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FROM THIS EPISODE

Key provisions of the nation's post 9/11 surveillance program are set to expire at the end of the month if the Senate doesn't act. Will Congress renew or reform disputed provisions in the Patriot Act, including the NSA's controversial sweeping collection of Americans phone records?

Also, devastating floods bring death and destruction to greater Texas. On today's Talking Point, myth-making and the history of science. Why simplistic stories like Newton's Apple keep us from developing a sophisticated approach to scientific controversies facing us today.

Producers:
Andrea Brody
Claire Martin

Devastating Floods Bring Death and Destruction to Houston, Greater Texas 6 MIN, 30 SEC

Last night and this morning a raging storm system hammered parts of Oklahoma, Texas and northern Mexico, causing devastating floods and power outages. At least 22 people are dead and dozens are missing or stranded. Houston, the fourth largest city in the US, has been hit with 11 inches of rain so far, forcing a widespread shutdown of schools and transit systems. There, at least three people have died, and roads around the region are littered with hundreds of abandoned vehicles, hampering first responders. Eric Aasen, digital news editor at KERA public radio in Dallas-Fort Worth, has an update.

Special thanks to Paul von Zielbauer for production assistance.

Guests:
Eric Aasen, KERA Public Media for North Texas (@aasen)

Down to the Wire on the Patriot Act 33 MIN, 36 SEC

The Senate meets this week in rare recess negotiations about whether to extend controversial provisions of the Patriot Act, including the NSA's bulk phone records collection program. That program, launched after 9/11, is due to expire June 1 if the Senate doesn't come to a consensus on how much and what kind of surveillance best serves the nation. Earlier this month the House voted overwhelmingly in favor of legislation which would reauthorize the Patriot Act while at the same time ending the NSA's bulk collection of phone records. The House also approved certain reforms intended to make the agency's programs more transparent. Will Congress go the way of a recent federal court ruling that called NSA surveillance overly broad and in violation of American's rights to privacy? If the NSA's broad surveillance programs lapse, will the nation be less secure?

Guests:
Julian Hattem, The Hill (@jmhattem)
Jameel Jaffer, ACLU (@JameelJaffer)
Timothy Edgar, Brown University (@timothy_edgar)
Scott Shane, New York Times (@ScottShaneNYT)

More:
Hattem on failure of McConnell's NSA gambit
ACLU on what's next on surveillance reform after the Rand Paul 'filibuster'
Jaffer's recent Reddit conversation with Snowden
ACLU poll on reforming, reauthorizing the Patriot Act

Scientific Myths and the Real Stories behind Them 9 MIN, 45 SEC

Newton's Apple, Darwin's bird studies in the Voyage of the Beagle, Galileo and the Leaning Tower of Pisa. You probably learned these stories about the origins of the theory of gravity, natural selection, and motion in school. They may have made science class fun but, according to theoretical physicist Leonard Mlodinow, not only are these stories not true they misrepresent the real nature of scientific discovery and evolution in very destructive ways. Mlodinow is the author of the new book Upright Thinkers: The Human Journey from Living in Trees to Understanding the Cosmos. He's also co-author, with Stephen Hawking, of The Grand Design.

Guests:
Leonard Mlodinow, theoretical physicist and author (@lmlodinow)

The Upright Thinkers

Leonard Mlodinow

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