'Breakthrough' In Malaria Fight
(Soundbite of song "Bang on the Drum All Day")
MIKE PESCA, host:
How's that drum-banging working out for you? Did these guys ever have a follow-up hit? I don't think so.
DAN PASHMAN: For your information, this song is by Todd Rundgren, who is a pop genius, who has more than one hit to his credit.
PESCA: Thanks, Mr. Fact Checker. Welcome back to the Bryant Park Project from NPR News. We're always online at npr.org. This is The Most. This is The Most. This is the Mostiest thing that we ever did, The Most.
(Soundbite of laughter)
PESCA: All right, people love The Most.
PASHMAN: Nice intro.
PESCA: Yeah. This is our tenth-to-last Most, or ninth-to-last, if you're counting. So, these are some collection of things that have been passed around, the most bandied about the Internet. Let's start with the sad and try to work our way up. Go ahead, Trish.
PATRICIA MCKINNEY: Yeah, I'm sorry to bring us down right away, but I figure you can all make up for me later.
PESCA: Maybe some Todd Rundgren music can be used to restore the mood.
MCKINNEY: Maybe something can. Actually, though, this is really interesting, because I have the number one story on Google Trends today, the number one search term, excuse me, to be precise. And you know, often when I wake up early in the morning and check Google Trends, there's something on there and then it moves way down the list, but it's still at number one this morning this time. So, the name is Todd Doxey, and he is a freshman. He's a University of Oregon football player and he died over the weekend.
He apparently jumped into a river off of a bridge to go swimming and got caught up in the currents, became fatigued, and had difficulty keeping his head above water and drowned. So, people in Oregon are searching his name. People in San Diego, where he's from, are searching him. There's also a concentration of searches in Brooklyn, NY. I'm not at all sure why that would be. I think that might just be coincidental. So, Todd Doxey, he was 19 years old. He was a freshman defensive back for the University of Oregon.
PESCA: So, Dan, that is a sad story about someone who is missing, so bring us up.
PASHMAN: I'll see what I can do, Mike.
PASHMAN: I've got a most-emailed here from Yahoo! News. "Asteroid cruises past Earth with a partner." A good-sized asteroid is going to be flying past our planet right now. It's going to be closer to Earth today than on any other day, but it turns out it's actually two giant rocks.
PESCA: Yeah, I know. You know how I know? Because we did it in The Ramble. We Rambled it.
PASHMAN: Where's my story?
PESCA: I thought you were going to talk about Steve Faucet, who's another guy who's missing.
PASHMAN: Oh, right. Yeah. I printed out the wrong article.
(Soundbite of laughter)
MCKINNEY: Wow, this just shows that people are really going to miss us.
PESCA: It's that commitment to professionalism that has marked the shows.
MCKINNEY: How about, Dan, we'll come back to you. Go ahead and Google.
PASHMAN: I've been a little distracted today. Sorry, guys.
(Soundbite of laughter)
PESCA: Dan, it was fun. You're fired.
PASHMAN: Is it warm in here?
PESCA: Laura Silver.
LAURA SILVER: Hi, this is good news on the global front.
PASHMAN: Worst Most ever.
PESCA: Dan, why don't you go bang on the drum all day and stay out of it?
(Soundbite of laughter)
SILVER: Well, I can really relate to his story, because Dan Pashman got me a cup of coffee and a bagel. Thank you. And it is good news, breakthrough in the fight against malaria globally. Malaria - so, malaria parasites, the way they get into people is they get inside us and they grow on the red blood cells, and then they release other parasites and that continues the cycle. So, researchers in Australia have found a key to something that might stop that, stop the flow of malaria inside the blood.
PESCA: This could be a huge step in the fight against malaria.
SILVER: It really could be huge. And more than a million people are killed each year in Sub-Saharan Africa. I met a young girl with malaria when I was living in Senegal, and she was this five year old who just looked so listless all the time and had glazed over eyes and - it was - you know, it seemed like she was recovering, but it was so sad to actually see it, you know, firsthand. So, this is really exciting. Researchers in Melbourne think they might have a way to stop malaria from spreading inside the body.
PESCA: All right.
SILVER: So, stay tuned.
PESCA: And that is one of the most-populars at the BBC. I don't know if you said that. Here we go to the LA Times, and a story about the mooning of trains at Laguna-Niguel, I think is how you pronounce the name of the town. It started about 29 years ago, and the patrons at Mugs Away Saloon noticed that the train was always passing by and a patron said, hey, I'll buy a round of beers for anyone who goes out and moons the train.
Well, in the last almost 30 years, this tradition has grown and grown and grown, until 8,000 would-be butt-barers showed up along the Amtrak tracks, and police were there, and they were trying to dissuade people from mooning and flashing. It did not work. The mooning occurred. I have no idea if the people on the train had any Laguna-Niguel - Nigel (ph) - Nigel (ph) - all right. So, it turns out - it's Laguna-Niguel, but it turns out that they showed they bottoms, and no one was arrested, thankfully.
PASHMAN: Thank God.
IAN CHILLAG: Yeah, I have kind of a crazy story. Apparently, there are these people who moon Amtrak trains.
(Soundbite of laughter)
CHILLAG: I'm just kidding.
PESCA: Come on, tell me about the asteroid.
CHILLAG: I have a most-emailed from the BBC. It's a very short story. Basically, this ref at a league game, league soccer game, football game, in Belarus has been suspended for reffing (ph) while drunk, and not a lot of story here, but I encourage you to go online and find this video. Initially, he said that he had back pain. This guy is - if I could invent a drunk person, like, he was just short of having bubbles coming out and hiccup sounds.
PESCA: And two Xs over his eyes.
