NPR News

Fresh Air Weekend highlights some of the best interviews and reviews from past weeks, and new program elements specially paced for weekends. Our weekend show emphasizes interviews with writers, filmmakers, actors, and musicians, and often includes excerpts from live in-studio concerts. This week:

Update at 6:19 p.m. ET. Three Secret Service Agents Step Down:

The Secret Service confirmed that three "additional employees have chosen to resign" and a twelfth employee has been implicated.

"At this point, five employees continue to be on administrative leave and their security clearances remain suspended pending the outcome of this investigation," the agency said in a press release.

The three dismissals today brings the total number of agents forced out of the agency because of the scandal to six.

It's been two years since the Deepwater Horizon exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, killing 11 rig workers and unleashing the worst oil spill in U.S. history. The oil has long stopped flowing and BP spent billions of dollars to clean up oiled beaches and waterways, but the disaster isn't necessarily over.

Oil fouled some 1,100 miles of Gulf Coast shoreline, but today, in most spots, you can't see obvious signs of the spill. In Orange Beach, Ala., the clear emerald waters of the Gulf roll onto sugar-white sand beaches.

The World Health Organization is telling couples around the world to get tested together to see if either is infected with HIV.

If one of them is, that partner should start treatment with anti-HIV drugs – even if it's not yet medically necessary.

A North Carolina judge commuted the death sentence of convicted murderer Marcus Robinson saying racial bias tainted his trial and sentencing. Instead, Robinson will serve life in prison.

The latest financial numbers are coming out Friday from the campaigns of President Obama and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney — along with the superPACs that love them.

First, the easy numbers: $53 million was raised in March to re-elect Obama and $12.6 million was raised by the Romney campaign to win the Republican primaries.

But those easy numbers don't give a complete picture.

In the early 1990s, The Education of Little Tree became a publishing phenomenon. It told the story of an orphan growing up and learning the wisdom of his Native American ancestors, Cherokee Texan author Forrest Carter's purported autobiography.

In Myanmar, there are signs in the most unlikely places that people are starting to believe recent political reforms are for real, and aren't just a trick.

Take a recent performance of the Moustache Brothers vaudeville troupe in the northern city of Mandalay.

The troupe performs in the family home — it's not allowed to perform in public. Its biting political satire, aimed at the generals and their cronies, has made the troupe a favorite of Western tourists and diplomats.

This week, music is bringing Americans and Russians together in a way that policy discussions never can. And don't call that a cliche in front of the music director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

If U.S. relations with Russia have hit a sticky patch over Syria and other issues lately, that didn't stop the Chicago Symphony from thrilling a Russian audience this past Wednesday night, just as it did on its last visit — to the then-Soviet Union in 1990.

Strange Time To Be A Governor

Apr 20, 2012

If the rule of threes holds, it's a strange time to be a U.S. governor. From bears in bird feeders to snoozing to Springsteen, Melissa Block recounts a trio of oddball things governors from Vermont, North Dakota and New Jersey have had to deal with in the last week or so.

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.

Bipartisanship is rare on Capitol Hill these days but one bill is gaining support from both Republicans and Democrats. There's a problem, though, the Obama administration is leery of it.

As NPR's Michele Kelemen reports, the bill involves human rights abuses in Russia. And U.S. diplomats are worried it could complicate relations at a time when the U.S. needs Russia's backing on a range of issues.

If diet is destiny, then modern humans should thank our ancestors for their ability to eat just about anything.

Two new studies peek into the distant past to try to figure out just how big a role food played in human evolution. One says that eating meat made it possible for early human mothers to wean babies earlier and have more children.

A Dutch virologist is considering his full range of legal options if his government refuses to lift the restrictions it has put on his controversial bird flu research, and matters could quickly come to a head after a meeting next Monday that will be attended by U. S. observers.

'Racist' Cake Episode Cuts The Wrong Way

Apr 20, 2012

When Lena Adelsohn Liljeroth, Sweden's culture minister, cut into a cake last Sunday, she had no idea the act would spark an international incident.

Bus Crash In Mexico Leaves 43 Dead

Apr 20, 2012

There's another bit of tragic news to report today: 43 people are dead after a truck crashed into a passenger bus in eastern Mexico today. Authorities told the AFP that the incident happened after a trailer came loose and hit a bus carrying agricultural workers headed to work.

The AP reports:

The French go to the polls Sunday to choose among 10 candidates for president, and opinion surveys suggest the outcome will be a runoff between the two main figures, incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy and Socialist candidate Francois Hollande.

Smoking is bad. Quitting smoking is hard. But exercising can make quitting easier, and make sliding back into smoking less likely.

