Alabama authorities say a home burglary suspect has died after police used a stun gun on the man.  Birmingham police say he resisted officers who found him in a house wrapped in what looked like material from the air conditioner duct work.  The Lewisburg Road homeowner called police Tuesday about glass breaking and someone yelling and growling in his basement.  Police reportedly entered the dwelling and used a stun gun several times on a white suspect before handcuffing him.  Investigators say the man was "extremely irritated" throughout and didn't obey verbal commands.

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.

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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 vegetables 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.

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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.


Missouri Ballot Measure Would Raise Cigarette Tax

Nov 5, 2012
Originally published on November 5, 2012 10:07 am



Asking voters to raise taxes on themselves is a tough sell, but there are initiatives around the country doing just that. In Missouri, it's the cigarette tax. Missouri has the lowest cigarette tax of any state, and some of the highest smoking and lung cancer rates. St. Louis Public Radio's Veronique LaCapra reports.

VERONIQUE LACAPRA, BYLINE: The state tax on cigarettes here in Missouri is only 17 cents. Compare that to neighboring Kansas, where it's 79 cents, or Illinois, where it's a $1.98. And in New York? There you'll pay an extra $4.35 in state tax on each pack of cigarettes. The Missouri initiative would raise the state's cigarette tax from that 17 cents to 90 cents a pack.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Any smokes, dear?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: I'd like three packs of Marlboro Reds in a box.

LACAPRA: At Dirt Cheap, a St. Louis-area discount liquor and cigarette chain, bright orange and yellow anti-tax campaign signs scream out the slogan: Enough is enough. There are a lot of shoppers here from across the border in Illinois stocking up on cheaper cigarettes like Deb Sarensen, who isn't unhappy about the prospect of higher cigarette taxes.

DEB SARENSEN: It's ridiculous. Why are they raising taxes when they need to be cutting all the ridiculous spending that they're doing?

LACAPRA: Proponents of the cigarette tax say raising prices not only helps people smoke less, but prevents lots of teens from lighting up in the first place. But Ron Leone, who's leading the fight against the tax increase and whose trade group represents convenience stores and gas stations, says Missourians don't want to be taxed into quitting.

RON LEONE: We're hearing a lot of outrage.

LACAPRA: Leone's been crisscrossing the state in his red Toyota Camry, distributing those not-so-subtle campaign signs. But this time around, he doesn't have big tobacco's big dollars to back him. Unlike in 2006, when companies like Philip Morris and R.J. Reynolds poured millions into the campaign to defeat a similar Missouri tax hike, they're sitting this one out. That's because this measure deals a tough blow to their competitors who make off-brand cigarettes. It would raise their prices even more.

Leone argues that higher cigarette taxes would cost the state tens of millions dollars in sales tax revenues.

LEONE: So it hurts small businesses, it hurts the consumer, it hurts all taxpayers, because all of us are going to have to fill the hole of the less sales tax that we're generating as a result of this tax increase.

LACAPRA: But supporters of the increase say Leone's calculations don't make sense. Their challenge is to sell a tax hike in this anti-tax, anti-big government state. That's a challenge Misty Snodgrass of the American Cancer Society isn't afraid to take on. She's been driving around Missouri in a big yellow school bus, stressing that the money will go to help kids.

MISTY SNODGRASS: Fifty percent of the money generated would go towards local public schools, 30 percent would go towards higher education, and 20 percent towards tobacco prevention and cessation.

LACAPRA: Snodgrass says Missourians are tired of paying the high health care costs that go along with having the cheapest cigarettes in the country.

SNODGRASS: And they want to take a stand against the big tobacco companies, and say, you know what, we're done being the lowest tobacco tax, we want to have better schools, we want to have - save lives, and we want to help kids from ever starting to smoke.

LACAPRA: University of Illinois economist Frank Chaloupka has spent 25 years studying the impact of state tobacco polices. He says research shows that when the price of cigarettes goes up, smoking rates drop and with them, tobacco-related medical costs.

FRANK CHALOUPKA: And then, at the same time, you generate real revenues as a result of the tax increase. So the state would gain revenues at the same time as public health would be improved.

LACAPRA: Even with the proposed increase, Chaloupka says Missouri's new 90 cent cigarette tax would still be well-below the national average of a dollar-forty-nine. Whether that's still too high for Missouri voters will be determined on Election Day.

For NPR News, I'm Veronique LaCapra in St. Louis.


MONTAGNE: This is NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright National Public Radio.