Here & Now

Weekdays, noon to 2pm

NPR's midday news magazine.  

House Speaker John Boehner’s surprise resignation announcement has House Republicans scrambling today. Boehner announced that he will resign from leadership and from Congress at the end of October. The announcement came one day after Boehner, a devout Catholic greeted Pope Francis in a historic joint meeting of Congress.

Here & Now‘s Peter O’Dowd discusses Boehner’s resignation with ABC News’ Rick Klein.

House Speaker John Boehner will resign from leadership and from Congress at the end of October. His announcement came a day after he shed tears standing next to Pope Francis in Washington and nearly five years after he took the lead of a divided Republican caucus in the House.

Here & Now‘s Peter O’Dowd speaks with NPR’s Domenico Montanaro about what fueled Boehner’s resignation.

If you order oysters at a restaurant, how do you know they’re fresh? And can you only eat them during months that have an “r” in them, as the saying goes?

Here & Now‘s Peter O’Dowd gets a primer on oysters from Matt Louis, chef and owner of The Franklin Oyster House in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

3 Pearls of Oyster Wisdom from Matt Louis

1. Geography affects taste.

When you think “casserole,” do you think noodles and canned soup?

Well, Here & Now resident chef Kathy Gunst says that there are so many more options. Kathy has been experimenting with a White Bean and Sausage Casserole, adding Swiss chard and sausage to Macaroni and Cheese, and turning Eggplant Parmesan into Roasted Eggplant and Tomato Casserole.

She brings in a couple of her dishes for Peter and Robin and taps some of their memories of their favorite casseroles.

Sir David Willcocks died at his home in Cambridge, England on Sept. 17 at the age of 95. A conductor, organist, composer and arranger, Sir David was the music director of music at King’s College, Cambridge, for 17 years and spent 38 years as head of the Bach Choir.

He also worked with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir as well and the Rolling Stones. Sir David won a Grammy Award and was knighted by Queen Elizabeth for his contributions to the world of music.

The head of China, President Xi Jinping, will continue his U.S. visit this week with a trip to the White House.

On Thusday, Xi will be having a private dinner with President Obama. On Friday, there will be an official summit, a 21-gun salute and a formal state dinner, complete with brass bands.

NPR’s Marilyn Geewax joins Here & Now‘s Peter O’Dowd to discuss some of the economic and technology issues coming up between the two countries.

At 4:21 a.m. eastern time, autumn began in the Northern Hemisphere. However, the opposite is true at the South Pole, where spring is on the horizon.

For six months, the sun has been below the horizon at the South Pole, making it the coldest, darkest spot on the planet. The cold, dry weather is perfect for Samuel Harrison, a scientist there. He operates a microwave telescope — called the BICEP3 Telescope.

China’s President Xi Jinping started his seven-day tour of the U.S. with a speech to American technology firms and analysts, pledging to fight cybercrime and to disallow the Chinese government from overseas commercial theft and state hacking.

China has long been suspected by U.S. officials of stealing government information and intellectual property, and many openly worry about the possibility of more serious cyber violence. But, aiming to quell fears on both sides, the U.S. and China are negotiating what could be the first cyberspace arms accord in the world.

Chinese President Xi Jinping is in Seattle today to meet with tech and business leaders. It’s a crowd that already knows a lot about doing business in China: the risks, as well as the opportunities.

Carolyn Adolph, from Here & Now contributor KUOW in Seattle, reports.

It’s a dilemma many American families confront: when to ask mom or pop if they’re ready to move into an old folks’ home.

For newer Americans, the very idea often clashes with cultural expectations. A for-profit senior housing chain and a Seattle nonprofit are separately investing millions of dollars to expand senior living options specifically geared for Chinese elders. The demand for this housing reflects changing attitudes among Asian immigrant families about how to give and receive care in old age.

Brian Williams Gets A Second Chance

Sep 22, 2015

The former NBC Nightly News anchor, Brian Williams, returns to the air on Tuesday for the first time since he was suspended six months ago for fabricating aspects of his reporting.

Now an MSNBC breaking news reporter, Williams will be leading the network’s coverage of Pope Francis’s visit to the U.S.

NPR media correspondent David Folkenflik joins Here & Now‘s Robin Young to discuss why Williams, unlike previous disgraced journalists, is being given a second chance.

On Monday, Alaska Gov. Bill Walker announces how much money Alaska residents will receive in a check from the state’s savings account of Alaskan oil revenues.

It’s a unique arrangement in the U.S. Last year most Alaska residents received nearly $1,900 each from the state’s Permanent Fund, which was created by a voter-approved constitutional amendment in 1976.

Researchers at the University of Chicago have found that when you’re lonely, your brain may actually operate differently.

The researchers found that when lonely people are exposed to negative social cues of some kind, the electrical activity in their brains is more extreme. Meaning lonely people are subconsciously guarding against social threats, which could lead them to be even more isolated — and more lonely.

Goats Are The New Green Landscapers

Sep 21, 2015

When we hear stories about green jobs, it's usually the big stuff like manufacturing that makes the headlines. But entrepreneurs are also adding environmentally friendly jobs to local economies — often as small businesses that employ just one or two people.

But some green entrepreneurs in Pittsburgh are finding unique ways to address landscaping needs.

Lou Blouin from the Allegheny Front at WESA reports on this method of green landscaping.

Real Men Don't Cry, But They Used To

Sep 21, 2015

We’ve long heard that real men don’t cry, and it’s true that unadulterated displays of male emotion are almost as rare in real life as they are on screen. Many men are actively discouraged from crying — and it starts early in life.

Well, it turns out that it wasn’t always that way. In fact, real men of medieval times, including Sir Lancelot, were known for their proud displays of weeping and sobbing. So why is it not okay for today’s men to cry?

This Sunday is Jon Hamm's last chance to be officially recognized for playing "Mad Men" star Don Draper. The show, which ended earlier this spring, has been praised as one of the best TV dramas of all time.

Additionally, eyes are on the “Best Actress in a Drama” category, where two black actresses have been nominated for the first time in Emmy history.

NPR’s TV critic Eric Deggans joined Here & Now‘s Peter O’Dowd to gives his predictions for this year’s Emmy Awards.


The Glass Ceiling On The Ballet Floor

Sep 18, 2015

When Misty Copeland was promoted to principal dancer of American Ballet Theater this summer, she made headlines as the first female African-American principal in the 75-year history of that company.

But as companies prepare for a new season, ballets’ artistic leadership and choreographers are almost exclusively white and male. And, as Here & Now contributor Sharon Basco reports, that’s not likely to change anytime soon.

Balkan States Struggle To Keep Migrants Out

Sep 18, 2015

To migrants fleeing war and poverty, there were two starkly conflicting messages from Croatia this week: On Wednesday, it was “Welcome.” Today, it’s don’t stay.

What changed is that more than 14,000 migrants have entered the country in just the last two days. Croatia’s Prime Minister Zoran Milanović says his country is simply not equipped to bear the burden. Other European leaders insist the country is still obliged to take the migrants — many of them refugees — under European Union rules.

The Federal Reserve is keeping U.S. interest rates at record lows in the face of threats from a weak global economy, persistently low inflation and unstable financial markets.

Wrapping up a closely watched meeting, Fed officials say that while the U.S. job market is solid, recent global developments may “restrain economic activity” and further drag down already low inflation.

Signs of a sharp slowdown in China have intensified fear among investors about the U.S. and global economy. And low oil prices and a high-priced dollar have kept inflation undesirably muted.

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.”

Here & Now

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:

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.

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.