NPR Staff

At an estate sale in Rochester, N.Y., in 2009, a rare book seller came upon a curious literary artifact. As it turned out, it was a memoir written in the 1850s by Austin Reed, a black man who spent most of his life in prison. It's the earliest known prison memoir by an African-American writer, and it has now been published as The Life and the Adventures of a Haunted Convict.

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

Would you have a computer drive for you?

Some say yes if the computer is accurate and has no bugs in it, while some say no because they want to be in control and they enjoy driving.

A University of Michigan survey found that about 90 percent of Americans have some concerns about the concept of self-driving cars. But most also say that they do want some aspects of the car to be automated.

Here's a trend in new books: Publishers commonly promote them by comparing them to other books — and when the books are crime fiction or thrillers, and written by women, they get compared to the same books again and again and again. Those books would be Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train, by Paula Hawkins. So let's explore why those two are so influential.

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.

North Korea is considered the most reclusive country in the world. Outsiders know very little about what happens inside the Hermit Kingdom.

North Koreans, in turn, know very little about the outside world. The regime of dictator Kim Jong Un bans nearly all forms of outside media. North Koreans are exposed only to what their government tells them, giving them a skewed view of their own country.

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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Earlier this week, officials at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore announced they had received approval to begin conducting the first organ transplants from HIV-positive donors to HIV-positive recipients. This comes after a 2013 change in the law that lifted a ban in place since 1988.

Surgeons at Johns Hopkins say that they are ready to begin performing liver and kidney transplants as soon as the appropriate candidates are available.

Ferrante Fever goes something like this: You pick up one of Elena Ferrante's books because a friend told you that you had to read it. You read a few pages, and then before you know it, it's 3:00 o'clock in the morning, you've finished the book, and you're on the hunt for the other three titles in the Neapolitan series.

The world wasn't prepared for Zika to fly across continents in the span of a few months. In 2015, when the virus began rapidly spreading across the Americas, health workers were surprised, and researchers were caught flat-footed when it came time to provide information to protecting the public's health.

Joshua Myers, 29, has Down syndrome. These days, he considers it a gift — but he didn't always.

"At first," he says, "I thought it was a curse."

In fact, the condition proved so overwhelming for Myers that, once, he even walked out into the middle of a busy intersection, hoping that a car would hit him and end his life. But a stranger stopped for him. She brought him into her car to talk things through.

Myers hasn't seen her since.

The NPR Politics Podcast team has its weekly roundup a day early as it looks ahead to the upcoming Republican primary in South Carolina, the Democratic caucuses in Nevada, and all the political attacks that accompany them.

The team also takes a listener question and, as always, they end the show with their personal political obsessions of the week.

On the podcast:

  • Political Editor Domenico Montanaro
  • White House Correspondent Tamara Keith

The showdown between the FBI and Apple could result in huge changes for security and privacy, but one thing it may not do is deliver a big break in the San Bernardino case.

One of the leading figures in the government's bailout of banks deemed "too big to fail" after the 2008 financial crisis says major banks are still at risk.

Neel Kashkari, now the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, tells NPR's Steve Inskeep that despite changes to Wall Street made as part of the 2010 Dodd-Frank law, big banks are still too big to fail.

Sarah Parcak is a space archaeologist. She uses satellite imagery to track looted ancient burial sites and find pyramids hidden under Egyptian cities. Now, she has bigger plans: to launch a worldwide campaign to make all of us space archaeologists.

Here's a puzzle: Put two quarters side by side so the ridges mesh like gears, then hold one still and roll the other all the way around it. How many revolutions will George Washington make?

That's a riddle from Ethan Canin's new novel, A Doubter's Almanac. The book follows Milo Andret, a troubled math genius, through three generations of his family. Canin tells NPR's Ari Shapiro about his protagonist's Michigan childhood, and the answer to the book's two quarter puzzle.

Author Ruta Sepetys likes to look for what she calls "hidden chapters of history." She writes historical fiction for teens, and judging by the success of her debut novel, Between Shades of Gray, adults are also reading her.

When Franz Liszt wrote The Fountains of the Villa d'Este, he added a Latin quotation from the Gospel of St. John. It says: "But the water that I shall give him shall become in him a well of water springing up into eternal life." That composition is featured on the newest album by French pianist Helene Grimaud, called Water.

In the movie Mad Max: Fury Road, a renegade, played by Charlize Theron, races away from a dictator through a hellish desert.

It's essentially a two-hour post-apocalyptic car chase.

The film isn't your typical Oscar bait, yet it has 10 nominations. One of those is for editor Margaret Sixel. Her job began with hundreds of hours of footage.

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia defined "originalism" this way:

"The Constitution that I interpret and apply is not living but dead, or as I prefer to call it, enduring. It means today not what current society, much less the court, thinks it ought to mean, but what it meant when it was adopted."

Terry Farley remembers her first boyfriend: Steve Downey. The year was 1971. She was 14, he was 16.

"He was my first love, the first boy I ever kissed, the first boy I ever held hands with and he was hard to forget," Farley tells NPR's Rachel Martin in the Valentine's Day edition of For the Record.

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

Transcript

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Let's finish up today talking about last year's box office juggernaut. You know you saw it, maybe more than once.

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Last week, a historic trial began in Guatemala.

It's believed to be the first time any national court has held a trial to prosecute sex slavery during an armed conflict. Two former military officers stand accused of murder, kidnapping and keeping nearly a dozen indigenous women as domestic laborers and sex slaves during the country's 36-year civil war.

The Justice Department slapped the city of Ferguson, Mo., with a civil rights lawsuit this week after the City Council voted to change a proposed settlement agreement to reform the police and courts.

When Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the suit on Wednesday, she said Ferguson police disproportionately targeted black people for traffic stops, use of force and jail sentences.

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