Weekend Edition

Saturdays and Sundays from 8am to 10am
  • Hosted by Scott Simon and Rachel Martin

News, analysis, essays, and features for your weekend, anchored by Scott Simon on Saturdays, NPR's Peabody Award-winning host and correspondent. Sundays are hosted by NPR's Rachel Martin and feature The New York Times crossword editor Will Shortz offering a challenging puzzle each week. Hosted locally by Liz Reid.

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Kentucky bourbon is in high demand these days. Sales and production of the whiskey have surged in recent years.

The demand has created a problem: a shortage of barrels. Bourbon is typically aged for several years in wooden casks.

But one company has found a work-around. It's come up with a chemical process that ages bourbon not in years — but in hours. The innovation is unsettling an industry that is long-soaked in history and tradition.

After Thaw, Minnesota Orchestra Returns To Cuba

May 17, 2015

The Minnesota Orchestra plays Havana this weekend. It's the first professional U.S. orchestra to perform in Cuba since the United States and the island nation began the process of normalization last December. For the musicians, this trip is about healing — both diplomatically and for themselves.

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Imagine you're on the highway. You glance into the cab of the 18-wheeler next to you — and there's no driver. That day might be getting closer.

Automaker Daimler unveiled a truck last week that drives itself, called the Freightliner Inspiration. But the truck is not yet entirely autonomous.

Bruce Jenner's national TV interview with Diane Sawyer in April ended months of speculation. The former Olympian turned reality TV star revealed that he now identifies as a transgender woman — though he still prefers to be called "he" for the time being.

Jenner was hailed as a hero for his openness on an issue that has caused real heartache for many. National surveys show an unusually high rate of attempted suicide among people who are transgender.

This weekend, the Class of 2015 graduated from Howard University, a historically black college located about a mile from NPR's headquarters. The new graduates include two of the students who have spent the last semester talking with NPR's Weekend Edition about their college experience.

Leighton Watson and Kevin Peterman are still kind of in denial.

"It's very surreal, because I think a lot of people expect you to feel like you've graduated earlier in the process," says Watson. "But it literally didn't hit me until I was walking off of the stage and out."

On-air challenge: Every answer is the name of a well-known U.S. city. For every word given, ignore the vowels. The word's consonants are the same consonants appearing in the same order as those in the city's name. For example, given the word "amiable," the answer is "Mobile" (Alabama).

Last week's challenge Think of a common two-word phrase for something you might see in a kitchen. Reverse the words — that is, put the second word in front of the first — and you'll name a food, in one word, that you might prepare in a kitchen. What is it?

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An estimated 14,000 were injured in April's earthquake in Nepal. The caseload is overwhelming hospitals in Kathmandu, says Dr. Bianca Grecu-Jacobs, a resident in emergency medicine from California who was working in Nepal when the quake struck.

"[In] the lobby areas, patients just are on the floor waiting," Grecu-Jacobs says via Skype from Katmandu. "They strung up IVs for patients who need them in whatever manner they can."

Blue-uniformed police do the heavy lifting in Dubar square in the city of Patan, one of Nepal's oldest. Moving wooden beams and stacking broken bricks, they sift through ruined monuments, some of which date back four centuries and more.

On-air challenge: Each word provided is an anagram of something you might see in a kitchen. For example, "skin" is an anagram of "sink."

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Kurt Schmoke is the former mayor of Baltimore. He's now the president of the University of Baltimore. He joins us from his home. Welcome to the program.

KURT SCHMOKE: Thank you very much. I appreciate it.

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What kind of parent are you if you let your child walk home alone? What if you won't let your kids out of your sight?

Forty years ago this month, North Vietnamese troops captured Saigon. The long war in Vietnam was coming to an end.

In the midst of the political fallout, the U.S. government announced an unusual plan to get thousands of displaced Vietnamese children out of the country. President Ford directed that money from a special foreign aid children's fund be made available to fly 2,000 South Vietnamese orphans to the United States.

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A mountain lion was holed up under a house in Los Angeles for a little while last week, making headlines across the country.

But the puma, known as P-22, was already pretty famous. He's got his own Facebook fan page with more than 2,000 likes, plus a couple of Twitter accounts.

His range is the 8 square miles of LA's Griffith Park, on the eastern edge of the Santa Monica Mountains, surrounded on all sides by development.

The class of 2015 is nearing graduation. For students at Howard University in Washington, D.C., that day is May 9.

Seniors are excited — and they are getting antsy.

NPR's Weekend Edition has been following four of those seniors all semester: Taylor Davis, Ariel Alford, Kevin Peterman, and Leighton Watson.

This week, the four joined NPR's Rachel Martin in our D.C. studios to talk about the songs that have formed the soundtrack to their college years.

On-air challenge: For each word starting with "W," think of another word, also starting with W, that can follow the first to complete a compound word or a familiar two-word phrase. Example: Walk --> Way = walkway

Last week's challenge: This challenge comes from listener Peter Stein of San Francisco. Think of a job, in eight letters, that names someone who might work with actors. Change one letter in this to the following letter of the alphabet to name another person who works with actors. What jobs are these?

Public perceptions of marijuana have come a long way. Once a symbol of the counterculture, pot has become part of the culture.

In Colorado, it's part of everyday culture.

Colorado has allowed medical marijuana since 2001, but voters amended the state constitution in 2012 to allow private marijuana consumption for adults aged 21 or older. The first-ever stores to sell state-regulated recreational pot opened their doors on Jan. 1, 2014.

The law has raised serious concerns for parents and those working with kids to keep young people away from drugs.

Remember those days of tending rows of virtual soybeans and strawberries on your Facebook page with a game called Farmville? It was a moment, and Zynga, the company that makes the game, cashed in when it went public back in 2011.

Now, Zynga is losing money and its founder is back, to mixed reviews.

When Zynga launched Farmville in 2009, it surprised everyone with its success. It quickly became the most popular game on Facebook.

But people got bored with planting seeds on a desktop. The market had moved to mobile, and Zynga didn't keep up.

Fans of Boulder County's osprey nest cam saw a bit of drama last season.

Two females and a male were living in the nest, when a third female arrived and kicked the original female out. Observers said she bonded with the male.

"People called it ... the 'home-wrecker osprey,' " says Nik Brockman, Boulder County's web specialist.

When a pilot crashed a Germanwings plane into a mountainside in the French Alps last month, one word kept coming up over and over in the media coverage: depression. What did the airline know about the pilot's mental health, and what was he required to tell them?

Of course, being depressed is a very different thing from wanting to take the lives of others. But experts we talked with said that an event like this one — a violent act carried out by someone with a mental illness — increases the stigma for everyone with mental illness.

On-air challenge: Every answer is the name of a popular TV series past or present. For each word or phrase given, remove some of its letters so that those that remain, reading from left to right, will name the show. Every answer will use at least half the letters of the given word or phrase. For example, "Brownies" is Bones.

President Obama says when it comes to Cuba, "the United States will not be imprisoned by the past."

Obama met for about an hour on Saturday with Cuban President Raul Castro. It was the first face-to-face meeting between the two countries' leaders in more than half a century.

When the sit-down finally happened — after months of behind-the-scenes negotiation — even the leaders seemed surprised.

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