Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton was in Springfield, Ill., Wednesday where she sought to use the symbolism of a historic landmark to draw parallels to a present-day America that is in need of repairing deepening racial and cultural divides.

The Old State Capitol — where Abraham Lincoln delivered his famous "A house divided" speech in 1858 warning against the ills of slavery and where Barack Obama launched his presidential bid in 2007 — served as the backdrop for Clinton as she spoke of how "America's long struggle with race is far from finished."

Episode 711: Hooked on Heroin

59 minutes ago

When we meet the heroin dealer called Bone, he has just shot up. He has a lot to say anyway. He tells us about his career--it pretty much tracks the evolution of drug use in America these past ten years or so. He tells us about his rough past. And he tells us about how he died a week ago. He overdosed on his own supply and his friend took his body to the emergency room, then left.

New British Prime Minister Theresa May announced six members of her Cabinet Wednesday.

Amid a sweeping crackdown on dissent in Egypt, security forces have forcibly disappeared hundreds of people since the beginning of 2015, according to a new report from Amnesty International.

It's an "unprecedented spike," the group says, with an average of three or four people disappeared every day.

The Republican Party, as it prepares for its convention next week has checked off item No. 1 on its housekeeping list — drafting a party platform. The document reflects the conservative views of its authors, many of whom are party activists. So don't look for any concessions to changing views among the broader public on key social issues.

Many public figures who took to Twitter and Facebook following the murder of five police officers in Dallas have faced public blowback and, in some cases, found their employers less than forgiving about inflammatory and sometimes hateful online comments.

As Venezuela unravels — with shortages of food and medicine, as well as runaway inflation — President Nicolas Maduro is increasingly unpopular. But he's still holding onto power.

"The truth in Venezuela is there is real hunger. We are hungry," says a man who has invited me into his house in the northwestern city of Maracaibo, but doesn't want his name used for fear of reprisals by the government.

The wiry man paces angrily as he speaks. It wasn't always this way, he says, showing how loose his pants are now.

Ask a typical teenage girl about the latest slang and girl crushes and you might get answers like "spilling the tea" and Taylor Swift. But at the Girl Up Leadership Summit in Washington, D.C., the answers were "intersectional feminism" — the idea that there's no one-size-fits-all definition of feminism — and U.N. climate chief Christiana Figueres.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Arizona Hispanics Poised To Swing State Blue

4 hours ago
Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Pages

Atwood Imagines Humanity's Next Iteration In 'MaddAddam'

Sep 13, 2013

With her weird, wistful new novel MaddAddam, Margaret Atwood completes the apocalyptic trilogy she began with Oryx and Crake and The Year of the Flood. Like its predecessors, MaddAddam is a blend of satiric futurism and magic realism, a snarky but soulful peek at what happens to the world after a mad scientist decimates humanity with a designer disease. That mad scientist is the brilliant bioengineer Crake, whose story is retold in this novel by the Crakers, the post-humans he designed to experience no sexual jealousy, and to eat nothing but plants.

Like Year of the Flood, MaddAddam deals with the question of how to rebuild a better civilization in the ashes of what came before. In Year, we met the Gardeners, a group of eco-spiritualists who practice a kind of environmental animism. Now, in MaddAddam, we discover that the Gardeners are among the only survivors of the pandemic — partly because their religion taught them survival skills, and partly because many of them worked with Crake on the destruction of humanity.

Either way, they were prepared. But as the novel opens, all their enemies in the evil nature-destroying corporations are dead. Without any target for their wrath, the Gardeners are searching for meaning. Plus, their leader Adam has disappeared, leaving no instructions for how to deal with the world after the "waterless flood" he predicted. The only other creatures they have for company are the strange, childlike Crakers, who worship their all-too-human makers as gods.

What's delightful about this novel is that Atwood always balances philosophically weighty topics with a humorous realism. Yes, there is a search for meaning and spiritual sustenance here, but there are also petty jealousies among the Gardeners and arguments over who will do the chores. Post-apocalyptic life, observes our Gardener protagonist Toby, is kind of like high school. At times, Atwood's prose becomes so bitingly satirical and whimsical that it's reminiscent of literary science fiction writer Joanna Russ, whose book The Female Man is an astonishing blend of multiverse hopping and bitter feminist comedy.

The novel moves between Toby's everyday life among the Gardeners, and the story her lover Zeb tells about his past and that of his brother Adam, founder of the Gardeners. Like many of the characters in these novels, Zeb and Adam have been horrifically abused – and they supported Crake's apocalyptic project because they believed humanity needed a good culling. When Adam wasn't leading the gentle Gardeners, he used the codename MaddAddam online to bring together a group of dangerously smart gene hackers to infiltrate biotech corporations.

So beneath every anti-tech eco-terrorist there lurks a tech-obsessed mad scientist, perhaps. There are a lot of satisfyingly realistic paradoxes like this in the novel — at one point, Toby remarks sardonically that humans are brilliant at believing in contradictions. But there's a chance that the Crakers have been engineered not to have that self-deluding capability. The other thread in the novel takes us into the Gardeners' relationship with the Crakers, whom Toby has reluctantly adopted as her responsibility.

Each night, the Crakers beg Toby for a story about their origins, and we listen in as she mythologizes the genocidal Crake, as well as Zeb, the Gardeners, and even a spirit called Fuck. (She has to invent Fuck when the Crakers keep asking why all the Gardners utter the invocation "oh fuck" when they are particularly upset.) MaddAddam dives deeply into the art of myth-making, both deliberate and accidental, and its role in creating a new world. Of course, we never quite know whether these new humans will be any better than Homo sapiens. And that's the nasty little tweak at the heart of this often-moving story.

Atwood relishes a good apocalypse, and there is no nostalgic invitation to mourn the loss of humanity here. The waterless flood that pulped our species is never portrayed as anything but the clearcutting we deserved. As a result, there's no ambiguity about the apocalypse bringing about a utopia. Genocide is the best thing that could have happened to us. The only ambiguity is whether that Utopia can be maintained in the long run, by our GMO progeny.

For those who have followed the whole trilogy, there's also an intriguing and sneaky shift in Atwood's portrait of those GMO creatures. Oryx and Crake often read like a screed against genetic engineering, but in MaddAddam our greatest hope comes from the new species that were born in labs. Not only do we come to understand and even love the Crakers, but we are also invited to view the Pigoons (human/pig splices), the Mo'Hairs (human/goat splices), and other GMO creatures as part of a new natural order of things. So the spiritual environmentalism of the future will include even the most artificial products of the world that Crake wanted to destroy.

Thoughtful, sardonic, and full of touches that almost resemble a fairy tale, MaddAddam will stick with you long after you've put it down. It's an apocalypse story about new life, and a condemnation of humanity that ends, however uneasily, with a celebration of it.

Annalee Newitz writes about the intersection of science and culture. She's the editor in chief of io9, and the author of Scatter, Adapt and Remember: How Humans Will Survive a Mass Extinction.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.