.

The first incident involved an Ethiopian Airlines plane with no passengers aboard. The second occurred aboard a Thomson Airways flight en route from Manchester, England to Sanford, Fla.

The Russian agency charged with safeguarding Kremlin communications is said to be opting for a low-tech solution to secure top-secret messages in the wake of the NSA surveillance scandal: typewriters.

Izvestia reports that the Federal Guard Agency, known by the acronym FSO, has placed an order for $15,000 worth of electric typewriters.

Izvestia quotes an unnamed source in Russia:

(This story was last updated at 6:20 p.m. ET)

Six jurors left a Sanford, Fla., courtroom on Friday to begin deliberating the fate of George Zimmerman, who stands accused of murder in the fatal shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.

After several hours of deliberations and a request for an inventory of evidence on Friday, the jury, all women, adjourned for the evening. It was scheduled to resume at 9 a.m. Saturday.

If you think flight delays in the U.S. are bad, try China.

A new report from travel industry monitor FlightStats says China is the world's worst when it comes to delays at major airports.

FlightStats compiled statistics from June for the report, determining that eight of the world's worst airports for flight delays were in China. Beijing and Shanghai topped the list, although New York's LaGuardia had the highest number of flight cancellations.

House Republicans have approved a farm bill sans food stamps, leaving a gaping hole in the middle of the measure for the first time in 40 years.

The 216-208 vote was largely on party lines, with no Democrats supporting it. Twelve Republicans also voted against it.

The decision to cleave food stamps — formerly called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, from the rest of the farm bill gives Republicans a victory after GOP lawmakers in the House turned down the full measure last month.

The latest in The Guardian's series of reports on secret U.S. electronic surveillance efforts claims to detail the extent of Microsoft's cooperation with the National Security Agency, with the tech giant reportedly allowing agents to circumvent its own encryption system to spy on email and chats, as well as its cloud-based storage service.

A Russian court found whistle-blower Sergei Magnitsky guilty of tax evasion on Thursday, ending a convoluted case that caused a diplomatic row between Moscow and Washington. It gets even more bizarre given the fact that the man on trial died in 2009.

The posthumous conviction is unprecedented in modern times – even in a country with a history of show trials. But it's not entirely unheard of throughout the ages.

Move over, Earth. There's another blue planet in town — or at least in our corner of the Milky Way.

Astronomers using the Hubble Space Telescope deduced for the first time the atmospheric hue of a planet outside our own solar system — and it turns out to be a "deep cobalt blue."

Nelson Mandela, the former South African president and anti-apartheid leader, is in critical condition in a hospital in Pretoria where he was admitted two weeks ago with a recurring respiratory infection.

A statement from South African President Jacob Zuma said the 94-year-old Mandela's condition had become critical over the past 24 hours.

"The doctors are doing everything possible to get his condition to improve and are ensuring that Madiba is well-looked after and is comfortable. He is in good hands," said Zuma, referring to Mandela by his clan name.

Malaysia has declared a state of emergency in the country's south after choking smog from slash-and-burn agriculture in neighboring Indonesia enveloped the region.

Residents in Muar and Ledang districts of Johor state have been told to stay indoors. This comes after a similar order in Singapore last week.

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