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!":


Martin Amis' 'State of England': Anomie In The U.K.

Aug 29, 2012

Too much is made of literature's ennobling qualities. There are those of us who come to books for the debasement and danger, for Hannibal and Humbert. For Faulkner's Popeye and Hedda Gabler. We want to meet the monsters.

And monsters are Martin Amis' specialty. Amis traffics in pathologies — people who are born bad and get worse, Disney villains with crazy names and sexual predilections. Enter Lionel Asbo, antihero and antagonist of Amis' newest book. This savant of sociopaths was declared "uncontrollable" at 18 months and slapped with his first restraining directive at 3 years old. He's even changed his name to match his sentence ("Asbo" stands for Anti-Social Behavior Order). Lionel now handles the "very hairiest end of debt collection" with the assistance of two pit bulls that he raises on a diet of hot sauce, regular beatings and beer. His nephew and ward, Desmond, is a Dickensian naif: a wide-eyed orphan bent on self-improvement but dabbling in a little trouble of his own: The teenager is having an affair with his grandmother and is terrified that Lionel will find out.

It's a terrific setup, a taut mousetrap ready to go off. But the trap never snaps. Lionel Asbo is essentially five characters in search of a plot. Lionel wins 140 million pounds in the lottery, and the plot quickly becomes a litany of the ridiculous ways he spends his money, allowing Amis to indulge in his most unfortunate tendency: cruelly caricaturing poor people. His reproofs are ripped from Bill Cosby's infamous "pound cake" speech: The poor stay poor because of their laziness, obesity and drunkenness, their propensity to give their children silly names, their butchering of the English language. It's that last sin that he really can't abide. He devotes a mystifying amount of attention on Lionel's pronunciation. Every time Lionel says a word ending in "k," Amis spells it out phonetically so we won't miss how he mangles it.

It's a shame. These politics are harnessed to electric prose. There's not one limp or lazy sentence to be found. Amis may not be compassionate, but he's also never boring, and he makes the neighborhood of Diston come to life "with its burping, magmatic canal, its fizzy low-rise pylons, its buzzing waste. Diston — a world of italics and exclamation marks." And the burlesques take away from Amis' more intriguing (and vastly more temperate) thesis. More than any other book in recent memory, Lionel Asbo is a book about newspapers, about their power to function as a mirror to society, how they tell us (and influence) the stories we tell about ourselves.

Everywhere in Lionel Asbo, characters are buried in newsprint. Desmond's grandmother's great passion (other than Desmond) is the Telegraph's cryptic crossword. Desmond writes to The Sun's "Agony Aunt" to confess his affair and ask for help. He reads of Lionel's crimes in the papers and experiences his great intellectual awakenings when he encounters his first "proper" newspapers, The Times and The Guardian -- naturally, he grows up to be a reporter. Lionel becomes the darling — and prey — of the very tabloids he adores when he wins the lottery. England's great and sleazy papers all have a part to play in the novel, and Amis carefully catalogs the devolution of journalism, how "News in Briefs" sections featuring topless models have edged out actual reporting.

The historian Benedict Anderson wrote that it was newspapers that first allowed people to imagine themselves as a nation; newspapers created the first joint narrative. Everywhere in Lionel Asbo we see this to be true, but with a chilling corollary. Do we become what our newspapers tell us we are? In Lionel Asbo, the characters tailor their behavior to match the vulgarity of their papers. It's a trend that one feels Amis minds — but not too much. It gives him so many wonderful monsters to play with.

Parul Sehgal is an editor at The New York Times Book Review. You can follow her on Twitter: @parul_sehgal.

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