All Things Considered Weekend

Saturday and Sunday at 5PM
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On Sunday's All Things Considered, you'll hear Beauty Pill's amazing story of how close Chad Clark came to dying before a single note of Beauty Pill Describes Things As They Are could be recorded.

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It's springtime in Pittsburgh, and throughout the city, Callery pear trees are sprouting beautiful, white blossoms.

But that's just the problem. Simply put, these trees stink.

"This whole place smells like dead fish," says Sheila Titus. "I mean everywhere. Everywhere you see one of these trees with the white on them."

Titus has lived in her home in the now-hip neighborhood of Lawrenceville for 49 years. Two decades ago, her grandson and his 7th grade class planted a row of Callery pears across the street from her house.

Same-sex marriage is legal in most states but so is discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in the areas of employment, housing and public accommodation.

Gay-rights activists say this creates a contradiction because in many states someone can legally marry a person of the same gender and then get fired for being gay. They are lobbying state legislatures to add LGBT people to anti-discrimination laws that already include things like race, age, religion and disability.

High on a West Bank hilltop, the extended Dissi family gathered on a recent weekend for a day out in the Palestinian countryside.

Aunts, uncles and cousins came to see the half-built weekend home of Taysier Dissi, an electrician and father of three. The concrete-block shell, with windows set and stairs roughed in, is placed just right for the view.

This will be the family's getaway from their home in the cramped confines of Jerusalem's often tense Old City. Dissi paid about $30,000 for one-third of an acre here, bought from a Palestinian-Canadian company, UCI.

Passwords get hacked — a lot. In an effort to move beyond passwords, big companies are embracing biometric technology: the use of fingerprints, iris scans or voice recognition for user identification.

To heighten security, smartphones are being outfitted with biometric features. But, ditching passwords for biometrics may not make the hackers go away.

Selfie Security

NPR has this tribute to the Hubble Space Telescope — a parody of Iggy Azalea's "Trouble."

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It has been about a decade since beekeepers and scientists began documenting a decline in honeybee populations and other important pollinators.

Even if you're not a lover of bees or honey, you should know that bees are critically important to our food supply. They help pollinate billions of dollars of crops each year, from apples and carrots to blueberries and almonds.

So if bees are threatened, ultimately, the production of these crops will be threatened, too.

The tragic story of Cambodia in the '60s and '70s is well-known: It became engulfed in the Vietnam War, then more than a million Cambodians died under the Khmer Rouge regime. Doctors, lawyers, teachers — educated people — were targeted in the communist takeover. So were artists and singers.

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Where does Washington figure in all of this? Well, we're going to ask Nicholas Burns. He's professor of the practice of diplomacy and international politics at Harvard's Kennedy School. Welcome to the program once again.

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Officials of Comcast and Time Warner Cable met Wednesday with federal regulators to discuss the companies' proposed $45 billion merger. The deal would create a single company that would control large parts of the cable TV and broadband Internet markets.

A published report said recently that Justice Department staff members have decided to oppose the deal on antitrust grounds. But company officials are using a lot of firepower to get the deal approved.

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Finally, the great Kentucky bourbon mystery has been solved.

Back in 2013, more than 200 bottles of aging Pappy Van Winkle bourbon vanished from a locked, secure area of the Buffalo Trace distillery in Frankfort, Ky. Even before the heist, the bottles were rare — some fetched as much as $1,000 in private sales.

Bob Ball is a real estate investor in Portland, Ore., but that's just his day job. For the past 20 years, he has also been a volunteer cop.

"When I was new, it was the best time of my life. I got to go out there and wear a white hat and help people and make a difference in my community, one little piece at a time," Ball says. "That's a very, very fulfilling thing to do."

This is real police work. On one occasion, Ball had to pull his gun on a guy threatening a woman with a knife.

What makes a great teacher great? That's the question at the heart of 50 Great Teachers, from the NPR Ed Team.

Diana Agrest believes architecture is so much more than a marriage of form and function. For more than four decades, she's been trying to get her students to believe that too.

Bird flu has been striking chicken and turkey farms in parts of the West and Midwest. This past week, it hit a flock of millions egg-laying chickens in northeastern Iowa. Update 4/22/2015: The USDA now says that around 3 million birds were affected in the Iowa facility — down from a previous estimate of 5 million.

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At the Gulf State Park Pier in Orange Beach, Ala., Wetzel Wood casts his fishing line into the rough surf of the Gulf of Mexico. He pulls his bait, a cigar minnow, through the water just beyond where the waves break for the shore.

"On a good day you'd catch king mackerel, Spanish mackerel," he says. Wood first learned to fish at the pier with his grandfather in 1969. "I've seen a lot of different things out here. It's been wonderful."

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Longtime NPR contributor Pat Dowell died Sunday after a long illness. She was 66. Pat covered film for nearly 30 years. Our critic Bob Mondello remembers his late colleague.

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Fifty years ago this week, a chemist in what is now Silicon Valley published a paper that set the groundwork for the digital revolution.

You may never have heard of Moore's law, but it has a lot do with why you will pay about the same price for your next computer, smartphone or tablet, even though it will be faster and have better screen resolution than the last one.

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In 2009, I was among the scrum of reporters covering the controversial advice from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force that women in their 40s think twice about regular mammograms. The task force pointed out that the net benefits in younger women were small and said women should weigh the pros and cons of screening before making a decision.

The U.S. Supreme Court hears legal arguments next week in the legal battle over same-sex marriage. It's an extraordinarily high-stakes clash, but the men and women at the center of it see themselves as incredibly ordinary. The 12 couples and two widowers include doctors, lawyers, an Army sergeant, nurses and teachers.

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