Weekend Edition Saturday for Saturday, December 14, 2013

A key human rights crusader has been kidnapped by Islamist extremists outside Damascus, and if life for Syria's displaced and refugees wasn't bad enough already, freezing temperatures have compounded the misery. NPR's Deborah Amos talks with Weekend Edition Sunday host Scott Simon about the latest developments in Syria.

Egypt's Islamic Salafi Party Walks Political Tightrope

The Salafi Al-Nour party won the second-most seats in the last parliamentary election and is now the only major Islamist political force allowed to operate in Egypt. The group supported Mohammed Morsi's overthrow and lent Islamist credibility to the military's decision. But it quickly found itself at odds with the interim rulers, and now faces a court case that could lead to its dissolution.
Recently, the principal of Trumbull High School in Connecticut canceled a student production of Rent. The rock musical, about a group of young people living in New York, features characters dealing with drugs, sexuality and AIDS.
John Podesta, the newly named counselor to the president, is a second-term crisis management specialist who many Democrats hope will help the recently unsteady Obama White House get its act together.
Ka'nard Allen, 11, has been caught in New Orleans crossfire — twice. He survived, but his extraordinary story made him a symbol of the toll violence takes on children in American cities. What happens after the bullets stop flying? How does a child get up after being gunned down?

Bell Ringer Sets Endurance Record For Charity

The Salvation Army may have the most-identifiable corps of bell ringers in the country, and a number of them have been ringing their bells for days on end. For charity, of course, but also to try to set a world record. Host Scott Simon talks with Salvation Army Maj. Butch Soriano, who set a new record this week, ringing 105 hours straight.

'President' Once Meant Little More Than 'Foreman'

Words are the currency of politics. But over time, the value of that currency can fluctuate. Writer Mark Forsyth tells the story of the origin of the word "president," and how its meaning has changed over time.

Violence, Injuries Headline In NFL, NBA And MLB

Safety is the big word in sports in 2013. Major League Baseball wants to ban collisions at home plate, the NFL playoffs are as much about who's on the disabled list as anything else, and in hockey, the NHL has a decision to make about fighting. Host Scott Simon talks with Howard Bryant of ESPN about how injuries shape sports.

Mumfie Searches For A 'White Christmas'

Britt Allcroft, creator of the beloved children's television series Thomas & Friends to Shining Time Station, has a new DVD for the holidays featuring Mumfie, the animated elephant, and friends. Allcroft talks with host Scott Simon about Mumfie's White Christmas, and what's wonderful about being an oddball.

A Grieving Newtown Mother's Motto: 'Love Wins'

As a therapist, Nelba Márquez-Greene has spent a career counseling mentally ill and troubled young people. But she'll never understand what drove a young man to take the life of her 6-year-old daughter and 25 others. A year later, she is trying to prevent violence and promote healing.

Senate Takes a Break After 48-Hour Debate

In the first Senate session since Democrats detonated the "nuclear option" and eliminated the minority's ability to filibuster most nominations, Republicans fought back by dragging debate out as long as possible, keeping the Senate in session for over 48 straight hours.

HIV Disclosure Requirement Called Discriminatory

It's against the law in dozens of states not to tell your partner you have HIV. But critics say HIV isn't a death sentence anymore, making those laws out of date and discriminatory. Host Scott Simon talks with Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware about a bill he introduced this week that aims to change that.
The ruling Parti Quebecois has proposed what it calls a Charter of Values, which would prohibit people who work in public institutions from wearing religious symbols. Dr. Lawrence Rosenberg, director of the Jewish General Hospital in Montreal, Quebec, speaks with host Scott Simon about the bill.

Newtown Rabbi Offers A Cure For Hatred

In 2012, immediately following the shooting in Newtown, Conn., host Scott Simon spoke with local Rabbi Shaul Praver. He said he wouldn't try to offer theological explanations of the horrific events, just emotional support for his congregation. A year later, Praver says the cure for hatred and violence is old-fashioned loving kindness.

Candles, Not Media Cameras, For Newtown On Saturday

It's been a year since the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. Host Scott Simon recognizes events taking place across the nation in memory of the lives lost that day.

The Nobel Prize And The Rule Of Three

The Nobel Prize-winning theory for the Higgs boson particle was developed by six scientists. But because of the Nobel Committee's rules, only Peter Higgs and Francois Englert received the Prize. Host Scott Simon speaks with one of the other contributing scientists, professor Carl Hagen, about not winning the Nobel.
The ancient classics of Western literature — Homer, Sophocles, Euripides — were written to be sung. But what does Greek music from 2,500 years ago actually sound like? NPR's Scott Simon speaks with Oxford musician and scholar Armand D'Angour, who is researching the topic.

Hot Sauce Maker In A Jam

For the second time in a year, the factory that makes and bottles spicy Sriracha sauce is in trouble. First, the company's Southern California plants faced a shutdown after neighbors complained about a strong odor. Now, the California Department of Public Health has placed a 30-day hold on all bottles of Sriracha produced over health concerns. Fans worry it may cause a Srirachapocolypse.

In The Background: Art You May Never Notice

Why that unassuming museum art — which you'll find behind taxidermic bison and birds — deserves a closer look.

Sun May Set On The Collected Works Of A Western Icon

The prodigious output of the great Western artist Harry Jackson is kept and exhibited by his son Matt in Cody, Wyo. But funds are running low, and unless donations come soon, the collection of Jackson's work will have to be separated and sold piecemeal.

What Makes Tennessee's Music So Very Special?

Oxford American magazine has a few answers, not to mention one killer Tennessee mixtape. NPR's Scott Simon speaks with editor Roger Hodge and music editor Rick Clark about assembling the magazine's new issue on the music of Tennessee and its companion two-CD sampler.
Find an archived Episode: