All Things Considered

Weekdays at 4 pm

Every weekday, local host, Peter Biello, and national hosts Audie Cornish, Kelly McEvers, Ari Shapiro, and Robert Siegel present two hours of breaking news mixed with compelling analysis, insightful commentaries, interviews, and special -- sometimes quirky -- features from NHPR and NPR.

This week Trump judicial nominee Matthew Petersen withdrew his name, amid controversy. It was the third such withdrawal in 10 days. Even so, President Trump's record on filling judicial vacancies has far outdistanced his predecessors.

Trump, aided by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has won confirmation of 12 appeals court nominees. That's more than any president in his first year, and indeed, more than Presidents Obama and George W. Bush combined.

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In August and September of this year, hurricanes ripped through Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico. Today and tomorrow on the program, we're going to check back in with a few people we heard from shortly after the hurricanes made landfall.

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The jitters over North Korea's missile tests have led Hawaii to bring back air raid sirens. The state already has sirens in place in case of tsunami, but starting this month the state will once again test the "wailing tone" meant specifically to warn of attack.

California has the toughest air quality regulations of any state in the country. But they're not tough enough to satisfy a new state law that requires California to double the rate at which it cuts greenhouse gases.

So this month, the California Air Resources Board approved a plan it says is aimed at "decarbonizing" the state's economy.

National Transportation Safety Board investigators are looking into whether the engineer of the Amtrak train that derailed south of Seattle Monday morning may have been distracted by a second Amtrak employee in the cab of the locomotive.

Investigators also are trying to determine why no brakes were activated by the engineer. The emergency brake activated automatically only as part of the train began to go off the rails.

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The chart on the screen looks like something out of a TV crime drama: an elaborate web of emails and phone numbers, some names and photos, all connected by a mesh of thin lines.

The man standing in front of the maze is an investigator. But if you met him at a bar, he'd probably tell you he's a software engineer. That's because his work is sensitive — but also, because he works for a tech company in Silicon Valley.

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Our poetry reviewer, Tess Taylor, is sharing some books that she says capture different voices from American life right now. One's by a poet from West Virginia, another an immigrant and a third an African-American woman. Hi, Tess.

TESS TAYLOR, BYLINE: Hi, Ari, how are you?

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Merely Torres-Garcia has been living in a hotel room in Hartford, Conn., with her husband and two kids after losing part of her house in Puerto Rico to Hurricane Maria. She said spending the Christmas season in the northeastern cold has been hard for her family. But on Saturday night, in the noisy atrium of Hartford City Hall, it felt a little bit like Christmas on the island.

"My kids are happy. We feel like home in here right now," she said.

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Let's take a moment to remember the Chicago Jazz pianist Willie Pickens, who died last week at age 86.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

This evening, Republican lawmakers released the final version of tax legislation that's been making its way through Congress for the past several weeks.

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Can an algorithm tell if you're a terrorist? Can it predict if you'll be a productive member of society?

U.S. immigration officials are trying to answer those questions. They hope to build an automated computer system to help determine who gets to visit or immigrate to the United States.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, wants to use techniques from the world of big data to screen visa applicants. The project would scour all publicly available data, including social media.

But the idea has some critics — including many tech experts — worried.

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Peter Biello / NHPR

The Manchester VA has partnered with Rochester's Frisbie Memorial Hospital to provide gastrointestinal procedures to veterans on New Hampshire's seacoast.

Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter made the announcement Thursday, calling it an important step toward making sure veterans can get the care they need locally.

Appointments will still be handled through the Manchester VA.

NHPR

As we hunker down for the winter weather, we’re frequently too preoccupied with what is in our front yards that we tend not to notice what isn’t there. The snow and ice have muscled out the grass, and the chilly sounds of the north wind have blown away the dawn chorus that woke us this summer. And short of finding a postcard in your mailbox from a warm exotic location, signed by your friendly neighborhood phoebe, you probably haven’t thought much about the birds that flitted through your yard just months ago.

Outside Puerto Rico's capital, a three-story-high mountain of debris and waste sits smack in the middle of what was a suburban soccer field before Hurricane Maria devastated the island.

Blue bleachers peek out from the edge of the trash pile, as a line of trucks rolls in to dump even more tree branches and moldy furniture. Workmen wearing yellow hard hats operate diggers to add the new waste to the growing pile in the center of the field.

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Now we are going to remember the filmmaker who first showed us what it is like to set off in search of the perfect wave.

(SOUNDBITE OF DOCUMENTARY, "THE ENDLESS SUMMER")

Maine Sen. Susan Collins voted for the Senate GOP tax plan despite its repeal of the individual mandate because GOP leadership promised her a vote on her reinsurance bill, and a vote on legislation to restore some payments to insurers. But it's doubtful getting those provisions enacted would mitigate the damage to exchanges from the mandate repeal.

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