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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!":


For Ex-Con 'Francine,' A Rocky Attempt At Rebirth

Sep 13, 2012
Originally published on September 14, 2012 7:55 am

The opening moments of Francine find Melissa Leo, playing the title role, standing naked, wet and blankly confused in a prison shower. She's on the verge of release after an unspecified crime and an unspecified period of incarceration, and the visual metaphor is an obvious one: a woman in middle age experiencing rebirth, coming into her new world in much the same way she entered at the start.

But the film that follows is much more subtle than that opening, and Francine's fresh start is less one of limitless possibilities and more like that of an actual infant: she's vulnerable, undeveloped, completely unprepared to face life on her own.

Writer-directors Melanie Shatzky and Brian M. Cassidy are at the helm for their first narrative feature here, after a number of documentaries and shorts. And at times Francine feels like a documentary as well, an intimate observational work in the mode of Frederick Wiseman or the Maysles brothers, where the omnipresence of the camera puts the characters so at ease that they reveal subtle moments of character that they might otherwise hide out of self-consciousness.

Francine is laconic nearly to the point of being mute — often she doesn't even respond to direct questions. Leo is set the difficult task of playing a character who not only speaks infrequently, but who is so inwardly focused that even her body language is barely communicative.

This is a character who keeps herself wrapped under protective layers, yet is still emotionally raw. It's a testament to both Leo's sad-eyed performance and the filmmakers' skill at capturing the subtlety of it that the study has such richness to it.

With little dialogue, this is a story told through actions, and while we get nothing of Francine's background, we get a clear picture of who she is. She has a deep distrust of people, so much so that she keeps even those who are kind and nurturing at arms' length; what love and affection might be directed at them she bestows instead on animals. Her post-incarceration employment record during the brief period covered by the film encompasses a pet store, the horse stables at a polo ground and a veterinarian.

For a time, it seems that the only use she has for other humans is as emotionless sexual outlet. But she eventually abandons her attachment to them even for those purposes, leaving the growing population of rescued strays overtaking her small house to be the focus of her increasingly obsessive affections and — in one scene that toes a very uncomfortable line — of her sensuality.

While sensitively observed, the extremely minimal approach here is problematical in that it's content to forgo most everything in the way of story. It often calls to mind another minimalist film on the subject of lonely existential despair in a solitary woman deeply attached to an animal: Kelly Reichardt's 2008 Wendy and Lucy. Reichardt's film presents a definitive problem to be solved — the disappearance of Wendy's dog — that keeps the film moving forward. Francine shows a woman in helpless free fall, but for much of the first half, that plummet isn't quite apparent, and the result can sometimes feel aimless and meandering. When it does slide into focus, the eventual point of impact has a bleak inevitability.

A little aimlessness never makes the film seem overlong, though, not at a brief 74 minutes, and the immersive, quiet desperation of Leo's performance more than compensates, as does the directors' keen eye for detail. It's a stark reminder that rebirth can be as painful and traumatic a process as birth, and while there may be new starts, they're rarely fresh ones.

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