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Steve Inskeep

In China's coal country, Shanxi Province, the black stuff is a more than just a source of income — it is a source of identity. Lumps of it are for sale at the national coal museum, in elegant, satin-lined gift boxes. The rest of the coal museum is faded and out of date, much like the city of Taiyuan, where it is located, about 300 miles southwest of Beijing.

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So this is a question that people have been asking for weeks now - a very long time. We know that the nation's opioid crisis is deadly serious, but is it officially a national emergency or not?

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And I'm Steve Inskeep in Las Vegas. When President Trump visits here today, he arrives in a city where investigators are hard at work.

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"You couldn't be more dead wrong. America was built on her citizens. ... Look at the 19th century. What built America's called the American system, from Hamilton to Polk to Henry Clay to Lincoln to the Roosevelts. [It was] a system of protection of our manufacturing, financial system that lends to manufacturers, OK, and the control of our borders. Economic nationalism is what this country was built on. The American system." – Steve Bannon

"So this week it's Robert E. Lee. I noticed that Stonewall Jackson's coming down. I wonder, is it George Washington next week? And is it Thomas Jefferson the week after? You know, you really do have to ask yourself, where does it stop? ... [Jefferson] was a major slave owner. Are we going to take down his statue?" — President Trump, Aug. 15, 2017

Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., chose a dramatic moment to question the direction of his party.

Flake, a longtime critic of President Trump, has written a book detailing where he thinks his party has gone wrong.

"I'm not blaming this lack of principle, or where we are, solely on the president. He's more the culmination of it," Flake says.

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President Trump's son-in-law is famous for trying to stay in the background, or at least to try to stay away from microphones. This week though, he is the focus of the Russia investigation.

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Former Vice President Al Gore helped shape the conversation about climate change with An Inconvenient Truth. Now he's back with a sequel — called An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power, due out next month -- and it follows Gore as he continues the crusade he made famous with that first film.

The movie shows Gore standing in Miami floodwater, flying over imploding boulders of ice in Greenland and in Paris — trying to push the climate agreement over the finish line.

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Two things seem pretty certain about Republican Senator Mitch McConnell's health care push at this point. There is going to be a vote next week, and there's going to be a lot of vocal opposition to it.

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The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art has some 34,000 works in its collection — but you'll only find a fraction of those up on the wall.

"A little under 2,000 of them are on view at any one time in the galleries," says Keir Winesmith, head of SFMOMA's Web and digital platforms.

So what to do with the rest?

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Sharks have been swarming around southern California beaches for weeks. NPR wanted to know more about why, so we placed a call to Chris Lowe, a professor in marine biology and head of the Shark Lab at California State University at Long beach — or rather, we tried. Lowe was offshore on a boat trapping sharks to tag, and at the appointed time for our interview, Lowe had his hands full ... of shark.

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