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.

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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!":


How Christopher Hitchens Faced His Own 'Moratality'

Sep 5, 2012
Originally published on September 5, 2012 8:55 am

When a consummately articulate, boundlessly bold journalist stricken with stage 4 esophageal cancer reports from the front lines about facing what he calls, among other things, "hello darkness my old friend," you sit up and pay attention. Mortality, by virtue of its ultimate unavoidability, raises questions about the very meaning of life, making it as challenging a subject as any tackled by Christopher Hitchens in his brilliant career. It is, in fact, one of the subjects, right up there with love, and you can count on Hitchens to eschew weak-kneed sentimentality. After all, this is the man who submitted to waterboarding to determine for himself whether the so-called enhanced interrogation technique actually is torture. (Most definitely, he concluded.)

Much of Mortality first appeared as essays in Vanity Fair, for which Hitchens had been writing about everything but sports for what turned out to be the last 20 years of his life. He brings a similar — if, by necessity of dire circumstances, less-sustained — energy to these reflections on "the land of malady," aka "Tumorville." This trenchant, sassy, tragically posthumous little black book earns a proud spot on the end-of-life shelf, along with Julian Barnes' Nothing to Be Frightened Of, Joan Didion's The Year of Magical Thinking, Leo Tolstoy's The Death of Ivan Ilyich, Joan Wickersham's The Suicide Index, Saul Bellow's Ravelstein, and Philip Roth's Everyman and Exit Ghost, to name just a few.

Despite Hitchens' distress from side effects that included neuropathy, chemo-brain and pneumonias that brought on nightmarish flashbacks to the drowning sensation of waterboarding, his writing is still vivid, complex and entertaining. Yes, he's pulled off a lively book about dying. "I have more than once in my time woken up feeling like death," Hitchens opens with brio. "But nothing prepared me for the early morning in June [2010] when I came to consciousness feeling as if I were actually shackled to my own corpse. The whole cave of my chest and thorax seemed to have been hollowed out and then refilled with slow-drying cement."

He had been on a publicity tour for Hitch-22, his astonishingly good memoir about his life as a passionate journalist and speaker. A biopsy led to diagnosis with the disease that had killed his father at age 79, and which would do him in 18 months later, on Dec. 15, 2011, at age 62. "In whatever kind of a 'race' life may be, I have very abruptly become a finalist," he writes with mordant self-awareness. He admits that for years he had been "taunting the Reaper into taking a free scythe in my direction" by "knowingly burning the candle at both ends and finding that it often gives a lovely light." (That "lovely light" is classic, glowing Hitchens.) Given his well-lubricated, overstuffed lifestyle, he says, shock, whining and self-pity were inappropriate.

After his diagnosis became public, Hitchens' renown as the outspoken author of the atheist manifesto God Is Not Great prompted an outpouring of both vitriolic serves you rights and concerns "that I would make myself right with eternity." Hitchens discusses both reactions with his customary verve. When well-wishers organize an "Everybody Pray for Hitchens Day," he asks pointedly, "Praying for what?" Recovery? Or conversion? While flattered that he's considered "worth saving," Hitchens reassures his detractors and well-wishers alike that his illness in no way softens his stance toward superstition and religious delusion, which he'd spent his life combating. In fact, he's as irrepressible as ever: "A different secular problem also occurs to me: what if I pulled through and the pious faction contentedly claimed that their prayers had been answered? That would somehow be irritating."

As in Hitch-22, Hitchens draws on sources ranging from his beloved touchstones W.H. Auden, Kingsley Amis, Bob Dylan and Philip Larkin to Voltaire, Shakespeare, Nietzsche and Updike. "Will I outlive my Amex? My driver's license?" he wonders. He most fears the loss of voice — "the most beautiful apposition of two of the simplest words in our language: the freedom of speech" — and most values intense, far-ranging, stimulating conversation. He writes, "My chief consolation in this year of living dyingly has been the presence of friends."

Our chief consolation is Hitchens' saucy, pugnacious, ever-bright prose. There's really no getting around the tragic fact of the snuffing of what Graydon Carter, his Vanity Fair editor, refers to in this book's foreword as Hitchens' "great turbine of a mind." But reading Mortality and Hitch-22, and then going back to his earlier work, including his irresistible doorstopper of essays, Arguably, can provide at least some measure of solace.

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