Fresh Air Weekend highlights some of the best interviews and reviews from past weeks, and new program elements specially paced for weekends. Our weekend show emphasizes interviews with writers, filmmakers, actors and musicians, and often includes excerpts from live in-studio concerts. This week:
The Divine Comedy is a 14th century poem that has never lost its edge. Dante Alighieri's great work tells the tale of the author's trail through hell — each and every circle of it — purgatory and heaven. It has become perhaps the world's most cited allegorical epic about life, death, goodness, evil, damnation and reward. It calls upon the reader to ask: What would be our personal hell? What, for us, would really be paradise?
Simon Bolivar is often called the George Washington of Venezuela — and of Bolivia, Colombia, Panama, Ecuador and Peru. Washington threw colonialists out of one country; Bolivar liberated six from Spanish rule. The latter was also considered an artful military strategist with a vision of history and a passion for freedom.
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News, I'm Scott Simon. Secretary of State John Kerry's in China as the world waits to see whether North Korea will test-fire a missile. Secretary Kerry hopes that Chinese leaders will put pressure on their traditional ally, the North Koreans. Before arriving he said there's no group of leaders on the face of the planet with more capacity to make a difference than the Chinese.
The U.S. Postal Service announced this week that it would postpone the end of Saturday mail delivery, which it had proposed to stop earlier in the year, but mail service will halt at the bottom of the Grand Canyon where mules have delivered the mail since the 1920s. The company that runs the mule train says they will no longer deliver packages starting next week. The service was a way for loved ones to send care packages to guides rafting down the Colorado River. Laurel Morales of member station KJZZ reports from Flagstaff.
In 2001, Daniel Hodd was 17 and starting a promising career as a concert pianist. But he also wanted to become a U.S. Marine.
"At 3 years of age, you walked over to the piano, and you just started playing," Evelyn Hodd tells her son.
He played until he was 17 and performed in the Metropolitan Opera Theater. Juilliard offered him a scholarship. But Daniel decided to go to the military instead. He enlisted in 2002 and deployed to Iraq in 2003.
"That was devastating for me. And then, you had an accident," his mother says.
In Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro — the president of a powerful government — should be at center stage. But as he runs in Sunday's snap presidential elections, it's his larger-than-life predecessor who is getting much of the attention.
The death of Hugo Chavez, who taunted the U.S. and empowered the poor, is triggering the special vote. And Maduro is using Chavez's voice and image to ensure that the late president's socialist system remains in power for many more years to come.
'All Things Considered' Story On The Move From M Street In 1994
Starting Saturday, Weekend Edition is broadcasting under the fourth roof that's sheltered National Public Radio. NPR special correspondent Susan Stamberg has worked in all of the locations since NPR went on the air in 1971, and once again she shepherds us to our new home.
President Obama's newly released tax return shows his effective income tax rate was 18.4 percent last year. He'll likely pay a somewhat higher rate in 2013, and that tax bill would be even bigger if Congress were to adopt the recommendations in the president's own budget, unveiled this week.
A new immigration bill is expected to be introduced in the U.S. Senate next week, calling for better border security and a path to citizenship for 11 million immigrants in the United States without legal status.
One big hurdle toward that was cleared this week when the United Farm Workers reached a deal with growers that would address wages and caps the number of visas allowed for new workers.
By the time John Denver died in a plane crash in 1997, he had written and sung a remarkable assortment of cherished music: "Rocky Mountain High," "Take Me Home, Country Roads," "Sunshine on My Shoulders," "Leaving on a Jet Plane" and many more. He was often mocked by edgier musicians for being a kind of musically soft, spongy Wonderbread of a singer-songwriter. But his songs have endured — and influenced more than one generation.
Mark Bittman isn't a celebrity chef, and he doesn't own a famous restaurant, and he doesn't have a cooking show. But he wrote the book on how to cook everything, aptly titled, How to Cook Everything.
We've invited him to play a game called "Holy, Bittman, Batman!" We guessing Bittman gets mistaken for the Caped Crusader all the time, so we're going to ask him three questions about Batman ... specifically, Batman & Robin, widely regarded as the very worst of all the modern Batman films.