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Top of the News

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BILL WOLFF, host:

We are live from NPR studios at Bryant Park in Midtown Manhattan, New York City. Welcome back to the BRYANT PARK PROJECT from NPR News. We are on digital, FM, satellite and online at npr.org/bryantpark.

I'm Bill Wolff.

ALISON STEWART, host:

And I'm Alison Stewart.

I just noticed one of our engineers is knitting. I wonder if this is an honor of our segment on extreme knitting. I don't know.

WOLFF: Well, does she look extreme?

STEWART: I've seen Manoli go for it.

(Soundbite of laughter)

STEWART: We'll talk more about extreme knitting very shortly.

First, let's get to the news with Rachel Martin.

WOLFF: This is NPR.

RACHEL MARTIN, host:

Thanks, Alison. Good morning, everyone.

A federal judge has thrown out a lawsuit filed by New Orleans' residents and government agencies against the Army Corps of Engineers. The multitrillion-dollar class action suit alleged that the Corps was responsible for the levee breach that led to much of the flooding of the city following Hurricane Katrina.

Here is NPR's Carrie Kahn.

CARRIE KAHN: U.S. District Judge Stanwood Duval ruled Wednesday that the Army Corps of Engineers is protected from such lawsuits because of an 80-year-old law immunizing the federal government when flood-control projects like levees break. Nearly 350,000 claims in New Orleans had been filed, charging that the Army Corps of Engineers was responsible for a breach in the main levee in the city. The lawsuit is one of two filed on behalf of hundreds of thousands of residents and businesses.

In his ruling, the judge said he was forced by law to reject the lawsuit, but penned a stinging rebuke of the agency for squandering millions of dollars on a levee system that was known to be inadequate. Lawyers for the plaintiffs say they will appeal.

MARTIN: NPR's Carrie Kahn reporting.

A California slaughter house fired two employees yesterday after the Department of Agriculture launched an investigation into whether the plant used inhumane tactics to get sick cows on the marketplace. The investigation was triggered by an undercover video released by the Humane Society. Employees are shown using electric prods to get sick animals on their feet or forklifts or chains to move the cows down a ramp to be slaughtered. The Humane Society alleges that the sick animals were then slaughtered for food that then made its way into student lunches around the country.

Yesterday, the U.S. secretary of agriculture suspended the company's participation in the federal student lunch programs. Company officials said they were shocked, and they suspended operations pending an investigation.

An update now on political goings on today. California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is expected to publicly throw his support behind Arizona Senator John McCain. The endorsement comes a day after Rudy Giuliani dropped out of the GOP presidential race, after a third-place finish in the Florida primary. Giuliani said he would support McCain as well. The remaining Republican candidates threw down in a debate last night in California. Tonight, the Democrats get their turn. It's the last big round of debates until Super Tuesday next week.

And hey, super, Super Bowl is coming up Sunday. Big bowls of guacamoles, hummus, seven-layer bean dip. But take heed my friends, there's a new scientific study that says we must watch out for this.

(Soundbite of TV series, "Seinfeld")

Mr. KIERAN MULRONEY (Actor): (As Timmy) Did you just double-dip that chip?

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. JASON ALEXANDER (Actor): (As George Costanza) Excuse me?

Mr. MULRONEY: (As Timmy) You double-dip the chip?

Mr. ALEXANDER: (As George Costanza) Double-dipped? What are you talking about?

Mr. MULRONEY: (As Timmy) You dipped the chip, you took a bite, and you dipped again.

(Soundbite of laughter)

MARTIN: For those of you who didn't recognize it, that was a classic bit from "Seinfeld." And it turns out that Timmy wasn't just a crazy paranoid. A study expected to be released in the Journal of Food Safety found that double-dipping actually does spread bacteria from one person to another.

The study was led by a professor at Clemson University. And he had his students test six dips then analyzed their bacteria count. Each cracker picked up between one and two grams of dip, and that means sporadic double-dipping in a cup of dip would transfer at least 50 to 100 bacteria from one mouth to another with every bite. Researchers say that's not good enough - or it's not enough rather to trigger a public health crisis, but it might mean more BYO guacamole this Super Bowl Sunday.

That is the news. It is always online at npr.org.

WOLFF: This is NPR.

MARTIN: You know Matt Martinez is grossed out by that.

WOLFF: Chip flu.

(Soundbite of laughter)

STEWART: Chip flu.

MARTIN: Chip flu.

STEWART: I'm a little bummed out by that.

MARTIN: I'm sorry.

STEWART: It's alright. I'll BYOG.

Thanks, Rachel.

WOLFF: Thanks, Rachel.

MARTIN: You're welcome.

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