Alabama authorities say a home burglary suspect has died after police used a stun gun on the man.  Birmingham police say he resisted officers who found him in a house wrapped in what looked like material from the air conditioner duct work.  The Lewisburg Road homeowner called police Tuesday about glass breaking and someone yelling and growling in his basement.  Police reportedly entered the dwelling and used a stun gun several times on a white suspect before handcuffing him.  Investigators say the man was "extremely irritated" throughout and didn't obey verbal commands.

Montgomery Education Foundation's Brain Forest Summer Learning Academy was spotlighted Wednesday at Carver High School.  The academic-enrichment program is for rising 4th, 5th, and 6th graders in the Montgomery Public School system.  Community Program Director Dillion Nettles, says the program aims to prevent learning loss during summer months.  To find out how your child can participate in next summer's program visit

A police officer is free on bond after being arrested following a rash of road-sign thefts in southeast Alabama.  Brantley Police Chief Titus Averett says officer Jeremy Ray Walker of Glenwood is on paid leave following his arrest in Pike County.  The 30-year-old Walker is charged with receiving stolen property.  Lt. Troy Johnson of the Pike County Sheriff's Office says an investigation began after someone reported that Walker was selling road signs from Crenshaw County.  Investigators contacted the county engineer and learned signs had been reported stolen from several roads.

NPR Politics presents the Lunchbox List: our favorite campaign news and stories curated from NPR and around the Web in digestible bites (100 words or less!). Look for it every weekday afternoon from now until the conventions.

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 vegetables 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.


Comic Struggles Of A Frustrated Writer In 'Zoo Time'

Oct 23, 2012
Originally published on October 23, 2012 11:01 am

"My aim," writes English novelist Guy Ableman to his agent, "is to write a transgressive novel that explores the limits of the morally permissible in our times."

Sounds quite serious, even brow-wrinkling, doesn't it? A dangerous act of experimental writing, perhaps something Norman Mailer might have tried, or Henry Miller before him?

Except that Ableman — the narrator of Howard Jacobson's odd new work of fiction — sees the joke in it. "Who are the great blasphemers of our age?" he asks. "Not poets and writers ... My hero is a stand-up comedian. First line of novel, he walks on stage, says, Take my mother-in-law — I just have ..."

Revising a bit of stand-up schtick by the great American comic Henny Youngman may not be the classiest aesthetic value in the world. But it gives us a sense of the narrator's deep desperation about his vocation, his career, his very life in an England, in which, as he sees it, literature is dying off faster than the Arctic iceberg melt. We learn fairly early on in the novel that the agent to whom he is addressing this note behaves like Major Major from Joseph Heller's Catch-22. He hides from his clients, hoping they won't give him new manuscripts, because in the world of letters as Ableman depicts it, the few readers who are left don't read anything serious, and serious publishers, such as Ableman's, commit suicide.

Moreover, the joke on which Ableman builds his narrative, his obsession with his busty mother-in-law, Poppy, and his hit-and-miss marriage with his (novel-writing) flame-haired wife, Vanessa, grows darker and darker. Though Vanessa remains a constant tease, and Poppy a somewhat unbelievable object of desire for the professionally and sexually frustrated writer, the clownish Ableman becomes ever more serious in his quest to complete his new book against the backdrop of a publishing industry disintegrating by the hour.

In the end, the joke is on the reader. Despite the writhing and wrenching (and wenching) that Jacobson puts his narrator through, the story winds down from the comical into the pathetic. It comes nowhere close to putting us into anything resembling the near-hysterical, laugh-out-loud state you can sometimes find yourself in while reading certain novels by Stanley Elkin or Philip Roth. As that overly employed apothegm would have it — the one ascribed to at least half a dozen comic actors on their death beds — dying is easy, comedy is hard. Even in the hands of a polished and practiced Booker Prize winner like Howard Jacobson.

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