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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!":


A Cop Drama That's Hard To 'Watch' (In The Best Way)

Sep 20, 2012
Originally published on September 21, 2012 2:15 am

Cop dramas may be a dime a dozen, but David Ayer's End of Watch is one of a kind: The picture is by turns clever, compelling and unconscionable, so artful in its artifice that sometimes it almost fools you into believing that it's reality.

That's the point: This story of two young Los Angeles police officers who run afoul of a Mexican drug cartel is told through faux found footage, shot by the cops themselves as they patrol one of the roughest parts of the city. We see these guys, played by Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Peña, horsing around in the patrol car one minute and busting down doors the next. Some of the horrors they encounter — two young children locked in a closet and bound with duct tape, a crackhead's babysitting technique — are so unsettling these young cops can barely fathom them.

Unfortunately for them, and for us, things get worse, and the scale of horror and violence escalates. Meanwhile, Gyllenhaal and Peña experience, and yak about, so many of life's pleasures and annoyances: Peña speaks glowingly of married life, and looks forward to the birth of his first child. (His wife is played, in a small but lively turn, by Natalie Martinez.)

Gyllenhaal thinks he's finally met the girl of his dreams – she's played by Anna Kendrick — and, in between cracking occasional benign off-color jokes, earnestly asks his partner for advice. These are the finest scenes in the movie, places where the actors get to build their characters layer by layer.

Gyllenhaal, with his shaven head and enormous, inquisitive eyes, looks both haunted and full of life, like a Max Beckmann charcoal drawing. Peña has the face of a Renaissance cherub, if such adorable creatures roamed the Earth wearing navy blue uniforms and carrying guns. The connection between their characters feels palpable and true.

It's the gimmickry of the technique that gets in the way, particularly as the challenges the two cops face get uglier and deadlier. Writer-director Ayer is best known as the writer of Training Day; he's also directed two features, the 2008 Street Kings (with Keanu Reeves and Forest Whitaker) and the 2005 Harsh Times (with Christian Bale). The found-footage technique gives everything a you-are-there immediacy that sometimes stretches the bounds of what's honorable for a filmmaker to show: At times Ayer rubs our noses, almost literally, in the devastating horribleness of it all.

There's nothing wrong with that, exactly, unless a filmmaker is using it for shock value. And sometimes End of Watch purports to be giving us realism when it's really trading in sensationalism. The more the camera shakes, the more we're supposed to buy the illusion that we're really out there with these guys, patrolling the streets and risking our lives.

The technique is seductive, a scarily effective approximation of living someone's reality for a few hours. What's more, the picture's big tragedy is played for the ultimate in pathos, and it's effective as heck. But it also leaves you with the feeling that maybe you've been had — that the risks these characters have taken, moviefied versions of the kinds of risks real-life cops have to face every day, have simply been put forth in the service of entertainment.

The jittery camera moves and awkward angles make it all seem so real; the novelty of it is energizing, if you can bring yourself to forget that it's also something of a betrayal.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit