Here and Now

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.

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NPR Story
4:16 pm
Wed December 31, 2014

'Life Itself': The Documentary About Film Critic Roger Ebert

Chaz Ebert and filmmaker Steve James attend the premiere of Magnolia Pictures' "Life Itself" at ArcLight Hollywood on June 26 in Hollywood, California. (Jason Kempin/Getty Images)

Roger Ebert once said that movies were an “empathy machine” — they allowed us to have more insight in to lives of other people who are sharing this human journey with us.

That may explain why he won a Pulitzer Prize and went on to become perhaps the most famous film critic in America, the “thumbs-up” partner to Gene Siskel on their TV program about the movies.

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NPR Story
4:16 pm
Wed December 31, 2014

A Resurgence In Space Exploration

NASA's Orion resembles an Apollo capsule, signaling a return to this cheap and effective design (NASA).

It was a big year on Earth, but enough of that — let’s talk about space!

NPR science correspondent Geoff Brumfiel talks to Here & Now’s Lisa Mullins about new spacecrafts, new missions, and space triumphs and failures of 2014.

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NPR Story
4:16 pm
Wed December 31, 2014

Minimum Wage To Increase In 20 States On New Year's Day

Protesters march through the streets of New York on December 4 demanding a raise on the minimum wage to $15 per hour. The movement, driven largely by fast food workers, has risen in prominence in the past year. (Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

Twenty states across the nation will ring in the New Year with higher minimum wages — increasing pay for around 3 million workers, according to the liberal Economic Policy Institute.

The highest minimum wage in the country will be in Washington state, where the minimum wage will rise to $9.47. The federal minimum wage is $7.25.

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NPR Story
2:37 pm
Tue December 30, 2014

A Weekend Edition Editor Shares Her Picks For Best Books Of 2014

Originally published on Tue January 6, 2015 2:36 pm

Every list of “best books” of the year is as different as a special little snowflake.

Here & Now’s Robin Young speaks with NPR’s Weekend Edition editor Barrie Hardymon about her picks for the best books of 2014.

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NPR Story
2:37 pm
Tue December 30, 2014

U.S. Veterans Return To The Front Lines

The BBC accompanied a group of veterans from both wars -- part of a program to help veterans come to terms with their physical and mental injuries -- back to the frontline in Afghanistan (screengrab/BBC).

The U.S. war in Afghanistan may be over, but for hundreds of thousands of veterans who served in that conflict, the scars may never heal.

There are physical wounds, of course, but many are also suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. Troops who served in Afghanistan are among the estimated 20 veterans who kill themselves every day.

It would seem that the last place a veteran of the Afghanistan conflict would want to return is the front lines of battle. But that is exactly what some U.S. military veterans did recently.

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Here & Now
2:37 pm
Tue December 30, 2014

Uncertainty In Europe After Greece Calls Snap General Election

Main opposition leftist Syriza party leader, Alexis Tsipras speaks to the media after the Greek Parliament failed to select the country's next president. The upcoming general election has left investors holding their breath. (Angelos Tzortzinis/AFP/Getty Images)

A snap general election in Greece next month has triggered uncertainty among investors and government across Europe.

The election came about when the Greek Parliament rejected the presidential candidate nominated by Prime Minister Antonis Samaras.

The radical left Syriza party is leading in opinion polls, and its leader opposes the deep budget cuts and austerity measures that have been instituted in Greece as a condition of financial bailouts.

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NPR Story
2:59 pm
Mon December 29, 2014

Ebola, A Year After The Epidemic Began

A Guinean health worker wearing protective suit poses at an Ebola Donka treatment center in Conakry on December 8, 2014. (Cellou Binani/AFP/Getty Images)

It’s been one year this month since the first case of Ebola was found in Guinea, setting off what has become the deadliest Ebola epidemic in history. New cases have slowed down — but there are reports today that a dozen or so new cases have erupted in Liberia along the border of Sierra Leone.

The Centers for Disease Control in the United States say the virus has killed more than 7,600 people in West Africa.

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Theft
2:59 pm
Mon December 29, 2014

The Booming Black Market For Stolen Smartphones

Customers line up in front of an Apple Store to purchase the new iPhone 6 on September 23, 2014 in San Francisco, California. The rise in the popularity of smartphones has also spawned a lucrative and complex black market around stolen phones. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Originally published on Tue January 13, 2015 6:45 pm

It is no secret: the smartphone industry is booming. But as the number of users rise to one-third of the world’s population, so rises the number of smartphones stolen and traded on the black market.

