Weekend Edition Sunday

  • Hosted by Audie Cornish

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.

Oliver Sacks, a neurologist and best-selling author who explored the human brain one patient at a time, has died of cancer. He was 82.

Sacks was best known for his books The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and Awakenings, which became a 1990 feature film starring Robin Williams and Robert De Niro.

A white police officer fatally shot an unarmed black man on a Sunday last month in Cincinnati.

The campus police officer was charged with murder for fatally shooting Samuel Debose after pulling him over for a missing license plate.

By now we know the string of other similar events that have brought deep-seated racial tensions to the surface.

On a Saturday morning, in a group of Rio de Janeiro's notoriously violent shanty towns, or favelas, heavily armed pacification police stand on one side of the street, on the other side, protestors call for them to withdraw.

On the protest side, Mayse Freitas lists the people she knows who have been injured or killed in shootouts in the area recently.

"I'm a mother and a grandmother," Freitas says. "I don't want my children or grandchildren to be next."

A lot of books come across our desks here at Weekend Edition. One caught our eye recently, because of the unusual way it came to be published. The title sums up the story — Underground in Berlin: A Young Woman's Extraordinary Tale of Survival in the Heart of Nazi Germany.

That remarkable tale came to light thanks to a request by her son, historian Hermann Simon. "I once put a tape recorder and said to her, 'You always wanted to tell me the story of your life. Well, go ahead.' "

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Writer Gwen Thompkins says virtually nothing happens quickly in New Orleans. Like many residents, she is withholding judgment on the city's recovery and taking the long view with a little salty language to boot.

Sen. Bernie Sanders drew big crowds again this weekend, but they may not be the right kind of crowd if he hopes to win South Carolina's primary. The Independent senator from Vermont is seeking the Democratic presidential nomination, and he'll need black voters to win in the early-voting state.

NPR's Frank Langfitt has covered China for nearly a decade. After reporting on the Aug. 12 explosion in Tianjin that killed more than 100 people, he offered this commentary.

There's a moment when you're covering a disaster in China when you know what happened.

You know it wasn't an accident, as the government initially says.

You know someone did something awful that put lives at risk to make money.

For me, that moment came when I was sitting in the hallway of a Tianjin middle school.

Marion, Ohio, just north of Columbus, used to be an idyllic place to grow up.

Kelly Clixby and Beth Carey remember what it was like a generation ago, when they were young.

"I lived across the street from one of the big parks here," Clixby says. "We would rip n' run all day and all night and come in when the street lights were on."

"It was just a nice place to live," Carey says.

Today, Marion is different. It's grappling with a full-blown heroin epidemic, one that derailed Kelly Clixby's life and killed Beth Carey's twin sister.

In 1998, Ben Lecomte swam across the Atlantic Ocean. The 47-year-old athlete is preparing for another historic plunge: swimming across the ocean on the other side of the country.

At the end of September, Lecomte plans to take off from a Tokyo beach and spend the next six months making his way some 5,500 miles across the Pacific Ocean to San Francisco.

He'll swim for eight hours a day, then board a support boat to eat and sleep. The next day he'll jump back in the water at the exact same spot.

To hear the full conversation, click the audio link above.

There's an open box of skulls on the floor. A table is covered with pelvis bones. Nearby: a pile of ribs, tied up with a piece of string.

I'm standing in a basement room, underneath the bleachers of the football stadium at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Looking at floor-to-ceiling shelves filled with cardboard boxes. More than a thousand boxes, and each one contains a human skeleton.

"Pick a box. Any box," says Dr. Dawnie Steadman, the director of the school's forensic anthropology program. "What's your pleasure?"

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Indiana was hit with an outbreak of HIV/AIDS this spring, and it got a lot of attention because it is so exceptional.

Our perception of HIV/AIDS has changed since the disease emerged in the early 1980s. There are all kinds of treatments and resources — things that simply didn't exist when the epidemic began.

On-air challenge: Every answer this week is the name of a state. For all the words given, ignore the vowels in them. The consonants in them are the same consonants, in the same order, as in the states.

For example, the word "regain" would be "Oregon."

