Talk of the Nation on HD-2

Monday - Thursday 1:00pm-2:30pm
  • Hosted by Neal Conan, Ira Flatow

Talk of the Nation® links the headlines with what's on people's minds, providing a springboard for listeners and experts to exchange ideas and pose critical questions about major events in the news and the world around them. 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.

Monday through Thursday, host Neal Conan invites callers to discuss areas of topical interest, including politics and public service, education, religion, music, and healthcare. Talk of the Nation goes behind the headlines with decision-makers, authors, thinkers, artists, and listeners around the world, who become part of the conversation by calling 1-800-989-TALK

Each Friday, journalist Ira Flatow is joined by listeners and studio guests to explore science-related topics -- from subatomic particles and the human genome to the Internet and earthquakes. Flatow offers in-depth discussion with scientists and others from all walks of life, giving listeners the chance to hear from the people whose work influences their daily lives.

The posts below are some of the highlights from Talk of the NationVisit the program page on NPR to see a full list of stories.


Under pressure from increasingly effective economic sanctions and a growing banking scandal, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad went before parliament to defend his government. His Economics Minister was nearly impeached. NPR foreign correspondent Mike Shuster explains Iran's internal power struggles.

'Captain Dad' Finds The Funny In Parenting

Nov 2, 2011

When moms see cartoonist Pat Byrnes on the playground with his daughters, he says they often check the sex offender registries on their cell phones. Byrnes is a stay-at-home dad and creator of a "manly blog of stay-at-home parenting" where he writes not as Mr. Mom, but as Captain Dad.


NEAL CONAN, host: It's Tuesday and time to read from your comments. Our discussion with author and filmmaker Guillermo del Toro generated a lot of responses about what it really means to be a monster. Mary in Virginia Beach, Virginia, tweeted: It helps if a monster is physically terrifying. That definitely freaks me out. And Lisa Hermenez(ph) wrote: Monsters inspire our instinctual fears. As a result, we love to hate them.


NEAL CONAN, host: This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in Washington. Last week, a coroner's report provided the details of a verdict that everyone already knew. Singer Amy Winehouse drank herself to death. Her blood alcohol content was five times the legal limit when she was found in her London home in July.

In a recent piece in The New York Times, Jordan Tama argues in defense of a back-room deal for the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction. He points to many examples throughout history when secrecy lead to success, and public forums resulted in more partisanship.

What's Actually Taught In Sex Ed Class

Nov 1, 2011

The New York City public schools recently sparked controversy with a new sex education curriculum that critics complain is too explicit. New York, and many other school districts, relies on curricula designed by outside experts. Guests talk about who decides what's included, and what's left out.

Signs Of Change In Myanmar

Nov 1, 2011

After decades of sometimes brutal military rule, there have been recent signs of change in Myanmar, formerly known as Burma. The government of Myanmar has embarked on what appears to be a series of confidence-building measures that have gotten the attention of the west and the domestic opposition.

An average of 700 Native American children in South Dakota are removed from their homes and placed in foster care each year, often in violation of federal law, an NPR investigation found. Native American children make up less than 15 percent of the state's child population, but represent more than half of kids in foster care.

How Has Student Loan Debt Shaped Your Life?

Oct 31, 2011

Total student loan debt in the U.S. will cross the 1 trillion dollar threshold in 2011, an amount that surpasses the nation's combined credit card debt. It affects how many students and graduates decide whether and where to go to school, what job to take, where to live and how to pay their bills.

Earth's population crossed the 7 billion mark Monday. The growing population has been the subject of doomsday scenarios, but Colum Lynch worries whether the U.S. and other wealthy countries will soon have too few citizens. He predicts the world population will decline by the end of this century.

Cardinals' Manager La Russa Goes Out On Top

Oct 31, 2011

Days after leading his team to a 7th game win in the World Series, Tony La Russa has announced that he has retired. La Russa changed the game of baseball and is among the top managers in the Major Leagues. Over his 33-year career, he won the world series three times.

Analysis Questions Flu Shot Effectiveness

Oct 28, 2011

A new report in the journal Lancet Infectious Diseases says evidence that the flu shot offers protection in adults aged 65 years or older is lacking. Host John Dankosky and guests discuss the report, the upcoming flu season, and whether seniors should get the flu vaccine.

