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

56 minutes 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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Obama's Shift On Syria: A Show Of Strength Or Fear?

Sep 11, 2013
Originally published on September 11, 2013 11:00 am

One line President Obama might have borrowed for his speech to the nation Tuesday night was a famous one from John F. Kennedy's inauguration address: "Let us never negotiate out of fear, but let us never fear to negotiate."

Always admired as a fine turn of phrase, what meaning does this have in our own time?

Perhaps it might have helped Obama make the turn from indicting the Syrian regime's alleged use of chemical weapons to explaining why he backed off his own earlier threat of military retaliation against Syria.

Back in 1961, Kennedy and his speechwriter, Ted Sorensen, were seeking a balance between resolute strength (Kennedy the war hero) and openness to the promise of a more peaceful future (Kennedy the visionary). They wanted the new president to be tough enough for the Cold War and imaginative enough to see beyond it.

In fact, in his brief presidency, Kennedy led the nation into a series of confrontations with the Communist bloc: the Bay of Pigs, the Berlin Wall, war in the Congo, the Cuban missile crisis and the early escalation of commitment in Vietnam. In each case, Kennedy was reasonably sure he could count on support from Congress and the public, in part because very few people would know what was actually going on.

Obama faces his current Syrian conundrum with no such assurance. If he can count on anything, it's congressional and popular resistance. The Senate might be persuaded to back a military option by the narrowest of margins, but the House has made its opposition as plain as could be done without a recorded vote.

Moreover, Congress' attitude reflects that of the nation itself. Rarely has Congress been quite so attentive to its constituents, who in turn have rarely been so lopsided in opposing a war. Even many who believe Syrian President Bashar Assad is guilty as charged do not favor intervention. And the percentage of those supporting even limited air strikes has actually declined since the crisis began in late August.

The specter of "another Iraq" looms over everything. The public generally sees no vital national interest at stake in Syria, and the public doubts that any "limited strike" would remain limited.

Obviously, much has changed since Kennedy and Sorensen tried to touch the American psyche. But above all, we have had half a century of intermittent wars, some brief and some seemingly interminable. The achievements of these conflicts have been, in the end, highly debatable, and the costs are quite real. The damage to the national psyche has been incalculable.

Many of us think of these episodes and recall serial presidential speeches about backing up our national "ideals and principles" with a temporary action on a limited scale.

Where are we now in the Syria saga? Are we negotiating out of fear? Not out of fear of the Syrians, to be sure, or their Russian backers. The era of our fearing the "Soviets" or the "Empire of Evil" has passed. The fear now is of unintended consequences, including muddled engagements with casualties and confounding results.

So it makes sense for the White House, despite all its protestations, to fear defeat in the Congress, or at least in the House. You might say the president has less to fear from Assad or Russia President Vladimir Putin than from Reps. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) and Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), outspoken women who anchor opposite ends of the political spectrum in the House — and who both oppose a military strike against Syria.

It is that alliance of left and right, of peacenik and libertarian, that threatens to give this president a beat down heard 'round the world. And that is why this president had a conversion on the missile flight path to Damascus.

So what is presidential wisdom and strength in the global politics of our new century? Is it the president who's weak when even those Americans who hold Assad a war criminal do not wish to make war on him? When only a handful of lawmakers on Capitol Hill are willing to face this tide of voter sentiment and explain that Syria is not Iraq or Afghanistan?

Perhaps what a president needs now to be successful in foreign relations has less to do with traditional notions of strength and more to do with an array of skills such as inventiveness, imagination and adaptability. At least we know this much: Showing conventional might has become, as often as not, counterproductive. And being out of ideas and imagination is as much a state of weakness as being out of soldiers and ammunition.

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