Here & Now

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NPR's midday news magazine.  

Robert Hurwitz has been compared to a great book editor by classical composer John Adams, and a master craftsman by Stephen Sondheim. He’s stepping down as president of Nonesuch Records (a division of Warner Music Group) next year to become its chairman emeritus.

For this week’s “View From The Top” conversation we hear about his 31 years recording the music of artists of many genres, ranging from the Buena Vista Social Club, Emmy Lou Harris and Pat Metheny, to classical composers and singers.

In February, 40-year-old Meb Keflezighi will try to make his 4th Olympic team when he runs in the Olympic Marathon Trials race in Los Angeles. Keflezighi has been a world-class runner for more than a decade but he became a household name when he won the Boston Marathon in 2014, the first American man to do that in more than 30 years.

The Department of Homeland Security is preparing to carry out raids to deport hundreds of Central American families who came to the U.S. beginning last year.

Grand Jury Declines to Indict Officer In Tamir Rice Shooting

Dec 28, 2015

A grand jury declined to indict a white rookie police officer in the killing of 12-year-old Tamir Rice, a black youngster who was shot to death while carrying what turned out to be a pellet gun, a prosecutor said Monday.

Cuyahoga County prosecutor Tim McGinty said it was “indisputable” that the boy was drawing the weapon from his waistband when he was gunned down – either to hand it over to police or to show them that it wasn’t a real firearm. But McGinty said there was no way for the officers on the scene to know that.

CDC: Progress And Challenges In 2015

Dec 28, 2015

The U.S. successfully helped lead global efforts to control the spread of Ebola, and adult cigarette smoking reached an all-time low. These are some of the strides the Centers for Disease Control made in 2015.

But there are many serious threats to American’s health as well, including drug overdoses, e-cigarette use among teens, and foodborne illnesses.

Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the CDC, tells Here & Now’s Robin Young about the challenges and achievements of the year and what lies ahead in 2016.

In 2015, Some Of The Best Writing Was Short

Dec 28, 2015

In looking back on her favorite reads from 2015, NPR books and publishing correspondent Lynn Neary realized that many of them were short story collections.

She talks with Here & Now’s Robin Young about what makes a good short story, and which collections highlighted a genre that seems to be picking up steam in the age of digital readers and short attention spans.

A Rare Christmas Full Moon

Dec 24, 2015

For the first time since 1977, there will be a full moon on Christmas. It won’t happen again until 2034.

Here & Now’s Jeremy Hobson talks about this astronomical anomaly – and about the year in space exploration – with Kelly Beatty, senior editor of Sky and Telescope.

Large numbers of unaccompanied minors from Central America continue to cross over the U.S. Border in waves. As permanent detention centers fill, a few temporary shelters are popping up in Texas and elsewhere.

Here & Now’s Jeremy Hobson talks with Eddie Walker, owner of the Sabine Creek Ranch Camp in Rockwall, Texas, about the nearly 200 children who arrived at his camp this week.

DJ Session: Top Holiday Tunes

Dec 24, 2015

On this Christmas Eve for our weekly DJ sessions, we sit down with Mike Haile, host and general manager at WHMS in Champaign-Urbana, Here & Now’s Jeremy Hobson’s hometown.

Jeremy remembers hearing Mike Haile’s Christmas music mixes growing up, and Mike joins us each year to share some of his favorite Christmas songs.

Opera On The Slopes

Dec 23, 2015

Waterville Valley, a ski resort in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, is known as the birth place of freestyle skiing. It’s the place where Olympic Gold Medalist Hannah Kearney got her start. But it’s also one of the few spots where you can hear live opera while you ski.

Vladimir Popov is known throughout the valley as the opera-singing chairlift operator. Although Popov sings strictly in the mountains now, he once sang in the world’s great opera houses.

Sean Hurley from Here & Now contributor New Hampshire Public Radio has our story.

How Does ISIS Recruit?

Dec 23, 2015

The Hillary Clinton campaign has backed off her debate statement that ISIS would use Donald Trump’s statements about banning Muslims in its recruiting videos, but the group does use U.S. leaders and politicians in its propaganda.

Terrorism analyst Seth Jones joins Here & Now’s Robin Young to take a look at how ISIS goes about recruiting.

Congress Bans Microbeads

Dec 23, 2015

Microbeads – those little round spheres of plastic that are in everything from facewash to toothpaste – may soon be a thing of the past.

Before leaving town for the holidays, Congress passed a bill banning them, due to environmental concerns. Companies will be require to phase them out by July of 2017.

Samuel Burke of CNN joins Here & Now’s Jeremy Hobson to look at what this means for companies.

Rwandans voted overwhelmingly to lift constitutional restrictions to allow President Paul Kagame to run for more terms in office. Rwanda’s political opposition criticized the referendum as undemocratic and the U.S., a key Rwandan ally, has opposed Kagame’s bid to stay in power.

Here & Now’s Robin Young speaks with Catherine Byaruhanga, a BBC reporter who covered Friday’s vote.

The past year saw significant debates and changes in the technology sector.

There was the Ellen Pao gender discrimination lawsuit which amplified the wider conversation about diversity in Silicon Valley. And the tech industry ended 2015 with a re-hash of debates over privacy and encryption.

