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.

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Arizona Hispanics Poised To Swing State Blue

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New Chinese Law Cracks Down On 'Rumor Mongers'

Sep 26, 2013
Originally published on October 8, 2013 9:57 am

Authorities in western China apparently wanted to make an example of 16-year-old Yang Hui.

He was the first person in China to be arrested under a new rule against "rumor mongers," defined as people who intentionally post a rumor that is reposted 500 times or more, or viewed 5,000 times or more.

But the government's case collapsed, the boy was released, and the local police chief was suspended after allegations that he bribed a local official (a coincidence, the China Daily reported).

Many governments have taken measures to censor or restrict the Internet and social media, a topic we've written about often at Parallels. The Chinese in particular go to great lengths. But some observers are now wondering whether the new Chinese rules can be effectively implemented or are just an invitation for officials to abuse their powers and curtail citizens' rights.

Yang Hui attends junior high school in Gansu province and lives with his grandfather. On Sept. 12, three days after the new rule was issued, a karaoke parlor employee was found dead on the street in Yang's hometown.

The dead man's family refused to give his body to the police for an autopsy. The police confiscated the corpse and ruled the employee had committed suicide by jumping off a building.

It's a scenario that has resurfaced in several news stories in recent years. Citizens do not trust the authorities, so they refuse to hand over corpses for fear that officials will destroy any evidence of foul play.

Yang Hui questioned authorities' handling of the karaoke employee's death, saying that "the police knew long ago who the killer is."

He posted pictures of street demonstrations and commented, "looks like people have to protest."

Arrested For Spreading Rumors

The police arrested Yang Hui on Sept. 17 on charges of "picking fights and stirring up trouble." The police also accused him of "spreading rumors," "inciting crowds to protest" and hampering the police investigation into the alleged suicide.

As criticism of Yang Hui's arrest spread online, the government retreated.

His criminal arrest was downgraded to administrative detention. He was then released without charge on Sept. 23. Officials in Yang Hui's hometown said nobody was available to comment.

Mao Shoulong, a public policy expert at People's University in Beijing, says the government's case was riddled with flaws. The rule criminalizing posts that are reposted 500 times applies only to defamatory content, not the charge of "picking fights and stirring up trouble" leveled at Yang. And even administrative detention, Mao adds, is inappropriate for minors.

Reached by phone, Yang Hui's father said that there is no evidence that his son's posts incited anyone to protest. He added that his son "likes to express his opinion about major news," a right which every citizen enjoys.

He said that his son "may never be able to escape from the shadow this ordeal has cast over him," and he reserves the right to sue the government for wronging his son.

He added that after his son's arrest, his school "held a big meeting and told the other students not to do what my son did — post irresponsible comments online."

In the end, though, he concluded, authorities simply "picked up a rock only to drop it on their own foot. They've bungled one thing after another."

Other Chinese, meanwhile, remain in jail for other forms of "rumormongering," and the central government's larger effort to tighten control over public opinion continues.

Further reading:

China Digital Times: Is 16-Year-Old 'Rumor' Poster's Release A Hollow Victory?

Financial Times: China Releases Teenager Accused Of Online Rumour-Mongering

Caixin Magazine: Rumors And The Power Of Deception

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