This week, the war in Syria jumped two borders - East into Iraq and west into Lebanon. And the combatants come in at all three countries, but belong to an extremist group affiliated with al Qaida, know by the name ISIS, the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria. Now, they claimed a car bombing in Lebanon and seized parts of two towns in Iraq's Anbar Province. But in Syria, the homegrown rebel groups mounted a surprising challenge to the extremists, kicking them out of some safe havens in Northern Syria.
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. I'm going to take this moment to remember the life of Ariel Sharon, Israel's former prime minister. Mr. Sharon suffered a devastating stroke in 2006 at the height of his political power. He died today after spending years in a coma. Former ambassador Dennis Ross has played a leading role in shaping U.S. policy on Israel and the Middle East and he first met Ariel Sharon in 1982, and joins us now. Mr. Ambassador, thanks very much for being with us.
So people still smoke in spite of the many good reasons not to. It certainly is addictive, but the cigarette also has a certain allure. Think of a man leaning into to light a lady's cigarette, or the pack preferred in a tense moment. Cigarettes are part of our culture. Richard Klein has written a book about that, "Cigarettes are Sublime." He joins us from New York City. Thanks so much for being with us.
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. Fifty years ago, the first Surgeon General's report on smoking and health came out, and said that smoking is bad for you. So much has changed since then. Cigarette jingles and commercials, gone now from the airwaves. Warnings are on cigarette packs; taxes on cigarettes are huge in many states.
Big aviation news this week: the red-necked phalarope is one of Scotland's rarest breeding birds and was thought to migrate to its winter grounds in the Arabian Sea. This past week, it was reported that a new tiny tracking device reveals that the phalarope actually flies across the Atlantic Ocean down to the Caribbean, all the way to South America. So, is the phalarope a Scottish bird or a South American one? Malcie Smith is from the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and he joins us from Scotland. Thanks very much for being with us.
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. Yesterday's jobs report came as something of a surprise after several months of positive economic news. Employers added just 74,000 jobs. Economists had been expecting businesses to generate nearly three times that many. A few people were heartened by the fact that the unemployment rate fell to 6.7 percent, the lowest since October 2008. As NPR's Chris Arnold reports, the numbers reflect that many of the long-term unemployed have simply given up looking for work.
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:
Former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, a towering figure in the history of Israel as a soldier and politician, died on Saturday. He was 85.
His death was announced by Shlomo Noy, the director of Sheba Medical Center where Sharon was being treated. Sharon had been in a coma since he suffered a massive stroke in January 2006 during the last Israeli election campaign, in which he was assured of re-election.
In the past five years, 600 single-family homes have been demolished in Arlington, Va., many to make way for larger houses, according to a preservation group. One architectural firm is so determined to save one 1920s Sears kit house from demolition, it's giving the house away for free. But there's a catch: the buyer would need to pay to move it to a new location.