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.

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.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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.


For Obama, 7.8 Could Be Lucky Number

Oct 5, 2012
Originally published on October 5, 2012 1:09 pm

To become president and to be re-elected president takes much luck (among other factors, like money and political skill.) And President Obama appears to be one of the most fortunate presidents in recent memory with the release of the latest employment report.

With a month left before the general election, the U.S. Labor Department's report that the jobless rate dropped to 7.8 percent in September — falling below the 8 percent barrier for the first time since early in Obama's presidency — was good news not just for the nation, but for a president who needed some right about now. The economy also added 114,000 jobs in September, below estimates, but still a decent number.

Coming as it did on the heels of the president's widely derided debate performance against Republican challenger Mitt Romney on Wednesday night, the new economic data was likely to give a timely jolt of renewed confidence to a Democratic presidential campaign that was thrown off stride by the debate.

At a campaign rally in Fairfax, Va., a Washington, D.C., suburb, Obama walked the line of marking the good news while trying not to seem too triumphant — since there were still more than 12 million people looking for work:

"After losing about 800,000 jobs when I took office, our businesses have added 5.2 million new jobs over the past 2-1/2 years. This morning we found out that the unemployment rate has fallen to its lowest level since I took office. More Americans entered the workforce, more people are getting jobs.

"Now, every month reminds us we still have too many of our friends and neighbors who are looking for work. There are too many middle-class families that are struggling to pay the bills. They were struggling long before the crisis hit. Today's news certainly is not an excuse to try to talk down the economy to score a few political points. It's a reminder that this country has come too far to turn back now."

If it was good news for the president, it raised a new challenge for Romney. Would his attacks against Obama's management of the economy be dulled by the good economic news now that the jobless rate has fallen below the 8 percent psychological barrier?

Obama's re-election chances have long been clouded by how halting the economic recovery has been. The president has been haunted specifically by an optimistic forecast, made by some of his economic experts early in 2009 as part of their argument for the $800 billion fiscal stimulus, that it would cause the unemployment rate to peak at 8 percent.

Of course, it eventually went higher, topping out at 9.9 percent in May 2010 before it began declining. The difference, however, between Obama's economists' forecasts — despite all their warnings that such forecasts are inexact — and the reality of the actual jobless numbers, gave Obama's Republican opponents plenty of fodder to attack him over much of his presidency.

While Friday's relatively good employment report clearly had to be a relief for the Obama campaign, it was indisputable that the economy was still far from robust. That left plenty of room for Republicans, especially Romney, to continue their economic attacks against Obama.

And, indeed, that was the only approach that made sense this late in the campaign, since Romney's entire argument for his candidacy boils down to an argument that Obama has failed to turn around the economy — and that the former Massachusetts governor's success in the private sector makes him the better choice for the White House.

Romney issued a news release along those lines:

"This is not what a real recovery looks like. We created fewer jobs in September than in August, and fewer jobs in August than in July, and we've lost over 600,000 manufacturing jobs since President Obama took office. If not for all the people who have simply dropped out of the labor force, the real unemployment rate would be closer to 11%. The results of President Obama's failed policies are staggering — 23 million Americans struggling for work, nearly one in six living in poverty and 47 million people dependent on food stamps to feed themselves and their families. The choice in this election is clear. Under President Obama, we'll get another four years like the last four years. If I'm elected, we will have a real recovery with pro-growth policies that will create 12 million new jobs and rising incomes for everyone."

In the hothouse atmosphere of a presidential race, even the integrity of the economists and statisticians who produce the Bureau of Labor Statistics jobs data became a casualty of political warfare.

Former GE CEO Jack Welch, for instance, through a tweet, questioned the timing of the September jobless rate falling to 7.8 percent:

"Unbelievable jobs numbers..these Chicago guys will do anything..can't debate so change numbers."

The "Chicago guys" would be Obama and his campaign team, which is based in the nation's third largest city.

Coming to the Bureau of Labor Statistics' defense was Lawrence Mishel of the Economic Policy Institute, a progressive think tank.

"It is simply outrageous to make such a claim, and echoes the worrying general distrust of facts that seems to have swept segments of our nation. ... BLS is a highly professional agency with dozens of people involved in the tabulation and analysis of these data. The idea that the data are manipulated is just completely implausible."

It was just the latest example of statistics being seen through a partisan lens.

In recent weeks, the reliability of polls from some of the nation's most respected polling firms has been questioned by Republican critics because they showed Obama leading in most battleground states. Republicans accused the pollsters of sampling bias, of phoning too many Democrats relative to Republicans. Pollsters, and some Republican non-pollsters, have dismissed such suspicions.

One more official jobs report is scheduled for release before the general election. That comes on Nov. 2, just four days before Americans go to the polls.

Coming as close as that one will to the election, it may be too late to do either presidential campaign significant good, especially with all the early voting taking place throughout the nation.

So Friday's report may very well be the last one that really matters to the 2012 presidential election.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.