Weekend Edition Sunday

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NPR host Rachel Martin covers newsmakers, artists, scientists, politicians, musicians, writers, thinkers, theologians and all manner of news events.

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Transcript

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

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

Transcript

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

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

Bird flu is raging through poultry farms across the United States. It's the largest outbreak in U.S. history, affecting 20 states and tens of millions of birds. The disease is particularly ravaging farms in the Midwest.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that the H5 bird flu, the variety causing the outbreak, has not been detected in humans and currently poses a low threat to the public.

Saul Bellow, one of the 20th century's great writers, was born 100 years ago next month. The publishing world is marking the anniversary with a flurry of books — a Library of America edition of Bellow's fiction, a hefty tome of collected nonfiction, and a big new biography.

Another way to remember the author, of course, is to go back to the original books. His best-known work is probably Humboldt's Gift, the Pulitzer Prize-winning 1975 novel based on his own friendship with poet Delmore Schwartz.

A slice of history sails across Lake Michigan, carrying cars between Ludington, Mich., and Manitowoc, Wis. It's the SS Badger: the largest coal-fired passenger ship still operating in the United States.

For years, the ship was the focus of environmental scrutiny because of its practice of dumping waste coal ash directly into the lake. The pollution nearly stopped the Badger from steaming again — but now, the ash-dumping has ended.

And this summer, after a half-century on the waters, the Badger is still ferrying on.

Brass And Telegraphs

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First, Do This Puzzle

May 31, 2015

On-air challenge: Because tomorrow is June 1st, today's game is one of categories, based on the word "first." For each category, name something in it starting with each of the letters F-I-R-S-T. For example, if the category were "Two-Syllable Boys' Names," you might say Francis, Isaac, Richard, Simon and Tony.

1. State Capitals

2. Foreign Makes of Cars

3. Parts of a Book

4. Common Newspaper Names (like Post, Herald or Daily News)

5. Things to Take to the Beach

For the next six months, Italy is hosting a dinner party — and the entire world is invited to attend.

The event, called Expo Milano 2015, is the latest World's Fair. This year's theme is "feeding the planet, energy for life." The global population is projected to pass 9 billion by 2050, and Expo organizers want to start a global conversation now about sustainability, biodiversity and food security.

When we talk about higher education for the poor, we often mean community colleges and getting a degree in order to make more money. But 20 years ago, a writer in New York City decided that the poorest members of society should have the same access as wealthier people to learning, just for the sake of learning.

I visited one of these programs — called a Clemente course — in Harlem on a Thursday night.

"Can you live in a good life in a society where people are doing different things?" asks the teacher. "Of course," replies a student.

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