Weekend Edition Sunday

Conceived as a cross between a Sunday newspaper and CBS' Sunday Morning with Charles KuraltWeekend 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.

Weekend Edition Sunday debuted on January 18, 1987, with host Susan Stamberg. Two years later, Liane Hansen took over the host chair, a position she held for 22 years. In that time, Hansen interviewed movers and shakers in politics, science, business and the arts. Her reporting travels took her from the slums of Cairo to the iron mines of Michigan's Upper Peninsula; from the oyster beds on the bayou in Houma, La., to Old Faithful in Yellowstone National Park; and from the kitchens of Colonial Williamsburg, Va., to the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated. In the fall of 2011, NPR National Desk Reporter Audie Cornish began hosting the show.

Every week listeners tune in to hear a unique blend of news, features and the regularly scheduled puzzle segment with Puzzlemaster Will Shortz, the crossword puzzle editor of The New York Times.

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

In war zones, private contractors can outnumber U.S. troops, but who controls them? NPR's Rachel Martin speaks with Stanford's Joseph Felter and journalist Pratap Chatterjee about current safeguards.

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

Construction workers lift an oak tree to move it to the other side of the Un...
A 250-year-old oak tree once stood in the way of the University of Michigan's new business school — until they moved it this weekend. It wasn't easy, though, and definitely not cheap.

For as many as 250 years, a bur oak has been growing on what is now the University of Michigan campus in Ann Arbor. The big tree stands in the way of an expansion of the Ross Business School.

But instead of cutting it down, the university is moving the tree. It's not easy, it's not cheap, and it's definitely not fast.

As it was prepared for its 500-foot trip down a pedestrian mall, the old oak's 44-foot diameter root ball was wrapped in plastic and burlap and rested on long pipes, inserted earlier this summer to create a platform for lifting.

"While it does look fairly radical and invasive — and it is — if it's done properly, chances of survival are fantastic," says Paul Cox of Environmental Design, one of the few companies able to move a tree that weighs about 700,000 pounds.

The tree was raised on huge rubber bags so transporters could slip underneath. The bags look like inner tubes, except much thicker and longer.

"You first place these bags, deflated, beneath the tree, beneath the pipe, and then slowly inflate them, and as you inflate, the tree comes up into the air," Cox explains.

All this know-how, labor and equipment is expensive. The move will cost about $400,000, money that came from $100 million donated for the expansion by philanthropist Stephen Ross, for whom the business school was renamed.

University spokesman Rick Fitzgerald says the school has never moved a tree this large before.

"We didn't know if it could be moved," Fitzgerald says. "We started exploring options, and come to find out there are companies that do this and have been successfully moving large trees for decades."

Fitzgerald admits the plan doesn't please everybody. Some business school students say it's too much money to save one tree. Some also say they don't like the new location, blocking part of the view of the front entrance.

Even BJ Smith, a forester who drove all the way from west Michigan to watch this move, can't make a good business case for it.

"For the same price, I think in Washtenaw County, [where Ann Arbor is located] you can get about 120 acres of forested land," Smith says. "That might be a better legacy than one tree."

Nevertheless, he watched in awe as the big inner tubes deflated and the tree was lowered onto the transporters. It made its way at a pace of about 1 mph to its new home on the other side of the business school.

The tree should be placed in the ground sometime Sunday, where it may live, easily, for another 250 years.

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

The Appalachian Medicinal Herb Growers Consortium's goal is to raise plants ...
As alternative medical treatments gain traction in the U.S. and the demand for Chinese herbs grows, farmers in Appalachia are responding.

Traditional Chinese medicine is gaining acceptance in the U.S., though still largely as a complementary treatment.

Mainstream doctors are mixed on its effectiveness. Still, as alternative treatments gain traction and the demand for Chinese herbs grows, farmers in Appalachia are responding.

The Blue Ridge Center for Chinese Medicine in Pilot, Va., is surrounded by miles of mountains, forests and farmland.

Outside the building, small plots of Chinese medicinal herbs grow on terraced slopes.

"A lot of these herbs we are going to let flower and be pollinated and grow for the seed because there is such a need for the seed," says David Grimsley, co-director of the Appalachian Medicinal Herb Growers Consortium, a new project based at the center that teaches others how to grow native Chinese herbs in Appalachia.

At the Appalachian Medicinal Herb Growers Consortium, the goal is to raise plants that meet the quality standards demanded by clinical practitioners.

In what looks like a well-organized kitchen, rows of shelves stack to the ceiling lined with neatly labeled glass canisters filled with dried roots, leaves and flowers. Grimsley pulls one down and opens the lid.

"This is Trichosanthes," he says. "We go by their Latin name as opposed to their Chinese Pinyin medicinal name, because we're farmers working with the herbs themselves and not the medicine. This is a perennial melon. And one wonderful thing about it is the skin is used, the seeds are used, the fruit is used and the root is used and they're all for something different."

Practitioners must be certified by the state, and not all states allow it. But growers see an increase in demand.

The renowned Cleveland Clinic opened the Chinese Herbal Therapy Clinic in January, one of the first herbal clinics inside a hospital in the country. Director Jamie Starkey, like most practitioners, buys her herbs from China, but she says she'd like to see high-quality medicinal herbs grown in the U.S.

"If the United States farmers can tap into growing Chinese herbs, but do it in a way where there's proper testing by third parties, they're able to identify the herbs properly, there's no contamination, no pesticides, you know, I think it's such a great opportunity," Starkey says.

Jean Giblette, a longtime grower who has studied the market, says 27,000 licensed practitioners work in the U.S. She estimates the market to be $200 million to $300 million a year.

"That's a conservative estimate, because once they're presented with fresh, domestically grown herbs I think it's actually going to change practitioner behavior," Giblette says. "It's going to encourage people who may be relying on manufactured products, now to go back to the traditional agricultural products."

Many herbalists say the most effective way to use medicinal herbs is the boil them twice, then discard them and drink the "tea" — a process known as decoction. It's exactly the way people in Appalachia have taken wild indigenous herbs for decades.

"This area of the Appalachians corresponds very nicely to the medicine belt in China, where a lot of the Chinese herbs are endemic — they grow naturally in the wild — so we're very excited to become a medicinal hub for Chinese herbs," Giblette says.

Since the project began in spring, the Appalachian Medicinal Herb Growers Consortium has helped plant nine farms in the area, and Grimsley says 20 more are on the way.

Copyright 2014 WVTF Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.wvtf.org.