It's not clear whether a French intelligence agent is dead or alive after a botched rescue attempt in Somalia on Saturday morning. As the AP reports:
"France says the agent, code-name Denis Allex, was killed in the raid, along with a French commando and 17 Islamist militants. But the militant group al-Shabab, which held Allex for more than three years, says it still has Allex and claims to have captured a French soldier."
The Baseball Hall of Fame is a tourist attraction, not a papal conclave. And the people who cast votes for the Hall are sportswriters, not the College of Cardinals.
But there was something momentous this week when the Baseball Writers Association elected no one to the Hall of Fame. Not Roger Clemens, who won a record seven Cy Young Awards. Not Barry Bonds, who hit a record 762 home runs. Not Sammy Sosa, who hit 60 or more home runs in a season three times.
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:
Originally published on Sat January 12, 2013 9:22 am
There was something momentous this week when the Baseball Writers Association elected no one to the Hall of Fame. Weekend Edition Saturday host Scott Simon remarks on the rebuke, rare in a sport where bad behavior is routine.
A lot of you have had it by now, or are having it or are about to be exposed. This year's flu is called "H3N2" and this week it's doing big business in about 47 states, Chicago and New York. If you've had a flu shot and if you wash your hands several times a day for 20 seconds, (which is the time it takes to hum "Happy Birthday to You" two times through) you might reduce your odds of getting sick.
Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor readily concedes that she was the beneficiary of affirmative action in higher education, and she doesn't really know why her view is so different from that of her colleague, Justice Clarence Thomas.
"As much as I know Clarence, admire him and have grown to appreciate him," she says, "I have never ever focused on the negative of things. I always look at the positive. And I know one thing: If affirmative action opened the doors for me at Princeton, once I got in, I did the work. I proved myself worthy. So, I don't look at how the door opened."
Of course, this last week has been kind of a nightmare for Boeing and its new 787 Dreamliner. In three separate incidents in as many days, airline carriers reported problems with brakes, with fuel leaks and a battery fire. The U.S. Department of Transportation has announced a comprehensive review of the new plane. Joining us now to talk about Boeing's new 787 is Joe Nocera, op-ed columnist for The New York Times, and our man on finance and other matters. Joe, thanks very much for being with us.
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon.
You might've chuckled a bit this week, if you heard about the trillion-dollar platinum coin plan, to perhaps address Washington, D.C.'s debt ceiling stalemate. But it will certainly be no laughing matter if the U.S. Congress refuses to raise the borrowing limit, and the U.S. government defaults on its debt. Global financial markets would likely plummet.
NPR's John Ydstie reports on some of the options the president has if he and Congress cannot reach an agreement.
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News, I'm Scott Simon. Hey, it's time for sports.
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SIMON: In the NFL playoffs this weekend, will the Falcons, Seahawks and Ravens soar? Will the Broncos buck, the 49ers strike gold, the Patriots run up the flag, the Texans remember, and the Packers pack up and go home? How many ridiculous phrases can I work into a sentence?
NPR's Tom Goldman joins us now to help us make sense of all of 'em. Tom, thanks for being with us.
For many, the stakes and the scale of World War II are hard to fathom. It was a war fought around the world, against powerful, determined regimes in Europe and the Pacific; some 65 million people died. And as the number of people who have actual memories of the war dwindle — as of next year, there will be fewer than 1 million living veterans — the mission of the National World War II Museum in New Orleans becomes all the more urgent.
Among the donations that poured into the American Red Cross building after the earthquake in Haiti three years ago was a box of Frisbees. In a flood of well-intentioned but unneeded donations, this box stuck out to Meghan O'Hara, who oversees in-kind donations for the organization.
O'Hara says someone clearly wanted to help — the person mailed the box from Germany — but all she could think was, "Wow. That $60 or $70 could have been sent to so many different organizations to help out in so many different ways, and now we have a box of Frisbees."
Just a few years ago, Georgia Power generated nearly three-fourths of its electricity with coal. Last year, for the first time, natural gas edged out coal, and just this week the company announced plans to close 10 coal-fired power generators within the next few years.
"We do recognize this is a historic event for our company. We've never announced this many closings at one time," says Mark Williams, a company spokesperson.
It's been only a few years since Congress granted the federal government the power to approve how tobacco products are made and sold in the U.S.
The Food and Drug Administration's new Center for Tobacco Products, established under a 2009 law that gives the agency jurisdiction over tobacco, must review all new cigarettes or smokeless tobacco, as well as any changes to existing brands.
But the agency has yet to clear any products under the new system, and some cigarette makers are frustrated by the backlog of applications.
For years, I've taken issue with depictions of mentally ill characters in books and movies. Irrational behavior is easily explained away: They're crazy! No need to elaborate further.
So when I picked up Too Bright to Hear Too Loud to See, I was apprehensive that the main character, an untreated bipolar Hollywood studio executive who leaves his wife and child for an international adventure, might be a kooky manic cliche.
The historical drama is a staple of the film awards season, and the tortured history of modern Germany — with its echoes of the brutal Third Reich and war — has played a central role in many an award-winning film. But the new film Barbara, which was Germany's official entry to this year's Oscars, is a nuanced portrait of the more recent history of a newly reunited East and West.