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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More Old People, Fewer Workers: Nations Look To Immigration

Sep 18, 2013
Originally published on October 9, 2013 5:43 pm

A story in the Financial Times caught our eye this week. It was on foreign workers in South Korea.

The story looked at the town of Ansan, where about 7.6 percent of the population is foreign. They come from other Asian countries, as well as from Russia. Here's one of the reasons for the change in South Korea, a highly homogeneous society:

"[T]he number of migrant workers in South Korea has risen strongly over the past decade, as the people of this now affluent country turn away from the so-called '3D' jobs — dirty, difficult and dangerous labour, typically on construction sites or factories in industrial towns such as Ansan. And with a looming demographic crunch driven by one of the world's lowest birth rates, the reliance on foreign labour is likely to spread more broadly in this increasingly mature economy."

An aging population and low growth rates — conditions that exist far beyond South Korea. It's an issue that Japan and other countries are grappling with.

Japan

The Japanese are living longer (the median age is 44.6 years) and not having many children. Official projections show that by 2050, nearly 40 percent of the population will be 65 years or older. This in itself isn't a problem, but as Quartz notes:

"As a result, Japan's workforce began shrinking earlier than those of other developed countries. By 2025, Japan will have around 14 million fewer workers than it did in 2005, plus an additional 10 million seniors. That means that by 2050, workers will only account for roughly half of Japan's population."

One way other countries have addressed a worker shortage is immigration, but Japan is trying to deal with the looming crisis with the help of robots. Immigration remains a hot-button issue in Japan. Here's Bloomberg View:

"The most obvious remedy — to lift the barriers to immigration that have made Japan one of the most homogenous societies on earth — is dismissed as a political impossibility. Even the supposedly fearless prime minister, Shinzo Abe, refuses to touch the issue."

Elsewhere

The debate over aging populations, a shrinking workforce and immigration can be heard across borders. The Economist provides an overview:

"Europe is split several ways: Germany, Italy and Spain, for instance, now have tiny families and are therefore ageing fast, whereas France, Britain and most of the Nordic countries have more children to keep them younger. In eastern Europe, and particularly in Russia, birth rates are low and life expectancy has also taken a knock. America, thanks to a resilient birth rate and high immigration, will still be fairly youthful by mid-century."

And an International Monetary Fund working paper predicts a labor shortage in China, the driver of global economic growth for much of the past decade, sometime between 2020 and 2025.

The trends, economists say, will affect global economic growth over the long term.

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