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Scott Simon

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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

I've had açaí berries, being one of those Americans who longs to be healthier, especially if I can do it by plopping a few berries into a smoothie.

Açaí, which to me taste a little like dull blueberries, reportedly brim with antioxidants, vitamins and fiber. They are said to promote energy, healthy digestion, and even a dewier complexion.

But how do açaí berries get from the tops of trees in Brazil's Amazon into the açaí bowls that sell in San Francisco, Austin and West Des Moines?

Many are picked by children.

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Author Jodi Picoult says she couldn't wrap her head around how she might tell the story of the pandemic — to both memorialize it and make sense of it.

At 85-years-old, the Nobel-Prize winner Mario Vargas Llosa is one of Latin America's most significant writers.

The Peruvian, who rose to international prominence in the 1960s, has a new book out called Harsh Times. And, like most of his work, it examines the dangers of power and corruption in Latin America.

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Updated November 20, 2021 at 3:36 PM ET

President Biden's spending bill, often called "Build Back Better," passed in the House on Friday largely on party lines. Now the bill heads to the Senate, where it is expected to be pared down further.

Animals are ... candid. It's part of why we love them. If they're hungry, they'll roar, growl or bark. If they itch, even in a most intimate and inaccessible spot, they'll scratch.

We have a dog who gets so excited about people, she relieves herself on the floor. Do we wish Daisy were more subtle in her delight? I suppose. But animals reveal what they feel without apology or restraint.

Max Cleland wore a Mickey Mouse watch to remind himself, he said, "not to take life too seriously." It was advice from a man who had received the Bronze and Silver Stars for valor as a young U.S. Army captain during the Vietnam War.

There may be a reason why astronauts are rhapsodic about the view from space but never mention the food.

NASA and other space agencies strive to give crews aboard the International Space Station nutritious and interesting meals.

French astronaut Thomas Pesquet can reportedly occasionally consume lobster, cod and almond tarts with caramelized pears onboard the space station, prepared in collaboration with famous French chefs. But even an astronaute français must slurp most meals out of a plastic squeeze-bag.

Helado Negro's seventh studio album, Far In, is something of an hour-long meditation — true soundscapes, inspired by an extended stay in the austere Marfa, Texas at the beginning of last year's lockdown. Weekend Edition host Scott Simon talks with Lange about the new album, the vagaries of astrology and the endless artistic reserves residing in nature.

Updated October 23, 2021 at 7:24 PM ET

At the height of her journalism career, Katie Couric's success at the Today show rested on balancing a girl-next-door likability with getting the story.

It was the cutthroat heyday of morning news shows, when ratings often trumped ethics.

In her new memoir, Going There, Couric dishes on what audiences couldn't always see during the years she worked for ABC, CBS, NBC and Yahoo. She also details what was happening in her personal life at the time.

Nick Offerman is best known as Ron Swanson on Parks and Recreation, and is perhaps the most famous actor who also owns a woodshop. He's also a comedian, musician and author.

And in his new book, he's making it known that "outdoorsman" is also on his list of hobbies.

Though he lives in Los Angeles, "I feel a hell of a lot better after I walk in the woods," he tells NPR's Scott Simon on Weekend Edition.

There's a photo that went viral in 2019, of two mountain gorillas behind a park ranger as he snaps a selfie in Congo's Virunga National Park.

One gorilla seems to glance over at the human with all the merely mild interest of a New Yorker, waiting on a subway platform, her hands at her side, as if rammed into imaginary pockets. The second gorilla, just behind the ranger, seems to lean into the shot, as if to say, "Hello! Look who's here, too!"

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A Facebook whistleblower told Congress it's time to regulate the social media company.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

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This week marks the 150th anniversary of the Great Chicago Fire. It may sound strange to call something so deadly "great," but it suits Chicago's self-image as a place where things are bigger, taller, and greater, even tragedies.

The 1871 fire killed an estimated 300 people. It turned the heart of the city, wood-frame buildings quickly constructed on wooden sidewalks, into ruins, and left 100,000 people homeless.

"Six o'clock in the morning. How's your head?"

So begins a poem written this month by the Cuban writer Katherine Bisquet. She continues:

"Is it cold in Berlin?


I go to bed this morning - I'm trying to change my habits - with a complaint,


There's an animal in the front yard that eats the neighbor's pigeons.


The beast eats everything it sees in its path,


How can I tell it not to eat what doesn't belong to it?


Are there cypresses there?


Here the ceibas have lost their leaves

This week 45 of the 50 city of Chicago aldermen accepted a 5.5% pay raise to increase the highest-paid among them to an annual salary of $130,000.

The pay raise is automatic, and tied to inflation — which, as we've heard on this very program, is on the rise. This is a reform that prevents aldermen from raising their own salaries. It also frees them from having to defend their pay raises when they run for reelection.

Elijah McClain taught himself how to play the violin, and played it to comfort kittens in need of homes.

This week a grand jury in Colorado indicted two police officers, a former officer and two paramedics for manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide in the death of Elijah McClain.

Updated August 28, 2021 at 10:27 AM ET

With President Biden remaining committed to pulling U.S. troops from Afghanistan by Aug. 31, time is running out for emergency evacuation missions.

Updated August 21, 2021 at 6:14 PM ET

Scenes from the Taliban's capture of Kabul have evoked memories of the 1975 fall of the U.S.-backed South Vietnamese government in Saigon to communist North Vietnamese forces.

The U.S., then and now, scrambled to evacuate Americans and allies.

Zalmai Yawar showed me the stars one night. We were in the mountains of Bamiyan, Afghanistan, in 2002 — just a few months after the war began. We had spent the day reporting on the mass graves of Hazara people the Taliban had murdered after blowing up the ancient statues of Buddha carved into the nearby cliffside.

Neal Conan and I were once briefly roommates in Neal's apartment in a fifth floor walkup on 101st Street in New York. There was a window about the size of a cereal box over a sink that opened onto a gray gravel roof upholstered with pigeon poop.

"That's the balcony," said Neal.

Busy week? I had news meetings, family stuff, and interviews, of course. And then I got a call from an officious, digitized voice that said they were the IRS. It informed me they've noticed suspicious activity on my account. Not a good start to the day.

Soon, more bad news. A call from a similar-sounding robo-voice — maybe they're siblings — said they've noticed suspicious activity on my credit card account.

But good news, a minute later: a peppy, friendly, recorded voice, told me my spotless driving record entitled me to receive a great new deal on car insurance.

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