Weekend Edition Saturday

  • Hosted by Scott Simon

The program wraps up the week's news and offers a mix of analysis and features on a wide range of topics, including arts, sports, entertainment, and human interest stories.

The verdicts for Officer Michael Brelo came on allegations of voluntary manslaughter and lesser charges, stemming from a 2012 police shooting of an unarmed couple. Brelo had fired 49 shots at the couple following a car chase. Reporter Nick Castele of member-station WCPN speaks with host Scott Simon about the ruling.

The self-declared Islamic State gained a real grip on Iraq and Syria this week, capturing the cities of Ramadi and parts of Mosul in Iraq, and the ancient town Palmyra, Syria.

Most recently, ISIS has claimed credit for a suicide bomb attack inside Saudi Arabia on a Shiite mosque during Friday prayers. That attack killed at least 19 and could represent a significant escalation of the extremist group's operations in the kingdom.

Authorities in Waco, Texas, continue to investigate the deaths of nine motorcycle gang members in one of the worst biker brawls in recent times. More than 170 people were arrested and charged with organized crime; each is being held under a $1 million bond.

Now there's a backlash from biker groups, who claim many of the riders were simply at the wrong place at the wrong time, and had nothing to do with Sunday's bloody fight.

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In the north woods of Maine, Tom Shafer is bumping along on a rutted trail in his four-wheel drive truck. Ahead are mounds of maple, pine, oak and birch trees, all cut a century or more ago and pulled from the bottom of a lake.

Clumped together in the muck, the logs wouldn't look like much to most people.

"The wood comes out and it looks like that, in those piles of mud," Shafer says. "It looks like construction debris."

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The U.S. is less Christian than it used to be, and fewer Americans choose to be a part of any religion, according to a new study by the Pew Research Center.

Of the more than 35,000 people surveyed, 70 percent say they are Christian — but the number of people who call themselves atheist and agnostic has nearly doubled in the last seven years.

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Traveling with the State Department in Africa, you feel like you're traveling in countries without people. Traffic-clogged roads are cleared in advance by security services. The two-hour drive from downtown Nairobi to the airport takes a beautiful 12 minutes.

When Hillary Clinton's campaign was looking for a place for her to make an announcement this week about immigration policy, it chose Rancho High School in Las Vegas.

Clinton visited this school in 2007, when she was running for president the first time. Barack Obama visited the campus twice during that campaign season. The backdrop wasn't a coincidence.

Rancho High School's population is 70 percent Hispanic, and it has a proud history of political involvement.

In the rough and tumble world of restaurants, Jeremy Hardy considers himself something of a survivor.

Hardy's restaurant, Coastal Kitchen, has been a fixture of Seattle's Capitol Hill neighborhood for 20 years. Notoriously low-margin businesses, restaurants have a high failure rate. Hardy says even in good times, running one is like juggling with clubs.

"With the labor pressures that are coming from this $15 eventual minimum-wage increase, we are juggling with razor-sharp daggers," Hardy says. "And if you don't get it right, it's really going to hurt."

The Stanley Cup Playoffs are well underway. Fans of the Winnipeg Jets are heartbroken; Chicago Blackhawk lovers are feeling great.

But you don't need to be an NHL superfan to find something fascinating about hockey. A.J. Jacobs, an editor-at-large for Esquire and a professional know-it-all, joined NPR's Scott Simon to talk about quirky facts from the sport's past and present.

How much hockey trivia do you know? Take a guess at which of the facts below are true, then hit "play" to see if you were right.

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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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Time for sports.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

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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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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."

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."

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And now it's time for sports.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

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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,

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