Weekend Edition Sunday for Sunday, January 19, 2014

The president announced changes to the NSA surveillance program Friday, months after revelations made by Edward Snowden. NPR's Rachel Martin speaks with Joel Brenner, former inspector general of the NSA, about whether those steps will significantly change the nature of how we collect and analyze intelligence.

Germans Cautious About Obama's NSA Proposals

President Obama proposed changes to address how the National Security Agency collects and stores information, especially with regards to surveillance of foreign governments. But Germans are especially skeptical that the changes will actually mean an end to American eavesdropping.
Political correspondent Mara Liasson talks with NPR's Rachel Martin about the announcement of the potential changes to the NSA and the likely political fallout. She also gives a sneak peak of how the mid-term elections are shaping up.

Syria's Main Opposition Agrees To Peace Talks

The Syrian National Coalition, the Western-backed opposition group, agreed Friday to attend this week's peace talks in Switzerland. NPR's Rachel Martin talks with reporter Deborah Amos about what led to the decision, and whether the talks might help resolve a raging three-year conflict.

Iran Nuclear Deal Takes Effect Monday

The deal is only an interim one, but it is the first step in yet another effort to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon. NPR's Rachel Martin talks to Danielle Pletka of the American Enterprise Institute, who does not believe that this deal is a good one. Pletka is the co-author of Containing and Deterring a Nuclear Iran.

South Texas: The New Hot Spot For Illegal Crossing

For the third consecutive year, one section of the U.S.-Mexico border had a higher rate of illegal crossing than any other — the Rio Grande Valley. It's the closest crossing for Central Americans fleeing violence at home, but for them, the U.S. crossing is just the last, deadly portion of the trip.

Anti-Texting Laws Don't Appear To Deter

Thousands of people were killed last year and hundreds of thousands were injured in accidents involving distracted driving. It's now illegal to text and drive in 41 states. But drivers don't seem to be paying attention. (This story originally aired on All Things Considered on Dec. 6, 2013.)

Three B's Bring You To One

Name a word that, when combined with three words beginning with the letter B, completes a compound word or a familiar two-word phrase. For example, given "brew," "body" and "base," you would say "home" (home-brew, homebody, home base).

Hard-Working Hollywood Extra Hopes For Bigger Roles

Famous for a GoDaddy commercial that aired during Superbowl XLVII, Jesse Heiman says he's one of the hardest working extras in Hollywood. He's been credited in more than 70 movies since 2001. Heiman talks with NPR's Rachel Martin about trying to work his way up the call-sheet into larger, speaking roles.

Chilean Soap Star Shines In 'Gloria'

Paulina Garcia plays a divorced older woman looking for love in the new critically acclaimed film. NPR's Rachel Martin speaks to Garcia from her home in Santiago.

Opium Poppy Growth Booming In Afghanistan

The U.S. has sent billions of dollars to Afghanistan for drug eradication, but to little effect. NPR's Rachel Martin speaks with Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction John Sopko, who testified on the hill Wednesday about the future of counternarcotics efforts in Afghanistan.

Syrian Doctor Cares For Refugees In Turkey

Dr. Mahmud Angrini fled Syria with almost nothing but the shirt on his back. He now lives in Southern Turkey and works with NGOs to help others who are trying to flee the fighting. He spoke with NPR's Rachel Martin.

Piracy Dips To A New Low On The High Seas

According to the International Maritime Bureau, piracy on the high seas is at its lowest level for six years. NPR's Rachel Martin looks into the reasons why.
New York's program would be the most restrictive in the country and would be limited to 20 hospitals. Critics wonder how Gov. Andrew Cuomo plans to get the marijuana and why hospitals — which must abide by federal law — would want to participate.

Octogenarian Sailor Sets Out On Antarctic Expedition

Octogenarian Eric Forsyth has been sailing the world for more than 50 years, at times on his own. Forsyth speaks with NPR's Rachel Martin about what it's like to be alone at sea, why he loves to sail and about his current trip to Antarctica.

'Death Class' Taught Students A Lot About Life

After covering the shootings at Virginia Tech, journalist Erika Hayasaki became interested in how people respond to death. Her new book is about a nurse and professor named Norma Bowe who taught an entire class to help students confront death head-on.
Diamonds are supposed to be a girl's best friend. Now, they might also be her mother, father or grandmother. Turning your loved one's ashes into a diamond is one way to keep them close forever.

The NFC West, Football's Former Worst Division

The NFL conference championships are looming, and in the NFC, two teams from the NFC West are facing off — even though it used to be the worst division in the league. NPR's Rachel Martin talks to reporter Mike Pesca about this week's sports news.
Stephen Dunn's 17th collection of poetry, Lines of Defense, includes several works meditating on the death of his brother. Dunn, a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet, often features everyday details in his work — because, as he tells NPR's Rachel Martin, "we live with the little things much more than the large things."
"I don't have to think," Laura Jane Grace says of performing as a woman: "I can just be and exist." Joined by guitarist James Bowman, the leader of the revered Florida punk band Against Me! speaks with NPR's Rachel Martin about how her recent transition is playing out in the music.
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