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.

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

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'We Walk In Circles,' Pursuing Dreams And Finding Creativity

Oct 27, 2013
Originally published on October 27, 2013 5:59 pm

At Night We Walk in Circles is set in an unnamed, war-scarred Latin American country. The book follows young actor and aspiring playwright Nelson as he traverses his nation, performing in a provocative play called The Idiot President.

It's Daniel Alarcon's second novel — his first was Lost City Radio, published in 2007. The Peruvian author says there are some parallels between him and his protagonist, dreaming of a life as an artist.

"It's true that there are people who live the idea of being an artist, as opposed to the idea of making art," Alarcon says. "Nelson's a snob, to a certain extent I'm a snob, but I say that with a great deal of reverence for art as a vocation and as a way of life. ... Sometimes I feel like it's the only sane way to live."

Alarcon spoke with All Things Considered host Arun Rath about the novel and his creative process.


Interview Highlights

On the book's central character

Nelson is kind of a bookish young man growing up in a war-torn country. He decides at a very young age he wants to become a playwright, wants to be a storyteller and sort of pursues that dream.

I should say, he doesn't pursue it with much diligence, in a sense that this dream is someways based on this fantasy and this notion that he's going to someday leave for the United States because his older brother has already moved to the United States. And there's this idea that this visa is dangling before him and it's going to sort of save him from making any tough decisions about adulthood.

And he sort of gets stuck in that space, and eventually stumbles into this opportunity to join the theater troupe of his hero, a man named Henry Nunez.

On the plot of Henry Nunez's fictional play, The Idiot President

The Idiot President is based on a play by a friend of mine named Walter Ventocia. He gave me the script ... and I adapted it and changed it, but basically the president is joined by his idiot son and then a servant, and the premise of the play is that every citizen in the country is afforded the privilege of attending to the president each day.

They have to do his chores, they have to ... tie his boots, they have to read his correspondence, they have to basically play to his ego — which is enormous — and at the end of each day, the servant is sacrificed, is killed.

On the creative process and why At Night We Walk In Circles took so long to produce

There was nothing about the writing of this book that was fast-paced, or dynamic. This was a terrible, terrible seven years of creative stasis and dysfunction. ...

Writing a novel is not at all like riding a bike. Writing a novel is like having to redesign a bike, based on laws of physics that you don't understand, in a new universe. So having written one novel does nothing for you when you have to write the second one.

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