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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!":


Thoughts On Three Famous 'Language Apes'

Sep 27, 2012
Originally published on September 27, 2012 9:35 pm

Koko, Kanzi and Panbanisha are about as famous as three apes can get.

Born in 1971 and trained in the use of some American Sign Language, Koko lives at the Gorilla Foundation in California. Once a National Geographic "cover ape", this kitten-loving gorilla became a celebrity as an intriguing interview subject.

Born in 1980 and 1985 respectively, Kanzi and his half-sister Panbanisha became primate mega-stars when these bonobos picked up from human caretakers how to communicate with computer symbols called lexigrams — without being explicitly tutored in the system. Raised at Georgia State University's Language Research Center, though now residing at the Great Ape Trust / Bonobo Hope Sanctuary in Iowa, they, like Koko, understand some spoken English.

Koko, a female, is now 41. Kanzi, a male, is 31 and Panbanisha is 26. Their behaviors reveal the expansive powers of the ape mind. Now, though, it seems that these apes are increasingly imbued with communicative and cognitive powers that strain credulity.

For decades, the Gorilla Foundation, run by the scientist Penny Patterson, has maintained — based on Koko's own use of sign language — that Koko would like to have a baby. Recently the Foundation posted this video clip, in which Koko is presented, verbally and in diagram form, with four complicated choices about "family planning."

Patterson, at the end of the clip, affirms her interpretation that Koko grasped all of the options presented to her. The idea is that Koko, by pointing to one of the four diagrammed choices, can and should help make decisions that involve the reproductive activities and the welfare of other gorillas. This raises ethical issues, to say the least.

I do believe — especially having met Kanzi and Panbanisha "in person" — that these language apes do comprehend some English. In Iowa, the Trust bonobos are encouraged to do many unusual things; this clip of Panbanisha cooking over a lit burner on the stove and using a large knife shows that she grasps some of Sue Savage-Rumbaugh's instructions. (The wisdom of the ape-fire-knife nexus is another matter.)

Yet just as Patterson's "family planning" statements to Koko are disturbing to me, so is a remark made recently by Savage-Rumbaugh about Kanzi. Responding to a set of concerns about her care of the bonobos made by former Trust employees and bonobo caretakers and reported by the Des Moines Register and later updated, Savage-Rumbaugh told a reporter (scroll down here for the full response via video clip):

"When we, with the proper tools, make the proper scientific advancements, Kanzi will be here talking to you himself, and I look forward to that day."

Savage-Rumbaugh may not refer here to Kanzi using speech, but instead to his communicating with lexigrams. This point is unclear to me because in the book Kanzi's Primal Language and elsewhere, Savage-Rumbaugh and co-authors do suggest that Kanzi can utter some words. The medium of communication isn't the point, though; it's that one of Savage-Rumbaugh's goals for Kanzi is to have him talk knowledgeably with the media.

These three apes' fate, for better or worse, is to live in a human environment as participants in communicative and cognitive science projects.

In that context, we would honor Koko's, Kanzi's and Panbanisha's accomplishments best by acknowledging that even these apes cannot fully grasp or communicate about the complexities of our world — as indeed, I would maintain, we cannot fully grasp or communicate the complexities of theirs.

Afterword from Barbara: I have learned that an investigation is underway into the concerns aired about Sue Savage-Rumbaugh's conduct at the bonobo sanctuary in Iowa. I was interested to read in an American Association for the Advancement of Science news report that theologian and ethicist Nancy Howell is to take charge of this investigation.

In light of what I've written above, this development is notable. Howell is not a scientist. Her work (which I have heard her present at a scholarly conference) includes reflections on bonobos as a window to understanding the sacred and the transcendent in human life. Whether she is equipped to interpret appropriately the behavior — and needs — of apes remains to be seen.

You can keep up with more of what Barbara is thinking on Twitter: @bjkingape

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