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Teddy Roosevelt tried to use primary elections to get back into the White House in 1912. But primaries didn't become the way both parties nominate their candidates until 1972. With just a few days until the state-by-state process begins again, does it really provide "the voice of the people?"

Later on the program, the ancient strategy of starvation is being used as a weapon of war in Syria. 

Photo: President Reagan gives his Acceptance Speech at the Republican National Convention in Dallas, Texas on August 23, 1984.(National Archives and Records Administration)

Producers:
Christine Detz
Evan George
Jenny Hamel

Obama Says No New Coal Leases on Public Land 6 MIN, 13 SEC

The Obama Administration today announced a halt to all new coal-mining leases on public lands as a step toward curbing climate change. It's something the President telegraphed in Tuesday's State of the Union address. Elana Schor is energy reporter for Politico.

Guests:
Elana Schor, Politico (@eschor)

Presidential Primaries: Where Did They Come From? 32 MIN, 34 SEC

In 17 days, the state-by-state slog to the presidential nomination will finally begin for both Democrats and Republicans. Since 1952, the winner has been decided before the pageants both parties still euphemistically call their "nominating conventions." It's often said that the primaries have replaced "smoke filled rooms" with "the voice of the people." Is that really true? Are primaries the best way for divided political parties to choose their leaders?

More:
Cowan on how Roosevelt helped prove that a primary is a good way to choose a candidate
Cowan's 'Let the People Rule: Theodore Roosevelt and the Birth of the Presidential Primary'
Norrander's 'The Imperfect Primary: Oddities, Biases, and Strengths of US Presidential Nomination Politics'
Cost on the cost of the 2012 Republican nomination process
Cost's 'A Republic No More: Big Government and the Rise of American Political Corruption '
Scala's 'The Four Faces of the Republican Party and the Fight for the 2016 Presidential Nomination'

A Syrian Town Is Starving to Death 10 MIN, 47 SEC

A tactic dating back to the earliest days of organized combat is now being used in 21st Century Syria. The UN says starvation has become a weapon of war. 


In Madaya, women and their families wait for permissions to leave the besieged town, January 11, 2016.
Photo: © Al Saleh, WFP/UNICEF

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon said yesterday that the warring sides in Syria are committing what he called "atrocious acts" as weapons of war. Today, UNICEF, the UN's Children's Fund, confirmed severe malnutrition among children in the town of Madaya, where 32 people died of starvation last month. Dr. Peter Salama, UNICEF Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa, joins us from Amman, Jordan.

Guests:
Peter Salama, UNICEF (@PeteSalama)

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