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.

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!":

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Presidential Debates Can Be Great Theater, But How Much Do They Matter?

Sep 16, 2012
Originally published on September 17, 2012 8:52 am

Even before the final balloons fell on the Republican and Democratic conventions, pundits were talking up the next big American political viewing experience — the presidential debates.

These match-ups, in which candidates actually share a stage after months of bruising one another from far range, can lead to moments of rhetorical brilliance, or the opposite — getting caught off-guard and making a gaffe.

Historically, debates have been seen as potential "game changers" in tight races. But political scientist John Sides, writing in the Washington Monthly, claims that data tells another story. Writes Sides.

"That presidential debates can be 'game changers' is a belief almost universally held by political pundits and strategists. Political scientists, however, aren't so sure. Indeed, scholars who have looked most carefully at the data have found that, when it comes to shifting enough votes to decide the outcome of the election, presidential debates have rarely, if ever, mattered."

Sides, an associate professor of political science at George Washington University, continues:

"The small or nonexistent movement in voters' preferences is evident when comparing the polls before and after each debate or during the debate season as a whole. Political lore often glosses over or even ignores the polling data. Even those who do pay attention to polls often fail to separate real changes from random blips due to sampling error. A more careful study by political scientist James Stimson finds little evidence of game changers in the presidential campaigns between 1960 and 2000. Stimson writes, 'There is no case where we can trace a substantial shift to the debates.'"

"At best, debates provide a 'nudge' in very close elections like 1960, 1980, or 2000. A even more comprehensive study, by political scientists Robert Erikson and Christopher Wlezien, which includes every publicly available poll from the presidential elections between 1952 and 2008, comes to a similar conclusion: excluding the 1976 election, which saw [President Jimmy] Carter's lead drop steadily throughout the fall, 'the best prediction from the debates is the initial verdict before the debates.' In other words, in the average election year, you can accurately predict where the race will stand after the debates by knowing the state of the race before the debates. Erikson and Wlezien conclude that evidence of debate effects is 'fragile.'"

Debates do help voters learn new information, but what voters learn is unlikely to change many minds, Sides writes.

Debates tend to draw the politically inclined who already favor one party or the other, some political scientists argue. And timing is also a factor. The televised sparring happens so close to Election Day that in several states, early in-person voting will have started before even the first debate.

Even so, expect the three televised presidential debates (and one vice presidential faceoff) to draw millions of eyes. Each general election cycle, the debates are among the most watched television programs of the campaign season, and this year will certainly be no different.

Latest polls show President Obama and Republican Mitt Romney continue to engage in a tight race less than eight weeks before the Nov. 6 election.

Romney and Obama are schedule to go head-to-head on Oct. 3, Oct. 16 and Oct. 22. That final debate is dedicated solely to foreign policy, an issue that was all but dormant this cycle until the international events of this week. The vice presidential debate between Joe Biden and Paul Ryan is set for Oct. 11.

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