Scott Simon

Rashid is the name of a man in a photo that was seen around the world this week. He has broad shoulders, a crinkly-eyed smile and a gray beard. He is a U.S. Air Force veteran who says he served during the war in Vietnam in the mid-1960s and told staff at the Georgetown Ministry Center of Washington D.C., "I was honored and proud to serve." He carries a cane with a bulldog head engraved on the top, which he calls Maggie.

Barbra Streisand talked about women in Hollywood and national politics in an interview this week for Variety. But the remark that seems to have drawn the most attention is the star's revelation that two of her dogs, Miss Violet and Miss Scarlett, have been cloned from her late dog, Samantha, a conspicuously adorable fluffy white 14-year-old dog who died last year.

The ugliest profanity President Trump uttered about immigrants and their countries of origin may not be the single word we've heard and read over and over these past couple of days. It was when the president reportedly asked the bipartisan group of legislators at the White House, "Why do we want all these people here?" — an apparent reference to people from Africa especially — then added: "We should have more people from Norway."

This week, in the midst of the explosion of Fire and Fury, and stories about President Trump grousing to billionaires while gobbling cheeseburgers in front of three TV screens, and boasting about the size of his nuclear button, the president also found a minute to shut down his own Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity.

'We May Not Be Alone'

Dec 23, 2017

Sometimes a story makes you wonder: Why do we pay attention to anything else?

Luis Elizondo, who used to run a formerly secret government program called the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program, this week told a number of news organizations, including NPR, "My personal belief is that there is very compelling evidence that we may not be alone."

The U.S. foster care system is overwhelmed, in part because America's opioid crisis is overwhelming. Thousands of children have had to be taken out of the care of parents or a parent who is addicted.

Indiana is among the states that have seen the largest one-year increase in the number of children who need foster care. Judge Marilyn Moores, who heads the juvenile court in Marion County, which includes Indianapolis, says the health crisis is straining resources in Indiana.

We're used to seeing ourselves ranked by our worth during these days of holiday travel.

We stand in lines behind signs that designate not just first class and coach, but five or six boarding groups, grading us by what we've paid to fly and whatever extra bounty we've offered to sit in an aisle seat. Or scrunch close enough to first class to get a whiff of the fig bars and smoked almonds. Or to clamber onto the aircraft five minutes before the next group and hope to squish a case into a shrinking space before fellow passengers get a chance.

Johnny Hallyday was a rock and roller in a nation of curled lips and subtle glances. He had a deep, grainy voice, steeped in Gauloises, streams of booze and a smog of drugs.

Although he recorded more than a thousand songs, and earned more than 60 gold and platinum records, Johnny Hallyday never became a household name in the United States. But he once performed before a million people on the Champs-Elysees. He died this week, at the age of 74, and this weekend the Eiffel Tower is lit with letters that say, "MERCI, JOHNNY."

Fiona Mozley is one of the literary sensations of 2017. The part-time clerk at the Little Apple Bookshop in York, England was named a finalist for this year's Man Booker Prize with her first novel Elmet.

This week, the president of the United States passed along malicious messages from a racist, ultranationalist fringe group directly to almost 44 million people. Those 44 million follow him on Twitter and may have now retweeted those anti-Muslim messages to millions more.

A congressional candidate in Florida drew a little ridicule this week.

Bettina Rodriguez Aguilera, one of the Republicans in the crowded field in Florida's 27th Congressional District, said in 2009 that she was taken aboard a spaceship when she was 7 years old.

She does not mean at Disney World.

"I went in," she says in a 2009 Spanish language interview that appeared on YouTube this week. "There were some round seats that were there, and some quartz rocks that controlled the ship, not like airplanes.

Does honoring someone really always honor them?

Chicago's landmark old Carbon and Carbide Building, designed by the Burnham Brothers in 1929, and clad in black and green stone and gold leaf, to look like a champagne bottle during Prohibition, is currently a Hard Rock Hotel.

But next year, the 40-story building will become The St. Jane Hotel, named in honor of Jane Addams.

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At a time when many 16- and 17-year-olds mostly worry about algebra homework and homecoming, students of South Webster High School in southern Ohio have other worries.

BRETT ROBERTS: Every one of these kids knows somebody or lives with somebody who has suffered through addiction.

A couple of high-tech entrepreneurs thought they'd put a personable name on an impersonal product.

Paul McDonald and Ashwath Rajan, formerly of Google, unveiled a box this week with glass doors, stocked with nonperishable items, that people can unlock with their cellphones while a camera records what they take and charges them.

