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Oliver Sacks, the famed neurologist and best-selling author of books such as The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, died of cancer today in New York City at the age of 82, a longtime friend and colleague has confirmed.

The London-born academic's 1973 memoir Awakenings, about his efforts to use the drug L-Dopa to bring patients who survived the 1917-1928 encephalitis epidemic out of their persistent catatonic state, was turned into a 1990 Hollywood film starring Robin Williams and Robert De Niro. He was the author of a dozen other books.

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Last November, voters in California overwhelmingly approved Proposition 47, which lets people with some nonviolent felonies petition a court to reduce their crimes to misdemeanors. And that has opened up new opportunities for many former offenders.

Take 21-year-old Sofala Mayfield, for instance. Mayfield's life began to fall apart in his teens, after his grandmother suffered a stroke and his mother fell back into drug addiction.

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BRENT MUSBURGER: If you see a little haze on your screen, folks, don't adjust your TV sets. The fires that have roared across the Western and the Northwestern part of the United States have poured smoke into western Montana.

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On a rare sunny morning in the northern Pacific Ocean, biologist Douglas Causey takes to the sea to conduct his research — binoculars in one hand, and a shotgun in the other.

To a visitor, it seems like a curious bit of territory for the Turkish military and the Kurds to be fighting over: steep rocky hills covered in brown windblown grass divided by patches of green forestland.

But if you get off the main road, and follow a gravel track into the hills, a makeshift camp emerges. This is where Kurdish activists have put themselves in the line of fire between the Turkish army and the youth faction of the Kurdistan Workers Party, or the PKK.

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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.

About an hour's drive south of Kabul, there's a vast Buddhist archaeological site dating back at least 1,500 years. It happens to be sitting on top of one of the biggest untapped copper deposits in the world, potentially worth billions of dollars.

Presenting: The Holy Romance Trinity Of J

Aug 30, 2015

I migrated to digital books years ago, but I hold on to eight yellow, tattered paperbacks with spines so bent, my Lego snowboarder could use them as a half-pipe. They're what I call the Holy Romance Trinity of J: Jude Deveraux, Julie Garwood, and Judith McNaught. They weren't the first romance authors I read, but I love their books so much, I refuse to part with them. Even though each cover has long since parted from the pages, these books will never, ever leave my possession.

Fishing lore is full of tales about "the one that got away," and fishermen have been known to exaggerate the size of their catch. The bragging problem is apparently so bad, Texas even has a law on the books that makes lying about the size or provenance of a fish caught in a tournament an offense that could come with a felony charge.

It's been a big year for German filmmaker Wim Wenders: He received a lifetime achievement award at this year's Berlin International Film Festival, the Museum of Modern Art had a retrospective of his work and his latest Oscar-nominated documentary, The Salt of the Earth, came out in March.

This is a story of American ingenuity and entrepreneurship. It is the story of the meat straw. Yes, you read that right.

"It is a straw made out of pork," explains Ben Hirko of Coralville, Iowa, the man behind Benny's Original Meat Straws.

It's a half-inch in diameter, the same length as a standard plastic straw. And it has a hole running down the middle of it, through which you're meant to slurp up Bloody Marys.

Actor Kyle Jean-Baptiste, who made history earlier this summer as the first black actor — and youngest person — to play the lead character in Les Miserables on Broadway, died Saturday. He was 21.

A spokesman for the production said that Jean-Baptiste died after an accident: He fell from a fire escape in Brooklyn early Saturday morning.

Are most people more likely to pull the trigger of a gun if the person they're shooting at is black?

A new meta-analysis set out to answer that question. Yara Mekawi of the University of Illinois and her co-author, Konrad Bresin, drew together findings from 42 different studies on trigger bias to examine whether race affects how likely a target is to be shot.

On the morning of Aug. 28, 2005, the National Weather Service issued an urgent weather alert.

"Devastating damage expected," the message read. "Most of the area will be uninhabitable for weeks ... Perhaps longer."

A day later, on the morning of Aug. 29 — 10 years ago Saturday — Hurricane Katrina slammed into the Gulf Coast. By that afternoon, the storm had slowly moved on. It appeared that the worst was over.

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There's a song out there right now that's catching a lot of people off guard. "S.O.B" sounds kind of familiar, maybe like a revived oldie, but it's not: It's fresh off the new self-titled album from the Denver ensemble Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats.

Thousands took to the streets in Martyrs' Square in the Lebanese capital of Beirut on Saturday for the second week in a row to demand government accountability and solutions for a mounting garbage crisis.

Also for the second week in a row, the diehard protesters were dispersed by force. As the sun set and the families went home, a faction of protesters tried to break through barricades protecting the government palace. Police chased them down with batons, clearing the entire downtown and arresting stragglers.

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Taking chances can sometimes lead to great art. But award-winning poet Carl Phillips says there's a risk to, well, taking risks.

"I think there has to be a place for risk and for restlessness in any kind of fully lived life, and especially I think for an artist," he tells NPR's Arun Rath. "I think it's the only way that imagination gets stimulated and continues — but I think it can easily go unchecked."

His latest work, Reconnaissance, looks for the balance between restlessness and stability — and between the raw and the refined, the omnicient and the intimate.

Turkish warplanes have conducted their first airstrikes against the self-declared Islamic State in Syria as part of a U.S.-led coalition against the extremist group.

The joint airstrikes were carried out late Friday, according to a statement from the Foreign Ministry.

Donald Trump's been having a lot of fun at the expense of others lately.

Tens of thousands of people have turned out in the streets of Malaysia's capital to demand that Prime Minister Najib Razak step down amid what opponents are calling a massive corruption scandal.

The country's former leader, Mahathir Mohamad made a surprise appearance at the anti-government rally in Kuala Lumpur, Reuters reports.

Prayers and church bells in New Orleans marked the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, one of the deadliest natural disasters in U.S. history.

Mayor Mitch Landrieu, speaking to assembled dignitaries at a memorial to the unclaimed and unidentified among the estimated 1,800 who died in the storm, said the city had to rely on itself to get through the tragedy.

"We saved each other," Landrieu said. "New Orleans will be unbowed and unbroken."

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:

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