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.


Political Memes: Fast, Cheap And Out Of Control?

Oct 24, 2012
Originally published on October 25, 2012 10:49 am

Even if you didn't watch any of the three presidential debates, chances are you're familiar with Big Bird, binders and bayonets.

The words were barely out the candidates' mouths before Internet memes — snarky punch lines slapped across images that, in this case, served as a takedown of a candidate or issue — began appearing on Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr feeds, where they quickly went viral.

The Romney and Obama campaigns may have spent hundreds of millions of dollars on TV and Web ads, but spontaneous memes created by average people are stealing their thunder and arguably doing a better job of "messaging," says Vincent Harris, a Republican political consultant who ran the digital campaigns of Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Newt Gingrich at various times during the GOP primary.

"The campaigns were not expecting these memes to be picked up by the general public, and certainly not in the way they've been used in these presidential debates," he says.

Poised To Pounce

Harris says he first noticed the power of memes when Mitt Romney bet Perry $10,000 over a policy dispute during a debate last December. "At the time, I was working for Perry. That $10,000 bet launched a series of memes that worked in our favor," he says.

Since then, what Harris calls a cadre of "social media elite" have been poised to pounce, "looking for any stumble or catchphrase to latch onto and produce a meme."

This election season has given rise to a slew of incisive and hilarious memes.

How effective have they been? "These memes have a whole lot of resonance with voters, and they are very successful at branding the candidates, mostly in a negative way. And, they are virtually cost-free," Harris notes.

Paul Brewer, associate director for research at the University of Delaware's Center for Political Communication, says he's fascinated by the sudden emergence of political Internet memes.

"Partly because they are a new phenomenon and partly because they are a participatory form of campaigning. It's so easy for citizens to generate these and for them to take off," he says.

Who's Funnier?

Memes have become a running commentary on the debates — and the most effective ones echo long after the debates end, Brewer says. While political memes aren't entirely new, they've caught fire largely because the way we experience debates has changed.

"Many of us are using television, social media, smartphones and tablets all at the same time as we take in the debates," Brewer says. "By the time the debate is halfway over, there's already a Tumblr site full of memes."

The campaigns have tried to get out front and control the message by creating memes of their own. But Brewer adds that none of them seems to have captured attention like those generated at the grass-roots level.

"The people hunkered down in the campaign bunker aren't going to be able to compete with the thousands of people out there. The crowd is inevitably going to have funnier ideas," he says.

The 'Wild West'

It represents a huge loss of control for the campaigns, regardless of whether the message is negative or seemingly beneficial, says Harris, the GOP consultant.

"It's the Wild West out there," he says. Even a well-intentioned supporter could generate inappropriate memes. "There could be a boomerang effect, where the message comes back to hit the candidate in the face."

For the campaigns that are simply on the wrong end of an unflattering meme, they can try a redirect, he says.

For example, in response to the "binders full of women" memes, the Republican National Committee created its own meme featuring a photo of a binder filled with blank pages and captioned "Obama's Second-Term Agenda."

Harris thinks smart campaigns will want to hire more staff to focus solely on social media, where they can communicate with citizens creating the memes, and others shaping perceptions of debates or other events.

"We are entering a post-pundit era, where people don't care so much what these talking heads are saying," he says. "A lot more is being decided by the online chatter."

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