It is a multibillion dollar industry growing increasingly complicated as security analysts look for answers and black market entrepreneurs work to stay ahead of the curve.

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NPR Story
2:59 pm
Mon December 29, 2014

Economists Predict A Bullish 2015

Traders wear hats that say "DOW 18,000" as they work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange during the afternoon of December 23 in New York City. That day, the Dow Jones Industrial Average crossed a landmark by closing above 18,000 points. (Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

Every December, economists make predictions about the year ahead, and each year they get hit by unexpected events that make them look clueless. Take the plunge in oil prices — nobody saw that coming.

Still, top economists’ forecasts did get a lot right for 2014.

Last year at this time, most were predicting low inflation, more jobs and rising stock prices — and that’s what we got.

Now they are making their predictions for 2015.

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NPR Story
2:27 pm
Fri December 26, 2014

Comedian Flings Insults At Here & Now Host

Originally published on Fri December 26, 2014 2:28 pm

[Note: This show is from a previous interview that aired on March 28, 2014.]

Comedienne Susie Essman plays the sassy Susie Greene on HBO’s acclaimed “Curb Your Enthusiasm” series, bringing to it her own brand of biting sarcasm, pointed insults and no-nonsense panache.

Essman is also a veteran of late night comedy and the world of stand-up, where she made her mark.

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NPR Story
2:27 pm
Fri December 26, 2014

Is Voicemail Becoming Obsolete? Coca-Cola Thinks So

Voicemail messages left on a workplace phone are pictured. (JAmes Kearney/Flickr Creative Commons)

Originally published on Fri December 26, 2014 2:28 pm

Coca-Cola’s recent decision to eliminate their voicemail system at their Atlanta headquarters may be a sign of the times.

The company says this isn’t a cost-cutting measure – Coke estimates it will only save them $100,000 annually – but a move to increase worker productivity.

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NPR Story
1:49 pm
Fri December 26, 2014

American Coal Mines Stay Open Despite Millions In Safety Fines

The injuries Jack Blankenship sustained after a 300-pound rock pinned him to the ground while working in a coal mine prevent him from sitting for long periods of time or walking far. He says he's in constant pain. (Anna Boiko-Weyrauch/NPR)

Originally published on Fri December 26, 2014 2:28 pm

[Note: This show is from a previous interview that aired on November 13, 2014.]

There are federal regulations designed to keep American mineworkers safe, but this year, an NPR investigation found that there’s a loophole in the regulation, allowing mine owners to operate unsafe mines across the country.

For years, the mine owners have failed to pay penalties even as workers continue to be injured.

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NPR Story
4:08 pm
Thu December 25, 2014

New Census Tool Allows For Searching Cities By Demographics 

Provo, Utah has been ranked the city with the highest number of young workers. (Wikipedia)

Did you know that the city with the highest concentration of young workers in the U.S. is Provo, Utah? And the city with the most minorities is McAllen, Texas?

This information is all available in a new census bureau report and interactive tool. it’s called “census explorer,” and it’s geared towards young adults between 18 and 34 years old who may be deciding where to live.

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NPR Story
4:08 pm
Thu December 25, 2014

The 1914 Christmas Truce Is Set To Music At Symphony Hall

To mark the 100th anniversary of the Christmas Truce of 1914, the Boston Pops commissioned a new narrated work that combines words and music. (Courtesy of the Boston Pops)

Audiences who come to see the Holiday Pops can usually expect jaunty chestnuts like “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” or “The Polar Express.”

But this year conductor Keith Lockhart was stirred by a bittersweet episode from history: an impromptu and unsanctioned ceasefire that took place during World War I.

“The particular thing about this story is that the uniting force, the thing that brings people together, is music,” Lockhart explained.

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Movies
2:08 pm
Thu December 25, 2014

'Into the Woods' Hits The Big Screen, But Never Left The Stage

Emily Blunt and James Corden star as a baker and his wife in Rob Marshall's new adaptation of Into the Woods. (Disney Enterprises)

Starting Christmas day, audiences can see a new version of Stephen Sondheim’s nearly 30-year-old musical fairy-tale mash-up, “Into the Woods” — this time, on the big screen.

And as the production moves from stage to screen, the high-budget Hollywood version comes with the requisite star power, including Johnny Depp as the iconic big bad wolf, Emily Blunt as a baker’s wife and Meryl Streep as the wicked witch who sets the whole plot in motion.