It's essentially a tech-connected vending machine. But the entrepreneurs chose a name for their venture that many people found offensive: Bodega.

When crisis strikes, leaders often call for sacrifice. In the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey and in these days before Hurricane Irma churns ashore in Florida, we've seen innumerable Americans volunteer, sacrifice and even risk their lives to help others.

It might be too easy to contrast that generous spirit with the strict practices of major air carriers. But airlines make it pretty much irresistible.

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Houston and Texas made Americans proud this week. Hurricane Harvey assaulted southeast Texas with vicious winds, rains and floods, but Texans struck back with unshrinking courage, spirit and selflessness. They risked their lives to save neighbors and strangers.

A lot of the images of people being plucked from flooded roads and picked up from rooftops showed them holding dogs, cats and other pets in their arms. Pictures from shelters show people sharing cots and food with their pets. These images help reveal an important change in U.S. emergency policies.

Steven Bartman was in a baseline seat at Wrigley Field in the eighth inning of the sixth game of the 2003 National League Championship when fame fell on him.

The Chicago Cubs were just five outs from the World Series and Luis Castillo of the Florida Marlins chipped a short fly ball down the left field line. Moises Alou, the Cubs left fielder, leaped and reached into the seats. But Steve Bartman and half a dozen other fans stretched for the ball, too. Everyone missed, but the ball smacked off of Steven Bartman's outstretched hand. No out.

Some of the best minds of our times, including Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk, have warned that human beings may invent intelligent machines that could wind up destroying humankind. But a small incident this week might make you wonder: Will intelligent machines become so smart that they'll grow depressed as they learn they're brilliant but lifeless and decide they can't go on?

Will those machines begin to wonder: Is that all there is?

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It's rare to talk to a celebrity who hits as many demographic heights as Baddiewinkle. She's an Instagram influencer with more than 3 million followers; she's been featured by two major cosmetics lines; and she turned heads when she wore a bedazzled nude bodysuit to the 2016 MTV Video Music Awards.

I read my first New York Times when I was 12 and my summer camp counselor woke me up to put the paper in my hands. "The competition," he said with a smile. I was editor of the Camp Indianola Totem Pole, a small sheet on which we printed the scores of camp games, silly jokes and gripes about bugs in the bathrooms.

For parents, the thought of a child being sick or hurt can be a heart-stopper. Fortunately, for those who do confront such realities, there are doctors like Kurt Newman.

Newman is president and CEO of Children's National Health System, known as Children's National, in Washington, D.C. He started there as a surgeon more than 30 years ago.

Most American reporters don't live in fear for their lives, like colleagues in Mexico, Russia, China, Turkey or Iran, where journalists have been imprisoned or killed. But there have been a few recent incidents of reporters being roughed up or arrested in America as they've tried just to report a story.

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The official portrait of Pat Quinn, the former governor of Illinois, was unveiled this week at the state Capitol in Springfield. There was a little more attention to the ritual this time because Pat Quinn is the first governor of Illinois in a while who hasn't left office and gone to prison.

Four of the state's last nine governors have been sent to prison. Illinois' unofficial motto may be, "A State So Great, The Governor Makes Your License Plate."

Brockmire is back! Jim Brockmire, the beloved old voice of the Kansas City Royals baseball team, who became one of the first Internet sensations 10 years ago when he shared the shock of walking in on his wife in the middle of an orgy without dropping a moment in his play by play.

Jeffrey Tambor has been a professional working actor since the early 1970s — and he says that's all he's ever wanted to do.

He's done Shakespeare, Avis commercials, Hollywood Squares, Arrested Development and La Cage aux Folles. He's still often remembered as Hank Kingsley, the self-adoring announcer on The Larry Sanders Show. Now, he stars as Maura, a divorced, transgender parent of three in the Amazon series Transparent.

Tambor's new memoir, about his life as an actor, is called Are You Anybody?

If you're a fan of The Americans, you probably have strong feelings about Alison Wright's character, Martha. Poor, loving, trusting Martha had to be smuggled out of the U.S. because she married a man who was no good for her — a man who turned out to be a Russian spy.

It's hardly unusual for athletes, both amateur and professional, to have pregame rituals. But the NBA's peculiar commitment to one grade-school snack goes deep: ESPN Magazine calls the PB&J sandwich the league's "secret addiction."

"In every NBA locker room, you'll see a variety of different foods on the table, but PB&J — if there's a locker room that doesn't have it, I haven't seen it," ESPN reporter Baxter Holmes tells Scott Simon.