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!":


Five Takeaways From The First Presidential Debate

Oct 4, 2012
Originally published on October 4, 2012 12:59 am

Mitt Romney may have given his campaign something of a reset with his performance in the first debate against President Obama.

He appeared more comfortable on stage than the incumbent, and was able at least to lay the groundwork for a message of bipartisanship that could appeal to remaining undecided voters.

Of course, it's not clear yet whether the debate will create enough momentum to offer Romney an advantage heading into the next debate, let alone through Election Day. Perhaps some of the inevitable post-debate fact checking will challenge Romney's credence on certain points.

But it's notable that Obama failed to do much of that himself, launching far fewer attacks during the debate than his aggressive campaign advertising strategy suggested he might.

Here's a quick review of five takeaways from the first debate in Denver:

Obama Looked Tired And Sounded Defensive

Obama's advisers noted before the debate that the president was having a hard time finding much unbroken debate practice time, and much of what he did have was devoted to boiling down his positions to fit the time limits. All of this showed.

Romney looked straight at his opponent, often wearing a confident Mona Lisa grin. Obama looked down at his notes or over at the moderator, Jim Lehrer of PBS, only occasionally looking directly into the camera.

Aside from his body language, some of Obama's answers came across as wonky. Both men offered laundry lists of their ideas, but Obama failed to craft a compelling case for his own record or second-term agenda, instead repeating complaints that he had inherited a mess.

What's more, he failed to go after Romney aggressively. There was no mention of Bain Capital or Romney's dismissive videotaped comments about the "47 percent" of Americans who are dependent on government.

Only in the last 20 minutes of the 90-minute debate did Obama land much of a blow, complaining that Romney was keeping the specifics about his tax plans and his approaches to health care and banking regulation too much a secret.

Romney Grasped The Mantle Of Bipartisanship

Romney said he didn't want to lay out anything other than broad principles during the campaign, because he found out as Massachusetts governor that a "my way or the highway" approach doesn't win over legislators.

Even before Lehrer had made "partisan gridlock" the subject of his final question, Romney stressed the importance of bipartisanship. He said that something as important as the federal health care law should have been passed on a bipartisan basis (it received essentially no GOP support) and paid homage to the working relationship of Republican President Ronald Reagan and Democratic House Speaker Tip O'Neill in the 1980s.

"I had the great experience — it didn't seem like it at the time — of being elected in a state where my legislature was 87 percent Democrat," Romney said, "and that meant I figured out from day one I had to get along and I had to work across the aisle to get anything done."

Given consistent Republican opposition to Obama in Congress — some have called it obstructionism — no doubt Democrats will question the sincerity of Romney's embrace of bipartisanship. But it's a message that could be welcomed by voters, particularly centrist independents.

You're A Drinking Game Winner If You're Middle Class

Both candidates were at pains to pay tribute to members of the middle class, again and again. Each referred to specific members of the middle class they had met along the campaign trail, who had gone back to school or were now out of work. Each insisted his plan would do more to help such people out and create middle-class jobs.

Obama argued that Romney's plans to cut taxes and increase military spending would necessarily cause the deficit to balloon or "burden" the middle class, because there would not be sufficient savings available to offset their cost by ending deductions or closing loopholes.

Romney insisted that his tax-cut plan would impose no such hardship. "I will not, under any circumstances, raise taxes on middle-income families," he said.

When Candidates Have The Microphone, They'll Keep Talking

Romney sought to refute a study Obama had cited to show his tax package would hurt the middle class was wrong: "There are six other studies that looked at the study you describe and say it's completely wrong," Romney said.

Many of the candidate's responses were like that: Sometimes arcane, often straying from the original question that Lehrer had asked. At one point, Romney used an education question to repeat a charge that Obama had squandered billions on unsuccessful green-energy programs.

Nearly all politicians use debate questions merely as jumping-off points, concerning themselves with highlighting policies they deem most important. Both men did that Wednesday, ignoring Lehrer's frequent invitations to confront or question their opponent directly, in favor of rattling off other arguments of their own.

Partly as a result, the debate's intended format, of 15-minute segments each covering six different topics, was broken almost immediately, leaving only three minutes for the final segment.

Lehrer struggled unsuccessfully to cut off the two candidates and redirect them to the supposed topic at hand. A stammering Twitter handle called @SilentJimLehrer went up during the debate, quickly attracting thousands of followers.

Democrats Will Want To Retool For Future Debates

For all his oratorical gifts, Obama has sometimes struggled in debates. He was often out-mastered during the long series of debates during the Democratic primary season in 2008 and hasn't had much practice since then — except for his debates against Sen. John McCain in 2008.

Republicans, meanwhile, have been nearly salivating for months at the prospect of the vice presidential debate, which takes place on Oct. 11. They believe Romney's running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, has the intellectual and rhetorical firepower to wipe the floor with Vice President Joe Biden.

That may prove to be wishful thinking. Ryan has put many of his own ideas on ice while serving as the loyal No. 2, while Biden is deeply versed in both domestic and foreign policy.

But Obama's lackluster performance — coupled with Biden's remark Tuesday that "the middle class ...has been buried the last four years" — will leave GOP partisans giddy with anticipation of next Thursday's debate.

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