This is WEEKEND EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. The news that the National Security Agency is collecting reams of telephone data and tracking Internet behavior has alarmed civil liberties groups. President Obama believes U.S. citizens have no need to worry.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: One of the things that we're going to have to discuss and debate is how are we striking this balance between the need to keep the American people safe and our concerns about privacy, because there are some tradeoffs involved.
Latin America has some of the highest crime rates in the world. And that includes extortion, which doesn't just terrorize but also takes a huge economic toll on ordinary citizens. In many Latin American countries, it's costing billions of dollars and hindering development. As part of our series on violence in Latin America, NPR's Carrie Kahn takes us to Mexico, where some estimates say extortion costs more than $30 billion a year. [POST-BROADCAST CORRECTION: Extortion costs an estimated $3.2 billion in Mexico annually.]
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. We're going to get the latest now on that horrifying scene that unfolded yesterday morning in Santa Monica, California. A gunman killed four people in a house, on the streets and at Santa Monica College before authorities shot him in the college's library.
Fifty-five boys — all poor and almost all African-American — were a part of a bold educational experiment in the early 1960s. They were placed in an intensive summer school program. If they finished, the headmasters of 16 prep schools agreed to accept them. Tuition paid.
Planning for that experiment started in 1963 at the height of the civil rights movement, one year before President Lyndon B. Johnson declared his "War on Poverty." Today, what began with 55 students and 16 schools has become an institution celebrating its 50th anniversary. It's called "A Better Chance."
Alison Krauss recorded "Lay My Burden Down" a couple of years ago for her No. 1 country album Paper Airplane, but the song was written by Aoife O'Donovan. The singer, best known as the voice of the alt-bluegrass band Crooked Still, is releasing her first solo album this week.
Sen. Frank Lautenberg was buried with military honors at Arlington National Cemetery on Friday. There was a steady rain. Soldiers fired rifle volleys, a bugler played taps and mourners paid their final respects.
The New Jersey Democrat was 89 when he died this week — and his death marked a somber milestone.
For the first time since the end of World War II, there are no veterans of that war in the U.S. Senate. Lautenberg had been the only one remaining.
This is Weekend Edition from NPR News, I'm Scott Simon.
(SOUNDBITE OF RIOTING)
SIMON: Turkish riot police fired tear gas and water cannons on demonstrators in downtown Istanbul during a second day of protests. The clashes were triggered by the government's plan to build a shopping mall in a downtown park. Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan has called for an immediate end to the protest. NPR's Peter Kenyon joins us from Istanbul. Peter, thanks for being with us.
SIMON: We've got conference championships going on in basketball and hockey. Can the Heat burn off the Pacers? Will this be the last rodeo for a great Spurs franchise or another gold ring? And four former champions are on ice in the NHL. Howard Bryant of ESPN The Magazine, the TV network and the website and the virgin cold-pressed olive oil joins us from the studios of New England Public Radio in Amherst. Howard, thank so much for being with us.
Teenagers can seem sullen, moody and uncommunicative, unless you know how to listen to them. James Harbeck does. He's an editor and linguist in Canada who's analyzed sounds that can be distinctly annoying to adults. James Harbeck joins us from the studios of the CBC in Toronto. Thanks so much for being with us.
JAMES HARBECK: Hi. Nice to be here.
SIMON: First, what made you devote any scholarship to this?
Next week, President Obama will meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping at an estate in California. Weekend Edition Saturday host Scott Simon speaks with Ken Lieberthal of the Brookings Institution about what issues the two world leaders are likely to discuss.
People might not want to stand near Australia's Prime Minister Julia Gillard if they want to keep their suit clean, but if they want a snack.... Earlier this month, someone hurled a sandwich slathered in Vegemite, the yeast extract that's Australia's national spread, at the prime minister. It missed by a wide mark. A student was suspended for 15 days, but he denies being the culprit.
Grace Aber stands in the shade of a mango tree with her children in the remote village of Tumangu in northern Uganda. Four of Aber's nine children have been diagnosed with nodding syndrome, starting with Partick (front), who first showed symptoms in 2002.
In 1971, when the Environmental Protection Agency was in its early days, someone at the agency got the idea to send nearly 100 freelance photographers around America to document the country. These weren't postcard shots, but pictures of street corners, freight yards, parking lots, alleyways — wherever people were working and living. It was called Documerica, and it went on for seven years.
Does your local high school have a student newspaper? And in this day when a social media message saying, "Tonight's Green Design and Technology class homework sucks!" can instantly be sent to thousands, does it need to?
The New York Times reports this week that only 1 in 8 of New York's public high schools has a student newspaper — and many of those are published just a few times a year. A few more are online, which can leave out poorer schools.
City and Colour is the stage name of Canadian singer-songwriter Dallas Green. Once upon a time, he was a member of the post-hardcore band Alexisonfire, which self-identified as "the sound of two Catholic high-school girls in mid-knife fight." But Green had a different side to him, too.
In 2005, Lance Cpl. Travis Williams lost his squad to an IED. He was the only survivor.
Credit Courtesy of Travis Williams
Lance Cpl. Travis Williams' squad, front row, from left: Michael Cifuentes, Christopher Dyer, Justin Hoffman, Aaron Reed, Edward August Shroeder, Eric Bernholtz. Back row, from left: Grant Fraser, Nicholas Bloem, Timothy Bell,Brett Wightman, Travis Williams, David Kreuter.
Lance Cpl. Travis Williams, 29, is an Iraq War veteran — and the only post-9/11 Marine to lose every other member of his 12-man squad. It happened in August 2005, when Williams and his teammates were sent on a rescue mission in Barwanah, Iraq.
"That morning, we loaded into the vehicle," Williams recalls. "And I get tapped on the shoulder, and I got told that I need to bounce up to the next vehicle. I said, 'Catch you guys on the flipside.' And that was the last thing I ever said to them."
When huge tornadoes, like the one that hit Moore, churn, swirl and scream, most people run for cover. Then there are people like Val Castor, who jumps into his truck and heads straight towards it. Mr. Castor is the senior storm tracker for Channel 9 News in Oklahoma City. He's been covering Oklahoma's temperamental and often treacherous weather for the last 22 years. Val Castor, we had the honor of spending a little time with you in your truck a couple of years ago. Thank you for being with us today.
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. A federal judge in Arizona has ruled against the man who calls himself America's toughest sheriff. The judge ruled that the Maricopa County Sheriff's Department has used racial profiling to enforce the state's tough immigration laws. Sheriff Joe Arpaio has maintained that his department has the authority to round up undocumented immigrants. NPR's Ted Robbins has been following the case and joins us now. Ted, thanks for being with us.
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News, I'm Scott Simon. In the two weeks since the Internal Revenue Service scandal erupted, the acting commissioner has been ousted, the head of the relevant section has been put on administrative leave. The Justice Department has begun investigating the scrutiny given to conservative groups that sought tax exempt status and three congressional committees have held hearings bombarding IRS officials with questions.
Hundreds of volunteers have come to Moore, Okla., this week to help the community after Monday's deadly tornado. Some people are cleaning debris, others are bringing out water and supplies to people whose lives have been turned upside down. NPR's Kirk Siegler stopped by one volunteer-powered relief group that's working east of town.
This Memorial Day weekend, tens of thousands of tourists are descending on the nation's capital. Many will spend time inside of Washington, D.C.'s free museums. Only a small fraction will take the drive across the Potomac River to a museum of a different sort, that's in the Pentagon. NPR's Shula Neuman reports.