CHILLAG: He was so drunk. But because this is kind of a non-story, I just did a little Google of other things that had happened while people were drunk. Australian man charged with driving a wheelchair while drunk. One article called the perils of excavating in quarries while drunk not a good idea. Matthew McConaughey apparently lost his flip flops while drunk. So, you don't want to do anything drunk, is the message to be learned here.
PASHMAN: I would say that 50 percent of the entertaining articles on the Internet involve people being drunk and doing dumb things.
CHILLAG: They did have best movies to watch while drunk, and "Rappin'" made it, and so did "Out for Justice" with Steven Seagal.
PESCA: A lot of Steven Seagal movies are better while drunk, as is evidenced by the fact that Seagal was drunk while he made them.
CHILLAG: True, true.
PESCA: What do you got, Matt?
MATT MARTINEZ: I have one of the most-viewed right now NPR. It's a story on our series on Latino voters, specifically about Senator Obama's lead among Latinos, and how the pendulum is pretty much swinging back toward the Democrats after President Bush made huge inroads four years ago in Latino communities.
PESCA: He didn't win the Latino vote, though.
MARTINEZ: No, no. He made inroads.
PESCA: But swinging back, not swinging the other side, but from, like, almost in the middle.
MARTINEZ: Yes. There you go.
PESCA: It's one of those pendulums.
MARTINEZ: One of those very, very complicated pendulums. NPR's Jennifer Ludden profiled a Virginia man whose political evolution reflects his Latino community.
(Soundbite of NPR's All Things Considered, July 13, 2008)
JENNIFER LUDDEN: Ernesto Alas is obsessed with politics. He voted for President Bush twice, and he loved the president's support for legalizing millions of immigrant workers. When hundreds of thousands of Hispanics marched in the streets two years ago, Alas was there with his wife and four children, proudly holding the flag of El Salvador, the country he left 25 years ago.
(Soundbite of people rallying and cheering)
LUDDEN: But by September 2006, when I met Alas at the National Mall in Washington, he was frustrated. The rallies were fizzling. Congress was blocking President Bush's immigration efforts. Mid-term elections loomed.
Mr. ERNESTO ALAS (American Immigrant from El Salvador): This time, it's going to change my vote. It's going to change it.
LUDDEN: The fallout from the increasingly polarized immigration debate changed a lot of Hispanic votes. Many were pushed by a slew of Republican campaign ads that fall, targeting illegal immigrants. This one in Rhode Island linked the use of Mexican consular ID cards to terrorism.
(Soundbite of RNC campaign ad)
Unidentified Man: ...obtained can be used to gain access to other documentation, to get a driver's license, enter company buildings, board airplanes. Mayor Steve Laffey accepts Mexican ID cards that can threaten our security.
LUDDEN: Two years later, a backlash is shaping up.
Mr. SIMON ROSENBERG (President, NDN): There is a new, incredible energy in the Latino community.
LUDDEN: Simon Rosenberg heads NDN, a Democratic think tank. He says so many Hispanics have become citizens and registered to vote in the past two years, he estimates they could make up 10 percent of the electorate this November.
Mr. ROSENBERG: In the primaries, you saw huge tripling in the number of Latino voters, really extraordinary, and that's because this community feels that they've got to get in the game. They've got to push back against what they perceive to be the incredible racism that has exploded against them in the last few years.
LUDDEN: This year, 78 percent of Hispanic primary voters voted Democratic, which brings us back to Ernesto Alas.
(Soundbite of train horn)
LUDDEN: We meet this time in a park on Capitol Hill, where Alas is a chef in one of the Congressional office buildings, a place he says he can indulge in his zest for politics. Alas no longer considers himself Republican. He admits he was disappointed last year when the Democratic controlled Congress also failed to pass an immigration overhaul. But Alas has been an early and ardent supporter of Barack Obama. He thinks the candidate can relate to the concerns of low-wage immigrant workers.
Mr. ALAS: He's a - he remembers when his mother got on food stamps. That means he knows exactly how the poor people...
LUDDEN: Lower class.
Mr. ALAS: The lower class, middle class, how it works, and so he knows. He did before, when he was a child.
LUDDEN: Tied closely to Alas' economic worries is his deep concern over the war in Iraq. For him, Obama's biggest appeal may be his intention to bring U.S. troops home.
Mr. ALAS: Every single day, a lot of American people die over there, you know. Every month, how many millions, billions, do we spend over there, that we can spend in our country? We can spend it on more things over here. But I think the war is over long time ago.
LUDDEN: Alas says he has a lot of respect for John McCain, especially his efforts to legalize immigrants, but he thinks he'll continue too many of President Bush's policies, including in Iraq. Danny Vargas of the Republican National Hispanic Assembly says McCain has a reservoir of goodwill with the Hispanic community, and he takes comfort in the knowledge that Hispanics often tend to vote for the candidate over the party.
Mr. DANNY VARGAS (National Chairman, Republican National Hispanic Assembly): I think McCain has always demonstrated a willingness to be a leader on issues that are tough. So, I think Hispanics see that as someone who's courageous and willing to do what's right.
LUDDEN: Vargas agrees the Hispanic vote this fall could be pivotal, and in northern Virginia, Ernesto Alas will be doing his part to make sure of it. In 2004, he was an election officer, and says he was crushed when only a couple dozen eligible voters in his precinct showed up. This time, Alas believes turnout will be far higher, but he's prepared to round up voters and drive them to polls himself, just in case.
PESCA: That's NPR's Jennifer Ludden reporting. You can get links to all the stories you hear on The Most, and some of the stories you hear on The Ramble, apparently, on our website, npr.org/bryantpark.
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