Here & Now

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NPR's midday news magazine.  

The river rafting industry in West Virginia has hit some rough water. Tour companies were at the state capital in Charleston this week, asking lawmakers to spend more on the state’s advertising budget.

A state program to fund advertising has fallen from $23 million in 2004 to less than $3 million this year — just a fraction of what nearby states are spending. The rafting industry says that means potential customers in Pennsylvania, Ohio and Florida aren’t even considering West Virginia in their vacation plans.

ISIS Advertises For Oil Industry Managers

Nov 19, 2014

The Islamic State has reportedly advertised on the black market for people to manage its oil operations, for a salary of $225,000 per year.

A consultant with Dubai-based Manaar Energy confirmed the story for the Times of London, saying that ISIS is trying to recruit skilled professionals who are “ideologically suitable.”

Western intelligence officials say that, along with ransom and extortion, oil operations have made ISIS one of the wealthiest terrorist organizations in the world. But there have been recent reports of problems at ISIS oil facilities.

Nick Symmonds has won his share of races, but he often gets as much attention for what he does off the track.

Symmonds is a two-time Olympian, a World Championship medalist and a multi-title winner in college, but he rubs some people the wrong way because he rails against the organizations that govern track and field and he speaks out on issues such as gun control.

Record-Breaking Cold Sweeps The U.S.

Nov 18, 2014

We know Buffalo, New York is no stranger to snow, but the season’s first big snowfall was a whopper and is being measured in feet, instead of inches. Nearly 3 feet of snow blanketed the Buffalo area, closing major highways and shutting schools.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. Statins have long been the drug of of choice to lower cholesterol to reduce the rise of heart attacks and strokes.

But a new study — funded by Merck — finds that the drug Vytorin, which combines the statin Zocor with the drug Zetia, is more effective than statins alone at lowering cholesterol and reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease in patients who have had a heart attack or severe chest pain.

For years, the New Mexico green chile has been under siege. The chile is a huge part of the state’s cultural identity and it grows the most chile peppers of any state in the country, contributing about $50 million to the state’s economy.

But the New Mexico chile industry is in decline — suffering from drought and competition from China and other countries.

New Mexico green chile peppers were first grown in the 1800s and scientists say the secret to recapturing the industry is to recreate chiles from the old seeds and bring back the original flavor that has been lost.

What Do The Midterms Mean For Medicaid?

Nov 17, 2014

It’s open enrollment time again for health coverage under the Affordable Care Act. One key part of the president’s health law was an expansion of Medicaid, the federal program that provides health coverage for low income Americans.

Several states’ governors declined to expand Medicaid. In the midterm elections, Democratic governors in Illinois, Massachusetts, Maryland and Arkansas who expanded Medicaid were replaced by Republicans. And Republican governors in Maine, Wisconsin and Kansas who campaigned against Medicaid expansions kept their jobs.

Annie Colbert, viral content editor for Mashable, joins Here & Now‘s Robin Young to look at some of the stories reverberating online:

African American Poetry of the 1800s

Nov 14, 2014

The 19th century was a vibrant period for poetry in the United States. But few know that African-Americans were an essential part of that.

Slaves, former slaves and free African-Americans wrote verses that were published in black-owned newspapers, not only in the more liberal North, but also in the South and center of the country.

The poetry explores oppression, freedom, religion and humor.

It’s been quite a week for Robert O’Neill, who last week told the public that he was the former Navy Seal who fired the shots that killed Osama bin Laden.

The U.S. Defense Department has confirmed that O’Neill was on SEAL Team Six, and that he was part of the bin Laden raid, but has said it cannot confirm who fired the final shots.

The Pentagon issued a statement saying that O’Neill’s disclosures may have put “our national security at risk.”

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver is arguing for the legalization of betting on professional sports games.

In an op-ed published in the New York Times, Silver argued, “in light of these domestic and global trends, the laws on sports betting should be changed.”

The NBA currently bans the practice. In fact Tim Donaghy, former referee, was sentenced to federal prison for his role in a gambling scandal.

A woman who was issued a ticket this summer in Chicago, Ill. for going topless has filed a lawsuit in Federal Court, claiming the city’s ordinance against women appearing bare-chested in public is unconstitutional.

Sonoko Tagami, 41, received a $100 ticket for indecent exposure.

Jason Meisner, a federal courts reporter for the Chicago Tribune and has been covering the story.

The idea that Westminster, Massachusetts would be the first town in the country to ban the sale of all tobacco and nicotine products lit a fire under residents at a public meeting Wednesday night.

Nearly 500 of them turned out – most of them calling the board of health’s proposal an act of too much “big government.” The meeting got so out of hand that it had to be cut short and its chairwoman led out of the building by police.

President Barack Obama has been traveling throughout Asia this week, including Myanmar, also known as Burma. He will be attending the Asian Summit in the nation’s capital of Naypyidaw to discuss everything from Ebola to territorial trade disputes in the South China Sea.

The president will also be discussing the progress of the nation’s transition to a democracy. Part of the discussion is human rights, as the Muslim Rohingya minority faces a threat in the western Rakhine state.

Elephants are also facing a threat.

What's Behind The Gluten-Free 'Obsession'?

