All Things Considered for Thursday, October 31, 2013

The NSA has apparently figured out a secret way to tap into the links between Internet users and Google and Yahoo data centers overseas. The companies say they didn't give the NSA permission, and they are angry. Because the data centers are located outside the United States, the NSA may not be bound by the same laws that govern domestic surveillance. The case shows how difficult it is for policymakers and legislators to oversee NSA surveillance activities.
In the decade since Sept. 11, the public's focus seems to have swung from a fear of individual terrorist attacks to a fear that the government will go too far in trying to prevent the next attack. Right now, there is a backlash against NSA spying. Recent surveillance scandals show a larger effort to strike a balance between privacy and security.
Consumers in search of novelty are turning to once-obscure grains like quinoa, spelt and sorghum. But sorghum's great virtue for farmers is the fact that it can thrive with so little water.

America's First Transcontinental Highway Turns 100

On Oct. 31, 1913, the Lincoln Highway was officially dedicated. It stretched from Times Square in New York City to Lincoln Park in San Francisco.
On Friday, an $80 million project opens in Union City, Tenn., that's called a "mini Smithsonian." Retail and real estate mogul Robert Kirkland is bankrolling the project called "Discovery Park of America". But the question is: Will anyone visit the place that's not really near anything in northwest Tennessee?
Saudi Arabia, a long time U.S. ally, has been openly critical of U.S. policy in the Middle East and has sent unmistakable signals of its displeasure. The rift appears to be specifically over Syria, but the tensions have been building since the Arab Spring began.
Robert Siegel talks to William R. Polk about how a drought in Syria several years ago forced farmers and families into the cities and contributed to the tensions that led to a government crackdown that led to the uprising. He's the author of Violent Politics: Insurgency and Terrorism, Understanding Iraq and Understanding Iran and has written a piece on Syria.

Economic, Political Volatility Cloud Housing Recovery

The housing market is working through the remnants of the financial crisis, and until recently the sector's recovery seemed to be on track. But recent drama in the national economy has left consumers reluctant to buy, experts say.
Millions of adults struggle every day with basic tasks, like reading a bill or a bus schedule. Those with limited literacy find all kinds of ways to hide their rudimentary schooling. Many are unemployed. And those who have jobs are usually stuck at the lowest rungs of the economic ladder.
Boston fans celebrated the World Series win Thursday by the Red Sox over the St. Louis Cardinals. The victory is the first series win for Boston at home in Fenway in 95 years.
The success of the Affordable Care Act rests in part on getting young, healthy people to purchase coverage. But despite marketing attempts to reach them, some young people feel they're too healthy or cash-strapped to buy something they say they're unlikely to need.
With economic uncertainties in Washington, how is big business planning for the future? Robert Siegel talks to Delta Airlines CEO Richard Anderson about whether he's planning to grow his company or put off investments until the economy evens out.

FAA OKs More In-Flight Use Of Electronic Gadgets

Good news for air travelers who can't get enough of their electronic devices: The FAA is relaxing rules on their use aboard airliners.
Once among the richest men on the planet, Eike Batista's wealth has evaporated. From a net worth of $34.5 billion last year, the Brazilian businessman is now worth less than 1 percent of that. Many observers see Batista's fall as a parable for the nation's economic woes.
The gang-rape of a 16-year-old schoolgirl has sparked outrage in the country and beyond. The attack was so violent it left the girl in a wheelchair. She identified several of her attackers, whom police captured but then released after their punishment: mowing the police station lawn.
Former Newark Mayor Cory Booker was sworn in Thursday, making him only the fourth African-American elected by popular vote to the United States Senate, and only the second in the chamber currently. This is in contrast to the 41 blacks who represent House districts.
In a special election to replace retired GOP Congressman Jo Bonner, one candidate believes in "dying on the hill" to repeal Obamacare. His opponent wants to go to Washington to "get something done."

Federal Court To Weigh Ohio's Execution Drug Cocktail

Ohio could be the first state in the nation to use a combination of two drugs that have never been used before to put an inmate to death. This execution cocktail is the latest chapter in what's become a troubled history of capital punishment in the state.

Four Decades On, 'The Exorcist' Is Still A Head-Turner

On Halloween — and the occasion of The Exorcist's 40th anniversary — NPR's Robert Siegel talks to the film's director, William Friedkin, about the making and the legacy of the famed horror film.

Judge Halts Parts Of NYPD Stop And Frisk Policy

A federal appeals court has put on hold a judge's ruling curtailing some aspects of the New York City police department's "stop and frisk" policy. The court also ruled that Judge Shira Scheindlin should be removed from the case because she "ran afoul" of the judicial code of conduct.
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