FBI Opened Files On New England Sports Figures
MIKE PESCA, host:
Welcome back to the Bryant Park Project from NPR News, online all the time at npr.org/bryantpark. Let's do a head fake. Let's do a sidestep. Let's do the Ramble.
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PESCA: BPP editor Tricia McKinney is here, and what's your Fruity Cheerios v. Froot Loops view?
PATRICIA MCKINNEY: I have to say, I enjoyed the Fruity Cheerios.
PESCA: A more adult cereal.
MCKINNEY: Yeah, and it didn't leave that kind of icky coating in my mouth, but I do also want to point out I live in New Jersey, and I have never had them before, but I've seen them on my grocery store shelf for at least a year now.
PESCA: In your grocer's freezer?
MCKINNEY: Not in my grocer's freezer.
PESCA: OK. What've you got? What Rambly items?
MCKINNEY: OK. Let's begin with this story out of a small town in rural, southern India. There's a new kind of job there. The pay is really crap, but the work is crap, too. So, basically, what they're doing in this town, they're paying people to use the public toilets. So, the thing is, apparently, it's common in this town for people to relieve themselves in public, on street corners, on riverbanks, and that can spread infectious disease. So, they have these public urinals, these public, eco-friendly toilets, and they're paying people to use them. So, they'll, you know, so they'll stop polluting the streets, but also they're planning to collect the waste to use for fertilizer. Excuse me.
PESCA: Yeah. I know. I almost coughed up that story, too.
MCKINNEY: Yeah, the guy who came up with the plan - this is my favorite quote in the article - he says we're motivating people to know the value of their urine.
PESCA: Yeah, and I hear they're also going to be installing urine banks to sell to farmers.
MCKINNEY: Yeah, and apparently, the pay is 14 cents a month. That's what - that's the number CNN reported. So, that's based on an average of two trips to the john a day, and if somebody shows up more than that, like, two or three times a day, then the people will ask them to go to the doctor...
PESCA: Oh, that's good. So there's screening.
MCKINNEY: There must be something wrong.
PESCA: So, at this point we could either give you a palate cleanser, a sorbet, maybe a cute puppy story, but no, we go deeper with other sewage news. A group in California submitted a proposal yesterday to rename a sewage-treatment plant after President George W. Bush. The Presidential Memorial Commission of San Francisco needed more than 7,000 valid names on a petition to get the proposal on the November ballot.
They turned in more than 10,000 signatures yesterday, and they expect to find out later this month if they qualify. Group organizer Brian McConnell says, quote, "In President Bush's case, we think that they will be cleaning up a substantial mess for the next 10 or 20 years. The sewage-treatment facility's job is to clean up a mess, so we think it's a fitting tribute."
The chairman of the San Francisco Republican Party says he'll fight the measure, and San Francisco Public Utilities Commission Spokesman Tony Winnicker says the plant that they're - sorry, the plant that they're seeking to rename really offers extraordinary environmental benefits. Without it, raw sewage and storm water would flow into the Bay and the oceans and the streets. That's not our understanding of what the authors of this initiative believe the current president has delivered. So, I think he's saying that renaming it is an insult to the sewage-treatment plant itself.
MCKINNEY: I don't think that's what he's saying. I think he's trying to belittle these guys, and you know what? It is a cheap shot, right?
PESCA: Total cheap shot.
MCKINNEY: Yeah, all right. So, I have an update for you. So, last week on the show, remember we talked about the Rainbow Gathering? It's happening in Wyoming, and you know, it's thousands of people who are, like, back-to-the-land types and they gather on national forest land. And we spoke to a Forest Service officer about, you know, what the plans were to deal with public safety and, you know, if there were any crimes committed and all of that. So, we talked to that guy.
Well, apparently on Thursday night, there were some arrests made and things got pretty violent. This is according to a Forest Service press release, so you have to consider your source, but they say 10 officers were escorting out some detainees when they were surrounded by 400 Rainbow Family members. The Rainbows began to advance on the officers, and the Forest Service says they threw sticks and rocks.
PESCA: So back to the Earth for them.
MCKINNEY: Back to the Earth. Yeah, at least they're using natural materials. The officers then reportedly implemented, quote, "crowd-control tactics," and witnesses say that mean firing rubber bullets and pepper spray at the Rainbows. But some of them say they were also - it was more aggressive than it was defensive. And one Rainbow says some people in his group were tasered. So, the upshot, five Rainbows were arrested, one officer was injured, and a government vehicle was damaged. Again, that's all according to the Forest Service.
PESCA: The Boston Globe reports FBI documents reveal that the names of New England's sports stars show up in a number of Bureau investigations of the years. In 1945, the FBI monitored a Communist Party convention in Boston. One participant, Nat Garfield, stated that the Communist Party should redouble its efforts' in behalf of Negroes, particularly towards getting them into the major leagues. He said Satchel Paige and Jackie Robinson were to appear in Boston, and said these two Negroes would be of great help to either the Boston Red Sox or the Boston Braves. That is a quote.
MCKINNEY: So, it's nice that communists are, you know, are involved in sports.
PESCA: Yeah. Well, actually that's - you know, the integration of baseball was long a communist actual cause. That is not rumored. That is true. The FBI also had a memo about a Mickey Mantle death threat, a Rocky Marciano death threat, and Wilt "the Stilt" Chamberlain was investigated for betting his Lakers would beat the Celtics in Game Six of the '69 NBA Finals. They lost. The charges were dropped after the allegations couldn't be substantiated. The FBI, in a somewhat controversial finding, estimated that Wilt "the Stilt" Chamberlain had slept with dozens of women.
MCKINNEY: The FBI really concluded that?
PESCA: No. I'm just saying they kind of low-balled that one. All right. That is your Ramble. These stories and more on our website, npr.org/bryantpark.