Weekend Edition Saturday

Saturday at 8-10am
Join Scott Simon Saturday Mornings for Weekend Edition
Scott Simon


Saturday mornings are made for Weekend Edition Saturday, the program wraps up the week's news and offers a mix of analysis and features on a wide range of topics, including arts, sports, entertainment, and human interest stories. The two-hour program is hosted by NPR's Peabody Award-winning Scott Simon.

Drawing on his experience in covering 10 wars and stories in all 50 states and seven continents, Simon brings a humorous, sophisticated and often moving perspective to each show. He is as comfortable having a conversation with a major world leader as he is talking with a Hollywood celebrity or the guy next door.

Weekend Edition Saturday has a unique and entertaining roster of other regular contributors. Marin Alsop, conductor of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, talks about music. Daniel Pinkwater, one of the biggest names in children's literature, talks about and reads stories with Simon. Financial journalist Joe Nocera follows the economy. Howard Bryant of EPSN.com and NPR's Tom Goldman chime in on sports. Keith Devlin, of Stanford University, unravels the mystery of math, and Will Grozier, a London cabbie, talks about good books that have just been released, and what well-read people leave in the back of his taxi. Simon contributes his own award-winning essays, which are sometimes humorous, sometimes poignant.

Weekend Edition Saturday is heard on NPR Member stations across the United States, and around the globe on NPR Worldwide. The conversation between the audience and the program staff continues throughout the social media world.

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12:37pm

Sat January 11, 2014
Movie Interviews

'Osage' Hits Close To Home For Writer Tracy Letts

Originally published on Sat January 11, 2014 12:53 pm

From left, Meryl Streep, Julianne Nicholson and Juliette Lewis star in August: Osage County.
Claire Folger The Weinstein Company

The movie August: Osage County has just opened, with its all-star cast.

Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Chris Cooper, Benedict Cumberbatch and more play various members of the Weston clan. They converge on their Oklahoma home when the patriarch, Beverly, who is a poet somewhat past his rhymes, goes missing.

His wife, Violet, gobbles pills, some of which are for the pain of mouth cancer and some of which are just because.

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11:46am

Sat January 11, 2014
Politics

The War Over Poverty: A Deep Divide On How To Help

Originally published on Mon January 13, 2014 6:51 pm

Homeless women sit amid their belongings in downtown Los Angeles on Wednesday. Democrats and Republicans say income inequality is a problem, but they disagree over a solution.
Frederic J. Brown AFP/Getty Images

All this week, Majority Leader Harry Reid declared over and over on the Senate floor that there's a downside to the recovering economy.

"It's true," he said. "The rich are getting a lot richer, and the poor are getting poorer."

That observation may not be surprising, coming from a Democrat. Less expected, perhaps, is a similar lament made the same day by the Senate's Republican leader, Mitch McConnell.

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10:48am

Sat January 11, 2014
National Security

Gates Memoir Tests Civilian-Military Rules Of Engagement

Originally published on Mon January 27, 2014 12:52 pm

Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates says he didn't want to wait until Obama's term was up before releasing his memoir because the issues were too urgent.
Brendan Smialowski AFP/Getty Images

Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates' new book, Duty, Memoirs of a Secretary at War, paints a picture of a White House suspicious of military leaders and their motives.

In the book, Gates criticizes both President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden over issues like the Afghanistan war. It's a case study of civilian-military tensions that are as old as the Republic.

A President Wary Of Being Boxed In

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10:10am

Sat January 11, 2014
Simon Says

Rodman's Tour Of North Korea: Diplomacy Or Propaganda?

Originally published on Sat January 11, 2014 12:53 pm

Former NBA basketball star Dennis Rodman leaves a sports arena after a practice session for North Korean basketball players in Pyongyang in December 2013.
David Guttenfelder AP

There's been a publicity circus trailing Dennis Rodman to North Korea to present a big, bouncing birthday present of a basketball game to Kim Jong Un. But did you see the score of the game?

The U.S. team of former NBA players lost the first half, 47 to 39, before the sides were combined.

Well, if you play a team sponsored by a ruthless leader who recently had his own uncle iced, losing is probably the smart move.

