NPR Staff

For three generations, Tanya James' family has worked the coal mines of West Virginia. James is no different. She began working in the mines in 1979, when only about 1 in 100 coal miners were women — and she didn't begin under the happiest of circumstances.

Her father died when she was 17, leaving her mother to take care of the family. Out of necessity, Tanya's mother took a mining class, and Tanya would go down with her every day — so the instructor invited Tanya to join the class.

Six months later, Tanya was working in the mines as well.

Yes, the race for the White House is about winning states, but really it's about winning delegates. In typical elections, the front-runner in a primary ends up being the person who snags the magic number of delegates to clinch the nomination so the convention ends up being pretty much a coronation ceremony.

But this year's Republican race for the nomination is shaping up to be something different.

While combing through various Civil War files at the National Archives, a volunteer recently discovered a letter written by poet and essayist Walt Whitman on behalf of a Union soldier dying in a hospital far from home.

The National Archives is the repository of the nation's most important documents, including some they didn't even know they had, like said letter.

Washington, Jan. 21, 1865(6)

My Dear Wife,

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

The NPR Politics team is back with the weekly roundup. This week, they talk debates, fashion and what to expect on March 15, when more than a thousand delegates are at stake in six nominating contests across the country.

As always, the team wraps up their discussion with "Can't Let It Go," where they share what happened this week that they just can't get off their minds.

On the podcast:

  • Campaign Reporter Sam Sanders
  • Congressional Reporter Susan Davis

Last week, Izaic Yorks, a senior at the University of Washington, ran a mile in 3:53 — the fastest college mile ever by an American. The effort qualifies him for the Olympic trials this summer.

So why isn't Yorks running in the mile at this weekend's NCAA championships in Birmingham, Ala.?

Turns out, he had to make a decision: run that mile alone, or run with his team in the distance medley relay or DMR.

We here at The Salt like to bring you serious journalistic tails from the world of food. But hey, we like to unleash our silly side, too — and like the rest of the world, we've got a soft spot for man's (and woman's) best friend.

So of course, we're howling with delight at the latest food images charming the Internet: Meme-meister Karen Zack's clever Twitter photos highlighting the eerie resemblance between mutts and meals. In some cases, it takes dogged determination to separate the canines from the cuisine.

His is not just a gentle voice; for many people, it's a very familiar one, too. For 25 years, Francois Clemmons played a role on the beloved children's program Mister Rogers' Neighborhood. Clemmons joined the cast of the show in 1968, becoming the first African-American to have a recurring role on a kids TV series.

And, as it happens, it was Clemmons' voice that Fred Rogers noticed, too, when he heard Clemmons singing in church.

The NPR Politics team returns with a quick take about a word that seems to be on everyone's mind, both Democrats and Republicans alike: establishment. The team discusses what the establishment really means and why people are so reluctant to say they are a part of it.

The team also talks debates, the contests coming up this week, and Madonna (yes, really).

On the podcast:

  • Campaign Reporter Sam Sanders
  • Digital Political Reporter Danielle Kurtzleben

The Apple-FBI standoff, where Apple is refusing to write special software that would help investigators crack into an iPhone of one of the San Bernardino shooters, is largely viewed as a battle between privacy and security.

If you've been following the presidential campaign, you have probably heard some talk about the power of the evangelical vote.

Pastor Max Lucado is a prominent evangelical pastor and a prolific best-selling writer who almost never writes about politics. And that's one reason millions found a recent essay of his so interesting.

Lucado took to his website to describe all the reasons he says Republican front-runner Donald Trump's tone and decorum fail the decency test, in a blog post titled "Decency for President."

From M'Lynn Eatenton in Steel Magnolias to Mary Todd in Lincoln, Academy Award-winning actress Sally Field doesn't shy away from taking on emotionally charged and challenging roles.

All of these characters become a part of her in a sense. "They stay in me and they have always changed me in some way," Field tells NPR's Lourdes Garcia-Navarro.

Now, playing a woman in her late 60s with some borderline personality issues for her latest film, Hello, My Name Is Doris, part of Doris is already in Field.

It was a love of mystery novels that brought Gary Shulze and Pat Frovarp together — a love of God Is a Bullet by Boston Teran, to be specific.

"I was looking at books," Frovarp, who is 75, tells NPR's Ari Shapiro. "Gary and I had seen each other. We didn't know one another. And he walked over to me in this particular bookstore and handed me a book by Teran and said, 'You've gotta read this book, it's really good.'"