Here & Now’s Jeremy Hobson speaks with Steve Henn of NPR for his view of the year in technology.

On the Monday before Christmas, retailers are offering a lot of deals to get the business of people who still have some shopping to do.

For example, Best Buy is offering a $100 discount off its nearly-$400 Apple Watch Sport – that’s double the store’s Black Friday discount. According to the National Retail Federation, as much as 40 percent of holiday shopping happens in the 10 days leading up to Christmas.

Here & Now’s Robin Young talks with Jill Schlesinger of CBS News about the last-minute shopping season.

The winter holidays can be a really tough on your wallet, so we thought we’d return to one of our popular personal finance interviews from 2015. It was with two experts: Boston University economics professor Laurence Kotlikoff, and PBS Newshour business and economics correspondent Paul Solman.

Season 5 of “Homeland” eerily echoes the topics that dominate today’s news: privacy of information, tensions between the U.S. and Russia, terrorist attacks in Europe, and more. The season finale of “Homeland” airs this Sunday, and fans will see whether or not the CIA and German intelligence can stop the threatened attack in Berlin by Muslim extremists.

NPR’s TV critic Eric Deggans tells Here & Now’s Jeremy Hobson that he thinks “Homeland” might be one of the most overlooked TV series rebounds in 2015.

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English weather presenter Sian Welby paid tribute to the opening of “Star Wars: Episode VII” with a pun-filled forecast on Britain’s Channel 5. The video has now gone viral, Here & Now’s Jeremy Hobson explains.

Most of us are are at least vaguely familiar with this story – Mary and Joseph head to their hometown of Bethlehem to pay taxes to Caesar Augustus. There’s no room at the inn and their baby, a boy named Jesus, is born in a stable among the animals.

What the biblical story doesn’t say much about is life in Bethlehem a few thousand years ago. What did people there do? What did they wear? Wow did they spend their time?

Closing out a tumultuous year, President Barack Obama sought to lay the groundwork Friday for his last year in office by vowing not to fade in the background but instead use his remaining months to push longstanding goals to fruition.

“In 2016, I’m going to leave it all out on the field,” he said. “Wherever there’s an opportunity, I’m going to take it.”

On Thursday, the House plans to vote on a huge tax package, and then on Friday, vote for a $1.1 trillion omnibus spending bill. That appears to take the budget off the agenda until there is a new president.

Who are the winners and losers? NPR senior business editor Marilyn Geewax joins Here & Now’s Eric Westervelt with details.

The losers include people who wanted meat labels, debt relief for Puerto Rico and restraints on new Department of Labor regulations involving financial advisors.

DJ Session: Best Music Of 2015

Dec 17, 2015

Travis Holcombe, DJ at KCRW, joins us to share his favorite music of the year, including “Lean On,” by Major Lazer featuring MØ and DJ Snake, and “Here” by Alessia Cara.

“In the past year we’ve seen a lot of blurring of the lines between the underground and mainstream,” Holcombe told Here & Now’s Jeremy Hobson. He says he expects the trend to continue next year.

Exec Who Jacked Up Price Of A Life-Saving Drug Is Arrested

Dec 17, 2015

Martin Shkreli, the former hedge fund manager vilified in nearly every corner of America for buying a pharmaceutical company and jacking up the price of a life-saving drug more than fiftyfold, was arrested Thursday on securities fraud charges unrelated to the furor.

Volkswagen is further shaking up its senior management team in the wake of the emissions cheating scandal. It’s part of an ongoing effort by VW to overhaul what analysts see as a dysfunctional corporate culture.

The company also announced it has retained lawyer Kenneth Feinberg to “design and administer” a claims resolution program for aggrieved VW diesel owners. The European Parliament said today that it will investigate whether European Union regulators were too lax in their oversight.

A judge declared a hung jury Wednesday after the panel couldn’t reach a decision in the manslaughter trial of a Baltimore police officer charged in the death of Freddie Gray, whose injury in police custody sparked weeks of protests and fueled the nation’s scrutiny of how police treat black suspects.

The Federal Reserve is raising interest rates after seven years of record lows. But it’s signaling that further rate hikes will likely be made slowly as the economy strengthens further and muted inflation rises.

The Fed’s move Wednesday to lift its key rate by a quarter-point to a range of 0.25 percent to 0.5 percent ends an extraordinary seven-year period of near-zero rates that began at the depths of the 2008 financial crisis. Consumers and businesses could now face modestly higher rates on some loans.

While Force Friday was months ago, toys continue to fly off the shelves for “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” which comes out this week. More than 70 companies are profiting from their Star Wars toy sales and business is good.

Here & Now‘s Eric Westervelt speaks with Juli Lennett, toy analyst for the NPD Group about merchandise sales surrounding the film.

Howard Stern’s voice will continue to ring out on Sirius XM satellite radio. Today, the company announced a new contract with Stern, where he’ll continue to host The Howard Stern Show for five years, and also to develop a new video streaming app.

Jason Bellini, senior producer with The Wall Street Journal, speaks with Here & Now‘s Jeremy Hobson about what Stern has meant for Sirius XM.

Guest

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.

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.

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