What's The Talk Of Your Nation?

In the final broadcast of TOTN, NPR senior Washington editor Ron Elving, senior business editor Marilyn Geewax and science correspondent Richard Harris discuss the big stories they're covering. Callers talk about the issues that have their communities and social circles abuzz.

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NEAL CONAN, HOST:

This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan, in Washington. Every day on this program, we try to address the talk of the nation, the most important, the most compelling stories, like landmark Supreme Court decisions, civil war in Syria, climate change, politics and tough times.

On our last day, we think it's appropriate for you to set the agenda. Call, tell us: What's the talk of the nation? It might be a big international story you've been following for weeks, or a local news event that has your neighborhood abuzz. We've also invited a few of our favorites here at NPR to join us. And later in the program: What is the best goodbye card you ever got? You can email us on that now: talk@npr.org.

And if you want to tell us what's the talk of the nation, our phone number is 800-989-8255. Email us: talk@npr.org. You can also join the conversation on our website. That's at npr.org, and click on TALK OF THE NATION.

And let's see if we can get Heather on the line. Heather's with us from Tampa.

HEATHER: Hi, yes. I think one of the most important things that's going on right now is actually the special session in Texas to try to push through abortion restrictions.

CONAN: And the filibuster the other day by State Senator Wendy Davis.

HEATHER: Right, which is absolutely incredible. She deserves incredible support and just recognition for that effort. I think that was a really wonderful stand for women's rights.

CONAN: And you know that the governor plans to call another session, I think, as soon as next week, to bring back the bill. And I think the great expectation is that it's going to pass quite easily.

HEATHER: I do know that, and I'm incredibly disappointed in Governor Perry's decision to do that.

CONAN: I wonder also, there's been some allegations of hypocrisy. Democrats and people on the left have sometimes been impatient with Republican filibusters, particularly in the United States Senate.

HEATHER: Right, and I can understand that, but I think there's a distinction to be made. It's one thing to stand up and actually talk for 11 hours. It's another thing to put through sort of a procedural filibuster that doesn't in any way take any courage. It's essentially a way to just sort of weasel out of having to have a discussion on the topics of debate.

CONAN: Heather, thanks very much for the call.

HEATHER: Thank you.

CONAN: And as it happens, we have NPR senior Washington editor Ron Elving with us here in Studio 42. And Ron, nice to have you back, as always.

RON ELVING, BYLINE: Good to be with you, Neal. You're one of my favorites.

(LAUGHTER)

CONAN: Oh, well, thank you very much for that. And Heather's point, the procedural filibuster, this has become an institution in the United States Senate, where somebody merely has to threaten a filibuster, then all of a sudden you need 60 votes to get anything passed.

ELVING: Heather makes a sophisticated distinction here about different kinds of filibusters - sophisticated, but one I think we can all relate to, and that is the difference between actually getting up Jimmy Stewart-style and holding the floor for extended periods of time. Wendy Davis did this for, I believe, 11 hours, without the benefit of being able to touch a piece of furniture to lean on, because that was forbidden by the rules, denied a back brace and so on, and forced to make her stand on her feet.

And that kind of physical courage I think people do respect. They also see that there's a certain physical limit to it, whereas the kind of virtual filibuster that we have today in the United States Senate is an excuse, really, for people to just put the kibosh on anything that they don't like and put such an incredible penalty in terms of time on trying to deal with it that the Senate will back off. And we see that all the time.

CONAN: Do we think Rand Paul is going to wear pink sneakers the next time he tries it?

ELVING: And I should say Rand Paul is the last guy we've seen get up and do a multi-hour filibuster in the style that Wendy Davis did down in Austin, Texas. He did it as a Republican senator opposed to some of the uses we're seeing of automated equipment, drone, NSA sort of surveillance and issues that have become really quite salient since he did it.

CONAN: And I have to ask you, the talk of the nation today in Washington, D.C. seems to be in the United States Senate, where it looks as if the immigration bill could pass as soon as today.

ELVING: This is a week of historic days. And the historic day in the Senate, with respect to immigration, already today they have invoked cloture, ending a filibuster attempt - or at least the threat of a filibuster - with 68 votes, more than the 60 that are required to cut off debate. So that makes it quite clear the bill is going to pass.

And later on today, the Senate will have its final vote on its immigration overhaul. This is something more or less that's been in the works for a decade or more, back to the last bill of its kind in 1986. It is quite momentous. It could mean a great deal to a great number of Americans and potential, prospective Americans. And it's also going to be a huge controversy when it gets to the House.