That's the word from a big new study, which tracked the health and habits of 434,190 people in Taiwan from 1996 to 2008. Smokers who got just 15 minutes of exercise a day were 55 percent more likely to quit than were people who weren't active at all. And those active smokers were 43 percent less likely to relapse when they did quit.

A story and two questions on the New York state English exam taken by eighth-graders this week has stumped many — including Jeopardy! star Ken Jennings.

The story — titled The Pineapple and the Hare — was included in a New York Daily News story about the consternation the questions have caused.

Designing A Bridge For Earthquake Country

Apr 20, 2012

Transcript

IRA FLATOW, HOST:

This is SCIENCE FRIDAY. I'm Ira Flatow. Where is the safest place to be during an earthquake? Yeah. Here, in San Francisco, everybody is shaking their head.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

Transcript

IRA FLATOW, HOST:

This is SCIENCE FRIDAY. I'm Ira Flatow. We're here in California, broadcasting from the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco. And just outside the Golden Gate, of course, is the Pacific Ocean. It is the largest body of water on Earth, and its trenches are also the deepest. You could put Mount Everest into some of them, and the top would not even peek out.

How Movie Makers Use Science To Make Magic

Apr 20, 2012

Transcript

IRA FLATOW, HOST:

This is SCIENCE FRIDAY. I'm Ira Flatow. We're here in California, broadcasting from the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco. And while you might think Silicon Valley or biotech when you think of Northern California, this part of the state is also home to some of the biggest names in the movie business.

Untangling The Hairy Physics Of Rapunzel

Apr 20, 2012

Transcript

IRA FLATOW, HOST:

Joining us now is our multimedia editor Flora Lichtman who is - welcome to SCIENCE FRIDAY, of course.

FLORA LICHTMAN, BYLINE: Thanks.

FLATOW: We'll have a backend. We have our Video Pick of the Week today, sort of an oldie goldie, right?

A year after an uprising threatened Bahrain's monarchy, the royal family is hosting a Formula One Grand Prix race this Sunday as it attempts to show life has returned to normal.

But racing fans will have to make their way through ranks of police and soldiers who are part of a heavy security presence. And riot police have been using tear gas, stun grenades and birdshot to hold back demonstrations around the capital city, Manama.

A photograph published by ABC News this morning shows what the network says is the head of George Zimmerman covered in blood. ABC News says the picture was taken minutes after Zimmerman shot Trayvon Martin to death.

The 28-year-old neighborhood watch volunteer is charged with second-degree murder in the shooting, but he has maintained that he shot Martin, who was unarmed and on his way back from buying candy and tea, in self defense.

Transcript

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

I'm Michel Martin and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Earth Day is Sunday and in anticipation of that we're going to spend some time revisiting one of the worst environmental disasters in our nation's history: the BP oil spill. It's been exactly two years since the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded some 50 miles off the Louisiana coast.

Transcript

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

I'm Michel Martin and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Coming up, we are going to go to Sweden, where a cake and a minister who seemed to have too much fun cutting it have sparked international protests. We'll tell you more about this in just a few minutes.

But first, it's time for Faith Matters. That's the part of the program where we talk about matters of faith and spirituality. Catholic parishioners in the Cleveland area were thrilled this week when Bishop Richard Lennon announced he will reopen 12 churches.

An Afro-Swedish artist created a cake of a naked black woman. As a statement on female genital mutilation, the artist screamed every time attendees cut into the cake. Host Michel Martin discusses the incident that has sparked outrage with David Landes, editor of Sweden's The Local. Advisory: This segment may not be comfortable for some listeners.

Transcript

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

And now it's time for Backtalk. That's where we lift the curtain on what's happening in the TELL ME MORE blogosphere and hear from you, the listener. Editor Ammad Omar is here once again.

Ammad, what do you have for us today?

AMMAD OMAR, BYLINE: OK, Michel. In just a few minutes we're going to hear the next installment of our Muses and Metaphor series - that's in honor of National Poetry Month and we've been asking listeners to tweet poems in 140 characters or less.

Transcript

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

I'm Michel Martin and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. We're going to head into the Barber Shop in just a few minutes. But first, the latest in our series Muses and Metaphor.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

Transcript

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

And now we head into the Barber Shop for our weekly visit. That's where the guys talk about what's in the news and what's on their minds.

Sitting in the chairs for a shape-up this week are freelance journalist Jimi Izrael with us from Cleveland. Civil rights attorney and author Arsalan Iftikhar here in Washington, D.C. From Durham, North Carolina, Duke University Professor Mark Anthony Neal. And in St. Petersburg, Florida, Eric Deggans, TV critic for the Tampa Bay Times.

Take it, Jimi.

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