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.

One of the many policy riders tucked inside the trillion-dollar spending bill reverses a rule that long-haul truckers take two nights off for every 70 hours they drive. Safety groups are angry.

The spending bill in Congress is not just about money. Tucked inside the bill are provisions to change regulations affecting everything from banking to the environment. One regulatory rollback has those concerned about truck safety especially upset.

The regulation is part of a series of rules that spell out the number of hours that long-haul truck drivers, the ones behind the wheel of the big rigs on the interstates, can be on the road.

Last year, a rule took effect that required those drivers to take two consecutive nights off after every 70 hours they spend behind the wheel.

The trucking industry, which didn't like the requirement in the first place, said it had an unintended consequence: It forced more truckers to take to the road early in the morning, when commuters and school buses are out.

"Those hours are less safe statistically," says Dave Osiecki, vice president of the American Trucking Association. "They're trying to reduce nighttime crashes? They may be causing daytime crashes."

No one knows yet if that rule caused the number of crashes to increase; the Department of Transportation hasn't compiled accident data for the past year. But Osiecki says truck crashes had been declining before the rule took effect.

He says the regulation has also hurt industry profits.

"You're talking about $1 billion in lost productivity to this industry," Osiecki says.

So the association and its congressional allies wrote a provision into the spending bill, undoing the rule, at least temporarily.

The Obama administration opposed the change, saying that driver fatigue is a leading factor in large truck crashes, which killed more than 3,500 people in 2012. Safety groups are angry, too.

"It stinks," says Daphne Izer, who founded Parents Against Tired Truckers after her son and three of his friends were killed by a truck driver who had fallen asleep behind the wheel on Maine's turnpike.

"Drivers will be allowed to drive up to 82 hours a week," Izer says. "That's insane. That's twice the normal work week, and drivers don't get paid overtime. It's going to be more death and destruction on our highways."

The provision in the spending bill also calls for a detailed study of the effect of the regulations on truck crashes. The measure only rolls back the new rules until next October, when both sides expect to resume their arguments.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

So bad it's ... good? Consumer appetite for ugly Christmas sweaters — the ...
The themed party trend is on us again, and holiday garb bedecked with bells, lights and way too much tinsel is selling fast. Show us your best holiday monstrosity — use the hashtag #NPRuglysweaters.

Looking for a stylish sweater for the holidays? Forget cashmere. Instead, go for the light-up, dancing Santa.

This season, holiday shoppers are demanding the ugliest, gaudiest, tackiest sweaters out there. They need them for ugly sweater parties, ugly sweater fun runs — even an ugly sweater party cruise.

All that demand has had an impact on stores large and small. On the national level, Walmart, Kohls and Target all sell vintage-looking sweaters with all the bells and tinsel you could want.

And at Re-Love It consignment in Purcellville, Va., last year, shop owner Michael Oaks had 120 sweaters that quickly sold. This year, he stockpiled more than a thousand for the Christmas rush.

His customers on a recent day included a Southwest flight attendant shopping for the perfect sweater to wear over her uniform — "it's gotta be really, really gaudy," she says — and holiday party-goers who hope to out-tacky their competition.

So far, Oaks has sold 800 sweaters — and he just received an emergency shipment of 200 more.

Share Your Tacky Sweater: #NPRuglysweaters

Do you have the perfect ugly holiday sweater? Can you out-tacky Re-Love It owner Michael Oaks?

Post your photos with the tag #NPRuglysweaters on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook, and we'll pull together some of the highlights for a post Sunday night.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

The electric eel creates its own electricity, sure. But Vanderbilt University professor Ken Catania tells NPR's Scott Simon that what's shocking is how the eel uses it to remotely control prey.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.