Last week's challenge from listener Martin Eiger: Name part of a car. Drop the fifth letter. Now reverse the order of the last three letters. The result, reading from left to right, will name a major American city. What city is it?

Answer: Seat belt, Seattle

Blue Jays Make The Most Of Trade Deadline

Aug 16, 2015
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Author Sets Out To Find Gold In 'Fever'

Aug 16, 2015
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As Japan marks the 70th anniversary of the U.S. atomic bombing of Nagasaki that ended World War II, aging A-bomb survivors are leading the opposition to what they fear is a dangerous return by Japan's government to the militarism that started the war in Asia.

Near ground zero, a bell tolled at 11:02 a.m., marking the moment that a US plutonium bomb obliterated this city and killed some 70,000 people.

With Prime Minister Shinzo Abe sitting in the audience, Nagasaki Mayor Tomihisa Taue addressed a memorial service. He said Japan should not abandon its pacifist constitution.

Africa will mark one year without polio on Tuesday. The last case was in Somalia in 2014.

But last week, a polio vaccination campaign in Kenya faced an unlikely opponent: The country's Conference of Catholic Bishops declared a boycott of the World Health Organization's vaccination campaign, saying they needed to "test" whether ingredients contain a derivative of estrogen. Dr. Wahome Ngare of the Kenyan Catholic Doctor's Association alleged that the presence of the female hormone could sterilize children.

The National Football League held its annual hall of fame induction ceremony Saturday night, in Canton, Ohio. Eight players were given football's highest honor, including a posthumous induction for Junior Seau, the former linebacker for the San Diego Chargers who killed himself in 2012.

After his death, Seau's brain showed signs of chronic damage — the same kind of damage that has been found in dozens of other former NFL players.

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You have to be in it to win it, as the adage goes. Or, if you're Hunter Scott, you just have to build a program to be in it for you.

The Californian computer coder entered some 165,000 contests online, winning about a thousand of them — and he managed to get a Twitter bot to do all of it for him.

Ten years ago this month, the monster storm Hurricane Katrina thundered through New Orleans and coastal Mississippi and Alabama. Many who survived the storm and its aftermath are still feeling its terrible impact.

This week on For the Record: Hurricane Katrina's mark on one family, 10 years later.

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The Obama administration is preparing to release a new climate rule that calls for deeper cuts in carbon pollution from the nation's power plants. President Obama previewed the plan in a Facebook video posted overnight.

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The vote by the Boy Scouts of America to lift its ban on openly gay troop leaders last week was a blow to some religious conservative organizations that have long been connected to scouting, especially the Mormon church, which has deep roots in the Boy Scouts.

The church, also known as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, has used the Boy Scouts as its official program for young men for more than 100 years, according to Quin Monson, a political science professor at Brigham Young University.

Anytime I need to update a bunch of apps on my smartphone, I'm going to fly to South Korea to do it.

I'm only partly joking.

The Internet speeds are so fast here, they make me feel like the U.S. is living in the past.

And it's not just the Internet. The subways here are clean, and on time, with air conditioning and Wi-Fi.

Since I arrived in Seoul, I've lost track of the number of Americans who've told me, "Incheon in my favorite airport in the world."

Now, the journalistic cliché would be to say, "This didn't happen overnight!"

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Time now for sports.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

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The music of Colombia is in the spotlight this week as we check in with our friends at Alt Latino. Felix Contreras usually joins us with a number of artists to share. Today he has just one artist.

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Silicon Valley is a place that operates on data — hard facts and numbers.

Last month, the tech giant Facebook released a report on diversity among its workers — and the numbers weren't good.

The company reported that nearly 70 percent of its employees are men; 57 percent are white; Hispanics represent just 4 percent. Black employees comprised just 2 percent of their workforce.

It's the tourist mantra these days: Get to Cuba before it loses its 1950s nostalgia and turns into a capitalist tourist trap.

This week saw 54 years of Cold War-era hostilities warm up in the Caribbean sun: On Monday, Cuba and the U.S. reopened embassies in each other's capitals, a major step in the normalization of relations between the long-time foes.

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