Hundreds of people across the country attended "Justice For Trayvon" rallies calling for civil rights charges against George Zimmerman in the wake of his acquittal a week ago in the fatal shooting of black teen Trayvon Martin.
The Rev. Al Sharpton's National Action Network organized the events following last Saturday's verdict in Sanford, Fla., in which six jurors accepted Zimmerman's claim of self-defense during a scuffle with Martin in February 2012.
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:
Israel said Saturday that it's prepared to release a number of Palestinian prisoners following a breakthrough in talks brokered by Secretary of State John Kerry.
Yuval Steiniz, Israel's intelligence and strategic affairs minister, said the release would involve "heavyweight prisoners in jail for decades". He said the prisoners would be freed soon. (Note: the translation used by The Associated Press has it as "hardcore" instead of "heavyweight").
A man in a wheelchair detonated a homemade bomb at Beijing International Airport, injuring himself but no one else, China's state media says.
The explosion occurred at about 6:24 p.m. Beijing time on Saturday. State-run China Central Television says the wounded man was taken to a hospital after setting off the device and that no one else was injured, no flights were affected and order had been restored at the airport.
Earlier this week, it was revealed that crime novelist Robert Galbraith is in fact British author J.K. Rowling of the Harry Potter books. But how was Rowling's secret uncovered? WESA's Larkin Page-Jacobs reports, British journalists turned to an obscure source to confirm Rowling's authorship.
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Linda Wertheimer. One year ago today, a gunman opened fire during a sold-out midnight showing of the newest Batman movie at a theater in Aurora, Colorado. Twelve people died, 70 were injured. Minutes after the attack, police arrested James Holmes.
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Linda Wertheimer. In Syria, the army of President Bashar al-Assad appears to be gaining the upper hand on the battlefield, as rebels wait for military assistance from the U.S. and other Western allies, assistance that has yet to arrive. Meanwhile, U.N. officials say the refugee crisis has now reached levels not seen since after the Rwanda genocide.
NPR's Kelly McEvers joins us from Beirut for more. Kelly, welcome.
Today, Russia is wrapping up its biggest military maneuver since the Soviet era, an exercise that's designed to test its military readiness on land, sea and in the air. NPR's Corey Flintoff reports that it may also be an effort to show Russia's Far Eastern neighbors that it is still a force to be reckoned with.
COREY FLINTOFF, BYLINE: Russian President Vladimir Putin watched part of the war games this week at a firing range in southern Siberia.
PRESIDENT VLADIMIR PUTIN: (Foreign language spoken)
An Israeli cabinet member said today that officials plan to release some Palestinians who have been in prison in Israel for decades. This appears to be part of the diplomatic dance around restarting peace negotiations between the Palestinians and Israel. After six visits to the region in six months, Secretary of State John Kerry, announced yesterday that there is enough agreement to begin initial talks next week or soon after in Washington, D.C.
The sun-soaked Spanish Riviera isn't where you'd expect to find a faithful foot soldier of North Korea. But that's exactly what Alejandro Cao de Benos calls himself.
Cao de Benos, 38, is believed to be the only Westerner ever employed by the North Korean government. He's a Spanish aristocrat, born to a family of landed gentry in northeast Spain, where he agreed to meet NPR for an interview one recent afternoon.
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Linda Wertheimer. For the past few years, in July the Russia provincial town of Vologda has hosted a European Film Festival. Vologda is a sleepy city far from the Russian metropolises of Moscow and St. Petersburg, and every year the arrival of European filmmakers and actors to the Russian heartland is a very special event.
This year, NPR's Eleanor Beardsley attended the festival.
Scientific research can be expensive, but a lack of funds did not stop one scientist in Buffalo from moving forward with his project. State University of New York professor Chris Lowry came up with a creative and cheap way to get measurements on stream levels across the state by crowdsourcing his research.
Chris Lowry joins us from member station WBFO in Buffalo, New York. Professor Lowry, thank you very much for coming in.
Detroit was supposed to be a showplace of the urban renaissance.
A little more than a decade ago, Detroit was widely touted as one of the great comeback stories in the country. It was a common theme in the mid-to-late-1990s, with a generation of successful mayors leading their cities back from the brink — which, in cases such as New York, Philadelphia and Cleveland, included near-collapses into bankruptcy.
Somalia hadn't had a case of polio for nearly six years. But in the past few months, the virus has come back. Now the East African country has the worst polio outbreak anywhere in the world.
Twenty new cases of polio were reported this week in Somalia by the Global Polio Eradication Initiative. That brings the total number of cases in the Horn of Africa to 73. The rest of the world combined has tallied only 59 cases so far this year.
The race for governor in Virginia is attracting national attention for several reasons. It pits a former Democratic National Committee chairman against a conservative attorney general who helped lead the charge against President Obama's health care law. It's also one of the few high-profile statewide races happening this year, which means it will be closely watched for insights into the national mood ahead of the congressional midterm elections of 2014.
Popular lore has it that the Italian merchant Marco Polo was responsible for introducing the noodle to China. This legend appeals to Italians, but if you ask the Chinese, they may beg to differ.
In her latest book, On the Noodle Road, author Jen Lin-Liu chronicles a six-month journey along the historic Silk Road from eastern China, through central Asia, Turkey, Iran and eventually arriving in Italy, in search of the true origin of the noodle.
It was the eve of a series of votes to end GOP filibusters of seven presidential appointees, and Democrats had vowed they would resort to the "nuclear option" and get rid of such filibusters altogether should any of those stalled nominees remain blocked.
All but two of the Senate's 100 members squeezed into the camera-free old chamber that the Senate used until just before the Civil War. Behind closed doors, they talked for more than three hours.
I buttonholed West Virginia Democrat Jay Rockefeller as he stepped out of that Monday night meeting.
Now it is time to move on to our final game, Lightning Fill In The Blank. Each of our players will have 60 seconds in which they can answer as many fill in the blank questions as he or she can. Each correct answer is now worth two points. Carl, can you give us the scores?
CARL KASELL: Alonzo Bodden has the lead, Peter. He has four points, Faith Salie has two, Charlie Pierce has two.
The days are few and far between when President Obama has intentionally reminded us that he is the first African-American president.
Friday was one.
The president did something no other holder of his office has ever had the life experience to do: He used the bully pulpit to, as an African-American, explain black America to white America in the wake of last week's acquittal of George Zimmerman in the shooting death of unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin.