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.

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

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At Global Gathering, Many Worry About U.S. Strength

Oct 11, 2013
Originally published on October 12, 2013 11:19 am

When you invite guests over, you probably straighten up the house to make a good impression.

This week, the nation's capital is welcoming guests from all over the world. Thousands of finance ministers, central bankers, scholars and industry leaders are in Washington, D.C., for the annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank.

But instead of being impressed by the buffed-up home of the world's superpower, the guests are finding a capital in disarray. The federal government is still partly shut down and Congress has not yet agreed to avoid a debt default.

The disorder is prompting a lot of criticism of the United States, and concerns about U.S. economic leadership in the world.

If Congress does not end its political crisis, "it will have financial consequences that will apply not just to this country but across the globe, given the strong interconnectedness between the various economies," IMF chief Christine Lagarde said during a panel discussion on Thursday.

On Friday, even as they heard reports about U.S. lawmakers floating possible solutions and meeting at the White House, foreign officials remained worried and wary at the IMF gathering.

"It's unfortunate, really, because the U.S. has a huge responsibility with the world economy," said Rodrigo Valdes, an economist with a Brazilian investment bank. "Once you are so important, you cannot toy" with your role in the financial system, he warned.

Foreign officials say they count on U.S. economic strength to provide stability for global financial markets. Virtually all countries invest in Treasurys, and they need the U.S. dollar to serve as the world's reserve currency to help smooth out international transactions.

A default would be extremely destabilizing to global markets, "given the very, very deep penetration of the Treasury bonds from the United States in all portfolios around the globe," Lagarde said.

Finance ministers and economists recall that exactly five years ago, global financial markets were melting down because of a crisis involving U.S. mortgage debt. At that time, American homeowners started defaulting on their house payments, triggering panic and massive financial losses.

Now, with the global economy still struggling to get back on track, the United States is threatening global stability by raising the possibility of American taxpayers defaulting on their government debt.

Most economists say such an outcome would very likely make the 2008 crisis seem mild.

Yi Gang, deputy governor of the People's Bank of China, appeared on Thursday's panel with Lagarde. He said bankers everywhere are observing how the world's leading democracy handles its finances. "The market doesn't like uncertainty, and we watch this drama very closely," Gang said.

As for the role of elected lawmakers, "they should have the wisdom to solve this problem as soon as possible," he added.

The IMF issued its global economic outlook this week, and it showed economic activity slowing. The global growth forecast slipped to 2.9 percent for this year, down from an earlier prediction of 3.2 percent.

And for 2014, the growth forecast is now 3.6 percent, down from the previous forecast of 3.8 percent.

NPR's Chris Arnold contributed to this report.

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