Weekend Edition Saturday | KUNC

Weekend Edition Saturday

  • Hosted by Scott Simon
  • Local Host Karlie Huckels

A weekend morning news magazine covering hard news, a wide variety of news makers, and cultural stories. On Saturdays, Simon's award-winning commentaries sum up an idea or event related to the week's news. There are clever, informative exchanges, and fresh reports from a cross-section of NPR correspondents on topics from religion to health to food to politics. Simon's interviews with key artists, authors, performers and personalities are always memorable.

For a couple of generations of Americans, and not just Americans, John F. Kennedy has been Mr. Right: the image we look for in a leader, someone fresh, witty and graceful. Presidents as disparate as Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama have had flashes of JFK.

It is stirring to see the film of his inaugural, 50 years ago this week. A young president, filled with "vig-ah," as he called it, with no topcoat in the cold, his eloquence bursting into clouds as he declared, "Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country."

When is it all right for leaders to lie to other leaders, other nations or their own? Political scientist John Mearsheimer poses that provocative question in his new book, Why Leaders Lie: The Truth About Lying in International Politics.

"The fact is that strategic lying is a useful tool of statecraft," Mearsheimer tells Weekend Edition host Scott Simon.

Even so, Mearsheimer, who teaches political science at the University of Chicago, says there aren't actually many cases of what he calls "strategic deception" to be found.

Math concepts like prime numbers and factoring can be a little scary for some children (not to mention some adults.) But a new book uses an unlikely ally to explain these ideas in an effective and whimsical way: monsters.

Richard Evan Schwartz, a math professor at Brown University, has written and illustrated a children's book called You Can Count On Monsters. Mathematician Keith Devlin talks with NPR's Scott Simon about how the book makes finding prime numbers fun.

Last year was momentous for the Metropolitan Opera's radio broadcasts. On Dec. 18, the broadcasts launched their 80th season, making them part of the longest-running classical-music program in the U.S. And 2010 also marked the centennial of the first time an opera was broadcast from the Met's stage.

The marriage of opera and broadcasting began on Jan. 13, 1910, at the Metropolitan Opera. It was an experimental broadcast, a decade before the appearance of the first radio stations in the U.S. Mark Schubin is the Met's unofficial media historian.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.


Howard Berkes has the latest in NPR's ongoing investigation of Massey Energy's Upper Big Branch mine. Howard, thanks so much for being with us.

HOWARD BERKES: Good to be with you.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.


Our friend and fellow broadcaster Richard Glover joins us from the studios of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation in Sydney. Richard, thanks so much for being with us.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.


When Dick Wolf's original Law and Order didn't return for a 21st season, fans of the show were bereft. There's still plenty in the way of spin-offs -- Law and Order: L.A., anyone? -- and knock-offs, of course. But the heart of Law and Order lies in the screech of subways, sausage and falafel carts, all the din and clatter of street life.

Which is why Wolf took his show across the pond to London last year.

Not many people know about Dr. Seuss' only film, The 5000 Fingers of Dr. T. The 1953 movie musical was a flop, but thanks to special screenings and cable-TV airings, it's earned a small but devoted following.

Among them: singer Michael Feinstein, who's such a fan of the movie that he spent the past 30 years gathering every scrap of music ever recorded for it -- enough material to fill three CDs. And now, 57 years after its premiere, the definitive soundtrack of this kooky cult classic has finally been released.

When James Blunt was a British army captain serving in Kosovo, he saw humanity at its worst. But when he became a successful musician, his breakthrough song celebrated humanity at its best. Since releasing "You're Beautiful" in 2005, Blunt has sold more than 18 million records, been nominated for five Grammys and won many music awards. But he still divides music critics.