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

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Even In Hollywood Pulp Fiction, More Can Mean A Lot Less

Oct 10, 2013
Originally published on October 11, 2013 3:34 pm

There's the strong silent type, and then there's the strong mute type. In Robert Rodriguez's Machete Kills, journeyman tough-guy Danny Trejo skews toward the latter. If the recurring catchphrase in these films is "Machete don't ____" — as in, Machete don't text, Machete don't tweet, Machete don't die — the fact is that what Machete mostly don't do is speak.

At times, to be blunt, he comes off like a silent film star who's accidentally lumbered onto the set of a bloody, violent, thoroughly ridiculous talkie: reluctant to speak, sometimes a little confused by his surroundings.

He may be right to feel that way. The fact that Machete Kills even exists is the latest in an unlikely series of events that started with a jokey fake trailer in the 2007 double feature Grindhouse, from Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino; somehow the Machete films have become a franchise venture, making a leading man out of a guy who might otherwise have spent a career playing the snarling background heavy.

2010's Machete bucked the odds and managed to successfully re-create, at feature length, all the things that made that compact 2-minute ersatz trailer such fun. It worked both as a genuinely admiring homage to its grimy '70s vengeance-cinema roots and as a funny, self-aware recognition of that genre's inherent amateurish excesses. It even managed to work in some bluntly effective political commentary on immigration policy.

Sadly, Machete Kills proves that there's a limit to how thin the concept can be stretched. That limit is somewhere around the point where Charlie Sheen — playing the smoking, swearing, assault-rifle toting President of the United States — makes a joke playing into the "winning" meme he spawned in real life. The whole thing collapses, thereupon, into a heap of winking self-reference.

Sheen isn't the only bad-press-plagued celebrity a-gnawing at the scenery here, either. Mel Gibson steps in as villain Luther Voz, right-wing survivalist, military-industrial profiteer and smug one-percenter. Instead of a bunker stocked with canned goods and guns, he's got a whole space station meant to accommodate a privileged few should the nuclear gambit he's attempting to engineer on Earth come to fruition.

(Mexican laborers are being kidnapped to perform the station's menial functions — about the only significant remnant of the first film's political agenda.)

Averting nuclear winter is a big step up in assignments for Machete, the ex-Federale who last time around was tasked merely with foiling political scheming and a bit of personal vengeance. But this is a sequel, and everything has to be bigger and badder and bloodier. Even Machete's signature weapon has been souped up; now it comes in both an electrical model and a completely impractical triple-pronged switchblade version.

There's still a measure of fun to be had here, to be sure — Rodriguez looks for ever more creative ways for Machete to kill, beyond the standard beheadings and lengthwise bodily bisections, and there's a gag with a helicopter rotor that's truly inspired. And the revolving cast of actors filing extended cameos as the shape-shifting "El Camaleon" is, admittedly, an often hilarious touch.

But where the first film reflected its simple roots by not reaching for too much, here it too often feels like Rodriguez is trying too hard to impress. It's as if, after getting by on pure charm on the first date, he showed up for the second armed with flowers, chocolates, a teddy bear and a ring. It's just too much — and the excess is compounded by the need for digital effects without the budget to make them even slightly convincing.

The best moments in Machete Kills are the simple ones, like a playful jab at our expectations of gratuitous sex: It's there, but Rodriguez serves it up with a clever means of obscuring it. Also great is the trailer — of course it all comes back to a trailer — for the proposed third installment, Machete Kills Again ... In Space. But we might be better off if Rodriguez took a cue from his protagonist's less-is-more reticence, and let that one just remain a trailer.

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