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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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/.

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Chicago's Privatized Parking Meters Sour Airport Lease Deal

Sep 30, 2013
Originally published on September 30, 2013 7:47 am

Close to 19 million passengers come through Chicago's Midway Airport each year, and many will spend a lot of cash here — on food, drinks, books, gum, parking and rental cars — not to mention the landing fees and gate fees paid by airlines.

There are a lot of opportunities to make money in a bustling hub airport like this, and the city was hoping to cash in.

Last winter, when the city opened the bidding process in what would have been the first commercial airport to go private, six investment firms expressed interest. But by this summer, the number dwindled to just two, and now, one of the final two has dropped out.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel's response? "I said no to the privatization on Midway. It was not right for the city," Emanuel said earlier this month.

Emanuel says without competitive bids, which he hoped could net the city up to $2 billion up front, he could not guarantee a good return on Midway's lease.

But what got in the way actually had nothing to do with the airport. It was Chicago's parking meters.

What 'Hampered The Deal'

Former Mayor Richard Daley privatized the city's parking meters for $1 billion five years ago and rammed the sweetheart deal through a compliant city council without releasing many details to the public. Parking meter rates skyrocketed to the highest in the country. The city spent the $1 billion up front to balance its budget. And for the 75-year term of the lease, Chicago taxpayers still must reimburse the private operator millions of dollars a year for parking spaces the city has to take out of commission. (A 2009 report from the city's inspector general called it a "dubious financial deal.")

With Chicago voters leery of new privatization deals, Emanuel tried to impose conditions on the Midway deal. He shortened the lease term to no more than 40 years, capped food and parking prices and mandated revenue sharing on top of the big payment the private operator would make up front. The mayor also created an independent oversight panel to review the terms of any Midway lease, chaired by Peter Skosey with the non-profit Metropolitan Planning Council.

"Some of these constraints that we put on it to protect the public interest may have hampered the deal a little bit, and I think the numbers just didn't come out as favorably," Skosey says.

In other words, the private investors didn't see enough profit to make it worth their risk.

Now, experts say that doesn't mean privatization deals shouldn't have protections. The key is balancing safeguards for taxpayers with the opportunity for private investors to make a profit. That balance is trickier when leasing airports, as opposed to simpler assets, such as toll highways and bridges, says Joseph Schofer, an expert in transportation policy and finance at Northwestern University.

"These are bigger deals, more complicated deals and what the municipality, what the region or what they government agency is looking for is the movement of a big chunk of cash across the table to them so they can use that. And I think that investors are looking at that saying, 'There's a lot of risk and I'm not that anxious to be the first one to do that,' " Schofer says.

But, Schofer and other experts say airport privatization in this country will eventually take off, especially as the government entities that own and run them increasingly find it more difficult to raise big sums of money in more traditional ways.

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