Weekend Edition Saturday

Saturdays at 7 a.m. on IPR News and News/Studio One
 

From civil wars in Bosnia and El Salvador, to hospital rooms, police stations, and America's backyards, National Public Radio's Peabody Award-winning correspondent Scott Simon brings a well-traveled perspective to his role as host of "Weekend Edition Saturday."

All Tapped Out In A Tiny California Town

May 2, 2015

Around the tiny rural community of Fairmead, Calif., about an hour north of Fresno on Highway 99, hundreds of one-story houses on small ranches stretch out for miles.

The ground is mostly brown, parched by California's recent drought. But beneath the surface, this mostly African-American community in the San Joaquin Valley has been going dry for years.

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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Time for sports.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

In "Mr. Holland's Opus," a young actress named Alicia Witt played a high school student who's struggling to play the clarinet.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "MR. HOLLAND'S OPUS")

RICHARD DREYFUSS: (As Glenn Holland) Why are you crying?

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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

I'm Scott Simon.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "PENNIES FROM HEAVEN")

LOUIS PRIMA: (Singing) Every time it rains, it rains pennies from heaven...

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "MONEY")

Victorine Meurent was just 17 years old when she met the great Impressionist painter Edouard Manet on a Paris street in 1862. The young, poverty-stricken redhead became his favorite model, and Manet painted her reclining nude in Olympia — a work that scandalized the Paris art world in 1865 and now hangs in the Musée d'Orsay.

It has been five years since the so-called flash crash on Wall Street raised big questions about computerized trading. What caused the flash crash has been a topic of debate ever since. U.S. officials revived the debate this week by arresting a little-known trader in London.

May 6, 2010 started out as an ordinary trading day on Wall Street. Then, at around 2:45 in the afternoon, the Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged nearly 600 points within the space of a few minutes, before correcting itself.

As NPR and other news outlets report about the hundreds of people killed this month when the ship they were on went down off the Libyan coast, the stories are referring to those who died as "migrants."

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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

And now it's time for sports.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

The tattoos on Dennis Whedbee's left arm describe what he lost when the North Dakota oil rig where he was working blew out in 2012. There's an image of a severed hand spurting blood, framed by the word "LOST" in block letters and the date: "9-23-12."

The message underscores Whedbee's frustration with a workers' compensation system in which benefits and access to benefits have changed in North Dakota and across the country.

"I lost a hand at work and this is workman's comp," Whedbee, 53, says at his home in Pennsylvania. "Give me what I deserve. I deserve a hand."

We are moving into the election season — feels like we're moving faster and faster, candidates are already in the early states — notably the newly announced Hillary Clinton. She headed right to Iowa for some close encounters with voters. Republicans, reportedly a score or so, are in New Hampshire this weekend, taking turns shaking hands with voters,

Advertisements don't need any words to say a lot about a culture.

That's one of the messages that shines through in the work of artist Hank Willis Thomas. In 2008, Thomas removed the text and branding from ads featuring African-Americans, creating a series he called Unbranded, which illustrated how America has seen and continues to see black people.

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LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

The Week In Sports: The Cubs Next Big Thing

Apr 18, 2015
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LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

It's time now for sports.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

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LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

In the past few years, students at hundreds of colleges and universities have started pushing their schools to divest from fossil fuel companies as a way to slow climate change.

The campaign has had some notable wins in the past year. But at tiny Swarthmore College, outside of Philadelphia, where the movement was born, students have been staging a sit-in for nearly a month to try to make their voices heard.

Jeralean Talley is the world's oldest living person. She is 115 years old and inherited the title earlier this week from a 116-year-old Arkansas woman who died of pneumonia. She was preceded by a 117-year-old woman from Japan who died the week before. Death, it seems, is a hazard of being the oldest person in the world.

And in the case of those who outlast the rest and earn the title of most senior human, it is often a life well lived.

It's the handshake some have waited more than 50 years for. And the handshake some hoped would never happen.

President Obama greeted Cuban President Raul Castro at a summit meeting in Panama Friday night. Their handshake helped crystalize the diplomatic thaw that began in December, when Obama declared an end to decades of official hostility.

There's not a whole lot to do in prison, so inmates spend a fair amount of time playing cards.

For several years, law enforcement officials around the country have been putting that prisoners' pastime to good use. They've been putting facts and photos from unsolved crimes in front of prisoners' eyes by printing them on decks of cards, hoping to generate leads.

Wal-Mart, Apple, Angie's List, NASCAR — some of the biggest names in business this week pushed back against "religious freedom" laws in Indiana and Arkansas. They said the laws could open the door to discrimination against gays and lesbians and were bad for their business.

Such corporate intervention is not new.

The Hula Hoop. The pogo stick. The Tamagotchi.

Fads, crazes and must-have toys all sweep the country from time to time. But in the annals of faddish toys, one achievement stands tall — or rather, sits small: the Pet Rock.

It was exactly what it sounds like: a rock (a Mexican beach stone, to be precise) marketed in the mid-'70s as a pet. Each came in its own box with air holes and a detailed owner's manual.

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LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

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LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

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LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

Guitarist and composer John Renbourn co-founded the group Pentangle and went on to become revered by guitarists around the world. Renbourn was found dead of an apparent heart attack at his home in Scotland on Thursday, after failing to show up for a concert. He was 70 years old.

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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Squeaky, salty - it's time for sports. (Laughter).

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

At Aging Conference, Old Is The New Black

Mar 28, 2015
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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "JAILHOUSE ROCK")

ELVIS PRESLEY: (Singing) Warden threw a party in the county jail. The prison band was there, they began to wail.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "RESPECT")

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Kraft Foods is going through a rough patch.

This week, Kraft recalled nearly 2.5 million boxes of macaroni and cheese that were potentially contaminated with metal pieces.

Also, Kraft Singles, a pre-sliced processed cheese product, earned a nutritional seal from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. The seal prompted outrage from nutritionists.

Spring is here, and a number of families are plotting road trips for school break.

Randy Olson, a Ph.D. candidate at Michigan State University and a self-proclaimed "data tinkerer," believes he's devised a route that could allow a family to hit a landmark in each of the Lower 48 states, from Grand Canyon in Arizona to the Gateway Arch in St. Louis to the Statue of Liberty in New York, in just nine days of driving.

"About 9.33 days, if you drove non-stop," Olson clarifies.

That means no time sleeping or using the restroom — and no bad traffic.

A few months ago, inside her stall in a Mexico City market, Ofelia Contreras showed Monika Essen the intricate handwork on an indigenous Mexican skirt. She pointed out how many months it took to complete the patterns by hand.

Essen is the costume designer for the Michigan Opera Theatre's revival of the opera Frida, and came to Mexico City to get the look of the opera right, since Kahlo was so particular about her traditional wardrobe.

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