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8:47am

Sat January 11, 2014
Middle East

Ariel Sharon, Whose Life And Career Shaped Israeli History, Dies

Originally published on Wed January 15, 2014 12:09 pm

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon speaks during a news conference in his offices on Nov. 21, 2005, in Jerusalem. Sharon announced his split from his right-wing Likud party to form a new political party, Kadima. He was on the way to re-election in 2006 when he suffered a stroke and fell into a coma from which he never awoke.
David Silverman Getty Images

Former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, a towering figure in the history of Israel as a soldier and politician, died on Saturday. He was 85.

His death was announced by Shlomo Noy, the director of Sheba Medical Center where Sharon was being treated. Sharon had been in a coma since he suffered a massive stroke in January 2006 during the last Israeli election campaign, in which he was assured of re-election.

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8:34am

Sat January 11, 2014
Science

Experiment developed by upstate students heads to International Space Station

A water bear, or tardigrade
Some rights reserved by Goldstein Lab

High school students in upstate New York watched as a rocket carrying one of their science experiments was launched Thursday. Its destination is the International Space Station orbiting the earth over 200 miles above us.

Vicki Aman and Cheyanne Jeffrey are in their senior year at Rochester Early College International High School (RECIHS). The team is hoping their research will contribute to our growing knowledge of life in space.

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12:53pm

Sat January 4, 2014
Afghanistan

Texas Man Becomes Unlikely CFO Of Ragged Kabul Orphanage

Originally published on Sat January 4, 2014 6:14 pm

Conditions are spare at the Window of Hope orphanage in Kabul, but American NGO worker Siavash Rahbari (upper left) says it's still better than how many Afghan children live.
Sean Carberry NPR

On Saturday afternoons, sometimes with a coworker or two, Siavash Rahbari drives up a rutted side street in Kabul to visit the Window of Hope orphanage.

In the living room, there are a dozen boys and two girls. Some are playing, while others lie around on mats on the floor, clearly suffering from a range of disabilities. Rahbari, a Texan who works at an NGO in Kabul, gives the children a cursory inspection.

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8:19am

Sat January 4, 2014
Research News

Want Perfect Pitch? You Might Be Able To Pop A Pill For That

Originally published on Thu January 9, 2014 11:13 am

Jazz singer Ella Fitzergerald was said to have perfect pitch.
Klaus Frings AP

In the world of music, there is no more remarkable gift than having perfect pitch. As the story goes, Ella Fitzgerald's band would use her perfect pitch to tune their instruments.

Although it has a genetic component, most believe that perfect pitch — or absolute pitch — is a primarily a function of early life exposure and training in music, says Takao Hensch, professor of molecular and cellular biology at Harvard.

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8:19am

Sat January 4, 2014
Sports

Football Fans Say Farewell To The Bowl Championship Series

Originally published on Sat January 4, 2014 2:38 pm

Transcript

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Linda Wertheimer. And it's time for sports.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

WERTHEIMER: College football fans are saying goodbye forever to the bowl championship series, and as NFL playoffs skip a kickoff today, wild card weather could be a game changer. For more, I'm joined by NPR's sports correspondent, Tom Goldman. Good morning, Tom.

TOM GOLDMAN, BYLINE: Happy New Year to you.

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8:19am

Sat January 4, 2014
Movies

Theaters Hope Recliners Lure Homebodies Off Their Sofas

Originally published on Sat January 4, 2014 2:38 pm

Transcript

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

Movie theatres have tried different ways over the years to combat declining ticket sales. In this encore broadcast, Topher Forhecz reports on the latest attempt to bring in audience by recreating the comforts of home.

TOPHER FORHECZ, BYLINE: When I decided to see a movie at an AMC Theatre in upper Manhattan, the first change I noticed was I had to reserve my seat when I bought my ticket beforehand. So I just walked in and there are about nine rows of leather seats and I am in D6, so I've got to go find it.

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8:19am

Sat January 4, 2014
Movies

Revenues, But Not Profits, Soar For Hollywood In 2013

Originally published on Sat January 4, 2014 2:38 pm

Transcript

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

2013 was an up and down year at the movies. There was a crop of box office flops. "The Lone Ranger" and "After Earth" fell into that trap. Steven Spielberg went so far as to predict an implosion of the film industry. Despite all that, 2013 looks to be the most lucrative year ever at the box office, but don't get your hopes up for the movie business just yet.

