Elian Gonzalez Joins Cuba's Young Communists Elian Gonzalez joins Cuba's Young Communists, and more of the most emailed, viewed and commented on stories on the Web.

Elian Gonzalez Joins Cuba's Young Communists

Elian Gonzalez Joins Cuba's Young Communists

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/91573548/91573492" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Elian Gonzalez joins Cuba's Young Communists, and more of the most emailed, viewed and commented on stories on the Web.


Welcome back to the Bryant Park Dance Project from NPR News. We are always online at npr.org. Joining me now, an all-star team of people to share the most emailed, most viewed, most whispered about, most - what's another verb in the past tense? Runned?

IAN CHILLAG: Yeah. Runned.


PESCA: Most thinged. Most thinged on the internet, The Most. That was Korva I heard. Korva Coleman, is that you?

COLEMAN: It's me.

PESCA: Korva, can you hear me? What do you got?

COLEMAN: I'm waiting for you to sing, but you're not doing it. But I'll tell you what I read in the Denver Post today.

PESCA: Um hm.

COLEMAN: Do you remember Elian Gonzalez?

PESCA: I do, I remember him well. What an extraction that was.

(Soundbite of laughter)

COLEMAN: Well, let me tell you. For those of you who can't remember, he was the boy who floated to the United States on the inner tube. It was Thanksgiving day, 1999, and then there was this huge international custody dispute between his relatives here in Florida and his dad back in Cuba. Well, it was all settled eventually after this long, tortuous thing, including agents raiding the relatives' home in Florida. There was that award-winning photograph of the agent, I should say, holding the gun. Oh my God, it was so dramatic.

PESCA: And who can forget Marisleysis Gonzalez? Oh, what a great clip she gave us in 2000.

COLEMAN: She had face, let me tell you. Well anyway, Elian ends up going back to Cuba with his dad, so what's happened since? Well, what's happened since, snap, snap, he's joined the Cuban Young Communist League. He says he will never let down Cuban leaders, Fidel and Raul Castro. He's 14.

CHILLAG: How old do you have to be?

PESCA: 14, he's 14.

CHILLAG: Is that the minimum age?

COLEMAN: It's a Young Communist League.

CHILLAG: I'm envisioning a very cute Young Communist League.

PESCA: Matt?

MATT MARTINEZ: This has nothing to do with the story, but I was walking in, and Zena, our video editor, you know, we film The Most, right?

PESCA: Yes, we do.

MARTINEZ: She's - where's Korva sitting? Where is she?

COLEMAN: I'm nowhere.

MARTINEZ: I can't point any cameras at Korva! She was very confused.

PESCA: Korva, can you film yourself and maybe send it up to us, and we'll splice it in?

COLEMAN: I'll have one of my kids do it. It'll be completely unflattering.

(Soundbite of laughter)

PESCA: All right, well, thanks for the Elian Gonzalez update. Elian Gonzalez, young communist. Dan.

DAN PASHMAN: Hey guys, I've got a most emailed here from Yahoo! News. Study, "Chimps Calm Each Other with Hugs and Kisses."


PASHMAN: That's right. It's not just for humans anymore. It's an interesting study. Basically, what is says is that if two chimps are engaged in sort of aggressive behavior, the victim of the aggression will often be consoled by a third chimp.

And that consolation, which usually takes the form of hugs or kisses, will have a positive impact on the victim of the aggression. That chimp will have a reduction in stress and stress behaviors because it received that consolation, that hug and the kiss.

COLEMAN: Do chimps send emails that say XOXOX?

PASHMAN: They do, actually.

COLEMAN: I was just thinking, thank God for Tricia. What would we do?

PASHMAN: One of the things I love about this article in particular is the way they manage to take a totally clinical approach to emotions - to all emotions. Listen to the article. Dr. de Waal suggested that this evidence of empathy in apes is, quote, "perhaps equivalent to what in human children is called sympathetic concern."

(Soundbite of laughter)

PESCA: I want that guy as a dad. As a human child, I have seen evidence of your concern.

