"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 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 made disparaging comments about him in several media interviews. He tweeted late Tuesday that she "has embarrassed all" with her "very dumb" comments 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.

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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.

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The Price Of A Swift Pigeon: Try $328,000

May 15, 2012
Originally published on May 15, 2012 5:46 pm

To the average observer, they look like ordinary pigeons, caged into a balcony in a high-rise Beijing apartment. But make no mistake. These cooing birds, according to breeder Yang Shibo, are like top-of-the-line sports cars.

"These are the Ferraris of the bird world," he says. "They're the most expensive, and the fastest."

The price of racing pigeons is soaring sky-high, pushed up by wealthy Chinese buyers.

It's the latest market to be inflated by the China Effect — or massive demand from China — which has pushed up commodity prices on everything from Australian iron ore to Brazilian soybeans.

And in China, pigeons can be lucrative. Yang Shibo's best bird, a German pigeon, cost more than $1,000 back in 2001. Its descendants have earned him around $150,000 in prize money.

Today the prize money for races is increasing exponentially, especially in the popular "one loft races."

This refers to a system where owners consign their pigeons to a loft at around five weeks of age, and the lofts are responsible for both training and racing the birds.

This year, the Diamond Elite Race of 300 miles, held by one particular loft, is awarding a first prize of a staggering 10 million yuan ($1.5 million), which can also be exchanged for a house. The entrance fee is almost $8,000.

Family Tree Is Crucial

Good pigeons come with family trees going back five generations, like pedigreed racehorses. Indeed, pigeons are in many ways the racehorses of China.

"Chinese law allows pigeon racing in China," says Yang Shibo. "Horse racing is only allowed in Hong Kong, not on mainland China."

Yang is not fazed by soaring pigeon prices, arguing it's good for the development of pigeon racing in China.

Indeed, the highest price ever paid for a pigeon was 250,000 euros ($328,000) earlier this year by a Chinese buyer. Chinese make up half the customers at Belgium's premier pigeon auction house, Pipa, up from 18 percent six years ago.

Luna Lai, Pipa's Greater China manager, estimates that the influx of Chinese money means the price of an average pigeon has doubled in a couple of years.

"I think the main reason is they are buying for status. You are rich, you have a super one, I want to buy a super one, too," says Lai.

She admits the market is overheated, but doesn't believe it will collapse.

"Somehow the market is really very hot — too hot — but there's still a lot of Chinese rich buyers, and they still want to buy," she says. "People will say it's like an economic bubble, but I think unless China's economy goes downhill, I don't think it's a pigeon bubble yet."

Young, Rich Businessmen Rule The Market

Many of the Chinese buyers are similar to Xing Wei: young, rich entrepreneurs, who go to Europe every year to buy top-flight, world-class pigeons. Xing pays astronomical prices for his birds, which he asked us not to disclose.

Like so many other wealthy Chinese, his fortune is, in part, from real estate deals. And Chinese real estate money, he says, is driving the pigeon market,

"The price of birds imported from Europe to China rises and falls along with the Chinese real estate market," he says. "It follows the same trend lines."

Pigeon fanciers flock to his loft in Tangshan, about 100 miles from Beijing.

On this day, one man has come 700 miles to buy a pigeon for his boss. A single squab, or baby pigeon, bred from Xing's best bird — a Belgian champion racer called Ike, who no longer races but is used for breeding — costs $15,000.

Xing's pigeons live in coops on top of his company headquarters. He has three full-time pigeon trainers, one of whom specializes in training birds for flights, while another oversees the breeding program.

Only The Swift Survive

Xing says he has bought 2,000 birds from Europe. He's so determined to raise a flock of superpigeons that he admits his trainers sometimes kill inferior birds, in an act of pigeon eugenics.

Xing is scathing about China's pigeon races, saying most of the lofts that organize the "one loft races" are dishonest.

"It's not corruption, it's just the market is chaotic," he says. "The majority of the races — 90 percent — are not fair. There are lots of things these lofts do, like letting out a bird by itself, instead of together with the other birds. Some people use steroids."

Pigeon fanciers love to amaze with pigeon facts: that male and female pigeons take turns incubating the eggs. That both males and females produce pigeon milk to feed their young.

Xing is no exception, and his eyes shine as he describes his favorite birds. But his love for pigeons was nurtured by a personal tragedy: He was given his first pigeon at age 5, after a massive earthquake killed 240,000 people in his hometown, Tangshan.

"There was devastation everywhere, all the houses were flattened," Xing remembers. "From then on, I thirsted for and valued life. Then an elderly neighbor gave me a pigeon. It felt like it was destiny."

