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.

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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!":


For How Long Have We Been Human?

Sep 13, 2012

This year I greeted my new Biological Anthropology students with a chalked timeline of some human-evolution highlights:

6-7 million years ago: Start of the human lineage, following a split with the lineage containing chimpanzees and gorillas

2.6 mya: Onset of large-scale making and use of stone tool technology

2.5 mya: First human ancestors in our own genus, Homo

200,000 years ago: First modern humans, Homo sapiens

30,000: Cave paintings and rock paintings begin to emerge on multiple continents

Around 12,000: Onset of agriculture and human settlements. Up until this period, all human groups lived by hunting and gathering. (This transition was neither linear nor simple.)

Does one date, midway in the pack, snag the eye? 200,000 years ago, Homo sapiens emerged.

That's us.

But can we really affix a date to becoming human? Here's a question too complex for first-day-of-class lists. I've written elsewhere that I love my field because doing anthropology so often starts with agitated questions. "For how long have we been human?" surely counts as one of those.

The 200,000 date refers to the earliest known anatomically modern humans, skeletons found at places like Omo and Herto in Ethiopia. They represent people with slender body types, high foreheads, and reduced brow ridges compared to Neanderthals or earlier human ancestors.

But no one would argue that becoming human is about anatomy.

And who's to say that Neanderthals, though a different species, weren't human? They looked different from us — more robust, with thicker and strong bones and a different shape skull. But they made sophisticated tools and, at least in some places, thought symbolically and buried their dead. Neanderthals co-existed with us, and as we're just finding out, so did the Denisovan people living in Siberia tens of thousands of years ago.

So when did modern behavior emerge? Talk about fraught questions!

Last year, archaeologist Christopher Henshilwood and his team described what they term a paint factory at Blombos Cave, a Homo sapiens site perched on a cliff overlooking South Africa's Indian Ocean. There, people used tools to grind ocher into powder, and applied charcoal and oil from seal bones to mix up red and yellow paint. There's a short video clip included here that offers good visual access to the artifacts.

We don't know how the paints were used: no painted walls or objects have been found. Perhaps people painted their bodies?

In any case, it's the date of this paint factory that is jaw-dropping: 100,000 years ago. For a long time anthropologists didn't expect to find this sort of pointer to complex human symbolic and creative activity so long ago or, it has to be said, in Africa. (The home of modern human behavior had been thought to be Europe.)

Were the people living at Blombos carrying out modern human behaviors? Christopher Henshilwood thinks the answer to that question is a resounding "yes."

Right now (even as scientists search for older evidence elsewhere), it seems that there may have been a newly creative and inventive period in Europe around 40,000 years ago. That's where and when, it was announced this summer, we find new manifestations of humanity, including musical instruments such as flutes of bird bones and mammoth ivory found in Germany.

One thing my students will learn this semester is that straightforward questions about humans and our past rarely have straightforward answers. That's precisely what makes asking the questions in the first place so worthwhile, and fabulously enjoyable.

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

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