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

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Word Of The Day: Hyper-Risk

Oct 15, 2013
Originally published on October 15, 2013 4:51 pm

Government shutdowns, climate change, zombie attacks: it seems like everyday the news delivers new reasons to think civilization is on the verge of collapse. And yet, a glance back at history shows that things have always been going to hell and somehow we manage to survive.

Is the past prologue? Or has our ever-faster, ever-more connected culture generated risks that are so fundamentally new that looking to the past for guidance is nothing more than a recipe for disaster?

A sobering article I just read by Dirk Helbing argues that, over the last few decades, we have built a global culture vulnerable to hyper-risk.

And that, Armageddon fans, is a thought I can't get out of my mind. While Helbing's whole article is worth discussion, for today I thought I would just introduce this one new concept. So, what is hyper-risk and why do you want to name-check it at your next cocktail party?

According to the standard definition, ordinary risk is just the "effect of uncertainty on objectives." Every choice we make that projects us into the future comes with its own risk. Beyond that definition, however, comes systemic risk in which the usual, random "couldn't see it coming" uncertainty gets mixed together with the reality that we live in the midst of many systems of our own or nature's creation. Mix uncertainty with systems (which are better thought of as networks of interconnected agents) and bad things can happen.

In particular you get opportunities for a single misfortune to couple with the weaknesses inherent in any system or network. If the chance misfortune appears at the wrong place or the wrong time within the system's operation, things can get out of hand quickly as a small cause amplifies into a big effect. As Helbing puts it:

... systemic risk is the risk of having not just statistically independent failures, but interdependent, so-called 'cascading' failures in a network of N interconnected system components. That is, systemic risks result from connections between risks ('networked risks'). In such cases, a localized initial failure ('perturbation') could have disastrous effects and cause, in principle, unbounded damage as N goes to infinity.

But Helbing says systemic risk is a party in the park compared with hyper-risk:

Even higher risks are implied by networks of networks, that is, by the coupling of different kinds of systems. In fact, new vulnerabilities result from the increasing interdependencies between our energy, food and water systems, global supply chains, communication and financial systems, ecosystems and climate. The World Economic Forum has described this situation as a hyper-connected world, and we therefore refer to the associated risks as 'hyper-risks'.

There you go: hyper-risk comes from networks of networks linked together in hyper-complicated ways. Soon I hope to come back to Helbing's exploration of how to manage the hyper-risks that come with our new globally networked age. For today, however, it's enough to raise the issue and the new term.

What do you think: is hyper-risk a new, modern phenomenon? Or is just hyper-hype?


You can keep up with more of what Adam Frank is thinking on Facebook and on Twitter: @AdamFrank4

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