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.

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 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.

"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.


When You're Almost Extinct, Your Price Goes Up

Oct 24, 2012
Originally published on October 24, 2012 12:35 pm

When a species gets rare, its market value rises. The higher its price, the more it's hunted. The more it's hunted, the rarer it gets. Not a happy cycle, and this keeps happening ...

Cycads are stumpy, palm-like, very ancient plants, with a lineage that goes back 300 million years. Recently, they've become fashionable for high-end gardeners, and because they are so sought after, they're increasingly valuable. Poachers now snatch them from the wild, sometimes from private botanical gardens.

When Hurricane Frances swept through South Florida in 2004, thieves sneaked into Miami's mandatory evacuation area, slipped into the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden and stole over 30 endangered cycads. Some had been in the garden's collection for decades.

"These are unbelievably well-organized and highly profitable criminal syndicates," says Niel Maritz, who owns a game lodge in Limpopo, South Africa, with hundreds of cycads on it. He told The [Toronto] Globe and Mail, "They come in the full moon, they remove the plants at night," taking them away on trucks.

Some poachers even use helicopters, says Harvard's Piotr Naskrecki. In his new book, Relics, he describes how, for the rarest cycads, "small electronic identification chips have been installed deep in trunks. This, in theory, should help identify stolen plants when they are being transported across international borders. But it didn't take long for poachers to start using X-ray machines to locate and remove the chips."

Cycads in the wild are getting harder and harder to find.

It was a single fish, caught off northeastern Japan and put on the auction block at Tokyo's Tsukiji fish market. It weighed 593 pounds. That's huge. And very rare. On Jan. 5, 2012, when the bidding ended, Kiyoshi Kimura, president of a sushi restaurant chain, had paid $1,238 per pound; that's $736,000 for one animal. Imagine being the fishing team who went to work that day and came home with three quarters of a million dollars.

Is any fish worth that much? Yes, says writer Trevor Corson (The Secret Life of Lobsters), but "it's money spent on advertising, not fish." Serving your customers a piece of one of the last great oceanic giants attracts media attention and gives the buyer bragging rights. People want to feast on something their neighbors, their friends can't have.

It takes three chiru to make a shahtoosh. Chiru are delicate-looking antelopes that live in the high Tibetan plateaus. A shahtoosh, says the Times of India, is a "most prized" shawl, "beloved of Mughal emperors. It is very warm, yet so soft and fine" that you can bunch it up and slip it through the band of a wedding ring. It's also illegal, banned because three chiru have to be culled and skinned to make a single garment, and as shahtooshes became more popular, the chiru population in Tibet has plummeted.

Yet you can still buy a shahtoosh if you can afford the black market fee, which in India, says the Times, is as high as $20,000. "At these prices," the paper says, "the profitability of poaching overwhelms any official ban."

Governments still try to enforce the worldwide ban. A few years ago, U.S. federal marshals showed up in the Hamptons on Long Island and issued subpoenas to women who, they had reason to believe, had purchased a shahtoosh. Christie Brinkley was one of them (I read that she got it as a gift from Richard Gere). She and the others were asked to turn in their shahtooshes, which, for the most part, they did. The importers were charged, sentenced, but these "ultra soft, ultra thin, ultra warm" wraps, as Vanity Fair describes them, still attract customers in Europe and Asia, and prices are still rising.

This year, NPR's own Frank Langfitt went looking for illegal ivory in China and found it pretty much everywhere. Grace Gabriel, of the International Fund for Animal Welfare, says she's seen black market prices jump from $270 a pound to more than $900. A jump like that may not last, but since mature elephants carry about 22 pounds of ivory in their tusks, that works out to — very roughly — $19,800 an elephant.

The increase has had its effect. Elephant hunting has gotten more relentless, and more violent. In January 2012, according to National Geographic, "a hundred raiders on horseback charged out of Chad into Cameroon's Bouba Ndjidah National Park, slaughtering hundreds of elephants — entire families — in one of the worst concentrated killings since a global ivory trade ban was adopted in 1989. Carrying AK-47s and rocket-propelled grenades, they dispatched the elephants with ... military precision," and made off with more than a million dollars in ivory.

More recently, The New York Times reported how a team of wildlife rangers in Garamba National Park in the Congo came upon a group of poachers who, said chief ranger Paul Onyango, "opened up on us with PKMs, AKs, G-3s, and FNs." He said, "Most poachers are conservative with their ammo, but these guys were shooting like they were in Iraq. All of a sudden, we were outgunned and outnumbered." The rangers backed off.

Where does all this ivory go? Bryan Christy of National Geographic found buyers all over, most surprisingly among South Asian Catholics and Buddhist Temple shops, where religious icons are often made of illegal ivory. Do people know? Do they care? He ends his story with a 42-year-old Chinese entrepreneur who has just bought a couple of carved ivory "balls," one for himself, one for a friend. The entrepreneur plans to put his $50,000 ball in a conspicuous place in his new home where it will "hold the house against devils." This ivory trinket, says Christy, is "simply a very precious toy."

Christy then asks the entrepreneur, why did you buy this ivory thing? Why are they popular among young entrepreneurs?

"Value," he replies. "And art."
"Do you think about the elephant?" I ask.
"Not at all," he says.

And there's the problem. We aren't thinking when we choose a scarf, choose an exotic plant, buy an ivory ball. We should, but much too often, we don't.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit