And if you're just joining us, you're listening to WEEKENDS on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Guy Raz.
In Afghanistan today, the Taliban has launched a string of attacks across the country, including coordinated strikes in the capital, Kabul, that hit near western targets and Afghan government buildings. The Taliban says today's attack marks the beginning of what they call the spring fighting season, the period after the winter thaw when mountain passes and roads become accessible again.
In Philadelphia, a warehouse fire this past week killed two firefighters and left neighbors angry because the building was abandoned. The city faces the same challenges as many others across the country - it has too many big old and unused buildings. From member station WHYY in Philadelphia, Elizabeth Fiedler reports on the threat posed by vacant buildings.
ELIZABETH FIEDLER, BYLINE: John Mahoney walks his dog near the site of the fire. He wasn't surprised by what happened.
Over 100 tornadoes touched down Saturday in the Great Plains, causing millions of dollars in damage across Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska and Iowa. Despite the wreckage, there were few fatalities, a result perhaps due in part to the National Weather Service's warnings. Russell Schneider of the Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Okla., offers his insight.
A few years ago, author, critic, and translator Daniel Mendelsohn was teaching the epic Greek poem The Odyssey when his father decided to take his class.
Jay Mendelsohn, a retired research scientist, wanted to understand his son better, and understand his life's work. When Daniel decided he wanted to retrace one of the most epic journeys of Greek literature, Jay became his travel partner.
Amnon Weinstein first encountered a violin from the Holocaust 50 years ago. He was a young violin maker in Israel, and a customer brought him an old instrument in terrible condition and wanted it restored.
The customer had played on the violin on the way to the gas chamber, but he survived because the Germans needed him for their death camp orchestra. He hadn't played on it since.
"So I opened the violin, and there inside there [were] ashes," Weinstein says.
Laurie and Dan Castaneda from Long Beach, Calif., walk the pool deck of the Azamara Journey on a Titanic Memorial Cruise. Preparation for their costumes involved several weeks of research, last-minute purchases and even home-sewn clothing from vintage patterns.
Aboard the luxury liner Azamara Journey, writer Lester Reingold holds up an orange pocketed by a crew member from the Titanic before it sank 100 years ago. Reingold reports the "orange is now dry, sort of mummified, and feels as though it may be hollow."
One hundred years ago this Sunday, the Titanic struck an iceberg and sank into the Atlantic on its maiden voyage. At that very spot today is another luxury liner, there to mark the centennial of the disaster. Writer Lester Reingold is on board the memorial cruise, and he sends us this report.
Host Rachel Martin talks with Lester Reingold, a writer and Titanic enthusiast, just after he'll have attended a memorial honoring the 100-year anniversary of the Titanic's sinking from aboard a cruise ship, anchored right where the ship went down.
Several deaths and injuries have been reported following a tornado that rolled across Woodward, Okla. It was just one of the twisters that struck the Midwest on Saturday and overnight. As Kansas Public Radio's J. Schafer reports, more than 100 tornadoes touched down across four states.
We turn our attention now to Syria. United Nations observers are preparing to travel to Syria this week to start monitoring the fragile cease-fire between government forces and rebel fighters. The U.N. Security Council yesterday approved the deployment of a 30-member team. The monitors will have their work cut out for them. As NPR's Grant Clark reports from Beirut, military bombardment is reportedly continuing, despite an agreed truce.