Here and Now

  • Hosted by Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson

Here & Now offers a distinctive mix of hard news and rich conversation featuring interesting players from across the spectrum of arts and culture, business, technology, science and politics.

April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month, and so we’re re-running our conversation with the Pulitzer Prize winning author of, “A Deadly Wandering: A Tale of Tragedy and Redemption in the Age of Attention.” The book tells the story of a young college student in Utah, who was texting while driving when he struck and killed two rocket scientists.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said today that his country will stand by the commitments it made in the nuclear deal, as long as the U.S. and other world powers stand by theirs. A big part of the framework agreement, announced yesterday, is the lifting of Western sanctions on Iran, including on the export of Iranian oil.

Oil prices fell yesterday on news of the agreement, even though it’s still unclear when sanctions on Iranian oil might actually be lifted.

With 83 weeks to go until the next presidential election, the candidates – both official and unofficial – were under the microscope, as two big political stories captured the week’s headlines.

The divisive Religious Freedom Restoration Act, signed into law by Indiana Governor Mike Pence and later revised, was barely days old when it began affecting the Republican field. And a tentative Iran deal received criticism from former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and praise from former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

After marathon negotiations, the United States, Iran and five other world powers announced a deal Thursday outlining limits on Iran’s nuclear program so it cannot lead to atomic weapons, directing negotiators toward a comprehensive agreement within three months.

Reading out a joint statement, European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini hailed what she called a “decisive step” after more than a decade of work.

LED Cello Lights Up The Stage

Apr 2, 2015

Tonight, the renowned avant-garde cellist Maya Beiser will perform at the Dillon Art gallery in New York City. Though Beiser is known for her passionate interpretations of modern music, at this show she’ll be playing an instrument that’s nearly as intense as she is: an electric cello enhanced with LED lights. Jean Kumagai, from Here & Now’s tech partner IEEE Spectrum, has this report.

The new documentary “The Hand That Feeds” follows a group of undocumented immigrants who work at the Manhattan deli chain Hot & Crusty.

Because of their immigration status, these employees are taken advantage of. Many are working seven days a week without a break and making less than minimum wage.

The film follows the workers in their struggle to organize their own union. It’s a story that shows how despite the decline of labor union membership, new kinds of worker groups are forming.

California Gov. Jerry Brown has ordered state officials to impose mandatory water restrictions for the first time in history as the state grapples with a serious drought.

In an executive order issued Wednesday, Brown ordered the state water board to implement reductions in cities and towns to cut usage by 25 percent.

The move will impact residents, businesses, farmers and other users.

Brown says the historic drought demands unprecedented action.

Do you think of parsley as a decoration? For Here & Now resident chef Kathy Gunst, parsley is so much more than the sum of its sprigs. Parsley plays an important part in Passover celebrations and often appears on Easter tables at well. Kathy joins hosts Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson to talk parsley and share these six recipes:

When I was boy, my mother worked in the sky. She was a flight attendant. Each month she brought home a new paper booklet, a schedule that listed every Southwest Airlines flight.

The map on the back was a spaghetti bowl of intersecting lines. A short hop from PHX to LAX. In the Midwest, it was MDW straight to STL. And DAL nonstop to LBB.

Who knew the flight from Dallas Love Field to Lubbock, Texas, could be so exciting!

There was a promise of adventure in every one of those little letters, and I memorized as many as I could.

God Is Everywhere, At Least On TV

Apr 1, 2015

This week, ahead of Easter and Passover, TV is flooded with religious programming. Everything from CNN’s fact-finding mission on Jesus called “Finding Jesus: Faith, Fact, Forgery” to National Geographic Channel’s “Killing Jesus” from Bill O’Reilly.

There’s also NBC’s sequel to “The Bible” with “A.D. The Bible Continues” and “The Dovekeepers” on CBS, about the Siege of Masada.

IBM Bets $3 Billion On 'Internet Of Things'

Mar 31, 2015

IBM announced Tuesday that it will invest $3 billion over the next four years in a new “Internet of Things” division that will be charged with finding ways to use its data in the growing market of Internet-connected devices.

The announcement comes the same day IBM also revealed a new partnership with The Weather Company, known for its media properties like the Weather Channel and weather.com.

Nigerian opposition candidate Muhammadu Buhari’s campaign says President Goodluck Jonathan called to concede defeat, paving the way for a peaceful transfer of power in Africa’s richest and most populous nation.

An aide in Jonathan’s offices says the president is preparing to make a speech.

Buhari’s campaign office sent text messages to journalists saying Jonathan had called Buhari to say he will concede.

This week marked 15 years since Vladimir Putin first came to power. He won over 50 percent of the vote and took the reins from Russia’s first President, Boris Yeltsin.

Today, Russia’s main polling agency recently recorded his support at around 85 percent. That popularity at home is a far cry from the image of Mr. Putin in the West, where he’s seen as a power-hungry leader and a threat to European security.

The BBC’s Moscow correspondent Sarah Rainsford explores what makes Putin so appealing to Russian voters.

GNC Agrees To New Testing Of Supplements

Mar 30, 2015

Last month, the office of New York state attorney general Eric Schneiderman accused GNC and three other retailers of selling fraudulent herbal supplements.

GNC is the country’s largest specialty retailer of dietary supplements. The company says that its herbal products had passed rigorous quality control tests, but it has agreed to start using new procedures to test the chain’s supplements.

