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

56 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

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Suburban Islands Of Regret, More Than 'Nine Inches' Apart

Sep 11, 2013
Originally published on September 11, 2013 11:36 am

Nine inches is the minimum distance required between middle school students during slow dances in the title story of Tom Perrotta's first book of short stories in 19 years. Nine miles — or make that nine light-years — is the distance between many of the narrators in these 10 stories, and the family and friends they've alienated with their stupid mistakes.

Perrotta, who's been called "the Steinbeck of suburbia," has shown in books such as Election and Little Children that he has a bead on the bad judgment and moral equivocating that drive adolescents to sabotage their futures, and adults to blow apart their marriages and make fools of themselves. Perrotta's middle-class suburbanites impulsively, often knowingly, shipwreck their lives, leaving themselves stranded on arid islands of regret.

While there are no duds in Nine Inches, when read one after another, the stories bleed together. The result is a collection that is oddly weaker than its individual parts. Recurrent subjects include strained neighborly relations, high school seniors already in transition, husbands exiled from their families after what they regard as a single slip-up, uneasy school dance chaperones, and police officers toting emotional baggage in their holsters. All the stories involve lonelyhearts, the down but not permanently out.

Perrotta creates narrative tension by playing on our dread of the consequences of glaringly ill-advised behavior, from a teacher overconfiding in a student to a man breaking into his neighbor's garage. Yet he often takes his stories in unexpected directions. In "Backrub," Donald, an honor student who was rejected by all 12 colleges to which he applied, including three safety schools, takes a job delivering "sustainable" pizza in his small hometown. He is repeatedly pulled over for traffic violations by the same cop, whose hand strays uncomfortably to Donald's knee or neck. Uh-oh. But this turns out to be just a pit stop en route to the story's real destination, a morality tale about the dangers of "cocky and obnoxious" arrogance.

In "The Test-Taker," a nerdy high school senior, already accepted at college, applies a "strict code of professional conduct" to his lucrative job taking the SAT for other students. He rationalizes the ethics of his enterprise as part and parcel of a system in which money buys "special treatment," such as private tutors or doctors' notes for extra time. But when one of his clients snags the girl he's after, he decides failure would be a good lesson for the guy. While deliberately flubbing the exam, he rues "the kind of person I'd become" while "making one stupid mistake after another."

Writing about a lonely divorced pediatrician who's hopeful of starting a blues band, Perrotta comments, "there was a faint current of dread running beneath his optimism, because good things turned to shit all the time, and you couldn't always see it coming." The homophobic, biased umpire who narrates the book's strongest story, "The Smile on Happy Chang's Face," certainly didn't see his expulsion from domestic Eden coming, though he should have. A fraught Little League game drives home his personal problems. When a fight between two fathers ends with one in handcuffs, the narrator observes the dad sporting "the proud and defiant smile of a man at peace with what he'd done and willing to accept the consequences." This is in sharp contrast to the narrator's own reaction to being hauled off by the police a year earlier, after a fistfight with his gay son: "I couldn't believe the little f - - - -t had hit me. The punch I threw in return is the one thing in my life I'll regret forever."

Depressing? Well — sad. With less humor than in his earlier books, the ray of light in Perrotta's new stories comes from his characters' belated recognition of their foibles and failures, and their earnest and quintessentially American yearning to do better.

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