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

5 hours ago
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'Mezzanine' Takes The Trappings Of Everyday Life To The Next Level

Oct 13, 2013

Okay, I admit it. I was going to tell you to read Proust. The thing is, a whole industry already exists around urging you to read Proust, and as well-meaning as those literary evangelists might be, they only end up making you feel unworthy, illiterate and/or lazy.

Unless you have, in fact, read Proust — in which case you already know its pleasures, as well as the pitfalls of trying to share them. You've just put away 4,200 pages. Try not to bring that up at a dinner party. "No, not just Swann's Way," you're compelled to say, permanently painting yourself as Mr. or Ms. Intolerable.

So instead I'm going to urge you to read something from the other end of the spectrum: a tiny book, hardly long enough to be called a novel. It's just 135 pages — an opusculum, as the narrator calls it, in which the present action consists of a man riding an office-building escalator from the lobby to the mezzanine. Is it a trifle, a gag, a stunt? Yes, yes and yes. And yet, Nicholson Baker's The Mezzanine is as enjoyable, brilliant, and, ahem, Proustian as anything you'll read this year.

While on his upward odyssey, Howie, the narrator, delivers his thoughts on a variety of subjects, including but not limited to: shoelace failure, the history of drinking straws, milk carton design, Penguin paperbacks and the inventor of Jiffy Pop. He lets rip a paean to perforation. A footnote extols the pleasure of footnotes. And Howie's analysis of the unspoken codes of behavior in a corporate men's restroom has no parallel in the history of American letters. (Gentlemen sufferers of urinal "stage fright" will be delighted to find a solution between these covers.)

Off-kilter and relentlessly perceptive, Howie suffers from an excess of precision in matters of the mind, as when he describes for our benefit the exact moment he believes he went from childhood to adulthood, on a subway ride when he was 23 years old. He's not above describing himself in a mock-epic tone: "I stood in the pose of George Washington crossing the Potomac, one foot on a higher step, one hand on the handrail, gliding steadily upward ... " And yet he can be terrifically poignant, wondering when, if ever, our childhood fascinations truly fade — whether they're replaced by layers of adult experience, or remain with us as a sort of lifelong palimpsest.

For all of his stunts and goofing, Baker manages to reconcile literature with the most mundane aspects of our daily lives, to nail onto the page stuff that usually doesn't make it into books. Here we don't read "our own rejected thoughts," in Emerson's formulation, but rather those which never even reached the level of rejection, fleeting observations of the kind that barely puncture consciousness. The result, while reading, is a delightful sense of déjà pensé, and, after the book is closed, a residual heightened awareness, a feeling that we've been paying more attention to the world than we thought.

If, as Kafka said, a book must be the ax to break the frozen sea within us, The Mezzanine is the toothpick to dislodge a bit of food trapped between your teeth. Not quite as dramatic, but no less urgent.

And perfectly acceptable to bring up at dinner parties.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit