National & International News

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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 Myocastor 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 past 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.

Do transgender boys or girls have the right to use the restroom at school that corresponds with their gender identity? The U.S. Education Department said Monday that it won't hear complaints about or take action on this question.

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.

In New Orleans, Mardi Gras is not just Fat Tuesday itself, it's a multi-week celebration. It's also a huge mess.

The plastic beads, cups, and trinkets that fly from the floats don't all get caught — even by the most enthusiastic crowds. And after a bead has hit the ground it immediately turns from prize to garbage, especially in this year's rain and mud.

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.

There's a glaring hole in President Trump's budget proposal for 2019, global health researchers say. A U.S. program to help other countries beef up their ability to detect pathogens around the world will lose a significant portion of its funding.

The ambitious program, called Global Health Security Agenda, was launched in early 2014, aiming to set up an early-warning system for infectious diseases across the world.

Big air. Big victories. Big emotion: They're all par for the course at any Olympics.

Big winds, on the other hand, are a big problem.

Over the past few days Pyeongchang, home of the 2018 Winter Games, has seen wind gusts up to 45 mph — more than enough to wreak havoc with winter sports that remain on the ground, let alone those where athletes fling themselves into the air.

The high winds prompted the postponement of the women's giant slalom race, a major downhill event.

President Trump released his long-awaited plan to direct $1.5 trillion toward upgrading U.S. roads, bridges, airports and other public works projects. NPR's Mary Louise Kelly speaks with DJ Gribbin, special assistant to the President for infrastructure policy, about Trump's priorities.

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Sony Pictures is being criticized for a movie that didn't seem all that controversial - "Peter Rabbit." It came out this weekend.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "PETER RABBIT")

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(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MICHELLE OBAMA: Let's just start by saying wow again.

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At the National Portrait Gallery in Washington today, the subjects of two new paintings helped with their unveiling.

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It's Carnival time in Brazil, and NPR's Philip Reeves says there's more to it than the annual parades and costumes. Phil says if you want to really understand what it's about, you have to hit the streets.

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After workers pulled more than 40 tons of Mardi Gras beads out of New Orleans' storm drains, the city decided to take action. They've installed "gutter buddies" to keep carnival detritus out of the drainage system.

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The Trump administration is proposing a major shake-up in one of the country's most important "safety net" programs, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps. Under the proposal, most SNAP recipients would lose much of their ability to choose the food they buy with their SNAP benefits.

The proposal is included in the Trump administration budget request for fiscal year 2019. It would require approval from Congress.

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.

The road through central Bhutan rises through frost-dusted evergreens reaching a pass where travelers pause to take in the Himalayas majestically stretching across the north. Steep forests descend into valleys coursing with crystalline rivers and pine-scented air. The wind howls down the canyons furiously flapping prayer flags, and setting temple chimes to sing.

Shades of Shangri-La?

Perhaps, but don't tell the Bhutanese that.

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.

Remember this name: Maame Biney.

The short track speedskater just turned 18; she's not even out of high school. But she is already one of the biggest U.S. names at the Winter Olympics.

Hot summers can devastate canola farmers. Prolonged heat waves can leave behind fields of fallen, shattered oilseed pods and destroy vast amounts of the crop. Why canola (oilseed rape) seedpods disintegrate rapidly in prolonged heat blasts has been something of a mystery, but a new study suggests rising temperatures trigger a genetic cascade in the plant that leads to premature fruit development.

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 green foliage.

"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.

Updated at 6 p.m. ET

The Senate voted to begin debate on immigration Monday, launching an unusual process that could lead to a bipartisan immigration fix — or leave Congress with no solution for the hundreds of thousands of immigrants who stand to lose legal protections by March 5.

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