December 13th Show : Blog Of The Nation In the first hour of Talk of the Nation, Bob Woodward and Ted Koppel on "Obama's Wars."  In our second hour, "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks" and Howard Dean and the the tax deal on the Opinion Page.
NPR logo December 13th Show

December 13th Show

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Obama's Wars
President Barack Obama this week receives a long-awaited strategy review on the war in Afghanistan, a year after the previous major review that lead to a surge of 30,000 additional U.S. troops.  Veteran journalist Bob Woodward chronicled the struggles between the White House and Pentagon that lead to that decision in his most recent book, Obama's Wars. Many of those tensions continue to play out today in decisions on the way forward in Afghanistan.  Woodward joins host Neal Conan and Ted Koppel to discuss the war, the arguments between politicians in the White House and military leaders at the Pentagon and what's changed since the book's publication last summer.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
It's one of the most important tools of biomedical research — the HeLa immortal cell line.  But few people know the origin of those cells: they belonged to a poor Southern tobacco farmer named Henrietta Lacks. She died of cancer sixty years ago, but the cells — taken without her knowledge or consent — are still alive today, and were essential for medical advances from the polio vaccine to in vitro fertilization.  Host Neal Conan talks with author Rebecca Skloot, who spent years researching Henrietta Lacks and her surviving family members — and told the story in her bestselling book, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.

Howard Dean on the Tax Deal
Democrats predict that President Obama's tax deal will pass a crucial test vote today in the Senate.  The compromise would extend Bush-era tax cuts for two years and extend unemployment benefits for 13 months. The president argued last week that this was the best compromise that could be reached. Many Democrats, including Howard Dean, the former chairman of the Democratic National Committee, have said this deal is not the answer. On this week's Opinion Page, host Neal Conan talks with Dean and Ari Berman, a contributing writer for The Nation and author of Herding Donkeys about when presidents should — and should not — compromise and why many Democrats complained Obama's plan was a lose-lose deal.