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.

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

Arizona Hispanics Poised To Swing State Blue

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

Pages

Iran's Leaders Send Sobering Message: No Quick Economic Fix

Oct 14, 2013
Originally published on October 14, 2013 4:21 am

The U.S. and its Western allies have not been able to win the nuclear concessions they have sought from Iran. But they have been able to inflict considerable economic pain through sanctions.

But now, Iran's call for a nuclear agreement and an end to sanctions has raised hopes among Iranians that better economic times may be ahead. The Iranian currency has stabilized somewhat since the election of President Hassan Rouhani, although inflation and unemployment remain high.

But Rouhani's economic team is already warning that ending sanctions on the banking and oil sectors, a difficult task in itself, won't end the country's economic woes.

"To think that sanctions will be lifted in the near future and all problems will be solved is a false alarm," says Economy Minister Ali Tayyebnia, according to Iranian media. He added that the Islamic Republic still needs to deal with "inappropriate economic policies and ineffective economic models."

Rouhani's early tenure has been marked by a new candor in assessing Iran's economy, including analysis of mismanagement and institutional flaws that have nothing to do with the sanctions.

Criticism Of Past Policies

A revealing example was a half-hour documentary aired by English-language Press TV shortly before Rouhani's inauguration. It gave outgoing president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad ample time to defend his policies, but his critics were also given free rein to make unusually blunt observations.

In response to one of the good-news announcements Ahmadinejad made near the end of his term, the clearing of a $30 billion debt owed to Iran's Central Bank, lawmaker Alireza Mahjoub was contemptuous.

He pointed out that the so-called "payment" was canceled by Parliament because it would have used the central bank's own profits from currency trading.

"The administration has made an artificial loan, as well as an artificial debt, and paid it with a fake income," snapped Mahjoub, "while this $30 billion was a real debt."

Admittedly, Ahmadinejad's relations with the parliament were frosty at best, but economists are equally withering.

Economist Mohammad Khoshchehreh ridiculed the government's efforts to combat Iran's double-digit unemployment.

"Officials have always showed their interest in job creating, but methods used to create jobs have never been compatible with the objectives," Khoshchehreh said. "Our officials adopted simple-minded approaches to solve the problem."

Another Iranian economist interviewed for the documentary, Vahid Shaghaghi, said the government failed to weed out non-productive sectors of the economy and its well-intended effort to reduce the country's expensive regime of subsidies was implemented badly.

"Price liberalization should be sudden and at once," he said. "Gradual release of prices led to a higher inflation rate; other countries' experiences in price liberalization prove this."

A Mostly State-Run Economy

One problem, economists say, is that Tehran's moves to privatize its largely state-run economy were problematic at best.

At a conference organized by the London-based think tank the Legatum Institute, U.S. government economist Mohammad Javan-Pardar said his research shows that what Iran touted as privatization was actually a transfer of power to quasi-private entities and the powerful Revolutionary Guard Corps.

The Guard has been taking over large chunks of the Iranian economy since the late 1990s.

"Particularly in the case of the Revolutionary Guards, whenever they took over a company, you usually saw civil citizens were actually fired and Revolutionary Guard generals replaced them," he said, "which most management gurus would not consider the best move to actually increase the productivity or the profitability of a company."

Nuclear Obstacles Remain

As Rouhani's cabinet settles in, the message that ending sanctions, hard as that is, won't solve the country's problems is beginning to be reinforced.

Analyst Scott Lucas at the U.K.'s University of Birmingham says the new administration seems to grasp that there's no quick economic fix.

"They've got a real problem in that some of the production sectors are badly limited, need a lot of investment, need re-fitting [and] retooling, especially the energy sector, which is where they're really scrambling to get foreign investment back in," Lucas says.

"And then beyond all this, they got this really horrible budget from March from the Ahmadinejad administration, because Ahmadinejad in the last couple years didn't really give a damn about how much he ran up in terms of a government deficit," he adds.

