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The last time a so-called party "nominating convention" actually nominated a presidential candidate was in 1976. Now that's the business of primaries and caucuses state by state. That does not mean today's TV extravaganzas aren't important. We sketch the history of party conventions and look at why they still matter. Also, today's shooting outside the Empire State Building in midtown Manhattan, and Lance Armstrong gives up his fight against charges of doping—and his medal for cycling.

Banner image: President Gerald Ford, as the Republican nominee, shakes hands with nomination foe Ronald Reagan on the closing night of the 1976 Republican National Convention, August 19, 1976

Making News Shooting Outside the Empire State Building 7 MIN, 4 SEC

A shootout in midtown Manhattan near the Empire State Building took the lives of two people and wounded seven more this morning. Matthew Keys, reporter for Reuters News Service, has an update.

Matthew Keys, Reuters News Service (@ProducerMatthew)

Main Topic Political Party Conventions: What Are They For? 33 MIN, 57 SEC

Party conventions used to nominate presidential candidates. Now that's all done in advance.  Next week's Republican Party convention plans to break with tradition. Instead of waiting until Wednesday, they'll nominate Mitt Romney on Monday, the first day of their convention in Tampa. Does that mean conventions don't matter? Recent history suggests that they do. Remember Barack Obama's keynote speech in 2004? Remember Sarah Palin in 2008? We hear about conventions past — with the voices of Franklin Roosevelt, Hubert Humphrey, John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan. How have the raucous gatherings of political insiders evolved into carefully scripted TV productions? Will the Republicans finally unite behind Mitt Romney next week in Tampa? Can they survive the Florida weather?

Walter Shapiro, Roll Call / Yale University (@MrWalterShapiro)
Ted Widmer, Brown University
Mike Vinich, delegate, 1960 Democratic National Convention
Donald Katz, delegate, 1976 Republican National Convention
Allan Lichtman, American University; author of “The Embattled Vote in America: From the Founding to the Present" (@AllanLichtman)
Martin Cohen, James Madison University

The Party Decides

Marty Cohen

Reporter's Notebook Lance Armstrong Walks Away from Doping Fight 9 MIN, 16 SEC

One of America's iconic athletes has given up the fight to disprove allegations by the US Anti-Doping Agency that he was a ring-leader in systematic doping on his Tour-winning teams. Lance Armstrong, world renowned for fighting back after a bout with testicular cancer to win seven Tours de France, will be erased from the record books. Bonnie D. Ford writes about cycling for ESPN.com. John Hoberman, a Professor of Germanic Studies at the University of Texas at Austin, is a sports historian and the author of Testosterone Dreams: Rejuvenation, Aphrodesia, Doping.

Bonnie D. Ford, ESPN (@Bonnie_D_Ford)
John Hoberman, University of Texas at Austin

Testosterone Dreams

John Hoberman

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