It's only days past Memorial Day, and the prospect of appearing on the beach has got some people getting their swimsuits in a twist. We're joined now by Sally Franson who blogs at the Writer's Block website. Sally, thanks for being with us again.
SALLY FRANSON: It's so nice to be back, Scott.
SIMON: So you've developed a workout for the bookish?
FRANSON: I have, you know, it's swimsuit season and it's also summer book season - time to do reading on the beach. And normally, reading and exercising don't mix until now.
Five years ago, Dr. George Tiller was shot and killed at the Wichita, Kans., church where he was an usher. Tiller was widely known for performing abortions in late pregnancy and had become a target for protests.
It was the morning of May 31, 2009, and fellow usher Gary Hoepner remembers they had finished their greeting duties and had walked out into the waiting area to get a doughnut.
Seoul, South Korea's making some changes to its urban landscape. The mayor's office says the women-friendly Seoul campaign will make the city more comfortable for women. They say a lot of urban design focused on men when they were the sole workers in a family and that's changed. So, they're installing pink painted parking spots reserved for women that are a bit wider and longer than the average spot and closer to elevators.
Mandolin fever swept the United States in the early 20th century, and alas, they didn't have a cure in those days. The lute-like instrument was the rage on college campuses. And mandolin orchestras - hundreds spread across the country played to wildly enthusiastic crowds.
When the novel, "What Is Visible" opens, one of the most famous people in the world is about to meet a little girl who's supposed to be like her - another freak in bloom, is how Laura Bridgman puts it. The little girl is Helen Keller. Laura Bridgman was 50 years older and heralded around the world for learning language after losing four of her five senses as a child to scarlet fever.
Seven people have died including the shooter after a gunman drove through the beachside community of Santa Barbara, Calif. last night. John Palminteri of station KCLU joins us now from Santa Barbara. Mr. Palminteri, thanks very much for being with us.
JOHN PALMINTERI: Yeah. It's a sad morning in the college town of Ila Vista, which is right next to the University of California Santa Barbara.
SIMON: Do police have any sense of whether these were random killings? Were they targeted premeditation?
Election watchers say Republicans could take control of the Senate this fall. At the same time, many of these same analysts see problems for the Grand Old Party in the longer term.
Republican voters tend to be white, older and more affluent, and their share of the overall population is shrinking. That's why at least some conservatives think it's time for the party to broaden its appeal to the middle class.
We went to a ballgame this week. Cubs versus Yankees at Chicago's Wrigley Field, which is observing, no, celebrating its 100th anniversary. Now the Taj Mahal and the Great Pyramids are wonders of the world and older by a few centuries, but you can't get a Chicago dog with celery salt and hot peppers there.
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. Let's open the toy department. Time for sports.
SIMON: Goal! Just warming up for the World Cup in soccer three weeks away. Didn't sound like it, did it?
The U.S. roster was announced on Thursday and made news with who is not on the list. Landon Donovan, the U.S. team's biggest star, won't play in Brazil. Why not? Who did he possibly offend? Not NPR's Tom Goldman. Tom, thanks for being with us.
What are you afraid of? The TED Radio Hour is asking that question this week. Guy Raz spoke to retired astronaut Chris Hadfield, who commanded the International Space Station, about the scariest day of his life.
GUY RAZ, BYLINE: Can you describe the day of a launch? Like, what happens on that day?
CHRIS HADFIELD: It's like a - that feeling in a roller coaster, I think, where you get into that little chunka, chunka, chunka chain thing that drags you up the hill to make the ride begin.
And the far right is poised to do well in Hungary's EU election tomorrow. Candidates blame the EU for many of that country's problems. NPR's Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson reports from Budapest.
SORAYA SARHADDI NELSON, BYLINE: To many Hungarians, a half-finished World War II monument next to a popular fountain in downtown Budapest highlights the extremist tenor of politics in this former East Bloc country.
Now, with pleasure to note, it's time for sports. Conference championships in hockey and basketball, both defending champions seem to be making their move. So to the strains of B.J. Leiderman's theme music of which he writes all of ours, we're joined now by Howard Bryant of espn.com and ESPN The Magazine from the studios of New England Public Radio. Thanks for being with us, Howard.
