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Top of the News

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ALISON STEWART, host:

Welcome back to THE BRYANT PARK PROJECT from NPR News. We're available online all the time at npr.org/bryantpark. I'm Alison Stewart.

RACHEL MARTIN, host:

And I'm Rachel Martin.

STEWART: And, you know, I've been Goggling like a mad woman over here about our last segment on NAFTA, because, you know, we do a lot - we do a lot of reading, and our guest said something said something that sort of tweaked my ear about the votes of Clinton and Obama about Peru.

Now, everywhere in all the literature we've read, it says that they supported it, even suggested that they voted for it. I've got, actually, the Senate record up here on my computer. It says December 4th, 2007 at 2:29, it says both Clinton and Obama did not vote, but they were on record for supporting a trade agreement with Peru. We'll continue to make sure we're right accurate on that. Just wanted to make sure you got all the information, because tonight's debate, it's going to be kind of important.

MARTIN: Yup. Need to know.

STEWART: Coming up, a documentary teaching gay tolerance in elementary schools. We'll talk to the filmmaker. But first, you'll get us the news headlines.

BILL WOLFF (Announcer): This is NPR.

MARTIN: Thanks, Alison.

Pentagon officials estimate that when the troops surge in Iraq ends this July, there will be about 8,000 more troops on the ground than when it began in January of 2007. Lieutenant General Carter Ham told reporters that by July, the troop total is likely to be 140,000 strong. Gen. Ham said the projected number could change depending on the security conditions, but it was the first time the Pentagon had publicly estimated the number of troops expected to remain in Iraq this summer. The number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan is also expected to increase, with about 3,000 more Marines set to deploy to Afghanistan this spring.

The trial of three detectives charged in the 2006 death of Sean Bell outside a strip club in Queens, New York, began yesterday. There were opening statements, first witnesses and protest outside. The three detectives are charged with manslaughter and reckless endangerment.

Here is NPR's Margot Adler.

MARGOT ADLER: Sean Bell died in a hail with 50 bullets in November 2006 coming out of a bachelor party at the Kalua Cabaret. The three detectives waved their right to a jury trial. Many thought is impossible to find an untainted jury in the community. Assistant District Attorney Charles Testagrossa argued that the detectives were part of a unit to clean up strip clubs that was about to be dissolved, and the detectives were determined to make some arrest that night. He argued that they had paused while firing to reassess they would have seen that no one was armed. But Antonio Ricco, a lawyer for Detective Gescard Isnora, said he would show that Sean Bell was angry, drunk and out of control when he left the bachelor party at the strip club. When there is a confluence on alcohol and ignorance, said Ricco, there is always a tragedy.

MARTIN: NPR's Margot Adler reporting.

California's Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is creating a new cabinet post to manager staff state's volunteers. The state cabinet post is said to be the first of its kind in the country. The new position will expand the duties of the executive director of the Commission of Volunteerism, allowing that person to take part in disaster-related planning and response effort. The Commission of Volunteerism will remain its staffing and budget but will not manage donations that enter the state for disaster relief. Governor Schwarzenegger said a recent oil spill in San Francisco Bay helped demonstrated that the state's volunteers need to be more organized.

And it wasn't exactly a diplomatic breakthrough, but it was a symbolic and historic event. Thousands of people turned out to see the New York Philharmonic perform in North Korea today. It's the most significant visit by an American cultural institution to North Korea. North Korean leader Kim Jong-il was not in attendance.

That's the news, and it's always online at npr.org.

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