Nov 12, 2014

A third of Americans say they’re trying to eliminate gluten from their diets, even though celiac disease affects only 1 percent of the population and many doctors don’t believe that non-celiac gluten sensitivity exists.

Few people know about the lives of homeless people.

So, in honor of his late uncle who battled schizophrenia and was homeless on and off for 30 years, Kevin Adler started the Homeless GoPro Project to capture the stories of 100 homeless people across the country.

Adler tells Here & Nows Robin Young how technology and connections with homeless service providers can help dispel myths the general public have about homeless people.

The family of Thomas Eric Duncan, the only person to die of Ebola in the U.S., has reached an agreement with the hospital where he died.

Duncan reported to the hospital when he began feeling ill, but he was turned away and told to care for himself. When he returned to the hospital and tested positive for Ebola, it was too late for them to treat and he later died.

Duncan’s family holds a press conference to talk about the agreement they have reached with the North Texas Hospital.

Berlin Wall A Shadow For Younger Generation

Nov 11, 2014

Germany has wrapped up its events commemorating the fall of the Berlin Wall 25 years ago — a shining moment of freedom within a dark 20th century history. The country has done a thorough job of repudiating its first dictatorship and its role in the Holocaust.

American flags mark veterans’ graves across the country on this Veterans Day. There are more than 50,000 on the graves at the Massachusetts National Cemetery on Cape Cod.

Hundreds of volunteers came to place them on Saturday. It’s a project called Operation Flags For Vets, which was started by Paul Monti, after his son Jared was killed in Afghanistan in 2006 and was buried there.

Americans don’t have their facts straight. At least that’s the conclusion of a new study from the research group Ipsos-MORI.

When it comes to the nation’s biggest issues, many Americans do not know the basics. They massively overestimate unemployment rates and the number of immigrants. They assume that the nation’s murder rate is rising, when in fact it’s falling.

'Sesame Street' Turns 45

Nov 10, 2014

On this day in 1969, the first episode of Sesame Street aired on public television. A little girl named Sally is new to the neighborhood, and she meets some of the residents, including an awkward, nervous Big Bird.

Forty-five years later, Sesame Street is going strong, with nearly a million viewers every episode, according to PBS.

These days, Alistair Cookie no longer smokes a pipe on Monsterpiece Theatre, and the theme song has a jazzier beat than it used to.

EDWINS, a French restaurant in Cleveland’s Shaker Square, celebrates its one year anniversary this month.

The bistro not only offers artisan cuisine, but also gives former inmates a job and the chance to learn a new skill.

From the Here & Now Contributor’s Network, Brian Bull of WCPN reports.

Remembering The Fall Of The Berlin Wall

Nov 10, 2014

Germans have celebrated a weekend fraught with symbolism, remembering and commemorating a day 25 years ago — the 9th of November 1989 — when East Germans pushed through the gates in the Berlin Wall, danced on top of it, and brought it down, ending the Cold War along with it. From the Here & Now Contributors Network, Curt Nickisch of WBUR brought us this story from Berlin.

Detroit Bankruptcy Plan Approved By Judge

Nov 7, 2014

A judge has approved Detroit’s plan to get out of bankruptcy by cutting pensions, erasing billions of dollars of debt and promising nearly $2 billion in better services for a city desperate for a turnaround.

Detroit’s exit from the largest public filing in U.S. history took less than 16 months, lightning-fast by bankruptcy standards. The success is largely due to a series of deals between the city and major creditors, especially general retirees who agreed to accept smaller pension checks.

Where were you on Nov. 9, 1989? Every German can tell you where they were. Sunday is the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall — a sudden and epic moment that reunited a people after decades apart, and turned what had been a walled-off city into a hip, happening mecca in the heart of Europe.

One in every three bites of food the average American consumes is either directly or indirectly pollinated by honeybees. In the past decade, the news about honeybees hasn’t been good, with bee colonies dying off at a 30 percent clip, sometimes under mysterious circumstances.

On this day in 1854, legendary marching band composer John Philip Sousa was born in Washington, D.C.

Today also happens to be the birthday of Here & Nows Robin Young, so to celebrate the dual occasion we listened to some Sousa favorites with longtime Sousa lover Keith Brion, founder and director of the New Sousa Band. He also happens to live next door to Robin Young in Cambridge, Mass.

In key races on Tuesday, such as the Colorado Senate race, more Latinos voted for Republicans than in other recent elections.

With immigration reform still in the works, President Obama vowed to issue executive actions on deportations, even though likely future Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says immigration reform by executive action would be like “waving a red flag in front of a bull.”

Just how do things go viral? Sixteen-year-old Alex Laboeuf is certainly asking himself that question these days.

The relatively unknown Target employee from Frisco, Texas became the subject of a widespread teenage craze when someone posted his picture on Twitter.

Sen. Bernie Sanders On The Midterm Results

Nov 5, 2014

It’s bad news for the Democrats. But, after the Republicans have taken the Senate by storm, Independent Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders is also taking note.

One of the most progressive voices in the Senate, he’s made huge calls for climate change legislation, universal healthcare, same-sex marriage and minimum wage.

He joins Here & Now’s Jeremy Hobson for a look at what this new Senate means for him.