CONAN: Where one of the House members of the leadership, the Republican leadership, said today this bill is dead on arrival.

ELVING: As written by the Senate it is, at this stage of the process. The question is: Will the House pass anything at all? If the House passes some kind of an immigration bill of its own, something it likes better, that the Republican majority likes better since the speaker says he won't bring anything else to the floor, then can that bill go to a conference with the Senate? That would produce a conference report. That could come back to the Senate and - excuse me, come back to both the Senate and the House and conceivably be passed in a bipartisan fashion by both chambers.

CONAN: In the meantime, there is no way to avoid those other historic days, where the Voting Rights Act was essentially gutted by the United States Supreme Court, and then yesterday, momentous decisions on gay marriage.

ELVING: That's correct. And interestingly, for all those people who watch the Supreme Court - particularly those who watch it with some jaundiced eye - we heard much the same objection to each of those decisions by those whose ox had been gored.

We saw the conservative bloc of justices - that is to say Justice Thomas, Justice Alito, Justice Roberts and Justice Kennedy - all together in voting on the Voting Rights Act. And we saw them all together opposing the move on gay marriage, except for Justice Kennedy, who just 10 years earlier, on the very same day - this was the 10th anniversary - had written the historic Lawrence case opinion, in which he struck down laws that banned gay sex.

That was a big, watershed moment, and at that time, Justice Scalia said that was an overreach and that in 10 years, we'd be looking at legalizing gay marriage. People thought at the time Scalia was being hyperbolic. He was not only being predictive, he was precisely predictive, to the day.

CONAN: And it's interesting: He also predicted in yesterday's dissent on the Defense of Marriage Act that this is a false front, and we're just setting up for the other shoe to drop and for this majority on the court to ban - ban bans on gay marriage, to legalize gay marriage across the board.

ELVING: Well, David Boies - who was one of the attorneys for the plaintiffs in this case, who were trying to establish a right to marriage for gay couples - has said that this really does give them the opportunity to judge laws against gay marriage in those states that have them. I believe it's 31 states have passed bans on gay marriage.

CONAN: Thirty-eight, I think.

ELVING: Well, the different...

CONAN: Different levels of ban.

ELVING: ...different definitions of what's a ban, but an outright ban in 31. And look at those, and put them against the principles that were laid out by the court in this decision yesterday and say, gee, this doesn't seem to pass constitutional muster, according to Justice Kennedy and his other four voters on the liberal side.

CONAN: And let's get Bambi(ph) on the line, Bambi with us from Charleston.

BAMBI: Hi. Thanks so much for taking my call on the air. So many things in the news. I love the show, will really miss and wish I had - weren't so many important things, so we could express sentiments along those lines. But I did want to raise the issue of the change in Voters Rights Act. As a born and raised Southerner, I've had the opportunity to live all over the United States, and thus I garnered my liberal tendencies.

I have to say that until these justices stand in a voting line in states such as South Carolina, Georgia, Mississippi, Alabama, they are obviously clueless. I have seen voters denied instructions on casting provisional ballots. I've seen African-American voters turned away and told they have to drive to headquarters in the evening - which is obviously closed - in other to get those provisional instructions.

And I have stood forward many times, given instructions myself or reprimanded people who are not allowing valid IDs. It's unreal, just blows my mind. Until they stand in those lines and see black voters turned away, they are clueless as to what's going to happen with this new deal.

CONAN: Ron, it's interesting: To go back to the opinion there - and this was, again, Chief Justice Roberts writing for the majority, saying it's not a question, of course there is still racial discrimination on voting. He said that is a fact. The other question, though, is whether the basis on which this law is being held - and he talked about the areas that had been selected for enforcement, that had not been updated for 40 years. And he said this is simply no longer the case if you look at turnout figures, if you look at the number of African-American and minority officials who have been elected.

ELVING: That's right. There has been change. No question that there has been change. The question is: Does that mean that the mechanism by which much of that change has been achieved should be removed? Or does it mean that that mechanism should be, in some sense or another, altered? What does it mean? If the change that we have seen in the last 40 years is something that the court approves and Congress approves - and Congress reauthorized this law back in 2006, unanimously in the Senate, and almost unanimously in the Senate, 90 percent of the Senate voted...

CONAN: In the House, you mean.

