Scott Simon

Scott Simon is one of America's most admired writers and broadcasters. He has reported from all fifty states, five continents, and ten wars, from El Salvador to Sarajevo to Afghanistan and Iraq. His books have chronicled character and characters, in war and peace, sports and art, tragedy and comedy.

Simon's weekly show, Weekend Edition Saturday, has been called by the Washington Post, "the most literate, witty, moving, and just plain interesting news show on any dial," and by Brett Martin of Time-Out New York "the most eclectic, intelligent two hours of broadcasting on the airwaves." He has won every major award in broadcasting, including the Peabody, the Emmy, the Columbia-DuPont, the Ohio State Award, the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award, and the Sidney Hillman Award. Simon received the Presidential End Hunger Award for his coverage of the Ethiopian civil war and famine, and a special citation from the Peabody Awards for his weekly essays, which were cited as "consistently thoughtful, graceful, and challenging." He has also received the Barry M. Goldwater Award from the Human Rights Fund. Recently, he was awarded the Studs Terkel Award.

Simon has hosted many television specials, including the PBS's "State of Mind," "Voices of Vision," and "Need to Know." "The Paterson Project" won a national Emmy, as did his two-hour special from the Rio earth summit meeting. He co-anchored PBS's "Millennium 2000" coverage in concert with the BBC, and has co-hosted the televised Columbia-DuPont Awards. He also became familiar to viewers in Great Britain as host of the continuing BBC series, "Eyewitness," and a special on the White House press corps. He has appeared as a guest and commentator on all major networks, including BBC, NBC, CNN, and ESPN.

Simon has contributed articles to The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The New York Times Book Review, The Wall Street Journal, The Sunday Times of London, The Guardian, and Gourmet among other publications, and won a James Beard Award for his story, "Conflict Cuisine" in Gourmet. He has received numerous honorary degrees.

Sports Illustrated called his book Home and Away: Memoir of a Fan "extraordinary...uniformly superb...a memoir of such breadth and reach that it compares favorably with Fredrick Exley's A Fan's Notes." It was at the top of several non-fiction bestseller lists. His book, and Jackie Robinson and the Integration of Baseball, was Barnes and Nobles' Sports Book of the Year. His novel, Pretty Birds, the story of two teenage girls in Sarajevo during the siege, received rave reviews, Scott Turow calling it, "the most auspicious fiction debut by a journalist of note since Tom Wolfe's. . . always gripping, always tender, and often painfully funny. It is a marvel of technical finesse, close observation, and a perfectly pitched heart." Windy City, Simon's second novel, is a political comedy set in the Chicago City Council. Baby, We Were Meant for Each Other, an essay about the joys of adoption, was published in August 2010.

Simon's tweets to his 1.25 million Twitter followers from his mother's bedside in the summer of 2013 gathered major media attention around the world. He is completing a book on their last week together that will appear in time for Mother's Day 2015.

Simon is a native of Chicago and the son of comedian Ernie Simon and Patricia Lyons Simon. His hobbies are books, theater, ballet, British comedy, Mexican cooking and "bleeding for the Chicago Cubs." He appeared as Mother Ginger in the Ballet Austin production of The Nutcracker.

I always had a wonderful time in Fidel Castro's Cuba, and usually wound up feeling bad about it.

The island is beautiful, the people even sunnier: warm and friendly, especially to Americans. The responsables — government minders — assigned to each reporting crew would tease me about being from Chicago.

"Your mobsters used to run this place," they'd say. "Sam Giancana, The Godfather. You made our men bellboys and our women prostitutes." And then they'd treat you to mojitos and fabulous music.

I spent a Millennium with Gwen Ifill. It was PBS' special Millennium coverage to ring in 2000, co-produced with the BBC. Just the two of us, planted in a studio, talking between performances, images, and interviews from around the world, hour after hour as all four numbers on the calendar flipped into a new century.

A lot of us live in bubbles. The bubbles that took some pot-shots this week are the ones in which pundits, reporters, and other opinion-flingers who seemed dead-solid-certain that Hillary Clinton would be elected president of the United States on Tuesday live, work, breathe the same air, and seem to exhale similar opinions.

I know baseball is not real life.

While Chicago's streets teemed with loud whoops and waving banners as the Cubs won their first World Series in 108 years, 18 more people were killed over two days on the south and west sides of the city. The number of homicides in Chicago has surged past 600 this year. 2016 could be the city's deadliest year in nearly 20, and the people in those afflicted neighborhoods, usually a long way from Wrigley Field, will remember this year more for their losses than any World Series victory.

