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!":


As Conventions Begin, Where Is The U.S. Economy?

Aug 27, 2012
Originally published on August 27, 2012 2:52 pm

In late August of 2008, just as delegates were coming together for their political-party conventions, the U.S. economy was falling apart. Home sales were shutting down, employers were slashing payrolls, and financial institutions were lurching toward chaos.

Subsequent weeks saw political leaders and regulators fighting through one gut-wrenching day after another, trying to avert a complete collapse of global markets. On Sept. 24, Republican presidential candidate John McCain temporarily suspended his campaign to help Congress develop financial bailout plans.

Today, as the GOP convention gets (briefly) under way, the nation's economic condition is far more stable. The coming political fights over economic issues are likely to be bare-knuckled, but probably not white-knuckled.

Although the sense of panic has passed, times are not good for many. Yes, stock prices are up and financial institutions are on firmer footing, but millions of Americans are slipping further from their middle-class moorings. Some 12.8 million people are looking for jobs, and data show middle-class income and wealth are both down from a decade ago.

The mixed state of the 2012 economy will provide Republicans and Democrats with much to debate. The spin is best left to political candidates, but the data can tell an objective story about the state of the economy as the conventions begin.

The Republicans are meeting this week in Tampa, Fla., and Democrats will meet the following week in Charlotte, N.C. As they gather, this is what we know:


The national unemployment rate has been hovering in a narrow range throughout 2012 — between 8.1 and 8.3 percent. The rate shifts only a bit each month as economists round and revise the statistics on payrolls and job seekers. Most economists expect the jobless rate to stay in this tight range for the remainder of the year.

The historical record suggests such a high rate of unemployment dooms an incumbent president. One new study concludes that President Obama's candidacy will fail because no incumbent in recent decades has been re-elected with the jobless rate so high for so long.

"The incumbency advantage enjoyed by President Obama, though statistically significant, is not great enough to offset high rates of unemployment currently experienced in many of the states," Kenneth Bickers, a political science professor at the University of Colorado, Boulder, said in his study of election outcomes.

Then again, the employment picture is brighter than four years ago, when the economy was plunging into the worst recession since the Great Depression. When Obama took office in January 2009, the U.S. economy was losing more than 800,000 jobs a month and the unemployment rate was heading to 10 percent later that year.

In 2012, employers have been adding an average of 151,000 jobs each month, about the same pace as in 2011, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. So while the job market could be described as significantly underperforming, it also could be seen as doing much better than it was four years ago, giving candidates and voters much to argue over.


The housing market has been in horrible condition since 2007. During the past five years, prices for existing homes have plunged by roughly a third and builders in many markets have virtually stopped putting up houses. Foreclosures and short sales remain common.

Still, many economists see signs of improving conditions, and even strength in specific markets, such as Washington, D.C., and Bismarck, N.D. Mortgage rates have been at record lows this summer, making buying very affordable by historic standards. The latest data from the National Association of Realtors show that the average sale price for an existing home is up about 7 percent this year, compared with last year.

While the housing sector may be moving up, the hole remains very deep. "We are expecting this market to improve over the second half of this year, but not by much," Patrick Newport, an economist with IHS Global Insight, wrote in an analysis of housing data.


The days just after the political parties held their conventions in 2008 were among the most frightening ever experienced by investors alive today. On just one day — Sept. 29, 2008 — the Dow Jones industrial average plunged 7 percent, wiping out $1.2 trillion.

In the past year, the stock market has been doing well. The Dow has shot up to around 13,160, up from about 10,400 last October. This summer saw a major rally. That push helped the closely followed stock market barometer to get back up to nearly where it was in 2007, before the recession began.

But trading volume remains extremely light, suggesting that many investors remain wary. In fact, some market analysts predict that a big drop could be coming this September because of bad news coming from the European Union and China. Many also say the coming "fiscal cliff," a cluster of major tax and spending changes coming at the end of the year, could frighten away investors who fear a new recession.

So while stocks have generally been a positive indicator this year, huge risks may be looming on the horizon.

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