This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon.
Chen Guangcheng, the blind, Chinese human rights lawyer, is on a plane headed for America right now, according to his friends and supporters. Chinese authorities gave Mr. Chen a passport today and drove him to an airport in Beijing. His departure caps a remarkable few weeks that included a daring escape from house arrest and high-stakes, diplomatic negotiations.
NPR's Frank Langfitt has been following the story from Shanghai. Frank, thanks for being with us.
The world leaders at the G-8 Summit meet at a time of many urgent concerns, including the shaky world economy. But an article on ForeignPolicy.com says that the nations represented at the summit lack the power to lead right now, and questions what the G-8 can accomplish at this meeting or in the future. Ian Bremmer is the author of that article. His is the president of the Eurasia Group, an international consulting firm, and he joins us from New York. Mr. Bremmer, thanks for being with us.
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. A tall white rocket is still standing on a launch pad at Cape Canaveral in Florida. The rocket belongs to a company called SpaceX, and it was supposed to blast-off this morning, send an unmanned capsule on a mission to the International Space Station - the first time a personal spacecraft will try to visit the station. But the launch attempt fizzled out this morning in the last seconds of the countdown.
Katie Beckett has died in Cedar Rapids, Iowa at the age of 34. She was just 3 years old when her case changed health care law. NPR's Joseph Shapiro has more.
JOSEPH SHAPIRO, BYLINE: Katie Beckett died Friday morning in the same hospital where she'd once made history. In 1981, Katie Beckett was living at St. Luke's Methodist Hospital in Cedar Rapids. She was stuck there because of a clash between advancing medical technology and antiquated health care law.
To be a parent is to be constantly reminded that almost everything you thought you were doing right for your children will one day turn out to be wrong.
The wisdom on whether your baby should be put to sleep on his back or stomach, whether fevers should be treated or left to run their course, seems to change every few years. Parents used to think nothing of letting their children bounce around like pingpong balls in the back of a car. Now, children are strapped in the back like astronauts waiting for blast off.
After years of bitter controversy, the <a href="http://www.barnesfoundation.org/">Barnes Foundation</a> opens the doors of its new location in downtown Philadelphia on Saturday. Since 1922, the collection has been housed in the Philadelphia suburbs, where critics say the collection's owner would have wanted it to stay.
Credit Tom Crane / The Barnes Foundation Philadelphia
Albert Barnes built this gallery for his art collection in Merion, Pa., a Philadelphia suburb, in 1922. He wanted his institution to be a school for art appreciation, not an ordinary museum.
Credit George Widman / AP
The lighting in the galleries of the new building (shown above) is a dramatic improvement over the lighting in the Merion building. But that's the biggest change; Barnes Foundation officials promised a Pennsylvania judge they would preserve the dimensions of the original galleries in the collection's new home.
Credit Matt Rourke / AP
Barnes Foundation officials say the new facility — with classrooms, a lecture hall and modern library — will help them better carry out the foundation's core educational mission. Above, the view of the new building from 21st Street.
The Barnes Foundation opens the doors of its new gallery in downtown Philadelphia on Saturday. Its collection of paintings by Matisse, Picasso, Renoir, Cezanne and many more is now hanging in galleries designed to replicate those at the Barnes' old home in suburban Merion. The move follows a decade of bitter debate over the future of this multibillion-dollar collection.
Jack Hitt is a contributing editor to the <em>New York Times Magazine</em> and <em>Harpers</em>. His work is <a href="http://www.thisamericanlife.org/search?keys=jack%20hitt">frequently heard</a> on PRI's <em>This American Life</em>.
Jack Hitt says if you drill down into the American spirit to find out what makes Americans so American, you'll find it's the fact that we're all amateurs at heart. In his new book, Bunch of Amateurs: A Search for the American Character, he pinpoints the first American to use the amateur label to his advantage: Benjamin Franklin.
Idina Menzel is touring the nation, performing "No Day But Today," her signature song from the musical Rent. That show made Menzel, playing the flirtatious performance artist Maureen Johnson, famous in the late-1990s. She followed with her Tony Award-winning role as the green-faced Wicked Witch of the West in the musical Wicked. More recently, she's had a recurring spot on the TV show Glee.
