January 18th: What's On Today's Show : Blog Of The Nation In the first hour of Talk of the Nation, the Political Junkie recaps the week in politics, and a documentary about the lives of the West Memphis Three. In the second hour, the affects of autism on love and relationships.
NPR logo January 18th: What's On Today's Show

January 18th: What's On Today's Show

In the second hour, guest host John Donvan speaks with two college students who both have Asperger syndrome about how autism affects their relationship. iStockphoto.com hide caption

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The Political Junkie
A few seats could determine which party controls the Senate. Democrats have 51 seats, plus two Independents who caucus with them. Of the seats in play, three races are gaining more national attention than others. Sen. Scott Brown will face Elizabeth Warren in Massachusetts; a race that could be the most expensive in the country. Former Democratic National Committee chief Tim Kaine is facing off against former governor and senator George Allen in Virginia, a state the Democratic Party hopes to win in the presidential race as well. And in Montana, two popular figures, Sen. Jon Tester and Rep. Denny Rehberg, are squaring off in what is expected to a nasty race. Political Junkie Ken Rudin joins guest host John Donvan to look at these Senate races. They'll hear from reporters in all three states. The two will also recap the week in politics, from Jon Huntsman's decision to end his campaign, to Congress' less-than-welcome return to Washington.

'Paradise Lost' And The 'West Memphis Three'
In 1994, three teenagers were tried and convicted of the murder of three boys in West Memphis, Arkansas. The three teenagers — Damien Echols, Jessie Misskelley Jr., and Jason Baldwin — became known as the "West Memphis Three." Echols was sentenced to death, while Baldwin and Misskelley were sentenced to life in prison. They maintained their innocence and appealed their convictions for years. The trial garnered national attention, and is the subject of a series of documentaries entitled Paradise Lost. The latest installment is currently playing on HBO,and documents the lives of the West Memphis Three, the latest developments on their appeals, and how the they were released from prison last August by taking an Alford plea. Guest host John Donvan speaks with filmmaker and director Joe Berlinger about the documentary series and Jason Baldwin, one of the West Memphis Three who was released from prison last August.

Relationships, Love And Autism
In the beginning of any romantic relationship, emotions can be hard to gauge. Determining preferences when it comes to food, physical affection, and settling arguments all takes time. Jack Robison and Kirsten Lindsmith, two college students recently featured in a New York Times piece, faced a unique set of challenges from the start of their relationship. They have Asperger's, a form of autism that makes emotions and social cues hard to read, and they bonded over their shared social awkwardness. People with autism can struggle with concepts like eye contact, recognizing disinterest, and receiving physical contact, and for some the prospect of loving and being loved seems out of reach. Guest host John Donvan talks with Robison and Lindsmith about their relationship, and with Peter Gerhardt, chairperson of the Scientific Council at the Organization for Autism Research, about the role of love, romance, and sex in the lives of autistic adults and adolescents.