Other analysts do see rays of hope for Iran, noting that pro-private sector figures now occupy important posts in the Rouhani administration. Whether they will be granted the time and support to make major economic improvements, however, depends in part on whether Rouhani's bet on a swift nuclear agreement and easing of sanctions pays off.

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

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

In Iran the economy is improving - a bit - on speculation that talks over the country's nuclear program could ease international sanctions. The volatile Iranian currency has stabilized some, although inflation and unemployment remain high.

NPR's Peter Kenyon reports that the country's economy has some deep-rooted economic problems that go far beyond the sanctions.

PETER KENYON, BYLINE: One change wrought by Hasan Rouhani's surprise election win has been a new willingness in Tehran to acknowledge the pain caused by international sanctions. Another has been an unusual candor in assessing Iran's economy overall, including analysis of mismanagement and institutional flaws that have nothing to do with the sanctions.

A revealing example was a half-hour documentary aired by English-language Press TV shortly before Rouhani's inauguration. It gave outgoing president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad ample time to defend his policies, but his critics were also given free rein to air unusually sharp criticisms.

Consider this response to one of the good-news announcements Ahmadinejad made near the end of his term, the clearing of a $30 billion debt owed to the central bank. Lawmaker Alireza Mahjoub was contemptuous as he pointed out that the so-called payment was canceled by parliament because it would have used the central bank's own profits from currency trading.

ALIREZA MAHJOUB: (Through Translator) The administration has made an artificial loan, as well as an artificial debt, and paid it with a fake income, while this $30 billion was a real debt.

KENYON: Admittedly, Ahmadinejad's relations with the parliament were frosty at best. But economists are equally withering. Mohammad Khoshchehreh ridiculed the government's efforts to combat Iran's double-digit unemployment.

MOHAMMAD KHOSHCHEHREH: (Through Translator) Officials have always showed their interest in job-creating, but methods used to create jobs have never been compatible with the objectives. Our officials adopted simple-minded approaches to solve the problem.

KENYON: Another Iranian economist, Vahid Shaghaghi, says the government failed to weed out non-productive sectors of the economy, and its well-intended effort to reduce the country's expensive regime of subsidies was implemented badly.

VAHID SHAGHAGHI: Price liberalization should be sudden and at once. Gradual release of prices led to a higher inflation rate - other countries' experiences in price liberalization prove this.

KENYON: One problem, economists say, is that Tehran's moves to privatize its largely state-run economy were problematic at best, mainly benefiting quasi-private entities and the powerful Revolutionary Guard Corps, which has been taking over large chunks of the economy since the late 1990s. U.S. government economist Mohammad Javan-Pardar spoke at a conference organized by the London think tank the Legatum Institute.

MOHAMMAD JAVAN-PARDAR: Particularly in the case of the Revolutionary Guards, whenever they took over a company, you usually saw civil citizens were actually fired and the Revolutionary Guards' generals replaced them, which most management gurus would not consider the best move to actually increase the productivity or the profitability of a company.

KENYON: As Rouhani's cabinet settles in, the message that ending sanctions - hard as that is - won't solve the country's problems is beginning to be reinforced. Economy minister Ali Tayyebni says to think that lifting sanctions will solve things is a false dream, because that will still leave what he calls inappropriate economic policies and ineffective economic models to deal with.

Analyst Scott Lucas at England's University of Birmingham says the new administration seems to grasp that there's no quick economic fix.

SCOTT LUCAS: They've got a real problem in that some of the production sectors are badly, badly limited, need a lot of investment, need re-fitting, retooling, especially energy sector, which is where they're really scrambling to get foreign investment back in. And then beyond all this, they got this really horrible budget from March from the Ahmadinejad administration, because Ahmadinejad in the last couple years didn't really give a damn about how much he ran up in terms of a government deficit.

KENYON: Other analysts do see rays of hope for Iran, noting that pro-private sector figures now occupy important posts in the Rouhani administration. Whether they will be granted the time and support to make major economic improvements, however, depends in part on whether Rouhani's bet on a swift nuclear agreement and easing of sanctions pays off.

Peter Kenyon, NPR News, Istanbul. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.