Every week we get emails and tweets from people who say they are so appalled by this year's election campaign they no can longer pay attention to the news. Then they often go on to give us full details about the latest incident in the campaign that's so repulsed them.

A lot of Americans say they are disgusted by this year's election. And the data says they can't get enough of it.

I have a special respect for political losers. Losing can reveal a candidate's character in a humbling, vulnerable moment.

An Ohio politician who lost a race for governor once explained to me that most politicians are used to being popular. They were often class officers and top athletes as kids, who become lawyers, professors, or business owners. They get used to people listening to them, and laughing at their jokes.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

There is an ominous milestone to mark in the heart of America. The Medical Examiner of Cuyahoga County, Ohio says 52 people were killed there last month because they overdosed on opioid painkillers, including heroin.

Because a few toxicology reports are still pending, the final number of deaths for September is expected to exceed 52, which would make a grim new monthly record for the county.

And the Medical Examiner has 14 suspected deaths by overdose in just the first week of October.

Jo Du was being helped into her gorgeous white wedding dress this week when a tooth on the zipper broke. It was Sunday in Guelph, Ontario, and no tailor shop was open.

Jo Du didn't want to walk down the aisle to marry Earl Lee with pins in the back of her dress. But no one in the wedding party knew how to make the repair.

Now Play Nice, Children

Sep 17, 2016

There was no moderator of the Lincoln-Douglas debates. There was a timekeeper, usually some respected town elder in Alton, Freeport or Galesburg, Ill., who would keep track of how long a candidate could speak, then say something like, "Thank you, Mr. Lincoln. Your turn now, Sen. Douglas," and vice versa.

But there was no moderator. Each candidate spoke in turn. They asked each other questions directly. They could accuse each other of being wrong, or not telling the truth, face to face, and did.

Gary Johnson, the Libertarian candidate for president, was chagrined and embarrassed this week after he asked, "What is Aleppo?" in reply to a question on MSNBC. Mr. Johnson made no excuses and said later he simply "blanked" — his word — when asked what he would do about the besieged Syrian city in which hundreds of thousands of civilians are trapped, many starving and defenseless against artillery, bombs and alleged chemical weapons.

There are enormous implications in a report this week from a team of Hungarian scientists who say that dogs can understand words.

Not just the tone in which we may tell them, "Aww, good boy! Good little girl!" Scientists at Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest wrote in the Science journal that the 13 family dogs they studied use the same parts of their brain as humans to process language. They probably understand words.

This is not just a cute li'l pet story. It might lead to rethinking the whole relationship we have with the dogs in our lives.

What's in a name?

The Chicago White Sox, mired in in the middle of the American League Central division, announced this week they've signed a 13 year deal to rename the park where they play Guaranteed Rate Field.

Guaranteed Rate is a home loan company, headquartered in Chicago.

But as Rick Morrisey wrote in the Chicago Sun-Times, "Guaranteed Rate Field. You're kidding, right? Was Year End Clearance Sale Stadium already taken?"

The little boy in Aleppo, sitting in an ambulance, his face caked with rubble and blood, is named Omran Daqneesh. He is five years old. His home was destroyed on Wednesday night. Russian and Syrian government airstrikes have become routine in rebel-held areas of the city. And rebels have also shelled the government-held side.

Just before Jeni Stepien got married to Paul Maenner last Saturday, she turned to the man who walked her down the aisle and put her hand on his chest — to feel the heartbeat of the father she lost ten years ago.

Michael Stepien was a chef, on his way home from work at a restaurant in suburban Pittsburgh in September 2006 when he was robbed by a 16-year-old who shot him through the head.

Arthur Thomas was a school counselor in Lawrenceville, New Jersey, and a father of four who had been diagnosed with a heart disease 16 years before. He was in a hospital, close to death.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Did anyone see Gags last night?

This week, a clown has been making the late-night scene in Green Bay, Wis.

Gags, the Green Bay Clown, as he's been christened on a Facebook fan page — and by the way, if the Visigoths sacked Rome again these days, there would be Facebook fan page for them — has appeared on the streets of an intersection at about 2 a.m.

One of the many pleasures of London is to hear so many languages and accents of the world, often on a single street.

