Letters: Plane Crash, Liberia, and Almonds

Michele Norris and Robert Siegel read from listeners' e-mails. There is both praise and criticism for our coverage of the small plane that crashed into a New York City high-rise. And a listener wants to clarify how Liberia was founded. Another listener relays a little-known fact about nefarious uses for almonds.

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ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED, from NPR News. I'm Robert Siegel.

MICHELE NORRIS, host:

And I'm Michele Norris, and Thursday's the day we read from your email.

SIEGEL: Our coverage of yesterday's small plane crash in New York City brought comments from listeners who were pleased and displeased with our efforts. Joe Arnold in Panama City, Florida, was unhappy. He writes, "In a typical East Coast-centric world, the story of the small plane crash was overblown on every media outlet, including NPR. How much time would this story have garnered if it had been a plane crash in St. Louis, Missouri, or Canton, Ohio? Probably a footnote, at best."

NORRIS: From the other end of the spectrum, we heard from Evelyn Bemis(ph) of Santa Fe. She says she was moved by our coverage and she explains why. She writes, "Because of the memories of 9/11 that it evoked, the bravery of New Yorkers in response to the initial uncertainty of the nature of the crash, your coverage was exceptional."

SIEGEL: Tammy Coleman(ph) of Richmond, Utah, writes to quibble with our description of the African country Liberia. It was part of a story about training workers for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission there.

NORRIS: Tammy Coleman writes, "When I heard your reporter repeat the same pat phrase about Liberia, it was founded by freed American slaves, my ears pricked up. That statement is not really accurate. Liberia was, in fact, largely founded and settled through the efforts of the American Colonization Society. The organization was largely funded by whites to rid the U.S. of blacks, nothing more, nothing less."

SIEGEL: Earlier this week, I spoke with Scott Phippen. He's president of an almond company in California and over the 4th of July, he was robbed of 88,000 pounds of nuts.

NORRIS: A big nut job, I think you called it, Robert.

SIEGEL: That's right and here's one exchange from that conversation.

Is there any nefarious purpose to which one could put almonds other than eating them?

Mr. SCOTT PHIPPEN (Phippen Almonds): No, I think the best thing to do with them is to eat them.

SIEGEL: To eat them. That's about it?

NORRIS: Apparently that's not about it, says listener John Maddis(ph) of Leola, Pennsylvania. He writes, "Please be aware that there exist processes that can extract cyanide from almonds, both sweet and bitter, and convert it into potassium, sodium or hydrogen cyanide. Maybe Homeland Security should be notified."

SIEGEL: Well finally, praise for our colleague Melissa Block's interview with singer Elizabeth Mitchell. Mitchell has released a CD of children's music and she brought her husband and their 5-year-old daughter into the studio to sing.

Ms. ELIZABETH MITCHELL (Singer): (Singing) I've got a friend in Mexico, little Liza Jane. Dahlias and cactus grow, little Liza Jane.

Oh, little Liza, little Liza Jane. Oh, little Liza, little Liza Jane.

SIEGEL: Well, Julie Bastion(ph) of Myakka City, Florida was touched by that performance.

NORRIS: She writes, "They just sounded so sweet. Thank you for telling us about such wonderful people. I'm looking forward to sharing the album with my 5-year-old son."

SIEGEL: Well please share your opinions of our program, good and bad. You can write to us by going to NPR.org and clicking on Contact Us at the top of the page.

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