Biologists normally look for the hellbender slamander, which is known by the nickname "snot otter," under rocks in streams. But now there's a gentler way: They can take water samples and look for traces of the animals' DNA.
If you want to protect rare species, first you have to find them. In the past few years, biologists have developed a powerful new tool to do that. They've discovered that they can often find traces of animal DNA in streams, ponds — even oceans.
The idea took root just five years ago, when biologists in France found they could detect invasive American bullfrogs simply by sampling pond water and looking for an exact genetic match to the frogs' DNA.
Many businesses that don't offer health insurance to all their employees breathed a sigh of relief earlier this month when they learned they'd have an extra year to comply with the new health care law or face stiff penalties.
One thing just about everyone dreads as they age is the possibility of ending up in a nursing home. We all think we know what that's like: sharing a room with strangers, sitting slumped in a wheelchair all day, rigid schedules, bad smells. And for more than 1 million Americans, this is home. But there's an effort to change all that, and it's known as The Green House Project.
In the past 10 years, more than 140 of these alternative, nonprofit nursing homes have been built in 24 states.
President Obama has nominated Caroline Kennedy to serve as the United States' ambassador to Japan.
NPR's Mara Liasson filed this report for our Newscast unit:
"The daughter of President John F. Kennedy and an early and significant supporter of President Obama's, Kennedy is also an attorney and the author of several best-selling books. If confirmed she would fit a tradition for the Japan post — where many other prominent Americans have served. But she would be the first female ambassador to Japan.