How do you prevent protests in China? Move the weekend.
That's the Orwellian step taken by local authorities in the southwestern city of Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province. May 4 is a sensitive date commemorating an influential student movement in 1919. It's especially potent in Chengdu, where it marks the fifth anniversary of a protest against the construction of a $6 billion crude oil refinery and petrochemical facility in Pengzhou, 25 miles away.
A roadside bomb in southern Afghanistan killed five members of the U.S. Army Saturday, according to military officials. The International Security Assistance Force says an improvised explosive device was used in the attack.
Update at 5:15 p.m. EDT. Another Deadly Attack:
An Afghan National Army soldier "turned his weapon on coalition troops in the west, killing two in the most recent of so-called insider attacks, the AP reports. NPR has confirmed that both victims of that attack are American.
In the spring of 1970, a British illustrator named Ralph Steadman had just moved to America, hoping to find some work. His first call came from a small literary journal called Scanlan's. It was looking for a cartoonist to send to the Kentucky Derby. Steadman had heard of neither the race nor the writer he was to accompany, a fellow named Hunter S. Thompson.
Steadman hadn't read any of Thompson's work, and he certainly didn't know that the writer had a bit of a drinking tendency, but he agreed to go.
It's been 70 years since the letters of John Pryor were understood in their full meaning. That's because as a British prisoner of war in Nazi Germany, Pryor's letters home to his family also included intricate codes that were recently deciphered for the first time since the 1940s.
Pryor's letters served their purpose in World War II, as Britain's MI9 agents decoded the messages hidden within them — requests for supplies, notes about German activities — before sending them along to Pryor's family in Cornwall.
Fresh Air Weekend highlights some of the best interviews and reviews from past weeks, and new program elements specially paced for weekends. Our weekend show emphasizes interviews with writers, filmmakers, actors and musicians, and often includes excerpts from live in-studio concerts. This week:
Firefighters in Southern California are welcoming the latest weather forecast, as lower temperatures and higher humidity could help them control the Camarillo Springs Fire. But the wildfire along the coast remains formidable: It has reportedly burned at least 43 square miles of land and property, nearly doubling in size Friday.
With his newest book, Attempting Normal, released on April 30, and a TV show, Maron, that premiered on IFC on May 3, comedian Marc Maron is having a busy spring. Maron considers himself primarily a stand-up comic, but he's also an actor, author and host of the popular podcast WTF with Marc Maron. The podcast has a simple premise: Maron interviews another comic. But the resulting product is complex and compelling.
Bakdash is a landmark in the Syrian capital, serving the Arab world's most famous ice cream since 1895. Manually churned with wooden paddles, loaded with milk, sugar and a generous coating of pistachios, Bakdash ice cream is memorable treat for any visitor to Damascus.
But, when a branch opened this week in Amman, Jordan, it was seen as another casualty of the Syrian war.
"It means there is no sense of security and safety in Damascus," says journalist Fahd al Kheytaan, "which forced the company to move some of its operation to Jordan."
A recent news item out of Minnesota caught our eye: "Bulletproof Whiteboards Unveiled at Rocori Schools."
Bulletproof what? Where?
That would be whiteboards, at the small central Minnesota Rocori School District, which will spend upward of $25,000 for the protective devices produced by a company better known for its military armor products.
Jim Gaffigan is outnumbered. The comedian and actor lives with his wife, Jeannie Noth Gaffigan, and five children — that's not a typo — in a two-bedroom apartment in lower Manhattan.
It's a neighborhood that quite proudly abounds with hipsters, swingers, adults-only shops, men in high heels, and people who mutter to themselves on the street. But nothing may attract more surprise in the neighborhood than a Midwestern couple and their five children.
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. President Obama is in Costa Rica today. He's talking with leaders of Central American nations about security and economic trade. Yesterday, the president wrapped up a two-day visit in Mexico, where he tried to steer the focus away from contentious issues like immigration and drug violence. NPR's Carrie Kahn reports from Mexico City.
CARRIE KAHN, BYLINE: During their quick visit, Presidents Obama and Pena Nieto stuck to their focus: the economy.
