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 Many Schools Of GOP Tax Reform

Sep 17, 2015

Wednesday night’s Republican presidential debate revealed several different visions for the future of American tax policy. There were calls for a flat tax, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush pushed his own multi-faceted plan, and billionaire Donald Trump left the typical GOP reservation altogether with his proposal for a progressive income tax.

Jim Tankersley of The Washington Post joins Here & Now’s Meghna Chakrabarti to talk about the ways Republican candidates are hoping to shake up tax policy, and what it could mean for American taxpayers.

Imagine this: eye pain so severe that suicide seems a reasonable option. And now, imagine that in addition to that pain, doctors don’t take you seriously – because they don’t see a thing wrong.

That’s the situation faced by people around the world who are afflicted with an unusual, little understood and inexplicably painful eye condition that may somehow be related to dry eye, but is severe enough to force sufferers to retreat from every aspect of daily life.

Milwaukee Program Transforms Vacant Lots

Sep 16, 2015

Milwaukee is rolling out a new pilot program called the Vacant Lot Challenge to encourage residents to come up with ways to transform local eyesores. Susan Bence from Here & Now contributor WUWM takes us to a spot where one vacant lot has been transformed into a small park.

There are thousands and thousands of vacant and abandoned properties scattered throughout the country. About 8,000 of them are in Louisville, Kentucky. Drive through nearly any neighborhood and you’ll likely see an overgrown lot or a crumbling home.

But, a quick glance from a car can be a far different experience than living next to such a property. Jake Ryan from Here & Now contributor WFPL reports.


We’ve seen pictures of the Syrian civil war and its victims, yet still, this tragedy can feel distant. But what if you were immersed in it? What if you could feel like you were walking down a ravaged Syrian street, without leaving the United States? That is what happens when you watch the short virtual-reality documentary, “Welcome to Aleppo.”

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After five days of striking, teachers in Seattle have reached a tentative agreement with the school district to set a new standard for pay and the length of the school day. Officials are hopeful they’ll be able to get classes started by Thursday.

One of the main points made by the teachers union is that they have gone six years without a cost-of-living raise, making it hard to live in Seattle​ ​where rent and home prices have skyrocketed in​ recent​ years – in part because of the city’s booming technology industry.

Art Museums In The Digital Age

Sep 15, 2015

The first portable museum audio tour created in Amsterdam in 1952 was revolutionary. Today, new technologies are continuing to change the museumgoer’s experience. It’s all part of how museums are imagining the future to stay relevant in a digital world. Andrea Shea from Here & Now contributor WBUR reports.

Finding Profits In Europe's Migrant Crisis

Sep 15, 2015

Hungary today declared a state of emergency, sealing off its southern border with Serbia, in an effort to stop the migrants coming in. As the crisis continues, many in Europe and the United States are profiting from the influx of migrants, including shop owners and American pension funds.

A piece in The Wall Street Journal titled “The Growth of Refugee Inc.” reads:

Airbus Opens First U.S. Factory In Alabama

Sep 14, 2015

The French plane maker Airbus opens its first factory in the U.S. today. The $600 million plant in Mobile, Alabama, is touted as a solution to the company’s need to expand low-cost production to meet a major backlog in demand. It also boldly bids for market share in the territory of Airbus’s American rival, Boeing.

Here & Now‘s Peter O’Dowd speaks with CBS News’ Business Analyst Jill Schlesinger about the impact of this factory.

The Waldorf Astoria has been the New York destination for U.S. presidents dating back to President Herbert Hoover, who took up residence in the hotel after his term. With its close proximity to the United Nations, it has also been the home of the U.S. ambassador to the UN, as well as other U.S. officials.

The Politics Of The Refugee Crisis

Sep 14, 2015

The migrant crisis has stirred the conscience of the world, but it also coincides with a rise in right-wing politics in Europe and concerns about violent Islamic extremists. The fact that most of the refugees are Muslim complicates the picture for some.

Here & Now‘s Meghna Chakrabarti speaks with Dr. Luca Mavelli, a senior lecturer in politics and international relations at the University of Kent, about the current political climate. Mavelli’s research focuses on religion, security and political violence in international relations.

For Serena Williams’ first 26 matches at major tournaments in 2015, no deficit was too daunting, no opponent too troublesome, no victory too far from reach.

She was unbeaten and, seemingly, unbeatable, nearing the first Grand Slam in more than a quarter-century. All Williams needed was two more wins to pull off that rare feat. And yet, against an unseeded and unheralded opponent in the U.S. Open semifinals, she faltered. Her pursuit of history ended, oh so close.

Nespresso, Europe’s largest single-serve coffee brand, is adding a new factory in Switzerland. That factory will make capsules specifically designed for consumers in the United States, where sales are higher than in Europe.

Americans are spending more money on coffee than ever before, and increasingly brewing single-cup coffee. Michael Regan of Bloomberg News joins Here & Now‘s Meghna Chakrabarti to discuss the new factory and what it means for American consumers.


SodaStream Leaves The West Bank

Sep 11, 2015

SodaStream, maker of the carbonated drink device, is slated to pull out of the West Bank next week, and move operations to Southern Israel.

The company, which is Israeli-owned but employs hundreds of Palestinians, has been the target of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanction (BDS) movement, which opposes Israelis doing business in the occupied territories.

SodaStream’s CEO has condemned the movement but says that is not the reason for the company’s move from the West Bank, nor for its drop in stock prices and revenue.

