Talk of the Nation on AM 870 NewsTalk

Mon - Thurs 2pm - 4pm

When Americans want to be a part of the national conversation, they turn to Talk of the Nation, NPR's live, midday news-talk program. Host Neal Conan leads a productive exchange of ideas and opinions on the issues that dominate the news landscape.

From breaking news, science, and education to religion and the arts, Talk of the Nation offers listeners the opportunity to join enlightening discussions with decision-makers, authors, academicians, and artists from around the world.

For two hours each Monday through Thursday, Talk of the Nation listeners weigh-in, share their thoughts and ask questions by calling, emailing, messaging through social media.

On Fridays the conversation turns to the topics of science, with Talk of the Nation: Science Friday with Ira Flatow, focusing on news and issues about the world of science and technology.

A long-time NPR journalist, Conan has been a reporter, editor, and anchor for NPR live events coverage. Conan played a major role in anchoring continuous live coverage of developments during the terrorist attacks and aftermath of September 11, 2001. His broadcasts are marked by their clarity, accuracy and eloquence.

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NPR Story
1:00 pm
Fri December 9, 2011

Debating Genetically Modified Salmon

Originally published on Fri December 9, 2011 1:37 pm

Transcript

JOE PALCA, HOST:

This is SCIENCE FRIDAY. I'm Joe Palca. Ira Flatow is away this week. The biotech company AquaBounty Technologies of Waltham, Massachusetts, has developed a genetically modified Atlantic salmon that grows twice as fast as regular salmon. How has it done this? By tinkering with the salmon's genome, adding a growth hormone gene from one fish plus an antifreeze gene from another.

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Research News
1:00 pm
Fri December 9, 2011

Rats Show Empathy, By Freeing Trapped Companions

Reporting in Science, researchers write of an experiment in which rats worked to open the cages of trapped rats, but not empty or dummy-filled cages. Author Peggy Mason discusses empathy in non-primates, and the value rats place on freeing a companion--about equal to that of a stash of chocolate chips.

Space
1:00 pm
Fri December 9, 2011

US Military Keeps Wary Eye On Asia's Space Race

In Asia's Space Race: National Motivations, Regional Rivalries, and International Risks, Naval Postgraduate School professor James Clay Moltz discusses the potential militarization of fast-growing space programs in China, India, and Japan--and why US military officials are keeping watch.

Research News
1:00 pm
Fri December 9, 2011

Python Could Help Treat Heart Disease

Adult Burmese pythons can swallow prey as large as deer. Now, researchers from the University of Colorado, Boulder say the way the python's heart balloons after it eats could help treat human heart disease. Molecular biologist Leslie Leinwand discusses her team's python experiments.

NPR Story
3:37 pm
Thu December 8, 2011

Two Shot And Killed Near Virginia Tech Campus

The campus of Virginia Tech in Roanoke, Va. was on lockdown Thursday after a gunman killed a police officer during a traffic stop, and one other person. Campus officials instructed everyone to stay in a secure place indoors and barred visitors while police continued their search for the shooter. Virginia Tech established a number of security and emergency response measures after the 2007 mass shooting that killed 33 people. Mallory Noe-Payne, intern with NPR member station WVTF in Roanoke provides an update.

NPR Story
2:29 pm
Thu December 8, 2011

Recession Roadtrip: Telling Tales Of 'Hard Times'

NPR's Debbie Elliott and Richard Gonzales spent a month on the road across the nation, reporting stories of economic struggle for the NPR series "Hard Times." They heard stories of people and places grappling with economic hardship, and also found a few bright spots along the way.

NPR Story
1:00 pm
Thu December 8, 2011

Stability May Mean Tradeoffs For Some EU Members

As the Euro crisis continues, Germany and France have proposed reforms to give European Union leaders more power to demand fiscal discipline from member states. The crisis has raised difficult questions about national sovereignty for many EU member states.

NPR Story
1:00 pm
Thu December 8, 2011

After 7 Seasons, Kyra Sedgwick Closes 'The Closer'

After seven seasons, TNT's "The Closer" is coming to a close. Brenda Leigh Johnson has led the major crimes department of the Los Angeles Police Department on the hit show since 2005. Played by Kyra Sedgwick, she catches killers, brings them to often tearful confessions, and gets the case closed.

NPR Story
1:00 pm
Thu December 8, 2011

Climate Talks Near Close, No Breakthroughs Expected

Delegates from nearly 200 countries gathered for a U.N. climate conference in South Africa have been frustrated by a lack of consensus on how to reduce carbon emissions. Many participants are pointing to major emitters like the U.S. and China for the lack of progress.

NPR Story
2:36 pm
Wed December 7, 2011

The 'Codebreaker' Who Made Midway Victory Possible

The attack on Pearl Harbor 70 years ago this December set in motion a series of battles in the Pacific between the Japanese and the United States. The turning point in the Pacific came in June of 1942, when the U.S. surprised and defeated the Japanese fleet in the Battle of Midway.

That decisive victory was possible, in large part, because of the work of a little-known naval codebreaker named Joe Rochefort. His work deciphering codes revealed the details of when and how the Japanese planned to attack and handed a tremendous advantage to the U.S. Pacific Fleet.

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World
1:00 pm
Wed December 7, 2011

War And Violence On The Decline In Modern Times

Despite news of terrorist bombings, U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, and crackdowns in Syria, two recent books argue the world has never seen so little war and violence. Steven Pinker, author of The Better Angels of Our Nature, and Joshua Goldstein, author of Winning the War on War, discuss.

World
1:00 pm
Wed December 7, 2011

Conservative Wins Make Liberal Egyptians Wary

Originally published on Fri August 3, 2012 2:18 pm

Transcript

NEAL CONAN, HOST:

Roughly one-third of Egyptians voted in that country's first round of parliamentary elections, the first since Hosni Mubarak's ouster last spring, and Islamist parties scored big wins. The Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party, considered Egypt's mainstream Islamic party, announced today it won 40 percent of the votes, while the ultra-conservative Salafists surprised many by winning about a quarter of the vote. Those victories and that of the Salafists in particular leave many liberal Egyptians and foreign observers deeply worried.

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Politics
1:00 pm
Wed December 7, 2011

Gingrich Enjoys Lead With Iowa On The Horizon

Newt Gingrich has risen to the top of the polls at a pivotal moment. With less than one month until the Iowa Caucuses, he has a double-digit lead in the state. Political junkie Ken Rudin and columnist Michael Gerson talk about how the field of GOP candidates is faring in the final stretch.

NPR Story
2:35 pm
Tue December 6, 2011

'Gossip': It's Salacious, Yes, But Never Trivial

Gossip is arguably one of humanity's oldest pastimes. It can be entertaining, it's occasionally helpful, it's often salacious and even, at times, vicious.

What it's not, argues Joseph Epstein, is trivial.

The author and essayist has already traced the history and practice of two other human weaknesses, snobbery and envy. In his new book, Gossip: The Untrivial Pursuit, he turns his eye on our deep desire to hear — and share — the secrets of others, even if we feel guilty about doing so.

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From Our Listeners
1:00 pm
Tue December 6, 2011

Letters: NPR's New CEO And Becoming A Poet

NPR's Neal Conan reads from Talk of the Nation listener comments on previous show topics, including advice for NPR's new CEO, Gary Knell, and the moments when a writer realizes he or she has become a poet.

Opinion
1:00 pm
Tue December 6, 2011

Manjoo: Making Facebook Private Is 'Oxymoronic'

Facebook has developed new privacy features and agreed to 20 years of independent audits of its privacy practices. Google and Twitter previously settled similar cases with the Federal Trade Commission. Farhad Manjoo argues that Facebook, or any social network, can never be truly private.

Around the Nation
1:00 pm
Tue December 6, 2011

Snail Mail May Arrive More Slowly. Will It Matter?

The U.S. Postal Service has announced it will move forward with plans to close some 250 processing centers and lay off workers. The cuts may help save $3 billion a year by 2015, and could add a day to the delivery time of many shipments. The USPS is also reviewing post offices for possible closures.

Law
1:00 pm
Tue December 6, 2011

Court Rules Bone Marrow Donors Can Be Paid

A federal appeals court ruled that most bone marrow donors can be paid. The decision has sparked debate among advocates who believe compensation will create incentives for people to donate bone marrow, and the Justice Department, which argues compensation may compromise patient safety.

Books
2:18 pm
Mon December 5, 2011

John Lithgow's On-Stage 'Education'

Provided by the publisher

Originally published on Tue December 6, 2011 1:45 pm

John Lithgow was born into a theater family, but he never intended to become an actor; he wanted to paint. But ever since he first took the stage as a toddler, he was a hit — and he's gone on to win numerous awards for his work in television, theater and film.

In his memoir, Drama: An Actor's Education, Lithgow focuses on the years before the fame — from his stage debut at the age of 2 and his college years at Harvard, right up to the moment when he moved out West and became a star.

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Education
1:00 pm
Mon December 5, 2011

Hrabowski Works To Narrow The Achievement Gap

When Freeman Hrabowski became president of The University of Maryland, Baltimore County in 1992, he made it his mission to close the achievement gap. UMBC now sends more African-African students to graduate school in science and technology than any other predominantly white university in the U.S.

