2006 Leftovers: A Reheated Helping of Lost Stories

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Whatever happened to all of those characters with those great ideas for 2006? Mike Pesca found out and checks in with the results.


The Duke case is just one of many stories that got a lot of attention this year but at times fell off the radar. As the year draws to a close, we decided to check back in with a few others.


And so, joining us now is NPR's Mike Pesca. Hi, Mike.

MIKE PESCA: Hi, Noah. The idea here is to reintroduce some of this year's news and maybe you'll say, oh yeah, I remember that. It seemed so huge at the time, like say, the ports deal.

ADAMS: The Dubai ports deal. This was the plan that was in place to allow a company owned by the Emir of Dubai to control the shipping terminals at some of the biggest ports in this country.

PESCA: Right. Dubai is one of the United Arab Emirates and politicians from both parties in the U.S. were up in arms about this deal. I guess the name Arab right there in the name of the country, United Arabs, maybe that sounds even scarier.

The reason I'm taking this tone Antonio might call dismissive, is I'm taking my cues from NPR's Adam Davidson. He was reporting this story from the very first public rumblings. And he was just flummoxed. Let's listen to Adam - here he is on WEEKEND ALL THINGS CONSIDERED last February.

ADAM DAVIDSON: I have to a say that I cannot think of another story I have ever covered where what seems to be the facts are so far away from the public debate.

PESCA: What Adam was saying was that even though politicians and members of the media - sorry, Lou Dobbs - even though they were quite publicly nervous about letting the UAE run the port, he couldn't find any expert who was nervous about that. I brought Adam into the studio and asked him who runs these ports today.

DAVIDSON: It took a while. It took until just a few weeks ago, but Dubai Ports World did sell to AIG, the big American insurance corporation. There was no American port management or terminal management company big enough to buy Dubai's holdings in the U.S. But it was sold to an American company.

PESCA: But Dubai Ports World really is out of this business because American politicians protested.

DAVIDSON: Yes, a couple of weeks ago. It was sort of ironic. The Department of Homeland Security announced a major new initiative, a partnership between the Department of Homeland Security and international ports management operators to make ports overseas in other countries safer. The number one company that the Department of Homeland Security is working with, the number one company they praised is Dubai Ports World.

PESCA: So let's go from a port to a bay. Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, the sight of the big oil spill this year. You remember that one, Noah?

NOAH ADAMS: Back in March, as I recall, this was hundreds of thousands of gallons spilled there on the North Slope of Alaska. That's the biggest spill ever?

PESCA: Yeah. That's the biggest spill on land. And here's the update. Well, what happened there was that pipes were corroded. They were low-pressure pipes. BP, British Petroleum, executives came before Congress. They were grilled by Republicans and Democrats alike.

And what changed was the U.S. Department of Transportation has now overtaken oversight of those low-pressure pipes. The state of Alaska has also created a committee, though, industry consultant and reporter Richard Fineberg says he's totally unclear about the committee. He thinks it's not quite rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.

Mr. RICHARD FINEBERG: It's changing the names on the backs of the deck chairs.

PESCA: So let's also add that a grand jury is considering criminal charges against BP executives.

And let's segue this way. While we're speaking of fluids on the slopes, there's Bode Miller, the U.S. skier. Here's what Bode told “60 Minutes” before the Winter Olympics.

Mr. BODE MILLER (U.S. Skier): If you've ever tried to ski when you're wasted, it's not easy.

ADAMS: Yeah, well, he didn't do very well when it came time for the winter Olympic games.

PESCA: No medals, and so I turned to Sports Illustrated's Tim Layden with the question, Bode Miller, still drunk?

Mr. TIM LAYDEN (Sports Illustrated): Bode probably wasn't drunk as much as everybody thought he was in 2006. Bode was mainly out of shape, and disinterested, and the partying got more attention. I think this year he's back to a level where he trained a lot in the off-season. And people aren't watching quite as closely. And he's won three World Cup races, and finished second in two others.

PESCA: That's right. Bode Miller has returned to being one of the best, maybe even the best skier in the world. And while he blew his chance at Olympic endorsements, who knows, maybe O'Doul's non-alcoholic beer will come knocking.

ADAMS: NPR's Mike Pesca back later in the program with more updates. Thank you, Mike.

PESCA: Talk to you then, Noah.

ADAMS: Stay with us on DAY TO DAY from NPR News.

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