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Boston's Big Dig Finally Done

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Boston's Big Dig Finally Done

Boston's Big Dig Finally Done

Boston's Big Dig Finally Done

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  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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Some of the most popular stories on the Web.


You're listening to THE BRYANT PARK PROJECT from NPR News.

Now let's get to our patented, trademark collection of the most popular, the most read, the most blogged, and most e-mailed stories from about a billion Web sites we check every morning. You click it where you pick it. It's The Most.

(Soundbite of music)

SMITH: We start with Rachel Martin, our newscaster.


Hi, guys.

SMITH: What the holiday seemed to most?

MARTIN: I do. This is a story about a jokester of a guy who even in death pulled one over on his friends. This is a story that's most read at the It's a tale about Chet Finch - Fitch rather. This gentleman passed away this - last October at the age of 88. And he was just known for being this total car(ph), this total joker guy and he's been planning this frank for 20 years that after his death he had his barber mail out greeting cards like over three - 30 greeting cards to his friends and family with the return address of heaven.

(Soundbite of laughter)

MARTIN: And it's so cute. In the cards he wrote: I asked the big guy if I could sneak back and send some cards. At first he said no, but at my insistence he finally said, oh well, what the heaven. Go ahead, but don't carry (unintelligible). Wish I could tell you about things here but words can't explain. And his friends were just flabbergasted, and said this was just (unintelligible). This is exactly what he would have wanted, to get the last laugh. So…

SMITH: Can't wait until Valentines Day.

(Soundbite of laughter)

SMITH: You know, everyone's like, wait a minute he's going to send this stuff forever, right?

We have a new entry in The Most. Caitlin(ph), thanks for joining us.

CAITLIN: Hello, hello. Thank you.

My story today is from the L.A. Times. It's about the children of billionaire Donald Bren. His four kids are fighting their dad in court for child support. Right now they're getting about $17,000 a month each. But, you know, Orange County.

SMITH: Yeah.

CAITLIN: California. Very expensive.

SMITH: That's actually mean nothing.

STEWART: Gas prices.

CAITLIN: Right. You know, new Gucci bags.

STEWART: They're starving, basically.


SMITH: My sister's is going to live.

(Soundbite of laughter)

CAITLIN: Exactly. So they're trying to get about $2.2 million a month. They say, you know, that's no more, no less…

STEWART: A child's - wait - in child support, $2.2 million in child support.

CAITLIN: Yes, a month. And just to put that in perspective, the average child support order in Los Angeles County is $345 per month. But they need $2.2 million. And…

STEWART: Fight the good fight, kids.

CAITLIN: Yeah. I think they're quoted that says abashment(ph) from their lawyer who said, a child can't eat a million dollars worth of food, I understand that. But maybe they need a yacht like Donald Bren has, maybe a plane. Maybe they need a house in Newport Beach and in Beverly Hills. Who doesn't, really?

SMITH: Yeah. It's just really - from one sad story to another. This one is my most. And by the way, unbelievable, those kids, they just want to toss the ball around with their dad.


SMITH: They're just neglected.

STEWART: That's a lot of hugs(ph) for $2.2 million.

SMITH: I know.


(Soundbite of laughter)

SMITH: That's exactly right.

Well, this one will put you in the right mood. The…

STEWART: Will it?

SMITH: It actually won't.

(Soundbite of laughter)

SMITH: This is from Yahoo! And it's really sad. Roundworms - this is about worm infections - and worms infect more poor Americans than (unintelligible). Roundworms may infect close to a quarter of all inner city black children. This is from the magazine Neglected Tropical Diseases, a journal that Dan Pashman gets. And this doctrine is just making it impassionedly that said, you know, the United States spends hundreds of millions of dollars for defending its bioterrorism threats like anthrax or avian flu, which are these theoretic concerns. But there's this real threat that young poor kids are picking up these worms. And the parasitic disease burden is already heavy among the American poor right under our nose.

STEWART: So there you go.

SMITH: So take that Donald Bren's kids.


SMITH: Just to feel like you got lucky.

STEWART: Seriously.

SMITH: Dan Pashman, our producer, is in. We got some happy news.

DAN PASHMAN: Hey guys. Ali.

SMITH: Take us about happy.

STEWART: I knew you were (unintelligible) to choose a story, something like…

PASHMAN: How do you know it?

STEWART: I saw this morning.

(Soundbite of laughter)

STEWART: Dan lived in Boston for quite some time.

PASHMAN: Six years in Boston and a passing interest in massive construction projects. Survived in my six years in Boston, has me very excited, both e-mailed Yahoo! News, Boston $14.8-billion big dig is finally complete.

STEWART: Woohoo.

SMITH: Wait. Dan, that price tag - that's not what…

STEWART: Oh, he's going to the bell.


SMITH: That's not the original price tag was, was it?

PASHMAN: The original price tag was about $2.6 billion, you know, but what's a few billion dollars when you're…

STEWART: You know how things go when you're remodeling your bathroom. It's always like the 60s(ph).

PASHMAN: Totally.

SMITH: Sure. Two, four, six, eight, 14 billion.

PASHMAN: You know what though, Robert, everyone wants to make a big deal about how much this thing costs, and the issue that we're over budget, yes, it cost a lot of money, but I still remain a huge proponent of the big dig. This thing will - has already and will continue to completely revolutionize the city of Boston, one our most historic cities. And this construction project is the most complex or was - the most complex construction project in the history of mankind. It is the Great Wall of China of our generation.

STEWART: It was also the biggest pain into the tush.


STEWART: For many, many years.

PASHMAN: I drove through it many times. I feel the pain. But you know what, people who are born in Boston today and for generations forward will not be able to comprehend what it used to be like, and I think it was worth it.

SMITH: They won't even remember why big panels are falling off of it for the next 30 years.

PASHMAN: Right. Hopefully, that will be fixed.

CAITLIN: I think the (unintelligible) at Billboard they had on the side that said: Rome wasn't built in a day.

MARTIN: That's right.

(Soundbite of laughter)

PASHMAN: Yeah. Well, Barney Frank once asked, wouldn't it be cheaper to just to lift the entire city?

(Soundbite of laughter)

SMITH: Alison, are you going to take us out of here on The Most?

STEWART: Yeah. This is a story that we were discussing, and I think this may actually turn out to be a breakout story here on THE BRYANT PARK PROJECT.

It is currently still the most huge story at Google News. It's a very serious story. CIGNA, the insurers, which - full disclosure - a lot of folks who work in NPR has CIGNA. They decided not to pay for a liver transplant for a young woman, young girl, she was 17 years old. Then they reversed their decision. Unfortunately, she died in the interim. And now they are being sued. And they are not only being - CIGNA being sued - not only being sued, they're being sued by Mark Garagos, who is that one of those super high-profile attorneys.

Now CIGNA health care executives, obviously, they expressed condolences with -by the family but they have stood by their decision saying that they are experts to - independent experts in the field, agreed to the procedure in question, given the patient's particular circumstances would not have been an effective or appropriate treatment.

This, like a lot of stories, has a lot of little details. The girl with the liver issue also had leukemia that had been diagnosed at 14. So this controversy about whether or not this transplant would have done any good, whether not her body would have accepted it, whether or not to chemotherapy. But they made it more difficult.

So we're going to keep watching this story. Obviously, people are interested in it as the most popular in Google News, if you want to read it.

And if you want to read any more of these stories, you can find the links to all of them on our blog

Thanks, Caitlin, Dan and Rachel.

MARTIN: You got it.

PASHMAN: Bye guys.


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