Imagine you're flying in a two-seater plane over Africa, and, in an effort to see how elephants are faring, your job is to count all the ones you see. Over the savannah, that's easy. But how do you peer into the forests, where all you see is treetops?
For years, the zoologists who tried to do this just guessed. But in the late 1980s, conservationist Richard Barnes devised a method to take an elephant census in the densest of forests.
The Food and Drug Administration is currently embroiled in a surprisingly heated culinary standoff — pitting French cheese-makers (and American cheese-lovers) against regulators, all because of one very small problem: cheese mites.
Cheese mites are microscopic little bugs that live on the surfaces of aged cheeses, munching the microscopic molds that grow there. For many aged cheeses, they're something of an industry nuisance, gently brushed off the cheeses. But for Mimolette, a bright orange French cheese, they're actually encouraged.
The Pentagon says the automatic budget cuts known as sequestration could leave the U.S. with a military that is simply unprepared for the most challenging combat missions. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel told Congress in April that the military is eating its seed corn.
Guilty of genocide and crimes against humanity, that's the verdict today against Efrain Rios Montt, a former dictator of Guatemala. The general ruled the Central American nation in the early 1980s, one of the bloodiest periods of its 36-year-long civil war. Rios Montt, now 86 years old, was found responsible for atrocities committed against the Maya Ixil indigenous group. NPR's Carrie Kahn reports.
CARRIE KAHN, BYLINE: Presiding Judge Yasmin Barrios read the verdict to a packed audience in the expansive Supreme Court auditorium.
As if the Obama administration's conservative critics didn't have enough fodder with last year's attacks on a U.S. Consulate that killed four Americans, now comes Friday's startling revelation that Internal Revenue Service workers between 2010 and 2012 singled out groups with "Tea Party" and "Patriots" in their name for extra scrutiny of their applications for tax-exempt status.
Other bipartisan efforts on Capitol Hill may be collapsing around them, but a cadre of Democratic and Republican women serving on the Senate and House Armed Services committees are leveraging their historic clout to respond together to the sexual assault crisis engulfing the U.S. military.
Astronauts aboard the International Space Station will undertake a spacewalk Saturday morning to try to repair a leak in their cooling system.
The leak appears to be ammonia used in a power supply. It was spotted midmorning on Thursday. Commander Chris Hadfield reported seeing "a very steady stream of flakes or bits" floating away from the station. On the ground, mission control noticed a steady drop in ammonia levels on one of the station's eight power channels. The same channel had problems back in November of 2012.
Major League Baseball has admitted that umpires have made some big mistakes in the last few days. On Wednesday, umpires ruled even after looking at television replays that Adam Rosales of the Oakland A's hit a double. The ball clearly left the park with the game on the line. And last night in Houston, umps botched a fairly simple rule about pitchers. NPR's Mike Pesca joins us now to second-guess the men in black. And, Mike, everyone makes mistakes, right, even umpires. Why are they getting picked on?