Opinion
1:00 pm
Mon December 5, 2011

Op-Ed: Treating Families That Don't Immunize

Many doctors complain that the few patients who refuse immunizations put all patients at risk, and some refuse them treatment. New York Times Ethicist Ariel Kaminer addresses the question of whether it's ethical for pediatricians to refuse routine care to families with unvaccinated children.

World
1:00 pm
Mon December 5, 2011

Limited Options to De-Escalate Violence In Syria

Originally published on Mon December 5, 2011 3:28 pm

Transcript

NEAL CONAN, HOST:

This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in Washington. Over the weekend, as the number killed rose over 4,000, one U.N. official took the considered step of describing the situation in Syria as a civil war. While much of the opposition to the government of Bashar al-Assad remains peaceful, defectors from the military have taken up arms, neighborhoods have formed ad-hoc militias, political and military opposition groups have established a presence across the border in Turkey.

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Politics
1:00 pm
Mon December 5, 2011

What Cain's Exit Means For The Republican Field

Herman Cain quit the presidential primary over the weekend and an Atlanta TV station reports that he may endorse his former rival, Newt Gingrich. NPR's Ken Rudin talks about Cain's decision to quit, and how it will change the primary field.

Medical Treatments
1:00 pm
Fri December 2, 2011

Combating Depression With Meditation, Diet

In his book Spontaneous Happiness, Dr. Andrew Weil writes of an 'integrative' approach to mental health, warding off mild and moderate depression with an anti-inflammatory diet, exercise and activities such as yoga and meditation, rather than antidepressants.

Research News
1:00 pm
Fri December 2, 2011

Flight Of The Wild Pigeon

Pigeons may not be known for their flying prowess, but they are actually pretty good at maneuvering right angles. Andrew Biewener and colleagues at Harvard's Concord Field Station caught pigeons in a parking garage, made a flying course in the lab and filmed the birds with high speed cameras to see how pigeons make tight turns.

Architecture
1:00 pm
Fri December 2, 2011

Deconstructing A Skyscraper

In her new book, The Heights: Anatomy of a Skyscraper, author Kate Ascher sheds light on the infrastructure and services that make life and work possible in a modern skyscraper. She examines everything that goes into designing, building and maintaining these towering buildings.

Author Interviews
1:00 pm
Fri December 2, 2011

The Beauty and Brains Behind 'Hedy's Folly'

Originally published on Fri December 2, 2011 1:46 pm

Transcript

IRA FLATOW, HOST:

Up next, the hidden life of a Hollywood siren.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "THE HEAVENLY BODY")

WILLIAM POWELL: (as William Whitley) Scientist, mathematician, physicist, bacon-eater, yes, but not astrologer.

HEDY LAMARR: (as Vicky Whitley) Oh, I'm sorry.

POWELL: (as William Whitley) Darling, astronomy and astrology may sound alike, but that's all. Astronomy is a science, astrology, a superstition.

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Health
1:00 pm
Fri December 2, 2011

Hitting The 'Off' Switch On Antibiotic Resistance

Doctors are running out of effective antibiotics, as bacteria evolve ways to evade one drug after another. Now DARPA has called for alternatives to conventional antibiotics. Nanotechnologist Chad Mirkin discusses one such weapon--tiny globs of DNA and RNA that can switch off the bugs' antibiotic resistance. Nanotechnologist Chad Mirkin discusses next-generation antibiotics that target a bacterium's DNA.

NPR Story
2:49 pm
Thu December 1, 2011

Richard Branson: Time To Rethink 'Business As Usual'

Entrepreneur Richard Branson has attempted to break several world records for sailing and ballooning.
Clare Brown

Originally published on Fri December 2, 2011 12:45 pm

Richard Branson has built a global business empire around the philosophy "have fun and the money will come."

As the founder of Virgin Group, he grew a mail-order record company into a major record label and a chain of record stores; he started an airline; he created a space tourism company; and he has been actively involved in humanitarian efforts.

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NPR Story
1:00 pm
Thu December 1, 2011

NPR CEO Gary Knell's First Day At Work

Originally published on Fri December 2, 2011 8:29 am

Transcript

NEAL CONAN, HOST:

This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan, in Washington. Wanted: a high-powered executive to run a nonprofit, far-flung public radio organization. Pluses include a trusted name, award-winning news and music programs, a growing audience and a talented staff. Minuses: some funding problems, a few self-inflicted controversies, the transition to digital media and staff who all think they're smarter than you.

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