NPR Staff

The much-hyped consumer virtual reality headset, Oculus Rift, is finally hitting the market. The reviews have been mixed. As The Wall Street Journal put it, "the first totally immersive home virtual reality rig is a pricey, awkward, isolating—and occasionally brilliant—glimpse of the future of computing."

Opioids are becoming the latest serious addiction problem in this country. Among these drugs manufactured from opium, heroin is the most serious, dangerous, cheap and available everywhere.

In April's edition of Harper's Magazine, Dan Baum has examined a new response to this latest addiction problem: the legalization of drugs.

In 1970, a teenager found a handmade album in a pile of trash in Springfield, Mo. Inside, there were 283 drawings of trains, cars, animals and portraits of people with haunting, circular eyes that stared dead ahead. The album had no name or signature. The only clue to the artist's identity was the stationery on which each picture was drawn — stationery that belonged to State Hospital No. 3 in Nevada, Mo.

Midlife may be a good time to think about shifting your career.

That may run counter to the notion that, after building your career for several decades, you're at your peak. But according to Gallup, only a third of seasoned employees say they're engaged in their careers.

Over the past few years, pop songs have come to play so consistently in advertising that there are smartphone apps designed to listen and help you name that tune, and the word "sellout" has lost a lot of its bite.

Journalist Anne Garrels was covering Russia years ago for NPR and she wanted to understand what was happening beyond the swiftly changing capital city of Moscow.

So she took out a map, and chose a city at random.

"It could be anywhere and I basically just threw a pencil at the map and it hit Chelyabinsk and I've been going there ever since," she tells NPR's Morning Edition.

Later this month, British newspaper the Independent will stop printing physical copies — it's going online-only. You might not be familiar with the Independent, but if it weren't for the paper, the world might never have gotten to meet Bridget Jones.

That character, immortalized on film by Renee Zellweger, was born out of a series of columns that author Helen Fielding wrote in the Independent in the 1990s. Fielding tells NPR's David Greene that when she started there, the newspaper was "the cool place to work."

As President Obama touched down in Cuba over the weekend, Cuban artists were making waves at the SXSW music festival in Austin.

Consider something we use every day but don't think about unless, of course, we lose them: keys. They lock doors, turn on cars, keep valuables safe. More poetically, they can open minds and hearts.

Writer Helen Oyeyemi has been thinking a lot about keys. In fact, she's written an entire book about them, What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours — nine short stories (she says she could have written 900) about the power of keys.

There are 11.3 million people in the U.S. who have immigrated illegally. And as you have probably heard, the presidential candidates have different opinions about how to handle them. Most notably, GOP frontrunner Donald Trump wants to deport them.

On this Palm Sunday, Fox will air a show called The Passion. It's the latest in a string of live musical TV events, and this time network executives are taking a chance on the Bible.

The Passion is the story of the last hours of Jesus Christ, and Sunday's production will take place on location in New Orleans. Some of the scenes were taped in advance, but others will be live, including a procession of 1,000 people carrying a cross through the streets.

Albert Woodfox has spent more time in solitary confinement than any man alive in the U.S. today — 43 years. He and Robert King are the surviving members of a group known as the "Angola Three."

Together with the late Herman Wallace, they spent more than 100 years in solitary confinement for the 1972 death of a prison guard, Brent Miller, at the maximum security Louisiana State Penitentiary, known as Angola. No forensic evidence tied the Angola Three to Miller's killing, and they always maintained their innocence.

Communities all over Europe are struggling to manage the refugee crisis. In France, chaos broke out earlier this month when the government began demolishing the squalid refugee camp in Calais known as "the Jungle." Estimates of the number of people in the camp ranged from 2,500 to 6,000.

Katie Roiphe's preoccupation with death goes back to her childhood, when she contracted virulent pneumonia at the age of 12. She was sick for a year and thought she was going to die.

Her terror of death was reignited many years later when her father died. It was then that Riophe found herself turning to great minds to see how they confronted mortality.

In 1973, when journalist David Kushner was 4 years old, his brother Jon left for a short bike ride through the woods. He was going to buy some candy at a convenience store — but Jon never came home. A week after he disappeared, his body was found buried in a shallow grave. He was 11 years old.

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.

Kanan Makiya is still best known for a book he originally published under a pseudonym back in 1989. The Republic Of Fear catalogued the atrocities committed in Iraq under Saddam Hussein. Makiya later acknowledged authorship and became an advocate for the dictator's ouster.

Now, he's written a new book — a novel — published in both Arabic and English, and set in Iraq right after the U.S. invasion. It follows a Shiite militiaman from the day the dictator fell to the day he was hanged.

The new movie Krisha is a family drama about addiction and chaos. In it, a recovering addict named Krisha comes home for Thanksgiving after being away from her family for years.

If the family in the film seems tighter than most acting ensembles, it's because they have history: The director and writer, Trey Edward Shults, cast his aunt as the main character, his mother as the family matriarch and himself in the role of Krisha's estranged son.

The Federal Communications Commission is proposing, for the first time, privacy regulations for Internet service providers. The goal is to let consumers weigh in on what information about them gets collected and how it's used.

As they connect us to the Internet, ISPs have insight into our lives — websites we frequent, apps we download or locations we visit — and may use that data for their own promotions or sell it to data brokers to be used for marketing or other purposes.

The two members of Birds of Chicago, Allison Russell and JT Nero, used to cross paths on the road when on tour with their own bands. They joined up musically and then — as these things happen — they became a couple. Their latest album, out now, is called Real Midnight.

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.

Donald Trump's planned rally in Chicago on Friday was canceled, but not before ugly scenes played out between Trump supporters and people who had come to protest the event.

Jedidiah Brown was there. He was the young man who was shown on television yelling as he was pulled from the event stage. He's part of an organization called Young Leaders Alliance.

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,

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Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

Writer Tracy Chevalier spins fiction from history. Her best-selling novel Girl with a Pearl Earring was set in the 17th-century studio of Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer; 2010's Remarkable Creatures focused on 19th-century English fossil hunters; and 2005's The Lady and the Unicorn told the stories of medieval tapestry weavers. Now, Chevalier's latest book looks at a pioneer family trying to scrape out a life in the swamps of Ohio.

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