NPR Staff

The so-called Islamic State continues to wreak a human toll in the Middle East. And in addition to that suffering, the militant organization continues its assault on Syria's cultural heritage.

This week, militants blew up three tombs in the ancient city of Palmyra, and reduced the Greco-Roman Temple of Bel to rubble.

At the same time, ISIS also profits by selling small antiquities on the black market.

Seeing no other options to help get her brother Abdullah's family out of Syria and to safety, Teema Kurdi sent him money to get them onto a smuggler's boat that would take them to Greece.

"We actually would say we encouraged them to go, because his brother made it, and there was no other hope," he told NPR's Rachel Martin in an emotional interview. "We don't see the war ending in Syria; life in Turkey is hopeless."

In 2008, Conrad Anker, Jimmy Chin and Renan Ozturk attempted to summit Meru, a 21,000-foot mountain in the Garhwal Himalayas in northern India. Some of the greatest climbers in the world have tried and failed to reach its peak — a sheer granite wall known as the Shark's Fin.

"The Shark's Fin to a climber is really irresistible," Chin explains to NPR's David Greene. "What really makes it challenging is that you have this kind of big wall on top of basically 4,000 feet of alpine climbing."

Soul singer Lizz Wright is starting over. Her new album, Freedom & Surrender, comes after a tough few years, during which she left behind a failed marriage and her own expectations about starting a family. And yet, she found a creative spark in that loss, along with a new kind of voice.

There may be an octopus arms race underway. And that's not even a joke about tentacles: Octopuses are actually fighting, and potentially using weapons.

The creatures are hardly team players under the best of circumstances.

Teenagers often feel bound by their parents' rules, and many young people feel isolated at some point, separated from the rest of the world.

But what would life be like for a young woman who was literally isolated — and bound by rules designed to save her life?

It's a question that author Nicola Yoon explores in her new novel for young adults, Everything, Everything. For 18 years, her lead character, Madeleine, has been kept inside a sterile house, interacting only with her mother and her nurse.

The California condor is big. In fact, it's the largest flying bird in North America with a wingspan of 9 1/2 feet.

Michael Mace, curator of birds for the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, tells NPR's Arun Rath that the condor "is like the 747 compared to a Cessna if you look at it proportionally with other species like eagles and turkey vultures."

Mace works in a condor power line aversion training program at the zoo. It was developed to address the condors' unfortunate run-ins with power lines.

A lot of books come across our desks here at Weekend Edition. One caught our eye recently, because of the unusual way it came to be published. The title sums up the story — Underground in Berlin: A Young Woman's Extraordinary Tale of Survival in the Heart of Nazi Germany.

That remarkable tale came to light thanks to a request by her son, historian Hermann Simon. "I once put a tape recorder and said to her, 'You always wanted to tell me the story of your life. Well, go ahead.' "

About an hour's drive south of Kabul, there's a vast Buddhist archaeological site dating back at least 1,500 years. It happens to be sitting on top of one of the biggest untapped copper deposits in the world, potentially worth billions of dollars.

Are most people more likely to pull the trigger of a gun if the person they're shooting at is black?

A new meta-analysis set out to answer that question. Yara Mekawi of the University of Illinois and her co-author, Konrad Bresin, drew together findings from 42 different studies on trigger bias to examine whether race affects how likely a target is to be shot.

There's a song out there right now that's catching a lot of people off guard. "S.O.B" sounds kind of familiar, maybe like a revived oldie, but it's not: It's fresh off the new self-titled album from the Denver ensemble Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats.

Donald Trump's Republican presidential campaign continues to lead in the polls, and this week Trump hired Sam Clovis to be his national campaign co-chairman. A week ago, Clovis worked for Republican rival Rick Perry. Clovis, a former radio talk show host and college professor, is an Iowan who has run for state treasurer and the U.S. Senate there. He Talked to NPR's Scott Simon from Sioux City, Iowa.

To hear the full conversation, click the audio link above.


Interview Highlights

On why he left Perry to work for Trump

Clock yourself the next time you tie your shoes. Chances are, in the time it took you to get those shoes laced up, Ronda Rousey would have knocked out her opponent in a typical mixed martial arts match.

The U.S. has around 800 military bases outside of the nation's borders. They're home to hundreds of thousands of troops and family members, and, in many cases, they're a cause of controversy.

David Vine, an associate professor of anthropology at American University, argues that we've become too dependent on such overseas bases — and that many of them cause serious opposition abroad. He lays out his thinking in his new book, Base Nation: How the U.S. Military Bases Abroad Harm America and the World.

When Fear the Walking Dead premiers Sunday night on AMC, don't expect to see Sheriff Grimes. There's no Daryl, either. In fact, the streets aren't even overrun yet with those dirty, hungry hoards of the undead that viewers know so well.

