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.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Arizona Hispanics Poised To Swing State Blue

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Online Review-Rigging Firms To Pay Fines In Yogurt Shop Sting

Sep 23, 2013
Originally published on September 23, 2013 7:50 pm

The practice of writing fake online reviews has landed 19 companies in hot water in New York, where the attorney general announced penalties Monday over what he says are attempts to manipulate consumers.

Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman says the companies will pay more than $350,000 in fines after an investigation found that firms "had flooded the Internet with fake consumer reviews on websites such as Yelp, Google Local, and CitySearch," according to a press release from his office.

The use of fake reviews violates state law in New York, as it could mislead a reasonable consumer who is looking for neutral information on a product or service. Several studies have found direct correlations between higher online reviews and growth in sales, the attorney general says.

The yearlong investigation included a sting operation, in which agents of the attorney general's office posed as the proprietors of a yogurt shop in Brooklyn. After they asked "leading SEO companies" that specialize in online reputations for help in fighting negative consumer reviews, the companies offered to write fake reviews for the store.

The attorney general's office explains how it worked:

"Besides using their own employees to write and post the reviews, the companies hired freelance writers from as far away as the Philippines, Bangladesh and Eastern Europe for $1 to $10 per review.

"One SEO company required that freelancers have an established Yelp account, more than 3 months old, with more than 15 reviews (at least half unfiltered), and 10 Yelp 'friends,' as an attempt to avoid Yelp's advanced review filter."

And in another effort to avoid detection, the release says, the companies used "advanced IP spoofing techniques" to hide their true identities. It says that Yelp's efforts to combat such strategies are the most aggressive.

"In the long term it's great because I mean there should be greater confidence in the consumers that the reviews are not being manipulated," analyst Mike Hickey of the Benchmark Co. said of the sting operation, in a report by Reuters, where we spotted the story.

In addition to the yogurt shop sting, the investigation snared other small businesses and SEO companies, which are now paying fines and agreeing to stop their deceptive marketing practices. The penalties range from $2,500 to nearly $100,000.

One business was identified as a "licensee of the Scores gentlemen's club franchise" that created 175 fake reviews of entertainers at the club. Other firms, in fields from teeth-whitening to laser hair removal, also planted positive reviews of their services.

Schneiderman said that "companies that continue to engage in these practices should take note: 'Astroturfing' is the 21st century's version of false advertising, and prosecutors have many tools at their disposal to put an end to it."

Astroturfing is the practice of obscuring the source of a message — for instance, a company may try to hide the fact that one of its own managers, or an outside firm, may have written a glowing four-star review.

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