Weekend Edition Saturday

Saturday mornings are made for Weekend Edition Saturday, the program wraps up the week's news and offers a mix of analysis and features on a wide range of topics, including arts, sports, entertainment, and human interest stories. The two-hour program is hosted by NPR's Peabody Award-winning Scott Simon.

Drawing on his experience in covering 10 wars and stories in all 50 states and seven continents, Simon brings a humorous, sophisticated and often moving perspective to each show. He is as comfortable having a conversation with a major world leader as he is talking with a Hollywood celebrity or the guy next door.

Weekend Edition Saturday has a unique and entertaining roster of other regular contributors. Marin Alsop, conductor of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, talks about music. Daniel Pinkwater, one of the biggest names in children's literature, talks about and reads stories with Simon. Financial journalist Joe Nocera follows the economy. Howard Bryant of EPSN.com and NPR's Tom Goldman chime in on sports. Keith Devlin, of Stanford University, unravels the mystery of math, and Will Grozier, a London cabbie, talks about good books that have just been released, and what well-read people leave in the back of his taxi. Simon contributes his own award-winning essays, which are sometimes humorous, sometimes poignant.

Weekend Edition Saturday is heard on NPR Member stations across the United States, and around the globe on NPR Worldwide. The conversation between the audience and the program staff continues throughout the social media world.

Last month, ISIS terrorized a village, slaughtering the men and kidnapping the young women to force into marriages. On young woman's sisters gave her the courage to escape.

In English, the 22-year-old woman's name means life. She's afraid to let us use it for the safety of the hostages that ISIS still holds. She was taken with thousands of other women and children, but she escaped, and now they're searching for her. Her nickname is Dudu.

We meet her and her four younger sisters inside a shipping container that's propped up on cinder blocks and fashioned into a makeshift shelter. It's where her extended family lives now, just outside the northern Kurdish city of Dohuk.

Dudu is part of the Yazidi ethno-religious minority. A minority targeted and massacred by the so-called Islamic State.

The date of Aug. 15 is seared in her mind. That's when ISIS terrorized her village of Kocho; they massacred the men and some of the older women and kidnapped the young women to sell them into forced marriages. Activists documenting the horrors say ISIS is holding more than 3,000 women and children hostage. Girls and women who are 12 and older are being sold to men in Iraq, Syria, Saudi Arabia and other places.


Dudu says the day started with ISIS fighters arriving in more than 15 vehicles.

"'Come on, we're taking you out,'" she say they told her uncle, the leader of the village. "They asked us to leave the village and took us to a school. Then we were separated. The men were taken away and we heard the sound of shooting."

Her father was one of those men. When she heard the gunfire she asked what was happening. The fighters told them, "Don't worry, we're letting you all go."

But they lied.

"They took us to Mosul, to a three-story house," she says. "We were almost 100 girls."

Every day men would come and purchase women for an unknown fate. Some women were forced to marry multiple men — in essence, systematic rape.

That's when Dudu, a young woman from an isolated village, realized that to survive, she had only herself, her sisters and her wits. She became a fast talker; every time someone tried to take one of her sisters she'd say she was pregnant, that another sister was blind and another couldn't walk. She told them she was married. "Do you want used goods?" she'd ask.

Dudu says she witnessed horrors like when her 19-year-old cousin tried to kill herself with broken glass before being beaten and taken away with her 15-year-old sister. Two other girls, just 15, were taken by old men and then returned just days later bloodied, bruised and raped.

Dudu tried to befriend the man who kept watch on all the women and who recorded the so-called marriages. She appealed for mercy.

"We are five sisters, we used to go to school, we have a future in front of us and you took us, you destroyed that," she says she told him, lucky that, unlike many of the other women, she spoke Arabic, not just Kurdish. "Why do you want to do this to us, we didn't do anything to you. Please help us."

For a time, it worked. He hid her and her sisters when the men would come to buy others. She thought it was an act of kindness but it was an act of treachery. The 60-year-old man wanted her to himself.

He sat her down on the floor and he sat on a couch with an ISIS leader, an aide to the self-declared caliph of the so-called Islamic State.

"Your tongue is long," she said he told her. "Don't talk until I'm finished or I will cut it out."