Still, something weird is happening — and it's happening in LA, not Atlanta, this time around. Fear, a prequel to the hit show The Walking Dead, swaps the post-apocalyptic Deep South for the West Coast, where that apocalypse still has yet to happen (or is just getting underway).

Marion, Ohio, just north of Columbus, used to be an idyllic place to grow up.

Kelly Clixby and Beth Carey remember what it was like a generation ago, when they were young.

"I lived across the street from one of the big parks here," Clixby says. "We would rip n' run all day and all night and come in when the street lights were on."

"It was just a nice place to live," Carey says.

Today, Marion is different. It's grappling with a full-blown heroin epidemic, one that derailed Kelly Clixby's life and killed Beth Carey's twin sister.

In 1998, Ben Lecomte swam across the Atlantic Ocean. The 47-year-old athlete is preparing for another historic plunge: swimming across the ocean on the other side of the country.

At the end of September, Lecomte plans to take off from a Tokyo beach and spend the next six months making his way some 5,500 miles across the Pacific Ocean to San Francisco.

He'll swim for eight hours a day, then board a support boat to eat and sleep. The next day he'll jump back in the water at the exact same spot.

To hear the full conversation, click the audio link above.

Thousands of people are set to descend on the Black Rock Desert of Nevada for the annual Burning Man Festival, starting August 30. But before their arrival, the campgrounds were visited by another group of guests: bugs.

John Curley is a photographer and blogger for the Burning Man website. He says he first noticed the bugs at a gas station near Black Rock.

The horror of Agent Orange and its effects on Vietnam war veterans and Vietnamese citizens is well-documented.

But many U.S. veterans who never fought in that war say they, too, handled toxic chemicals at military bases around the world, suffering the same health consequences. Retired Lt. Col. Kris Roberts is among them.

It's been less than six months since Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old African-American man, died after sustaining severe injuries in police custody. At the time, Gray's death set off days of demonstrations in Baltimore — as well as rioting and criminal charges against six police officers. Those officers have all pleaded not guilty.

The rise of Donald Trump as a Republican presidential candidate has surprised many pundits, but not conservative commentator Glenn Beck.

Trump has widened his lead over other Republican presidential candidates in public opinion polls. Other non-professional politicians, including Dr. Ben Carson, a brain surgeon, and Carly Fiorina, the former head of Hewlett-Packard, have also shot ahead of politicians in the polls.

Voters are angry, and they "want somebody just to say it the way they think it — especially if they say it in a non-politically correct way," Beck says.

We often hear the story of the Second World War through the experiences of American and British soldiers pitted in battle against Germany and Japan.

But the largest volunteer force in the world then was the Indian Army: More than 2 million Indian men fought for Britain, even as Indian citizens struggled to be free of the British Empire.

The year since Michael Brown died in Ferguson, Mo., several confrontations between African-Americans and police have become national stories. Often, black journalists have been leading the coverage on these incidents and the steady trickle of them have taken a psychological toll. Many of them shared their experiences with Gene Demby of NPR's Code Switch team.

On Sept. 4, 2005 — nearly a week after floodwaters submerged much of the city, a call came in to the New Orleans Police Department: Officers in distress, maybe under fire, at the Danziger Bridge.

It all starts with a strange letter left for a Beijing cabdriver, tucked away in the sun visor of his taxi. In the months just before the 2008 Summer Olympics, Wang Jun is living with his wife and daughter — but the message, and those that follow, quickly tangle that quiet life in complications.

Jon Cleary's songwriting is pure New Orleans. The pianist and singer has absorbed every last bit of sound from the Mississippi delta. But here's the thing: Cleary was born and raised in England.

A new clinical trial is set to begin in the United Kingdom using the powerful noses of dogs to detect prostate cancer in humans.

While research has been done before, these are the first trials approved by Britain's National Health Service.

The trials, at the Milton Keynes University Hospital in Buckinghamshire, will use animals from a nonprofit organization called Medical Detection Dogs, co-founded in 2008 by behavioral psychologist Claire Guest.

A man in his early 40s with a kind, weathered face is talking to a room full of children.

"In some ways, all of us are basically abandoned or not really a wanted person," he says. "Everybody kind of give up the hope on us. But in this place, you are welcome and you have opportunity to change, and we will be with you, no matter what. This is a community of love and compassion."

Cara Nicoletti loves food almost as much as she loves books. Over the years she has found herself thinking about the delicious dishes woven into the stories she loved as a child. In fact, she tells NPR's Rachel Martin that when she re-read her old books, she found underlines that she didn't remember making in the sections about food.

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