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.

Workers add names to a mounting list of alerts at the emergency response cen...
As Ebola surges in the east African country, the capital city sends surveillance teams into the neighborhoods to record who might be sick with the virus — or already dead.

Ebola is on the rise in Sierra Leone's capital of Freetown. Just this week, 234 new confirmed infections were reported, and every day hundreds of residents call the emergency line to report more possible cases in their neighborhoods.

To deal with the surge, the nation sends health surveillance teams into the community to investigate the alerts, visiting up to five homes a day to check on residents.

The junior member of one team is Osman Sow, a young man with a wisp of a beard and a serious manner.

Sow clutches a sheaf of papers with the names and addresses of today's list of suspected Ebola sufferers. He jumps into the back of a green pickup, and soon he turns off the thoroughfare onto a rutted dirt road.

The pickup passes mud brick huts with corrugated metal roofs. Ebola has hit this place hard, and the evidence is everywhere. Sow points to a boarded-up house.

"As you can see, there is nobody there," he says. "There were 11 inhabitants. Nine of them died."

The team passes a few more boarded-up homes before reaching its destination, a narrow hut, steps from the ocean.

A middle-aged man shuffles out and takes a seat on the front porch. He looks haggard. Sow and his team stand a good distance away, and they can barely hear him.

The man points to his throat and says, "It's hurting." Two of his children recently died of Ebola.

Now, says Sow, "he and his wife have developed the signs and symptoms of the disease, and also their grandson."

Sow fills out paperwork for an ambulance pickup, and says his part in this is done.

"Well, we have given the report to the command center," he says. "It's left for the ambulance to come take them."

But when — or even whether — the ambulance will arrive is another story. Sow says right now, Freetown's treatment centers don't have enough beds for all the people falling sick. Patients stay in their houses and die, waiting for an ambulance that doesn't come.

"So therefore, when we come there also the second time, they will not [be] happy," he says. "More than 80 percent of the places, they blame us, every day."

Still, he sees signs of improvement. Earlier this day, the team stopped at a house where two sick children had been left alone after their parents and nine other relatives died of Ebola. The ambulance showed up while the team was still there.

Team leader Tomeh Bangura is an older man, a fatherly figure to the others. He says the image of those kids being led out by a nurse in protective gear is still haunting him.

"The eldest, I think she was 8," Bangura says. "She was in the house, locked herself in the house. And it was not possible for us to open. So luckily when the ambulance came the nurse was in her [personal protective equipment]. We sprayed the place and took the child from the house into the ambulance. I felt so bad."

A half-hour drive takes the team to a community health clinic, where the workers meets with a pregnant woman and her husband. They ask her to sit in a plastic chair in the yard.

Her name is Kadiatu Kargbo. She's dressed in a lace skirt and sparkly flip-flops, and picks at her fingernails while Sow calls out questions from his list.

"First I eat, then I vomit," she answers.

Sow finds "vomiting/nausea" on his list and checks the "Yes" box. He thinks she probably has malaria, but based on her symptoms she'll need to be tested for Ebola.

Kargbo's husband looks worried. What if she gets exposed to people who do have the disease while she's waiting at a holding center?

"I don't want to take this girl and to mix [her] with other sick people," he says. We don't know what her status [is] yet."

The day grows dark, and at the final stop, a hut shaded by tall trees, the village head man calls for a 15-year-old boy, Alusine Banguar, to come out. The head man says he's been calling the emergency line about this boy for three days.

The boy walks over slowly, wearily, and sits on a tire in his yard. They go through the checklist.

A large crowd gathers, and starts piping up with complaints. It seems another 15-year-old — this one a girl — recently died of apparent Ebola in a house nearby. Her relatives are supposed to be under quarantine, but they've been walking around freely. One of the youth leaders asks for police enforcement.

Bangura explains that his team has nothing to do with quarantines, and the crowd starts to calm down. Still, as Bangura heads back to the pickup, he looks tired.

The scenes he's witnessing on this job are alarming him. Last night, he says, he had a serious talk with his wife.

"I advised my wife, on no account should any of my children step out of this compound," he says. "They should stay indoors. I said, 'Ebola is becoming very serious. Very, very serious.' "

And when you have children dying, he adds, "it's very pathetic."

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

Civilians who had just recently arrived in Yola prepare to flee again, this ...
Many of the displaced ended up in camps in the city of Yola. Now they're racing further away as concerns grow that Yola also faces attack, and that the government isn't doing enough to stop it.

As Nigeria's military continues to battle Boko Haram fighters for control of towns and territory in the turbulent northeast, fearful residents are leaving — or being driven out of town. More than 200 schoolgirls, abducted by the Islamist extremists in April, are still missing.

Hoisting the black flag of al-Qaida, the insurgents have imposed strict Islamic law in areas under their control, vowing to establish a caliphate.

The deadly insurgency has displaced hundreds of thousands of civilians, who are ending up in camps around Yola, the capital city of Adamawa, one of three northern states still under emergency rule. Concerned that Yola, too, may be attacked, others are again on the move.

A large open-top truck parked at a gas station on the outskirts of Yola is already overflowing with children and women. Men are hoisting more people, buckets, bundles and spare tires onto the back of the truck, amid much chatter and palpable panic.

The Rev. Ishaya Suno seems to be in charge, collecting money for the fares to Jos, 320 miles away in Nigeria's Middle Belt.

Suno and the dozens of men, women and children climbing onto the truck have been in Yola since late last month, when suspected Boko Haram insurgents seized the commercial border town of Mubi and nearby villages, further north along the border with Cameroon, after clashes with the Nigerian army.

