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.

The Global Threat Of The MERS Virus

Dec 15, 2015

This past spring, when an outbreak of MERS — the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome — sickened 186 people and killed 37 in Seoul, South Korea, global public health officials saw this as evidence of the danger of a virus that many see as underestimated so far. In Seoul, the illness was spread from a single person who had come home ill from the Middle East.

More than half a million students, from the country’s second largest school district, are out of class today after the Los Angeles Unified School District canceled classes because of a bomb threat.

At a news conference today, Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck stressed to reporters how big an action closing down school for more than 600,000 students is.

Meanwhile, officials in New York City say they received a similar threat today and decided not to cancel classes.

Bittersweet Reunion For Pakistani Family

Dec 15, 2015

On Nov. 23, we brought you the story of a terminally-ill Houston teenager desperate to see her parents. Qirat Chappra, an 18-year-old who has spent most of her life at Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston, hadn’t seen them in 13 years.

In 1977, former NPR movie critic Tom Shales reviewed “Star Wars,” later renamed “Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope.” That was back in the day when the first Apple II computers went on sale and Space Mountain was opening at Disneyland.

This Thursday, “Star Wars” returns to the big screen for its seventh episode and the first to be directed by J.J. Abrams.

The Federal Aviation Administration announced new regulations today requiring anyone owning a drone between 0.55 pounds and 55 pounds to register with the government. With consumer analysts predicting up to one million drones purchased this holiday season, the new rules could affect a lot of people.

But the rules do not include anyone flying for reasons other than recreation – reasons that include business operations – and that is raising question about technology laws across the board and how governments may lag behind the accelerated pace of the technology sector.

In Season 2, Fargo Is Still Fresh

Dec 14, 2015

“Fargo,” the FX show based on the Coen Brothers classic film, will air its second season finale tonight. The show has garnered acclaim from critics with a 100 percent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

NPR TV critic Eric Deggans speaks with Here & Now‘s Eric Westervelt about what made “Fargo” so successful and how different it is from the film from which it was derived.

Hard Work Ahead To Forge A Peaceful Syria

Dec 11, 2015

Syrian rebels are a small step closer to a peace agreement that would strip Syrian President Bashar Assad of power. Yesterday in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, leaders of the Syrian opposition agreed upon a statement of principles that calls for a pluralistic regime to represent all sectors of the Syrian people.

As part of that deal, president Assad and his aides must step aside. That is highly unlikely, which means peace is still a distant reality.

As the climate summit in Paris wraps up, Washington Republicans continue to press their battle against the Obama administration’s climate change policies.

Even as the Paris conference was underway, Senate Republicans held a subcommittee hearing on Capitol Hill to challenge the climate change science. Senator and presidential candidate Ted Cruz ran the hearing.

But many of the GOP’s old allies in corporate America believe climate change is real and action is needed. NPR’s Peter Overby reports.

DuPont, Dow Chemical Announce Merger Plans

Dec 11, 2015

The giant chemical companies Dow Chemical and DuPont have announced plans to merge. The resulting company could be worth about $130 billion. Wall Street Journal financial editor Dennis Berman joins Here & Now‘s Jeremy Hobson to explain how the move shows us something about the bigger economy, and its possible national impact.

Most Americans Are No Longer Middle Class

Dec 10, 2015

Most Americans are no longer in the middle class, according to the Pew Research Center. The country has about 120.8 million adults living in middle-income households, a new Pew study found. That compares with the 121.3 million who are living in either upper- or lower-income households.

This morning, the Golden Globes rolled out this year’s nominees. Netflix garnered eight nominations, putting it ahead of all other networks. The film “Carol” earned five nominations, including Best Actress nominations for Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara.

NPR TV critic Eric Deggans joins Here & Now’s Eric Westervelt to discuss what what this year’s nominations indicate about the ever-evolving television and film industry.


For this installment of the Here & Now‘s DJ Sessions, host Jeremy Hobson speaks with Marcia Campbell of the show “The WSM All Nighter” on WSM 650 AM in Nashville for a look at the latest rising stars in country music.

As the U.N. Climate Change Conference winds down this week in Paris, people in the city can still go see a big, outdoor art installation outside the Pantheon that’s been up since the talks began: 88 tons of Arctic ice, trucked in from Greenland, arranged in the shape of a clock, slowly melting into the cobblestones. A visual, tangible representation of what’s at stake as the climate changes.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) spends more than $800 million on obesity research every year. That is a fraction compared to the total cost of obesity to taxpayers and those affected with obesity.

According to NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins, that fraction is doing a lot to help find systematic solutions to counteract high obesity rates, but there is still much to be done.

In Miami, Missing Picasso Is Still Missing

Dec 9, 2015

This year’s Miami Art Week festivities have just wrapped up and most events can boast record breaking attendance. But there was something missing – a work by Picasso that disappeared at the art fair last year: a silver plate called "Visage aux Mains" with an etching of a face and hands worth $85,000.

Art crimes make up a $6 billion industry worldwide and if stolen art doesn't turn up within the first six months, it could be a long, long time before it does. Wilson Sayre from Here & Now contributor network WLRN reports from Miami.

