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.

Paris red promo 1...
Maureen Gibbon's new novel, Paris Red, delves into the life of Victorine Meurent, Manet's favorite model and the central figure in some of his most famous paintings.

Victorine Meurent was just 17 years old when she met the great Impressionist painter Edouard Manet on a Paris street in 1862. The young, poverty-stricken redhead became his favorite model, and Manet painted her reclining nude in "Olympia" — a work that scandalized the Paris art world in 1865 and now hangs in the Musée d'Orsay. Meurent is also depicted in Manet's "Luncheon on the Grass" and other paintings.

Meurent was not a passive muse, author Maureen Gibbon tells NPR's Scott Simon. The transformative relationship between model and artist is at the heart of Gibbon's new novel, Paris Red. "Whatever energy went back and forth between them in [Manet's] studio must have been terrifically powerful," Gibbon says. "It really changed the way he painted. And as a result, art changed."


Interview Highlights

Why it was important to tell Victorine Meurent's story

I saw "Olympia" when I was a young woman. It had an effect on me and I kept the painting in the back of my mind for years. At a certain point, I became more aware of the real-life person in the painting. When I began to learn a little bit about [Meurent's] story, the painting just deepened for me and I thought I had a particular insight into her. She was a young, working-class woman, and I think she was — like many young people today — trying to make her way in the Paris of the 1860s.

I wanted to picture her not as a prostitute, which is how some critics have chosen to see her or talk about her.

On Meurent's effect on Manet

That question really drives the novel. When I was researching, I found just a little mention in an article about how in an X-ray of "Olympia," you can see that the face of the model has been scraped and reworked. And the person writing the article thought that it was reasonable to think that there had been a model before Victorine Meurent. When I read that, I saw all kinds of possibilities as a novelist. And what it really made me understand ... about the painting is something really unique happened when Manet met Victorine. She, I believe, is the reason he was able to complete "Olympia."

So I see her as being a very active muse. And whatever energy went back and forth between them in his studio must have been terrifically powerful. It really changed the way he painted. And as a result, art changed. And I find that very moving. I never liked the idea of the passive muse. And I think that she was, while not standing behind the canvas placing paint, she was nevertheless really active in what happened in those paintings.

Listen to the interview to hear Maureen Gibbon read an excerpt from her novel.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

A reporter stands outside the front door of a house registered to a trading ...
The cause of Wall Street's flash crash has been debated ever since it happened. Officials arrested a lone trader working in his parents' London home, but some question whether he was really to blame.

It has been five years since the so-called flash crash on Wall Street raised big questions about computerized trading. What caused the flash crash has been a topic of debate ever since. U.S. officials revived the debate this week by arresting a little-known trader in London.

May 6, 2010, started out as an ordinary trading day on Wall Street. Then, at around 2:45 in the afternoon, the Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged nearly 600 points within the space of a few minutes, before correcting itself.

This week, officials blamed the episode on a little-known trader who worked from his parents' home in London, using computer software he'd modified himself. But questions remain about who was really to blame.

The flash crash seemed to embody everyone's worst nightmare about the mysteries and risks of high-speed computer trading.

"This was a world-wide threat to economic well-being, and it only lasted a matter of minutes," says Michael Greenberger, a former regulator at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

The arrest this week of 36-year-old Navinder Singh Sarao has only underscored how opaque the market remains. Sarao was no Wall Street titan. He was a lone trader working out of the west London neighborhood of Hounslow.

"He's a legend in our firm, we say," says Milto Savvidis, a trader who worked with him. "During the financial crisis, this guy, for lack of a better word, had balls. He just used to get into big positions and he saw the risks, saw the reward, and he took on the trades."

U.S. officials say that over the years, Sarao used a technique known as spoofing to manipulate trading in the futures market. They say he was able to drive the price of futures contracts up or down by setting up a huge number of trades he never completed.

"I mean, that would look like Goldman Sachs was shorting the market, there were so many trades," Greenberger says. "But he didn't have to worry about putting any money up, because he had orchestrated the software so when it ever came to the point that he actually had to buy the contract that would sell the market short, he disappeared."

Officials say once the price was where he wanted it, Sarao would trade, reaping big profits. He allegedly made $40 million over four years. Greenberger says Sarao was well-known to regulators.

"The interesting thing is, he was always in trouble with the Chicago Mercantile Exchange," he says. "In fact, the very day of the crash, he received a letter from the exchange complaining about his activities."

But it took officials five years to publicly tie Sarao to the crash, and they only did so after getting tipped off by a whistleblower, says Eric Hunsader, who has spent years studying the flash crash. Hunsader is founder of Nanex, market data and analytics firm based in Winnetka, Ill.

"I'm just shocked that the CFTC, when they were analyzing this data, never saw this," he says. "We saw it within — I think it was one of the first things we noticed when we started analyzing it back in the summer of 2010."

Instead, a Congressional report attributed the crash to computer trading by a large mutual fund company, later identified as Waddell and Reed. But that claim was always controversial.

Hunsader says it's unlikely that Sarao was responsible for the crash all by himself. For one thing, on the afternoon of May 6, he shut down his software program 2 1/2 minutes before the crash began — an eternity in high-speed trading.

"I'll just use an analogy of a forest fire," says Hunsader. "He was the one who brought the kindling, the wood, if you will. We still need the gasoline and we still need the match."

U.S. officials want to extradite Sarao, which could take a long time. Even if he can block the request, his troubles aren't over. Sarao is also known to have traded on a German exchange, and European regulators are also said to be looking into his activities.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Hundreds of people died this month when an overloaded ship sank in the Mediterranean Sea. They were on the move, but never reached their destinations.

As NPR and other news outlets report about the hundreds of people killed this month when the ship they were on went down off the Libyan coast, the stories are referring to those who died as "migrants."

There's a case to be made that the word "refugees" also applies. A refugee, according to Webster's New World College Dictionary, is "a person who flees from home or country to seek refuge elsewhere, as in a time of war or of political or religious persecution."

Among those on the ship that sank, and the other vessels sailing from Northern Africa to Southern Europe, were people fleeing the war in Syria and persecution in places such as Somalia.

It's fair to say that almost anyone who takes the risks associated with these trips is likely to be desperate and is seeking refuge. But to label all those aboard the ships as refugees may not be accurate. The word migrants, however, fits. Webster's says that to migrate is to "move from one place to another." A migrant, in turn, is "a person, bird, or animal that migrates."

The word also conveys what is happening: Large numbers of people are on the move, looking for homes. They are migrating across hundreds or thousands of miles.

The word "immigrants" is not being used in most media reports. There's a sad reason. To immigrate, Webster's notes, is to "come into a new country, region or environment ... esp. in order to settle there."

Tragically, the hundreds who died this month did not reach their destinations.

Note: We know there are also legal definitions of the words migrant and refugee. The International Organization for Migration has posted its glossary here. This post and Saturday's "Word Matters" conversation, however, are about the way news outlets use the words, not international agencies.

Mark Memmott is NPR's standards and practices editor. He co-hosted The Two Way from its launch in May 2009 through April 2014.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.