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.

Expedia has reached a deal to buy Orbitz, as both travel companies try to defend their turf from the likes of Google and Airbnb.

The companies are also facing competition from hotels and airlines who are increasingly doing business through their own websites.

Here & Now’s Jeremy Hobson speaks with Michael Regan of Bloomberg News about the implications for the industry.

For this week’s DJ Session, Here & Now’s Jeremy Hobson sits down with Julie Lavender, a jazz musician and host of Dream Farm Radio in New Hampshire. She shares some of her favorite new eclectic jazz, from artist Mark Shilansky and the group The Fretful Porcupine.

Oil prices have fallen nearly 60 percent since June, but it’s not the only commodity that’s dropping in value. Grains, metals and other bulk products have been plunging too.

Since February 2011, copper has fallen from $4.50 a pound to $2.53; corn fell from $7.50 a bushel to $3.88. The changes have a put a squeeze on farmers and miners, but so far they haven’t really trickled down to consumers.

NPR’s Marilyn Geewax joins Here & Now’s Robin Young with details.

Eavesdropping On The Ocean

Feb 12, 2015

There’s a layer in the ocean – in between the warm surface waters and the deep, high pressured waters – where sound waves move more slowly. The so-called SOFAR channel is a sweet spot of ocean acoustics.

American and Soviet researchers independently discovered the channel in the 1940s. The U.S. military deployed hydrophones in the underwater channel for surveillance purposes, and today still uses them for scientific research.

Mimi Sheraton has written about food for some six decades. She’s been the restaurant critic for The New York Times, traveled the world writing about food for numerous magazines and published several books including the James Beard award winning “The Whole World Loves Chicken Soup: Recipes and Lore to Comfort Body and Soul.”

When Mary Harris was 35 years old, she got the devastating diagnosis that she had breast cancer. As she was preparing to deal with surgery and chemotherapy, she got another surprising piece of news: she was also pregnant.

Harris was faced with a series of wrenching decisions about how to treat her cancer while also trying to protect the health of her unborn baby. Her story is featured as part of a 10-part series on cancer co-produced by WNYC and NPR.

PepsiCo today reported that the company’s revenue and profit fell in its fourth quarter, a day after The Coca-Cola Company reported that its earnings fell 55 percent last quarter.

Both companies are grappling with a weak demand for soda. Pepsi continues to rely on its snack business Frito-Lay to offset some of the declines in the soda market. CNN’s Maggie Lake discusses Pepsi and Coke’s struggles with Here & Now’s Peter O’Dowd.

On the heels of last Friday’s jobs report, the U.S. Department of Labor released new numbers today that put some flesh on the bones of Friday’s report, which showed employers adding 257,000 new jobs.

Today’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) shows there were 5 million job openings at the end of December 2014, the highest number since January 2001.

Tonight, “Fresh Off the Boat” moves into its regular time slot on ABC. It’s the first network sitcom in two decades to feature an Asian-American family.

Though the show is inspired by former restaurateur, TV show host and author Eddie Huang‘s 2013 memoir of the same name, the real Eddie Huang is ambivalent about the show.

Samsung Electronics is downplaying the possibility that its Smart TVs are spying on viewers. The statement comes after reporters found a statement in the privacy policy for Samsung’s Smart TV warning users about how their voices could be captured when they use the voice recognition feature.

The policy reads: "Please be aware that if your spoken words include personal or other sensitive information, that information will be among the data captured and transmitted to a third party.”

Greg Abbink, the first transgender police officer in Austin, Texas, has had to come out of the closet twice in his life: first, many years ago, as a lesbian, and more recently, as transgender.

His wife is going through some difficulties adjusting to Greg’s transition from female to male but she knows that Greg is the same person she fell in love with years ago when he was known as Emily.

Reporter Joy Diaz of KUT has this profile.

Former Foe Remembers Coach Dean Smith

Feb 9, 2015

Legendary college basketball coach Dean Smith died on Saturday at the age of 83. He coached the University of North Carolina Tar Heels for 36 years and his teams won two national championships.

He’s being remembered by former players, including Michael Jordan, as a father figure. Here & Now’s Peter O’Dowd speaks with one of Smith’s former rivals, retired Georgia Tech head coach Bobby Cremins, who says Smith “made the game of basketball better.”

Mayor Of London Visits Snowy Boston

Feb 9, 2015

London Mayor Boris Johnson is like many big city mayors. He likes to promote the city he leads. Johnson is visiting the United States this week and he arrived at his first stop, Boston, during the latest blizzard.

It’s a trade mission that will also include a stop in New York City, but it’s also a bit about politics, as Johnson tries to raise his already high profile by meeting with Hillary Clinton.

White House: No Evidence Backing Up Claim Of American's Death

Feb 6, 2015

The White House says it hasn’t seen any evidence at this time to corroborate the Islamic State group’s claims that an American female hostage has been killed in a Jordanian airstrike.

National Security Council spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan says the White House is “deeply concerned” by the reports but has not seen evidence to support the claims.

A purported statement by the Islamic State claims the woman was killed in an airstrike Friday on the outskirts of the northern Syrian city of Raqqa, the militant group’s main stronghold.

At the end of December, as the U.S. announced the end of its combat mission in Afghanistan, NPR correspondent Sean Carberry was also wrapping up his time there.

Sean lived in Kabul since mid-2012, covering the country’s tumultuous and ongoing political and security transition.

Now back in the U.S., he joins Here & Now’s Robin Young to reflect on his time in Afghanistan, and talk about his own transition.

