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Parallels
8:28 am
Sat March 22, 2014

Russia-U.S. Tensions Could Stall Syrian Chemical Weapons Removal

The Russian ship Pyotr Velikiy (Peter the Great), seen here docked in the Cypriot port of Limassol in February, is part of the team involved in escorting shipments of Syria's chemical weapons material for destruction.
AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Sat March 22, 2014 9:18 am

As U.S.-Russian relations sour, some observers fear the plan to eliminate Syria's chemical arsenal might stall.

This past week, the removal of chemicals from Syria reached the halfway mark. Without pressure from both superpowers, however, some believe Syrian President Bashar al-Assad will begin to drag his feet.

"I think what you're likely to see is that the Assad regime will comply just enough, at a slower pace, as it consolidates its hold over the country militarily," says Andrew Tabler, a Syria expert, at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

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Around the Nation
7:37 am
Sat March 22, 2014

Commuters Ditch Cars For Public Transit In Record Numbers

On a typical weekday, riders make a total of about 300,000 trips on the Chicago Metra commuter line.
M. Spencer Green AP

Originally published on Mon March 24, 2014 11:38 am

During the morning rush at Chicago's Union Station, commuter trains pull in, the doors open and a crush of people, newspapers and coffee cups in hand, pour off like a flood.

Financial analyst Nader Kouklan says he makes the trip from the suburbs to Chicago's downtown every day.

"It's easier and just a faster way to get to work, rather than having to deal with the traffic of the morning commute," Kouklan says.

Law student Amalia Romano rides Chicago's Metra line, too.

"I take it because I don't want to pay $16 to park every day," Romano explains.

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Movie Interviews
5:50 am
Sat March 22, 2014

'Flaco And Max' Keep A South Texas Musical Tradition Thriving

Originally published on Sun March 23, 2014 9:45 am

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Conjunto music can be as American as cherry pie - with Mexican and German flavoring:

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

FLACO AND MAX: (Singing in foreign language)

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Sports
5:50 am
Sat March 22, 2014

Mercer, Dayton Break The Brackets

Originally published on Sat March 22, 2014 9:18 am

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. Time for sports.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

SIMON: And the upsets keep coming in the NCAA tournament. Do they call it March Madness because Coach K at Duke, probably a little mad at the way his Blue Devils played. ESPN.com's Howard Bryant joins us. Howard, thanks so much for being with us.

HOWARD BRYANT: Oh, good morning, Scott.

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Animals
5:50 am
Sat March 22, 2014

Put Haggis In The Feeder, And Other Scottish Bird Feeding Tips

Originally published on Sat March 22, 2014 9:18 am

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Springtime is just about to bloom. So how do you attract a few good-looking birds? To the gardener balcony, that is. We're joined now by Malcie Smith, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. He joins us from the studios of the BBC in the Shetland Islands of Scotland. Thanks very much for being with us.

MALCIE SMITH: Hi, Scott. You're welcome.

SIMON: What kind of food do you put out this time of year?

SMITH: Just a wide range of nuts and seeds would be quite good. Sunflower seeds particularly are very good.

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Religion
11:00 am
Sat March 15, 2014

Tiny Italian Town Thumbs Its Nose At Lenten Abstinence

Originally published on Sun March 16, 2014 3:53 pm

On the first Sunday of Lent in Poggio Mirteto, a priest in the town's cathedral recalls the serpent in the Garden of Eden.

He admonishes parishioners in this hilltop hamlet just outside Vatican City to resist earthly delights during the time of penance and self-denial leading up to Easter.

"We must remember we are weak before evil, because the devil is very tricky," he says.

Just outside the doors, the warning goes unheeded as a parade of revelers passes.

The Freedom Festival

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Sports
9:05 am
Sat March 15, 2014

Why You Won't Win Warren Buffett's Billion-Dollar Bracket

Florida's Will Yeguete shoots over Missouri's Keanau Post in the quarterfinal round of the Southeastern Conference men's tournament on Friday in Atlanta. Investor Warren Buffett is betting $1 billion that no one can pick all 63 winners of the NCAA college basketball tournament that begins next week.
John Bazemore AP

Originally published on Sat March 15, 2014 11:19 am

The men's NCAA college basketball tournament starts next week.

In a twist on the familiar March Madness bracket, a mortgage company and a world-famous investor are offering a billion dollars to anyone who picks the winner of all 63 games in the NCAA college basketball tournament.

