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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Howard's President Steps Down Amid Tumult And Uncertainty

Oct 2, 2013
Originally published on October 2, 2013 7:55 pm

Is Howard University facing an existential crisis?

The Washington, D.C., institution, which is arguably the country's most prominent historically black university, has been buffeted by a tough economy and seeming dissent amongst its leadership. Tuesday, Sidney Ribeau, who'd been the university's president since 2008, announced he was stepping down but maintained that Howard was in solid shape. (Over the summer, Ribeau signed a contract extension to stay on as president for two more years. It's hard not to read between the lines here.)

"This is the time, this is the season, for me to retire from the presidency," he told Nick Anderson of The Washington Post. "We're focused, we're back on track and the momentum is building."

That characterization might sound surprising to many people who've been watching the school recently. Earlier this year, Ribeau wrote an internal memo that was obtained by the Washington City Paper in which he said that the school faced a "significant budget challenge," in part because of "a significant decrease in student enrollment in the fall semester along with other revenue shortfalls." Then in April, a vice chairwoman of Howard's board of trustees wrote a letter to her fellow board members in which she said the 146-year-old university was in "genuine trouble" and "would not be here in three years" unless it righted its fiscal ship. Besides the expected drop in student enrollment, the trustee pointed to the cumbersome operations of Howard University Hospital and the size of the university's payroll — "approximately 5,000 employees to serve less than 10,000 students," she wrote. The trustee also called for a no-confidence vote against Ribeau. (That feared drop in enrollment never materialized; the school's student body grew this fall by 3 percent.)

Last month, the university dropped 22 places on the U.S.News & World Report annual college rankings. And in a much more substantive downgrading, Moody's lowered Howard's credit rating, citing the economic drag from the hospital and its reliance on ever-skimpier federal funding. This year, the school received $222 million from the government, down $5 million from last year.

And as my Code Switch teammate Hansi Lo Wang reported last week, new, stricter guidelines for PLUS loans have hit historically black colleges and universities — HBCUs — particularly hard, as they're more likely to have first-generation college students from low-income families who don't have other ways to pay. (Arne Duncan, the secretary of education, apologized to HBCU presidents at a convention last week, saying the changes in the loan policy "could have been carried out better.")

The university reported that it had an endowment of $525 million, which would make it the largest endowment of any HBCU.

When Ribeau took over five years ago, he got a standing ovation for a speech in which he said he wanted Howard to recommit itself to better customer service. The dismissive, bureaucratic administration is an old trope among students and alumni at many HBCUs, but at Howard, the "A" building is especially notorious.

Marybeth Gasman of the University of Pennsylvania, an expert on and supporter of HBCUs, told me earlier this year this is no small thing — even as many HBCU graduates and alumni loudly rep their their alma maters, she said, their experiences with the financial aid and registrar's offices are so frustrating that they don't feel comfortable donating money once they graduate. They see their colleges as inefficient and poorly run. Gasman said Howard's alumni giving rate is 16 percent, which is low — but is four times higher than it was in 2008, when Ribeau took over. It's a potential revenue stream the university has thus far been unable to effectively tap.

"People have to not only give their support [to their alma maters] from their hearts but from their wallets," Gasman told me.

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