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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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Science Suffers In Unseen Ways From Government Dysfunction

Oct 8, 2013
Originally published on October 8, 2013 11:41 am

On Saturday night I saw Gravity, the new semi-realistic space survival flick. I thought: an astrophysicist's view of this film would certainly be worth a 13.7 post. But I've left that thought behind for an email I had received the day before:

Dear user community colleagues,

I am sorry to inform you that NRAO must temporarily suspend its North American operations because of the US Federal Government shutdown. All NRAO North American facilities will be closed effective 7 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time, Friday, 4 October 2013 ...

The NRAO (National Radio Astronomy Observatory) runs all those supercool giant radio dishes you've see in movies like Contact.

There are many ways the chaos in Washington effects Americans; they all hurt. The one I get to watch up-close-and-personal is the long-term damage we're inflicting on the United States' scientific and technological enterprise.

The NRAO email followed a sobering conversation I'd had the week before with a program officer in one of the nation's main science-funding agencies. The officer was helping me understand exactly how, even before the shutdown, the inability to get normal government budget processes going translated into shuttered science programs and reduced research capacities. That means the government shutdown is just the most visible example of a very risky game being played with the future of U.S. science. If we don't change the path we are on today, we may well live to regret the consequences long into the future.

Let me be clear — lest anyone interpret what follows as the whining of someone with a hand out to the government — the cuts we are seeing from ham-fisted budget maneuvers like the sequester don't really take money from my pocket. I am not employed by the federal government. I work for a private university. It's not people like me who are taking the hit here.

The people who are getting hurt by the budgetary quakes that rumble through Congress are students and young scientists.

When I apply for a research grant the bulk of the money goes to training tomorrow's researchers. These grants pay for 20-year-old undergraduates assisting in data analysis. They fund 26-year-old graduate students completing the exhaustive training needed to earn a Ph.D. in physics. They give 30-year-old post-doctoral researchers the opportunity to hone their craft as they take the final step toward becoming fully independent scientists. If we keep on this path, it's the next generation of American scientists that will be lost.

In science, you don't get to skip a generation.

The reality of science and technology is that you can't teach it out of a cookbook. It's a set of practices, behaviors, ethics, attitudes and approaches that are learned through apprenticeship. That's why it takes so many years of training. Every scientist learns his or her craft from another scientist, a mentor. It's a link in a chain that goes back many generations, with each scientist connected to both the past and the future of this vital cultural endeavor. As I enter my "midcareer" phase, I realize the most important part of my job now is to pass this craft of scientific research on to the generation ahead of me.

This practical reality should cut across all lines of political debate. Developing the next generation of military satellite communications and surveillance systems, for example, requires a continuous pipeline of physicists and engineers. The ability to accurately understand changes in the Earth's climate system over the coming decades requires the same pipeline. The life-saving medical advances of tomorrow will not come from U.S. laboratories unless similar pipelines exist in genetics and bioengineering.

You can't just restart that pipeline once it really fails. The excellence that was part of your tradition fades with the aging of the older generation. Expertise is lost, experience in specific methods you still need is nowhere to be found. The best students from across the world stop applying to your schools and begin traveling to those countries where vigorous scientific research is still supported.

When it comes to the U.S. effort in science, which is and has been exceptional, this is what we are risking. If we do lose it, if we let the pipeline fail, the excellence we have now will not easily be regained.


You can keep up with more of what Adam Frank is thinking on Facebook and on Twitter: @AdamFrank4

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