It's a contest, and it may also be the perfect publicity stunt.

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Health Care
8:35 am
Sat March 15, 2014

Under 30? The President Would Like You To Know Health Care Is Hip

The president joined host Zach Galifianakis on the Funny or Die mock talk show, Between Two Ferns this week. Obama was there to promote the Affordable Care Act.
Funny or Die

Originally published on Sat March 15, 2014 9:32 am

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Around the Nation
5:45 am
Sat March 15, 2014

Drought Closes Oregon Resort Before The Season Even Opens

Originally published on Mon March 17, 2014 12:03 pm

Transcript

JACKI LYDEN, HOST:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Jacki Lyden. This was supposed to be a special year for the Mount Ashland ski area in Southern Oregon as it celebrated its 50th anniversary. But after a long drought this summer, Mount Ashland had to call it a season early. Yesterday, it declared slope season was over due to a lack of snow. NPR's Tom Goldman reports.

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Music Interviews
5:45 am
Sat March 15, 2014

A Fresh Vocalist From The Same School As Adele, Winehouse

Originally published on Sat March 15, 2014 9:32 am

Transcript

JACKI LYDEN, HOST:

Discovering Zara McFarlane's voice is like discovering something exquisite and lush and gorgeous.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

ZARA MCFARLANE: (Singing) There you are, though I cannot see your face. I feel you, your presence just entered this place...

LYDEN: Zara McFarlane's latest album is called "If You Knew Her." And she's at our London bureau to talk to us about her music and so that we can get to know here. Zara McFarlane, thank you so much for joining us.

MCFARLANE: Hello. How are you doing?

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Sports
5:45 am
Sat March 15, 2014

An Ex-Dolphin Gets A New Home: The Week In Sports

Originally published on Sat March 15, 2014 9:32 am

Transcript

JACKI LYDEN, HOST:

It's time now for sport.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

LYDEN: This week, former Miami Dolphin's offensive lineman Jonathan Martin found a new home with his new team, the San Francisco 49ers. Martin tweeted this week that he's beyond blessed about being traded and can't wait to get to work. Jonathan Martin is, of course, the player who was the primary target of taunts and racist insults by his teammates on the Dolphins.

ESPN's Howard Bryant is with us now taking a break from the Indian Wells Tennis Tournament. Hello there Howard.

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Politics
9:31 am
Sat March 8, 2014

CPAC Is A Siren Call To GOP Presidential Hopefuls

At CPAC this year, even Sen. Rand Paul's cardboard cutout was drawing attention. The Kentucky lawmaker was leading in the straw poll among attendees Friday.
Jim Lo Scalzo EPA/Landov

Originally published on Sat March 8, 2014 12:00 pm

Start with a big ballroom at a resort hotel just outside D.C. Add thousands of conservative activists. Stir in hundreds of political journalists, and you've got an irresistible attraction for any Republican presidential hopeful.

For those with their eye on the Oval Office, it's also an early audition before a key audience.

It's the annual Conservative Political Action Conference — CPAC for short — where there's always talk of the next presidential election. This year as many as 10 possible 2016 candidates were invited to speak during the three-day event.

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Economy
8:52 am
Sat March 8, 2014

What Germans Know Could Help Bridge U.S. Workers' Skill Gap

President Barack Obama promotes job training at General Electric's Waukesha, Wis., gas engine plant in January.
Jeffrey Phelps AP

Originally published on Sat March 8, 2014 9:31 am

Job training programs are failing to turn out enough skilled workers to fill job openings in the U.S., a phenomenon that puzzles some European companies that expand into the U.S.

President Obama freely admits that America needs to improve the way it trains workers. In a speech at a General Electric manufacturing plant in Wisconsin earlier this year, he said, "We gotta move away from what my labor secretary, Tom Perez, calls 'train and pray.' You train workers first and then you hope they get a job."

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Sports
5:53 am
Sat March 8, 2014

In A First, The Paralympics Get Political

Originally published on Sat March 8, 2014 9:31 am

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. Time for sports.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

SIMON: The Paralympics Games have begun in Sochi. Over the next week, nearly 700 athletes with disabilities will compete at events that range from ice sledge hockey to wheelchair curling to downhill racing. NPR's Tom Goldman joins us. Morning Tom, thanks for being with us.

TOM GOLDMAN, BYLINE: Hello. Thank you.