Step down into any Tube station, and you can see travel directions printed in scores of those tongues. Not only Bengali, Urdu, Tamil and Arabic, which have become as common on signs in London as Spanish in many U.S. cities, but French, Italian, Spanish, German, Portuguese and other languages of the European Union.

Orlando has had a hell of a week. Few cities have endured such heartbreak over just a few days.

49 people were shot to death at Pulse nightclub. Lane Graves, a two-year-old boy, was dragged to his death by an alligator at a Disney resort. And Christina Grimmie, a 22 year-old singer, was shot to death at another nightspot — all within a week.

Each death was a tragedy, that struck in a sunny place where millions go to have fun.

The shooting death of Harambe, the 17-year-old western lowland gorilla, after a 3-year-old boy fell into his cage at the Cincinnati Zoo, is a tragedy in all ways.

Harambe delighted zoogoers, and may have meant the boy no harm.

The little boy's parents say they are grateful their son survived and is doing well. But many people on social media platforms have attacked the mother as neglectful.

John Hersey went to Hiroshima in 1945 for the New Yorker magazine to talk to people who had lived through the world's first nuclear bomb. The magazine turned over its entire issue to his report in August of 1946; it's considered a classic.

John Hersey didn't try to second-guess the American decision to drop the atom bomb, a year after it ended the deadliest war in history. Simply and plainly, he described the stories of six people who survived in a city where so many thousands died:

I flew back and forth to Chicago this week, and here were lots of passengers, myself included, who groused about the long, slow security lines: where schoolgirls have to kick off their pink running shoes, that can seem to take forever to unlace and re-lace; and convalescent senior citizens are made to limp out of their wheelchairs to walk through metal detectors and body scanners; and traveling salespeople who have to heft their bulky black cases onto conveyors, and shake their small, tired see-through bags of toiletries to show they're not carrying incendiary materials.

The United States of America got a national mammal this week. And it's not us human beings.

President Obama signed the National Bison Legacy Act, which establishes the bison as the national mammal. This does not overthrow the bald eagle, who remains national symbol. But it does seem to put two animals on the same marquee.

Tens of millions of bison once thundered across North America, from the thick forests of Alaska to the tan prairies of Mexico. But by the late 1800s, just hundreds of North American bison were left alive.

There is a cease-fire in Syria. Really. The 17 nations of the International Syria Support Group signed it in February. The United States, Russia, the European Union and United Nations can all say they negotiated a cease-fire.

But in just 48 hours this week, an average of one Syrian has been killed every 25 minutes. One Syrian has been wounded every 13 minutes.

Staffan de Misturahe, the U.N. special envoy for Syria, has said that the cease-fire is "still alive, but barely."

Which, is, perhaps, as close as a diplomat can get to saying it's no more.

A cooking show has reportedly dominated the recent television ratings in North Korea.

Of course there's just one broadcaster. And it's the government.

Inky is out.

Inky, an octopus who is about the size of a basketball and of undetermined age, has lammed it out of his tank at the National Aquarium of New Zealand and is at large somewhere in Hawke's Bay, on the east coast of New Zealand's north island.

What would you consider "the best selfie ever"?

A shot of yourself alongside the pope, the president, Angela Merkel, Lin Manuel Miranda or Steph Curry?

This week Ben Innes, a health and safety auditor from Leeds, Great Britain, used those words to send out a photo in which he posed with the man who hijacked his plane.

The hijacker has what looks like a suicide vest of explosives strapped to his chest. Ben Innes is grinning.

There are some weeks in which there is so much news about death, loss, and cruelty that you are happy to find a story that can remind you in unexpected ways about life and kindness.

Stefan Jagsch, who is a local leader of Germany's far-right NPD party, is reported to be recovering after a car crash near Büdingen.

Now is the time to pick up a Pataki for President bumper sticker. Or a Huckabee button, a Jim Webb yard sign, or keychains, ballpoint pens, and window scrapers imprinted Jindal, Paul, Perry, Chafee, Walker, Graham, Santorum, Lessig, and O'Malley for President.

It's already a kind of autumn in the cycle of a presidential campaign, in which candidacies have a last burst of color and fall to the ground.

Another cover-up is in the news.

Italy's Premier Matteo Renzi and Iran's President Hassan Rouhani held a press conference inside Rome's Capitoline Museum this week to announce $18 billion in new business between their countries, now that sanctions against Iran are ending.

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