How much financial help does an impoverished child with autism need? What about a child who has bipolar disorder?

In the U.S., the answer depends on what state the family lives in. If they are in Pennsylvania, they are almost six times more likely to receive financial help from the federal government than if they live in Nevada.

The Surgeon General of the United States is asking for 22 minutes of your time every day.

Vivek Murthy’s national “Call to Action” is a nationwide initiative urging people of all ages to walk for a minimum of 150 minutes a week – the amount of physical activity shown to reduce the effects of chronic disease, support mental health and reduce the risk of premature death.

McDonald’s has announced it will switch to cage-free eggs over the next decade, joining Subway and Starbucks, although those two companies haven’t laid out timelines for their changeover. How much is ethical food driving customers and food industry leaders?

The Washington, D.C.-based restaurant chain Sweetgreen is a telling example. Its goal is to deliver its fresh assembly-line salads with a hip sustainable-food attitude.

The Justice Department issued new guidelines Wednesday aimed at prioritizing the prosecution of individual employees, not just the companies, involved in white collar crime.

The new rules were issued in a memo to federal prosecutors, and come after years of criticism that the Department of Justice has not held Wall Street executives accountable for criminal activities.

NPR senior business editor Marilyn Geewax joins Here & Now‘s Megna Chakrabarti to discuss the new guidelines.


Two of Boston’s longest-running stories and scandals have hit the Venice Film Festival as Hollywood movies. One of them, “Black Mass,” comes with a big star, big buzz and the name James “Whitey” Bulger. David Boeri of Here & Now contributor station WBUR in Boston brought us this report from Venice.

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady’s four-game suspension over under-inflated footballs in last season’s AFC title game was overturned by a federal judge last week, letting him start the season with his team tomorrow.

The chief executive and two senior officials resigned yesterday from United Airlines, amid a federal investigation into whether the airline gave favors to the chairman of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

United began a direct flight between Newark, New Jersey, and Columbia, South Carolina, where the former head of the Port Authority, David Samson, has a vacation home. The route began while he was chairman and ended after he resigned last year. At the same time, United was in negotiations with the Port Authority over airport projects.

The head of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Jens Stoltenberg, will make his first visit to Ukraine later this month. The planned visit comes as Ukraine and Russia face a December deadline to fully implement a ceasefire agreement signed in Minsk in February.

The fighting with separatists and their Russian allies, however, has not halted, though Ukrainian officials claim some slowing since another ceasefire agreement meant to bolster the Minsk agreement went into effect at the start of September.

In 1969, a young woman was found stabbed to death in Harlan, Kentucky, and buried without a name. To many locals, she’s known as “Mountain Jane Doe.” To Darla Jackson and Todd Matthews, her case deserved extra digging.

Michael Schiller of the public radio show “Reveal” followed Darla and Todd into the wooded hills of Harlan to exhume the body of Mountain Jane Doe. What they end up finding is unexpected.

If you live in a city, there’s a good chance you’ve seen a high-rise going up this summer. U.S. construction spending is at its highest level in more than seven years. The New York Building Congress trade organization found that in New York City, for example, construction of new office space is at a 25-year high.

What's Wrong With Unpaid Internships?

Sep 7, 2015

In August, a group of about 40 current and former unpaid interns made headlines when they brought a class action lawsuit against Dualstar Entertainment Group, the company owned by celebrities Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen.

At the United Nations, the debate over paying interns flared up when it came to light that one unpaid intern at the U.N. was living in a tent in Geneva to save money.

The issue is no less argued among non-profit organizations. NPR pays its interns, while Here & Now and WBUR do not. Here & Now is a co-production of NPR and WBUR.

With the Iran nuclear deal all but locked up for President Obama, Congress still faces an uncommonly busy month. Lawmakers return from recess on Tuesday with a government shutdown looming, as well as questions about the United States’ debt limit and the Highway Trust Fund.  NPR’s Domenico Montanaro talks with Here & Now’s Peter O’Dowd about where lawmakers’ priorities lie.

Meet The Robot That Builds Robots

Sep 7, 2015

Researchers at the University of Cambridge have created a robot that is able to design and build new robots. Using the process of natural selection, this “mother robot” will test its “children,” and from those tests, design even better ones.

The research is part of a growing field called evolutionary robotics, and while it is testing the boundaries of artificial intelligence, it is also revealing new ways of thinking about biological processes.

Hampton Creek CEO Josh Tetrick recently put a full-page ad in The New York Times urging President Obama to “reimagine” the country’s “outdated” food system, in order to put an end to inner city food deserts and dying family farms.

His company’s signature product, the eggless mayonnaise substitute Just Mayo, has put him in conflict with the egg industry and the Food and Drug Administration, and has placed him under greater media scrutiny.

26 Years Old, And 7 Years Sober

Sep 4, 2015

How do you know that you are drinking too much? That you might be an alcoholic? If you are in high school or college, where alcohol can flow like water, it can be hard to tell.

Four in five college students drink alcohol, and about half of those drinkers consume by binge drinking. For most, the drinking curbs with age, which is why it may seem so easy to claim heavy drinking is just a phase for the young.

The August jobs report is out and the numbers are murky. The Labor Department says the U.S. unemployment rate is down to its lowest level since 2008, but only 173,000 jobs were created last month – that is lower than economists were expecting.

This was the last report before the Federal Reserve meets later this month to make a decision on whether to raise interest rates. Mike Regan of Bloomberg News talks with Here & Now host Lisa Mullins about the report.