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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MIT Scientists Develop New Breed Of Self-Assembling Robots

Oct 7, 2013
Originally published on October 8, 2013 9:49 am

They're called M-Blocks and the tiny, cubical robots that can spin, flip and jump their way into new configurations are the brainchild of scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

According to MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL), M-Blocks:

"[are] cubes with no external moving parts. Nonetheless, they're able to climb over and around one another, leap through the air, roll across the ground, and even move while suspended upside down from metallic surfaces.

"Inside each M-Block is a flywheel that can reach speeds of 20,000 revolutions per minute; when the flywheel is braked, it imparts its angular momentum to the cube. On each edge of an M-Block, and on every face, are cleverly arranged permanent magnets that allow any two cubes to attach to each other."

M-Blocks "have the ability to change their geometry according to task," says MIT robotics professor Daniela Rus.

"This is exciting because a robot designed for a single task has a fixed architecture. That robot will perform the single task well, but it will perform poorly on a different task in a different environment," she says.

John Romanishin came up with the basic concept in 2011, when he was still a senior at MIT. Despite initial skepticism, he and Rus, his professor, along with another MIT postdoc, Kyle Gilpin, eventually turned the idea into reality. There were lots of technical hurdles to overcome, not least of which was figuring out how to stop the cubes once they were in motion.

Extreme Tech writes:

"The flywheel is good at getting the M-Blocks moving, but stopping them is a different matter entirely. Romanishin's design includes a pair of small cylindrical magnets on each edge of the cube. The magnets are mounted on a tiny spinning axle so that as one cube approaches the other, the magnets can rotate so the opposite poles connect. Thus, any face of any two M-Block robots can link to each other. All the robot needs to do is use the flywheel to send itself tumbling or jumping in the general vicinity of a second M-Block, and they'll connect. That's really the strength of this system — a single component can move just fine on its own. If something falls off or is damaged while completing a task, that's not an insurmountable problem."

Commenting on the innovation, Geek says: "Modular robots are not a new trick, but modular cube shaped robots with no external moving parts? Now you've got something truly incredible."

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