Today had the promise of history — that is, until the horse I'll Have Another was scratched from the Belmont Stakes. Also scratched: hopes for a long-awaited Triple Crown winner. It was yet another piece of bad news for the horse racing industry, which is under new scrutiny over the safety and treatment of the horses.
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.
This is Weekend Edition from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon.
It's been another bloody week in Syria. This week, dozens of people were reportedly killed in cold blood in a tiny farming hamlet in Central Syria by forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad. It is the latest atrocity in a 15-month revolt against the regime.
From Syria we head now to Bahrain, where a prominent human rights activist is back in detention this time for what he's been writing on Twitter. The U.S. says it's looking into the case and continuing to encourage Bahrain to allow free speech. Activists say the U.S. isn't pushing its ally hard enough.
NPR's Michele Kelemen spoke with a Bahraini human rights advocate who was in Washington, D.C. this week to remind U.S. officials that activists are still under pressure a year after Bahrain cracked down on anti-government protesters.
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.
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.
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. Last month, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement made a significant policy change. They increased the number of agents responsible for finding and deporting illegal immigrants with criminal records by nearly 25 percent. Now, the agency says it wants to remove offenders who pose the greatest threat to public safety or national security.
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.
Nik Wallenda walks a tightrope in the rain during a training session for his upcoming stunt in Niagara Falls, N.Y.
Credit Gary Wiepert / AP
Spectators watch Nik Wallenda practice in Niagara Falls, N.Y. Local officials are hoping the stunt revives flagging tourism.
Credit David Duprey / AP
High-wire performer Nik Wallenda will try to cross the Niagara Gorge on a tightrope this Friday. The seventh-generation member of the Flying Wallendas spent months getting the necessary permissions from Canada and the United States for the cross-border stunt.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.