Scott Simon

It's commencement season — and commencement speech season.

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UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: How are you this morning?

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #2: Fine. Holding up.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Holding up?

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What kind of man or woman risks their lives for strangers?

Eric Seaman of Murrieta, Calif., was 30. He had two children, and was a U.S. Marine sergeant. His wife, Samantha Seaman, told CNN, "Last week I got an email telling me that he felt purpose and that he delivered 10,000 pounds of rice ... and I know that right before he passed away, I know that he helped somebody."

Sara Medina was 23. She enlisted in the Marines just out of high school in Aurora, Illinois, and served in South Korea, South America and Okinawa.

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A 15-year-old girl named Anne Frank died 70 years ago this week; the exact day is unknown. She died in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, not long after her sister Margot, who was 19.

A lot of people saw their hopes and dreams fulfilled this week — for just a few hours.

Carnegie Mellon University emailed about 800 people who had applied to graduate school to say, 'Congratulations, you're in.' They were — to quote the message of acceptance — "one of the select few" to be accepted into Carnegie Mellon's prestigious Master of Science in Computer Science program.

A young woman in India who was accepted wrote on Facebook that she quit her job, bolstered by this act of faith in her future. Her boyfriend proposed marriage.

It has been wrenching these last few weeks to hear about the hostages killed by the group that calls itself the Islamic State, and learn about the extraordinary people we have lost: humanitarian workers, independent journalists, people who chose to put themselves in one of the most dangerous spots on earth in hope that they might do something needed and good.

Pope Francis and the Vatican have recognized Oscar Romero as a martyr. This may move the name of the late archbishop of San Salvador a little further in the process that could one day make him a saint.

But being deemed a martyr is also holy. It means the church believes his life can inspire people; Pope Francis has said Romero inspires him.

Romero was considered a kindly, orthodox conservative parish priest when Pope Paul appointed him archbishop in 1977. He did not question El Salvador's ruling regime.

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Satire is a tricky business. The punch lines quickly get stale. The same people who laugh at one joke can get offended by the next.

But this week, with the targeted killings of the cartoon satirists of Charlie Hebdo in Paris, we were reminded how dangerous people with no sense of humor can be.

The Onion ran a headline: "It is Sadly Unclear Whether This Article Will Put Lives At Risk."

I've always had a good time in Cuba. The people are friendly and funny, the rum is smooth, the music intoxicating and the beaches wide, white and soft.

But you're accompanied everywhere by government minders. They call them responsables. Any Cuban you interview knows your microphone might as well run straight to their government.

If you want to talk to someone with a different view, you have to slip out of your hotel in the middle of the night without your minder — though dissidents say other security people follow you.

Australian cricket player Phillip Hughes died this week in Sydney after he was struck on the back of the neck by a bounced pitch that's an ordinary and routine part of cricket.

Mr. Hughes was 25, an accomplished and admired player. There's been an outpouring of grief in Australia and around the world over his death. Cricket fans from India and Pakistan to New Zealand have observed a minute of silence before a match, and worn black armbands. Cricket fans have put out cricket bats in tribute. Rory McIlroy, the great Irish golfer, played with a black ribbon in his cap.

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When you think about robots, if you do, you might think of famous images from science fiction, some kind of tin can built to vaguely resemble a human being.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "STAR WARS: EPISODE 1 - THE PHANTOM MENACE")

Mahatma Gandhi never won the Nobel Peace Prize. A lot of people who have dropped bombs, launched missiles and made war have won the Nobel, but not the man whose very silhouette — bald-headed, wrapped in cloth, and walking in sandals across a perilous world — is taken to be a symbol of peace across the globe.

The U.S. may have added jobs to its payroll last month, but the losses are still huge in Atlantic City, N.J., where four casinos have closed this year. A fifth teeters, and more than 7,000 people — dealers, greeters, cooks and maids — have been laid off.

The job losses could mean a future of boarded windows and abandoned buildings.

In the 1970s, Atlantic City had lost the glitter of its golden years — the 1940s and '50s, when it was a favored summer spot with a broad beach, the Boardwalk, pastel resort hotels and the home of the Miss America Pageant.

The Trojan Women, by Euripides, is a Greek tragedy written 2,500 years ago that war keeps timely.

It's about a group of women who struggle to survive in Troy after the town has been sacked. When one of the women cries out, "Our country, our conquered country, perishes ... O land that reared my children!" it's hard not to hear those words echo today, through Syria, in Iraq and in Ukraine.

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