ELVING: In the House, they voted 90 percent for this. So there does seem to be some approval of the change that's taken place, largely because of the Voting Rights Act. So does that mean that we should not need the Voting Rights Act anymore, or does it mean that it's done a good job and it should be retained? That's, I think, an argument that's going to go forward.

The other question is: Is it fair to just look at the nine states that were entirely under this particular onus of having to take all their voting laws to the Justice Department? Parts of several other states had to do it, as well. Is it fair to only put them in the penalty box? Or would it make more sense to devise a broader formula? Or possibly just say that all 50 states need to have their voting rights pre-cleared by some authority that keeps the Constitution of the United States in mind?

CONAN: It was interesting, also, to hear John Lewis - of course, the member of Congress from Georgia and the civil rights pioneer - to talk about what makes us think that rights given cannot be taken away, take a walk in my shoes. Bambi, thanks very much for the call.

BAMBI: Thank you. I appreciate you addressing it.

CONAN: And a couple of emails on that subject. This is from Scott: Today, I can't help thinking about the Supreme Court, which overturned key provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 - unspeakably sad. And this is from Maroila(ph) - Mavoila(ph), excuse me. It is amazing to me the Supreme Court could feel race is no longer important in voting issues the same week that TV food icon Paula Deen is under a microscope for being a Southern belle who used racial slurs. How could there be such different views of the state of affairs?

We get the point. It's not quite what the court ruled, but we get the point. It's interesting, Ron, as we go ahead, it seems to me the court has already decided it's not going to take up another gay marriage case. It today ruled there were two possibilities on the docket, not next year.

ELVING: Not next year, although we will be looking at affirmative action again next year because of a case coming from the state of Michigan. That might give the court an opportunity to weigh in again on an issue that it also ruled on this week, sending an affirmative action plan from the state of Texas back down to an appellate court for another review.

There's still some roiling on the court with respect to their attitude towards affirmative action.

CONAN: Ron Elving, as always, thank you very much.

ELVING: And Neal, let me just say the moments I've spent speaking with you on your show have been some of the happiest moments of my working life.

CONAN: Thank you for that, Ron. We appreciate it.

ELVING: Going to miss it.

CONAN: Senior Washington editor Ron Elving, here with us in Studio 42. When we come back, well, we'll check in with two more NPR reporters, but more of your calls, as well. What's the talk of the nation today? 800-989-8255. Email us: talk@npr.org. Stay with us. I'm Neal Conan. It's the TALK OF THE NATION, from NPR News.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

CONAN: This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan. Today, for the last time on the program, we're doing - well, we're doing what we do. We're talking about you're talking about around your dinner table, in the car with the kids, as you stand in line at the grocery store or check in on Twitter. You may not realize it, but you've always helped set out agenda every day. When we fill up our planning board with the topics we'll cover at 2 PM Eastern Time, your voices rang in our ears.

So tell us, one more time, what's the talk of the nation? 800-989-8255. Email us: talk@npr.org. You can also find us on Twitter. That's @totn. And let's go to Bob, Bob with us from Gainesville.

BOB: Thank you, Neal. I find that the Edward Snowden case has certainly been the talk of the nation. But the underlying issues behind this are very much interesting to me and many others, the idea as to whether or not - what the government is doing encroaching on our civil liberties and reading into our phone lines and whatnot. Whether or not that is done in the name of security is a very interesting discussion.

I feel that we should not trade our liberties for security, and, of course, the precedent for this was 9/11. Many might fear that we might have another 9/11 attack, and 9/11 being the falsified attack that it was, with Building Seven being a building 47 stories tall that fell in freefall speed in a matter of seconds, was not hit by any other airplane...

CONAN: Ah, I see we have a truther with us.

BOB: Yes, well I think that's a very derogatory term, and perhaps on your last show...

CONAN: It's derogatory because you're talking scientific nonsense. I have to - I'm sorry I have to upbraid you - I'm sorry to upbraid you. I am sorry to upbraid you. Please, I try to listen with respect to callers, except when they have their facts flat wrong.

BOB: Do you think Building Seven is not a very telling incident, sir?

CONAN: I think it fell for different reasons, and the scientific community agrees with me. Well, more to the point, I agree with them. What do I know about Building Seven? The fact is...

BOB: Well, actually, the architects and engineers all are in a consensus of...

CONAN: No they are not, Bob, and I'm sorry...

BOB: Yes, there's a group called Architects and Engineers...

CONAN: Bob, I'm hanging up on you, because this is nonsense. Thank you. Let's move right along. Paula's on the line with us from Tucson.

