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

4 hours ago
Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Pages

Sweet. Tart. Crunchy: How To Engineer A Better Apple

Oct 9, 2013
Originally published on October 9, 2013 4:04 pm

Browsing farmers markets this fall, you may find some new apple varieties mixed in with the Granny Smiths, McIntoshes and Fujis. Susan Brown, head of the apple breeding program at Cornell University, estimates that there have been 130 new apples released around the world in the past six years.

This summer, she contributed two more to that tally: the SnapDragon and the Ruby Frost.

"If you're a fan of Honeycrisp apples, SnapDragon is similar," she says. "It has a crisp texture. The cells rupture rather than separate, which give it a real crunchiness. On the other hand, Ruby Frost is grower friendly. It doesn't fall off the tree when it ripens, and it has a good resistance to browning. Plus, it has a nice sugar-acid ratio."

It took her most of her professional career to develop these two fruits. Ruby Frost was a 17-year process, while the SnapDragon required 12 years. That may sound like a long time, but it's fairly standard — even a little fast — in the world of apple breeding.

"You start by identifying two parents with desirable characteristics," explains Bill Dodd, president of Midwest Apple Improvement Association, breeders of the recently developed EverCrisp apple. "When the trees are in bloom in the spring, you take the pollen of one and pollinate the other. The apples that the pollinated tree produces will have seeds for the new variety of apple."

Those seeds are mass planted — about 50,000 were planted to develop the EverCrisp — but it takes four or five years before the resulting trees produce fruit.

Testers check that fruit for a variety of different factors, which Dodd ticks off: "Size. Color. Crunchiness. Texture. Sweetness. Tartness. Harvest timing. Are they disease resistant?"

Just because the parents were a success, doesn't mean their offspring will be: "99 percent of the fruit is crap," says Dodd, before adding with a chuckle, "That's a technical term."

However, if breeders find a tree whose fruit they like, they take a cutting or bud stick off the tree and graft it onto a rootstock. To create copies, breeders take buds off this rootstock and place them onto other rootstocks (further copies can be then made from those offspring).

Breeders could be nearly a decade into this process when they suddenly discover a trait in the fruit that makes it unviable for mass production or general consumption.

"We're just waiting for the skeletons to come out of the closet in every variety," says Fred Wescott, president of Wescott Agri Products, which bred the just-released Riverbelle apple. "There's always a potential that you could get sideswiped after years of hard work."

Over the past 15 years, his company has bred thousands of apple varieties. Wescott estimates that only 50 to 60 of those had the level of quality and the desirable characteristics that made them worth pursuing. Ultimately, only two apples made the cut: the Riverbelle and the Pazazz, which is being planted now.

"[The Riverbelle] has the Honeycrisp's texture — that snappy crispiness — and a unique appearance: orange to red flecking over a green to yellow background," says Wescott. "It can develop quite high levels of sugar that are balanced by high levels of acid to give it tartness." The only drawback is that the Riverbelle only grows well in the Midwest, which limits its total production and its marketplace.

On the other hand, he says, the Pazazz flourishes whether it's planted in Washington, New York or any point in between, plus it has been bred to withstand storage. "It has much broader potential," says Wescott. "It could go international."

With so many different apple varieties already available, one might wonder why breeders continue to create new ones. "As entrepreneurial Americans, we always want to make what we do better," says Dodd. "Yes, we have some exceptional apples, but we are looking for something that's even more exceptional."

And, of course, more profitable.

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