The Uptown Vocal Jazz Quartet has been serenading audiences in its native Washington, D.C., across the country and even as far as France for more than two decades. But its members are finding ways to bring something new to their performances. Bandleader and co-founder Ginny Carr says she wrote the words and music to all 10 songs on the quartet's new album, Hustlin' for a Gig — a relative rarity in a jazz world defined by time-tested standards.
Mitt Romney is set to depart from London Saturday, after three days of photo ops and closed meetings. But his assessment of London's handling of the games drew a rebuke from Prime Minister David Cameron. Host Scott Simon chats with Financial Times columnist Gideon Rachman about the visit and the perceptions formed by Romney's hosts.
Throughout this week, NPR's Kelly McEvers has been bringing us stories from parts of Syria controlled by the rebels who are fighting to oust the regime of Bashar Assad. She talks with host Scott Simon about her reporting.
Our marathon man of trivia is A.J. Jacobs, who once read the entire Encyclopedia Britannica to learn more and get a book contract. Why didn't he just write 50 Shades of Knowledge? A.J. joins us now to talk about Olympic facts, some of which may actually be true.
A.J., thanks for being with us.
A.J. JACOBS: And thank you for having me.
SIMON: Let's start with the marathon, A.J. Apparently, one of your favorite athletes in history was Spiridon Louis, who was the winner of the first modern marathon back in 1896.
The 2012 Olympic Games opened Friday, with a ceremony that included James Bond and Queen Elizabeth parachuting into the stadium, flyovers, rippling Union Jacks, Shakespeare, sheep and fireworks. Host Scott Simon talks to Simon Hoggart, political sketch writer for The Guardian about the opening ceremony.
Late July is peak tomato season in much of the country, so for some fresh and inventive twists on the fruit — and yes, it is botanically a fruit, no matter what the Supreme Court says — we're heading to Home Wine Kitchen in Maplewood, Mo.
On a sweltering day in July, Cairo temperatures top 100 degrees and the humidity is an oppressive 83 percent. There hasn't been a single day this month with a high of less than 90 — in a country where access to air conditioning is much more limited than in the United States.
Add to that the fact that much of the country is fasting for Ramadan and it gives a new dimension to what the Egyptian Meteorological Association calls a "humid heat wave."
This has been a summer of blood, sweat and tears in Chicago. The city has been scorched by historic heat, and the homicide rate has soared. When the sun goes down behind the glimmering lakeshore skyline, blocks on the South and West Side of the city can ring with shots and sirens.
The streets of neighborhoods like Englewood, Grand Crossing and Garfield Park are empty, even during the day. In the middle of this summer, it is rare to see a child ride a bike or walk a dog.
Early in 1944, Southern England bristled with 150,000 American, British and Canadian soldiers gathered for an invasion the Allies hoped would end World War II.
The soldiers, pilots, sailors and Marines knew they were there to be launched into Nazi-occupied Europe. But surely the Germans knew also. It's hard to hide the largest invasion force in history. LIFE Magazine even ran photos of GIs in Piccadilly.
The phrase "theater number 9" may soon be one of those added to our collective memory. That is where the shootings in Aurora, Colo., took place. It has some movie goers wondering about their safety in cities across the country.
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. And it's time now for sports.
(SOUNDBITE OF SPORTS THEME MUSIC)
SIMON: OK, maybe that should be the (hums Olympic theme) because in just a few days, all the pomp and patriotism, the grit and athleticism, the sweat and pomposity of the 2010 Olympic Summer Games begins. Here with a preview NPR's Tom Goldman joins us. Tom, thanks so much for being with us.
TOM GOLDMAN, BYLINE: Did I just hear doves released in the studio there, Scott?
Businesses in Aurora, Colo., sprang into action Friday to assist victims and their families. Kevin Hougen, president of the Aurora Chamber of Commerce, worked with businesses to help provide necessities to victims of the shooting. Host Scott Simon spoke with Hougen Friday from his office, which overlooks the movie theater.
American flags are flying at half-staff today over the White House, and elsewhere in the country. The shootings in Aurora have silenced politics as usual - at least, for the moment. The Romney and Obama campaigns have both pulled their TV ads from the air in Colorado, a state that had three top political advertising markets in the country this week. NPR's Ari Shapiro reports on a somber day on the campaign trail.
Opposition activists in Syria report that there's been another day of heavy shelling in a number of cities, as rebel fighters continue their guerrilla war to topple President Bashar Assad. Host Scott Simon talks with NPR's Peter Kenyon in Beirut, which has seen a huge increase in refugees in recent days.
There's another dimension to that unfolding LIBOR scandal which cost Barclays, the British bank, its CEO and $450 million in fines after it was revealed that the bank had been manipulating international lending rates. Attention has shifted to why U.S. financial regulators, who knew about the rate rigging, didn't move to stop it more swiftly.
We're going to put that question to Robert Smith, correspondent for NPR's Planet Money. He joins us from New York. Robert, thanks for being with us.
At the end of July, thousands of visitors will descend on one of the great literary landscapes of history for the London Olympics. And if they're lucky, they may find themselves getting a ride from a man who drives for a living, but lives to read. London cabbie Will Grozier occasionally joins Weekend Edition to discuss what he's been reading. Lately, he's been thinking about books for the London Olympics visitor — reads that put both the games and the host city in context. He shares his recommendations with NPR's Scott Simon.
People keep asking me why I recorded Sergei Prokofiev's Fifth Symphony for my first CD release in my new post leading the Sao Paulo Symphony Orchestra. The simple answer is that it just felt right. But in thinking about it, I can now see many parallels — at least for me — between Prokofiev's music, the city of Sao Paulo and the country of Brazil.
Fifty years ago this week, communications went global. July 12, 1962 the Telstar 1 satellite from AT&T became the first commercial spacecraft to beam television images from the United States to Europe.
There may be no better town in America for observing the heavens than Tucson, Arizona. It has low humidity, high elevation and a darkened desert. That part of the state has attracted quite a few astronomers, both professional and amateur. We sent NPR's Peter Breslow to Tucson to seek out this community of stargazers.
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon.
There's more gloomy news from the eurozone this week. Italy saw its sovereign debt rating lowered by one agency, at just a couple of notches above junk status. In Spain, civil servants, coalminers, and others took to the streets once again to protest more spending cuts and tax hikes. And Germany's highest court heard arguments challenging the constitutionality of two measures considered central to efforts to try to contain the euro crisis.
It's been over a week since scientists announced that they've found the Higgs boson particle. It's an important discovery. They say that although the Higgs boson particle is small - or, come to think of it, perhaps because of it - it holds the universe together. But for all the publicity the particle's received, how many of us could explain what it actually does? Well, here's the announcement from scientists in Switzerland.
Earlier this week, NPR and the Center for Public Integrity reported astonishing news: the coal miners' disease called black lung is a growing problem again. The investigative report also showed that weak regulation and industry deception has thwarted the effort to protect miners from the coal mine dust that causes black lung.
NPR's Howard Berkes joins us. Howard, thanks for being with us. first,
HOWARD BERKES, BYLINE: It's good to be with you, Scott.