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!":


Internet's Cat Obsession Justifies Itself In Cancer Ward

Aug 8, 2012
Originally published on August 9, 2012 11:06 am

We're not sure it's ever been studied, but we're willing to bet that the glut of cute animal photos on the Internet is a testament to their soothing effect on the human mind.

So imagine you're a cat lover who can't see your own cat because you're in an isolated hospital ward for an unknown duration. Sure, you could look at cat photos on your computer, but maybe you get tired of staring at the screen.

Imagine, then, a private four-hour screening of thousands of cat photos sent in by strangers projected on sheets draped over your bed. You lie back, relax, and watch the cats flash above you; there's even a purring sound to bring them alive.

This "cat immersion project" unfolded in Maga Barzallo Sockemtickem's room just a few weeks ago through an art project at Seattle Children's Hospital. Barzallo Sockemtickem, 16, is receiving treatment for graft-versus-host disease, an affliction that can occur after bone marrow transplants. She had a transplant in November 2011 after being diagnosed a year earlier with acute myeloid leukemia.

It all started because Barzallo Sockemtickem really missed her cat, Merry. She hadn't seen Merry in weeks, and it was all she could talk about with Artist-in-Residence John Blalock during one of his regular visits to her room.

Blalock, who has done photo and music video projects with several other patients in the hospital's Adolescent and Young Adult Cancer Program, says he thrives off the weird ideas that come up in his chats with patients.

"I've learned that whatever random idea you come up with from a brainstorm, that's the best idea," he says.

At first, Blalock solicited cat photos from other staff members. Then Barzallo Sockemtickem suggested that they post a request on the hospital's Facebook page — specifically photos of cats who, like Merry, would be greatly missed in case of separation.

Soon, more than 3,000 photos poured in. Some came over Facebook, others came as printed photos in the mail. Microsoft sent a cat calendar, someone else mailed in a cat care package with catnip and toys; another sent a book of cats wearing wigs.

"It was a big surprise, how big a response I got," says Barzallo Sockemtickem. "But I think it was the simpleness of it all. People love cats; animals make us happy."

Blalock hadn't expected that kind of response, either.

"We do these projects every day, and most don't take on a life of their own," says Blalock. "But people on the Internet love cats. And I guess anything that I have an emotional response to engages me, makes me invested."

On July 25, Blalock rigged up a tent made of sheets around Barzallo Sockemtickem's bed and projected 1,800 images he'd chosen for the slideshow. Watch the video of that day here:

The best part, Barzallo Sockemtickem says, was knowing that the photos came from other cat lovers outside the hospital.

"In the hospital, you feel cut off," she says. "You lose contact with regular people. So the photos made me feel like I was part of the world again."

Then she set about saying thank you to all of the people who sent photos. She hasn't responded to every single one yet, but she's made a huge dent, Blalock says.

Blalock, meanwhile, is scheming up new art projects; he's hoping to get a Skype robot to drive around the cancer ward.

"I think all hospitals are such a blank slate for doing art because you can take a medical experience and transform it," he says. "Installations [like the cat immersion project] are about changing an environment and making it a subversive experience. Patients have to spend so much time here and can't leave the room, so we transform the room with the resources we have."

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit