"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!":

Donald Trump wrapped up his public tryout of potential vice presidential candidates in Indiana Tuesday night with Gov. Mike Pence giving the final audition.

The Indiana governor's stock as Trump's possible running mate is believed to be on the rise, with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich also atop the list. Sources tell NPR the presumptive GOP presidential nominee is close to making a decision, which he's widely expected to announce by Friday.

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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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Why Political Ads In 2012 May All Look Alike

Jun 1, 2012
Originally published on June 1, 2012 6:48 pm

Among the biggest advertisers in the presidential campaign is a group that says it doesn't do political advertising: Crossroads GPS.

Crossroads GPS — which stands for Grassroots Policy Strategies — was co-founded by Republican strategist Karl Rove. It and others like it enable wealthy donors to finance attack ads while avoiding the public identification they would face if they gave to more overtly political committees.

There's supposed to be a difference between a candidate's ads that are financed by relatively small and disclosed money, and the big-budget, secretly funded ads from outside groups.

But this year, those supposed differences don't mean much.

Different Outlets, Single Message

Take a look at a line of Republican campaign ads that have all been taking aim at Solyndra, a solar-panel maker that got loan guarantees from the Obama administration and then went bankrupt.

The campaign of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney released a Web video this week that claims: "More than $16 billion have gone to companies like Solyndra that are linked to big Obama and Democrat donors."

Another Web ad also released this week comes from the American Crossroads superPAC, which says: "Obama invested our tax dollars in Solyndra [and] lost half a billion."

No surprise here. Republican strategists see Solyndra as a ripe target.

But another shot at the same target earlier this year came from Crossroads GPS, a tax-exempt organization under section 501(c)(4) of the tax code, which makes it a "social welfare organization."

Other groups similarly designated as social welfare organizations by the IRS include Rotary International, Lions Clubs, the NAACP and your local volunteer fire department.

But lately, it's been political strategists, not community activists or issue advocates, who are launching 501(c)(4)s.

Crossroads GPS was set up to complement the superPAC American Crossroads.

It's the same with Priorities USA, which is tied to a superPAC supporting President Obama, although they've spent just a fraction of what the Crossroads groups have spent.

"There is, I would say, an escalating experiment in pushing the envelope," says Greg Colvin, a tax attorney whose specialty is tax-exempt organizations. "The problem comes when the driver behind the advertising is the election itself rather than a particular policy that's in the public interest."

No Contribution Limits, No Disclosure

501(c)(4)s like these can use money in a way that isn't available to candidates and superPACs.

Under election law, campaign committees are limited in the size of the contributions they can accept; superPACs are not limited. But either way, the money is disclosed.

As for 501(c)(4)s — there are no contribution caps, and no disclosure.

NPR examined the finances of the superPAC American Crossroads and the 501(c)(4) Crossroads GPS.

When the groups started out two years ago, donors gave almost evenly to both. But since then, the donors have flocked to the secret side. In the first three months of this year, nearly 80 percent of the incoming cash went to Crossroads GPS.

And it wasn't coming from ordinary campaign donors. In 2010 and 2011, nearly 90 percent of the Crossroads GPS money came in chunks of a million dollars or more. Most of this money ends up on TV.

Dan Backer is a campaign finance lawyer whose client base includes candidates, superPACs and 501(c)(4)s, mostly on the right.

"A lot of the communications from the superPACs and from the '(c)(4)s' and the campaigns are essentially interchangeable. If you didn't have outside groups, I think campaigns would be running a lot of these same ads," says Backer.

One legal hurdle is that the Internal Revenue Service says 501(c)(4)s cannot intervene in political campaigns as their primary activity.

Now here's the loophole: If an ad doesn't tell voters how to vote, it can count as an issue ad — not a political one.

So 501(c)(4) ads use tag lines like: "Tell President Obama American workers aren't pawns in your political games," which comes from Americans for Prosperity.

"If you spend 25 seconds bashing a candidate or bashing a position he holds, and then say, 'call this candidate up and tell him not to do this bad thing that they're doing,' you know, it's a lawyer's line that they're setting up. So at the end of the day, there really is no difference in my book," says Adam Strasberg, a media consultant on the left who has produced plenty of issue ads.

If this seems like a case of modern realities leaving the old rules behind, that's right.

The last time the IRS issued definitive rules on 501(c)(4) political activity was 2004, years before a series of Supreme Court rulings and the subsequent rise of the million-dollar donor.

Now, neither the IRS nor Congress seems eager to tell a bunch of powerful political operatives what they can and cannot do.

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

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

And I'm Melissa Block. One of the biggest advertisers in the presidential campaign is a group that says it doesn't do political advertising. It's called Crossroads Grassroots Policies Strategies, or Crossroads GPS. It was co-founded by Republican strategist Karl Rove.

As NPR's Peter Overby reports, groups like this one allow wealthy donors to finance attack ads and avoid public identification.

PETER OVERBY, BYLINE: Republican campaign ads have been taking aim at Solyndra. That's a solar panel maker that got loan guarantees from the Obama administration and then went bankrupt. Here's a Web video from the campaign of presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #1: More than $15 billion have gone to companies like Solyndra that are linked to big Obama and Democrat donors.

OVERBY: And this ad comes from American Crossroads, a superPAC that is a political committee.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: Obama invested our tax dollars in Solyndra, lost half a billion, 1,100 workers laid off without fair warning.

OVERBY: No surprise here. Republican strategists see Solyndra as a ripe target. But here's another shot at the same target earlier this year from a group called Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategies.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #2: Then he gave his political backers billions. A big government fiasco infused with politics at every level. Five hundred million to Solyndra, now bankrupt.

OVERBY: This advertiser, Crossroads GPS, is a tax exempt organization under Section 501(c)(4) of the tax code, which makes it a social welfare organization. Other social welfare organizations include Rotary International and the Lions Clubs, the NAACP and your local volunteer fire department.

But lately, it's been political strategists, not community activists or issue advocates, who are launching 501(c)(4)s. Crossroads GPS was set up to complement the superPAC American Crossroads. It's the same with Priorities USA, which is tied to a superPAC supporting President Obama, although they've spent just a fraction of what the Crossroads groups have spent.

GREG COLVIN: There is, I would say, an escalating experiment in pushing the envelope.

OVERBY: Greg Colvin is a tax attorney whose specialty is tax exempt organizations.

COLVIN: The problem comes when the driver behind the advertising is the election itself rather than a particular policy that is in the public interest.

OVERBY: 501(c)(4)s like these can use money in a way that isn't available to candidates and superPACs. Under election law, campaign committees are limited in the size of the contributions they can accept. SuperPACs are not limited, but either way, the money is disclosed. As for 501(c)(4)s, there are no contribution limits and no disclosure.

NPR examined the finances of the superPAC, American Crossroads, and the 501(c)(4), Crossroads GPS. When they started out two years ago, donors gave almost evenly to both groups, but since then, the donors have flocked to the secret side. In the first three months of this year, nearly 80 percent of the incoming cash went to Crossroads GPS and it wasn't coming from ordinary campaign donors. In 2010 and 2011, nearly 90 percent of the Crossroads GPS money came in chunks of a million dollars or more.

Most of this money ends up on TV. Dan Backer is a campaign finance lawyer whose client base includes candidates, superPACs and 501(c)(4)s mostly on the right.

DAN BACKER: A lot of the communications from the superPACs and from the (c)(4)s and the campaigns are essentially interchangeable. If you didn't have outside groups, I think campaigns would be running a lot of these same ads.

OVERBY: One legal hurdle is that the Internal Revenue Service says 501(c)(4)s can not intervene in political campaigns as their primary activity. Now here's the loophole. If an ad doesn't tell voters how to vote, it can count as an issue ad, not political, so 501(c)(4) ads use taglines like this one, which comes from Americans for Prosperity.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: Tell President Obama American workers aren't pawns in your political games.

OVERBY: Adam Strasberg is a media consultant on the left and has produced plenty of issue ads like these.

ADAM STRASBERG: You know, if you spend 25 seconds bashing a candidate or bashing a position he holds and then say, call this candidate up and tell him not to do this bad thing that they're doing, you know, it's a lawyer's line that they're setting up. So, at the end of the day, there is no difference in my book.

OVERBY: If this seems like a case of modern realities leaving the old rules behind, that's right. The last time the IRS issued definitive rules on 501(c)(4) political activity was 2004, years before a series of Supreme Court rulings and the subsequent rise of the million dollar donor.

Now, neither the IRS nor Congress seems eager to tell a bunch of powerful political operatives what they can and can not do.

Peter Overby, NPR News, Washington. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.