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.

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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Donald Trump picked a military town — Virginia Beach, Va. — to give a speech Monday on how he would go about overhauling the Department of Veterans Affairs if elected.

He blamed the Obama administration for a string of scandals at the VA during the past two years, and claimed that his rival, Hillary Clinton, has downplayed the problems and won't fix them.

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GOP Debates As Must-See TV? Why You Should Watch

Feb 16, 2012

We've had nearly a month-long lull in the Republican presidential debates, but brace yourself, they'll be back soon enough.

Although TV ratings have been relatively high, many likely voters say they've got debate fatigue and even some of those most interested in their outcome are probably enjoying the break.

Fox News' Chris Wallace has said the GOP debates are "stupid" and that "it is ridiculous how many debates there have been." Karl Rove bemoaned their shortcomings in a Wall Street Journal op-ed: "Debates have nearly crippled campaigns, chewing into the precious time each candidate has to organize, raise money, set themes, roll out policy and campaign." And Arizona Sen. John McCain said the debates were simply "deteriorating into mudslinging."

But more is what they'll get. The 20th debate this campaign cycle takes place Wednesday in Arizona, and there are at least two more next month. Turn away at your own risk, however. Critics might decry their proliferation and negative tone, but it's at precisely this point in the campaign season when the debates might be most decisive.

By this time in 2008, McCain was clearly looking like the Republican nominee. This year, the field is anything but settled — and that's precisely when debates matter most, says Alan Schroeder, a journalism professor at Northeastern University and author of Presidential Debates: 40 Years of High-Risk TV.

"There are still enough question marks out there about who the nominee should be that the debates continue to be important," Schroeder says.

In what has already proven one of the wildest primary rides in decades, he says, the debates have helped end some candidacies while throwing others a lifeline.

"The first debate that Michele Bachmann took part in on June 13, she was really good in it. She had this really positive debate performance, so she was the headline. All eyes were on her," Schroeder says. "As we've gone through this, that focus has shifted greatly among the various candidates. Herman Cain was a favorite there for a while. Rick Perry, prior to his debate performance, but just as a new candidate, he was the one that all the focus was on."

Oops. A highly embarrassing debate moment for Perry changed all that, and the feeling that his candidacy was finished was almost palpable, says Mitchell McKinney, a political communications professor at University of Missouri-Columbia who has written several books on the presidential election process.

"Several of this cycle's 'oops' moments have been significant," McKinney says. Think also Mitt Romney's $10,000 bet with Perry.

By contrast, Newt Gingrich caught an updraft weeks later by forcefully redirecting a moderator's question in a debate ahead of the South Carolina primary. And Ron Paul was able to channel his supporters' anger over the perception he was being ignored.

And now Rick Santorum, who started out on the fringes in the race, has slowly moved to center stage. The former Pennsylvania senator has had no real standout debate moments, but his performance has been credible.

Often, that's good enough, says Tom Ingram, who served as debate coach for Jon Huntsman before the former Utah governor and ambassador dropped out of the race last month.

"Frankly, sometimes your goal is just to survive – get out without harm, particularly with these multi-party debates like we've seen so many times in the GOP primaries," says Ingram, who also helped manage campaigns for Tennessee's then-Gov. Lamar Alexander and former Sen. Fred Thompson.

Santorum strategist John Brabender thinks his candidate's steady debate performance has been key in the recent surge. Aggressive advertising helped, of course, but the debates mattered, he told NPR last week.

"Even today in American politics, because of the Internet, because of the debates ... people do take the time, get to know the candidates, and it isn't going to just be the candidate who runs the most negative ads who wins," he said.

McKinney agrees that this year's Republican debates "have had a great effect on the primary race and influenced who is seen as the front-runner." But he points out that the debate tactics will have to change once the GOP nominee heads into the general election.

At their core, McKinney says, debates are more about likeability than anything else, and the style that gave some candidates an edge in the primaries probably won't play well in the lead-up to November.

"In the primary, we have seen repeatedly that what carried the day is playing to a partisan audience," he says. "Quick retorts or a red-meat phrase that got that audience cheering and responding that made the candidates seem like they won.

"You don't find that in the general election," McKinney says.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.