In many ways, the relationship between the U.S. and Mexico is complicated and conditioned by the long and the bloody war on drugs. It's difficult to say exactly how many people have been killed in that war, but Mexican media have estimated that around 70,000 people have died since 2006; many thousands more have been disappeared. The United States has been closely involved, providing money, technology and intelligence to the Mexican government.
Several thousand young Afghans are attending a music and arts festival of their own this week in Kabul. NPR's Sean Carberry sent this postcard from the third annual Sound Central Alternative Music and Arts Festival.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: (Chanting in foreign language)
SEAN CARBERRY, BYLINE: While this is going on outside the French Cultural Center in Kabul...
The National Rifle Association is holding its annual convention in Houston this weekend. More than 70,000 people are expected to attend for speeches and demos and acres of guns, ammo and camo.
The NRA is coming off of a major victory: the defeat of gun control legislation in the Senate. While the talk in the convention hall is about keeping up the fight and staying true to the Constitution, a small protest against gun violence is being held outside.
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. The economy added 165,000 jobs in April. That exceeded the expectations of economists. It also drove down the unemployment rate to a four-year low, 7.5 percent. Unfortunately, the biggest gains were in lower-paying fields like hospitality and temp agencies. And as the school year comes to a close and young people start looking, the question is will there be enough work for them. NPR's Sonari Glinton reports.
Sixty years ago, John Pryor, a British prisoner of war in a German camp wrote about 80 letters home. Under his prosaic descriptions of camp life were coded messages asking for supplies and detailing German military secrets. Host Scott Simon talks with Stephen Pryor, his son, who worked with researchers at the University of Plymouth to finally crack his late father's code.
And that racial disparity in the unemployment numbers isn't just among younger workers. The overall unemployment rate of African-Americans is 13.2 percent. That is almost twice that of white Americans. Among Hispanics, it's 9 percent. Yesterday, we spoke with Darrick Hamilton, associate professor of economics at the New School in New York. He studies racial economic inequality and we asked him to try to explain any reasons behind the two-to-one gap in joblessness between blacks and whites.
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News, I'm Scott Simon and I've wait all week to say it's time for sports.
Basketball playoffs, two teams come back from a three-game deficit just not far enough. In baseball, Angels in the outfield but rarely on the bases. How much money do they have to spend to get a few hits? And some national concerns that have nothing to do with congress. Howard Bryant, columnist for ESPN.com and ESPN The Magazine joins us. Morning Howard.
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. Law enforcement officials are getting a better idea of what may have transpired on the days leading up to the last month's Boston Marathon bombings, specifically where the two suspects, Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, might have assembled their homemade bombs and whether anybody else was involved.
NPR's Dina Temple-Raston has been following this story and joins us. Dina, thanks for being with us.
The 2013 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival wraps up Monday. This weekend and last, 12 stages have mixed such marquee names as Fleetwood Mac, Phoenix and Los Lobos with dozens of local bluesmen, soul belters and Cajun fiddle players.
CARL KASELL: From NPR and WBEZ-Chicago this is WAIT WAIT...DON'T TELL ME!, the NPR News quiz. I'm Carl Kasell. We're playing this week with Mo Rocca, Tom Bodett, and Paula Poundstone. And here again is your host, at the New York University Skirball Center, Peter Sagal.
Now onto our final game, Lightning Fill in the Blank. Each of our players will have 60 seconds in which to answer as many fill-in-the-blank questions as he or she can. Each correct answer now worth two points. Carl, can you give us the scores?
CARL KASELL: Mo Rocca has the lead, Peter. He has four points. Paula Poundstone has three, Tom Bodett has one.
CARL KASELL: From NPR and WBEZ-Chicago, this is WAIT WAIT...DON'T TELL ME!, the NPR News quiz. I'm Carl Kasell, and here's your host, at New York University's Skirball Center for the Performing Arts in New York City, Peter Sagal.
Israel has conducted an airstrike against a target in Syria, in an apparent attempt to keep a shipment of missiles from reaching Hezbollah, according to multiple news agencies citing Israeli and U.S. officials.
Israel has not officially confirmed reports that it carried out the attack on a target in Syria, as The Associated Press reports. But the news agency says anonymous Israeli officials have said the attack took place in the early hours of Friday.