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Myanmar Cyclone Leaves Path of Destruction

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

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Overlooking historic Bryant Park in midtown Manhattan, live from NPR studios, this is the Bryant Park Project from NPR News. News, information, still waiting for the baby. I'm Rachel Martin.


And I'm Mike Pesca. And it's Monday, May 5th, 2008. The baby, Rachel?

MARTIN: The baby. Alison Stewart's baby, of course. It still hasn't arrived.




PESCA: As you know the...

MARTIN: Still cooking.

PESCA: The human gestation period is just under 280 days. So, I've looked up the gestation periods of other mammals.

MARTIN: Of course you have.

PESCA: Turns out humans fall right in between the grizzly bear and the cow.

MARTIN: Grizzly bear and the cow?

PESCA: Imagine the combined animal.


PESCA: Or...

MARTIN: I don't like that animal.

PESCA: It could be a docile grizzly bear or something really hard to milk. But some of these, I thought, quite interesting. The beaver, 122-day gestation period. The donkey, lot of time to cook there. It's a year, 365 days. Then there are ones...

MARTIN: Could you even imagine being pregnant that long?

PESCA: Guess how long the kangaroo takes?

MARTIN: How long?

PESCA: Well, it's a marsupial, so maybe a little less. You want to guess?

MARTIN: Five months.

PESCA: Forty-two days.

MARTIN: Forty-two days?

PESCA: Not a lot at all.

MARTIN: You can cook a baby in 42 days.

PESCA: That's right, that's right. Most primates take around the time of humans. But then there are just weird ones, like a lion takes 108 days, but a llama takes 330 days. Why does it take 330 days for a llama? That doesn't seem to make sense.

MARTIN: Llamas are very complex creatures.

PESCA: I guess. The spitting mechanism is the last four months. I have no idea.

MARTIN: Hooves? Oh, Jacob Ganz, the director, telling me hooves...

PESCA: No, but other hoofed animals, like the horse - well, yeah, horses and zebras, they all take 365 days.


PESCA: But the hippo takes a lot less than that, which is...

MARTIN: So, you've learned something this morning, folks, about gestation. Probably more than you wanted to know.

PESCA: Otter, little otters, more than humans!

MARTIN: Coming up on today's show, the economy is touching every part of life in these United States, including those serving time in America's prisons. Faced with the cost - with the rising cost of food, prisons are being forced to scale back staples of the prison diet. We're going to talk about that.

PESCA: Guinea pigs, 68. Obama and Clinton were all over the TV yesterday. We'll talk about it with's Jim VandeHei.

MARTIN: And what does your email say about your personality? Maybe more than you think. Are you an introvert? Extrovert? Sociopath, perhaps? A man who studies such things will help explain what really means.

PESCA: Goat, 145.

MARTIN: We'll get today's headlines in just a minute, plus probably random gestation periods throughout the show. But first... (Soundbite of music)

MARTIN: A powerful cyclone has killed at least 350 people in Myanmar, and left hundreds of thousands without shelter.

PESCA: The power is out in most of Yangon, Myanmar's largest city of six and a half million people. And the people there are lining up to buy candles, which have doubled in price. They're also doing without water as most of the households use pumps driven by electricity.

MARTIN: Aid agencies are scrambling to deliver supplies from stockpiles across the Southeast Asian nation of 53 million people, formerly known as Burma. The Irrawaddy Delta was especially hard hit. That's the country's impoverished Rice Bowl region. The death toll from tropical cyclone Nargis is likely to climb as officials reach remote areas around the Delta. Chris Kaye, the U.N.'s acting humanitarian coordinator in Yangon, said, quote, "The villages there have reportedly been completely flattened."

PESCA: Richard Horsey of the U.N. Disaster Response Office in Bangkok said, quote, "It's clear that this is a major disaster. We know it's several hundred thousand needing shelter and clean drinking water, but how many hundred thousand we just don't know."

MARTIN: Aid workers are hampered by a new policy in the military-ruled nation which requires agencies to have travel permits and official escorts for field trips. It also restricts the transport of supplies and materials.

PESCA: In spite of the chaos, the ruling junta indicates a referendum on the country's draft constitution will proceed as planned on May 10th. Pro-democracy groups in the country and worldwide say the constitution is just a tool for the military's continued grip on power.

MARTIN: Now, in case you're following this story and need a quick primer on cyclones, here you go. Cyclones, hurricanes, and typhoons are different names for the same type of storm, actually. They just occur in different places on the planet. I mean, if it happens in the Atlantic or the area of the Pacific near the Americas, it's called a hurricane. On Asia's side of the Pacific, it's called a typhoon. In the Indian Ocean, a cyclone.

PESCA: You can go to throughout the day for updates on this story. Now let's get some more of today's headlines with the BPP's Mark Garrison. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.