Weekend Edition - Saturday

Saturdays 8am to 10am

From civil wars in Bosnia and El Salvador, to hospital rooms, police stations, and America's backyards, National Public Radio's Peabody Award-winning correspondent Scott Simon brings a well-traveled perspective to his role as host of Weekend Edition Saturday.

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Research News
10:54 am
Sat December 28, 2013

The Hunt For Meteorites Begins In Antarctica

The most abundant meteorites found in Antarctica are called chondrites. They are some of the oldest objects known in the solar system.
Katherine Joy Antarctic Search for Meteorites Program / Case Western Reserve University

Originally published on Sun December 29, 2013 8:07 am

Antarctica is one of the best places on Earth to spot these fallen stars.

Each winter — which is summer in down south — a team of geologists camps out on an Antarctic glacier in the middle of nowhere, often where no human has ever tread. It's kind of like a space voyage, but a lot cheaper.

And it's the meteorite that's done most of the traveling.

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Environment
8:42 am
Sat December 28, 2013

A Scientist's New Job: Keeping The Polar Bears' Plight Public

Originally published on Sat December 28, 2013 1:43 pm

The Endangered Species Act, which turns 40 on Saturday, helped bring back iconic species such as the wolf, grizzly bear and bald eagle, after hunting, trapping and pesticides almost wiped those animals out.

But a very different kind of threat — global warming — is pushing some species like the polar bear to the brink of extinction.

One government biologist discovered the best way he could help save polar bears was to quit his job.

A New Kind Of Conservation Problem

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Number Of The Year
7:48 am
Sat December 28, 2013

A Tragic Year For Wildland Firefighters Ends In Reflection

The wildfire in Yarnell, Ariz., last June destroyed homes and killed 19 firefighters. Experts say expansion into wildfire-prone areas has created new challenges for firefighters.
Andy Tobin AP

Originally published on Mon December 30, 2013 6:22 am

Thirty-four wildland firefighters died in the line of duty this year. Some of those fatalities were isolated incidents, but one event captured the nation's attention, sparking a larger conversation about the new dangers firefighters face.

That event unfolded in central Arizona the afternoon of June 30, a Sunday.

"I'm here with Granite Mountain Hot Shots. Our escape route has been cut off," says a crew boss on recently released radio traffic from the Yarnell Hill Fire. "We are preparing a deployment site, and I'll give you a call when we are under the shelters.

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Politics
7:27 am
Sat December 28, 2013

Up Next For Joe Biden, A Busy Year — And A Choice

Joe Biden has a light-hearted moment in the Old Senate Chambers in January. The vice president has not ruled out running for president in 2016.
Cliff Owen AP

Originally published on Sat December 28, 2013 2:24 pm

This was a busy year for Vice President Joe Biden: He was President Obama's point man on gun control; he traveled widely, pushing for infrastructure spending; and he recently returned form a trip to Asia, where he met with the leaders of China, Japan and South Korea.

In 2014, Biden may face an even busier schedule, as he stumps for Democratic congressional candidates in advance of November's midterm elections and tries to decide whether to make another run for president himself.

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Health
7:03 am
Sat December 28, 2013

Helping Families Have The Most Difficult Conversation

Originally published on Sat December 28, 2013 9:35 am

Transcript

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Linda Wertheimer. I hope that most of the people listening to us today have been with their families and friends during this holiday season. We've all had nice dinners and nice talks, but maybe there is one more talk we ought to have and the subject maybe won't sound quite right for the holidays.

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Africa
7:01 am
Sat December 28, 2013

In Conflict-Torn Africa, Senegal Shows A Way To Religious Harmony

Originally published on Sat December 28, 2013 9:35 am

Inter-religious tensions have been in the headlines in parts of Africa lately. Christian-Muslim clashes have left many dead in places like Nigeria and Central African Republic. But there are also examples of peaceful inter-religious co-existence in Africa, such as Senegal.

Sports
7:00 am
Sat December 28, 2013

Injuries Tilt The Balance In NBA, NFL

Originally published on Sat December 28, 2013 9:35 am

Transcript

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

Now it's time for sports.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

WERTHEIMER: The NBA hoped to bring out its brightest stars on Christmas Day, but another injury to Kobe Bryant cancelled his duel with LeBron James. And in the NFL, division titles and playoff spots are up for grabs, but there too injuries might make the difference. Howard Bryant of ESPN.com and ESPN the Magazine joins us now from the studios of New England Public Radio. Welcome, Howard.

