Weekend Edition Saturday

Saturday mornings are made for Weekend Edition Saturday, the program wraps up the week's news and offers a mix of analysis and features on a wide range of topics, including arts, sports, entertainment, and human interest stories. The two-hour program is hosted by NPR's Peabody Award-winning Scott Simon.

Drawing on his experience in covering 10 wars and stories in all 50 states and seven continents, Simon brings a humorous, sophisticated and often moving perspective to each show. He is as comfortable having a conversation with a major world leader as he is talking with a Hollywood celebrity or the guy next door.

Weekend Edition Saturday has a unique and entertaining roster of other regular contributors. Marin Alsop, conductor of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, talks about music. Daniel Pinkwater, one of the biggest names in children's literature, talks about and reads stories with Simon. Financial journalist Joe Nocera follows the economy. Howard Bryant of EPSN.com and NPR's Tom Goldman chime in on sports. Keith Devlin, of Stanford University, unravels the mystery of math, and Will Grozier, a London cabbie, talks about good books that have just been released, and what well-read people leave in the back of his taxi. Simon contributes his own award-winning essays, which are sometimes humorous, sometimes poignant.

Weekend Edition Saturday is heard on NPR Member stations across the United States, and around the globe on NPR Worldwide. The conversation between the audience and the program staff continues throughout the social media world.

A family feud is raging in France's far-right political party between party leader Marine Le Pen and its founder, Le Pen's father. NPR's Tamara Keith speaks with French journalist Cecile Alduy.

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Alumnus Will Lawrence of the Fossil Fuel Divestment Student Network came bac...
As a way to fight climate change, students at hundreds of campuses are pushing their colleges to divest from fossil fuels with sit-ins. But critics say divestment is the wrong tactic.

In the past few years, students at hundreds of colleges and universities have started pushing their schools to divest from fossil fuel companies as a way to slow climate change.

The campaign has had some notable wins in the past year. But at tiny Swarthmore College, outside of Philadelphia, where the movement was born, students have been staging a sit-in for nearly a month to try to make their voices heard.

On the first day of an extended sit-in at the elite liberal arts college, dozens of students are crowded into a hallway outside the finance offices, learning a new protest song.

"We're asking for our school to sell its holdings in the top 200 coal, oil and gas companies," senior Sara Blazevic says. "Divestment is a way for our school, as a institution with a lot of social standing and a lot of clout, to stigmatize the fossil fuel industry."

That stigma is key. Climate change activist Bill McKibben, who visited Swarthmore on day eight of the sit-in, explained that divestment isn't meant to stop the flow of cash to well-capitalized energy companies.

"No one's under the illusion that if Swarthmore or any other college sells its shares in Exxon, that will immediately bankrupt Exxon," he says. "What it will do is begin the process, further the process, of politically bankrupting them."

By that, he means creating a world where campaign contributions from fossil fuel companies will carry the same stigma as cash from Big Tobacco.

"Making it much harder for them to dominate our political life the way they have," McKibben adds. "Because this is the richest industry on earth, it has way more political influence than it deserves."

Swarthmore's divestment movement began back 2011, says Sara Blazevic.

"When our campaign started, it was sort of scrappy," she says. "It didn't have a ton of support, we didn't have a network the way that the divestment movement has a network now, and then it grew really quickly."

Hundreds of schools now have divestment campaigns. They have been successful at about two dozen U.S. colleges and universities, most recently at Syracuse, the largest endowment to date to commit to fully divesting.

Most other schools have said "no" to divestment, including Swarthmore in 2013.

"Primarily because we thought divestment would be too costly," says Gil Kemp, chair of the school's Board of Managers.

He says it would cost the school's roughly $2 billion endowment $11 to $15 million a year in returns. What's more, he argues stigmatizing fossil fuels won't reduce the amount of carbon released into the environment.

"Reducing our carbon footprint is a more effective way of dealing with this very real issue of climate change and global warming," Kemp says.

Divestment is a controversial tactic even among those working on climate change solutions.

Andrew Holland is an energy and climate fellow at the nonpartisan American Security Project in Washington D.C., which researches the impact of climate change on national defense.

"There are effective ways to fight climate change and there are ineffective ways to fight climate change," he says. "And I think that the divestment movement fundamentally is looking in the wrong direction."

Endowments at the 500 richest U.S. colleges and universities are worth nearly $500 billion. It's not known how much of that is invested in fossil fuels companies. But for some perspective, NYU, Bowdoin and Middlebury have all recently disclosed this information, and fossil fuels make up between 1.4 and 5 percent of their endowments.

Financial experts say even full divesture would have little impact on the energy industry. And the moral argument doesn't hold water with Holland.

"Stigma doesn't work for the fossil fuel companies," he says. "These companies are already stigmatized. You're not going to stop Jim Inhofe or other hard right Republicans from taking money from fossil fuel companies because a bunch of professors at Stanford or Swarthmore determine they don't like ExxonMobil."

Plenty of student movements have begun and ended without the targeted industries batting an eye. Today, though, anti-fossil fuel activists claim kinship to the anti-Apartheid divestment movement of the 1980s, which also started on college campuses amid choruses of criticisms.

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Jeralean Talley addresses the congregation as her pastor, Reverend Dana Darb...
At 115, Jeralean Talley is the world's oldest living person. She inherited the title from a 116-year-old Arkansan who died this week. NPR's Tamara Keith reflects on the secrets of a good, long life.

Jeralean Talley is the world's oldest living person. She is 115 years old and inherited the title earlier this week from a 116-year-old Arkansas woman who died of pneumonia. She was preceded by a 117-year-old woman from Japan who died the week before. Death, it seems, is a hazard of being the oldest person in the world.

And in the case of those who outlast the rest and earn the title of most senior human, it is often a life well lived.

Jeralean Talley is a case in point. "I don't feel sick," she told a reporter from Time magazine, "I'm still trying to do the right thing, is all."

No article about a 115-year-old would be complete without revealing the secret to his or her success. For Talley, it's all about eating a lot of pork. She's a fan of hog's head cheese, which is a combination of pig trimmings suspended in gelatin.

Other supersurvivors have credited sushi, onion sandwiches, chocolate, cigars, and of course, clean living.

This reminds me of an interview I did almost a decade ago, when I was a reporter for KPCC, with the man who was, at the time, California's oldest surviving World War I veteran.

"My name is George Henry Johnson."

"When were you born?"

"I was born on May the first, 1894."

"So you're 112, now?"

"112 years old today, yes. That's what I am. It's not my fault."

It is one of my favorite interviews, ever. He was charming. And hilarious. I had to shout all my questions because he really couldn't hear. I asked him if he had a cell phone and he pointed to the cordless landline phone sitting on its cradle next to his easy chair. I wasn't going to explain.

This was a man who marveled at crank engines on the first motorized cars, who built his three-story home by hand, and who saw an almost unfathomable amount of change in his lifetime. He had no need to know about my fancy-at-the-time flip phone or the iPod I thought was life changing.

So, of course I asked him about the secret to his success. He never suffered for want. Did everything for himself. And ...

"I'm going to tell you the god's honest truth. This is the god's honest truth whether you believe it or not. I've never drank enough liquor in my life to make myself feel like I was drunk."

He died a few months after our interview. But it was hard to feel sad. The inevitable caught up with George Johnson, but he had lived a full life.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.