He told her she had to marry him and her sister would go to the ISIS leader. They'd all live in a nice house together, her younger sisters, the youngest, just 10 years old, could stay with them.

She refused.

"If you don't accept we will separate you all and you will never see each other again," she said he told her.

There was no other way, she says, so she accepted.


After she agreed to their offer, Dudu asked if she could first grieve the loss of her family with the Islamic 40-day mourning period. He begrudgingly agreed and moved them into an ostentatious house as promised. A house that ISIS fighters had stolen from a Christian family they displaced.

Dudu laughs as she recalls manipulating her captors to relocate her over and over again. Telling him one house was too big, another too small.

"He told me, 'What's the matter with you, you think you're in Europe?'" she said.

Really, she was looking for an escape route. Finally, in the last house, there was a balcony and a wooden door she thought she could break down. She slipped the key to the balcony into her pocket without her captors noticing.

In the middle of the night, when the man was gone, she woke up her sisters to break out.

One was too afraid and told her, "I want to stay and die here." But Dudu wouldn't let that happen. She and her sisters pushed through the locked door to the street. They covered their faces, hair and bodies and ran through the streets, listening for cars, watching for gunmen. They found a taxi.

The driver was afraid to take them out of town. He told them he would take them to his house, but that ISIS had a checkpoint next door and would kill them all.

"Please ... take us anywhere safe," she said.

So he took them to a neighborhood where there was little ISIS presence. They knocked on a door after hearing women speaking inside. A Muslim man answered, she begged for help, kissed his feet and he began to cry.

He and his family risked their lives and took the girls in. "Only speak Arabic, no Kurdish, and don't go outside or my neighbors will turn us in," he told her.

For weeks they lived upstairs, hidden until it was safe enough to flee.

After 23 days he gave them fake IDs and sneaked them out of Mosul, Dudu says. He told checkpoints they were his daughters and he was visiting grieving relatives. Once outside the area controlled by ISIS, Dudu met her uncle and fiancée. Finally she was safe.

"I found courage in protecting my sisters," she says. And with pride she pronounces that no man touched them. "I would die first. When I used to watch ISIS on TV I was more afraid, but then I met them and I could see they were nothing."

From the safety of the shipping container in the Kurdish north, Dudu asks about her parents.

"How can we live without them," she says. "Someone must save them."

Her family hasn't told her that ISIS killed them on Aug. 15, along with hundreds of others.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

In Detroit, members of the Cody High School Comets start the football season...
In Detroit, Cody High School's football team was always the visitor. On Friday, they dedicated their new field with a game that honored its name.

The virgin Astroturf is springy underfoot, and the neon yellow goal posts stretch up into the blue September sky. The Comets should be playing well.

They're not.

After seven years of away-games, the football team at Cody High School in Detroit has their own field. The facility at Cody was in such terrible shape that they couldn't play there.

That changed Friday night. Unfortunately, the Comets homecoming did not start well.

At halftime, the score was 0-0. They were playing against their arch-rivals from Henry Ford High School, which was supposed to be an inferior team.

Coach Calvin Norman dressed down his all-volunteer assistant coaches, telling them not to blame the players. Team captain Jayvonte Ball was disappointed in his teammates, exhorting them to "play like we want it."

"The people who made the field worked harder than us," he says. "They worked way harder than us. Come on, you gotta wake up, man."

A Fundraising Field Goal

Ball is right — it was hard work to raise nearly a million dollars for the field. It almost didn't happen.

Chris Lambert is the CEO of Life Remodeled, the group in charge of an ambitious volunteer makeover of Cody High School and its surrounding neighborhoods. He says a new football field was a priority, but they were still $300,000 short the day fundraising ended.

"Forty-five minutes before I get on stage, a family comes up to me and says, 'Do you still need that $300,000?' "

They got out their checkbook. Lambert says he expected them to want it named Walrich Field after their family, but they had something else in mind.

A Comeback For The Comets

When halftime ended, the Cody Comets charged back out.

Maybe it was the stern speeches by the coach and captain. Maybe it was the appeal by Senior Pastor Bob Shirock, whose Oak Pointe Church in suburban Novi, Mich., has adopted Cody High: "We pray the world would hear that Detroit is rising from the ashes, and that stories like Cody would prove that."