HOWARD BRYANT: And good morning, Linda. How are you?

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Asia
7:03 am
Sat December 21, 2013

World's Most Popular Film Industry Turns 100

Originally published on Sat December 21, 2013 9:30 am

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. You know, Americans often assume that Hollywood films are what the world watches most. But the world's most popular film industry features music, melodrama and spectacular dance moves that have become known by a single name: Bollywood.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

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Interviews
7:00 am
Sat December 21, 2013

Texas Teacher And His Groovy Shirt Retire

Originally published on Sat December 21, 2013 9:30 am

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Back in 1973, Dale Irby was just beginning his career as a physical education teacher in the Dallas area. School photo time came around, he needed something nice to wear and had just the thing - a groovy new polyester shirt with large lapels and a brown sweater. Dale Irby has worn the same outfit ever since in every school photo for 40 years. He's now retired; so has his ensemble. He joins us from Dallas. Mr. Irby, thanks so much for being with us.

DALE IRBY: Thank you.

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Around the Nation
6:59 am
Sat December 21, 2013

Ornaments Give Tornado Victims A Little Christmas Cheer

Originally published on Sat December 21, 2013 9:30 am

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

The people of Moore, Oklahoma are still living with the effects of a powerful tornado in May. The twister killed 25 people and destroyed more than a thousand homes. This holiday season, residents are reminded just how much they lost in that destruction. Kate Carlton of member station KGOU reports on one woman who's found a small way to make the holidays a bit more normal.

KATE CARLTON, BYLINE: On a recent Wednesday evening, Kim Rollins opened her home to strangers.

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NPR Story
5:23 am
Sat December 14, 2013

Hot Sauce Maker In A Jam

Originally published on Tue December 17, 2013 10:31 pm

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

The factory that makes and bottles Sriracha sauce is in trouble - for the second time this year. First, one of the company's Southern California plants faced a shutdown after neighbors complained about the pungent odor there, and now a California Department of Public Health has placed a 30-day hold on all new bottles of Sriracha, citing health concerns. NPR's Sam Sanders reports.

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NPR Story
5:23 am
Sat December 14, 2013

The Nobel Prize And The Rule Of Three

Originally published on Tue December 17, 2013 10:31 pm

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

This week, Peter Higgs and Francois Englert received the Nobel Prize for developing the theory known as the Higgs-boson particle in 1964. But distinguished as they are, Higgs and Englert are just two of six scientists who developed the theory and because of the Nobel committees rule of three; that no single prize can go to more than three individuals, most of these scientists missed out on winning the Nobel, including Carl Hagen, a University of Rochester physics professor.

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NPR Story
5:23 am
Sat December 14, 2013

Candles, Not Media Cameras, For Newtown On Saturday

Originally published on Tue December 17, 2013 10:31 pm

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

At 9:30 Eastern Time this morning, houses of worship across Connecticut will rang their bells 26 times.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELLS RINGING)

SIMON: These are the bells of the Basilica of Saint John the Evangelist Roman Catholic Church in Stamford. Churches, mosques and synagogues in Newtown are holding events today to mark the anniversary of the shooting. Not only prayer services, also some arts and crafts activities for children, even comfort dogs.

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Music Interviews
3:13 am
Sat December 14, 2013

What Makes Tennessee's Music So Very Special?

Rosanne Cash, seen here in 1956 with her dad Johnny, is one of many musicians featured in Oxford American magazine's winter issue on the music of Tennessee.
Courtesy of Rosanne Cash

Originally published on Tue December 17, 2013 10:31 pm

From blues to funk, to country and rock, Tennessee is the place that's given voice to the likes of Bessie Smith, Johnny Cash, Dolly Parton, Elvis Presley, Isaac Hayes

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Shootings In Newtown, Conn.
3:11 am
Sat December 14, 2013

A Grieving Newtown Mother's Motto: 'Love Wins'

Jimmy Greene holds a picture of his daughter, Ana, as he kisses his wife Nelba Márquez-Greene, at a January news conference in Newtown, Conn. They try to remember the good days with their daughter. "It is what brings me great comfort and great joy," Márquez-Greene says.
Jessica Hill AP

Originally published on Tue December 17, 2013 10:31 pm

As much as Dec. 14 will forever be a day of unfathomable grief for Nelba Márquez-Greene, Dec. 13 will be one of unending gratitude.

"I will never forget that day," she says.

