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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!":


For Democrats, Batting Last May Offer An Edge But No Guarantee

Sep 4, 2012
Originally published on September 4, 2012 4:51 pm

Any sandlot ballplayer knows the value of batting last in baseball, but what is the value of doing the same when you're running for president of the United States?

It has long been a tradition of our presidential election system that the party in the White House holds its nominating convention after the opposition party. It is as though the challenger gets to make a case, and the reigning champion gets to respond.

Tonight we will commence the response portion of that program.

Mitt Romney and the Republicans appear to have benefited from their convention last week in Tampa, enjoying a modest boost in the polls and a general freshening of their aura. They featured a great many women and Hispanics onstage and brought off the spectacle without a notable hitch (if you do not count the outlier of Clint Eastwood's monologue).

Romney has not been transformed in the public eye, but his image has been refurbished. What had been a rather ragged primary performance is now in the past. Romney is now seen as the candidate of business and opportunity, the candidate who picked Paul Ryan as his running mate and unified the party for the assault on the incumbent.

This is no small feat in public relations, yet this is what out-party conventions do. It can be done exceedingly well, as when in 1992 the Democrats made their case for Bill Clinton and Al Gore so effectively that independent candidate Ross Perot suspended his campaign. Perot, who would later re-enter the contest, said then that "the Democrats are getting their act together."

An even more classic example was Ronald Reagan's nominating convention in 1980, where he and his party rhetorically repudiated not only incumbent Jimmy Carter but the direction of the country over the previous half-century.

When the first convention serves it up this hot, the incumbent convention often suffers by comparison.

But in-power party conventions have a traditional function, too, and it is largely about countering the message of the out party. The chance to go second is one of the great edges in sport. "Getting last raps" means you can "spot" an opponent a lead and then come storming back to overcome it.

This is what the Obama convention will seek to do, defining the "We Built That" GOP as shortsighted, self-serving and self-interested. It will say the pride that entrepreneurs rightfully take in their success is fine, so long as it does not ignore the role of the public sector or the contributions of ordinary working Americans.

Second conventions have often been little more than premature victory laps for the incumbent. Clinton had an easy slide through his second convention in 1996, a gathering remembered mostly for the number of times the delegates did the dance called the Macarena. Reagan's second convention in 1984 was four days of celebrating the economic recovery and embellishing Reagan's personal legend. The Nixon convention of 1972 was a smug affair, too, and the LBJ convention of 1964 was a tribute to a master politician at the zenith of his power.

Still, batting last is no more a guarantee of victory in national politics than it is in the national pastime.

George W. Bush used his 2004 second convention to good effect, putting Democratic Sen. Zell Miller on the stand to testify against his own party and letting California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani deliver the big crowd-pleasing speeches. Yet Bush barely squeaked by in November and could have easily lost.

His father, the first President Bush, had a lackluster second convention in Houston in 1992, failing to answer the edge and verve of that year's Democratic thrust. Here, again, the most memorable moments were not the candidate's own but rather the red-meat offerings of others, such as Pat Buchanan, which tended to drive away independents.

In 1980, incumbent Carter could scarcely glean much political gain from his second convention, as he was still dealing with Ted Kennedy's primary challenge. A sizable fraction of the delegates were there for Kennedy, who stole the show and then offered only the most tepid of endorsements.

Obama's renomination event will probably fall somewhere between these poles. It is not likely to remind anyone of those rollicking demonstrations of dominance cited above. But Obama should be able to touch the basic bases that both presidents Bush did and attack the notion of an "enthusiasm gap."

From all indications, the partisans on hand in Charlotte are at least as enthusiastic about Obama as those in Tampa were for Romney. The real gap the incumbent must deal with is the contrast with the idealistic fervor and inspirational tour de force that defined his first campaign in 2008.

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