All Things Considered for Friday, December 27, 2013

A federal judge in New York ruled Friday that the National Security Agency's huge telephone data collection program is legal. In a written opinion, U.S. District Judge William Pauley said the program is a valuable tool to combat terrorism specifically because the records collection is so broad.
Robert Siegel speaks with political commentators, Katrina vanden Heuvel, the editor of The Nation, and Ramesh Ponnuru, senior editor for The National Review and columnist for Bloomberg View. They'll talk about what surprised them in 2013, and make predictions for 2014.

Letters: Eggnog Recipe Brings Cheers And Jeers

Robert Siegel reads emails and comments from listeners about this week's Found Recipes segment, which offered up a recipe for eggnog.
As baby boomers retire and drilling increases, energy companies are hiring, adding 23 percent more workers between 2009 and 2012. But the hiring spree has come with a terrible price: Last year, 138 workers were killed on the job, twice as many as in 2009.
This week's Must Read, our topical book recommendation series, usually focuses on events in the news. But today, with an eye on the dropping thermometer, book critic Parul Sehgal suggests a seasonal text. Kenneth Grahame's classic children's novel offers a cozy, eccentric depiction of winter — perfect for curling up with as the snow comes down.

Time Is Running Out To Save Florida's Oranges

Scientists and growers are in a bitter fight against citrus greening, a disease that has devastated Florida's orange and grapefruit crops. They fear that unless scientists find a cure for greening soon, it's just a matter of time before economic realities and the disease force growers out of business.
Over the past year, a roaring debate has erupted among physicists about what exactly would happen if you fell into a black hole. Would it be "spaghettification," or a quantum firestorm and oblivion where space ceases to exist? The answer has big implications for fundamental physics.
Retailers are wrapping up a lackluster holiday season. While overall sales growth was anemic, retailers saw explosive growth in online, mobile and the sale of gift cards.
The NFL regular season wraps up this weekend. Usually that means it's time for teams to recuperate and strategize. But this year, the playoff picture is in upheaval and teams are fighting for their postseason lives.

Will Renewables Suffer Because Of U.S. Oil And Gas Boom

The U.S. may or may not have achieved energy independence in 2013. There is much debate about what that phrase means and when it might (or already did) happen. But the year just passed will definitely be remembered as a time when oil and natural gas markets started changing quickly and perceptions about America's role in world energy markets changed as well.
North Dakota and western Canada are producing crude oil faster than rail cars and pipelines can take it to refineries. Now, one company wants to ship it by barge across the Great Lakes. That worries environmentalists, who say a 2010 tar sands oil spill near Lake Michigan has yet to be fully cleaned up.
At least three people are reported dead in Egypt after security forces clashed across the country Friday with supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi. On Thursday, the government declared the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization following a car bombing in the Nile Delta city of Mansoura that claimed 16 lives. The brotherhood denied it was behind the attack, and another group claimed responsibility.. For more on the turmoil in Egypt, Robert Siegel speaks with Tamer El-Ghobashy Cairo correspondent for The Wall Street Journal.
Anyone who has waited endlessly at a red light at an empty four-way intersection knows traffic signals are not the most efficient way to keep traffic flowing. Computer scientists have figured out a way to utilize the space in intersections far more efficiently. The problem is the solution will have to wait for a day when cars can drive themselves.

U.N. Refuge Prepares For Possible Attack In South Sudan

The government says the former vice president is mobilizing an army of youth to seize key cities in the newly independent nation. The United Nations is not sure it can protect the thousands of people staying at its compound who have been displaced by recent ethnic fighting.
Only a rare few people have the ability to remember everything that happened in their lives. But that gift can seem like a curse, they say, keeping them marooned in the past and unable to enjoy the present. Forgetting, it seems, can be a good thing.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing to take the gray wolf off the endangered species list. The wolf had been extirpated from the West and had dwindled most other places in the U.S. The great canine has rebounded since it was reintroduced to the northern Rockies in the 1990s and is continuing to spread into the Pacific Northwest. But biologists warn that if these wolves loses federal protection, they will not be able to return to some places, such as Colorado, where the ecosystem sorely needs them.

'42' Gets The Story Of Jackie Robinson Right

Biographer Arnold Rampersad is "a bit of a stickler for accuracy," but he finds that — with a few exceptions — the 2013 biopic about Robinson's integration of Major League Baseball really rings true.
Find an archived Episode: