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Talk of the Nation is NPR's daily talk show, hosted by Neal Conan and featuring knowledgeable guests and calls from listeners.

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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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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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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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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JOHN DONVAN, HOST:

A Look Ahead To The Future Of Afghanistan

Jun 18, 2013

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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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JOHN DONVAN, HOST:

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

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?

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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.

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.

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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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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IRA FLATOW, HOST:

This is SCIENCE FRIDAY, I'm Ira Flatow. He's been called Mayor McSchwinn for riding his bicycle to work. He's pledged to turn his town of Seattle into a model for what one city can do to lower its carbon footprint, and for good reason. As the climate changes, coastal cities like Seattle are challenged by rising sea levels.

Rolling Out Bamboo Bicycles

Jun 14, 2013

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IRA FLATOW, HOST:

Up next, Flora Lichtman is here with us for our Video Pick of the Week. Hi, Flora.

FLORA LICHTMAN, BYLINE: Hi, Ira.

You went with something Seattlely(ph). How would I describe it - Seattle-like this week for this week's video.

That's right. When in Mayor McSchwinn's city, you have to go with the bikes. Lightening it up for pick of the week, but - as usual.

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LICHTMAN: Oh, yes. This week's video is about, not just any bicycle builders, these are folks who are building bicycles out of bamboo.

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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.

With Climate Change, No Happy Clams

Jun 14, 2013

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IRA FLATOW, HOST:

Think for a minute about the victims of climate change. You might envision the polar bear, right? You see a lot of that in the news, atop a block of melting ice or - where there's no ice to grab onto, or the great ice sheet covering Greenland drip, drip, dripping away, or the tiny island of Tuvalu whose people and beaches might soon be swallowed by rising seas.

Looking Back, and Up, at a Seattle Icon

Jun 14, 2013

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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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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.

Denis Hayes on Being Green

Jun 14, 2013

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IRA FLATOW, HOST:

Anyone who has taken some time on Earth Day to contemplate the planet has my next guest to thank. Danis Hayes was the first national coordinator for Earth Day back in 1970, and if I might insert a personal note, Earth Day back in 1970 was also the anniversary of my first science story I ever did. So this is very interesting, and I'm very happy to have as my guest today Denis Hayes, who is, and as I say, he's head of the Solar Energy Research Institute under President Jimmy Carter.

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NEAL CONAN, HOST:

This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in Washington. In an extraordinary step, President Obama and China's new leader, Xi Jinping, met at a California ranch last weekend to reset relations between the two largest economies in the world and between an established superpower and an emerging rival.

When singer-songwriter India.Arie broke through in 2001, her debut album Acoustic Soul went double platinum, and her music and influence continued to gain momentum in the years that followed. Since her debut, she's been nominated for 21 Grammys — and won four — while selling 10 million albums worldwide.

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NEAL CONAN, HOST:

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

We've all seen a flock of birds shift direction instantaneously mid-flight, or a school of fish swirl in what looked like tightly choreographed maneuvers. That's called collective behavior and it fascinated and baffled scientists. Why do they do it? How? Telepathy? Now technology is revolutionizing the way researchers can track, visualize and even create swarms, and what they're finding will make you go wow.

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NEAL CONAN, HOST:

And today, film farewells. We consider the great goodbye scenes in movie - boy loses girl for good; hero sets off to certain doom; or a Mother's Day remembrance from Jimmy Cagney.

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JAMES CAGNEY: (as Cody Jarrett) Made it, Ma! Top of the world!

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Forty years after the Senate committee hearings on the Watergate scandal, Political Junkie Ken Rudin talks with Lowell Weicker, who served on the Senate Watergate committee. Former White House speechwriters Paul Glastris and Peter Robinson talk about writing speeches amid scandal.

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NEAL CONAN, HOST:

You may know Suleika Jaouad from Life, Interrupted, the pieces she writes on her cancer on The New York Times Well blog. She's also made time to speak with us over the past year starting last May, about a month after she received a bone marrow transplant. During that conversation, she told us: I feel very hopeful for the future, but I have definitely been humbled by everything I've been through. I don't think of myself as invincible or immortal anymore.

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