In a new four-part television special based on his best-selling book, physicist Brian Greene takes on the nature of time and space, multiverses, and other hard-to-wrap-your-mind-around concepts in cosmology. Greene talks with guest host John Dankosky about the new series.

Army microbiologist Bruce Ivins, the FBI's prime suspect in the 2001 anthrax attacks, died before his trial in an apparent suicide, and the case is now closed. John Dankosky and guests discuss new investigations that question whether scientific evidence against Ivins was conclusive enough to hold up in court.



This is SCIENCE FRIDAY. I'm John Dankosky.

European leaders hammered out a deal early Thursday morning to pull Greece back from the edge of default and provide a bigger buffer of cash for other vulnerable EU countries. The details, though, remain to be worked out, and many experts question whether meltdowns will spread across the Eurozone.

Medicare Open Enrollment Met With Confusion

Oct 27, 2011


NEAL CONAN, host: This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in Washington. It's open enrollment season for many health insurance plans, including Medicare, the federal health care program for Americans 65 and over. Some 48 million people are enrolled, and the window to change plans opened earlier than usual, this year, and closes earlier, too.

In cities from Atlanta to Oakland, residents and business owners have complained about clogged sidewalks, filthy parks and loud protests. Occupy Wall Street demonstrators continue to assert their right to gather, and have sparked demonstrations all over the world.

Panel Recommends HPV Vaccine For Boys, Too

Oct 27, 2011

The vaccine helps protect men against anal and throat cancers that can occur after sexual activity. It may also protect women, indirectly, by reducing transmission of HPV. Public health officials have been trying since 2006 to get parents to have their daughters vaccinated, but rates remain low.

One Husband, Three Wives: Real-Life 'Love'

Oct 26, 2011

The family who helped inspire the hit HBO series Big Love has written a tell-all of sorts: A new book called Love Times Three: Our True Story Of A Polygamous Marriage.

In it, Joe, Alina, Vicki and Valerie — the Dargers — take readers into their world of plural marriage, parenting 23 children and living in a community that views polygamy with scorn. The Dargers are independent fundamentalists and are not recognized by any organized religion.

Redrawn Districts Could Shake Up Congress

Oct 26, 2011

In Illinois, Republicans object to a map that endangers their delegation in a state with a Democratic-controlled legislature and governor. The opposite is underway in Texas, where the Republican legislature and governor approved a map that Democrats say doesn't accurately reflect population growth.


NEAL CONAN, host: This week, the world watched as Tunisia held its first free and democratic election. Last week, the 42-year dictatorship of Moammar Gadhafi ended in airstrikes and gunfire. Meanwhile, the cycle of protest and crackdown continues in Syria. Activists reported at least nine civilian deaths today, while state television reported that tens of thousands packed a square in Damascus to support President Bashar al-Assad. Washington Post foreign correspondent Liz Sly will join us in just a moment.

In 2001, Ruth Simmons left Smith College to take the helm at Brown University, becoming the first African-American president at an Ivy League school. She's guided Brown through financial challenges, devised a long-term Plan for Academic Enrichment and addressed multiple campus controversies.



NEAL CONAN, host: This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in Washington. Congratulations, you are now the senior foreign editor at NPR, responsible for managing 17 bureaus around the world. So today, where do you devote those resources?


Are Single-Sex Classrooms Better For Kids?

Oct 25, 2011


NEAL CONAN, host: This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in Washington. The long-running debate on single-sex education erupted again last month when a report in the journal, Science, concluded that there's simply no empirical evidence that segregating boys and girls improves education, but that it can perpetuate sexist stereotypes and hinder social development, none of which convinced advocates on the other side.

Quitting Your Bank: Easier Said Than Done?

Oct 25, 2011


NEAL CONAN, host: Maybe it's new fees. The Bank of America recently decided to charge $5 a month to use a debit card or maybe it's just the size of the institution you bank with. If you decide to change for whatever reason, well, it may not be so easy. If you've tried to break up with your bank or have questions about doing that, give us a call, 800-989-8255. Email us, You can also join the conversation on our website. That's at Click on TALK OF THE NATION.