Weekend Edition Sunday

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Conceived as a cross between a Sunday newspaper and CBS' Sunday Morning with Charles Kuralt, Weekend Edition Sunday features interviews with newsmakers, artists, scientists, politicians, musicians, writers, theologians and historians. The program has covered news events from Nelson Mandela's 1990 release from a South African prison to the capture of Saddam Hussein.

On Dec. 21, 1864, Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman captured the city of Savannah, ending his March to the Sea.

In the days leading up to Savannah's surrender to the Union, Sherman's troops burned the nearby Mulberry Grove Plantation. They also freed hundreds of slaves, including a baby boy who would grow up on the land as a free man.

One hundred and fifty years later, the descendants of some of the people living on that plantation still share a special connection to that man.

With President Obama beginning the process of normalizing relations with Cuba this week, many may envision soon soaking up the sun on a warm Cuban beach, sipping a refreshing rum drink.

In reality, that's not likely to happen for quite a while. But just the increased opportunity for travel between the two countries has those with longtime ties to Cuba already thinking about the possibilities it will bring.

StoryCorps' OutLoud initiative records stories from the LGBTQ community.

Doug Neville and Ryan Johnson met in 1986 — shortly before Neville was diagnosed as HIV-positive.

From grade school through college, Neville never really had a lot of friends. "I was frequently bullied," he tells Johnson during a StoryCorps interview in Chicago.

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A bittersweet moment for moviegoers and Gandalf fans.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "THE HOBBIT: THE BATTLE OF THE FIVE ARMIES")

ELIJAH WOOD: (As Frodo) It's done.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: Yes, Mr. Frodo.

On-air challenge: These are some business-related puzzles made for the New York Times' DealBook conference in New York last Thursday. Every answer is the name of a Fortune 200 company — that is, one of the top 200 corporations according to the 2014 list in Fortune magazine.

Last week's challenge: This week's challenge comes from listener Harry Hilson of Avon-by-the-Sea, N.J. Take the phrase "a few Texans come in." Rearrange these letters to name a geographic place. What is it?

Senate Passes $1.1 Trillion Spending Bill

Dec 14, 2014
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Mead Moves Out Of The Middle Ages

Dec 14, 2014
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If you've been yearning for a cup of mead ever since you read Beowulf in high school - and who hasn't, really? - this could be your moment. The honey wine is once again the bee's knees. WEEKEND EDITION food commentator, Bonny Wolf, explains.

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Take a moment to imagine platters of andouille sausage, barbecue ribs and bacon. Now think of all of those dishes without meat.

It might seem like a contradiction, but brother and sister Kale and Aubry Walch — yes, Kale — are opening the first vegan butcher shop next spring in Minneapolis, to be called the Herbivorous Butcher. They plan to bring their customers all of those delicious meat flavors, minus the meat.

StoryCorps' OutLoud initiative records stories from the LGBTQ community.

Kiyan Williams, 23, grew up in a rough neighborhood in Newark, N.J. During childhood, Williams felt isolated and different from other kids — something Williams' family began to notice around age 4.

"Me and my mother are at a friend's house, and Mary J. Blige is playing," Williams tells his friend Darnell Moore during a StoryCorps interview in New York City. "Mary was my girl at that moment — she knew all my life struggles."

Just Say No, N-O

Dec 7, 2014

On-air challenge: Think of the old saying: "That means no, N-O!" Every answer today is a familiar two-word phrase or name with the initial letters N and O. Example: Any place that reports on current events: NEWS OUTLET.

Last week's challenge: Bertrand Tavernier is a French director of such movies as Life and Nothing But and It All Starts Today. What amazing wordplay property does the name Bertrand Tavernier have? This sounds like an open-ended question, but when you have the right answer, you'll have no doubt about it.

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This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Rachel Martin. And this is For The Record.

(SOUNDBITE OF PROTESTS)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: No justice.

UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTERS: (Chanting) No peace.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: No racist.

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To gauge international interest in Uruguay's legal cannabis market, spend just a few minutes at a small marijuana shop called Urugrow in Uruguay's capital, Montevideo.

In a period of about 10 minutes, owner Juan Manuel Varela gets a call from Brazil. A man from Canada shows up to see what the market would be for his company, which sells child-safe packaging for marijuana products. Shortly after, two American travelers stop by looking to score weed.

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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

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First, there was James Foley. Then Steven Sotloff. Finally, Abdul Rahman Kassig, also known as Peter Kassig. All three were American hostages, brutally murdered by the so-called Islamic State.

This past week the White House confirmed that it's conducting a review of its hostage policy, but in a press conference, White House spokesman Josh Earnest says the United States will not change its policy on ransoms: America does not pay them.

Hong Kong's pro-democracy protests, the longest of their kind on Chinese soil since the 1989 Tiananmen Square uprising, turn 2 months old on Sunday.

In early October, the demonstrations grabbed media attention around the world and galvanized Hong Kongers, but now most of them just want the protests to end. Independent polls show people overwhelmingly oppose the continued occupation of city streets because it's inconvenient and appears to be futile.

Thanksgiving traditions can be a bit inscrutable for people who didn't grow up in the U.S., like NPR producer Olly Dearden. Disgusted by the thought of sweet potatoes topped with marshmallows and confused by the pardoning of turkeys who've committed no crimes, Dearden talked with several experts in the field, and got some answers to his questions.

When was the first Thanksgiving?

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