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.

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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.

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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.

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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.


Cosmic Love: A Sensual Sanskrit Epic Revived

Nov 5, 2012
Originally published on November 12, 2012 10:38 am

Aatish Taseer is the author of Stranger to History.

It is late at night in Delhi, and hot. In New York, my class is about to start. We will begin reading a new poem today, a fifth-century court epic by the greatest of all Sanskrit poets, Kalidasa. I'm drinking black coffees, eating peanuts and fighting to keep awake.

An alert informs me that my professor is online. I press the green button next to his name, and within moments I'm transported to my classroom at Columbia. The professor, who is in his 30s and has short brown hair and clear blue eyes, greets me with a "Namo namah, Aatish Mahodaya!" and introduces the poem.

He had lived on the West Coast, and something of the easy style of those states has merged in him with something older, some model of self-restraint from classical India — like a modern Siddhartha.

From him I first hear the opening lines of the Birth of Kumara: "There is in the north the king of mountains, divine in nature, Himalaya by name, the abode of snow."

One minute — what? Is this not the height of absurdity? What greater comment could be made on the state of Indian education than a man sitting in India learning a dead Indian language through Skype?

The answer is none. In the India I grew up in, colonized and linguistically denuded, the Sanskrit teacher was a figure of fun and ridicule, and the language confined to liturgy. Which, given that there had been over a thousand years of literary production in Sanskrit, would be like regarding Latin as nothing more than the language of the Catholic Church.

Once my class in Columbia adjourned for the summer, I sat down, with the help of commentaries and dictionaries, to read eight cantos of the Birth in their entireties. It was the most intoxicating and beguiling poem I had ever read.

The title might lead you to believe that someone is to be born — and, indeed, someone is — but this birth is incidental, a MacGuffin almost, and when it happens, it happens offstage. What the poem is really about is the love, the marriage and — phwoaar! — the lovemaking of Shiva and Parvati. Parvati was the goddess reborn, whose waist curved like a ladder "for Love to climb." It is Parvati who, like an embodiment of the female principle, must be united with Shiva the destroyer.

Why? Because the gods are oppressed by Taraka, a terrible demon. Only a son of Shiva can defeat Taraka. Thus Kumara must be born. But there is a problem. Shiva is deep in meditation, absolutely still, "like a cloud without the vehemence of rain, like an expanse of water without a ripple, like a lamp in a windless place." Who would dare disturb such a man?

None but Love, whose weapons are flowers and who, with his friend, Spring, is charged with stealing into the wood to disturb Shiva's austerities, so that Kumara may be born and the gods released from their torment. This is the narrative heart of the Birth of Kumara.

I don't want to give too much away: how Love dies and becomes bodiless, Shiva's rage and Parvati's austerities, their spectacular union at the end of the poem and the sensuality of those last scenes. The Birth is one of those miracles of literature in which the divine and the temporal; the symbolic and the real; and the big impulses and the exquisite detail run together seamlessly.

For me, with the cultural impoverishments of my colonial education, it meant something more: my first foray into a literary past that I thought was closed to me.

To read the Birth alongside old Sanskrit commentaries was to have a medieval guide to an ancient text. It was to be able to knit the past together. And what better testament to the enduring appeal of the Birth than for it to come to me on that hot summer night in Delhi via Oregon, Columbia University and Skype?

You Must Read This is produced and edited by Ellen Silva and Rose Friedman with production assistance from Annalisa Quinn.

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