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.

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Arizona Hispanics Poised To Swing State Blue

4 hours ago
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Things Are Getting Ugly

Oct 3, 2013

Ugly is everywhere. There are Ugly Dog pageants, Ugly Sweater sites and Ugly Sofa contests. Taking Ugly-Faced selfies is an online phenomenon. Could ugly be the new beautiful?

Like beauty, some people say, ugly is in the mind — and eye — of the beholder. But is it really?

Can't we all agree that a certain car is ugly? Or a holiday ornament? Or a fish? Not necessarily.

Ugly and beautiful "are not precisely defined territories," says Stephen Bayley, a writer and design consultant in Great Britain, and the author of Ugly: The Aesthetics of Everything.

But he argues that ugliness has a place in this world. After all, beauty is fleeting.

As evidence, he quotes Serge Gainsbourg, the "stubbly, chain-smoking Paris gargoyle" who once dated starlet Brigitte Bardot and who famously said, "Ugliness is superior to beauty because it lasts longer."

The Beauty Conspiracy

Ugliness, Stephen maintains, is fascinating. He cites Joseph Merrick, the "Elephant Man" of the 1880s, who suffered from abnormal skin and bone growth. As soon as Merrick offered himself to a circus, he became a celebrity. And, Stephen adds, postcard sales of a popular painting in London's National Gallery, Quentin Massys' Ugly Duchess, rival the sales of Monet's "delightful and unthreatening" waterlilies.

Stephen gets really amped up talking about ugliness: "Artists always play with the conflict of beauty and ugliness. Salvador Dali thought sex must be ugly. The architect Rem Koolhaas says only when you begin to discuss ugliness do buildings get really interesting. The poet Baudelaire found bad taste 'intoxicating.' "

Our contemporary notion of what is beautiful is a "ludicrous conspiracy," Stephen says. "It is a fashion industry chorus of the uncreased, fragrant, deodorized, toned and meticulously depilated who cannot actually agree what they are conspiring about."

Ideas about beauty continuously change, he says. "In the 17th century, Rubens' pink fatties were the beautiful ideal while a knock-kneed scrawny skeleton is ours. In a quarter of a century we will be back to fatties. ... In 25 years, Kate Moss will look ridiculous."

Plugging Ugly

The pendulum may already be swinging.

Jeremy Gutsche of the site Trend Hunter believes that many people nowadays are embracing ugliness so that they will stand out from the herd. "Purposely and explicitly unattractive products offer up a way for people to reject the status quo in a clever way," Jeremy writes in a recent post. He points to mock meat purses and horrible holiday sweaters as examples.

"These products," Jeremy observes, "are explicit and self-aware of their appearance, and are marketed in a way that play up flaws instead of diminishing them."

Could we be hurtling toward a day when homeliness is held up as the ideal? When nubbiness is the norm and ugliness is no longer ugly?

Ugh. Probably not. But isn't it pretty to think so?

What is The Protojournalist? New-school storytelling, old-school reporting. @NPRtpj

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