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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!":


'Pitch Perfect': In Tune Where It Counts Most

Sep 27, 2012

When it's done right, there's nothing so miraculous as the sound of human voices blending into a creamy swirl of color, with neither the help nor the distraction of musical accompaniment. Pitch Perfect banks on that magic — the purely human wizardry of a cappella singing — though it also attempts to be several other things: a mild gross-out comedy, a paean to the awkward early stages of new love, a Mean Girls-style riff on campus hierarchies. That may be too much for one modest comedy to carry, but one thing's for sure: Pitch Perfect doesn't skimp on the singing.

Anna Kendrick stars as Beca, a newly matriculated student at fictional Barden University. Beca is supposedly a misfit — we're clued in by her multiple ear piercings, her ambition to be a DJ or a record producer, and her smattering of tattoos — and she's still smarting over her parents' divorce, which means she's prickly toward her professor dad (John Benjamin Hickey) and her fellow students alike.

But in addition to having a killer knack for mixing beats, Beca can sing beautifully. And somehow, despite her initial lack of enthusiasm, she's recruited to try out for one of the school's singing groups, the Barden Bellas, a prissy bunch of girls who are actually ruthless warriors when it comes to a cappella singing competitions.

As it turns out, a fellow freshman who has already expressed an interest in Beca, Skylar Astin's Jesse, lands a spot in a rival singing group, The Treblemakers, just as Beca is accepted as a Bella. And while the Bellas used to be very picky about the body shape and size of its members, they have somehow decided to admit some fuller-figured gals into their ranks: Enter Rebel Wilson as Fat Amy, who has decided to add that descriptive adjective to her name before her skinnier, snobbier fellow students do it for her.

To its credit, Pitch Perfect doesn't try to be a big-screen version of Glee. It has its own distinctive, self-assured vibe, though there are places where the script, adapted by Kay Cannon from Mickey Rapkin's 2008 nonfiction book, muddles some plot points that should be significant. (It's not clear, for example, why the Bellas decide to make room for shapelier singers; they'd lost an earlier singing competition owing to a freak projectile-vomiting incident, not because they'd favored skinny, untalented performers.) And even in a light comedy, Kendrick may not be the most compelling lead performer: Sometimes she's the wrong combination of chirpy and sharp — a chipmunk with a bad attitude.

And yet Pitch Perfect offers some unapologetically pleasing moments, including a crisply edited audition scene that owes nothing — thank God — to the protracted sadism of reality TV singing shows. It moves at a clip, a sprightly relay race between a dozen or so mellifluous performers. (The movie's director is Jason Moore, who, in addition to having episodes of Everwood and Dawson's Creek under his belt, earned a Tony Award nomination in 2004 for directing Avenue Q.)

The script features some killer lines, most of them slung by Wilson, who has a great deal of appealing swagger: At one point she approaches two slouching nerds wearing hoodies and asks outright: "What are you two talking about? Dressing for comfort?"

And then there's the singing, which, at its best, comes off as glorious and casual even if it's really the result of strict vocal discipline. One of the finest sequences is a "riff-off" between the boys and the girls, a West Side Story-style showdown that plays out with shards of songs instead of switchblades. The boys taunt the girls with a version of Toni Basil's ebullient cute-guy anthem "Mickey"; the girls rejoinder with a few flirty-cool lines from "Like a Virgin." The sequence is ridiculous and buoyant, a wonderful example of what can happen when a movie momentarily forgets all the things — snarky, irreverent, of-the-moment — it's desperately trying to be. (Recommended)

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