Alabama authorities say a home burglary suspect has died after police used a stun gun on the man.  Birmingham police say he resisted officers who found him in a house wrapped in what looked like material from the air conditioner duct work.  The Lewisburg Road homeowner called police Tuesday about glass breaking and someone yelling and growling in his basement.  Police reportedly entered the dwelling and used a stun gun several times on a white suspect before handcuffing him.  Investigators say the man was "extremely irritated" throughout and didn't obey verbal commands.

Montgomery Education Foundation's Brain Forest Summer Learning Academy was spotlighted Wednesday at Carver High School.  The academic-enrichment program is for rising 4th, 5th, and 6th graders in the Montgomery Public School system.  Community Program Director Dillion Nettles, says the program aims to prevent learning loss during summer months.  To find out how your child can participate in next summer's program visit Montgomery-ed.org

A police officer is free on bond after being arrested following a rash of road-sign thefts in southeast Alabama.  Brantley Police Chief Titus Averett says officer Jeremy Ray Walker of Glenwood is on paid leave following his arrest in Pike County.  The 30-year-old Walker is charged with receiving stolen property.  Lt. Troy Johnson of the Pike County Sheriff's Office says an investigation began after someone reported that Walker was selling road signs from Crenshaw County.  Investigators contacted the county engineer and learned signs had been reported stolen from several roads.

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.

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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."

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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.

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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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The Not-So-Great Communicator: Is Obama Overrated As A Speaker?

Oct 15, 2012
Originally published on October 15, 2012 12:41 pm

For a man who was elected president partly on his ability to give a great speech, Barack Obama has been at times a surprisingly poor communicator in office and on the campaign trail.

That may have been most evident earlier this month during the first presidential debate. But Obama generally hasn't been as impressive at getting his message across in his four years in the White House as he was during the campaign that put him there.

His relatively few press briefings have drawn mediocre reviews, and it's hard to think of a single speech he's delivered as president that was as powerful as several he gave when originally running for the office.

"He has had trouble rhetorically in selling his vision," says Martin Medhurst, a professor of rhetoric and political science at Baylor University. "In the last couple of years, he has not really given any memorable addresses and seems to have been on the defensive a great deal."

Moving The Country

Republicans have frequently sought to denigrate Obama by suggesting he's nothing without a Teleprompter. Some accuse him of only making speeches and not doing the spadework of schmoozing members of Congress or convincing the public through concerted effort.

"I don't think any speech he gave as president ever moved the dime in Congress or the country," says David Carney, a GOP consultant. "Maybe we don't remember his speeches because they had no effect."

Even some Obama supporters fret that the president hasn't been able to make a persuasive presentation about his own successes in office, such as the 2010 health care overhaul.

"He's a terrible salesman for his own stuff," says Paul Glastris, a former speechwriter for President Bill Clinton and editor-in-chief of The Washington Monthly.

A Talented 'Oppositional' Orator

There's no question that Obama as president can still deliver a great speech. Glastris and other political speech experts cite several notable examples, including his simple, direct tribute to the four Americans killed last month in Benghazi, Libya; his remarks in accepting the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize; and his speech last year paying tribute to Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and others shot in Tucson, Ariz.

Powerful though they may have been, those speeches were all either ceremonial or an explication of general principles. They weren't attempts to move public opinion on a specific issue.

"He's not found a way to create the conditions with his speechwriters so that he achieves greatness with the speeches that often matter the most, where he's trying to move some policy," Glastris says.

Obama may have been more comfortable speaking as a candidate than as the top national leader, suggests Rajan Menon, a City College of New York political scientist.

He compares Obama to Lech Walesa of Poland and Boris Yeltsin of Russia — opposition figures who were able to rally people by pointing out the bankruptcy of the status quo, but who failed to inspire once in power.

"Obama's magnificent as an oppositional orator — creating hope, laying out a vision, energizing people," Menon says. "But those skills don't necessarily translate into managerial oratory, by which I mean mobilizing support to take on the opposition and get through the blueprint you laid out."

Putting It All Together

Any president will necessarily have to address more mundane topics than a mere candidate. And it's hard to craft soaring rhetoric for, say, an announcement of an increase in the federal budget for mammograms.

Such stylistic challenges, however, may be less important than what Obama actually wants to talk about. Or not talk about.

Obama has not mounted much of a defense during the current campaign for his health care law. The fact that one-third of the cost of his 2009 stimulus law was the result of tax cuts has remained seemingly one of the best-kept secrets in Washington.

Taking credit for killing Osama bin Laden has become a campaign staple. But Menon says that for about a year Obama trumpeted that accomplishment much less than any other president would have.

Glastris argues that the president has done a poor job not only of touting his individual policy successes, but of stitching them together into a coherent narrative — explaining how health care, banking regulation, green energy and education policy all buttress each other as part of a plan to help the economy and the average person.

Obama tried something like this at the outset of his presidency, speaking of a "new foundation for growth" in his inaugural address, but wrapping his disparate policies into a single package is not an approach he's generally stuck with.

Obama's failure to weave the various threads he has pursued into one fabric explains why his acceptance speech last month at the Democratic National Convention fell a little flat, Glastris says.

"There's no sense of an overarching program at all," says Geoffrey Nunberg, a linguist at the University of California, Berkeley.

Salesmanship Is Leadership

Obama derided Republican rival Mitt Romney's performance during their first debate, saying it "wasn't leadership" but "salesmanship." But it's Obama who has failed to make the sale, says Glastris, the Washington Monthly editor.

In an article earlier this year, Glastris argued that Obama has moved more in terms of "sheer legislative tonnage" than any president since Lyndon Johnson, but has been "surprisingly inept" at explaining to the country what he's up to and what he's achieved.

"It's like he doesn't want to brag about his own accomplishments — that's for others to do," Glastris says in an interview. "Dude, whose job is it to sell your stuff? Your job."

Following his party's historic losses in the 2010 midterm elections, Obama told CBS News that "leadership isn't just legislation ... it's a matter of persuading people." Tuesday's debate and the results of next month's election will be the final tests of how well the president has learned that lesson.

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