Thirty-six of the 300 first responders who arrived at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernadino, California, on December 2 are speaking out about what they found at the scene. NPR correspondent John Burnett was at that conference, and speaks with Here & Now’s Eric Westervelt about what police and emergency responders said.

More than half of all professors at American colleges and universities today are adjuncts. They’re the largely part-time educators excluded from the benefits, pay and privileges granted to full-time faculty.

Their numbers have dramatically increased in recent decades, but numbers don’t translate into clout. Many are struggling to attain union recognition – or any recognition at all – of their hard work, low pay and often ghastly commutes.

The two San Bernardino shooters were radicalized at least two years ago – a year before one of them came to the U.S. on a fiancée visa – and discussed jihad and martyrdom as early as 2013, FBI Director James Comey said Wednesday.

Comey told the Senate Judiciary Committee investigators believe that Syed Rizwan Farook and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, were radicalized even before they began their online relationship and that Malik held extremist views before she arrived in the U.S. last year.

To mark the 74th anniversary of Pearl Harbor, the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum is making all of the former president’s speeches available online for the first time.

The archive includes more than 46,000 pages of drafts, reading copies and transcripts. The library’s complete collection of audio recordings of FDR is also available online for the first time. The project was funded by AT&T and the library had technical assistance from Marist College in Poughkeepsie, New York.

The U.S. Senate is expected to approve an overhaul to America’s most important federal education law tomorrow. The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) is an update to the Bush administration’s No Child Left Behind law, which is often criticized for requiring too much testing.

The new legislation has bipartisan support in the House and is expected to be on the president’s desk by the end of the week. But will these changes help the populations that need it most – students of color, students with disabilities and low-income students?

Global climate talks continue today in Paris, the final week of the conference. One country that has dramatically changed its tune since the Copenhagen climate meeting six years ago is China.

China has gone from refusing to commit to action on climate change to what The Wall Street Journal describes as a cheerleader for action.

Kendrick Lamar Leads Grammy Nominations

Dec 7, 2015

The nominations for the 58th Grammy Awards were announced today. Rapper Kendrick Lamar got 11 nominations, including Song of the Year for his song “Alright.”


Back in 2014, Lamar was nominated for seven awards but did not win any, which critics said was a snub of genre that often gets overlooked.

This year, Lamar also received a nomination for his collaboration with Taylor Swift, “Bad Blood.”


An opposition coalition won an overwhelming victory in Venezuela’s legislative election yesterday. The coalition handed the leftist movement founded by the late Hugo Chavez its worst ever defeat since 1999. Economic issues dominated the campaign, including chronic food shortages of staples such as milk, rice, coffee and corn flour.

Cynthia Arnson, director of the Latin American Program at the Wilson International Center for Scholars, speaks with Here & Now’s Jeremy Hobson about what the election means for Venezuela going forward.

In the new film “Chi-Raq,” Spike Lee reinterprets Aristophanes’ “Lysistrata” by setting it in contemporary Chicago. A group of women, outraged by the toll of the war between two rival gangs, vow to withhold sex until the gangs talk peace.

NPR film critic Bob Mondello joins Here & Now‘s Eric Westervelt to talk about the film and its resonance to current events.

The FBI says it is investigating the deadly mass shooting in California as an “act of terrorism.”

David Bowdich, assistant director of the FBI’s Los Angeles office, made the declaration at a news conference Friday in California.

He also said the shooters attempted to destroy evidence, including crushing two cell phones and discarding them in a trash can. He said authorities continue to investigate the case to understand the motivations of the shooters and whether they were planning more attacks.

Earlier this week we visited Harvard Law School, where a group of students are calling for the removal of the school’s seal, which features parts of the Royall family crest. Isaac Royall, Jr. was a slave owner and son of a slave trader who played a key role in creating Harvard Law School.

No matter how many career fairs they’ve attended or mock interviews they’ve endured, college undergrads are no match for the consulting and finance recruiters that flood the elite college campuses each fall.

The finance and consulting industries are known as much for their glamour as for their ruthless work hours. But despite increased media scrutiny on several high-profile suicides by finance employees in the past two years, consulting and finance firms have long been poaching more college seniors than almost any other industry.

As the climate talks continue in Paris, Britain is taking a major step to reduce carbon emissions. U.K. Energy Secretary Amber Rudd says the nation’s last coal-fired power stations will close by the end of 2025.

The U.K. would be the first industrialized nation to eliminate coal-fired power generation and environmentalists say this sends a major signal to the rest of the world.

The mass shooting yesterday in San Bernardino, California turned our attention, again, to issues of public safety, causing many of us wonder what we would do if confronted by an active shooter at school, work or in a movie theater.

Natural gas is cheap this year, thanks to a warm autumn and new sources of gas. During Thanksgiving week, big swaths of the country enjoyed warm, sunny days and used very little natural gas.

Meanwhile, drillers in Pennsylvania are finding huge reserves of gas, which is driving the price down. Natural gas is trading at about $2.23 per million British thermal units (MBTU). Only a few years ago, it was trading at more than $13.