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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A Skillfully Composed Space Opera In 'Ancillary Justice'

Oct 8, 2013
Originally published on October 8, 2013 4:19 pm

"My heart is a fish, hiding in the water-grass."

Breq has found someone in the snow: a stranger to everyone on this planet, a thousand years old, a relic out of time — but despite all that, Breq remembers.

Breq used to be the ship that carried them both.

The assured, gripping and stylish Ancillary Justice is, in its broadest strokes, the tale of an empire, and in its smallest a character study, and part of debut novelist Anne Leckie's achievement is how she handles her protagonists in both of those contexts.

Justice of Toren is a living ship far beyond AI, spending millennia carrying officers and troops for the Radchaai Empire's endless planetary annexations. Those troops are ancillaries — sometimes called corpse soldiers — reanimated bodies that now share a single consciousness and act as one. Breq was once the ancillary One Esk and the ship Justice of Toren. But now, separated in a moment of trauma, she's autonomous. It's a condition so rare no one suspects what she is.

It's an advantage: She's out to kill the Lord of the Radch, and her only hope is that no one remembers her.

Though framed like '70s grindhouse — there was a setup, and someone's out to clean the slate — things unfold studiously, reminiscent of the deliberation underscoring Ursula Le Guin's The Left Hand of Darkness. (Several chapters take place during negotiations over a single gun.) Each character adds texture to the picture that slowly emerges: Skaaiat, cynical noble caught in political wheels; many-bodied dictator Anaander Minaai, Lord of the Radch; Awn, One Esk's last commander; and Seivarden, the dissolute exile she rescues, who joins her suicide mission.

The story moves in and out of perspectives and time periods, from the millennia-long view of Justice of Toren to the solitary Breq, looping this space opera from long history back to the immediately personal and highlighting Breq's double motives: Toren wants to disrupt a cycle of corruption; One Esk is out to revenge a friend.

It won't be easy. The universe of Ancillary Justice is complex, murky and difficult to navigate — no bad thing, as Leckie's deft sketches hint at worlds beyond, none of them neat. Most obvious are the linguistic disconnects: Breq's home tongue uses only "she," reinforcing her otherness as she constantly guesses at genders in other languages.

Then there are disconnects of culture when she returns to the heart of the Empire and contends with loaded expectations of dress and behavior. There are cruelties and power differentials between colonizers and colonized that make easy resolution impossible. And cleverly, personal disconnects that are never directly stated — because despite knowing thousands of protocols designed to smooth social interaction, Breq herself doesn't yet recognize her own emotional reactions.

Instead, her inner life thaws slowly, making for a protagonist who's sometimes oblique but never opaque; her fondness for singing is considered a quirk of programming, but there's a reason she thinks so often about a children's song of hidden hearts.

A space opera that skillfully handles both choruses and arias, Ancillary Justice is an absorbing thousand-year history, a poignant personal journey, and a welcome addition to the genre.

Genevieve Valentine is the author of Mechanique: A Tale of the Circus Tresaulti.

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