HOWARD BRYANT: Boy, that's a lot of energy, Scott. You must be a Blackhawks fan.
The mining town of Soma in Western Turkey is reeling after Tuesday's mine explosion. At least 300 people have died there. The government's now winding down the recovery operation, but many townspeople fear more miners remain underground and believe officials are covering up the real number of the dead. The mine has been shut and survivors are asking how they can support their families with no jobs. NPR's Leila Fadel sat down with one of the miners and sent this report.
This week, Malik Bendejelloul, who won the 2013 Oscar for his film "Searching for Sugar Man," was found dead in Stockholm. The cause of death is unknown, though his brother told the Guardian newspaper that Malik Bendejelloul took his own life after a struggle with depression.
Aaron Gwyn has written a novel about modern man at war on horses. He calls it a mideastern. "Wynne's War" is the story of a U.S. Army Ranger from Okla., Elijah Russell, whose stellar horsemanship gets him assigned to train Green Berets for a special mission in Afghanistan, a horseback raid on the Taliban in treacherous mountain territory.
There was a near-miss in the skies above Tallahassee recently. According to a Federal Aviation Administration official, an American Airlines regional jet nearly collided with a "small, remotely piloted aircraft" — a drone — cruising 2,300-feet above sea level.
Exactly who was flying the unmanned aircraft remains unknown, but drones are becoming increasingly common in U.S. skies. This week in North Dakota, the FAA began allowing tests of drones for agricultural purposes.
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. Neurosurgery is a stressful occupation. So is being a neurosurgical patient. With their superior eyes and hand skills, some neurosurgeons are turning to making art, and several are getting exposure at art exhibits throughout the country - including at this year's annual meeting of neurosurgeons. From member station KQED in San Francisco, April Dembosky sent us this audio postcard.
And, by the way, BG Lederman didn't write a single one of those songs. But he does write our theme music, including this one that says it's time for sports.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
SIMON: Post season - sorry, basketball. Forget about it, hockey. For theatrics, we're watching football's off season. The spectacle that is the NFL draft enters its third day today and America wants to know, can it be as good as the Kevin Costner film? NPR's Tom Goldman joins us - any Kevin Costner film. Thanks for being with us, Tom.
Hollywood starlets will mingle with politicians and even humble reporters in Washington on Saturday night. That can only mean one thing: the annual White House Correspondents' Dinner. The black-tie event has evolved into a glitzy celebrity roast, but it began as a simple chance for journalists to break bread with the presidents they cover.
This year, the White House Correspondents' Association is celebrating its 100th anniversary, and it plans to posthumously honor the first African-American reporter to cover a presidential news conference.
Basketball legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar says he believes the entire LA Clippers corporate organization is better off now that owner Donald Sterling has lost his standing with the NBA.
Sterling was banned for life from the NBA last week for racist remarks made on a recording released by TMZ Sports. Abdul-Jabbar says the punishment announced by NBA commissioner Adam Silver is wise and just, and has given the team confidence.
The favorite for Saturday's Kentucky Derby is a flashy red horse with a big white blaze down his face. California Chrome is of humble origin, and he'll be taking on expensive horses with Kentucky bluegrass connections, but he also comes with a lot of quirks that have folks rooting for him.
At age 77, trainer Art Sherman has finally hit the jackpot.
The world is in a terrible fix. Drones are zipping. Threats are flying. Secrets are leaking. The president of the United States is in the crosshairs of crisis. Only one person can help - Chloe O'Brian. Oh, and her friend, Jack Bauer. But not everyone's happy.
Ukraine's interim government is facing major obstacles: a separatist uprising in the east of the country, an economy in tatters and a presidential election next month.
But the leadership is also facing a longer-term challenge, one that will shape the future of the country: the creation of a new constitution.
The task will be complicated by pressure from Russia, which has already made clear what kind of constitution it thinks Ukraine should have. Russia's foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, laid out Russia's position in an interview last month.