This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. It seems that every week, there's a new study out on political polarization in America. More and more, we talk to, vote with, and get our news from only those who think the way that we do. So, this week we sent reporters on a couple of polar expeditions to political gatherings on the left and the right. And in a moment, we'll hear from NPR's Scott Horsley at Netroots Nation in Rhode Island. First, now here's NPR's David Schaper at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Chicago.
SCOTT HORSLEY, BYLINE: And I'm Scott Horsley in Providence. Netroots Nation is part pep rally, part technology seminar, and - this year at least - part postmortem. Netroots chairman Adam Bonin kicked off the gathering just two days after the Wisconsin vote, which was viewed very differently in this crowd than it was by the audience at CPAC.
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. Time for sports.
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SIMON: And there won't be a Triple Crown winner this year. But it's still a weekend for major matchups of all kinds, with Nadal and Djokovic, LeBron James and the Boston Celtics, and the peerless Manny Pacquiao in action. NPR Sports Correspondent Tom Goldman joins us.
To the daredevils of motor sports now - stock car racers. The Airborne Park Speedway in Plattsburgh, New York - racing takes on a hometown feel. North Country Public Radio's Sarah Harris went to an early season race and has our story.
SARAH HARRIS, BYLINE: At the Airborne Park Speedway in Plattsburgh, it's all stock car racing all day.
Fredric Stahl is "the sympathetic lawyer, the kind aristocrat, the saintly husband, the comforting doctor, or the good lover." At least onscreen.
He's an American movie star, born in Vienna, and says "my dear" with a kind of dreamy, trans-European cosmopolitan allure that makes him seem "a warm man in a cold world." He's also the hero of Alan Furst's new novel, Mission to Paris, set in Furst's favorite locale: Europe on the brink of war.
Niagara Falls has long been a magnet for daredevils, but strict laws have kept them away for more than a century. That's expected to change Friday, when circus performer Nik Wallenda will walk a two-inch-thick wire above the giant waterfall. It's an exception officials hope will rescue tourism — and the city's economy.
The crowd of job seekers at an unemployment office in downtown Madrid looks different than it did a few years ago.
When the housing market went bust, construction workers flooded the lobby. Now, labor reforms have made it easier for corporations to fire workers without seniority. So now young people, including those with an education, are unable to find work.
Jaime Garcia de Sola, a former intern at an investment bank, was one of those waiting in the unemployment line.
Consider this name: Kishi Bashi. It has a pleasant, repetitive character with a nice — if unusual — little loop. It's an apt stage name for a musician who's creating something haunting, beautiful and maybe a little off-kilter through the technology of looping.
Sometimes, politicians eat their words. This week, the British government reversed course on a plan to place a 20 percent tax on all foods sold hot — with no exemption for pasties.
Pasties are hand food, baked for Cornish miners to eat when they could put aside their pickaxes. People eat pasties today as they sit on a bench for a few minutes' respite or walk along the street between chores. They have become comfort, convenience, pub-crawling and football-watching food.
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. Hosni Mubarak has been sentenced to life in prison for his role in deaths of hundreds of protesters during the revolution that ousted him last year. The former Egyptian president is the first Arab leader to be hauled in for trial by his own people.
Last night in Syria, the third massacre in a week. This time a dozen workers were found shot to death, their bodies dumped in a field. The United Nations has called for an investigation into the mass killings last weekend in Houla of more than 100 people, many of them women and children. We're joined now from the United Nations in New York by Kieran Dwyer. He's the chief spokesman for the U.N. Peacekeeping Department. Mr. Dwyer, thanks for taking the time to speak with us.
For more on possible options in Syria, we're joined by Thomas P.M. Barnett. He is a former Pentagon analyst who's written in support of military intervention in Syria on Time magazine's Battleland blog. Mr. Barnett's also chief analyst at Wikistrat, a consultancy firm on geopolitical analysis. He joins us from his office in Indianapolis. Mr. Barnett, thanks for being with us.
You know, if Facebook were a Broadway show, they'd be firing the director and rewriting the script. Facebook share price closed this week at $27.72. That's more than a 25 percent drop from its initial public offering price. The social networks debut as a publically traded company last month has been panned, questioned and trouble by a Securities and Exchange Commission probe and shareholder lawsuits.
So, why is job growth slowing? Well, part of the problem, as we just heard, appears to be in Europe. The economic turmoil there is looking worse, and that has ripped into the U.S. economy and slowing down hiring. NPR's Chris Arnold has more from Boston.