On that day, Márquez-Greene stopped the usual frantic drill: rushing to activities and errands, worrying about the dishes and laundry, even cleaning up the mess on the floor.

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Fine Art
3:10 am
Sat December 14, 2013

In The Background: Art You May Never Notice

Mountain Gorillas, one of the first dioramas on which Fred Scherer apprenticed, completed in 1936.
Polina Yamshchikov for NPR

Originally published on Tue December 17, 2013 10:31 pm

You've probably never heard of painter Fred F. Scherer. If you've ever been to the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) in New York City, though, you may have seen his paintings — probably without realizing it.

Scherer died at age 98 a few weeks ago. His art — those big murals you see behind taxidermic animals in museum dioramas — deserves a closer look.

We visited the AMNH to photograph some of the installations containing his paintings, and spoke with Stephen C. Quinn, who recently retired as an artist from the museum, and knew Scherer well.

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Books News & Features
6:05 am
Sat December 7, 2013

Don't Call It Fanfic: Writers Rework Their Favorite Stories

Originally published on Fri December 27, 2013 10:43 am

When writers finish a book, they may think they've had the last word. But sometimes another writer will decide there's more to the story. The madwoman Bertha from Jane Eyre and the father in Little Women are just two examples of secondary characters who have been given a fuller life in a new work of fiction based on a classic novel.

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Around the Nation
6:05 am
Sat December 7, 2013

White House Invites All To 'Gather Around' A Holiday Tradition

Every year, on the day after Thanksgiving, almost 100 volunteer decorators show up at the White House. They spend the next five days stringing garlands and hanging ornaments, making the White House sparkle for the holidays.
Jim Watson AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Sat December 7, 2013 9:35 pm

Every year, on the day after Thanksgiving, almost 100 volunteer decorators show up at the White House. They spend the next five days stringing garlands and hanging ornaments, making the White House sparkle for the holidays.

At NPR, we have a related tradition. This is the fourth year in a row that White House correspondent Ari Shapiro has brought us the voices of some of those volunteers.

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The Salt
6:05 am
Sat December 7, 2013

Fishery Closure Puts New England's Shrimp Season On Ice

Northern shrimp are shoveled into a holding chamber on a trawler in the Gulf of Maine in 2012. Stocks of the shrimp have been declining for several years, leading regulators to cancel the New England shrimping season.
Robert F. Bukaty AP

Originally published on Sat December 7, 2013 7:56 pm

New England chefs like Andrew Taylor and Mike Wiley are still coming to terms with the news: No more shrimp until further notice.

This week, regulators shut down the New England fishery for Gulf of Maine shrimp for the first time in 35 years. The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission judged the stocks of the popular shrimp, also known as northern shrimp, to be dangerously low.

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Simon Says
4:12 am
Sat December 7, 2013

As We Memorialize Mandela, Remember Those Who Stood With Him

Nelson Mandela and Walter Sisulu raise their fists in 1990, one day after Mandela was released from jail.
Walter Dhladhla AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Sun December 8, 2013 1:36 pm

By the time he died this week, Nelson Mandela was considered one of the few — perhaps the only — giants on the world stage.

But the man who was prisoner 466/64 on Robben Island was a giant among heroes who offered their lives for freedom as valiantly as he did. In a way, the acclaim the world now heaps so justly on Nelson Mandela commemorates them, too.

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Television
3:29 am
Sat December 7, 2013

Gillian Anderson On 'The Fall' And Getting Arrested In High School

Gillian Anderson plays Stella Gibson, an enigmatic police investigator, in the BBC Two series The Fall.
Steffan Hill Acorn RLJ Entertainment

Originally published on Sat December 7, 2013 9:39 am

There's been a string of unsolved murders in Belfast, Northern Ireland, so they have to bring in the heat from London. Detective Superintendent Stella Gibson appears to be the embodiment of what people in Belfast often don't like about London: She seems cool, correct, fiercely intelligent, but icy.

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Parallels
3:23 am
Sat December 7, 2013

With The Help Of Smugglers, Syrian Refugees Sneak Into Europe

Refugees warm their hands at a refugee camp in Harmanli, Bulgaria, on Nov. 27. More Syrians are turning up in Europe. Many are trying to get to northern Europe, believing that is the best place to start a new life.
Nikolay Doychinov AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Sat December 7, 2013 7:57 pm

The 27-year-old Syrian, who once smuggled arms for Syrian rebels, is now waiting in Istanbul for a human smuggler to get him to Europe. He says his name is Mohammed. He does not offer a second name. He will go by air, he says, the safest route. He has paid a smuggler more than $8,000, and he's sure he will get to Austria.

