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

5 hours ago
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Why You, Yes You, Might Enjoy A Superhero Documentary

Oct 15, 2013

Superheroes: A Never-Ending Battle, a documentary in three hour-long segments that will premiere back to back (to back) tonight on many PBS stations, begins with a curious image: Vincent Zurzolo of Metropolis Comics explains that a recent copy of Action Comics #1, which contained the first appearance of Superman, recently sold for over $2 million. He shows us Action Comics #1, and then ... he locks it in a safe.

It makes all the sense in the world: it's worth a couple million dollars. You lock it up. But locking it in a safe is an interesting image in part because it underscores what makes comics — and, more specifically, superheroes — a complex cultural phenomenon for a lot of people. As they've become more collectible, as they've become fetish objects, as they've become obsessions for their most ardent fans, they've become harder and more imposing for other people to wrap their minds around. And that's too bad, because comics — and, more specifically superheroes — make a marvelous lens through which to look at American popular culture more generally, even if you're not an enthusiast.

That's what Superheroes does well. None of what's here is going to be a big surprise to people who follow comics closely, but it's a fine three-hour tour of superheroes as an example for other people of the way popular culture is always in a dialogue with the other things that are going on around it.

In the evolution of superheroes over these three hours, you see the markings of immigration, World War II, the civil rights movement, the Space Age, censorship, feminism, corporatization of media, the evolution of print and the rise of digital, and the eternal nature of merchandising. You don't learn about superheroes just to understand how superheroes work; you learn about superheroes because it helps explain how everything in entertainment works and has worked for almost a hundred years. (This is also a recurring theme of Monkey See comics blogger Glen Weldon's book about Superman, by the way.)

There's a nice balance in the documentary between good and thoughtful placing of culture in context on one hand, and colorful stories on the other. Maybe you've heard all of Stan Lee's stories, but if you haven't, he's fun to listen to. The same goes for Jim Steranko, an artist who has maybe the best hair you'll see on PBS this year. (And that includes Downton Abbey.) And they speak pretty candidly at times — it's fascinating to hear one of the artists say he was always a pacifist, he always considered himself pro-civil-rights, but that when feminism came along, his first thought was that he should support it, rather than that he did entirely understand it.

You can't really understand current entertainment culture without comics and superheroes — for good or for ill — and while Superheroes isn't news to the ardent fan, it's a good and entertaining backgrounder for the curious, which is always to be appreciated.

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