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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Examining The Psychology Of Sports Fans

Oct 1, 2013
Originally published on October 1, 2013 6:35 am



After 162 regular season baseball games, the Cincinnati Reds and the Pittsburgh Pirates will meet tonight in a sudden death playoff. For my team, the Pirates, it's their first time in the post-season in 21 years. And after tonight, after just one game in a scheme surely invented by sadists, the Pirates might be out of the playoffs.

I've asked NPR social science correspondent Shankar Vedantam to come in. He's here to talk about a range of theories to help explain the psychology of sports fans. But there's a good chance this could just turn into a therapy session. Shankar, welcome.

SHANKAR VEDANTAM, BYLINE: Hello, David. Please tell me about your childhood.


GREENE: We don't have a couch in here. But my childhood is when I started loving the Pirates and Steelers. My mom was a big fan and I have these amazing memories of being in Pittsburgh. And it was like the whole city - the day after a big win - you could just feel sort of the uplifting emotion. And after a loss, I mean it was a state of depression.

VEDANTAM: Right, and you're talking about bonding and that's clearly a big reason why sports fans are sports fans. We connected with sports teams through family, through our parents taking us to ballgames, and that's why following a sports team feels so intense because it's tied up in these family loyalties.

GREENE: I almost feel like I have this bond with the players. I know these Pittsburgh Pirates player so well. Andrew McCutcheon, our star centerfielder, when he goes the plate, he has this relaxed batting stance. He leans the battle on his shoulder. I almost feel like I'm holding the bat there and swinging with him.

VEDANTAM: You feel like you're him.



GREENE: I could never be that but yeah, in a way.

VEDANTAM: You know, I bumped into Howard Katz. He's a psychoanalyst in the Boston area. He told me we have mirror neurons in our head, and that they are activated and not just when we do something but when we watch someone else do something. And so, one of the things that I think sports allows us to do is deeply identify with the people who are actually playing; that we can actually experience the game or it feels like we experience the game through them.

GREENE: Is this insanity, Shankar?


GREENE: I mean, the emotion and the intensity of this feeling that sports fans feel; I mean I'm nervous because I know the emotion is going to be so intense. It doesn't feel healthy.


VEDANTAM: Look, there are lots of theories about why this happens. One, is the idea that - what you just is talked about, we've been socialized into the sports. There's this other study I found that looked at how reminding people about their own mortality increased their affiliation with their sports team.

So psychologists call this Terra Management Theory, that we're looking for things that will outlive us because we're reminded about our own mortality.

GREENE: There will be fans in Pittsburgh and 200 years from now, in theory, will be rooting for the same team. I want to hold onto that.

VEDANTAM: Exactly. Now, there's another idea, David which is that we are wired to see patterns and sports really allows us to see patterns. So, you know, you look at the Pirates and you say: We've had 21 seasons of misery. But the truth is that these are all different teams with different players, and there actually isn't a pattern, but you're wired to see a pattern. And, you know, I'm exactly the same way.

The Philadelphia Eagles - the football team that I follow - in 2009, their opening home game was against the New Orleans Saints. Guess who won the Super Bowl that year.

GREENE: The New Orleans Saints.

VEDANTAM: And in 2010, they played the Green Bay Packers in their opening; guess who won the Super Bowl that year?

GREENE: The Packers.

VEDANTAM: In 2011, it was the Giants who won.

GREENE: So you're convinced that whoever they play in the opener is going to win the Super Bowl.

VEDANTAM: My first reaction was, jeez, this means the Eagles can never win the Super Bowl because they can never play themselves in their opening game.


GREENE: Irrational but I can understand it. I guess misery loves company. It's good to see that some people are as crazy as I am, Shankar.


VEDANTAM: Yeah, you know, that's the other thing that Katz talked to me about, David. Which is that sports allows us to feel intensely about something that actually isn't very important. And I hate to break this to you, David. But the truth is, tomorrow, regardless of whether the Pirates win or lose, you're still going to be OK. So in some ways watching sports is like watching a horror movie. You feel intensely but the stakes actually are not that high.

All I hope is that your horror movie tonight is not going to be really scary.

GREENE: Not be a horror movie.


GREENE: That would be great. Shankar, thanks for stopping by, as always.

VEDANTAM: Happy to be here, David.

GREENE: Shankar Vedantam regularly comes in to talk to us about social science research; in this case, sports. You can follow him on Twitter at @hiddenbrain. And while you're at it, follow us here at this program @nprgreene, @nprinskeep and @morningedition.

This is NPR News.

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