PAULA: Hi. I'm glad to be on the air today. We'll miss you very much. Wendy Johnson is certainly one of my new heroines, but living down here near the border, I wanted to talk a little bit about immigration.

CONAN: And you're right on the frontline there.

PAULA: Right on the frontline, and, you know, living around and among many Mexican immigrants and immigrants from Latin America, you get a very different perspective than people in other parts of the country. One of the things that has really surprised me about this whole discussion is no one seems to see how backwards we have it. Even our own senators, McCain and some of our representatives, seem to think that the first thing you need to is quote-unquote "secure the border," when in fact, if we establish a guest-worker program, if we establish a way for people to come here legally, it erodes the very need for any type of resistance to people coming here illegally

CONAN: I hear what you're saying, but there is an aspect of this in which at least some - and perhaps I'm reading between the lines here - on the Republican side say in order to get Republican votes, we have to have this element in the bill, otherwise it's not going to get passed. And that important element that many progressives want, the path to citizenship for the 11 million or so already here, that's not going to go anywhere.

PAULA: Well, I understand that, and I - to me, that just points to the dysfunction of our system and the way we do leadership in this country. To put 20,000 more people down here where our border patrol can barely maintain the needs that it has already, and then to build a fence that, quite frankly, you know, I don't think you can build a wall high enough to keep desperate people out of this country. And I think it's time we realized that.

And we're also - what happens with the border fence? Besides creating an atmosphere of militarization and hostility and suspicion among people, it is destroying a lot of very essential parts of our environment down here. And this is a very delicate ecosystem in the Southwest.

So there are so many reasons to not go that direction and so many reasons to start looking at how we can start welcoming people into this country who want to be here, who are contributing, who want to work. And I guess my last point would be to all those well-meaning people in my camp who point to the fact that Mexican laborers are willing to do jobs no one else wants to do, why should a person have to agree to do slave labor to be welcomed into this great country? So that's what I have to say. Thank you.

CONAN: Thanks very much for the call, Paula. Marilyn Geewax, our senior business editor for NPR, is here. And we always love a chance to talk with her. She joins us one last time in Studio 42. Nice to have you with us, Marilyn.

MARILYN GEEWAX, BYLINE: Hi, Neal, it's great to be with you.

CONAN: And this time last week, there was something akin to panic setting in, as it was Ben Bernanke saying, well, maybe by even the end of the year, we might be able to start winding down that quantitative easing, stop buying so many bonds and wean the system off those injections of federal money that we've been using for so long.

And all of a sudden, the bond market and the stock market went (makes noises).

GEEWAX: And that big bomb is hitting on a lot of people who are trying to buy homes right now. Interest rates, the long-term rates, the ones that you use to buy a home with, 30-year mortgages, they've really risen a lot in the past month. We've seen interest rates on those home mortgages go from about something in the range of three and a - three-and-three-quarters of a percent up, to about four-and-a-half percent, even beyond that. Now it's starting to look like it could get up to 5 percent.

So if you were thinking about buying a home, maybe all of a sudden, knowing that your monthly mortgage payment is going to be $100 more, maybe $200 more, that's really causing a lot of people to either rush into buying a home before rates go even higher, or maybe start to change their mind and think maybe renting a while longer isn't such a bad idea.

So this issue of home affordability is becoming a little bit more of a problem after all this time with low interest rates. So I think that's really been the big fallout from the higher interest rates. Whether or not that's a temporary phenomenon, and maybe it'll just sort of die down, but it could start to derail some of this housing recovery we've seen this year.

CONAN: And interesting, Mr. Bernanke made this announcement because he said, well, you know, the economy, it's getting better. And I think today, we're even seeing some encouraging employment numbers.

GEEWAX: Oh, it's always so complicated with the economy, because here's the thing: He's saying yes, the reason interest rates are going to start to drift higher is because the economy is actually getting stronger, and that's good. We'd love a stronger economy. But, you know, a big part of the reason why the economy is getting stronger is because the housing market has been gaining.

When people buy homes, they also get landscaping services, and they buy furniture, and they do things that create jobs for other people. So how do you manage to start to raise interest rates to keep the economy on more normal footing, to get rates back to something that seems more historically in line? And that is a little bit higher. Five percent is more in line with what's normal for mortgage rates.

But if the housing market gets weaker, and maybe we start to backslide again, and the job growth that we've seen in construction starts to ease off, do we get right back into the soup? Do we slide back? You know, Neal, it's been four years exactly. It was in June of 2009 that the economy turned around and began to grow after the big plunge for the recession.

