Hour Two: Olympic Torch Concludes Tour

A symbol of the Olympics returns to Chinese soil Wednesday after a 20-nation tour plagued by protests and disruptions. Security remains a concern and officials in Hong Kong are on high alert.

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BILL WOLFF: From NPR News in New York, this is the Bryant Park Project.

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MIKE PESCA, host:

Overlooking historic Bryant Park in midtown Manhattan, live from NPR Studios, this is the Bryant Park Project from NPR News. News, information, and magic mushrooms. We're serious. I'm Mike Pesca.

RACHEL MARTIN, host:

And I'm Rachel Martin. It's Wednesday, April 30th, 2008. We are going to talk about magic mushrooms. Why?

PESCA: Well, it turns out that you can get them, I think, legally, you know, in just about one place in the world or in the western world, and that is, where can you get anything legally in the western world?

MARTIN: Amsterdam.

PESCA: Yeah, Amsterdam. But magic mushrooms, controversial source of some tourist's deaths in Amsterdam.

MARIN: Oh, gosh.

PESCA: One thing you can't do in Amsterdam is kill the tourists.

MARTIN: No.

PESCA: They rely on that. So we're going to talk to a purveyor of said mushrooms coming up. Also on the show this hour, we're going to talk to - and I'm looking at the gentleman right now. He's got a great mustache and hat, and he's a meteor collector and hunter. The most expensive meteor ever sold going up for auction today. We'll talk to the man who found it.

MARTIN: Marvin Killgore.

PESCA: Marvin Killgore is plumber-turned-meteorite hunter. He's now the curator of the University of Arizona's Southwest Meteorite Center, and the man knows how to wear a hat. He's dashing.

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MARTIN: Also, Houston is number one - I don't know if they're so happy about this - in CO2 emissions.

PESCA: Uh-oh.

MARTIN: Yeah, the city beat Los Angeles...

PESCA: Woo hoo!

MARTIN: For the dubious honor. We're going to talk with a Houstonian about how the city managed to get where it is today. Yeah.

PESCA: In a thick layer of smog. Yeah.

MARTIN: Yeah, not so pretty. We're also going to get the news headlines in just a minute. But first...

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PESCA: That is the welcoming ceremony for the Olympic torch arriving back on Chinese soil today. It was supposed to be a journey of harmony, but so far, the 20-nation torch tour has been part marathon, part relay, and part covert ops. Still, the torch arrived in Hong Kong today in one piece.

MARTIN: Although the iconic Olympic symbol is in friendlier territory, security remains a concern. At least seven activists were deported from Hong Kong before the torch's arrival, and about 3,000 police will guard it Friday during its relay through the former British colony.

PESCA: But that relay pales in comparison to China's biggest gambit, an attempt to take the torch to the top of Mount Everest and broadcast that on live TV. I guess they've made big advances in anti-wind technology in China. It's supposed to happen in the next week and a half, but nobody knows exactly when, because, of course, the weather will play a large part.

MARTIN: The Chinese constructed a special high-altitude torch for this very purpose, and they've spent two years training the cameramen for the job. But the BBC's Jonah Fisher, who's on Everest waiting for the big moment, says so far, he hasn't seen much.

He writes, quote, "Unfortunately, it seems providing information on the torch's ascent is no longer part of China's media plans and now seems that they only want us to report the victorious summit moment. We may never know if there were failed attempts or, indeed, if someone hurt themselves trying for the top. The only fact we possess is that the flame is somewhere in the area."

PESCA: Security is high all around Everest. Under pressure from Beijing, Nepal's government has posted soldiers on its side of the mountain and banned climbing near the summit for the first ten days of May.

MARTIN: You can go to npr.org throughout the day for updates on this story. Now, let's get more of the day's headlines with the BPP's Mark Garrison.

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