Most Americans give politicians low marks for sincerity and see every decision they reach as a cold, poll-driven calculation. Often enough, it is. Politicians, after all, have asked pollsters where they should spend their summer vacations.
Yet when pundits and interest groups urge politicians to change their minds and they do, they're assailed for flip-flopping.
The star of John Irving's new novel, In One Person, is Billy Abbott. Billy is a character at the mercy of his own teenage crushes, which are visited upon by a whole repertory company of gender-bending characters.
It's a repertory company in the most literal sense, too. Billy spends many days backstage at the local theater — where gender can also fluctuate and where his family members are regulars.
[Roman Totenberg was a child prodigy who became a violin virtuoso, as well as a master teacher who passed along his command of craft and his love of music — and life — to thousands. He was also the man you wanted to sit next to at the table because he was so funny. Totenberg died this week at the age of 101, surrounded by loving family, friends and students. We asked his daughter, Nina Totenberg, for this remembrance. — Scott Simon]
When Hilary Mantel's new book opens, the spark has gone out of Henry VIII's second marriage. His roving eye leaves Anne Boleyn and begins to settle on Jane Seymour, another woman at court. The monarch doesn't go to a marriage counselor or divorce lawyer, not when Thomas Cromwell is his chief adviser.
Bring Up the Bodies is the sequel to Wolf Hall, which won the Man Booker Prize and worldwide acclaim. Itis also the latest in a planned trilogy about Cromwell.
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. The federal corruption trial of John Edwards continued this week in Greensboro, North Carolina. Government witnesses painted an ugly portrait of the former senator and presidential candidate. But the prosecution may have been less successful in making the case that he deliberately violated campaign finance law. North Carolina Public Radio's Jeff Tiberii was in the courtroom.
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon.
When Hilary Mantel's new book opens, the spark has gone out of Henry the VIII's marriage; second marriage, in fact. Anne Boleyn hasn't given him a son. Now, he finds the sharp remarks she makes that used to charm sometimes come at his expense. His roving eye begins to settle on Jane Seymour, another woman at court. But in Henry's time, a monarch doesn't go to a marriage counselor or divorce lawyer, not when Thomas Cromwell is the king's chief advisor.
President Obama tried to best the face on yesterday's jobs report. He told students at a Virginia high school that private employers have added more than four million jobs over the last two years, but he acknowledge recovery is not happening fast enough.
This week, the British Parliamentary committee that was convened to investigate accusations of phone hacking and executive misconduct at Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., delivered its findings. And the headlines it created make uncomfortable reading for a media magnate who has been under the microscope for 18 months now.
MPs accused News Corp. as a whole of what they call willful blindness. And they went on to make some further damning observations on Rupert Murdoch's own competency.
One of four versions Edvard Munch made of his masterpiece, The Scream, one of the most recognizable works of art in the world, was auctioned at Sotheby's this week for a record-setting price: $119 million.
SIMON: The name that kept popping up in our email box this week was Michael Morton. He was the subject of a report last Saturday by NPR's Wade Goodwyn, who told the story of how Mr. Morton was convicted in 1987 of murdering his wife, Christine, near Austin, Texas. He was innocent, but served almost 25 years in prison.
Originally published on Sat April 28, 2012 11:22 am
SCOTT SIMON, HOST:
Time now for Your Letters.
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SIMON: Many of you were moved by our story about the Soldier Ride, a four-day cycling event organized by the Wounded Warriors Project. Iraq War veteran Sergeant Michael Owens spoke about why he rides.
SERGEANT MICHAEL SULLIVAN: I think it's really important for warriors and veterans like myself to be able to know that we can still do the same things we did before, or new things that we never tried before.
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon, and time for sports.
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SIMON: The NBA playoffs are about to begin. Will LeBron James and the Miami Trio live up to their promise? Will Metta World Peace ever live up to his name? And will Albert Pujols ever live up to his salary?
NPR's Tom Goldman joins us. Morning, Tom.
TOM BOWMAN, BYLINE: Happy opening day of the playoffs day to you, Scott.