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.

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.

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Arizona Hispanics Poised To Swing State Blue

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Sen. Durbin Wants Budget Showdown To End Quickly

Sep 24, 2013
Originally published on September 24, 2013 9:13 am



All right. Let's talk more about that debate in Congress, which must pass a bill by Sept. 30 to keep the government running or see a partial shutdown. Republicans in the House passed a bill to fund the government but defund Obamacare; and now that bill is in the Senate, where Richard Durbin of Illinois is the Senate majority whip, the No. 2 Democrat in charge of counting votes. Senator, welcome back to the program.

SEN. RICHARD DURBIN: Good to be with you, Steve.

INSKEEP: OK. Republicans - many of them, anyway - seem to be backing away from this measure. They don't seem to think it's practical. But do you have any doubt that you have the votes to restore Obamacare to this bill - restore funding, anyway, and then just pass it through the Senate?

DURBIN: I can tell you that Sen. Cruz, of Texas, is leading the opposition on the Senate floor. He is a well-educated man. I'm confident, in the course of his education, he learned to count to 60. He doesn't have the votes. He doesn't have a handful of votes for his position. And most Republicans, Senate Republicans that I speak to, think this is not only hurtful to the economy and job creation, it's hurtful to their party.

I hope that we can get beyond this quickly, put the government back in business as it should be after Oct. 1, and start to solve some of the problems we need to face.

INSKEEP: OK. Let's work this through. So you think you've got 60 votes, which ends a filibuster. You change the bill so it's the way you want it to be. You send it back to the House, where Republicans did pass a bill that defunds Obamacare. Normally, you'd negotiate and end up somewhere in the middle. Are you willing to negotiate with the House?

DURBIN: Well, I can tell you at this point, Speaker Boehner has been enthralled by the Tea Party faction in his caucus and has said that they're going to get to run their play here. Well, their play is going nowhere. Shutting down the government to defund Obamacare is a non-starter. Obamacare is going to go into effect Oct. 1, at least in terms of offering the insurance exchanges, and actually in effect Jan. 1.

What we need to do is to fund the government as well as extend the debt ceiling; and sit down in a constructive fashion and say, well, there are aspects of Obamacare that we should address and we can address, and do it on a bipartisan basis.

INSKEEP: Well, let me ask about that, because Republicans are now suggesting, well, maybe in this negotiation they could cripple part of Obamacare or delay part of it. Are you willing to talk about that in the context of this possible shutdown?

DURBIN: Well, the crippling and delaying part I am not looking forward to do in any respect. What I think we need to do is to look to the practical aspects of this and accept the obvious. I was on the Bowles Simpson Commission. We looked at the long-term debt and deficit of the United States. Sixty percent of that is associated with the cost of healthcare.

We ought to sit down and find a bipartisan basis to reduce the increase growth rate of health care costs across America. That's something we can do and we should do.

INSKEEP: OK. You mentioned debt. That leads to the next thing. The middle of October it looks like there needs to be a vote to raise the federal debt ceiling. I understand the Democratic argument here - just pass it because the bills have already run up and you have to pay them and borrowing is part of that. And I know that the debt ceiling has been raised many times, Senator Durbin, but there's also been a lot of negotiation over the years as part of raising the debt ceiling.

Are you going to refuse to negotiate with Republicans who want some concessions here?

DURBIN: I stand with the president on this. We cannot afford, at this moment in our economic history, to negotiate over the debt ceiling. For the United States of America to default on its debt, for the full faith and credit of the United States to be questioned across the world, is as damaging to this economic growth as anything Congress can do.

We need to accept the reality that extending the debt ceiling is a must. There is no way around it. And then we need to talk about serious efforts to reduce the deficit. You know, I stuck my neck out. I voted for Bowles Simpson. It was a bipartisan approach to it. It put everything on the table. That is the only honest way to approach this.

INSKEEP: OK. One other thing, Senator Durbin. Amid all of this drama, I do hear signs of progress on immigration reform. Our correspondent Carrie Johnson was on the air here the other day saying it's the best time we've seen in decades for sentencing reform, changing the way people are sentenced. Do you think if you get past these crises, you could actually legislate something?

DURBIN: You put your finger on it here. We passed a bipartisan comprehensive immigration bill, 14 Republicans and 54 Democrats in the Senate. It's been sitting for over two months now in the House of Representatives. They've put nothing on the floor. The same thing is true on the farm bill. Twice now we've passed a bipartisan farm bill. If they called either of those measures in the House today, they would pass on a bipartisan roll call.

And then we need to move on to other important issues. It's time to put this game playing and this doomsday strategy of shutting down the government, damaging the economy, killing jobs, behind us.

INSKEEP: Senator Durbin, thanks very much.

DURBIN: Thank you.

INSKEEP: It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.