So we've had four years of growth, but it's still very weak, and a lot of it is tied to that housing market coming back. So this is a precarious moment.

CONAN: Are you encouraged broadly about the U.S. economy? Do you think this is - steady growth is going to be able to continue?

GEEWAX: It's such a complicated time right now. When I look out across it, there are so many things that are so encouraging in the energy sector, and my goodness, the new technologies that we're coming out with, the new ways of manufacturing, there are just so many exciting things out there, whether it's agricultural or just things that are coming out of the high-tech sector. There's so much to think, boy, this is - this could be a real turning point. The economy might really take off.

But then I look the other direction, and there's still - we've got almost 12 million people long-term unemployed, and the - is about half of that, almost. So it's - we've got a lot of people looking for work and a lot of baby boomers who lost income and lost wealth during this. People are moving towards retirement, a very large cohort of Americans.

CONAN: I wish you wouldn't mention that.

GEEWAX: Yeah, right about - something like 75, 78 million Americans are steaming towards retirement. And their homes are maybe not back to where they once were in terms of the value. Their retirement savings, after you adjust for inflation, are still depressed. A lot of people lost jobs and took jobs for lower pay. So you've got a big chunk of the population moving towards retirement, not in the kind of shape that they had hoped to be in.

And you still have an awful lot of people with no jobs at all, or underemployed, or these long-term unemployed folks. It's - it remains a very uneven and very tough economy, and I feel like I wouldn't be surprised if two years from now, the economy's back in a bad recession. And I wouldn't be surprised if two years from now, growth is 4 or 5 percent. It, either way, seems entirely plausible to me.

CONAN: Marilyn Geewax, as always, thank you very much for your time today. We really do appreciate the time you've spent with us.

GEEWAX: Oh, thank you, Neal. It's always just been a pleasure and an honor to be with you.

CONAN: NPR's senior business editor Marilyn Geewax, with us here in Studio 42. Here's a couple of emails. The congressional gridlock and animosity is my vote for important topic. That from Joyce. And this is from Corey(ph): I'm looking forward to the nation's strategy to talk about tax reform. It might not be as interesting as immigration reform, yet it might be just as important.

And this is from Victor Singing Eagle(ph): Here's something we should be talking about, seeing how native issues frequently get overshadowed by larger issues. I'm not sure precisely what went down, but I read that the Supreme Court made an important ruling on the ICWA, Indian Child Welfare Act. Can help - somebody help me understand, as I made - I would go out in a limb. This was an adoption case where a child was put up for adoption by an Indian woman. Her father had renounced any interest. The Indian woman put the child up for adoption. She was adopted by a Caucasian couple, I think, in North Carolina, and then her father put in his claim under the ICWA, the Indian Child Welfare Act.

He was given custody. The adoptive parents sued. Their case was upheld by the Supreme Court. They can now try to get their custody back. It got sent back to the courts in North Carolina. It's not certain that they will get custody, but as I understand it, it was decided more or less on a technical basis and not on a broad basis. But I will stand corrected if I'm wrong. In the meantime, let's get Claudia on the line, Claudia with us from Denver.

CLAUDIA: Hi. Neal, first of all, I want to say that I think this is the best show on NPR, and I am going to miss you so much every day.

CONAN: Thank you.

CLAUDIA: And you're just an extraordinary host. So - but I was calling about the wildfires in Colorado, and, I mean, they're just devastating the state, and not only this state, but everything around us. The wildfires have been caused, to such a great extent, by beetle kill, which is caused by the fact that we haven't had cold enough winters to kill off the beetles.

CONAN: These are bark beetles, and as you suggest, in previous periods, they were killed off by extreme cold during the wintertime. That cold is not as cold as it used to be, and those beetles are killing large swaths of trees, not just in Colorado, but across the West.

CLAUDIA: That's absolutely true. And it's - I mean, this part of the country is so beautiful and has so many lovely ecosystems. And what we're seeing is so much being burned to the ground. One of the other problems is that people have decided to live, for instance, in the Black Forest area in Colorado Springs. They've decided to build homes there. They really don't understand the environment here, and so they don't do anything to mitigate the chance of fire. You know, they keep all these huge, old trees around their homes...

CONAN: Because they're beautiful, but they're also tinder.

CLAUDIA: Exactly.

