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Zig Ziglar, upbeat speaker, dies

In Zig Ziglar’s world, the morning alarm rang on the “opportunity clock.” And “if you aren’t on fire” when you get to work, “then your wood is wet.” And you have to remember that “money’s not the most important thing in life, but it’s reasonably close to oxygen.” And there will be setbacks, but “failure is an event, not a person.”

Ziglar, a motivational speaker whose “Success Rallies,” more than 25 self-help books, “Born to Win” seminars and countless audiotapes attracted millions with homespun advice on career advancement and moral uplift, died Wednesday at a hospital in the Dallas suburb of Plano. He was 86.

He had pneumonia, said his assistant, Laurie Magers.

He was a presence at corporate retreats and conferences for firms such as IBM and J.C. Penney. He won over crowds with his faith-filled proverbs and earnest metaphors about setting goals and facing down adversity:

“You can get everything in life you want if you will just help other people get what they want!” and “The more you gripe about your problems, the more problems you have to gripe about!”

1 in 5 charter schools targeted for closure

As many as one in five U.S. charter schools should be shut down because they are in the bottom 15 percent of public schools in their states, according to a group representing states, districts and universities that grant them permission to operate.

The National Association of Charter School Authorizers oversees more than half of the nation’s 5,600 charter schools.

The call for closing poor-performers carries special weight because it comes from an organization funded by charter-school advocates such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Romney and Obama to discuss ideas

Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney will have lunch today at the White House with President Obama, three weeks after the conclusion of a tough, sometimes nasty, election season.

“There are a lot of ideas that I don’t think are partisan ideas but are just smart ideas about how can we make the federal government more customer-friendly,” Obama said.