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One of America's most distinguished men of letters says he believes that speech, not evolution, has made human beings into the creative, imaginative, deliberate, destructive, and complicated beings who invented the slingshot and the moon shot, and wrote the words of the Bible, Don Quixote, Good Night Moon, the backs of cereal boxes, and Fifty and Shades of Grey.

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:

Remember the toucan in Costa Rica who had its upper beak hacked off by a perpetrator who was never found?

Well, here's an update to a story we first told you about last year. And, spoiler alert — it has a happy ending.

Local residents brought the bird to a nearby animal rescue center. And thanks to its dedicated workers, amazing doctors and engineers, the toucan now has a prosthetic beak.

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Panelist Round

1 hour ago
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Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Italy has started to bury its dead following a devastating earthquake on Wednesday that killed at least 290 people and left whole towns in ruins. The country has declared Saturday a national day of mourning for the quake's victims.

Reporting from a state funeral in the town of Ascoli Piceno, NPR's Eleanor Beardsley described a community overcome with grief. She said the service was held in a gymnasium, where 35 caskets were laid out. "People cried and held each other," Eleanor said.

Nigeria is the English-speaking world's Scrabble superpower. Africa's most populous nation is home not only to the global Scrabble champion, but team Nigeria ranks as the world's top Scrabble playing nation — ahead of the U.S. in second place.

Bangladeshi police say they have killed the suspected "mastermind" of an armed attack on a café in the capital last month that left at least 22 people dead.

They say two other suspected militants were killed in the standoff. As top counterterrorism official Monirul Islam told The Associated Press, "police sharpshooters raided a two-story house in Narayanganj district near the capital, Dhaka, after receiving a tip that Tamim Chowdhury, a Bangladeshi-born Canadian, and others were hiding there."

William James Stokes is the son of a church man, and on his first album he comes right out with it. The Preacher's Kid is the singer and rapper's debut as Sir the Baptist, a name he felt suited his origins in the Bronzeville district of South Side Chicago. "I grew up in a Chicago area where they called it 'Chi-raq' — and I felt like if I was gonna be the voice crying out in the wilderness, I would want to be John the Baptist," he says.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit NPR.

What's in a name?

The Chicago White Sox, mired in in the middle of the American League Central division, announced this week they've signed a 13 year deal to rename the park where they play Guaranteed Rate Field.

Guaranteed Rate is a home loan company, headquartered in Chicago.

But as Rick Morrisey wrote in the Chicago Sun-Times, "Guaranteed Rate Field. You're kidding, right? Was Year End Clearance Sale Stadium already taken?"

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit NPR.

The Latest In Sports

4 hours ago
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Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit NPR.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit NPR.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit NPR.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit NPR.

Revisiting The Syrian Playbook After Obama

4 hours ago
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The Week In Politics

4 hours ago
Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

In the 1920s and '30s, Langston Hughes was at the heart of the Harlem Renaissance. After the movement ended, he didn't go far: The writer moved into a brownstone on Harlem's 127th Street, where he lived for the last 20 years of his life.

The building is a national landmark, but it's been mostly empty for decades. In that time, Harlem has begun to gentrify. Now, in an effort to keep Hughes' former home from becoming one more high-end co-op, a neighborhood nonprofit is raising money to lease the building as an arts center.

Art can enlighten, soothe, challenge and provoke. Sometimes it can transform a community.

Case in point: a 5.5-square-mile island called Naoshima in Japan's Seto Inland Sea.

Once upon a time, the biggest employer on Naoshima was a Mitsubishi metals processing plant. Actually, it's still the biggest employer, just not nearly as big as it once was.

#NPRreads is a weekly feature on Twitter and in The Two-Way. The premise is simple: Correspondents, editors and producers from our newsroom share the pieces that have kept them reading, using the #NPRreads hashtag. Each weekend, we highlight some of the best stories.

I write this as if surfacing from deep water, or looking up to find a bright world dimmed around me. I have just put down The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe and it is dark outside, a rush of wind constant as surf, and I find myself wondering if the stars will be uncountable millions or if there will be only ninety-seven of them studding a thickly textured sky.

In the mid-19th century, Shakers practiced their faith in farming communities from Maine to Kentucky. Numbering 6,000 at their peak, they gave up worldly possessions, marriage and sex, instead devoting themselves to prayer and work. They also wrote songs, thousands of them — including "Simple Gifts," which endures in popular culture despite dating back to the 1840s.

It has 13 decks, eight restaurants, a casino and a spa. Staterooms start at about $20,000 and run as high as $120,000.

And it's about to journey through the Northwest Passage.

The Crystal Serenity is the largest cruise ship to navigate from Alaska to New York City, by way of the Arctic Ocean. And as climate change opens up the top of the world, it may be just the first taste of what's to come.

A judge has ruled that three transgender people — two students and one employee — at the University of North Carolina must be allowed to use the bathrooms corresponding to their gender identities.

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