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

59 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.

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

Arizona Hispanics Poised To Swing State Blue

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

Pages

'Rivers On Rolaids': How Acid Rain Is Changing Waterways

Sep 13, 2013
Originally published on September 13, 2013 10:47 am

Something peculiar is happening to rivers and streams in large parts of the United States — the water's chemistry is changing. Scientists have found dozens of waterways that are becoming more alkaline. Alkaline is the opposite of acidic — think baking soda or Rolaids.

Research published in the current issue of Environmental Science and Technology shows this trend to be surprisingly widespread, with possibly harmful consequences.

What's especially odd about the finding is its cause: It seems that acid rain actually has been causing waterways to grow more alkaline.

The story started back in 1963 in a New Hampshire forest. A young scientist named Gene Likens found a stream there that was as acidic as tomato juice.

Likens eventually found the culprit: acid rain. Industrial air pollution was acidifying water that rained down from the sky, killing trees and the ecosystems of streams in the East.

Now — 50 years later — there's less acid rain. But rivers aren't neutral, they're alkaline, and that seems to be the trend in lots of places. "The real shocker to me," Likens says, "was [that] we found it from New Hampshire to Florida, and in rivers and streams that drained agricultural land, forest land and urban land."

Two-thirds of the 97 streams and rivers his team studied in the East have been growing more alkaline — from the mighty Susquehanna to small urban streams, like Gwynns Falls in downtown Baltimore.

I recently visited Gwynns Falls with one of Likens' team members, Sujay Kaushal, a geologist from the University of Maryland. He guided me down to the stream, directly below an overpass of Interstate 95. It's anything but bucolic. Traffic roars overhead, and there's trash in the stream, and plastic bags hanging from the lower limbs of trees along the banks.

This stream is where Kaushal first found signs of rising alkalinity about six years ago, after a local water quality official told him he'd been noticing changes in water chemistry.

"We couldn't explain it," Kaushal says. Initially the scientists thought maybe the concrete and cement of pavement, highway overpasses or other structures were to blame. "One of the key ingredients of concrete is actually limestone," he says, and the mix of water and limestone release bicarbonate — essentially the same stuff that remedies acid indigestion.

But when Kaushal and Likens looked at waterways outside cities — running through forests, for example, or farmland — they found that these rural rivers and streams have been growing more alkaline over the past 25 years, too.

Acid rain is largely behind the phenomenon, the scientists say. It's been eating away chunks of rock, especially limestone rock, and the runoff produces carbonates that flow into rivers. "We're basically dissolving the surface of the Earth," says Kaushal. "It's ending up in our water. It's like rivers on Rolaids. There's a natural antacid in these watersheds."

Now, that's not an immediate health threat, but it has environmental effects. Kaushal invited me to wade into the stream. Mops of stringy green stuff coated the rocks. It was thick and slippery underfoot.

"You can feel that?" he asks. "All that scum, all that slime is algae and bacteria." The alkalinity stimulates the growth of certain types of algae. And too much algae will suck the oxygen out of the water — bad news for whatever else lives there.

Something else is worrisome about alkaline water: If it mixes with sewage, it creates a particularly toxic stew by converting ammonia in the sewage into a more toxic form.

It just so happens, the day I visited Gwynns Falls, there was a sewage leak just upstream that Kaushal was eager to show me. "So ... why don't we walk up along this?" He seemed disappointed when I declined to observe sewage chemistry firsthand. I took his word for it.

Gwynns Falls is a small stream, and it doesn't take a lot to alter its chemistry. But even big rivers that usually can dilute moderate levels of noxious pollutants are growing more alkaline.

"We've changed the chemistry of the Mississippi," says Peter Raymond, an ecologist at Yale University. "These aren't small systems."

Some of the growing alkalinity of the Mississippi and its tributaries comes from farmers putting lime on fields to counteract the acidity produced by fertilizers, Raymond says. Acid rain likely contributes, too.

He says it's not clear what kind of damage all this is doing, though a number of freshwater organisms are likely to be affected. "Some will be winners, and some will be losers," Raymond says.

If there's any good news here, it's this: There's less acid rain falling now. Still, it's enough, says Gene Likens, to keep eating away the rock. Likens, now at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies in Millbrook, N.Y., says he never dreamed acid rain would have such a long reach. "The impacts are large," he says, "larger than we ever thought 50 years ago they might be."

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