At 11 a.m. on a weekday, Calexico rehearses for its upcoming tour in a cramped studio on the south side of Tucson, Ariz. The stereotypical musician would just be getting up, but lead singer and songwriter Joey Burns has been up since dawn with his twin baby girls.
Trumpet player Jacob Valenzuela arrives late to the rehearsal — and that's because his washing machine broke and he had to deal with a small flood. Valenzuela grabs his trumpet as the band launches into "Splitter," the first single from Calexico's new album.
For a metro area of only about 3.5 million people, the Twin Cities region is unusual in the way it supports not one, but two world-class orchestras. Now, with looming deficits on the horizon and musicians' contracts at both the Minnesota Orchestra and the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra expiring Sept. 30, the Twin Cities may have two orchestras on strike.
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. Once again, this week, European officials sat down and tried to figure out what to do about the debt crisis, and once again, they came up with a plan that they say will help heavily indebted countries, including Spain and Italy, turn a corner. Investors seemed to like the plan. Stock prices rose, but the plan still faces hurdles, including a major court ruling in Germany next week.
NPR's Jim Zarroli joins us from Berlin. Jim, thanks for being with us.
Last week, the French ended their rotation at the head of United Nations Security Council. Their permanent representative, Ambassador Gerard Araud, had one preeminently difficult issue on his agenda while in charge. And, of course, that was the question of what to do about Syria. Ambassador Araud joins us from his office in New York City. Mr. Ambassador, thanks very much for being with us.
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. More dismal economic news this week. The U.S. economy created slightly fewer than 100,000 new jobs - worse than what many economists expected and what millions of Americans had hoped for. The unemployment rate dropped slightly, but possibly because half a million Americans just gave up and stopped looking for work. NPR's Steve Henn reports on whether the jobs lost during the great recession will ever come back.
After long deliberations, the U.S. State Department has designated one of Afghanistan's deadliest insurgent groups to be a terrorist organization. The Haqqani network has been blamed for many attacks on U.S. troops and the embassy in Afghanistan. Although the group is made up primarily of Afghan fighters, it is based in northwest Pakistan.
Envoys from what they call the Troika, the International Monetary Fund, the European Commission and the European Central Bank, are back in Greece today and will resume combing through the country's finances to determine if Greece ought to keep receiving bailout loans. They're also expected to push for more austerity measures in exchange for those loans.
Leonard Cohen is known for distinctive, haunting and provocative songs. His music inspired one artist in the Bay Area with amounts to a vision: that there ought to be a community choir of men singing a cappella exclusively from the Leonard Cohen songbook. Lisa Morehouse spent some time with the group. They call themselves the Conspiracy of Beards.
LISA MOREHOUSE, BYLINE: The Beards, as they're known, don't all have beards, but they do stand out.
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. The presidential candidates are back on the campaign trail, sprinting, now that the political conventions are behind them. President Obama and Mitt Romney were both in Iowa and New Hampshire yesterday. Both of their message were affected by some bad news on the job's front as NPR's Scott Horsley reports.
A case of unshuffled card decks has riled up casino owners and players in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Fourteen gamblers at the Golden Nugget there raked in more than $1.5 million playing a game called mini-baccarat in April. But they didn't have Lady Luck to thank so much as a technical malfunction. The players realized after a few hands that they were being dealt cards in the exact same sequence.
The bright lights of the political conventions dimmed. President Obama and Mitt Romney hit the campaign trail Friday. Both candidates headed for the politically critical states of Iowa and New Hampshire. We asked reporters in those both those places to find out how voters are feeling about the two questions that dominated the conventions: Are you better off now than you were four years ago? And which presidential candidate has the best plan for country? We go first to Sarah McCammon of Iowa Public Radio.
JOSH ROGERS, BYLINE: I'm Josh Rogers in Concord, New Hampshire. Pretty much every poll in this race shows the Granite State as a tossup. Economic issues tend to dominate here, and even though New Hampshire has weathered the recession relatively well - unemployment stands at just 5.2 percent - you wouldn't know it by talking to voters at Manchester's Red Arrow Diner.
NEAL POITRAS: I ran into a tough situation where I actually bought a house five years ago and I just recently sold it for a $46,000 loss.
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. Democrats in North Carolina are hoping to extend the momentum of the convention, organizing to get out the vote in November. President Obama narrowly won the state four years ago, but recent polls have shown Mitt Romney now ahead. The weak economy still looms over their organizing efforts. NPR's Brian Naylor reports.