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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!":


Romney Reboot? Convention Could Be The Ticket

Aug 25, 2012

Mitt Romney, 65, has spent the better part of a decade running for president. And as the son of a Michigan governor who headed a Detroit auto company, he's been in the public eye much longer.

Yet the former Massachusetts governor has remained an enigma to many voters, his political positions malleable, and much of his business and private life — including his Mormon religion — intentionally obscured.

Or simply declared off limits, like years of his tax returns.

In coming days, however, Romney, an unsuccessful GOP primary candidate in 2008, has the opportunity to begin dissolving the mystery of Mitt as he accepts his party's nomination at the Republican National Convention in Tampa.

He'll arrive in Florida locked in a bitter, dead-heat national contest with President Obama, facing an uphill battle in important battleground states but within striking distance of the White House.

The convention, however, comes in the wake of a tumultuous political period that has put Republicans and Romney, who amassed great wealth as a Boston-based private equity guru, on the defensive about women's health and reproductive rights, and over the remaking of Medicare under the budget plan of his running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin.

Romney drove the conversation further off message Friday, when he made a joke in his home state of Michigan about how "no one's ever asked to see my birth certificate." It was a reference to the fringe "birther" conspiracists who, despite evidence showing that Obama was born in Hawaii, continue to question his birthplace.

It's far from the economy-and-jobs message the nominee-in-waiting intended to ride to Tampa and beyond.

But in the convention, Tropical Storm Isaac permitting, lies great potential for a national relaunch of Romney, who emerged from a rollicking primary season as the establishment candidate. And he's been giving clear hints of what he'll emphasize.

In recent days, Romney has touted lessons learned from his Bain Capital business experience and his work on the Salt Lake City Olympics. He's also talked about his late father's influence and taken a "drill, baby, drill" page from Sarah Palin's 2008 convention playbook.

As Romney moves to the big, potentially defining stage in Tampa, we looked at what the candidate might want to do to make a case for himself to a national audience.

Talk To Ohio

Ohio voters may be leaning toward Obama at this point in the race, according to two new polls, but the state with its trove of 18 electoral votes remains the ultimate battleground this fall.

Romney would be well-advised to imagine he is speaking directly to the Buckeye State voters, if not by name, because the payoff would resonate far behind the state's boundaries, says Eric Rademacher, director of the Ohio Poll out of the University of Cincinnati.

And that means talking about the economy — not selling a Medicare redo or defending an abortion position.

"We have conducted the Ohio Poll since 1982, and during that time I have been frequently surprised at the degree to which the attitudes and opinions match the attitudes and opinions of Americans as reflected in national polls," Rademacher says. "The current Ohio Poll is no different."

Released this week, it shows Ohio voters focused on economic conditions — jobs, lowering unemployment and addressing the budget deficit and federal debt.

"The president will continue to emphasize the positives on his record and his plan for the future," Rademacher says. "The onus is on the Romney campaign to critique Obama's presidency and to provide an alternative."

All other issues will be prioritized by how well they connect to economic considerations, he says, barring a significant foreign policy event.

There is still opportunity to persuade voters: In Ohio, 13 percent of voters supporting either Romney or Obama told Ohio Poll surveyors that they were open to changing their minds; 4 percent said they were undecided.

"Sometimes we forget that politics is not exactly the No. 1 passion of Americans," Rademacher said, pointing to this opportunity for Romney: "Many Ohio voters have not paid much attention to politics since the primaries."

Now, they are.

Embrace Religion, Gently

Romney will make history this week when he becomes the first Mormon to accept the presidential nomination of a major political party.

"It's a notable moment," says religion expert David Campbell, a political scientist who directs the University of Notre Dame's Rooney Center for the Study of American Democracy. He is also a Mormon.

"This is the first presidential election ever where none of the presidential or vice presidential candidates are white Protestants, and that's really remarkable," Campbell says. "It says something about the diversity of American, not just racial, but religion, too."

With polls showing conservative Christians — a key part of the GOP base — uncomfortable with Romney's religion, the candidate has worn his faith lightly and only recently invited reporters to join him during a Mormon service.

He addressed his faith in a 2007 speech, but not specifically again.

Campbell suggests, however, that Romney's faith is a key to voters' understanding of him and how he leads his life.

"The course of this campaign has demonstrated that when Mitt Romney's experience as a leader in the church is covered in the press, it serves to deepen voters' understanding of him," Campbell says. "It humanizes him, and I think there's not much risk in opening that part of his life."

Chronicles of Romney's time as a pastorlike Mormon bishop in Boston include accounts of him meeting with couples struggling in their marriages and meeting with families, and have evoked powerful images.

"It seems to me that when that side of his faith is put on display, it can only help him," Campbell says. "Undoubtedly, in the campaign they are considering whether [if] they open that door, it will swing wide open and all questions about Mormonism will emerge."

A bit unfairly, it can be argued. Romney's vice presidential pick Ryan, and Vice President Biden, both Catholics, aren't quizzed on their church's belief in transubstantiation, Campbell notes. Nor was Connecticut Sen. Joseph Lieberman, the Democratic Party's vice presidential nominee in 2000, who is Jewish, asked to authenticate the story of Moses parting the Red Sea.

Mormons, proud of the positive publicity the church received after Salt Lake City hosted the 2002 Winter Olympics, were surprised at the antagonism and resistance Romney faced for his beliefs when he ran in 2008, Campbell says.

Romney has a balance to strike, certainly, but if he can talk about his faith in a way that helps voters relate to him, it could be invaluable. Why? He continues to trail Obama badly among voters on that elusive "likability" measure.

Humanize, Humanize, Humanize

At the 1992 Democratic convention, the party introduced its candidate with a film called The Man from Hope.

It launched Bill Clinton, in all his promise and with a nod to his flaws, into the national consciousness and is considered the gold standard — no matter your feelings about the former president — in political messaging.

Hollywood film and television producer Harry Thomason and his wife, Linda Bloodworth-Thomason, created the film and managed the president's image for years to come.

We asked Harry Thomason how Romney's team should introduce him next week; how the longtime married father of five, and grandfather of 18, could replicate the moment Clinton had two decades ago.

"They've got to pluck a few heartstrings," Thomason says. But he adds that creating a compelling human narrative for Romney presents more challenges than it did for Clinton, whose hardscrabble beginnings in the segregated South and burning ambition provided enough material for "three good acts."

"The problem is that [Romney] seems to have suffered very little adversity, and in storytelling it helps if there's something that doesn't go right," Thomason says.

"He seems like a very nice guy, a private person, and that's admirable," he says. "So you have to use the people who know him best to tell the story — family and very close friends. The kinds of things that you can make resonate — not something he can tell, but others can."

People who are going to vote are going to watch the conventions, said Thomason, an Obama supporter.

"I believe," he says, "this is terribly important for him."

On that, Obama and Romney supporters can agree.

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