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

1 hour 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

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

Pages

'The Counselor' Can't Make The Case For Itself

Oct 24, 2013

It was Saint-Exupery's Little Prince who declared: "It's a little lonely in the desert." That's a notion writer Cormac McCarthy knows well, his later novels often taking place in dusty Western locales among those isolated from society. But what's also even more true in McCarthy's work is what the snake replies to the Little Prince: "It is also lonely among men." McCarthy's characters look for meaning and completion in others, occasionally find it, but ultimately find humanity at large — and often themselves — to be too self-centered and deeply flawed to overcome the fundamental solitude of existence.

That's certainly true in The Counselor, McCarthy's first produced screenplay written directly for the big screen. The pulpy story — at its core a fairly simple one of a drug deal gone horribly awry for a newbie to North American drug trafficking — gives the author ample opportunity to explore the notion that given the opportunity to allow our inherent greed to run rampant, there's little that can save us from the consequences of our own worst inclinations.

Michael Fassbender plays that newbie, the unnamed Texas attorney referred to in the movie's title. He's a man who, judging by the Bentley he drives and the impressive diamond he purchases at the start of the film to propose to Laura (Penelope Cruz), is doing pretty well for himself. But he's also a man of enormous appetites, and despite finally meeting a woman capable of getting him to abandon his womanizing past, his lust for money isn't so easily quelled.

So he finds his way into a multimillion-dollar drug deal with his old pal Reiner (Javier Bardem, for the second time sporting a ludicrous haircut in a McCarthy adaptation), and Reiner's liaison with contacts on the Mexican side of the trade, Westray (played with sleazy pragmatism by Brad Pitt). The self-confident air that presumably aids the counselor in the courtroom belies a deep naivete about the realities of the venture he's embarking on. And when things go wrong, they go very, very wrong.

It's a work filled to overflowing with subtext and thoughtful, if bleak, ruminations on our true natures — on the inescapability of evil, the pointlessness of grief, the finality of death. Why, then, does Ridley Scott's film of the material — despite an immersive central performance from Fassbender, and McCarthy's towering talent for arranging words like meticulous and austere flower arrangements — ultimately feel so empty?

Part of the issue may be that Scott, in his later work, has made a habit of keeping his subjects at a kind of lifeless distance. While he's always had a knack for well-placed restraint, for much of the past decade that has translated into films of consummate professionalism that lack bite. While The Counselor is gorgeously staged and constructed, Scott's slick, straightforward style never quite meshes with the harsh grit of McCarthy's observations on the human condition.

The world McCarthy creates is not quite our own. Characters speak in openly philosophical terms that aren't quite natural, often ending conversations with the sort of meditative aphorisms that are more often written than spoken aloud. When Reiner points out the emotional chill in a viewpoint expressed by his scheming and severe girlfriend Malkina (Cameron Diaz), she responds, "I think the truth has no temperature."

There's an element of the surreal in that approach, and McCarthy uses that unreal world, along with a generous helping of the blackest humor, to illuminate the harsh and unfunny realities of our own lives. But Scott's formality has a tendency to handcuff the more fanciful elements on the page.

If The Counselor is a failure, it's at least a fascinating one. Much of the reason for that is time spent in the theater examining why the film isn't working. The plot doesn't provide enough distraction to hold those thoughts at bay, and this is where McCarthy betrays himself to an extent. The boilerplate pulp of his story lacks much in the way of the unexpected and is ultimately an insufficient delivery mechanism for the profundity his work aspires to, like caviar dolloped atop a stale saltine.

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