Talk of the Nation

Monday - Thursday 11:00 a.m. till 1:00 p.m.
Neil Conan

Each day, Talk of the Nation combines the award-winning resources of NPR News with the vital participation of listeners. The result is a spirited and productive exchange of knowledge and insight that delves deeply into the news and ideas of the day.

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Technology
8:17 am
Fri June 21, 2013

A Calculating Win for China's New Supercomputer

Transcript

IRA FLATOW, HOST:

Every six months, one of my next guests ranks the 500 fastest computers in the world, the supercomputers, and back in November 2010, China took number one for the first time with a supercomputer called Milky Way 1. President Obama acknowledged China's feat in his State of the Union address a few months later and said we were facing a Sputnik moment.

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Environment
11:35 am
Thu June 20, 2013

The Business And Politics Of Air Quality Regulation

In a speech in Germany Wednesday, President Barack Obama said it's time to take "bold action" on climate change. Many believe that major changes to policies on carbon emissions lie ahead, which would mean a host of new regulations for businesses.

Arts & Life
11:25 am
Thu June 20, 2013

Nikky Finney Ponders Possibilities Of The Poetry Profession

Transcript

NEAL CONAN, HOST:

Over the past several weeks, we checked in with our colleagues and friends in a series of conversations called "Looking Ahead," today, poet Nikky Finney. Two years ago, she riveted the audience as she accepted a National Book Award for her poetry collection "Head Off & Split."

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED SPEECH)

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NPR Story
11:14 am
Thu June 20, 2013

'Blood & Beauty' Breathes New Life Into The Borgias

Sarah Dunant is also author of the novels The Birth of Venus and Sacred Hearts.
Charlie Hopkinson

Originally published on Fri June 21, 2013 9:48 am

In the 1500s, Italy is bursting with some of the most influential and vivid figures in history. Many — like Leonardo da Vinci, who balanced art and the sciences; Galileo Galilei, who turned his telescope to the heavens; and Niccolo Machiavelli, who calculated the ruthless politics of the day — are still remembered even now for their major contributions.

Author Sarah Dunant has drilled down into the Italian Renaissance for over a decade — reconstructing a time of artistic innovation, political corruption and war into captivating, and highly accurate, fiction.

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Iraq
11:10 am
Thu June 20, 2013

After A Surge Of Violence, The Threat Of A New Civil War In Iraq

Transcript

NEAL CONAN, HOST:

This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan.

Yesterday, seven people were killed and 24 wounded in bomb attacks in Iraq as a surge of violence there continues, 2,000 dead since April; numbers that haven't been seen since the worst days of 2006 and 2007. Then as now, the fighting is largely between Sunnis and Shiites, but this time, inflamed by the civil war raging next door in Syria.

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From Our Listeners
11:04 am
Wed June 19, 2013

Letters: Researching Rare Diseases, Only Children

Originally published on Thu June 20, 2013 8:20 am

Transcript

NEAL CONAN, HOST:

It's Wednesday, and time to read from your comments. James in Laurel Hill, Fla., emailed during our conversation about research into rare diseases. "I would like to affirm the comment made by your guest about rare disease research leading to help for more common diseases," he wrote. "My nephew has brittle bone disease. Some aspects of his treatment have been used to help mend broken bones in accident victims, so research into rare disorders can definitely lead to treatment for others."

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NPR Story
10:56 am
Wed June 19, 2013

Deadpan Humor And Childhood Fears Collide In 'The Dark'

In The Dark, a boy name Laszlo is visited one night by his biggest fear.
Courtesy of Little, Brown and Company

Originally published on Thu June 20, 2013 11:26 am

If there's one thing kids are scared of, it's the dark. In his latest children's book, The Dark, Daniel Handler — who writes under the pen name Lemony Snicket — takes on darkness itself, with the story of a young boy who confronts his biggest fear. Handler is known for his dry wit and matter-of-fact take on the mysterious and macabre.

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Politics
10:56 am
Wed June 19, 2013

The Penultimate Edition Of The Political Junkie

Originally published on Thu June 20, 2013 8:20 am

Transcript

NEAL CONAN, HOST:

This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in Washington. The speaker clamps the Hastert Rule on immigration reform. Three Republican senators now support gay marriage. And the Bay State Senate race goes into its last week. It's Wednesday and time for a penultimate edition of the political junkie.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDINGS)

PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN: There you go again.

VICE PRESIDENT WALTER MONDALE: When I hear your new ideas, I'm reminded of that ad: Where's the beef?

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Business
10:56 am
Wed June 19, 2013

Will Work For Free? The Future Of The Unpaid Internship

Originally published on Thu June 20, 2013 8:20 am

Transcript

NEAL CONAN, HOST:

This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in Washington. With school out, many college - and even some high school students - will spend the summer working as interns. It's a chance to beef up their resumes, gain on-the-job experience and make valuable contacts. Last week, a federal district court judge in New York issued a ruling that could change the system.

