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.

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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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White House Turns To 'Rock Star' Manager For Obamacare Fix

Oct 23, 2013
Originally published on October 23, 2013 6:58 pm

Jeffrey Zients isn't exactly a household name. But if he can cure what ails the Affordable Care Act website, he'll be one of the best-known figures in the Obama administration.

Zients (rhymes with Heinz) is the professional manager President Obama turned to in order to solve the by-now-infamous problems with the federal government's health care exchange website.

Zients was settling into his job as the head of Obama's National Economic Council when the president tapped him to help rescue the site. The 46-year old is known as a brainy problem-solver with a knack for cutting through bureaucratic knots.

It was Zients, for instance, whom Obama turned to at an earlier point to unstick the "Cash for Clunkers" initiative. That 2009-2010 federal effort to lift auto sales out of the doldrums by underwriting dealer rebates to car buyers had stalled when the computer systems were overwhelmed with requests. Zients is credited with overseeing that fix.

Zients performed a similar managerial feat to break a bottleneck on GI Bill benefits for post-9/11 vets.

"Jeff Zients is a rock star," said Vivek Kundra, who served as the Obama administration's chief information officer from 2009 to 2011. "He has an amazing ability to convene the right people, to be pragmatic about problem-solving and to focus the energy of the administration on execution. He can close the gap between the theoretical and the ability to actually deliver something meaningful."

Besides being the administration's chief performance officer during Obama's first term, Zients served two stints as acting director of the Office of Management and Budget.

His OMB experience gave him plenty of experience testifying before Congress. That should come in handy since he's likely to find himself planted for hours on end at the many hearings Congress promises to have on problems with the Obamacare website.

Fred Malek, a long-time Republican fundraiser, adviser to presidents, corporate chieftain and Zients fan, said: "I think he's very well suited for the job. Look, he's not a technology expert but that's not what you need. You have a lot of technology experts being imported to help with this fix.

"What you need is somebody who can manage a team, lead a team, figure out what the most important aspects of things are and drive them toward a positive result," Malek said.

"Jeff is a very good CEO. He works very well with people. He's highly analytical but at the same time has a very nice personal touch which enables him to get buy-in to what he wants to do, to get followership and to get people moving in the right direction," he said. "He understands the world of business. He understands the world of government. He knows enough about technology. But above and beyond everything else, he's just a damn good manager."

That said, here are few more things to know about Zients:

  • He and Malek led an investor group (that included Colin Powell) that got Major League Baseball to agree to return a team to Washington. But in one of Zients' few high-profile failures, the MLB awarded the franchise to another group. Still, Malek credits Zients with getting city officials in Washington, D.C., on board with the effort, something Malek hadn't been able to achieve before Zients joined.
  • He honed his management chops early and hasn't let them dull. Shortly after graduating from Duke University (summa cum laude, of course, in political science), he became a management consultant, eventually holding the chief executive officer's job and other top posts at two firms that provided corporate clients with research and management advice.
  • He had a supersized payday when the two companies went public. In 2002, Fortune estimated his wealth at $149 million, which placed him 25th on its list of the richest Americans then under 40.
  • His mother, Debbie Zients, thinks the world of him, telling USA Today that he "has a lot of brains up there but he's very caring and very compassionate."

(Revised at 6:08 pm.)

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