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NPR Story
2:57 pm
Wed December 24, 2014

DJ Sessions: Christmas Favorites Of Yesterday -- And Today

This year's DJ Christmas session includes holiday songs from (left) Boney M., Jimmy Buffet, Bing Crosby and Chuck Berry. (Getty Images)

For this week’s DJ session we sit down with Mike Haile, also known as “Mike in the Morning” and general manager at WHMS in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois.

Jeremy listened to Mike in the morning when he was a kid, and Mike joins us for an annual tradition where he shares his favorite Christmas songs — from oldies, to newer takes on the Christmas classics.

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NPR Story
2:57 pm
Wed December 24, 2014

Animated Films Become Bridge To Child With Autism

Through characters in "Aladdin, " "The Lion King" and "The Jungle Book," Owen could express himself and his feelings. (lifeanimated.net)

Originally published on Wed December 24, 2014 2:14 pm

[Note: This show is from a previous interview that aired on May 27, 2014.]

When acclaimed journalist Ron Suskind’s son Owen was just shy of three years old, he suddenly stopped communicating with his family. Owen would sleep and cry a lot and his vocabulary dwindled to the single word “juice.”

Eventually Owen was diagnosed with autism.

Ron and his family tried all sorts of ways of reaching Owen but it was the Disney films that Owen loved that would prove to be the bridge.

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NPR Story
2:57 pm
Wed December 24, 2014

Four Dead, 50 Injured In Mississippi After Severe Storms

Four people were killed and at least 50 injured in Mississippi yesterday, when severe storms — and what is believed to have been a tornado — swept through the southern part of the state.

Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant declared a state of emergency in Jones and Marion counties after the storms, which also knocked over trees, flipped cars, damaged homes and businesses and left thousands without power.

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NPR Story
2:13 pm
Tue December 23, 2014

Controversial Film 'The Interview' Will Now Air On Christmas

Conterversial film, "The Interview" will now air on Christmas day. (Christopher Polk/Getty Images)

“The people have spoken! freedom has prevailed!”

That’s a tweet from actor Seth Rogen, a star in the controversial film the “The interview,” about an assassination plot against North Korea’s leaders.

The tweet came in the wake of today’s that there will be a limited release of the film on Christmas day.

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NPR Story
2:13 pm
Tue December 23, 2014

A Suggestion for A Live Holiday Broadcast: Bring Back Amahl!

Originally published on Tue December 23, 2014 2:08 pm

 

NBC has been making waves with their live musical performances of “The Sound of Music” and “Peter Pan” the last couple of holiday seasons.

So Here & Now’s Robin Young’s former choir director Ron Cohen has a suggestion for next year: revive Gian Carlo Menotti’s “Amahl and the Night Visitors!”

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NPR Story
2:13 pm
Tue December 23, 2014

Do Protests Incite People With Mental Illness?

Originally published on Tue December 23, 2014 4:29 pm

New York City Police Commissioner William Bratton sparked a debate on the Today show yesterday after he said, referencing Saturday’s shooting of two police officers by a mentally ill man, that “the targeting of these two police officers was a direct spin-off of this issue of these demonstrations” about police use of force against unarmed Black men.

We hear from Jonathan Metzl, a psychiatrist who has studied the nexus of mental illness and social protest movements.

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NPR Story
2:43 pm
Mon December 22, 2014

Media Analyst John Carroll's Top Five Ads of 2014

Actor, singer Justin Timberlake is just one of dozens of celebrities who completed the Ice Bucket Challenge for ALS this year. (YouTube)

In the United States, roughly $180 billion was spend on advertising this past year.

Here & Now media analyst John Carroll, a professor of mass communications at Boston University, shares a few of his favorite ad campaigns, which encompass both television and web advertising.

John Carroll’s Favorite Ads

[Youtube]

[Youtube]

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NPR Story
2:43 pm
Mon December 22, 2014

Dreamers Get To Drive In Arizona

Arizona’s Motor Vehicles Department is now open to DREAMers.

Starting today, immigrants who qualify for the Obama Administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals can get driver’s licenses in Arizona.

The Supreme Court on Wednesday let stand a ruling requiring the state to issue licenses to residents brought to the U.S. unlawfully as young children by their parents. The policy change follows a recent rollback of a string of strict immigration enforcement policies in Arizona.

