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

54 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.

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Arizona Hispanics Poised To Swing State Blue

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Constituent Mailbag: A Deluge Of Opposition To Syria Strikes

Sep 9, 2013
Originally published on September 9, 2013 6:28 pm

Rep. Jim Himes is willing to vote against the wishes of his constituents. Probably not this time, though.

"Like the rest of the country, my constituency is pretty much opposed to the intervention in Syria," says the Connecticut Democrat. "Since health care reform, I haven't seen an issue that energized as many people."

His colleagues in the House and Senate report the same.

It's a reflection of a public mood that's turned decisively against military action in Syria. The latest polls show that a solid majority of Americans are opposed to a military intervention.

In terms of calls and emails coming into Congress, opposition has been closer to unanimous.

Florida Republican Rep. Steve Southerland said last week that of the 300 people who called or emailed his office, 96 percent opposed U.S. intervention in Syria. On Thursday, Oregon Democratic Rep. Peter DeFazio reported this tally of constituents who called, emailed or wrote his office: 1135 opposed, 18 for.

Senate offices don't appear to be much different.

"As of last Friday, for our D.C. office, we had almost 450 calls against any U.S. action in Syria, and only two calls in support," says Chad Gallegos, spokesman for Mississippi Republican Sen. Thad Cochran. "In our Jackson office, [there were] almost 200 calls. None of them were supporting U.S. intervention."

It's commonplace for politicians to cite opinion among their constituents, says Kristina Miler, author of Constituency Representation in Congress.

"It lets them show responsiveness," says Miler, who teaches political science at the University of Maryland. "When there's a vote that's particularly difficult or consequential, it provides them some cover — 'I was doing what my people wanted me to do.' "

The switchboards can light up, particularly on emotionally resonant issues such as immigration. But it's rare for members of Congress to share tallies of public opinion with such specificity, Miler says, and unusual for calls and emails to be almost completely one-sided.

All of this takes place amid a huge surge in incoming communications traffic. Communications from constituents have more than doubled — or, in some cases, increased tenfold — according to a 2011 study by the Congressional Management Foundation.

That study found that upwards of 5,000 associations, nonprofit groups and corporations have Web pages designed to drive mail traffic to Capitol Hill — and, in fact, may account for the majority of it.

Certainly, on the Syria issue, there are groups on both the right and the left encouraging people to make their opinions known to Congress.

But the unusually large and vocal outpouring on a foreign policy issue like Syria feels more "organic," says Brad Fitch, president of the Congressional Management Foundation.

"Something like this happens every few years, but it's really not frequent," he says. "For cynical Americans who think their members of Congress don't listen, they do listen."

Members of Congress are less likely to put their fingers in the wind when it comes to national security questions, Fitch says, as opposed to domestic issues. They have access to intelligence that the average person doesn't.

Some members are blunt about having more information than the people they represent and taking positions based on that. California Democrat Dianne Feinstein, who is chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said last week that constituent calls are "overwhelmingly negative" on the Syria question, but they "have not seen what I have seen, or heard what I have heard."

Himes says that constituents sometimes do contact him with erroneous information. In this case, though, he says they approach the issue with "solemnity" and share his sense of the situation.

He says both he and the bulk of his constituents believe that Syrian President Bashar Assad is responsible for the use of chemical weapons, even though the intelligence is "not airtight."

Himes, who says he's "leaning no" on the question of military action in Syria, says he takes his title of "representative" seriously.

"If I'm going to go against overwhelming constituent sentiment, it's because there's an overwhelming argument on the other side," he says. "I haven't heard that yet."

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