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Digital Life
5:53 am
Sat March 8, 2014

Making A Computerized Voice A Little More Human

Originally published on Sat March 8, 2014 9:31 am

Transcript

STEPEHN HAWKING: Here did we come from? Are we alone in the universe?

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

You may recognize this as the voice of Stephen Hawking, the physicist. It's actually the generic voice of men and women who use computers to speak for them. Synthetic speech though can be cold and impersonal, but a scientist in Boston wants to change that. Guy Raz of the TED RADIO HOUR has more.

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Europe
5:53 am
Sat March 8, 2014

Tensions Rise In Ukraine Standoff

Originally published on Sat March 8, 2014 9:31 am

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

To Ukraine now where tensions continue to rise between that country's new government and Russia. Yesterday, pro-Russian soldiers held a standoff at a Ukrainian military base and although it seemed to end without incident, it shows just how quickly the situation has become militarized. We're joined now by Steven Erlanger, reporter for the New York Times, who's in Kiev. Steven, thanks so much for being with us.

STEVEN ERLANGER: Happy to be here.

SIMON: What do we know about this standoff yesterday in Crimea?

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Business
7:50 am
Sat March 1, 2014

A Picket Line At The Oscars: Visual-Effects Artists To Protest

Originally published on Sat March 1, 2014 9:37 am

Hundreds of visual-effects artists are planning to picket the Academy Awards on Sunday for the second year in a row. They're hoping to bring attention to what's been happening in their industry.

The field is losing jobs and relocating to countries with bigger subsidies for employers. It's the result of a technical revolution that's changed the profession since it kicked off in the 70s with Star Wars creator George Lucas' visual-effects company, Industrial Light and Magic.

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Sports
5:59 am
Sat March 1, 2014

Teen Pop Idol Attracts Extra Fans To UK Soccer Match

Originally published on Tue March 4, 2014 8:35 am

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

This week, one-fifth of the biggest boy band in the world made up one-eleventh of an English professional soccer team. In a charity game, the One Direction singer Louis Tomlinson turned out to play for his hometown club, the reserve team of Doncaster Rovers.

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Media
5:56 am
Sat March 1, 2014

BuzzFeed Quizzes: What Data Set Do You Belong To?

Originally published on Sat March 1, 2014 9:03 am

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Online personality quizzes are going viral. The website BuzzFeed says their quizzes, which ask questions like which Harry Potter character are you or which city should you actually live in, break Web traffic records. But are these seemingly silly and inconsequential quizzes only for fun? With tens of millions of people filling them out, it could be a marketer's dream.

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Sports
5:56 am
Sat March 1, 2014

Worldwide Attention Expected For Track Star's Murder Trial

Originally published on Sat March 1, 2014 9:03 am

South African paralympian Oscar Pistorius goes on trial next week for the murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. NPR's Scott Simon speaks with Guardian reporter David Smith about the upcoming court case.

Europe
10:08 am
Sat February 22, 2014

Russia's Cossacks Ride Back From History As 'Patriots'

Cossacks, who formed a feared military force in czarist times, start their 2012 ceremonial march from Moscow to Paris in memory of soldiers killed during the war against Napoleon in 1812.
Alexander Zemlianichenko AP

Originally published on Fri February 28, 2014 3:17 pm

The contrast couldn't have been greater: the protest band Pussy Riot in colorful ski masks and mini dresses, attempting to film a segment for a new video on Sochi's waterfront; and Cossacks in traditional uniform with black sheepskin hats and riding boots, patrolling Sochi streets as part of security for the Olympics.

The Cossacks, trying to enforce a government ban on protests, knocked band member Nadezhda Tolokonnikova to the ground, lashed her with a horse whip, and roughed up other musicians.

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Simon Says
7:58 am
Sat February 22, 2014

Ukrainian Olympic Skier's Stand Is A Sacrifice For Her Country

Ukrainian skier Bogdana Matsotska decided not to compete in Friday's slalom race, in a show of solidarity with protesters in Kiev.
Fabrice Coffrini AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Sat February 22, 2014 11:06 am

Sports are supposed to be separate from politics, but athletes and games can't always be kept separate from life and death.

Scores of people were killed in Ukraine this week, as the security forces of President Viktor Yanukovich opened fire on anti-government protesters in Kiev's Maidan, now called Independence Square.

While some 800 miles away, more than 40 Ukrainian athletes have been skiing, skating, working hard to win medals at the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia.

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Books News & Features
6:03 am
Sat February 22, 2014

'The Natural' Of 1952 Holds Lessons For Today's MLB

Originally published on Sat February 22, 2014 11:06 am

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

There's an old baseball legend about the kid out of nowhere who boards a train for a tryout in Chicago with nothing but his toothbrush and a bat he calls Wonderboy. The kid strikes out the Whammer, the best hitter in the game, but gets to his hotel and opens his door to a pretty girl. Wham, bam, she shoots him in the stomach and he doesn't make a comeback for 15 years.

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Sports
6:03 am
Sat February 22, 2014

Olympics Serve Up A Surfeit Of Strife On Ice

Originally published on Sat February 22, 2014 11:06 am

While the 2014 Winter Olympics are coming to an end, there are still opportunities to take home the gold. Reporter Tom Goldman joins NPR's Scott Simon to talk about ice hockey and the speed skating.

Summer Reading: Kids
6:03 am
Sat February 22, 2014

The Last Undefeated College Basketball Team Plays For Title

Originally published on Sat February 22, 2014 11:06 am

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Wichita State's basketball team is the last undefeated men's team in America - 28 wins. That got them on one of the regional covers of Sports Illustrated, and that adds a little pressure. If the Shockers win tonight, they'll clinch the Missouri Valley Conference title. From member station KMUW in Wichita, Carla Eckels reports on the team's winning season.

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Sports
10:12 am
Sat February 15, 2014

U.S. Men's Hockey Team Triumphs Over Russia In Shootout Ending

Originally published on Sat February 15, 2014 11:13 am

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. The U.S. and Russian hockey teams played into overtime and beyond at Winter Olympic in Sochi today. NPR's Robert Smith was in the Bolshoi Ice Dome and joins us now. Robert, thanks for being with us.

ROBERT SMITH, BYLINE: Oh, my pleasure.

SIMON: Boy, what a lucky guy you were to see this. Now, get away from the radio if you don't want to hear the score. We might drop it. This is a game that lived up to the hype.

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Code Switch
9:53 am
Sat February 15, 2014

Walking Down The Widening Aisle Of Interracial Marriages

Kelly Mottershead and Louie Okamoto held a beach party last October for their wedding ceremony in Carmel, Calif.
Dana Barsuhn Courtesy of Louie Okamoto

Originally published on Sat February 15, 2014 11:13 am

Editor's Note: Code Switch has been engaged in a month-long exploration of romance across racial and cultural lines. Follow the Twitter conversation via the hashtag #xculturelove.

The numbers are small but growing.

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Law
9:14 am
Sat February 15, 2014

Flood Of Gay Marriage Cases Releasing Stream Of Federal Rulings

Virginians demonstrate outside Federal Court in Norfolk, Va., on Feb. 4. The judge ruled this week that Virginia's ban on gay marriage is unconstitutional.
Steve Helber AP

Originally published on Sun February 16, 2014 8:48 pm

A federal judge in Virginia struck down that state's voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage this week. It's just the latest in a string of similar rulings in conservative states, and it indicates that the strategy for winning marriage equality in federal courts is moving faster than many had expected.

In her ruling, U.S. District Judge Arenda Wright Allen said Virginia's ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional because "core civil rights are at stake." She compared the case to the landmark 1967 Supreme Court ruling recognizing interracial marriage.

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Around the Nation
9:13 am
Sat February 15, 2014

Tenn. Workers Vote To Reject Union At VW Plant

Originally published on Sat February 15, 2014 11:13 am

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. Tough night for the United Auto Workers. The union hoped employees at Volkswagen's only U.S. plant might help give them a foothold into foreign-owned auto plants across the South, but VW workers voted no, and Volkswagen had not opposed their efforts. Blake Farmer of member station WPLN in Nashville has been covering the story and joins us now. Blake, thanks for being with us.

BLAKE FARMER, BYLINE: Thanks for having me.

SIMON: Didn't the union think they had the numbers?

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Simon Says
8:34 am
Sat February 15, 2014

Shirley Temple's Films Still Charm After All These Years

Shirley Temple started performing in films when she was just 3 years old.
Hulton Archive Getty Images

Originally published on Sun February 16, 2014 8:47 pm

Shirley Temple really could be as effervescent as a jolt of ginger ale and as cheery as a maraschino cherry in the kid's cocktail that is still ordered by her name. When Shirley Temple Black, the name she used after her marriage to Charles Black, laughed — and she liked to laugh — tears came to her eyes.

She told us how once she'd been called to jury duty, and learned the case involved erotic bondage.

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