CONAN: Claudia, I can see you're having a little problem with your throat, so we'll let you go.

CLAUDIA: Sorry.

CONAN: Thank you very much for the kind words, and thanks very much for the call.

CLAUDIA: Thank you for the show. Bye.

CONAN: We're talking about, well, what's the talk of the nation? This is TALK OF THE NATION, from NPR News. And NPR science correspondent Richard Harris is with us. A perfect introduction, Richard.

RICHARD HARRIS, BYLINE: Hello, Neal. Yes.

CONAN: And it is on a week where we have seen the president of the United States come up with an ambitious policy to reduce carbon emissions. That would, in turn, reduce, we hope, global warming, or at least the speed at which the Earth is warming.

HARRIS: Yes. Even maybe to a small extent. Obviously, it is a global problem. And if the U.S. gets on board and is very serious about it, it can make some difference. But obviously, you need cooperation from around the world, because we are no longer the leading culprit in emissions of carbon dioxide, but we certainly produce still a huge amount of it, and we're responsible for a lot of the carbon dioxide that's in the air. So it was interesting to see this sort of scattershot approach that the president took to try to sort of say what - where can I make an effort?

And it is scattershot, because the Congress has basically decided they're not going to act on this. And so the president and his team decided to say: Well, where can we make a difference without needing new laws, without needing Congress to be involved? And so you end up with a sort of spectrum of ideas that he put out.

CONAN: And a lot of them involved emissions from coal-fired plants, either new ones - and those regulations, I think, are now accepted, and it's - as we keep hearing, it makes it virtually impossible to build a new coal-fired plant using present technology.

HARRIS: Right. And those regulations are still in the works. They were proposed and brought back - pulled back a little bit, but he called for them to move forward again and be finalized later this year, and then to apply that same standard to power plants that are existing...

CONAN: Existing, yeah.

HARRIS: ...power plants. And that's a tricky one, because he didn't specify how much they need to be reined in, but it's extremely difficult, if not impossible, in most cases, to take carbon dioxide from a power plant and reduce it in any significant way. There are some really dirty power plants that you could improve somewhat, but you can't make them as clean as natural gas unless you do something tremendously dramatic, like capture the carbon dioxide and bury it underground. And that's extremely expensive, also.

CONAN: And then there was the mention of the Keystone XL pipeline, which a lot of people didn't expect. He said we're not going to approve this unless it proves to not have a significant effect on carbon emissions. And some people say, well, it depends on how you look at it.

HARRIS: Absolutely. That's going to be a very interesting discussion, because that - it was - the words were ambiguous, and, of course, the Canadians immediately argued, oh, well, this is not going to substantially exacerbate climate change. People who are opposed to the pipeline said: What are you talking about? You'd be tapping into this huge resource of fossil fuels that really ought to stay underground forever. And if you start - if you find a way to bring it to the market, you'll inevitably going to affect climate change. So that's going to be very interesting to see how that rhetorical twist gets - plays out in the coming weeks and months.

CONAN: It's so interesting. Richard, thank you for being with us. Often, we have Richard when there's some real disaster going on in the world to explain to us about the oil leaks in the Gulf of Mexico and such things. And this is only a slow-motion crisis, only a slow-motion train wreck. So it's always good to have you on the program.

HARRIS: It's always a pleasure, Neal.

CONAN: Let's see, one more email, this from Alicia in Madisonville, Kentucky: I've heard NPR talk about raising minimum wage and the effects that might make. I, along with so many of my peers, are working in minimum wage or slightly above minimum wage jobs. We have bachelor degrees, or higher. We're having such difficulty finding full-time work where we can make a living. Most of us have to take out student loans to get this education. Now we're unable to pay it back. What are we to do?

And this from Darren(ph): I can't believe the hunger strike in Guantanamo Bay has been going on since February. The majority of Americans don't seem to know or care that many of the people we are detaining have been cleared of any wrongdoing, yet are being held indefinitely. The recent use of metal-tip feeding tubes for striking detainees to demoralize them makes me ashamed of my country and my president.

There are so many people who wrote. There are so many we called. I'm sorry we're not going to be able to get to more of your calls today. And thank you so much for carrying enough to contact us. When we come back after a short break, we're going to be talking with David Ellis Dickerson from Greeting Card Emergency, so email us. What's the best goodbye card you ever got? That's at talk@npr.org, or give us a call: 800-989-8255. Stay with us. I'm Neal Conan. It's the TALK OF THE NATION, from NPR News.

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