Fresh Air Weekendhighlights some of the best interviews and reviews from past weeks, and new program elements specially paced for weekends. Our weekend show emphasizes interview with writers, filmmakers, actors and musicians, and often includes excerpts from live in-studio concerts. This week:
In Moscow's Red Square, people still line up to visit Lenin's tomb. Though the Cold War is over, Russia and the U.S. keep watchful eyes on each other. Tuesday, Russian officials claimed to have uncovered a CIA spy.
NPR's Peter Overby reports on the Congressional testimony of IRS officials in response to the scandal over special scrutiny of tea party groups. Underneath all the politics, there's a policy question that hasn't been addressed.
In Elliott Holt's beautifully subtle debut novel You Are One of Them, the protagonist, an American in her 20s, moves to Moscow shortly after the Cold War. After a few months, she returns to the U.S. a changed woman.
Holt, who is 39, also lived in Moscow where she worked as a copywriter at an advertising agency, as well as in London and New York. Currently, she resides in Washington, D.C., and writes full time.
There isn't enough time in this world to grow your own tree. That tree is a plum baby still, never mind it's tall as the house those men are taking from us. It grew up with me. I say this to Mama Lee as she rests her hand on my shoulder like another shoulder. She nods and nods some more. She's been nodding all day like she's got two weights, one in her chin and the other in back of her skull that can't lie at rest.
We're standing in the yard facing the house in the dewy grass. The house is as old as Mama Lee's mama who died before I was born.
Ira Leifer, next to an RV he has outfitted with methane sensors and other equipment to sniff the air.
Credit Courtesy of Ira Leifer and Paige Farrell, et. al. / Published in Atmospheric Environment
This map shows methane measurements Ira Leifer took as he drove in his RV around the Los Angeles basin. Notice the pronounced spike in levels of methane around the La Brea Tar Pits in the center of the image. Geological faults here allow "natural" methane to escape. The redder the color, the more methane was detected.
Credit Richard Harris / NPR
Ira Leifer, at his garage-turned-lab in Santa Barbara, has been studying the levels of methane in the atmosphere.
Credit Richard Harris / NPR
Leifer stands atop his roving chemistry lab. He and his team took 6,600 methane readings on the cross-country drive from Florida to California.
If you're driving down the road someday and you come across a camper with a 50-foot periscope sticking up into the sky, you just might have crossed paths with Ira Leifer. His quirky vehicle is on a serious mission. It's sniffing the air for methane, a gas that contributes to global warming.
Leifer is an atmospheric scientist at the University of California, Santa Barbara. But you'll more often find him off campus, in a garage, next to a string of auto body shops near the airport.
Robert Langdon is back. The Harvard art professor in custom tweeds — and an ever-present Mickey Mouse watch — wakes up in a hospital after getting grazed in the head by a bullet, wondering how he ended up in Florence. He's got a sinister artifact sewn into his coat and just a few hours to keep the world from a grim biological catastrophe.
Host Scott Simon talks to NPR's David Folkenflik about the Justice Department's seizure of phone records of Associated Press reporters and editors, and Bloomberg's secret monitoring of its sources' and customers' activities.
When actress Geena Davis was watching children's shows with her daughter a few years ago, she became so troubled by the lack of female representation, she started a think tank on gender in the media. The Geena Davis Institute recently partnered with University of California, Los Angeles, professors to conduct a study analyzing gender roles and jobs on screen.
The good news? Prime-time television's pretty decent at depicting women with careers.
Colin Broderick's first book, Orangutan, told the story of the 20 years — at least, as he could remember it — of being drunk, drug addicted and often desperate struggling to make his way as an Irish immigrant to New York.
University of New Hampshire professor Yitang Zhang announced this week that he has come close to solving a centuries-old problem: proving the twin prime conjecture. Host Scott Simon gets an explanation from Weekend Edition Math Guy Keith Devlin of Stanford University.
NPR's Scott Simon talks to Connie Schultz, former columnist and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist for the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Starting this summer, the paper's owners will be reducing home delivery to three days a week and making huge cuts in the newsroom staff.
NPR's Ari Shapiro joins host Scott Simon to talk about the Obama administration's week. The president was buffeted by revelations that the IRS had targeted Tea Party groups seeking tax-exempt status and that the Justice Department had subpoenaed reporter phone records. On top of that, Republicans continue to allege that the White House engaged in a cover-up of talking points about the attack in Benghazi, Libya.
This week, the National Transportation Safety Board recommended lowering the legal limit of blood alcohol content for drivers to .05 or even lower. Currently, it's illegal to drive in all states with a BAC of .08 or higher. Host Scott Simon speaks with Dr. Anthony Liguori of Wake Forest School of Medicine about alcohol's impact on driving ability.
Six years ago, the FBI took on a challenge: To review what it called cold-case killings from the civil rights era. The investigation into 112 cases from the 1950s and 1960s is winding down, and civil rights activists are weighing the FBI's efforts.
The review comes with word this week of the death of a man who'd been named, by a newspaper investigation, as a possible suspect in one notorious case.
An Afghan worker helps excavate part of the mountaintop copper works above the ancient city at Mes Aynak in February. Afghanistan is believed to be sitting on massive mineral and metal deposits. But many obstacles have prevented large-scale mining from getting underway.
Credit Musadeq Sadeq / AP
A journalist walks by an exhibit of minerals on the way to a news conference by the Afghan minister of mines, in Kabul in 2010.
For years, reports have suggested that Afghanistan is sitting on massive deposits of copper, gold, iron and rare earth minerals valued up to $3 trillion. This provides hope for a future economy that would not have to rely so heavily on foreign donations.
But with an uncertain political, regulatory and security environment, international investors are hesitant. And it could be many years before Afghanistan begins extracting its mineral wealth.
It's been a long slog already for the bipartisan immigration overhaul proposed by the Senate's Gang of Eight.
The legislation has been the target of more than 300 amendments during days of debate and votes by the Senate Judiciary Committee. But while the bill has largely held its own so far, its prospects for getting through Congress remain uncertain.
In Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy's view, the immigration overhaul is "moving very well."
"It's moving a lot faster than people said it would," says Leahy, a Vermont Democrat.
In the seven years since her last album, Audra McDonald has kept busy. She spent several years in Hollywood, filming the television series Private Practice. She's gotten divorced and remarried, absorbed the shock of losing her father in a plane crash and watched her daughter, Zoe, grow up from a kindergartener to a middle-schooler.
France is officially the 14th country to legalize gay marriage. Saturday, President Francois Hollande signed a bill that Parliament had passed in April, which gives same-sex couples the right to marry and adopt.
When you think about heavy metal — the costumes, the makeup, the outfits, the huge stage shows filled with effects and pyrotechnics — pretty much all of that was invented, or at least perfected, by Alice Cooper. If it weren't for him, bands like Slayer and Megadeth would be playing love songs in identical suits and bowl haircuts.