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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Science: For Good Or Evil?

Oct 2, 2013

In 1818, the 21-year-old Mary Shelley published the great (perhaps greatest) classic of gothic literature, Frankenstein, Or the Modern Prometheus. As we all know, it's the story of a brilliant and anguished doctor who wants to use the cutting-edge science of his time — the relationship between electricity and muscular motion — to bring the dead back to life. Two decades before Shelley's novel, the Italian Luigi Galvani had shown that electric pulses could make dead muscles twitch. He even had a demonstration of frogs hanging from a metal wire that danced like crazy during an electric storm. It must have been quite a sight.

If life is movement, and if electricity can cause muscles to move, why not bring the two together to try and resuscitate the dead through science? Would man then be like God?

We all know how the story ends, in tragedy. As Adam wanted Eve, the "creature" demands a female companion so that he can live in isolation — but not in loneliness — from the rest of humanity. Horrified, Dr. Frankenstein refuses. He doesn't want to create a race of monsters capable of threatening the future of our species.

The novel examines the ethical boundaries of science: should scientists have complete freedom to pursue their research? Are there certain themes that are taboo, that must thus be censored? If there are such taboo themes, who decides what they are? What limits should be imposed on the scientists? And who imposes them?

These are big, complex questions that go to the heart of ethics and science.

For example, should we treat old age as a disease? If so, and assuming we arrive at a "cure," or at least a substantial increase in lifespan, who would have the right to benefit from it? If the "cure" is expensive, and it most certainly would be at the outset, only a small fraction of society would have access to it. In this case, society would be artificially split, where those who can would live much longer than those who can't. (To a certain extent this happens already, as the poor in many countries have much shorter lifespans than those in developed countries. In this hypothetical, the problem would only be exacerbated.)

And how would we deal with loss? If some live much longer than others, the ones that do would see many pass away. Is this an improvement in their quality of life? Only, it seems, if extended longevity were evenly distributed among the population and not the privileged of a few.

With this in mind, having universal access to medical care, as in Obamacare, should be a force toward equalization. We would all have access to the same high quality care. And to an increased quality of life and lifespan.

Another example is in the area of human cloning. What would the purpose be? If a couple can't have kids, there are many options already available, including adoption. On the other hand, human cloning may become part of the extended longevity program: imagine if our bodies and memories could be reproduced indefinitely. In this case, a person would persist in existence for a very long time indeed. This is sci-fi now, but not something that the laws of nature seem to forbid a priori.

Of course, we can't clone humans now and we have no clue how to transport memories from brain to brain. But to say "never" in science is very risky. We are inching that way.

The initial impulse we have in cases like these is to forbid this or that, make sure a particular kind of science never gets done. We live in fear of opening Pandora's Box. But this approach is naïve at best.

If it's not done here, it will be done elsewhere, for good or evil. Here is the essential point: it is not science that is good or evil; we are the ones creating good and evil through the choices we make.


You can keep up with more of what Marcelo is thinking on Facebook and Twitter: @mgleiser

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