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 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.

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!":

Pages

Changing Climate May Have Led To Earliest Mummies

Aug 15, 2012
Originally published on August 15, 2012 5:14 am

A couple of thousand years before the Egyptians preserved some of their dead, a much simpler society made the first known mummies.

The Chinchorros, the first mummy makers, lived about 7,000 years ago in South America, on the coast near the border between modern-day Peru and Chile. The desert area where they lived was so dry, dead people turned into mummies naturally.

"Once you die, you stay around," says Chilean ecologist Pablo Marquet, who studies the Chinchorros and the area where they lived. "You don't disappear because of the decomposition that happens in many other environments."

At some point, the Chinchorros stopped leaving it to nature, and began mummifying their dead. They started dressing them up with wigs, clay and paint.

But why?

A few years ago, Marquet joined archaeologists and paleoanthropologists to answer that central question.

What they did know was that the early Chinchorros were hunter-gatherers. They did bury their dead, but in shallow graves only about a foot or two from the surface. It took only a little erosion for these dead people to be revealed.

"[In] most other populations, the dead disappear and become recycled back into the system," Marquet says, "but here they stay around."

The living also encountered the dead when they dug new graves. Diseases and arsenic poisoning from drinking water were rampant, adding up to a lot of corpses on the landscape. In fact, Marquet and his team calculated that the average person would encounter these natural mummies at least hundreds of times in a lifetime.

"The question was why they started to mummify their dead, and I think the key insight came from the observation of their environment," Marquet says.

He says he thinks seeing all these mummies inspired the Chinchorros' death rituals. His team also looked at data about the climate thousands of years ago.

"We started seeing the data, and everything was like aligning perfectly," he says. "We couldn't believe it."

According to the data, it appears the Chinchorros started preserving and decorating corpses during a time their climate was wetter. There would be more water and more seafood around to support a bigger population. Artifacts from that era confirm that the population surged around this time.

"If you have more individuals in a population and they start interacting, it is more likely that new ideas will emerge, and once new ideas emerge they will spread faster," Marquet says.

The idea is that the more hospitable environment gave people more free time. They no longer needed all their time for hunting and gathering. They had time to care for their dead and to pass on their embalming techniques to others.

The findings appear in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

These mummies haven't revealed all their secrets yet. Researchers are still trying to explain why infants and fetuses were among the South American mummies; other cultures reserved this treatment for their elite.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Before King Tut, even before the ancient Egyptians began carefully preserving some of their dead, in fact a couple of thousand years earlier, a much simpler society made the first known mummies.

NPR's Elizabeth Shogren reports on the somewhat gruesome reason this practice might have developed.

ELIZABETH SHOGREN, BYLINE: The first mummy makers lived about 7,000 years ago, in South America. They were on the coast near the border between modern day Peru and Chile. They're called the Chinchorros.

Chilean ecologist Pablo Marquet studies them and the extremely dry desert where they lived. It was so dry in fact that dead people turned into mummies, naturally.

PABLO MARQUET: Once you die, you stay around. Because you don't visually disappear because of the decomposition that happens in many other environments.

SHOGREN: At some point, the Chinchorro stopped leaving it all to nature. They started mummifying their dead. And they started dressing them up with wigs, clay and paint. But why?

A few years ago, Marquet got together with archeologists and paleoanthropologists to answer that central question. Here's what they knew. The early Chinchorro were hunter gatherers. They did bury their dead but in shallow graves only about a foot or two from the surface. It only took a little erosion for these dead people to be revealed.

MARQUET: Most other populations, the dead disappear and become recycled back into the system. But here they stay around.

SHOGREN: The living also encountered the dead when they dug new graves. And they dug a lot of graves because diseases and arsenic poisoning from drinking water were rampant. This adds up to a lot of corpses on the landscape. In fact, Marquet and his team calculated that the average person would encounter these natural mummies, at least hundreds of times in their life time, and perhaps a lot more frequently.

MARQUET: Wow, I mean the question was why they started to mummify their dead. And I think the key insight came from the observation of their environment.

SHOGREN: Marquet thinks seeing all these mummies inspired the Chinchorros' death rituals. Marquet's team also looked data about the climate thousands of years ago.

MARQUET: We started seeing the data and everything was like aligning perfectly. I mean we couldn't believe it. I mean I said wow, this is really interesting.

SHOGREN: It looks like, the Chinchorro started preserving and decorating corpses during a time when their climate was wetter. There was more water and more seafood around to support a bigger population. Artifacts from that era confirm that the population surged around this time.

MARQUET: Because if you have more individuals in a population, and they start interacting, it is more likely that new ideas will emerge. And once new ideas emerge, they will spread faster.

SHOGREN: The idea is, the more hospitable environment gave people more free time They no longer needed all their time for hunting and gathering. They had time to care for their dead and to pass on their embalming techniques to others.

The findings appear in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. These mummies haven't revealed all their secrets yet. Researchers are still trying to explain why infants and fetuses were the first South American mummies. Other cultures reserved this treatment for their elite.

Elizabeth Shogren. NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.