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When people think of particle accelerators, they tend to think of giant structures: tunnels many miles long that electrons and protons race through at tremendous speeds, packing enormous energy.

But scientists in California think small is beautiful. They want to build an accelerator on semiconductor chips. An accelerator built that way won't achieve the energy of its much larger cousins, but it could accelerate material research and revolutionize medical therapy.

First of all, what is an accelerator?

Former White House press secretary Sean Spicer has words of praise for Sarah Sanders, his successor at the podium, and says she's figured out how to please President Trump in the job in a way he struggled to do.

"I think Sarah has done a great job of making sure that she understands what the president wants," Spicer told NPR's Mary Louise Kelly in an interview on Wednesday in advance of next week's release of his book The Briefing: Politics, the Press and the President.

Updated at 3:50 p.m. ET

A federal magistrate judge ordered Wednesday that a Russian woman charged with being a Russian agent in the United States must be jailed ahead of her trial after prosecutors said she was a flight risk.

The woman, Maria Butina, has been in regular contact with Russian intelligence, the Justice Department says, and she attempted to offer sex in exchange for a position with an organization she targeted.

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Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

More than a year after a landslide shut it down, a section of Highway 1 running along a coastal stretch in California's Big Sur region reopened early Wednesday.

The California Department of Transportation announced that the roadway at Mud Creek was opening about two months ahead of schedule, thanks to favorable weather and worker productivity.

"It's a big deal to open the highway unrestricted," Colin Jones, a Caltrans spokesman told NPR.

In Illinois, prisoners with disabilities may end up staying behind bars, long after their release date has passed. Most inmates are put on mandatory supervised release, which requires a person to have stable housing before they can leave prison. An analysis by WBEZ in Chicago found many facilities on the department’s housing directory could not take people who use a wheelchair.

Comic Bo Burnham was still in high school when the satirical songs he posted on the Internet went viral — making him one of YouTube's first stars. Now 27, he's taken a turn behind the camera with a new film, Eighth Grade, that looks at what it's like to grow up in the age of social media.

The film centers on a socially awkward 13-year-old girl named Kayla who's navigating the final year of middle school. Burnham says the character was inspired by a period in his early 20s when he was dealing with panic attacks onstage.

Updated at 3:05 p.m. ET

The White House is denying that President Trump believes Russia is no longer targeting U.S. elections and other infrastructure, despite his apparent answer to a reporter's question Wednesday morning.

Asked by reporters at the start of a Cabinet meeting whether Russia is still targeting the U.S., Trump shook his head and said "no."

Later, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders sought to clarify Trump's comments, saying his "no" meant that he was not taking any questions from reporters.

Updated at 3:05 p.m. ET

Tech entrepreneur Elon Musk has apologized for his part in a spat with a British diver involved in the rescue of 12 boys and their soccer coach trapped in a flooded cave in Thailand. Musk had tweeted a personal attack on Vern Unsworth, calling him a pedophile after the diver dismissed Musk's offer of help with a vulgar comment.

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Ethiopia's "bird of peace" has landed.

After two decades of bloody conflict, Ethiopia and Eritrea have been repairing their relationship with remarkable speed following a peace deal reached last week. On Wednesday, a new milestone was marked — the first commercial flight between the neighboring countries in 20 years.

The days of plastic straws are drawing shorter.

Marriott International on Wednesday became the latest big company to announce it will stop using plastic straws, saying it would remove them from its more than 6,500 properties by next July. The giant hotel chain said it will stop offering plastic stirrers, too.

Iram Sabah, mother of two, is terrified by messages her family has been receiving on their smartphones.

Her husband recently was forwarded a video that shows a child's mutilated body. It's unclear where or when the video is from, or whether it has been doctored. A voice implores people to forward it to others, and to stay vigilant — that kidnappers are on the loose.

Sabah, 27, doesn't know if the video is fake or real. But she's not taking any chances.

At 8 a.m. on a sunny morning in April, people are sweeping the hilly streets of Kigali, the capital of Rwanda, with straw brooms and picking up stray bits of litter.

The roads are empty of cars, and all vehicles and shops are shuttered here — and across the country.

This is "Umuganda," a community cleanup held on the last Saturday of every month. It's one reason that Rwanda is renowned in Africa for its cleanliness.

Thai Boys Speak Out On Cave Rescue

9 hours ago

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Those 12 boys on a soccer team rescued from a cave in Thailand are now going home. The boys and their coach have been recovering in a hospital for the past week. Today, they appeared alongside their doctors for a news conference, hugging friends and apologizing to their parents.

EU Fines Google $5 Billion

9 hours ago

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Updated at 9:15 a.m. ET

The European Commission has fined Google $5 billion for violating the European Union's antitrust rules — specifically, by forcing manufacturers of Android phones to install the Google search app and the Chrome Web browser.

"Google has used Android as a vehicle to cement the dominance of its search engine," Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said in a statement. "These practices have denied rivals the chance to innovate and compete on the merits."

Note to readers: this post uses profanity that may offend some.

Four years after Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was shot down over eastern Ukraine by a Russian-supplied surface-to-air missile, families of the 298 victims are still waiting for Russian President Vladimir Putin to explain what happened.

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Alabama Republican Rep. Martha Roby has won a primary runoff against a former Democrat who challenged her over a pledge she made in 2016 not to vote for then-candidate Trump.

Roby, a four-term incumbent representing Alabama's 2nd congressional district in the state's southeast, defeated Bobby Bright, a former "Blue Dog" conservative Democrat who served in Congress until 2011. Bright later switched parties for the run against Roby, whom he tried to paint as insufficiently supportive of the president.

The 12 members of the Wild Boars soccer team and their coach subsisted on water that flooded the cave where they were trapped for two weeks — and they now regard the divers who saved them as family, they said at a news conference on Wednesday after finally leaving a hospital and preparing to return to their homes in northern Thailand.

Archaeologists Find 14,500-Year-Old Bread

12 hours ago

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French butchers say they're under threat from militant vegans. And they've asked the French government for protection. What's at stake, say butchers, is not just the right to eat meat — but a way of life.

Didier and Sandrine Tass run their butcher shop on a busy street in Paris' 15th arrondissement. They've been here for 19 years. They know all their customers and discuss growing children and family vacations as they serve them. The Tasses say it's a great livelihood. But these days, the butcher and his wife are nervous about threats from militant vegans.

Rates of anxiety and depression among teens in the U.S. have been rising for years. According to one study, nearly one in three adolescents (ages 13-18) now meets the criteria for an anxiety disorder, and in the latest results from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Youth Risk Behavior Survey, 32 percent of teens reported persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness.

Eight months pregnant, the drug sales representative wore a wire for the FBI around her bulging belly as she recorded conversations with colleagues at a conference in Chicago. Her code name? Pampers.

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Chicago Is Proud To Be Anti-Ketchup

12 hours ago

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Updated at 4 p.m. ET

Migrants detained in recent months at the U.S.-Mexico border describe being held in Customs and Border Protection facilities that are unsanitary and overcrowded, receiving largely inedible food and being forced to drink foul-smelling drinking water.

Documents filed Monday in U.S. District Court in California and viewed by NPR late Tuesday contain interviews with some 200 individuals detained under the Trump administration's "zero tolerance" policy, many of whom related poor conditions at the centers.

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