Stephen Galloway, executive features editor at the Hollywood Reporter, is not impressed by breaking that particular record.

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1:22pm

Sat December 28, 2013
Research News

The Hunt For Meteorites Begins In Antarctica

Originally published on Sun December 29, 2013 10:07 am

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

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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10:10am

Sat December 28, 2013
Environment

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

Originally published on Sat December 28, 2013 3:43 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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9:48am

Sat December 28, 2013
Number Of The Year

A Tragic Year For Wildland Firefighters Ends In Reflection

Originally published on Mon December 30, 2013 8:22 am

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

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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9:27am

Sat December 28, 2013
Politics

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

Originally published on Sat December 28, 2013 4:24 pm

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

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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9:03am

Sat December 28, 2013
Health

Helping Families Have The Most Difficult Conversation

Originally published on Sat December 28, 2013 11:35 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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9:01am

Sat December 28, 2013
Africa

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

Originally published on Sat December 28, 2013 11:35 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.

8:34am

Sat December 21, 2013
Agriculture

Christmas tree farm branches out to grow new species

Turkish fir trees grow at Empire Evergreens in Painted Post, N.Y.
Matt Martin WSKG

Every year Christmas tree farmers lose a portion of their crop to a fungus that attacks the root of the tree.  One tree farm in the Southern Tier has started planting a species that seems to be more resistant to the disease.

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8:24am

Sat December 21, 2013
Asia

World's Most Popular Film Industry Turns 100

Originally published on Sat December 21, 2013 11:30 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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8:17am

Sat December 21, 2013
Around the Nation

Ornaments Give Tornado Victims A Little Christmas Cheer

Originally published on Sat December 21, 2013 11:30 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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8:15am

Sat December 21, 2013
Interviews

Texas Teacher And His Groovy Shirt Retire

Originally published on Sat December 21, 2013 11:30 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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8:34am

Sat December 14, 2013
Performing Arts and Culture

Modernized "Music Man" production gives Syracuse student actors new experience

Josh Rodriguez leads the cast of "The Music Man" at Redhouse.
Tom Magnarelli/WRVO

Students in the Syracuse City School District are among the stars in the Redhouse Arts Center production of "The Music Man." The idea was to turn River City, Iowa into a multicultural melting pot by doing colorblind casting, and at the same time give the students real-world experience working with professional actors.

Over the past year, life has been a struggle for 16-year-old, Tajanae Lane. She has had to move from Syracuse to New Jersey then back to Syracuse after her father was arrested for robbing a bank. 

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7:23am

Sat December 14, 2013
NPR Story

Hot Sauce Maker In A Jam

Originally published on Wed December 18, 2013 12:31 am

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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7:23am

Sat December 14, 2013
NPR Story

The Nobel Prize And The Rule Of Three

Originally published on Wed December 18, 2013 12:31 am

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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7:23am

Sat December 14, 2013
NPR Story

Candles, Not Media Cameras, For Newtown On Saturday

Originally published on Wed December 18, 2013 12:31 am

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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5:13am

Sat December 14, 2013
Music Interviews

What Makes Tennessee's Music So Very Special?

Originally published on Wed December 18, 2013 12:31 am

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

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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5:11am

Sat December 14, 2013
Shootings In Newtown, Conn.

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

Originally published on Wed December 18, 2013 12:31 am

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

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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5:10am

Sat December 14, 2013
Fine Art

In The Background: Art You May Never Notice

Originally published on Wed December 18, 2013 12:31 am

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

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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8:41am

Sat December 7, 2013
Around the Nation

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

Originally published on Sat December 7, 2013 11:35 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.
Jim Watson AFP/Getty Images

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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8:34am

Sat December 7, 2013
Energy

Passive house takes on upstate winter

Model of a passive house.
Some rights reserved by Tonu Mauring

Think of a large thermos, large enough to put a family in. That’s a passive house. Passive houses are buildings that rely on their construction, insulation, and the environment to heat them in winter and cool them in summer.

They’re popular in Europe, but there are only a handful of them in the U.S. and one of them belongs to a family in upstate New York, who are getting ready to take on their first winter in their passive home.

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