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with Leslie Generic, 2/4/00

Leslie: Here now the news, I'm Leslie Generic.
As the presidential primary season continues, attention has moved from the voters in New Hampshire to the next decisive contest. Chuck Upchurch reports.

Chuck: The Salem, Massachusetts "Which Candidate Trials" are scheduled for this Sunday. Patience DeMuir is the event co-ordinator. She says the Salem Trials are more objective than the New Hampshire Primary and more fun to watch than the Iowa Caucuses.

Patience: We cover the candidates with tar and feathers, and then throw them into boiling oil! Those who float on the top or turn into animals like birds or squirrels or bats ... are unfit. Unfit! They may not be president!
But those who sink to the bottom of the pool ... they are pure of heart and are worthy of our trust! Worthy!

Chuck: Despite the obvious hardships of such a test, no serious contender dare skip the Salem "Which Candidate" Trials. Some will not survive, but those who do will be stronger going into the "Super Tuesday" states.
Chuck Upchurch, Massachusetts.

Leslie: Severely overshadowed by reporting of the New Hampshire primary results, the groundhog "Punxsutawney Phil" forlornly predicted on Wednesday that there will be another six weeks of winter. Phil's agent, Marvin Badger, says he and the Groundhog will ask Congress to intervene to insure that future primaries do not happen on or around February 2nd.

Badger: It's Groundhog's Day. Why can't we let the groundhog have that? It's his ONE DAY, for cryin' out loud! It used to be we could get TEN MINUTES, guaranteed, on the Today Show on February 2nd. This year we had almost nothin'. This is one thing a groundhog can do, predict the weather. That's it! If you make it hard for a groundhog to get attention, you're destroying a tradition, a livelihood, an industry!

Leslie; High school students who took a test that included a controversial essay question will be allowed to change their answers. The test, given to 10th and 11th graders, asked the students to write an essay on the topic "one thing I would change about myself." Some legislators complained the question fostered negativity and invaded the student's privacy.
One 10th grader who will change his answer is Bubby Spamden.

Bubby: The first time, I wrote that I would change the way I kinda overreact to stuff, you know? I get all upset over things that aren't a big deal, and then the real important work I have to do kinda suffers, cause I'm so ... preoccupied. I wish I weren't like that.
But now that the Legislature got involved in re-writing my test questions, I realize, "Hey, I'm not so bad!"

Leslie: Nepal has rejected a recent measurement of Mount Everest which asserts that the world's highest mountain is nearly seven feet taller than previously thought. In a terse statement, Nepal's government refused to recognize the additional 7 feet of elevation claimed by a group of American researchers, suggesting that the team measured to the top of the snow cap rather than the actual rock. But State Department Nepal expert Susan Larsen says the real dispute has more to do with tourism than science.

Larsen: (phone) Nepal is worried about traffic and debris on the mountain. It's already overcrowded with Americans, and the concern is that if the government officially accepts the new height, a lot of people from the United States who have already been to the top of Everest will go back to try to climb the seven feet they missed the last time.

Leslie: That's ridiculous. Do they think we're idiots?

Larsen: Yes they do.

Leslie: Is there any hope for a compromise?

Larsen: We at the State Department are negotiating with them. One possibility is that they'll accept the new height for Mt. Everest if we certify that the extra 7 feet has been added at the bottom.

Leslie: State Department Nepal expert Susan Larsen.
There's another nursery rhyme in the news. Forest Grimm reports from Montana.

Forest: Mary had a little lamb. Its fleece was white as snow.
And everywhere that Mary went the lamb was sure to go.
It followed her to school one day, which was against the rule.
It made the children laugh and play to see a lamb at school.
On duty at the checkpoint the school's security police
were not amused by Mary's lamb or it's deep and spongy fleece.
"With wool so thick" said one "there's quite a lot it could conceal."
"And once inside" the other said "there's much that it could steal."
"The lamb stays out," the guards declared. While Mary stood forlorn.
"My sheep," she said "I'll show them she is harmless when she's shorn."
So Mary reached into her pack, in full view of her peers,
And out she pulled a heavy pair of sharpened metal shears.
The officers, together, wrestled Mary to the ground.
They took the shears, and cuffed her while her friends stood all around.
No student there had ever been so forcefully anointed.
"A school is not the place," they said, "for things so sharp and pointed."
Forest Grimm, Montana.

Leslie: A footnote now, to Mary's tale. The school board did expel her.
She was advised to sell the lamb, but no one could compel her.
And so the little beast remains. Her coat still needs a cuttin'.
She follows Mary everywhere. A shadow made of mutton.
And that's the news. I'm Leslie Generic.

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