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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Shutdown Hits Usually Stable Business: Government Contractors

Oct 10, 2013
Originally published on October 10, 2013 7:39 am



More than 400,000 federal workers remain on furlough. That's the situation even after many Defense Department workers were called back to the office. And then there are federal contractors. These are private American business owners and workers who've taken over more and more government functions in recent years and who are now feeling the pain of a shutdown.

NPR's Yuki Noguchi reports.

YUKI NOGUCHI, BYLINE: It appears to be just another day at the warehouse at ServiceSource, an Alexandria, Virginia federal contractor that employs over 900 disabled or blind workers. Here some workers are dismantling old computers or refurbishing them, or sorting through goods for a thrift store.

But many of the company's workers normally work in food service for the FBI, or in administrative jobs at NASA, or at Veterans Affairs hospitals. And right now 15 percent of them are cooling their heels at home because the offices where they work are closed.

BRUCE PATTERSON: Thirteen programs that are closed currently, four that are at reduced operations, and 31 that are at normal operations.

NOGUCHI: Bruce Patterson is chief operating officer of ServiceSource. He says in the past few years, fiscal uncertainty has caused several disruptions to an otherwise historically stable business.

PATTERSON: We've made the decision that we'll pay folks for the first four days of the closure; after that we'll allow people to utilize their accrued leave - which they do accrue on these federal government contracts. But beyond that, if the closure continues, they'll be subject to leave without pay.

NOGUCHI: One of the people at risk of that is a man who's worked for 35 years sorting and distributing mail at the Environmental Protection Agency.

FREDERICK LEANDER PICKETT, JR.: My name is Fredrick Leander Pickett, Jr.

NOGUCHI: Pickett, who has a disability, is tall, 56, and flashes a smile even as he talks about being out of work. He says he misses his colleagues and the people along his mail route.

JR.: In fact, pretty soon, on Oct 23, I'm getting a special award, a service excellence award that's voted by my peers, you know, my co-workers. And I'm really proud of that.

NOGUCHI: Pickett's paycheck enables him to live at a subsidized community home and live independently.

JR.: It's kind of stressful because, you know, I like to work. And I've been using my annual leave, and when that runs out, then it will come out of my paycheck, which, you know, I'm on, you know, a fixed income.

NOGUCHI: With a big chunk of government operations on furlough, the ripple effects are far-reaching, most notably among defense contractors. Some, including United Technologies, canceled furloughs after the Pentagon recalled most of its civilian workers. But Lockheed Martin said this week 2,400 of its workers remain out of work. A company called Restaurant Associates provides food to many Smithsonian museums, and to the House and Senate. It says it's trying to redeploy affected workers, but where that's not possible, its employees too will go on furlough.

It's too early to assess the overall economic impact of the shutdown. But there are early signs businesses are losing faith. The National Federation of Independent Business yesterday reported its members are increasingly pessimistic about the business outlook.

MARK MICHAEL: Yeah, chaos is never good for our business.

NOGUCHI: Mark Michael is CEO of Occasions Catering, a Washington, D.C. company. It is not a federal contractor but caters weddings and corporate events at places like the National Archives, the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum, and the Library of Congress - all of which are closed. Now, Michael says, the company is scrambling to find other venues.

MICHAEL: Without an end in sight, we're sort of still looking two weeks out but not really three weeks out. You know, we're sort of taking it day by day and working with our customers who are nervous.

NOGUCHI: The real problem, he says, is that no one feels like planning a party amid a shutdown.

Yuki Noguchi, NPR News, Washington. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.