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.

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Arizona Hispanics Poised To Swing State Blue

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Former U.N. Inspector: Syria Plan 'Optimistic,' Requires Troops

Sep 16, 2013
Originally published on September 16, 2013 11:26 am

The U.S.-Russia plan to rid Syria of chemical weapons by next summer faces many hurdles and includes "unrealistic" deadlines, says former U.N. weapons inspector David Kay, who worked on efforts to detail chemical weapons in Iraq.

Kay says the plan will require an international military presence — "boots on the ground" — to make sure the weapons don't fall into the wrong hands.

The deal on Syria, which Secretary of State John Kerry announced along with his Russian counterpart on Saturday, calls for weapons inspectors to complete an initial review of Syria's chemical weapons storage sites by November; all stockpiled material and equipment is to be destroyed by June 2014.

"It's extremely optimistic," Kay tells NPR's Steve Inskeep on Monday's Morning Edition. "It's an aggressive timeline. It's aspirational, in terms of what you would like to happen."

Kay served the Bush administration as the top U.S. weapons inspector in Iraq, a post from which he resigned early in 2004. In an NPR interview days later, he said of the purported stockpiles of biological or chemical weapons in Iraq, "I don't think they exist."

The schedule for eliminating Syrian President Bashar Assad's chemical weapons will be the subject of high-level talks in several places this week — starting Monday in Paris, where Kerry stood alongside diplomats from France and Britain to say they plan to give the deal the backing of the U.N. Security Council.

Discussing the agreement Saturday, Kerry said that "there can be no games, no room for avoidance or anything less than full compliance by the Assad regime."

"The big questions about this deal is, are the Syrians and the Russians serious about it, or are they going to throw roadblocks?" Kay says. He cites the many deadlines that are built into the framework of the deal, three of which come this week.

"The most unrealistic deadline is that by June of next year, you will have destroyed all of the chemical weapons and their production facilities," says Kay, who is now a senior fellow at the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies.

Explaining why that date is likely to pass without the destruction of Syria's entire chemical arsenal, Kay points to recent history, including America's own:

"We're still destroying our own stockpile, and we've missed every deadline. The same is true of the Russians."

Closer to Syria, Kay says, we should look at Libya.

"Most people forget: Gadhafi, nine years ago — while he was still in power — said, 'I'll give up my chemical weapons.' We're still destroying them. And in fact, we're still finding some that he refused to give up," Kay says. "The rebels, after his departure, said they discovered new chemical weapons. So, it's hard to safely get rid of chemical weapons."

The U.N. team that inspected the site of a chemical weapons attack last month, which the United States says killed more than 1,000 people, has submitted its report to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. He is expected to brief the Security Council on the findings Monday.

The process of ridding Syria of its chemical arsenal will involve three major steps, Kay says. First, inspectors will check and verify the listed inventory. Then they will talk to Syrians who were part of the manufacturing process. And then comes a big challenge: securing the storage sites.

"Securing is probably the most difficult thing to do — other than getting to the sites in the midst of a civil war," Kay says. "Securing means 24/7 presence of someone to be sure that people aren't breaking in."

And he notes that in this case the sites must be secured not only against Syrian groups, but also against any people affiliated with al-Qaida, which has for years sought to acquire chemical weapons.

That doesn't mean Syria's army should be pulled from the sites — in fact, Kay says, the opposite is true.

"No inspector would insist that the Syrians themselves remove their military forces from where these are stored. What you want to do is put an international presence there, along with the Syrian troops."

Explaining that idea, he says, "Inspectors are never armed."

The coalition of nations that are backing the plan — the U.S. and Russia, along with France, must determine how to provide that security, Kay says.

"It can't be just technical; it's going to require someone with boots on the ground to monitor it," he says.

On Monday, the U.N. Commission of Inquiry on Syria presented its most recent report on the country's civil war to the Human Rights Council in Geneva. The panel is investigating 14 alleged cases of chemical attacks in Syria, the commission's chairman, Paulo Pinheiro of Brazil, told journalists Monday.

During the session, Pinheiro also described the scope of the humanitarian crisis in Syria.

"Over 6 million people were refugees or internally displaced persons" in Syria, Pinheiro said, according to a summary on the group's site. "More than 2 million had crossed the borders, seeking safety in neighboring countries. Millions more had left their homes, braving shelling and the dangers of the ever-present checkpoints, to seek shelter inside Syria."

He also stated that the "vast majority of the conflict's casualties resulted from unlawful attacks using conventional weapons such as guns and mortars."

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