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 made disparaging comments about him in several media interviews. He tweeted late Tuesday that she "has embarrassed all" with her "very dumb" comments about the candidate. Trump ended his tweet with "Her mind is shot - resign!":

Donald Trump wrapped up his public tryout of potential vice presidential candidates in Indiana Tuesday night with Gov. Mike Pence giving the final audition.

The Indiana governor's stock as Trump's possible running mate is believed to be on the rise, with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich also atop the list. Sources tell NPR the presumptive GOP presidential nominee is close to making a decision, which he's widely expected to announce by Friday.

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The unassuming hero of Jonas Karlsson's clever, Kafkaesque parable is the opposite of a malcontent. Despite scant education, a limited social life, and no prospects for success as it is usually defined, he's that rarity, a most happy fella with an amazing ability to content himself with very little. But one day, returning to his barebones flat from his dead-end, part-time job at a video store, he finds an astronomical bill from an entity called W.R.D. He assumes it's a scam. Actually, it is more sinister-- and it forces him to take a good hard look at his life and values.

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Donald Trump picked a military town — Virginia Beach, Va. — to give a speech Monday on how he would go about overhauling the Department of Veterans Affairs if elected.

He blamed the Obama administration for a string of scandals at the VA during the past two years, and claimed that his rival, Hillary Clinton, has downplayed the problems and won't fix them.

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A Lawyer, Not A Sage, Creates Talmud Index

Jan 27, 2012
Originally published on January 27, 2012 12:04 pm



And now we want to turn to another story that touches on profound matters of faith and spirituality. Today, we take a look at the Talmud. That's the book of Jewish tradition, thought, practice and values, and it lies at the center of Jewish study.

Every day, thousands of Jews pore over the text, reading and rereading its more than 5,000 pages and, until now, only people with an extraordinary memory or a lifetime of dedication could easily find their way through its 63 maze-like volumes. But, after 1,500 years, students can now use what is believed to be the first comprehensive index for the Talmud.

And with us now is its author, Daniel Retter. Thank you so much for joining us.

DANIEL RETTER: Thank you for having me, Michel.

MARTIN: Daniel, what's it called in Hebrew?

RETTER: It's called the HaMafteach, which means the key.

MARTIN: The key. And how did you come up with the idea?

RETTER: Well, as you know, I'm an attorney, and as an attorney, I use legal books every day to do my research. And I've been learning, I've been studying the Talmud for 50 years. I've been teaching the Talmud for about 25 years on a daily basis. And I wondered why it was that, when I needed to find a precedent decision, I needed to find a interpretation of a particular statute, I could easily access this information through the index, which would be found in the back of the law book.

And yet the Talmud, which is the basis and foundation of all Jewish law and basically refers to the Bible, the five books of Moses and its many, many thousands and thousands of discussions, there was no - what I thought - was a practical, or actually, an index at all. And in order for me to be able to find what I was looking for, I'd either have to ask someone who was much smarter than I was, or I'd have to search in my own memory or, basically, do without.

MARTIN: Well, yes. One can easily see why this was a good idea. How hard was it to come up with a framework for this? I would imagine that, after 1,500 years and nobody's done it, it would be rather difficult.

RETTER: Well, it was a seven-year labor of love. The methodology involved was the idea of being able to find entries or topics. And once we had the entries or the topics, we would build on them and have subentries and subtopics. And once we had all of those, then we would develop the sources or find the sources. So about seven - almost seven years ago, I decided that this was what was needed.

And my wife, Margie - who's a lawyer in her own right - said to me, Danny, one minute. You know, we're very traditional. The Talmud study's very traditional. The rabbis are very traditional. And I'm not so sure that you want to do something as revolutionary as this without getting the haskamah, or the approbations or the endorsements of the various rabbis throughout Israel, throughout America, throughout the world. And if you work for - on this for many, many years and you finish it and then it's not accepted for whatever reason, then you've really worked for nothing.

So taking her good advice, I worked for about two years, and we developed a template where we covered all of the various track dates, the 63 track dates. And then I basically went around the world, went to Israel, rather than went to America. And unlike the normal author who writes a book and then seeks endorsements, here was a situation where I just sketched out the basic idea, the basic plan with many, many examples, and then I went to the various rabbis, both rabbis - the Sephardic rabbis, the Ashkenazic rabbis, the Chassidish Rebbes, the Lithuanian scholars. And they not only were very much encouraging, but they said, Mr. Retter, or Daniel, do it quickly, because this is needed.

So, once we had that, so to speak, green light, we spoke to many rabbis, many students, and we asked them for suggested entries. Of course, we did not tell them what it was about. We just wanted to develop entries. I had my own database of entries.

And then I was fortunate. I found a wonderful rabbi in Israel named Rabbi Elchanan Kohn (unintelligible) who helped me and was my senior editor. And, together, we put together about six-and-a-half thousand entries. Once we had the main entries, we then developed subentries for about another 27,000. So we had a total of about 35 - 30,000, 35,000 topics that were found or that are found in all of the Talmud - or we call it Shas. And then we were able to develop the sources where these topics are found and, after seven years, thank God, we finished it.

MARTIN: It truly was a labor of love. And I do want to mention that the first printing sold out in a matter of days. So one has to assume that there will be subsequent printings. But before we let you go, Mr. Retter, and thank you so much for speaking with us about this, which clearly was such a labor of love.

You know, there have been scholars in the past who've said that studying Torah should not be - sorry - studying Talmud - studying the Torah, should not be too easy. And so I do wonder if there's anybody who said, no. You're just making it too easy. Part of the study is the mystery of it and the unraveling and the dedication. What do you say to that?

RETTER: Well, it's interesting that you mentioned that because my Rabbi Willig(ph), where we live in New York, wrote in his approbation, or his haskamah, to my book - to my sefer - he said, you know, there are people who think that looking for a source and wasting time doing that is part of learning Torah. And he cited the famous Rabbi Hutner, the former rosh yeshivah, the former head rabbi of the Yeshiva Chaim Berlin in Brooklyn, who said, no. That is not part of learning. It's not part of working for the Torah. It's no mitzvah to spend time, to waste time looking for something if it can be found more handily.

So to answer your question directly, I do not think that there's any purpose or reward in looking for something if it can be found more easier.

MARTIN: Well, congratulations.

RETTER: Well, thank you very much, and thank you again for having me.

MARTIN: Daniel Retter is the author of the - say it again for me. The HaMafteach? The HaMafteach?

RETTER: Close. Close. HaMafteach.

MARTIN: HaMafteach.

RETTER: HaMafteach, the key.

MARTIN: The key. It is believed to be the first comprehensive index of the Talmud. He is also a lawyer, and he joined us from our member station WLRN in Miami, Florida. Thank you so much for joining us, and shabbat shalom.

RETTER: Michel, thank you. Thank you very much. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.