Good morning. As we start Day 8 of the London Olympics, big news is already happening. We posted earlier about Oscar Pistorius's historic run in the men's 400 meters, for instance. If you'd like to catch up on yesterday's events, check out our Day in Photos gallery. Here's what's been happening today:
The American men's basketball team has faced criticism for Thursday night's 156-73 blowout victory over Nigeria at the London Olympics. At the arena, NPR editor Vickie Walton-James spoke to Nigerian fans, to learn what they thought about being on the wrong end of a record score:
The vaunted USA Dream Team scored more points Thursday than any other team in an Olympic basketball game. The previous record was set in 1988, when Brazil scored 138 points to Egypt's 85.
Fresh Air Weekend highlights some of the best interviews and reviews from past weeks, and new program elements specially paced for weekends. Our weekend show emphasizes interviews with writers, filmmakers, actors, and musicians, and often includes excerpts from live in-studio concerts. This week:
For more on what's happening on the ground in the Syrian city of Aleppo, we reached Abdul Rahman Abu Hothyfa. Throughout the conflict in Syria, he has been the spokesperson for an administrative organization called the Union of Coordinators of Aleppo. I asked him who makes up that group.
ABDUL RAHMAN ABU HOTHYFA: We represent a large sector of the people on the ground. We are like the - a group of young people and activists. So whatever new accident or something happens, we (unintelligible) each other.
For the second weekend in a row, observers are predicting a major government offensive against rebels in Syria's largest city, Aleppo. Fierce fighting has also been reported in parts of the capital, Damascus. Allegations of atrocities on both sides of the conflict have prompted a crescendo of criticism from the outside world.
Both sides claim to have gained the upper hand in the fighting over Aleppo, the country's commercial hub and the main city in the north. The government said last week that it had killed many rebels in Aleppo and would soon restore peace to the city.
One man who's been watching developments in Syria more closely than most, has a curiously familiar-sounding name. Ribal al-Assad is President Bashar al-Assad's first cousin. He also supports efforts to depose him. His view, from exile in London, is grim.
RIBAL AL-ASSAD: Everybody is arming. Everybody is following violence. Nobody wants to sit together and have dialogue. Everybody is really, in to win. Everybody is really after power. This could lead to the disintegration of Syria and its society, and everybody will lose out.
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Susan Stamberg in for Scott Simon. In an encouraging sign for the U.S. economy, the Labor Department told us yesterday that the country gained 163,000 jobs in July. That was better than expected but not all signs are pointing up. In a separate government survey, the unemployment rate increased slightly to 8.3 percent. NPR's Chris Arnold is at a gathering of economists in northern Maine. He sent this report.
You find out so much about a country, you know, when it's hosting the Olympics. It's almost as if the games lay bare a nation's soul. NPR's Philip Reeves says that is what's happening in Britain. He's finding the experience unnerving, as he explains, in this letter from the Olympics.