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 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.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit


Getting Merrily 'Smashed,' And Then Crashing

Oct 11, 2012

"Hi, I'm Kate, and I'm an alcoholic."

When Kate, an elementary-school teacher played by Mary Elizabeth Winstead, gives the requisite confession in her first Alcoholics Anonymous meeting, she laughs her way through it. It's the laugh of a casual drinker, like someone whose bar-hopping odyssey has left her passed out on a neighbor's lawn, apologizing with a grin and a shrug the next morning. She's young, she likes to blow off a little steam, and she can hardly believe that all those good times have landed her here, in front of people who are presumably much worse off than she is. For Kate, saying those words is like an out-of-body experience.

Actors have a history of digging into alcoholics as voraciously as a porterhouse, from Ray Milland in The Lost Weekend to Nicolas Cage in Leaving Las Vegas, but Winstead's extraordinary performance in Smashed strikes a more particular note. As that first monologue at AA continues, Winstead's Kate becomes steadily more emotional, like she's finally listening to herself for the first time — and realizing, now that she's being honest about it, just how far she's fallen. Winstead plays this pivotal scene with a thrilling openness to wherever Kate's wayward journey is going to take her. In acting terms, she's very much "in the moment."

The truthfulness of Winstead's performance — and those of her co-stars, too — has a steadying influence on James Ponsoldt's modest drama, which at times seems in danger of failing a sobriety test. Ponsoldt, who scripted with Susan Burke, makes a few missteps, one of them major, but the core of Smashed is a perceptive and moving treatment of a specific strain of alcoholism and the ways the recovery process can leave its own kind of wreckage.

As the film opens, Kate manages a double life: By day, she's an earthy grade-school teacher in pattern dresses and sensible shoes; by night, she and her husband, Charlie (Aaron Paul), are happy drunks who keep the party going until closing time or blackout, whatever comes first. But lately, the two lives have been bleeding together, with Kate furtively swigging from a flask in the school parking lot and teaching kids with a buzz on. When she throws up in class one morning, Kate covers by telling the principal (Megan Mullally) she's pregnant, but Dave (a superb Nick Offerman), a colleague in recovery, quietly encourages her to join his AA group.

There are ups and downs to Kate's recovery — the scenes of bottoming out are as harrowing as they come — but Ponsoldt puts the strongest emphasis on Kate's relationship with her husband, who has chosen not to take this journey with her. Seeing Charlie clown merrily around the house in a sea of empties is a toxic environment for Kate, both for the temptation to slip and the estrangement she feels from her favorite drinking buddy. And it's not fair for Charlie either, who can only stand by helplessly as his life is upended without his input. Ponsoldt treats both characters fairly and honestly, without missing the warm rapport and chemistry that can still assert itself amid the heartbreak.

Smashed errs badly, however, in the fake-pregnancy subplot, which seems ported over from the broader realm of television sitcoms. It doesn't help that Mullally, primarily known as a TV actress — and very funny recently on Parks and Recreation and Party Down — hasn't got a naturalistic bone in her body. Her manic enthusiasm over Kate's pregnancy leaves Smashed grasping for a lightness that surfaces more organically in other places, and the whole affair upsets the balance between the fallouts at work and home.

Still, there's a modesty to Smashed that's ultimately winning: At under 90 minutes, it feels disciplined and well-proportioned, concerning itself with defining the contours of Kate's life before and after recovery, and simply leaving it at that. Films about addiction tend to answer the excesses of drugs or alcohol with excesses of their own, but Ponsoldt and Winstead aren't guilty of overreaching. They know when to say when.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit