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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!":


Three Burning Questions Answered About Salt

Sep 21, 2012
Originally published on September 21, 2012 12:18 pm

Salt — it's the ultimate condiment. It's the only rock we eat, and it makes our food taste better. There are dozens of varieties, from hand-harvested Himalayan pink to plain-old kosher, to various herb-infused blends. But, as we report a lot around here, when we eat too much, it can be bad for our health.

We named our food blog The Salt because of all these fascinating and contradictory elements embodied in one humble little crystal. So in honor of our first birthday today, we thought we'd help clear up some of our burning questions about this versatile rock.

1. Is sea salt saltier than regular salt?

No. But it may taste that way because the crystals in sea salt tend to be larger, and larger crystals diffuse more slowly on the taste bud, making the flavor last longer, says Michael Tordoff, who studies taste perception and the physiology of salt at the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia. (See our related physics discussion in the post on extending candy flavor.)

There are additional elements in sea salt that are not found in regular table salt that could affect the flavor, like potassium, calcium and magnesium, Tordoff says, but "they may add some bitterness," not saltiness.

"Basically, this is all marketing," Mark Kurlansky, author of the book Salt: A World History, told NPR in 2010 when Wendy's made a big deal of adding sea salt to its fries. "Sea sounds a lot better than rock [salt]. But if the product is pure, it is the same," he says.

2. Do I really need 10 kinds of salt in my pantry?

Barton Seaver, a National Geographic fellow and former chef-owner of the sustainable seafood restaurant Hook in Washington, D.C., says no.

Chefs "fall prey to what we call 'sexy salts,' such as the big, beautiful flakes of Maldon sea salt or the hyper-colored red Hawaiian sea salt or Himalayan pink rock salt," he writes in his book, For Cod and Country.

Home cooks do, too — even us. Those pretty premiums in the picture above came from our personal pantries. But the salt frenzy has gotten to the point that somebody started a fake Salt of The Month Club and you can buy salt made from human tears.

Premium salts do have a limited purpose: With their crunch, color and infused flavors, they're great for sprinkling on top of a finished food, like a caramel or a nice juicy steak, Seaver says. "In most cases, salt's role is to enhance the other flavors in the preparation," he says. But the fancy-schmancy stuff's charms will be lost in a vat of boiling pasta water.

Seaver swears that kosher salt is really all you need: It dissolves easily, and it is uniform enough in size that if you use your fingers, you can develop a feel for the right amount.

3. Why do low-salt foods taste so bad?

Ah, the age-old question. You're going to be hearing a lot more from us on this one soon, but the short answer is that humans have a very primitive mechanism for tasting sodium, and "nothing else fits through that channel," Tordoff says.

One technique shows promise for tempering our salty cravings: Salt just the top of baked goods like crackers. The tongue tastes salt first, fooling it into thinking it's savoring something salty, even if there's none in the product itself.

But that trick's effectiveness is limited. "It's not so easy to do in soup," Tordoff notes, as Campbell's now knows.The company announced last year it was adding back in some salt to its low-salt varieties.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit