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

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ALISON STEWART, host:

Overlooking historic Bryant Park in midtown Manhattan, live from the NPR Studios, this is the Bryant Park Project from NPR News. News, information, bargaining. I'm Alison Stewart. It is Wednesday, July 23rd, 2008.

And usually, Wednesday is the day you really look forward to in the week. You're like, yes, we're halfway through the week! It's almost the weekend! And any other week, we'd all feel that way, but when it's the weekend, that means there'll be no more original Bryant Park Project episodes. Obviously, we're in our last week, and we're going through the stages of grief this week with you, very publicly, trying to get through this tough time.

Stage number three, bargaining, when you actually think you can change things if you just appeal to the person who is taking away whatever you have. The BPP's Caitlin Kenny will be in the studio to help us out. And we actually have a response to our bargaining from the interim CEO of NPR, brave enough to come on our blog, considering how some of you feel about the way things are going. We'll talk about that as well.

Also on the show today, why is America's train system so broken? I love to take a train. We used to have a joke in college that you could out-run the Northeast Corridor service. One journalist took a ride from coast to coast, over 70 hours on the trains, to find out what's going on. He's got some ideas on how to fix it, and why it's a really good idea for the environment.

Also, we'll be talking a lot about Heath Ledger's performance as the Joker. Many critics think he might get an Oscar nomination and possibly win the award. We'll talk about the likelihood of such a thing with Tom O'Neil. Posthumous Oscars, that's coming up. Also, a musical performance from the band Dr. Dog. They were in the studio last week. All of that is coming up on this, the third-to-last ever of the Bryant Park Projects, but first, let's get some headlines from the BPP's Mark Garrison.

WOLFF: This is NPR.

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MARK GARRISON: Thank you, Alison. Dolly is set to hit the Texas-Mexico border today. It grew from tropical storm to a category-one hurricane. Brownsville, Texas, is one of the towns in the line of fire. Mayor Pat Ahumada says they're ready.

Mayor PAT AHUMADA (Brownsville, Texas): The city is prepared to go into low-lying areas and pump out where there's flooding when the storm hits. And we have made arrangements to house people's pets as needed.

GARRISON: Forecasters expect Dolly to get stronger and dump up to 15 inches of rain. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice met North Korea's top diplomat today. She called it a good meeting. It's been four years since such a meeting happened at this high level. They met in Singapore along with top Asian leaders. The talk is North Korea's nuclear program. They focused on North Korea verifying its commitment to dismantle it.

The U.S. wants Iran's nuclear activity to change also. Now, a few days after the U.S. joined nuclear talks with Iran, a response from its president. Roxanna Saberi has more from Tehran.

ROXANNA SABERI: Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Iran has chosen its path, and it will not retreat one iota in the face of oppressing powers. Six major powers, including the U.S., have offered Iran economic and other incentives. In return, they want Iran to halt its most sensitive nuclear work, a step Tehran has so far refused to take.

Instead, Ahmadinejad said, if they come forward based on law and justice, Iran would negotiate on what he called important global issues, and that it would cooperate in solving humanity's problems. He also praised Washington's participation in last Saturday's nuclear talks with Iran in Geneva. He said it was a step toward recognizing Iran's right to acquire nuclear technology. Tehran claims it wants nuclear energy to make electricity, not bombs.

GARRISON: Roxanna Saberi reporting from Tehran. Leaders of a Texas polygamist compound now face sexual-assault charges. A grand jury indicted Warren Jeffs and four followers. Texas authorities raided the compound in April, taking more than 400 children into custody. A court ruled that went too far and ordered the kids reunited with their parents. A Utah court has already convicted Jeffs. He's now jailed in Arizona, awaiting trial on other charges.

It's not exactly a Zen koan, but it's a question we all meditate on during shopping. Paper or plastic? If that is a tough one for you, move to L.A. Starting in 2010, the city council makes the choice for you. A new law bans plastic bags from stores, and it's B.Y.O.B. If you don't bring your own bag, you pay a quarter for each paper or biodegradable bag. The city says more than two billion plastic bags are used there every year. That is the news for the moment. More online at npr.org.

WOLFF: This is NPR.

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