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.

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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Even Before The Shutdown, Food Supply Regulated Itself

Oct 15, 2013
Originally published on October 15, 2013 6:12 pm



Over the past few weeks, a debate has raged here in Washington about the U.S. food supply. The big question: Is the government shutdown making our food less safe. Since October 1st, both the FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have had to furlough workers, and that includes some workers involved in the inspection of food processing plants and who monitor outbreaks of food-borne illness.

NPR's Allison Aubrey joins us now. Hi, Allison.


SIEGEL: What's the story? Should we be more worried about the safety of the food we're eating now or compared to before the shutdown began?

AUBREY: You know, let's make clear that essential workers such as meat inspectors have been on the job since the shutdown began. Every slaughterhouse, meat production facility, in order to operate, has to have these USDA inspectors. So that has not been interrupted. I think the shutdown has affected other government programs integral to food. We reported last week the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had to bring back a whole bunch of furloughed workers, to respond to a food-borne illness outbreak investigation.

Also, it is true that the Food and Drug Administration has had to cease some activities, such as inspections at plants and some monitoring of food imports due to the reduced staff. And so, you know, does this mean that in some cases where perhaps imported seafood may have been checked the FDA has not been able to keep up normal levels of surveillance - yes. But I should point out that only about two percent of food products entering the country are physically examined, even under normal circumstances.

So it's not as we went from, you know, a system where everything is inspected than nothing.

SIEGEL: But most of us have not shut down eating food...


AUBREY: That's right.


SIEGEL: ...or even seafood, so how does my grocery store make sure that the fish or the seafood that I'm buying is safe in that case?

AUBREY: Well, I think here's part of the story that a lot of people don't realize. Major retailers are increasingly relying on independent, third-party certifiers to make sure their products are safe. So if I walk into, say, a Costco, and pick out some fish - some tilapia or shrimp - Costco has mandated that all of its suppliers provide what's called a Certificate of Analysis. And this indicates that the product comes from facilities that have best practices in place, and do screenings for things like pathogens and contaminants.

So, you know, a lot of the retailers are moving in this direction. Wal-Mart and some of the big grocery store chains do the same thing.

SIEGEL: That's seafood. Is it also true for fruits and vegetables, all food?

AUBREY: Yes. Well, throughout the produce industry it's typical to have these third-party certifiers. You know, basically they come in and do audits of the facilities and farms. And after a big outbreak of food-borne illness linked to spinach, about 10 years ago, the whole produce industry sort of got together and rethought things. And they've set up the systems to really minimize the likelihood of contamination.

So, for instance, a lot of outbreaks are caused by - bear with me here for moment...


AUBREY: ...feces, feces from animal waste, from people, from water. And so, the industry has devised practices and guidelines on the farms and in production facilities, to really minimize the risk.

SIEGEL: But when you say third-party inspections, are we talking about in effect the growers, the food industry itself inspecting itself?


AUBREY: Well, I think what I want to make clear here is - yes and no. But what I want to make clear here is that there are really two systems in place. There's the government system. And then there are these industry quality assurance programs, shall we say, where the industry sort of gets together and does this collectively. And, you know, no one system is likely to be completely successful. There's never going to be a time when every piece of lettuce or every piece of fish is tested.

So we've really entered an era where there is a marriage between government regulation and this industry self-regulation.

SIEGEL: And in a word, you're saying we can still eat.

AUBREY: Yeah, as in the end, you know, we do as consumers manage the risk, too. That's why we're always told to cook our food properly and to clean our cooking surfaces.

SIEGEL: Thank you, Allison Aubrey.

AUBREY: Thank you very much.


SIEGEL: This is NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.