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

58 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.

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

Arizona Hispanics Poised To Swing State Blue

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Filmmaker Turns To Education Reform, Gets 'Schooled'

Sep 12, 2013

While researching his buoyant, impassioned (and thoroughly subtitled) new book about education, I Got Schooled: The Unlikely Story of How a Moonlighting Movie Maker Learned the Five Keys to Closing America's Education Gap, M. Night Shyamalan suddenly found himself at the head of an inner-city school English classroom. And he was terrified. "Time stopped," he writes, "similar to when you are on a plane with turbulence that's supposed to last thirty seconds, but it feels like much, much longer."

To break the silence, Shyamalan boldly proclaimed that he's the highest paid writer, word for word, in the world, and then he asked the students how they thought he's managed to pull that off. One kid assumed the Academy Award nominated director had connections. Another chalked it up to dumb luck. Nope and nope. "No one on this planet can write me better than me," Shyamalan finally told them. "That permission to be okay with my flawed, misfit self in my scripts has made them stand out."

That's a pretty good way to think about I Got Schooled. The author's flawed voice is front and center early, and he sounds like a bore. "One thing you need to know about me is I'm seriously, clinically sentimental," he writes in the prologue. A few pages later, "Something you should know about me is that I'm a pretty selfish guy." He's also, he tells us, an "eternal optimist on steroids," "obsessive," a "dictionary fiend," and the kind of guy who agonizes over menus.

But Shyamalan's voice also makes this book stand out. It's alive with the romantic conviction that America's education problems can be solved, and unlike many, he's not going to send us to Scandinavia to solve them. "One bit of advice I'm ready to share is this: whenever anyone brings up Finland, back away slowly," he writes. "In fact it mystifies me that a country with fewer people than Greater Philadelphia, no civil rights problem, and virtually no significant income inequality is held up as a model for the United States."

I Got Schooled is a breezily written, research driven call to change America's approach to education. Shyamalan is smart and sincere, and his innovative ideas are unbound by the educational establishment.

The author glimpsed America's education gap in 2007 while scouting Philadelphia high schools for his film The Happening. His breakthrough moment arrived at a dinner when Penn Presbyterian Medical Center's chief medical officer explained that — if strictly adhered to — a regiment of balanced diet, good sleep, exercise, no smoking and stress management "beats every pill" when it comes to keeping patients healthy. Shyamalan thought there must be similar tenets that would restore the health of our ailing schools. After four years of research and a lot of work with experts, he says he's found them: No Roadblock Teachers, The Right Balance of Leadership, Feedback, Smaller Schools and More Time in School.

The book debunks several myths. Perhaps the biggest is the notion that smaller class size makes for a better education. Politically, Shyamalan points out, this plays very well. When California teachers' unions demanded higher pay in 1991, for example, then Governor Pete Wilson fought back by going on a teacher hiring spree. More teachers, smaller classes. This allowed him to spite the unions and score huge political points with voters, who intuitively assumed that smaller classes meant better education.

The numbers, however, don't back that up. Shyamalan cites a 2000 National Bureau of Economic Research study that states the average American class size in 1960 was 25.8 students, and it's been dropping ever since. If the trend continues, by 2017 a student in an average classroom could have as few as 15 classmates. "You could even argue," Shyamalan writes, "that the real problem with advocating for smaller class size is we've already done it."

Shyamalan believes all five of his tenets must be followed together to effect change, but he does stress the importance of good faculty, which sometimes means addition by subtraction through a new "evaluation system that permits schools to terminate teachers who are just not up to the challenges of instruction." Such a system could never be perfect, he concedes, which means some promising teachers would be shown the door.

"But in the real world, the system doesn't have to be perfect," Shyamalan writes. "It just has to recognize that the needs of America's students have to come first, even if the cost is some unfairness."

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