This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in Washington. Later in the program, we'll continue our series of conversations and look ahead with NPR's Deborah Amos, who's been covering the war in Syria. But we begin today with a court order obtained by The Guardian's U.S. team, which authorizes the National Security Agency to collect information on billions of phone calls made by U.S. Verizon customers since late April.
This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan. The war in and around Syria grows more horrific and more dangerous day by day: tens of thousands dead, many more injured, over a million refugees in neighboring countries and who knows how many millions displaced inside Syria itself.
It's almost hard to remember the early days of what's now grown into a civil war. More than two years ago, NPR's Deborah Amos reported on activists hopeful that Syria would be changed by the Arab spring.
Two writers can take credit or blame for the legions of metal men that marched through the movies - Karel Capek, who coined the word robot in his play "R.U.R." in 1920, and Isaac Asimov, who codified the Three Laws of Robotics and a series of stories collected in "I, Robot," and mostly ignored in the Will Smith movie of the same name.
(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "I, ROBOT")
WILL SMITH: (as Detective Del Spooner) You know what they say, laws are made to be broken.
African-Americans fought for years to enter professions that were dominated by white people, like medicine, business and law. Now, experts say some of those gains have leveled off since the recession. Guest host Celeste Headlee speaks with The New York Times' Nelson Schwartz, and lawyer Lisa Tatum, about why minorities struggle to gain ground in elite professions.
Teen Elaine Vilorio spent years trying to make sense of her racial identity. She describes herself as Hispanic, but other people see her as black. Vilorio speaks to guest host Celeste Headlee about her recent HuffPost Teen blog, 'Coming Out As Black.'
Summertime means backyard barbecues and parties on the patio, and chef Roblé Ali knows all about good times and good food. The 29-year-old New Yorker has prepared meals for big names, including President Obama and entertainers Michael Jackson and Vanessa Williams.
Here's a sobering thought: Wild birds — including city pigeons and ubiquitous Canada geese — carry 170 different types of bird flu. You know, all those viruses with the Hs and Ns in their names, like H1N1 and H5N1.
Only a dozen of these viruses have infected humans so far, but many of those have been deadly, and three of them have caused global flu pandemics.
Does every bird flu that leaps into people have the potential to turn into the next "big one" that spreads rapidly around the world?