Whatever it is, the Comets came out a different team. They quickly scored. And scored again, and again and again.

Those corny movies about a team picking itself up and coming back to win? This was just like that. The Comets ended up winning the game 24-0.

And just like that, a field named Hope earned its name.

Copyright 2014 Michigan Radio. To see more, visit http://michiganradio.org/.

Ai Weiwei's With Wind greets visitors to his exhibit, "@Large," on Alcatraz ...
The dissident Chinese artist uses San Francisco's former island prison to contrast themes of freedom and restriction.

The old federal prison on Alcatraz Island in San Francisco Bay is one of the city's top tourist attractions. Beginning Saturday, it's also the site of an installation by one of China's most famous dissident artists, Ai Weiwei.

The work, "@Large" explores themes of freedom and confinement. Finding freedom under restriction is a worthy challenge, Ai says. Confined to China himself, the artist had to pull it all off without setting foot in the U.S.

"For an artist to not be able to see the venue, and afterwards to not be able to interact with the audience — if I had to imagine the toughest restriction about an exhibition, that would be it," Ai says.

That wasn't the only hurdle the exhibit had to clear. Alcatraz is still federal land, and to host the art of one of China's most vocal critics, the project had to get clearance from the U.S. State Department. They also were told that none of the site's historic walls could be harmed.

Ai said the limitations added extra meaning to the show.

"We cannot touch anything, add anything; it's a hanging installation," he says. "Like prisoners themselves, who are only there for a period of time."

No doubt, Ai's limitations also will bring more attention to this show, which runs through April 26, and to his work in general — visibility that could be a big help for Ai, says Chad Coerver, chief content officer at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

"The more recognized he is — even though he's incarcerated at home — the safer he is from eventually being shut off completely or disappeared again, as he was in 2011," Coerver says. "So it's a very dicey gamble that he's playing, because we know that the West's attention doesn't always guarantee political freedom in China. But it seems to be the path that he's chosen."

Viewers travel by ferry to the island, where signs lead them to a building marked "Penitentiary Laundry." Just beyond the door, the head of a dragon kite marks the beginning of the $3.5 million, mostly privately funded art exhibit.

Exhibit curator Cheryl Haines says this first work, called With Wind, is "the pièce de résistance." The dragon's body, made from bamboo and rainbow-colored fabrics, snakes around columns covered in peeling, institutional green paint.

"It's suspended above the viewer — it will be flying, it will be free — but it's also restricted within the building, so there's this really interesting conversation between control and freedom," she says.

Haines dreamed up the idea of bringing Ai Weiwei's art to Alcatraz three years ago, when the artist had just been released from an 81-day detention by Chinese authorities on charges of tax evasion. Chinese authorities later confiscated his passport, so Ai Weiwei had to envision Alcatraz using blueprints and films, and relied on a team of volunteers here in the U.S. to install the work.

The second part of the exhibit is a sound installation, in which the voices of people imprisoned for expressing their views are piped into a bleak row of prison cells.

In the first cell, music by the dissident Russian punk group Pussy Riot plays from decaying air vents. In a cell used for psychiatric evaluations at the prison, Hopi Indian chants play. Nineteen members of the Hopi tribe were jailed at Alcatraz in 1895 for opposing the forced education of their children in government boarding schools.

The fight to stay visible permeates Trace, the next part of the exhibit, where a football-field-sized floor is covered with more than 175 portraits of so-called "prisoners of conscience" made from colorful plastic Legos. Many of the faces are likely unknown, but controversial figures like NSA contactor Edward Snowden are also there.

Celebrated Oakland painter Hung Liu is close friends with Ai. Liu grew up during China's Cultural Revolution under Mao Tse-Tung, and like Ai, China's politics and culture infuse her work. She is wary of political art becoming too didactic.

"When you have a strong political agenda, a strong message, you have to be careful if you want to use art form," the painter says.

Liu says she plans to take a serious look at Ai's Alcatraz work, and hopes others will get past his superstar status and do the same.

"Ai Weiwei's super-famous. Some people call him God Ai — Ai shen," Liu says. "I think it's little too far."

It's important for people to continue to think critically about Ai's work, Liu says — after all, people tried to make Mao a god, too.

Copyright 2014 KQED Public Media. To see more, visit http://www.kqed.org.