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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

Don Waters was 3 when his father, Robert Stanley Waters, abandoned the boy and his mother. But before Robert Waters died, he sent Don a short autobiography, hoping it would help him understand his father.

It took years before Don could bring himself to read it. When he did, he discovered an unsuspected past — and a shared passion for surfing. What he read prompted him to take a trip along the California coast, where his father played a part in establishing the surfer culture's first beachhead on the American mainland.

Mike Nichols has won every major entertainment award over a decades-long career that includes theater, comedy, television and film. He performed as half of the comedy team Nichols and May, won his first Academy Award directing The Graduate, and returned to Broadway with a revival of Death of a Salesman, which picked up seven Tony nominations. Nichols warns that the production may be his last.

Violence persists around Damascus as protesters continue to urge President Bashar al-Assad's to step down. The Arab League has suspended its monitoring mission and the United Nations Security Council is considering a resolution condemning al-Assad's regime.



A report by NPR and ProPublica finds that Freddie Mac bet billions of dollars against homeowners' ability to refinance their mortgages. Public documents show Freddie Mac sought to make gains through complex securities which would make money for Freddie Mac, but homeowners with high-interest rate loans would not be able to qualify for refinancing. This is not illegal, but it does raise questions about a conflict of interest within a federally-owned company that is supposed to make getting a mortgage easier.

How Online Paywalls Are Changing Journalism

Jan 30, 2012



This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in Washington. Paywall skeptic Clay Shirky long maintained that barriers to newspaper websites were counterproductive and self-defeating, that online readers accustomed to getting the news for free would find another way or another source of news.

The Dangerous Lives Of Runaway Squatters

Jan 24, 2012

In December 2010, eight young people died in a fire in a New Orleans warehouse. Local accounts describe them as homeless squatters. One of the victims was Katie Simianer, a 21-year-old who had told her mother she was backpacking across the country.