In the past week, he connected seven friends with smugglers.

"I know that most of them made it," he says, with a tight smile. He is traveling light. Everything he owns is in a backpack.

"I am leaving Syria under a lot of pressure," he explains.

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Music Interviews
5:31 am
Sat November 30, 2013

Tony Joe White's Steamy 'Hoodoo' Rock

Originally published on Sat November 30, 2013 8:54 am

Even if you haven't heard of Tony Joe White, you've probably heard his music. His songs have been performed by Elvis, Ray Charles and Tina Turner. He's even been sampled by Kanye West. Host Scott Simon talks with White about his distinctive swamp rock sound, and his new album, Hoodoo.

Books News & Features
5:31 am
Sat November 30, 2013

A London Cabbie's Guide To Lit Gifts

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. No way around it. It's shopping season and for many people there's nothing like giving a book as a holiday gift. A book is not only a fine companion, it reflect something about both the giver and the receiver. And you don't have to change the batteries.

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Sports
5:31 am
Sat November 30, 2013

The Case Against Big Data In Sports

University of Miami professor Robert Plant is starting to wonder if big data is ruining sports. He talks with host Scott Simon about how crunching the numbers is changing — and has already changed — the games we love to watch.

Around the Nation
3:39 am
Sat November 30, 2013

From Lab To Lectern, Scientists Learn To Turn On the Charm

Originally published on Sat November 30, 2013 4:15 pm

About 20 scientists are clustered in a cramped conference room in San Diego, one of the country's science hubs, but they aren't there to pore over their latest research. Instead, this is a meeting of BioToasters — a chapter of the public speaking organization Toastmasters, geared specifically toward scientists.

"For a typical scientist, they will spend a lot of time at the bench, so they're doing a lot of maybe calculations or lab work where they're not interacting directly from person to person," says BioToasters President Zackary Prag, a lab equipment sales rep.

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Parallels
3:38 am
Sat November 30, 2013

Crashing An Afghan Wedding: No Toasts But Lots Of Cheesy Music

Afghans hold large, expensive weddings, even those involving families of modest means. More than 600 people attended this recent marriage at a large wedding hall in Kabul.
Sean Carberry NPR

Originally published on Sat November 30, 2013 4:17 pm

Afghanistan may be one of the world's poorest countries, but weddings are still a big — and expensive — deal. On most weekends, Kabul's glitzy and somewhat garish wedding halls are packed with people celebrating nuptials.

One of them is the Uranos Palace complex. On the night I attended my first Afghan wedding, all three of its halls were overflowing. I was one of two foreigners in a room of about 200 men. The female guests sat on the other side of a 7-foot-high divider in the middle of the hall.

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Environment
3:37 am
Sat November 30, 2013

Tech Leaders, Economists Split Over Clean Energy's Prospects

Andres Quiroz, an installer for Stellar Solar, carries a solar panel during installation at a home in Encinitas, Calif.
Sam Hodgson Bloomberg via Getty Images

Originally published on Sat November 30, 2013 11:17 am

There is a broad scientific consensus that to keep global warming in check, we need to phase out 80 percent of all oil, coal and natural gas by midcentury. President Obama has set a nonbinding target to do precisely that.

There are technologists who say this national goal is well within reach, but there are also economists who are quite pessimistic about those prospects. And you can find this range of opinion on the University of California, Berkeley campus.

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Around the Nation
5:35 am
Sat November 23, 2013

Rivals Help Level Playing Field For Tornado-Shattered Team

A Panther Pride sign cheers Washington High School's undefeated football team amid debris from last week's tornado.
Anthony Souffle MCT /Landov

Originally published on Sat November 23, 2013 9:31 am

Competition and compassion meet on the field in Springfield, Ill., Saturday, when two central Illinois high school football teams face off for a spot in the state championship. One team is a perennial powerhouse, but the other is from a town that was all but leveled by a tornado.

Last week, linebacker Kevin Scott and the rest of the Washington Community High School Panthers were celebrating. They'd just made school history with a 12-0 record, capped off with a Saturday win that sent them to the semi-finals.

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History
5:35 am
Sat November 23, 2013

JFK Had The Wit To Lampoon Himself

Originally published on Sat November 23, 2013 9:18 am

Host Scott Simon looks back at the witticisms of President John F. Kennedy, with a little help from late night TV host and comedian Conan O'Brien.

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