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Afghanistan
11:07 am
Tue June 18, 2013

A Look Ahead To The Future Of Afghanistan

Transcript

JOHN DONVAN, HOST:

This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm John Donvan in Washington. Neal Conan is away. Of course somebody needed to mark the occasion today by setting off a bomb. It was Afghanistan, where what is hoped will be a turning point was reached today when a ceremony was held in which the Afghan government officially took control of the nation's security, meaning that the U.S., which still has nearly 70,000 troops there, swaps into what is called a support role. Same for some of the 30,000 troops from other NATO nations.

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Media
11:05 am
Tue June 18, 2013

Breaking Bad News To Kids: How Media Has Tweaked The Process

Parents have always had to break hard news to kids, from family hardships to national tragedies. Now there are more ways for children to learn about news faster — through 24 hour news and social media. So, what's changed in how parents broach these subjects? How can media help, or hurt?

National Security
11:03 am
Tue June 18, 2013

Obama's Former Legal Adviser Urges U.S. To 'Disciple Drones'

Transcript

JOHN DONVAN, HOST:

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World
10:49 am
Tue June 18, 2013

When A Language Dies, What Happens To Culture?

Transcript

JOHN DONVAN, HOST:

This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm John Donvan.

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Law
10:54 am
Mon June 17, 2013

After SCOTUS DNA Ruling, What Changes For Police?

The Supreme Court ruled in June that police can routinely take DNA samples from people who are arrested for comparison against a national database. The decision raises major questions about how law enforcement and criminal justice processes will change.

NPR Story
10:45 am
Mon June 17, 2013

'Cows Save The Planet': Soil's Secrets For Saving The Earth

Chelsea Green Publishing

Originally published on Tue June 18, 2013 7:57 am

In her book Cows Save The Planet, journalist Judith Schwartz argues that the key to addressing carbon issues and climate change lies beneath our feet. Schwartz says that proper management of soil could solve a long list of environmental problems.

"The thing to realize is that while we think about this as a sky thing — that it's all about all the fossil fuels that we're burning and all that spewing into the atmosphere — it's actually also a ground thing," she tells NPR's Neal Conan.

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Middle East
10:45 am
Mon June 17, 2013

Is Big Change Ahead In Iran? A Biography Of The President Elect

Originally published on Tue June 18, 2013 5:56 am

Transcript

NEAL CONAN, HOST:

This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan.

In Tehran today, the first news conference of Iran's president-elect ended abruptly when a man in the audience jumped up to protest the absence of the man many believe was elected president four years ago, Mir-Hossein Mousavi has been held under house arrest since 2011. And after the interruption, President-elect Hasan Rouhani left the stage and state television pulled the plug on the live broadcast.

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Around the Nation
10:45 am
Mon June 17, 2013

Looking Ahead With NPR's Margot Adler

Originally published on Mon June 17, 2013 1:06 pm

Transcript

NEAL CONAN, HOST:

This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in Washington. For the past several weeks, we've taken the opportunity to reconnect with some of our favorite guests and colleagues in a series of conversations looking ahead. Today, longtime NPR New York correspondent Margot Adler, who's filed stories on hundreds of New Yorkers over the years: AIDS activists, street musicians, cops, environmental visionaries, and a guy who will move your car at exactly the right moment to take full advantage of opposite-side-of-the-street parking laws.

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Technology
11:03 am
Fri June 14, 2013

Looking Back, and Up, at a Seattle Icon

Originally published on Fri June 14, 2013 1:13 pm

Transcript

IRA FLATOW, HOST:

We are broadcasting today from the Pacific Science Center in Seattle. And just steps away from this building, right outside is something that should be familiar to anyone who's ever received a postcard from Seattle or taken home a pen or a glass or anything tchotchke of any kind. And it's the Space Needle, built in connection with the 1962 World's Fair. It is an iconic part of the Seattle skyline.

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Science
10:03 am
Fri June 14, 2013

Decoding 'the Most Complex Object in the Universe'

Originally published on Fri June 14, 2013 1:13 pm

Transcript

IRA FLATOW, HOST:

This is SCIENCE FRIDAY. I'm Ira Flatow. Your brain has nearly 100 billion neurons, and one of my next guests compares that complexity to the Amazon rainforest. In fact, he says there about as many trees in the Amazon as there are neurons in your brain. Think about what the Amazon looks like for a second.

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NPR Story
8:27 am
Fri June 14, 2013

Human Genes Not Patentable, Supreme Court Says

Originally published on Fri June 14, 2013 1:13 pm

Transcript

IRA FLATOW, HOST:

This is SCIENCE FRIDAY. I'm Ira Flatow. Yesterday, the Supreme Court ruled that human genes cannot be patented. The case involves a dispute over patents held on the BRCA1 and the BRCA2 genes, the so-called breast cancer genes; and tests a company, Myriad Genetics, used to look for mutations to those genes.

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