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NPR Story
2:41 pm
Mon December 22, 2014

Reporter Raises Red Flag About Pet Medications

Sesame, a golden doodle owned by the family of Nimu Sirtani of Noblesville, plays in the back yard. Sesame died in 2013 after taking Trifexis, a heartworm medicine made by Eli Lilly’s Elanco division. The Sirtani family suspects that Trifexis was to blame. (Photo provided by the Surtani Family/Courtesy of The Indianapolis Star)

The The Indianapolis Star is shining a light on the booming industry of pet medications and raising some red flags about it.

In a three-part series, the newspaper finds a booming industry with higher risk of unforeseen side effects than the human drug market, veterinarians on the payroll of drug makers, and little legal protection for owners who say their pets have been killed by medications their pets were on.

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NPR Story
4:02 pm
Fri December 19, 2014

Special Coverage: Obama's Year-End Remarks

President Barack Obama speaks during a press conference in the briefing room of the White House December 19, 2014 in Washington, D.C. Obama addressed the press before traveling with the first family on their annual Christmas beach vacation in the president's birth state of Hawaii. (Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images)

Here & Now provided special coverage of the president’s remarks on Friday afternoon, before he and his family left for a Christmas vacation in Hawaii. The audio includes the entirety of the remarks and special coverage.

President Barack Obama praised the reopening of diplomatic relations with Cuba on Friday but said he doesn’t expect it to bring overnight change on the island, a quick end to the U.S. economic embargo or the likelihood that he will soon visit the communist nation.

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NPR Story
3:52 pm
Fri December 19, 2014

Obama: Sony Decision To Cancel Movie A 'Mistake'

President Barack Obama said Friday that Sony Pictures Entertainment “made a mistake” in shelving a satirical film about a plot to assassinate North Korea’s leader, and he vowed the United States will respond “in a place and manner and time that we choose” to a hack attack the FBI blamed on the secretive Communist regime.

Speaking of Sony executives, Obama said at a year-end news conference, “I wish they had spoken to me first. … We cannot have a society in which some dictatorship someplace can start imposing censorship.”

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NPR Story
3:52 pm
Fri December 19, 2014

Mixed Reaction As New York Bans Fracking

An opponent of the hydraulic fracturing holds a sign during a demonstration on March 20, 2014 in New York. The demonstrators say "fracking," the process used in natural gas drilling, is dangerous for water supplies and food sources. (Don Emmert/AFP/Getty Images)

This week, New York became the second state in the nation to ban hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.

Vermont’s ban, which was the first, was largely symbolic, as the state doesn’t have any real natural gas resources. New York, though, sits on the gas-rich Marcellus Shale, and the debate over whether to open it to fracking has been deeply emotional and contentious.

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NPR Story
2:53 pm
Thu December 18, 2014

Putin Vows To Fix Russian Economy

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during his annual press conference in Moscow on December 18, 2014. (Kirill Kudryavtsev/AFP/Getty Images)

In his annual press conference, which ran four hours, Russian President Vladimir Putin promised to ease the country’s economic woes by diversifying its heavy reliance on oil and gas. He also said he’s confident the plummeting ruble will recover.

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NPR Story
2:53 pm
Thu December 18, 2014

Are Artificial Christmas Trees Really More Environmentally Sound?

Tree farms provide the majority of Christmas trees. (jpmatth/Flickr)

Originally published on Tue December 23, 2014 10:02 am

Three million American families will buy real Christmas trees this year. Most are grown in either Oregon or North Carolina, the top two Christmas-tree-producing states in the country.

However, the real-tree industry has something in common with many other businesses: competition with China. About 79 percent of people now use artificial Christmas trees.

One reason people purchase artificial trees is because they believe they’re more environmentally sound. But is that true?

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NPR Story
2:49 pm
Thu December 18, 2014

A Short History Of U.S.-Cuba Relations

Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter (left) shakes hands with Cuban President Fidel Castro on May 12,, 2002, at the State Council in Havana, where Castro, Carter and their respective delegations met for a working meeting. Carter was on a five-day visit to Cuba, invited by Castro. (Adalberto Roque/AFP/Getty Images)

President Obama’s decision to change U.S. policy on Cuba comes after a half century of icy relations. The announcement came as a surprise to many, including Julia Sweig, director for Latin American studies at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Sweig joined Here & Now’s Jeremy Hobson to discuss the history of the struggle between the two nations and outline what the opening of diplomatic relations and easing of restrictions will mean both for Cuba and the United States.

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