Making Music From NASA's Sound Archives

Feb 6, 2015

NASA has taken years of sound from its historic space flights and probe missions and put it online. All the sound is free on SoundCloud, and you can use it for whatever you want. That gave two musicians a brilliant idea.

While working on a soundtrack for a documentary about aliens, musicians Davide Cairo and Giacomo Muzzacato stumbled upon NASA’s massive sound library. While some people may hear bleeps and bloops and mechanical gears, with a little remixing, they heard music.

This week, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto announced a new anti-corruption initiative that will investigate allegations made against the federal government, including himself.

It’s a move, perhaps, in response to the rising public criticism of the government following the disappearance of 43 Mexican students.

Those students have been declared dead by the country’s attorney general, but the bloody and tragic events that led up to those abductions are still shrouded in mystery.

DJ Sessions: From Bjork To Bruno Mars

Feb 5, 2015

Travis Holcombe of KCRW in Santa Monica, California shares some of his favorite new music of the year, including artist Mark Ronson, whose song “Uptown Funk,” featuring Bruno Mars is getting a lot of time on the radio and was recently the top song on Spotify.

Holcombe says that most people know the song as a Bruno Marks song, even though it’s by Mark Ronson.

We also hear new sounds from Bjork, who is out with a new album, which chronicles a recent breakup.

Stapes announced this week that it is acquiring Office Depot in a $6.3 billion merger deal.

The deal is expected to be scrutinized by regulators wary of reducing competition. But the two retailers argue that there’s a range of competition online from the likes of Walmart and Amazon, and that the merger would keep them competitive.

Derek Thompson, senior editor at the Atlantic, tells Here & Now‘s Jeremy Hobson and Robin Young what this merger could mean.

Its been half a century since the release of the literary masterpiece “To Kill a Mockingbird.”

Yesterday when news hit the web you could hear squeals of delight around the world about her highly anticipated new novel, “Go Set a Watchman,” due out in July.

The chairman of the Federal Communications Commission Tom Wheeler on Wednesday proposed new rules that would treat the Internet like a public utility.

The new rules aim to prohibit access to so-called Internet fast-lanes for companies and websites willing to pay for faster delivery of their content.

The commission will vote on the rules later this month. And they could have a widespread impact on how we all use the Internet and the status of what’s known as “net neutrality.”

U.S. automakers reported strong sales in January, a time of year that’s normally slow for the industry.

General Motors also recorded a 91 percent jump in profit in the fourth quarter. The company says it will issue $9,000 profit-sharing checks to 48,000 of its employees.

The auto industry is in the midst of a rebound after the recession brought many of the large automakers to the brink of collapse several years ago.

A video released online Tuesday purportedly shows a Jordanian pilot captured by the Islamic State extremist group in Syria last month being burned to death by his captors following a weeklong hostage drama.

The Associated Press was not immediately able to confirm the authenticity of the video, which was released on militant websites and bore the logo of the extremist group’s al-Furqan media service. The 20-minute-long video featured the slick production and graphics used in previous videos released by the group.

Kathy Gunst Goes Californian!

Feb 3, 2015

Here & Now resident chef Kathy Gunst makes her home in Maine, but she’s been spending the early part of the winter in San Francisco.

Her new location has inspired new recipe ideas: avocado toast, filet of sole with Meyer lemons, artichoke soup and orange and ricotta salad. Kathy also sent host Jeremy Hobson a care package including fresh oranges and avocados for him to sample.

She shares these four recipes:

Low Oil Prices Hit Industry Giants Hard

Feb 3, 2015

Two oil giants this week released reports showing how their earnings have been impacted by the recent steep fall in oil prices.

BP on Tuesday reported a quarterly loss of $4.4 billion dollars in the fourth quarter of 2014, which the company attributes in part to falling oil prices.

On a similar note, Exxon Mobil on Monday reported a steep drop in revenue and profit, with both down 21 percent in the fourth quarter, over the previous year.

Reports that California experienced its second driest January for a second year in a row have many predicting that the drought will continue in 2015.

While cities like San Francisco have seen no measurable rain this year, the snowpacks in the hinterlands of California are also seeing less of the fluffy white stuff.

What Some Malls Are Doing To Survive

Feb 2, 2015

According to the mall tracking group Green Street Advisors, more than two dozen shopping malls have closed since 2010, and dozens more are on the brink of failing.

Robin Lewis, co-author of “The New Rules of Retail: Competing in the World’s Toughest Marketplace,” says that some malls are doing interesting things to stay operating.

President Obama releases a $4 trillion budget today that calls for middle class tax cuts and major investment in infrastructure. The plan would rely on taxing rich Americans by closing tax loopholes on capital gains and trust funds.

Republicans are not on board. Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin said Obama was exploiting “envy economics.” The president’s proposal included a child care tax credit, a $500 credit for “second-earners” in a household and more money for a preschool development program.

Rod McKuen, the husky-voiced “King of Kitsch” whose avalanche of music, verse and spoken-word recordings in the 1960s and ’70s overwhelmed critical mockery and made him an Oscar-nominated songwriter and one of the best-selling poets in history, has died. He was 81.

McKuen died Thursday morning at a rehabilitation center in Beverly Hills, California, where he had been treated for pneumonia and had been ill for several weeks and was unable to digest food, his half-brother Edward McKuen Habib said.

Cowboy Poets Gather At Annual Celebration

Jan 30, 2015

The 31st National Cowboy Poetry Gathering is underway in Elko, Nevada. Last year, Here & Now’s Jeremy Hobson spoke with an attendee named Gaul Steiger, a cattle rancher who comes from a long line of cowboy poets. We revisit that conversation.