The military says it's now in control of Mubi, but the displaced who found their way to Yola are not returning. Instead, they are fleeing further from their homes. Why?

"Yola is not safe. We are hearing rumors," he says. "Boko Haram, they prepare [to] come to Yola. We are afraid."

Clutching her baby girl in her arms, and poised to flee again, Liyatu Joshua, mother of five, just wants out of Yola. In a mixture of English and the local Hausa language, she says they they all are scared of the fighting — and of Boko Haram.

"Yes, we're leaving Yola, but we don't know what will happen, where we're going," Joshua says.

These anxieties are not limited to the displaced, says the Adamawa state governor's spokesman, Phineas Pwanohoma Elisha.

"It is definitely worrisome to the good people of Adamawa state. It's worrisome to the government of Adamawa state," he says. "There is no two ways about that."

But the military will not divulge its security plans, Elisha says.

Sort-of assurances from the governor's spokesman aren't enough to dampen the fears of Liyatu Joshua, The Rev. Suno and others, as they scramble to secure a standing-only place on the truck heading out of town to Jos.

Many Nigerians accuse the army — and the government — of failing to counter Boko Haram and end the insurgency. Mohammed Sanusi II, the emir of Kano and one of the nation's most revered traditional and Muslim leaders, this week called on residents in the north to arm and defend themselves — and to not rely on the military or fear the militants.

"Before the soldiers arrive, the terrorists would already have committed their crimes," says the emir. Speaking Hausa, he says some soldiers throw away their guns and flee.

"These terrorists slaughter our boys and abduct our girls and force them into slavery," he warns, adding that people should not sit by idly and think that prayers are the only solution.

"Be prepared, and acquire what you need to protect yourselves," says the emir, who was until recently Nigeria's central bank governor and an outspoken critic of the government.

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

A relative of Abdel Rahman Shaludi, a Palestinian who killed two Israelis wi...
After a deadly attack by a Palestinian militant last month, Israel blew up his apartment building. Israel says the aim is deterrence, while the Palestinians call it "collective punishment."

After a spate of deadly violence in Jerusalem, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised to speed up home demolitions of attackers as a punishment and deterrent.

This week, the family home of Palestinian Abdel Rahman Shaludi was destroyed. Last month, Shaludi, age 20, drove a car into a crowd of people waiting for a light rail train, killing a 3-month-old baby immediately and injuring eight others, including a woman visiting from Ecuador who later died.

Police fatally shot Shaludi at the scene.

At half past midnight Wednesday, Israeli soldiers arrived at the East Jerusalem building where he had lived with his parents and five siblings.

"They didn't ring or knock on the door," says Shaludi's mother, Enas Shaludi, 43. "They only pushed in the door, rushed in and began to scream."

She says they were given five minutes to get on warm clothes and told to each take a blanket. Their family home is four stories tall, each floor with two apartments, each apartment the home of an extended family member.

Five days before the soldiers arrived, Israel had warned the family their home would be destroyed. So the parents and remaining five children had moved out their belongings and were sleeping in a relative's apartment on the same floor.

Everyone was forced to leave, waiting a few blocks away for several hours.

The military says soldiers used explosives to destroy the front outside wall and most interior walls of the apartment.

"It was dark, but we see the flashes and lights," says Enas Shaludi. "We heard breaking stones."

By the time they returned, the floor of the destroyed apartment was covered in concrete rubble. One wall of the attacker's bedroom was still standing, the lower half decorated in blue wallpaper with a pattern of hot air balloons.

All the apartments of the extended family were ransacked.

Tamir Shaludi, an uncle of Abdel Rahman, the attacker, owns the apartment just upstairs. He says soldiers broke his door and a mirrored table, turned over furniture, and emptied drawers and cupboards.

"Why?" he asks.

He worries his apartment is no longer structurally sound, and he feels this Israeli practice is patently unfair.

"I am very upset at what happened to my brother's apartment," he said, referring to the father of attacker Abdel Rahman Shaludi. "But I am even angrier that I'm punished too. Because I have never had one thought of even picking up a stone and throwing it at Israelis."

Not far away, the West Jerusalem neighborhood of Har Nof is recovering from Tuesday's synagogue attack, in which five Israelis died.

Neighborhood resident and young father Abraham Dick is studying to be a rabbi.

"Obviously everybody's still in pain," he said.

Israel plans to destroy the family homes of the two Palestinians who attacked the synagogue. Dick says he wishes Israel didn't have to.

"We are never in favor of aggression," he said. "But I would be in favor of it, if that's what it takes to save lives."

Israel stopped such home demolitions after military leaders questioned its effectiveness nearly a decade ago. According to statistics of the Israeli human rights group B'tselem, Israel destroyed just over 650 family homes of attackers between 2001 and 2004. Since then, the military has destroyed six homes for what B'tselem calls "punitive" reasons, including that of the Shaludi family.

Israel decided to revive the practice earlier this year. With the recent spate of attacks in Jerusalem, Netanyahu vowed to speed them up.

Knesset member Dov Lipman says he knows much of the world sees the practice as vindictive and collective punishment. But, despite the long hiatus of the practice, he believes it works.

"We know from interrogations over the years there are young people who do not carry out terror attacks because they know there will be implications for their families," he said. "The moment we know that, we have to do it. "

At least a half a dozen families of Palestinians who carried out attacks recently have received notices that their homes will be destroyed. They can appeal.

Meanwhile, Enas Shaludi isn't sure where her family will live now. But she tells her kids God will give them beautiful houses in heaven.

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