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Convention Countdown

The Republican National Convention is in 4 days in Cleveland.

The Democratic National Convention is in 11 days in Philadelphia.

NASA has released the first picture of Jupiter taken since the Juno spacecraft went into orbit around the planet on July 4.

The picture was taken on July 10. Juno was 2.7 million miles from Jupiter at the time. The color image shows some of the atmospheric features of the planet, including the giant red spot. You can also see three of Jupiter's moons in the picture: Io, Europa and Ganymede.

The Senate is set to approve a bill intended to change the way police and health care workers treat people struggling with opioid addictions.

My husband and I once took great pleasure in preparing meals from scratch. We made pizza dough and sauce. We baked bread. We churned ice cream.

Then we became parents.

Now there are some weeks when pre-chopped veggies and a rotisserie chicken are the only things between us and five nights of Chipotle.

Parents are busy. For some of us, figuring out how to get dinner on the table is a daily struggle. So I reached out to food experts, parents and nutritionists for help. Here is some of their (and my) best advice for making weeknight meals happen.

"O Canada," the national anthem of our neighbors up north, comes in two official versions — English and French. They share a melody, but differ in meaning.

Let the record show: neither version of those lyrics contains the phrase "all lives matter."

But at the 2016 All-Star Game, the song got an unexpected edit.

At Petco Park in San Diego, one member of the Canadian singing group The Tenors — by himself, according to the other members of the group — revised the anthem.

School's out, and a lot of parents are getting through the long summer days with extra helpings of digital devices.

How should we feel about that?

Police in Baton Rouge say they have arrested three people who stole guns with the goal of killing police officers. They are still looking for a fourth suspect in the alleged plot, NPR's Greg Allen reports.

"Police say the thefts were at a Baton Rouge pawn shop early Saturday morning," Greg says. "One person was arrested at the scene. Since then, two others have been arrested and six of the eight stolen handguns have been recovered. Police are still looking for one other man."

A 13-year-old boy is among those arrested, Greg says.

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After an international tribunal invalidated Beijing's claims to the South China Sea, Chinese authorities have declared in no uncertain terms that they will be ignoring the ruling.

The Philippines brought the case to the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, objecting to China's claims to maritime rights in the disputed waters. The tribunal agreed that China had no legal authority to claim the waters and was infringing on the sovereign rights of the Philippines.

Donald Trump is firing back at Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg after she disparaged him in several media interviews. He tweeted late Tuesday that she "has embarrassed all" with her "very dumb political statements" about the candidate. Trump ended his tweet with "Her mind is shot - resign!":


Chilling Future Awaits 'Girl Model' Recruits

Sep 4, 2012
Originally published on September 4, 2012 4:38 pm

In Girl Model, an alarming documentary about the trafficking of Russian child models to the Japanese fashion market, a garrulous modeling agent explains his philosophy: To expiate his own past bad behavior, he says with papal solemnity, he approaches model recruitment as a religious calling, not to mention a fatherly responsibility to do right by the girls, give them a better life than they have now and protect them from harm.

This apparently includes hauling novices off to the city morgue to see how badly things can end for a recruit who doesn't do as she's told. As the rest of the film shows in quietly terrifying detail, it also involves dispatching barely pubescent girls to Tokyo without their parents, dumping them in sparsely furnished apartments without supervision and leaving them to fend for themselves as they run from casting calls to photo shoots without actually earning a penny.

Most of the girls are under 15 years of age. No doubt one or two make it in the business. The lucky ones make it home, severely in debt but physically unhurt.

The movie, made by Massachusetts filmmakers David Redmon and Ashley Sabin, doesn't directly address the legality of this slimy operation. But unless this disingenuous creep of an agent actually believes his own propaganda, you have to wonder what possessed him to open himself to scrutiny by two filmmakers who are well-known for expose docs like Mardi Gras: Made in China and Camp Katrina.

Oddly enough, the idea for Girl Model came from the agent's chief scout, an American former model named Ashley Arbaugh, who's credited as a "creative consultant." Arbaugh, who went to college with Redmon, has a horribly compelling role in the movie: She plucks a 13-year-old Serbian beauty named Nadya from her home in a village near Novosibirsk and sends her to Tokyo. There, we learn, the demand for leggy innocents is endless.

Watching Nadya and hundreds of other skinny, bikini-clad hopefuls line up before scouts who mull their flaws in front of them as if they were fresh meat — "Her hips are too big," "She's nothing special," and so on — you wonder also whether any of the gathering public outrage in the West over the abuse of underage models has percolated through to the Eastern bloc.

If it has, it's not getting in the families' way. Nadya doesn't come from wealth, but it's far from clear that her loving parents are destitute; they want to build a more spacious house. For her part, this touchingly sweet kid is bemusedly thrilled to win the cheesy crown that makes her "Miss Elite Star." Basically, though, she wants things "to be good at home."

Nadya's euphoria doesn't last. In Tokyo, she must find her way alone to the rundown flat she shares with a slightly more well-heeled Russian girl who's soon sent packing for gaining a few ounces. As Nadya trudges through casting calls that bear no fruit, weeps through intermittent phone conversations with her mother when she can find a phone, and exhibits childish delight when she finally finds a magazine photo of herself all but hidden under a garish wig, her loneliness is pretty devastating.

But the emotional isolation of the brittle scout Ashley, a vision of Nadya's future if she's "lucky," made me want to throw myself off a cliff. A former model herself, Ashley is bright, articulate and seemingly crippled by ambivalence toward the lucrative living she earns as a de facto procurer for a man she knows is just this side of a pimp. She has grown wealthy on the proceeds, and it's a perverse visual gift to the filmmakers that she lives in a glass house in Connecticut, alone save for a couple of naked plastic dolls — "I had a third, but I dissected it" — that represent the babies she plans to have, though it's unclear with whom.

Is Ashley a sad case in a whole different way from the innocent Nadya, or an accomplished self-promoter, every bit as corrupt as her boss? She claims to hate the world that she sees as a velvet prison, yet at times Girl Model feels like Ashley's private vanity project. (Do we need to see before-and-after footage of her stomach when she has surgery to remove the fibroid tumors that are preventing her pregnancy?)

She describes the slide of many would-be models into prostitution — it "may be easier than being a model," she says — with something disturbingly like relish. And by the end of the movie, she has exhausted our sympathy by showing herself to be a smoothly practiced liar, snowing the anxious parents of a fresh batch of recruits with promises that their daughters will all be successful and never get into debt. By now we know enough that, when a postscript tells us what Nadya will do next, we're filled with dread.

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