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Scott Simon

The Academy Awards are Sunday night. But that's just what we call a peg for what I really want to talk about.

This spring marks the 45th anniversary of The Godfather.

"Leave the gun. Take the cannoli."

Francis Coppola's film is smartly scripted, beautifully acted and gorgeously directed. It's one of those special films you can see every few years and notice something new each time. It's an opera, really, where the arias are story lines about love, blood and America.

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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

We keep on learning from great lives.

On Oct. 16, 1939, just weeks after Germany invaded Poland and Britain was at war, Winston Churchill, who had warned of Germany's wicked and avaricious ambitions, was called out of political isolation to become First Lord of the Admiralty and drafted an essay in which he asked, perhaps himself as much as anyone who would read it, "Are We Alone in the Universe?"

Amnesty International released a report this week that may make you wonder how much of what we conscientiously report as important news truly is by comparison.

The human rights group, which received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1977, says as many as 13,000 opponents of Bashar Assad have been hanged in the Saydnaya prison on the outskirts of Damascus.

It is worth repeating that number: as many as 13,000 people, hanged to death.

The researchers interviewed 84 people, including former guards, a military judge, and 31 people who were held in two buildings of the prison.

It's been a hard week in Peoria.

William Ryan Owens, the Navy Seal who was killed in a raid in Yemen, was from Peoria, Ill. Defense Secretary James Mattis said, "He gave his full measure for our nation."

And the Caterpillar company announced that after more than 90 years, it is moving its world headquarters from Peoria to Chicago. It is hard to overestimate the blow this is to Peoria.

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