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.

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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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One-Stop Shop: Jeff Bezos Wants You To Buy 'Everything' On Amazon

Oct 14, 2013
Originally published on October 15, 2013 12:51 pm

In his new book The Everything Store, Brad Stone chronicles how Amazon became an "innovative, disruptive, and often polarizing technology powerhouse." He writes that Amazon was among the first to realize the potential of the Internet and that the company "ended up forever changing the way we shop and read."

Amazon started off selling books, but Jeff Bezos, Amazon's founder and CEO, always had the intention of turning it into an online market that sold everything. In the process of becoming "an everything store," Amazon acquired many other dot-coms including Zappos and Diapers.com, and expanded into selling web services as well. Bezos owns a rocket company, called Blue Origin and in August he invested in old media, purchasing The Washington Post for $250 million.

Bezos himself is the 12th richest person in the U. S., with a fortune estimated at $25 billion. Stone, a senior writer for Bloomberg Businessweek, has covered Amazon and technology in the Silicon Valley for 15 years. His book draws on interviews he conducted with Bezos over the years as well as interviews with more than 300 current and former Amazon executives and employees.


Interview Highlights

On Bezos' intention to make Amazon an "everything store"

I think Bezos wasn't quite sure [an everything store] would work, and books were a good place to start: They're small, they ship easily in the mail, the selection that the Internet enables was a great strategic advantage over the traditional chain booksellers of the time like Barnes & Noble and Borders. But I do think in the back of his mind he was thinking of an "everything store." In fact, in 1998 when a VP came to him and showed him that Amazon's market was going to be very limited because unfortunately a lot of people don't read, he was not bothered by that at all, and told some of his minions to go study the good markets that might be next.

On the way Amazon prioritizes customer loyalty over profit

[Amazon takes] a commission every time a third party sells something on their site, so in a way it's a much more profitable sale because Amazon is taking the commission and they don't have the expense of storing and shipping the item. But it does create enormous downward price pressure. It's one of the things that merchants, or manufacturers don't really appreciate about Amazon. But as an Amazon shareholder or analyst will tell you, profit, frustratingly, is not something that Bezos or Amazon are after. They're after customer loyalty. They want to lock up the market. They want customers to make Amazon their destination for all of their shopping. So he's had this long-term view of that's the way to conduct his business, and profits are very low down on the list of his priorities.

On the working conditions in the Amazon warehouses

[Amazon] has been criticized for working employees extremely hard for extraordinarily long days, for very short 15 minute breaks that are curtailed on each end by the fact that the employees have to go through security scanners. It's an enormously difficult job. I kind of split ... the fulfillment center [jobs] into two categories: There are 10 months of the year where things are relatively tame, this is January to October. Employees get a decent wage, about $11 or $12 an hour, there are opportunities for advancement, there's some tuition reimbursement that Amazon has recently instituted. As warehouse jobs go, it's probably a little bit above average.

And then there are the holiday months. And this is, in an Amazon fulfillment center, absolute craziness. Amazon just said it was going to hire 70,000 temporary workers for this holiday season alone. It's basically doubling the number that it hired last year. In these two months there's no vacation, there's no tolerance for error. Employees are graded extremely severely. You can basically miss two days and you're out. The break rooms are crammed, I think conditions are difficult.

... I think it's something shoppers should consider. Do you want your dollars to support the local merchant and the employees that they hire? Or do you want your dollars to go to support a fulfillment network that is fairly invisible, that involves many manual and very difficult jobs. On the other hand, we can probably credit Amazon for probably creating some jobs in places where there wasn't a lot of economic opportunity. But nobody should have any illusion: Working in an Amazon fulfillment center is probably one of the most difficult jobs going today.

On the way Bezos runs Amazon

Bezos is a hands-on CEO. He runs the S-Team, which the senior leadership team, he does, I think, spend a lot of his time in the digital initiatives like the Kindle and Kindle Fire. ... But he also runs the bi-annual operating reviews, called OP1 and OP2, he goes to a lot of meetings. ... One of his great talents is very efficiently dispersing his time... but he's extremely hands-on.

One of the things he does is his email address is public — it's jeff@amazon.com. And when he gets an email from a customer, perhaps complaining about something, he'll just forward that with a "?" to the right executive or employee. And you get a question mark email, which is called an "escalation" inside the company, and it is frantic. Everybody drops what they're doing to address the problem. So he has a lot of specific ways where he magnifies his time and insight to extend his influence inside this giant company.

On Bezos buying The Washington Post

I concluded that it wasn't all that surprising. I mean, Jeff Bezos has shown over many years that he is a huge fan of the written word. Written documents are key to how Amazon is run. Every meeting starts with a quiet reading of a "six-page narrative," [as] they call them. Of course he started the business with books and about a decade later started the Kindle and kind of revolutionized the book business, so the written word is really key to what he's built. ... I think the opportunity was presented to him when the Graham family decided they wanted to get out of the business, and he thought that his special brand of innovation and long-term thinking and operating discipline could help to revive this franchise.

... My reaction was almost, "Good for the reporters of The Washington Post." I mean, here they are stewing in the pessimism and ... decline of the newspaper business and finally they have someone with very deep pockets and a very long runway, who will probably have quite a personal stake in seeing this thing revived.

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