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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!":


Renaissance CSI: Machiavelli-Da Vinci Detective Duo

Sep 17, 2012
Originally published on September 17, 2012 6:39 pm

What would happen if two of the biggest names of the Renaissance — Niccolo Machiavelli and Leonardo da Vinci — teamed up as a crime-fighting duo? That's the idea behind Michael Ennis' new historical thriller, The Malice of Fortune. The mystery novel pairs the ruthless political philosopher and the genius inventor and artist together as an unlikely detective team on the trail of a serial killer.

Ennis first dreamed up the idea of Machiavelli-as-mystery-detective 12 years ago. "The conceit was he would use the precepts of [his political treatise] The Prince to solve a crime," Ennis explains.

Ennis wanted his work of fiction to be set against a backdrop of real events and historical figures. It takes place at the end of 1502 in a politically fractured Italy. The Borgias and a group of wealthy noblemen with their own private militias are in a struggle for control of the country. While researching these events, Ennis discovered that Machiavelli and Leonardo crossed paths in the same small Italian city at the same time these events were taking place.

That's when Ennis remembered that Leonardo had famously dissected corpses. "I went: Oh! He could be a Renaissance forensic pathologist!" With Leonardo's forensics expertise and Machiavelli's talents as a profiler, Ennis now had a crime-fighting team with a contemporary edge — a kind of Renaissance CSI. But he still needed a crime.

In the small Italian city, Ennis says Machiavelli and Leonardo "both met someone ... who I believe I can establish was what we would describe today as a psychopathic serial killer," Ennis says. Of course, Ennis can't say who that is without giving away the whodunit, but he can say this about the guy:

"He was very fond of killing people routinely when he didn't need to," Ennis says. "And he liked to make a game out of it. It often involved mutilation — it often involved symbolic mutilation."

Just to make things a little more interesting, Ennis added some romance to the drama in the character of the beautiful courtesan Damiata, who would steal Machiavelli's heart.

Ennis thought he had written a winner, but when he tried to get the book published, no such luck. His agent sent the book around once and didn't get any takers. He made some changes, sent it out again — and still there was no interest. Finally, with the help of an editor, Ennis made drastic cuts in the book.

"We'd taken two bites at the apple," Ennis says. "Now we had a manuscript that was half the length of the manuscript we'd originally submitted, but we're coming back for the third bite of the apple. Who's gonna listen to us?"

At this point, Ennis' agent came up with an idea: They would self-publish the book and send out about 50 copies to independent booksellers to gauge their reaction. Holland Saltsman of Pudd'nhead Books just outside St. Louis was one of the first booksellers to receive a copy. Saltsman remembers thinking: "I'm gonna try and get it in the hands of everyone I possibly can, simply because I think it's such a beautiful story," she says.

Saltsman wasn't alone. More than 20 booksellers wrote back praising the novel. Armed with their comments, Ennis and his agent submitted the novel again, and this time Doubleday bought it (reportedly for six figures.) Saltsman says she was fascinated by the Renaissance Italian world that Ennis brought to life.

"It talks about what the mission of man is, or the motivation of man," she says. It "also talks about fortune, or what's your fate?"

Saltsman says thinking about motivation, fate and power through this lens gave her a better understanding of the groundwork for The Prince. And it encouraged her to pick up the cutthroat treatise that made Machiavelli's name synonymous with unscrupulous leadership.

Saltsman says she now has a completely different idea about who Machiavelli was. That's exactly what Ennis is hoping for, because, he says, if you read everything that Machiavelli has written, "you acquire a picture of a man who is anything but Machiavellian. He's a scrupulously honest public servant; he's a loyal, charismatic friend; he's an incurable romantic."

And, not to mention, a great detective.

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