"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.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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!":

Donald Trump wrapped up his public tryout of potential vice presidential candidates in Indiana Tuesday night with Gov. Mike Pence giving the final audition.

The Indiana governor's stock as Trump's possible running mate is believed to be on the rise, with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich also atop the list. Sources tell NPR the presumptive GOP presidential nominee is close to making a decision, which he's widely expected to announce by Friday.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

The unassuming hero of Jonas Karlsson's clever, Kafkaesque parable is the opposite of a malcontent. Despite scant education, a limited social life, and no prospects for success as it is usually defined, he's that rarity, a most happy fella with an amazing ability to content himself with very little. But one day, returning to his barebones flat from his dead-end, part-time job at a video store, he finds an astronomical bill from an entity called W.R.D. He assumes it's a scam. Actually, it is more sinister-- and it forces him to take a good hard look at his life and values.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.


Bad Day For Unions Made Worse By Calif. Public Pension Initiatives

Jun 6, 2012
Originally published on June 6, 2012 5:02 pm

Tuesday was, unquestionably, a very bad day for public-employee unions and not just for the reason that got most of the attention, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's success in fending off an attempt to oust him through a recall election.

Making it an even more memorably rotten day for organized labor were voter initiatives in two of California's largest cities, San Diego and San Jose, aimed at reducing the burden of public employees' pensions on taxpayers.

Organized labor opposed the changes in both San Diego and San Jose, with police in the latter city filing a law suit in state court Wednesday to overturn the initiative.

Both cities have seen their budgets strain from the pressure of rising costs — including their pension liabilities — and falling revenues from the recession and other factors, like a state government facing its own fiscal crisis keeping more of the taxes and fees collected by the cities. (This post from the Calpensions blog provides a deep dive into the problem in California.)

The budget woes, partly fueled by rising pension costs, has led the cities to reduce services popular with citizens, like policing and libraries, and to cut their workforces.

That helps explain why the initiatives to reform the pension systems in both cities won approval from nearly 70 percent of voters in the initiatives that were widely watched as cities around the nation struggle with similar problems.

In an interview, Ron Snell, a public pension expert with the National Conference of State Legislatures explained:

"Some municipalities are in trouble because of the design of their pension plans. Like other governments in the country, they've overcommitted themselves and they have not made their regular payments into the plan. But they've also got a structural financial problem that states don't face which is the limited nature of their tax base. Even in a large city you don't have the variety of economic activity that the fundamental economic resources of a whole state has.

"So even a large city like San Diego can get into that kind of difficulty, let alone a small city like Central Falls in Rhode Island. That's the problem many cities have to wrestle with."

Under the pension reform plan approved by San Diego voters, called Proposition B, new city employees would be enrolled in a 401(k), defined-contribution plan familiar to most private sector workers instead of the defined-contribution benefit plan received by prior city workers.

Joan Raymond, a San Diego sanitation truck driver and president of American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Local 127, said in an interview that the city doesn't have a pension crisis but a political crisis. She places much of the responsibility for the proposition one of its major proponents, Republican City Councilman Carl DeMaio who has said publicly that he wants to make San Diego the "Wisconsin of the West."

She acknowledged, however, that many San Diego voters and taxpayers are hostile to what they consider to be overly generous pay packages for public employees, especially at a time when many private-sector workers are getting far inferior benefits if anything at all. Raymond said:

"It's called pension envy. But it's misguided. Because we believe all workers should have retirement security. Not extraordinary but reasonable. We would like to bring the bar up. Why do you want to push people down? That is not a sound way to make your community stronger.

"I understand why people feel that way. It's a natural human thing to be envious of someone who has more than you have. But that's not what we're saying. We want everybody to be able to retire with a sense of security.

"Because in the end, the taxpayers are going to wind up paying anyway. If you aren't able to pay your rent or go to the doctor or feed your family, in the end, you're going to wind up on public assistance. And so society is going to pay one way or another. This is a more positive way."

San Jose voters approved Measure B which, among other changes, requires current government employees to pay as much as 16 percent more of their pay to retain their current benefit level.

The actions in those two California cities follows San Francisco voter approval of a pension reform plan last year. Unlike the changes approved Tuesday, those in San Francisco resulted from a compromise that included city officials and labor leaders.

Whether the voter initiative process will be taken up to rein in rising public pension costs in other cities is unclear. Initiatives that can lead to new laws are available to voters in a minority of states, 21 to be exact. Meanwhile, some cities are in states that have consolidated municipal public pension plans with the states.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.