Scott Simon

Gary Johnson, the Libertarian candidate for president, was chagrined and embarrassed this week after he asked, "What is Aleppo?" in reply to a question on MSNBC. Mr. Johnson made no excuses and said later he simply "blanked" — his word — when asked what he would do about the besieged Syrian city in which hundreds of thousands of civilians are trapped, many starving and defenseless against artillery, bombs and alleged chemical weapons.

What's in a name?

The Chicago White Sox, mired in in the middle of the American League Central division, announced this week they've signed a 13 year deal to rename the park where they play Guaranteed Rate Field.

Guaranteed Rate is a home loan company, headquartered in Chicago.

But as Rick Morrisey wrote in the Chicago Sun-Times, "Guaranteed Rate Field. You're kidding, right? Was Year End Clearance Sale Stadium already taken?"

The little boy in Aleppo, sitting in an ambulance, his face caked with rubble and blood, is named Omran Daqneesh. He is five years old. His home was destroyed on Wednesday night. Russian and Syrian government airstrikes have become routine in rebel-held areas of the city. And rebels have also shelled the government-held side.

Just before Jeni Stepien got married to Paul Maenner last Saturday, she turned to the man who walked her down the aisle and put her hand on his chest — to feel the heartbeat of the father she lost ten years ago.

Michael Stepien was a chef, on his way home from work at a restaurant in suburban Pittsburgh in September 2006 when he was robbed by a 16-year-old who shot him through the head.

Arthur Thomas was a school counselor in Lawrenceville, New Jersey, and a father of four who had been diagnosed with a heart disease 16 years before. He was in a hospital, close to death.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Did anyone see Gags last night?

This week, a clown has been making the late-night scene in Green Bay, Wis.

Gags, the Green Bay Clown, as he's been christened on a Facebook fan page — and by the way, if the Visigoths sacked Rome again these days, there would be Facebook fan page for them — has appeared on the streets of an intersection at about 2 a.m.

Americans might have a national self-image of being tall and rangy: think Gary Cooper, Michael Jordan, or Taylor Swift.

It turns out that we may look more like Judy Garland or Kevin Hart.

During these past two weeks in which America has been praised, panned, and hyperbolized at political conventions, Imperial College in London came out with a study that shows size-wise, Americans may have topped out.

The phrase, "America First" was invoked a few times at this week's Republican convention. That slogan comes with a lot of echoes, and you might wonder how much the people who chant it now really know about its history.

The America First Committee was founded in 1940 by a group of Yale students, many of whom would go on to distinguished careers, and funded by prominent Chicago business leaders. It was one of the largest peace organizations in U.S. history, with more than 800,000 registered members.

It somehow just seems right the last A Prairie Home Companion with Garrison Keillor will be heard tonight, on this weekend of flags, parades, and lemonade stands. The show was recorded last night at the Hollywood Bowl.

The first Prairie Home Companion was in 1974, and all of us who share this sliver on the radio spectrum know we wouldn't be in business if Garrison Keillor hadn't made a new thing called public radio truly sing.

The United States of America got a national mammal this week. And it's not us human beings.

President Obama signed the National Bison Legacy Act, which establishes the bison as the national mammal. This does not overthrow the bald eagle, who remains national symbol. But it does seem to put two animals on the same marquee.

Tens of millions of bison once thundered across North America, from the thick forests of Alaska to the tan prairies of Mexico. But by the late 1800s, just hundreds of North American bison were left alive.

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