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BILL WOLFF: From NPR Studios 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, schlub. I'm Mike Pesca. It's Friday, July 18th 2008.

I'm Mike Pesca Schlub? Debatable. You know, before the show, I was printing out one of the, you know, Most things that we're going to do later in the show; I looked down and I noticed I was working on the LaserJet printer. The LaserJet printer. That has got to be the most disappointing part of my life, and yours, too, if you think about it. Let's say, 20 years ago, a fortune teller, a magical genie, Kazam says, I will offer you this deal. I will allow you to peek slightly into the future, what you'll be spending your time doing. And you, of course, say, tell me. Tell me, oh, genie.

And he will look through the clouds and peer through the gossamer haze and say, yes, it is a piece of machinery, you are working with this machinery. It is a LaserJet. You will spend your days with a LaserJet, but I don't know how, I don't know why, it's all fading. And for 20 years your mind would spin. You would say, my God, I hope I am on the right side of this global battle. I hope our LaserJet technology whoops our enemies and their primitive pulse rays . Maybe the LaserJet will patrol the skies as a force for righteousness. I can't wait to see of my encounters with the LaserJet.

Cut to 20 years later. You're in the office. You're being asked to check tray two. Is it letter or legal. What does that mean? Does that mean if it's not legal it's letter? Letters are illegal? What are you telling me? These are the things I think about, because the LaserJet disappointment has just dampened my life. Damn you, Kazam, damn you and your paper jams. Wait a minute, paper jams - perhaps, for instance, delicious foodstuffs will be fashioned out of household items! Like concrete mustard, and particle board frosting. Yes! Is that what you mean by paper jam? I guess am - I just keep doing this unrealistic leap of sci-fi. I don't know why.

On the show today, going from schlub to stud. Judd Apatow has raised the schlub to exalted levels never seen before. But the schlub will always aspire to be a stud. We'll talk to a former schlub, now a stud. You know what? He'll cop to it. He's still kind of a schlub. The Breeders are in studio to talk and perform for us, and movies with Daniel Holloway, which means "Batman"! Well, let's kick things off with the latest headlines with the BPP's Mark Garrison.

WOLFF: This is NPR.

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MARK GARRISON: Thank you, Mike. Go ahead, eat that tomato, red round, Roma, Cherry, Plum, on the vine, off the vine, whatever. The government now says they're safe. But the salmonella mystery continues. Still under suspicion, hot peppers. The government warning stands to avoid jalapeno and Serrano peppers.

A major American prison system is under fire. The Feds found unsafe and, at times, inhumane conditions at Chicago's Cook County Jail. NPR's David Schaper has more from Chicago.

DAVID SCHAPER: Chicago U.S. attorney, Patrick Fitzgerald, says an investigation by his office and the Justice Department civil-rights division finds conditions in the Cook County jail, the nation's single-site county jail, with close to 10,000 inmates a day, to be unconstitutional. He cites everything from plumbing, ventilation, and electrical problems, to a culture of abuse by jail guards, and inadequate medical and mental healthcare.

Mr. PATRICK FITZGERALD (U.S. District Attorney): People have died. People have been amputated. People have been beaten. People have been hospitalized for reasons that shouldn't happen. And at a certain point, that has to stop.

SCHAPER: Cook County sheriff, Tom Dart, who runs the jail, acknowledges some of the problems, but also blasts Fitzgerald for relying on inflammatory language and anecdotes and hearsay from inmates.

GARRISON: NPR's David Schaper reporting from Chicago. The massive fires in California threaten people and property. Wildfires can strike wildlife, too. Feeling the heat, 50 endangered California condors. The flames tore through a sanctuary near Big Sur, but the birds were smart and had some help. Nearly all made it out alive. Bob Hensley of member station KXJZ has the story.

BOB HENSLEY: Relying on instincts, 43 adult condors escaped the blaze and located fresh air and food that included a beached whale. As flames closed in on the sanctuary, officials with the Ventana Wildlife Society orchestrated a rescue of seven chicks and an adult bird. A U.S. Coast Guard helicopter carrying biologists made two trips to the sanctuary. The society's executive director, Kelly Sorenson, says some birds nearly perished when, on the second trip, the helicopter had difficulty landing due to thick smoke.

Mr. KELLY SORENSON (Executive Director, Ventana Wildlife Society): It did manage to find the helicopter pad, and the remaining condors were loaded onto the helicopter and flown back to Monterrey just in the nick of time.

HENSLEY: The flames destroyed an aviary, a release pen, and thousands of dollars worth of equipment. There are only 315 condors in existence.

GARRISON: Bob Hensley of member station KXJZ reporting. And that is your news for now. More online at npr.org.

WOLFF: This is NPR.

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