CHRIS ARNOLD, BYLINE: The weather this week was beautiful in Boston, so it's perfect for tourists having lunch outside by the harbor or taking a trolley bus around to do some sightseeing.
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. There's a showdown between American sisters and the Vatican. The Vatican is cracking down on the largest organization for U.S. sisters, called the Leadership Conference of Women Religious. Pope Benedict has appointed an archbishop to oversee and reform the organization, accusing it of what amounts to doctrinal dissidence. Now, the sisters are fighting back - at least verbally. We're joined by NPR's religion correspondent, Barbara Bradley Hagerty. Barbara, thanks for being with us.
The agency that monitors advertising in Britain turned 50 this week and in honor of the occasion it released a list of the most-hated ads ever to air on the telly. Vicki Barker reports.
VICKI BARKER, BYLINE: In this ad from 2010 for Paddy Power, an Irish-based betting company some blind soccer players kick a ball with a bell on it. They don't see but we see and the ref sees Tiddles the cat wander onto the field and then...
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BARKER: ...the ref puts a consoling arm over the player's shoulder.
SIMON: It's the French Open and you know, already, there's almost not an American left in Paris - Andy Roddick, Serena and Venus Williams all out already. And elsewhere, the NBA semifinals are in full swing. But let's hold the hardwood and go first to the clay. Howard Bryant of ESPN.com and ESPN the magazine joins us now from the Roland Garros Stadium in Paris. Howard, thanks for being with us.
Jim Meskimen is the only person I've ever heard open an interview with NPR's Scott Simon in the voice of NPR's Robert Siegel.
In fairness, he's the one most likely to do so, since he is a noted impressionist. He acknowledges "you don't see people doing their Robert Siegel in nightclubs much," though he's noted what he calls Siegel's "bemused kind of delivery."
Today, Americans take bananas for granted. They're cheap, they're ripe, they're everywhere. But take a moment and consider: How did a pale, fragile tropical fruit become so commonplace in America? Immigrants arriving at the South Ferry terminal, where the Ellis Island ferry landed, were once handed bananas and told, "Welcome to America."
In just a few weeks, the world will descend on London for the Olympic Games.
But the world goes to London every day, according to Boris Johnson, the former journalist who has just been re-elected mayor of London. In his new book, Johnson says people don't just visit the city, they've made their lives there for centuries now. It's a city, Johnson writes, where national soccer teams from all over the world can show up and count on crowds of thousands of fans to support them.
New information about computer viruses shows how countries may be lining up to fight a cyberwar. The New York Times reported that former President George W. Bush and President Obama both authorized computer attacks against Iran, culminating in the Stuxnet virus, which targeted Iranian nuclear facilities.
Meanwhile, a United Nations agency raised alarms about another virus, dubbed "Flame," which may also have been designed for use against Iran.
What would it be like if you were 10 years old and composed a piece of music that was played by the New York Philharmonic? For a few New York City school kids, including one fifth-grader, it's a dream come true, thanks to the orchestra's Very Young Composers program.
Composer Jon Deak, who played bass with the New York Philharmonic for more than 40 years, says the idea for Very Young Composers came when he and conductor Marin Alsop visited an elementary school in Brooklyn several years ago.
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. This week in Egypt, a nation that has been ruled for thousands of years by pharaohs, colonial rulers, military regimes and dictators held its first free election for a national leader. Egyptians went to the polls on Wednesday and Thursday, and though the official results are not yet in, the election is certainly a milestone in the democratic awakening known as the Arab Spring. Here's a selection of voices from Cairo in the week that Egypt voted.
Massachusetts Democratic Senate candidate and Harvard law professor Elizabeth Warren continues to be dogged by the question of if she has claimed American Indian heritage. Yesterday, in the wake of new allegations, Republican Senator Scott Brown accused Professor Warren of misleading Harvard about her Native American ethnicity. From member station WBUR in Boston, Fred Thys reports.
And if you're one of millions of motorists on the roads this holiday weekend, you may have noticed something unexpected and welcome. Gas prices are falling. This at the start of the summer driving season when gas prices usually spike. We turn now to Daniel Yergin. He's author of "The Quest: Energy, Security, and the Remaking of the Modern World," and chairman of IHS Cambridge Energy Research Associates. He joins us from his office in Washington, D.C.