Much of the country’s fresh fruits and vegetables are grown in the Southwest and harvested by farm workers.

But these days, a successful harvest relies on a combination of three different factors: farming, technology and venture capitalism.

From the Here & Now Contributors Network, Kate Sheehy from the Fronteras Desk at KJZZ reports.

Lisa Fischer was one of the singers featured in the Oscar winning documentary “Twenty Feet from Stardom,” which looked at the lives of the singers that back up the stars.

Though Fischer won a Grammy as a solo artist in 1992, she was best known for singing with the Rolling Stones and Tina Turner.

Plan To Save Astrodome Tops $240 Million

Mar 27, 2015

A report out this week outlines a $240 million plan to renovate and save the iconic Houston Astrodome. When it first opened in 1965, some people called it the Eighth Wonder of the World.

But time caught up to the world’s first domed stadium. In 1999, the Houston Astros found a new home, the stadium fell into disrepair, and Harris County has been looking for a way to save it now for years.

Voters rejected a bond initiative in 2013, but the latest plan calls for a mix of public and private funding.

Alissa Quart is a journalist, a keen observer of our culture and a believer in the power of poetry to cut to the heart of issues around us: money, class, gender and the environment.

She has just released her first book of poetry that is both personal and universal – inspired by work and research she has done as a journalist.

The price of Brent crude jumped 5 percent yesterday as Saudi Arabia began airstrikes in Yemen. It was the biggest spike in oil prices since February. The benchmark settled near $60 a barrel.

Saudi involvement in Yemen’s growing unrest has led to fears of instability in the oil market, even though a global supply glut was a primary reason why oil prices have been so low.

The 70th anniversary of the end of WWII will be marked later this year. In the meantime, some veterans of that war are embarking on one more mission.

In some cases, wives or children are taking on the mission if the veteran has passed away. The object is to return Japanese flags taken as war souvenirs from Pacific battlefields.

From the Here & Now Contributors Network, Tom Banse reports from Astoria, Oregon on an emotional gesture of peace and reconciliation.

In writer-director Noah Baumbach‘s new film “While We’re Young,” Ben Stiller and Naomi Watts play a documentary filmmaker and his wife who live a reasonably content life in New York City. They befriend a younger couple whose free-spirited ways first energize them and then cause them to question themselves and their marriage.

Trying To De-Radicalize French Prisons

Mar 26, 2015

French prisons have come under the spotlight in the past two months, as a key recruiting ground for Islamist extremists. January’s attacks in Paris by brothers Cherif and Said Kouachi and Ahmedy Coulibaly, in which 17 people were killed, led to fresh questions about the links they made in prison.

Today the California State Senate will take up an emergency $1.1 billion water management bill. That legislation has the support of the governor and the leaders of both political parties, and is expected to pass easily.

Giving Up The Concert Stage To Teach

Mar 25, 2015

Seymour Bernstein fell in love with the piano at an early age and built a stellar concert career. But when he was 50, Seymour decided to give it up to devote his time to writing and teaching.

Now 88, Seymour Bernstein is the focus of the documentary “Seymour: An Introduction,” directed by actor Ethan Hawke. Here & Now’s Robin Young talks to Bernstein about his life and the film.

A new report released today by the Department of Homeland Security, says the number of international students being accepted by American universities is at an all-time high of 1.13 million. The number accepted is up 14 percent from last year, and nearly 50 percent from 2010.

James Corden is the new face of CBS's “The Late Late Show.”

Corden is virtually unknown in the U.S., aside from those of who know him as the baker in Disney's screen adaptation of "Into The Woods."

NPR TV Critic Eric Deggans stayed up late, late last night to watch Corden's first show and now shares his impressions with Here & Now’s Robin Young.

[Youtube]

Guest

Has your car ever broken down the day after you bought it? Are your flights constantly delayed and overbooked? Did your barber give you the wrong haircut for your wedding day?

You might need the help of the man who’s been called “Britain’s Greatest Complainer.”

Jasper Griegson is a complaint expert and wrote over 5,000 complaint letters on behalf of readers of the British newspaper, The Daily Express.

Americans' Love Of Diet Soda Fizzing Out

Mar 24, 2015

New data from the market research firm Euromonitor finds that sales of low calorie soft drinks in the United States fell almost 20 percent over the last five years.

By 2019, sales are projected to fall off by a third since their peak in 2009. Diet Coke has seen its sales fall off by 15 percent in the past two years.

Here & Now’s Jeremy Hobson looks at what’s happening in the soda business with Jason Bellini of the Wall Street Journal.

It’s that time of year: the high school class of 2015 is now receiving college decision letters.

At the same time, current high school freshmen and sophomores will face a revised version of the preliminary SAT or PSAT in the fall of 2015.

The PSAT is an important step before taking the actual SAT but the announced changes may change the way students go about preparing.

China’s top weather official is warning people about the potential impact of climate change.

China’s Xinhua news agency reports that Zheng Guoguang, chief of China’s Meteorological Administration, said climate change could reduce crop yields and lead to “ecological degradation.”

The statements are considered rare, even though China is the world’s largest source of carbon dioxide emissions.

“As the world warms, risks of climate change and climate disasters to China could become more grave,” Zheng said.

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