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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!":


Voters Angry At Washington Gridlock May Want To Look In The Mirror

Oct 1, 2012
Originally published on October 1, 2012 3:00 pm

Like plenty of other voters, Tony Hocamp is disgusted by Washington. Too often, he says, politicians put their partisan interests ahead of doing what's right for the country.

"The politicians we have in office right now are concerned about nothing but themselves and getting re-elected," says Hocamp, who runs a motel in Marengo, Iowa.

It's easy to get upset during a political era in which the leaders of the two major parties seem incapable of putting aside their differences and working together to solve the nation's problems.

But if there's plenty of blame to go around, some of it belongs to the voters themselves. They are the ones who have chosen the politicians. Quite often, they reward those who sit at either end of the ideological spectrum while punishing compromisers.

In part, that's because voters are becoming more like rigid partisans — unwilling to see the other side as having any good ideas or political virtue.

"The folks who've worked across party lines are generally being replaced," says Joe Hackney, the Democratic leader in the North Carolina House. "The public does ultimately hold the key to that."

Living Separate Lives

Recent polls underscore how much more polarized Americans have become.

Public perception about whether the economy is getting better is increasingly divided along partisan lines. Over the past 50 years, the percentage of people who said they'd be upset if their children married someone from the other party has jumped to 40 percent from 5 percent.

We live in an era when the choice of chicken sandwiches can become a political marker. In one widely noted poll last week, even people's beer preferences were shown to be predictable based on their partisan inclinations.

Increasingly, Americans are going so far as to change their opinions about key issues in order to better match their partisan group, says Bill Bishop, co-editor of The Daily Yonder, which follows rural issues.

"With issues as close to their heart as abortion and gay marriage, people are changing what they believe to stay with their [political] tribe," he says.

Still Sorting

Bishop commissioned a poll, which was released last week, that found people split along partisan lines when it came to their responses to immigration. Fair enough. But they split even more when informed that they were hearing the Republican or Democratic platform planks on the issue.

In other words, just knowing the partisan label behind a position made people more likely to embrace or reject it.

"If you ask people how they feel about the deficit or the DREAM Act, you'll find people are hovering around the middle," says Shanto Iyengar, a political scientist at Stanford University. "But over time, they have internalized the rhetoric they hear, that everyone on the other side is a total fill-in-the-blank."

Iyengar co-authored a new study concluding that people's hostility to the "other" party has spiked in recent decades. There's an echo chamber effect to this.

People are more likely to get their news from partisan news outlets and social media than they were a generation ago. And Americans are increasingly likely to live among people who share similar partisan leanings, says Bishop, who wrote a book called The Big Sort about this phenomenon.

Back in 1976, only about one-fourth of Americans (26.8 percent) lived in landslide counties, which Bishop defines as giving the Democratic or Republican presidential candidates margins of 20 percentage points or higher. By 2008, nearly half of Americans lived in landslide counties (47.6 percent).

Because Americans are able to shop around, in essence, for support for their own opinions through geography and media, they are now more polarized than Europeans — exactly the opposite of what was the case 30 years ago, says Torben Lütjen, a political scientist at the University of Dusseldorf in Germany.

Lütjen is studying heavily Democratic Dane County and heavily Republican Waukesha County in Wisconsin, finding that people in these strongholds have completely separate and distinct worldviews and can't fathom their counterparts in the other place.

"We all love compromise," Lütjen says. "Then again, we only love compromise that serves our own interests."

An Elite Phenomenon?

There are political scientists who believe that it's still mainly the political "elites" — officeholders and interest groups — who are heavily polarized. Average voters, they maintain, are not so ideologically divided.

"The electorate has become more polarized, but not hugely so," says Jonathan Rauch, a guest scholar at the Brookings Institution.

Voters are simply responding to the choices they're given by a political and primary system that is "essentially rigged to favor extremists," he says. "You cannot have moderate voters without moderate candidates."

The number of voters who describe themselves as independent has been growing in recent years. Still, even they tend to hold strong partisan inclinations, says Elizabeth Theiss-Morse, a political scientist at the University of Nebraska.

Many people, regardless of affiliation, subscribe to the mistaken belief that a big majority of Americans think the way they do, she says, and that it's only the intransigence of politicians that keeps them from doing the right thing.

"As with bad breath, ideology is always what the other person has," as the British cultural critic Terry Eagleton once put it.

Not Going Away

The world looks different to voters in, say, Iowa City than it does to those in more rural Marengo, Iowa — or those in liberal Rhode Island, versus more conservative Texas. Rather than simply being a partisan universe of its own, Congress thus mirrors differences that exist among voters in the country.

And those differences aren't likely to fade anytime soon, says Alan Abramowitz, author of the recent book The Polarized Public.

Voters are increasingly divided by race, along cultural lines, on ideological grounds and by geography, says Abramowitz, who teaches political science at Emory University.

"There's a very strong division among white voters that didn't used to exist or used to be very small, based on religious beliefs and practices," Abramowitz says. "For the people who care about them, on those issues, it's very hard to compromise."

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