Weekend Edition Saturday for Saturday, February 1, 2014

Will A Military Leader Become Egypt's New Strongman?

Egyptian Field Marshal Abdel Fattah al-Sisi rose to power swiftly after the Arab Spring ouster of former President Hosni Mubarak. Al-Sisi, who is the head of Egypt's military, appears to be next in line for the presidency. Middle East expert Samer Shehata tells NPR's Scott Simon that Egyptians find another military leader reassuring, but his election wouldn't bode well for democracy.
Ursula von der Leyen is the first woman to hold the job. She has no military experience and is best known for social policies such as expanded parental leave. But she has already said that Germany should play a more active role in foreign missions, and that could involve sending troops into conflict zones.
Renee Fleming will sing the national anthem at the Super Bowl on Sunday in New Jersey. She is the first opera star to be asked. NPR's Scott Simon remembers how Fleming has performed under pressure many times, including when she sang "Amazing Grace" at the ruins of the World Trade Center after 9/11.
Pennsylvania public health officials say at least 22 have died from using heroin laced with a more powerful drug called fentanyl.
The oil rush in and around North Dakota has brought an influx of mostly male workers flush with cash. Law enforcement agencies and activists say that's creating ample opportunity for organized crime — and that more must be done to prevent women from being forced into prostitution.

The High Cost Of Testing For College

You think college is expensive? How about the cost of SAT and AP tests? Ben Tonelli, a senior at Garfield High School in Seattle, wrote an opinion piece for The Wall Street Journal complaining about the costs. NPR's Scott Simon talks to Tonelli about the sticker shock.

Finding The Sum Of True Love On The 88th Try

Mathematician Chris McKinlay wasn't having any luck finding love, so he used an algorithm to crack the dating website OkCupid. After a mountain of data mining and more than 80 first dates, he finally met his fiancée.

Foreigners Still Vulnerable To NSA Snooping

Mikko Hypponen is a "white hat" hacker in Finland who breaks into security systems to test network safety. Hypponen tells NPR's Guy Raz of the TED Radio Hour that Americans may be protected under NSA reforms, but foreigners like himself aren't.

U.S. Figure Skaters Are Underdogs In These Games

The Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, are just days away, and some 230 athletes will be representing the United States. Representing team NPR is Sonari Glinton. He gives NPR's Scott Simon a rundown of who to watch on the ice.
Nicole Helget's new novel, Stillwater, follows the lives of twins separated at birth — and raised on opposite sides of the tracks. Helget, who is proud to be called a "Minnesota novelist," tells NPR's Scott Simon about the photograph that inspired one of the book's central characters.

The Jersey Boardwalk Sound Of Nicole Atkins

When Nicole Atkins sings, she sounds like Roy Orbison, Patsy Cline and Janis Joplin all rolled into one voice. Atkins talks with NPR's Scott Simon about her new self-published album, Slow Phaser, which was funded by fans.
Long-term unemployment is one of America's most pressing problems, with 4 million people out of work for six months or more. That number has remained stubbornly high, even as the overall unemployment rate has fallen. President Obama met with business leaders at the White House on Friday and urged them not to overlook qualified job applicants just because they've been out of work for a while.
A year ago, House Speaker John Boehner used a Republican retreat to make peace with the Tea Party caucus. This week's retreat saw Boehner bring up for discussion two divisive issues — the debt ceiling and immigration — with much more self-assurance. Political correspondent David Welna joins NPR's Scott Simon to explain the transformation.

A Winter Straight Out Of Dante's 'Inferno'

Writer Sally Franson compares Minneapolis winters to the many stages of hell in Dante's Inferno. She tells NPR's Scott Simon that reading the epic poem is her way of getting through an especially harsh winter.
Former Port Authority Director David Wildstein says there's evidence to show that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie knew about lane closures on the George Washington Bridge while they were in place. Christie has said he didn't know about the politically motivated closures until later, as Monmouth University Polling Institute's Patrick Murray tells NPR's Scott Simon.

State Department: Keystone XL Would Not Worsen Warming

The Keystone XL oil pipeline proposal cleared a significant hurdle Friday. The State Department concluded the project would not significantly worsen the problem of climate change. The decision has angered environmentalists, who don't want the project to go through.

British Royal Household Needs To Beef Up Reserves

The British royal family is in financial trouble, according to a report by members of the British Parliament. Castles are crumbling and the family is down to its last million in reserves. NPR's Scott Simon speaks with London correspondent Ari Shapiro about ways in which the royals could bring in more money.

How To Predict The Super Bowl Champions

This weekend is all about Sunday's Super Bowl matchup between the Denver Broncos and the Seattle Seahawks. NPR's Tom Goldman joins Scott Simon to talk about the history of the game, and the one key factoid that predicts Sunday's winner that no one has mentioned yet.

What's Best To Drink With Pizza And Football?

Americans will consume a lot of pizza during the Super Bowl. Before you reach for that beer to go with it, NPR's Scott Simon speaks with food writer Katie Parla about the perfect beverage pairing.

A Major Oscar Dust-Up Over A Song From A Minor Movie

The song "Alone Yet Not Alone" had been nominated for Best Original Song at this year's Oscars. Scott Feinberg of The Hollywood Reporter tells NPR's Scott Simon why the Academy rescinded the nomination.

Comedian's Career Is Central To 'Quality Balls'

Legendary comedian David Steinberg is the subject of a new Showtime documentary called Quality Balls. NPR's Scott Simon speaks with Steinberg, whose controversial routine was responsible for the cancellation of the Smothers Brothers' TV show in the 1960s.

A Holocaust Tale Unfolds On Two Levels

The Houston Grand Opera is presenting the American premiere of The Passenger, an opera written nearly 50 years ago about an Auschwitz survivor who meets a former Nazi officer on a cruise ship. The opera premiered to acclaim in Europe in 2010 — but its Polish-born composer never heard it performed.
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