More than 250,000 people have been killed and millions more displaced as a result of the conflict in Syria. But the destruction also extends beyond human lives. Significant parts of that country's heritage are now lost. Architecture, art and antiquities dating back more than a thousand years have been wiped out — in what some have called cultural genocide.

The NPR Politics team is back with a special podcast devoted to all things Super Tuesday, the day when the most states and delegates are at stake in the 2016 presidential primary campaign. The team discusses which candidates need big wins to keep their campaigns afloat and predictions for what might happen after Super Tuesday.

On the podcast:

  • Campaign Reporter Sam Sanders
  • Political Editor Domenico Montanaro
  • Campaign Reporter Asma Khalid

With apologies to Andy Williams, now is the most wonderful time of the year ... for it is Girl Scout cookie season.

But after plowing through several sleeves of Thin Mints, fatigue can set in. So we wondered, when you're starting to feel sick of Girl Scout cookies, is there a way to rekindle the love?

Before NASA had its Mercury 7 astronauts, the Air Force was launching its own team into the stratosphere — in balloons.

Without the glamour or budget of NASA, these early space scientists and test pilots performed extreme experiments that helped pave the way for the Mercury crew. Among them was Captain Joseph Kittinger, who in 1960 stepped from his balloon into free fall from 103,000 feet above the ground — nearly 20 miles.

If Marco Rubio or Ted Cruz makes it to the White House, it will be historic — it would mean this country had its first ever Latino president.

Both have a Cuban background, but neither candidate can necessarily count on the support of Latino voters to win. That's because most Latinos in this country lean Democratic, even with no Latino candidate represented in the Democratic field.

When the military opens front-line combat roles to women soldiers — across all branches — in April, it will mark the culmination of a years-long process, which was often subject both to consternation and controversy. It will also mark a historic first for a female service members, many of whom enlisted decades ago in a very different kind of military.

Among those women is Capt. Margie Finlay, who first enlisted in 1973.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

LOURDES GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

A presidential race that has been full of surprises provided another one yesterday as New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who dropped out of the race just over two weeks ago, said he was supporting Donald Trump.

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Just days away from the Oscars, Hollywood continues to face down questions over its lack of diversity — particularly among the nominees for its top prize. The controversy has helped prompt a viral hashtag, #OscarsSoWhite, and has led the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to pledge to diversify in years to come.

If you got a parking ticket in the city of San Francisco between 1995 and 2012, you may be owed some money.

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency says it has identified a total of $6.1 million in overpayments — in other words, vehicle owners who sent the government too much money — for some 200,000 tickets.

San Francisco issues 1.5 million tickets a year, Paul Rose, a spokesman with SFMTA, tells NPR's Robert Siegel.

From now until March 3, people can get their money back. After that, the government will keep the money.

Last year, Ford asked people if they could imagine themselves buying or riding in a self-driving vehicle.

Out of the eight countries surveyed, India and China had the highest positive answers at 84 percent and 78 percent, respectively, compared to the U.S. and U.K. at 40 percent and 30 percent, respectively, the study found.

The day when you'll be chauffeured to work by your car may not be far off.

Right now, the legal groundwork is being laid to make way for the self-driving car around the nation. NPR's Robert Siegel is talking to several key players this week about the emerging world of self-driving cars.

In the latest conversation, he spoke with Brian Soublet, deputy director and chief legal counsel for the California Department of Motor Vehicles — an agency that robotic car advocates have accused of squelching innovation before it even gets on the road.

U.S. operation of the Guantanamo Bay military detention center in Cuba is "contrary to our values" and is seen as "a stain on our broader record" of upholding the highest rules of law, President Obama said Tuesday as he announced plans to close the facility.

The NPR Politics team is back with a quick take on the winners and losers of the Republican primary in South Carolina and the Democratic caucuses in Nevada. Does Trump's win in South Carolina solidify him as the Republican nominee? Does Clinton's big win in Nevada make the road tougher for Sanders? The team answers those questions and also gives a listen to some new campaign ads narrated by the one and only Morgan Freeman.

On the podcast:

  • National Political Correspondent Mara Liasson

Apple shareholders will be voting on a proposal at the annual meeting Feb. 26. It's a proposal that the company opposes, which calls for the tech leader to increase diversity in its senior management.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

One more word on politics. Following Hillary Clinton's victory in the Democratic caucuses today, just moments ago, Bernie Sanders conceded in Henderson, Nev.

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