That year, 1976, was the first that pigeon racing was allowed after the Cultural Revolution, during which time it had been forbidden for its capitalist tendencies.

In less than four decades, Chinese buyers have come from nowhere to set the price for the world's best pigeons. The anti-China backlash has begun, with European buyers complaining about being priced out of the market.

With racing pigeons — as in so many other commodities — China's hold on the market is beginning to rattle the wider world.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

It's called the China Effect - massive demand in China pushing up prices for commodities from Australian iron ore to Brazilian soybeans. Well, now it's hit a new sector. As NPR's Louisa Lim reports, Chinese buyers are sending prices of racing pigeons sky high.

(SOUNDBITE OF PIGEONS)

LOUISA LIM, BYLINE: To the average observer, they look like ordinary pigeons caged into a balcony in a high rise Beijing apartment, but make no mistake. These cooing birds, according to breeder Yang Shibo, are more like top of the line sports cars.

YANG SHIBO: (Through translator) These are the Ferraris of the bird world. They're the most expensive and the fastest.

(SOUNDBITE OF WHISTLE)

LIM: The pigeons are being summoned back from their afternoon flight. Pigeons can be lucrative, as the prize money for races is increasing exponentially in China. Yang's best bird, a German pigeon, cost more than $1,000 back in 2001. Its descendants have earned him around $150,000 in prize money.

Good pigeons come with family trees going back five generations, like pedigreed race horses. Indeed, Yang points out, pigeons are, in many ways, the race horses of China.

SHIBO: (Through translator) Chinese law allows pigeon racing in China. Horse racing is only allowed in Hong Kong, not in mainland China.

LIM: Indeed, the highest price ever paid for a pigeon was $328,000, set earlier this year by a Chinese buyer. Chinese make up half the customers at Belgium's premier pigeon house, Pipa. That's up from 18 percent six years ago. The influx of Chinese money means the price of an average pigeon has doubled in a couple of years.

LUNA LAI: I think the main reason is that they are buying them for their status. You are rich. You have a super one. I want to buy a super one, too.

LIM: That's Luna Lai, Pipa's Greater China manager. She admits the market is overheated.

LAI: Somehow, the market is really very hot - too hot - but there's still a lot of Chinese rich buyer and they still want to buy. People will say it's like a economy bubble, but I think unless China's economy goes downhill - otherwise, I don't think it's a pigeon bubble yet.

XING WEI: (Foreign language spoken).

LIM: Buyers like 40 year old entrepreneur Xing Wei go to Europe every year to find top flight world class pigeons at astronomical prices, which he asked us not to disclose. Like so many other wealthy Chinese, his fortune is, in part, from real estate deals and Chinese real estate money, he says, is driving the pigeon market.

WEI: (Through translator) The price of birds imported from Europe to China rises and falls along with the Chinese real estate market. It follows the same trend lines.

(Foreign language spoken).

LAI: (Foreign language spoken).

LIM: Pigeon fanciers flock to his loft in Tangshan, about 100 miles from Beijing. Today, one man has come 700 miles to buy a pigeon for his boss. A single squab, or baby pigeon, bred from Xing Wei's best bird, a Belgian champion racer called Ike, costs a mind-boggling $15,000.

Xing Wei's pigeons live in coops on top of his company headquarters. He has three full time pigeon trainers. Xing Wei's bought 2,000 birds from Europe. He's so determined to raise a flock of super pigeons, sometimes his trainers kill inferior birds in an act of pigeon eugenics.

Xing Wei is scathing about China's pigeon races, saying most of the lofts that organize them are dishonest.

WEI: (Through translator) It's not corruption. It's just the market is chaotic. The majority of the races, 90 percent, are not fair. There are lots of things these lofts do, like letting out a bird by itself instead of together with the other birds. Some people use steroids.

LIM: Xing Wei's love for pigeons was nurtured by a personal tragedy. He was given his first pigeon at age five after a massive earthquake killed 240,000 people in his hometown, Tangshan.

WEI: (Through translator) There was devastation everywhere. All the houses were flattened. From then on, I thirsted for and valued life. An elderly neighbor gave me a pigeon. It felt like it was destiny.

LIM: That year was the first that pigeon racing was allowed after the Cultural Revolution. It had been forbidden for its capitalist tendencies. In less than four decades, Chinese buyers have come from nowhere. Now, they set the price for the world's best pigeons and the anti-China backlash has begun with European buyers complaining about being priced out of the market. With racing pigeons, as with so many other commodities, China's hold on the market is beginning to unnerve the outside world.

Louisa Lim, NPR News, Beijing. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.