PASHMAN: Get this child 50 ccs of sympathetic concern.

TRICIA MCKINNEY: And come here because I'm going to pick the fleas out of your hair.

(Soundbite of laughter)

PESCA: On the downside of the chimps' hugs and kisses, the kissed chimp is being kissed by a chimp.

PASHMAN: That's true.

PESCA: So that could be somewhat offensive. So we heard from Tricia. Let's hear more.

MCKINNEY: Yes, I have Google Trends. It was number one when I woke up this morning. It's been pushed down because Firefox 3 download searches have replaced that because that's apparently being released today.

But what was number one this morning is the name Javon Walker. He is a wide receiver for the Oakland Raiders, and he was found unconscious on a street in Las Vegas yesterday early in the morning. Police think he was the victim of a robbery. He was taken to the hospital, unconscious, with, quote, "significant injuries."

They're investigating what happened to him. One of the related searches to his name is orbital fracture. That was one of the injuries that he reportedly had. It's when the bones around your eye socket get broken.

CHILLAG: Now, what time did this happen?

MCKINNEY: I'm not sure what time it happened. I believe he was found at about Seven a.m.

CHILLAG: Had Dan Pashman left Las Vegas?

MCKINNEY: Ooh, good question. I don't know.

PESCA: I'm going to throw the flag for unnecessary Pashman-bashing.

MCKINNEY: Yeah, that was a little rough. Anyway, can I just get back to Jivon? Because the people might want to know how he's doing.

PESCA: How is Javon doing?

MCKINNEY: He's in fair condition.

PESCA: Fair.


PESCA: That's terrible. I don't want to hear that.

MCKINNEY: I'm sorry.

PESCA: Fair is bad, right? I want to hear better than fair.

MCKINNEY: It's not as good as good.

CHILLAG: Yeah. How'd he look when you saw him, Pashman?

PASHMAN: Before or after?


PESCA: Colombo! Ian, rather than just try to net Pashman into a string of his own lies, will you contribute something positive to the conversation?

CHILLAG: Let me ask you this, Dan Pashman. Have you been in British Columbia recently?

PASHMAN: I have not.

(Soundbite of laughter)

CHILLAG: We'll be checking on that. This is a story that I just love.

MCKINNEY: This is a set up!

CHILLAG: This is a most emailed on the CBC, and this marks the third time I've talked about it on the Bryant Park Project. I talked about it when they found the third foot on the beach in British Columbia. I talked about when they found the fourth foot, and they just found a fifth foot.

PESCA: Is this the footsteps on the beach poem?

(Soundbite of laughter)

CHILLAG: No, no. No, it is not. You will recall that the first four feet were wearing tennis shoes, running shoes. They were right feet. This one is a left, which has some people wondering what's going on. And we've been assuming that these feet were removed forcibly. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police, otherwise known as the Mounties, say there's no evidence the feet were severed - removed from the victims' legs by force. An oceanographer says the feet could have been severed or detached from the bodies on their own. I've never had that happen, but...

MCKINNEY: They just walk off? The just depart? They cease to belong to a home?

CHILLAG: I don't know.

PASHMAN: That's why I like to keep an extra four or five feet around.

PESCA: Apparently, those...

CHILLAG: Oh, really, Dan?

PESCA: Apparently, those feet are made for walking.

CHILLAG: Yeah. Here's my favorite part of the article. The investigator, Charlene Brooks says, we're certainly not discounting the possibility that this may be linked to the other recovered feet.

(Soundbite of laughter)

PASHMAN: There's a chance there's a connection.

PESCA: But wait, that doesn't make sense - it's a left foot. It's totally different.

PASHMAN: Yeah, that's not even the same crime.

PESCA: Terrible police work up there. All right, Matt, let's go right to you with the Most piece.

MARTINEZ: All right, from the most emailed stories on the big NPR, it's a story about the record of Senator John McCain. Barack Obama has been saying that a McCain presidency would be another Bush term because of his voting policy, his past voting record. So NPR's David Welna took up the challenge to report on McCain's long record and how it gels with the president's. And he's going to do it in four minutes, starting now.

DAVID WELNA: If you examine Senator John McCain's record during the Bush presidency, you'll find he's been even more loyal to the president than to his fellow GOP senators. But McCain's also been seriously at odds with the president on several key issues. And Claremont McKenna College congressional expert Jack Pitney expects that would continue to be the case in a McCain presidency.

Dr. JACK PITNEY (Professor of Government, Claremont McKenna College): John McCain's position of the environment, for instance, is very different from that of the Bush administration. And one would expect a lot more attention to issues such as global warming. McCain obviously has been a supporter of campaign finance reform and would continue to do so in the White House.

WELNA: McCain also backed stem cell funding, which Mr. Bush opposed. And when the president supported a constitutional ban on same sex marriage, McCain voted against it. But McCain's greatest act of apostasy came during the first year of this Bush presidency - that's when he was one of just two Senate Republicans to vote against the president's one and a third trillion dollar tax cut package.

Senator JOHN MCCAIN (Republican, Arizona): We are about to enact one of the most massive tax cuts in memory or history, and we do not have any idea how much money is going to be devoted to defense spending and how much is going to be left over for it.

WELNA: Two years later, on the day before the U.S. invaded Iraq, McCain declared on the Senate floor he could not vote for a second package of tax cuts worth 350 billion dollars, most of which went to wealthy investors.

Senator MCCAIN: I cannot in good conscience vote in favor of tax cuts, irrespective of their size or to which segment of the population they are targeted.

WELNA: But the tax cuts were hugely popular with President Bush's Republican base, even as budget surpluses collapsed into enormous deficits. As the president prepared for his 2004 re-election bid, he told a crowd that the 10-year tax plans approved by Congress still fell short.

President GEORGE W. BUSH: Congress needs to make all aspects of the tax code permanent, so people plan the businesses and their lives.

WELNA: McCain remained the stubborn holdout. That same year, here's what he told NBC's Meet the Press.

Senator MCCAIN: I voted against the tax cuts because of the disproportionate amount that went to the wealthiest Americans. I would clearly support not extending those tax cuts in order to help address the deficit.

WELNA: But once McCain began campaigning to be President Bush's successor, he dramatically changed his stance on those tax cuts.

Senator MCCAIN: I'll make the Bush tax cuts permanent, reduce taxes on 25 million middle class families...

WELNA: That's from a radio ad the McCain campaign aired in January. Since then, McCain has continued proclaiming his newfound fealty to the Bush tax cuts. Fellow Republican Senator John Thune of South Dakota, who is often mentioned as a possible McCain running mate, applauds the about-face.

Senator JOHN THUNE (Republican, South Dakota): I think he recognizes that, you know, to allow these tax cuts to expire would be the equivalent of a tax increase at a time when the economy is really struggling. And so he believes, and I think rightly so, that extending the tax relief is important to the economy expanding and continuing to create jobs.

Dr. PITNEY: Obviously, this is McCain moving in the direction of Bush.

WELNA: Again, Claremont McKenna's Jack Pitney.

Dr. PITNEY: John McCain's position can either be described as a flip-flop, if you're opposed to him, or as an evolution, if you're a supporter of him. But if he had remained a strong critic of tax cuts, it's quite possible he wouldn't have won the Republican nomination in the first place. There are a lot of economic conservatives who regard his earlier position as a deal breaker.

WELNA: McCain is even proposing new tax cuts, with the biggest benefits going to the top one-tenth of one percent of households, with little relief for the bottom three-fifths of taxpayers. In a phone call with reporters, Jason Furman, who is Obama's new top economic adviser, thwacked McCain thusly.

Mr. JASON FURMAN (Top Economic Advisor, Obama Presidential Campaign): People sometimes describe John McCain as a third term of George Bush. I think when it comes to tax policy, that's actually unfair to President Bush. John McCain's tax policies are far more radical.

WELNA: At the very least, it is a radical departure from the John McCain who voted against both Bush tax cuts.

PESCA: That's NPR's David Welna reporting.

Copyright © 2008 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.