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Is al Qaeda becoming more powerful? Two years after Osama bin Laden was killed, there are fears the terrorist group is planning attacks from Yemen and other countries. Also, new revelations about NSA monitoring of US correspondence, and the fascinating case of Henrietta Lacks, the African American woman who died young from cervical cancer. Her cells would be used by science to save the lives of millions of people. Now her  family has a say in what the future research will be. Madeleine Brand guest hosts.

Banner image: A police trooper checks a van at the entrance of Sanaa International Airport August 7, 2013. Al Qaeda's Yemen-based branch AQAP has been behind plots against Western targets and neighbouring Saudi Arabia. Photo: Khaled Abdullah/Reuters

Making News New Revelations about NSA Monitoring of US Correspondence 7 MIN, 50 SEC

The National Security Agency is monitoring more email and texts than previously acknowledged. The New York Times reports that the NSA monitors emails and texts from and to Americans who are writing about foreigners under surveillance. Previously, it had admitted intercepting communications fro Americans who were in direct contact with such a person. Charlie Savage, Washington correspondent for the New York Times, has more.

Charlie Savage, New York Times (@charlie_savage)

Inside Terrorism

Bruce Hoffman

Main Topic Twelve Years after 9-11, How Big a Threat Is al Qaeda? 33 MIN, 24 SEC

Should we be afraid of al Qaeda? Officials in Yemen say they thwarted a plan by al Qaeda to seize a major port and kidnap or kill workers there. It's not clear how real that threat was. But the news came days after the US and Britain closed embassies across the Middle East and North Africa, fearing a terrorist attack. Meanwhile, hundreds of prisoners, including al Qaeda operatives, have escaped from prisons in Iraq, Libya and Pakistan. How have power vacuums in places like Iraq, Syria and Yemen created openings for al Qaeda to grow? Two years after the killing of Osama Bin Laden, how powerful is al Qaeda?

Eli Lake, Bloomberg View (@EliLake)
Gregory Johnsen, journalist and author (@gregorydjohnsen)
Bruce Hoffman, Georgetown University (@hoffman_bruce)
Liz Sly, Washington Post (@lizsly)

The Last Refuge

Gregory Johnsen

Today's Talking Point An Update on 'The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks' 9 MIN, 43 SEC

book.jpgHenrietta Lacks was a poor black tobacco farmer who died in 1951 of cervical cancer. Unknown to her or her family, her cancer cells were saved and eventually used by scientists in 70 thousand experiments that created the polio vaccine, in vitro fertilization, live saving cancer drugs and other breakthroughs. Earlier this year, German scientists published a genetic map of her cells. Her family objected, citing privacy concerns. Now they've struck an historic agreement with the National Institutes of Health, where they will have a say in how the cells are used. The remarkable story is told in The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot.

Rebecca Skloot, author (@RebeccaSkloot)

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