A Skater, a Boxer and a Frisbee Player

The Rhodes Scholars for 2008 were announced yesterday, a well-rounded bunch drawn from a pool of 764 applicants.

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BILL WOLFF (Announcer): From NPR News in New York, this is THE BRYANT PARK PROJECT.

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ALISON STEWART, host:

This is THE BRYANT PARK PROJECT from NPR News. We bring you news, information, and today, The Oxford University Press' word of the year. You have to wait for it, though.

I'm Alison Stewart.

ROBERT SMITH, host:

And I'm Robert Smith, filling in for Luke Burbank, who went home for the Thanksgiving week. It's Monday, November 19th. And since I'm a guest on this program, I brought a gift.

STEWART: Yes.

SMITH: I know you love monkeys-out-of-control stories…

STEWART: I do.

SMITH: …and this is a great one. In northeast India, troops of monkeys are going on a crime spree. They're breaking into homes and stealing mobile phones, toothpaste and Coke, which I think is the components of some sort of weapon to be used against us.

STEWART: That's quite a combo.

SMITH: I know.

STEWART: Either they're drinking the Coke, and then they're brushing their little monkey teeth.

SMITH: Well, they have good oral hygiene. It's just good to hear.

STEWART: Exactly.

SMITH: Now this is part of - there's a serious problem here, which is rapid development in India. It's moving in to the forests, and the monkeys are gone, I don't know, maybe we should strike back.

STEWART: It doesn't make those deer seem so bad in your front yard these days.

SMITH: Well, I, for one, welcome our new monkey overlords and say I was cheering for them all along on "Planet of the Apes."

STEWART: That's right. Kiss up to the monkeys now. Okay, coming up on the program, see this book right here? "Shooting War."

SMITH: Looks beautiful.

STEWART: It is a graphic novel. It is a - it paints a pretty bleak picture of life four years from now, but it's also quite a bit of satire in there. President John McCain presiding over the eighth year of the war in Iraq. We'll talk to the author and the illustrator of "Shooting War."

SMITH: And speaking of Thanksgiving and being away for the Thanksgiving week, we were talking about Thanksgiving stories last week. And we discovered that physical therapists love/hate this holiday because come Monday, all sorts of weekend warriors playing that Thanksgiving touch football game come hobbling in to the office going, what am I supposed to do? I tore up my knee while I was trying to get a pass from grandma.

STEWART: All right. So we're going to do a little preventive medicine in today on the show. We'll also get an update on the cyclone in Bangladesh with a reporter on the ground. Over 2,000 people have lost their lives.

We'll also get Rachel Martin to get us up to speed on the rest of the day's headlines in just a minute. But first, here is the BPP's big story.

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STEWART: What do a competitive figure skater, an ultimate Frisbee player, a boxer and a concert violinist have in common? They've all joined one of the most elite groups of scholar athletes in the world.

The 2008 Rhode Scholars were announced yesterday, and they say the winners of this prestigious scholarship to Oxford University are multi-talented? That's an understatement.

SMITH: Yeah. I'm trying to get the jealousy out of my system here.

Yale Law student Isra Bhatty is a part-time poet and hip-hop artist who also serves as an English-Urdu translator for Guantanamo Bay detainees in her spare time.

Nadine Levin, a senior at the University of Chicago, is a nationally competitive ultimate Frisbee player - I don't know if those always go together - but national competitive ultimate Frisbee player and concert violinist who likes to research bubonic plague vaccines in her spare time.

STEWART: Well, Bronx native Adam M. Levine isn't just a triple major in art history, anthropology and mathematical social science at Dartmouth.

SMITH: This is crazy.

STEWART: He's also an accomplished lightweight, heavyweight, light-heavyweight boxer.

And Asya J. Passinsky is the winner from University of California Berkeley who, when not finishing in the top ranks of college figure-skating championships, writing for the San Francisco Examiner and translating Russian poetry into English, studies political economies and Russian lit.

SMITH: Selected on the basis of character, academic achievement and leadership potential, they'll join 28 other American students at Oxford next October and they'll have our jobs in about seven weeks.

STEWART: And the ability to fill every moment of their day. Former Rhode Scholars include former President Bill Clinton, U.S. Supreme Court Justice David Souter and Louisiana governor-elect Bobby Jindal - from my alma mater, I might just add.

That's the BPP big story. Now here's Rachel Martin with even more news.

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