Here & Now

Weekdays, noon to 2pm

NPR's midday news magazine.  

A Chinese official estimates the country’s growth will be between 6.5 and 7 percent this year. The estimate came from Premier Li Keqiang at the annual National People’s Congress meeting in China over the weekend, and it is a faster pace of growth than many Western economists and the IMF believe possible for China, as the country struggles with an economic slowdown.

The “Choose Your Own Adventure” books have sold over 260 million copies since they first came out in the 1980s. In the books, readers shape the direction that the story takes by choosing one of several options, and turning to the particular page for that decision.

If you’ve seen the White House video of the 106-year-old dancing with President Obama and the First Lady, then you already know Virginia McLaurin.

Born in 1909 to a sharecropping family, she was married at the age of 14 and widowed with two children at 17. She’s lived through the Great Depression, segregation and the civil rights movement.

Bud Collins, famous for his love and deep knowledge of tennis, and infamous perhaps for his sartorial sense, died today at the age of 86. He was a longtime columnist for The Boston Globe, and worked as an analyst for CBS and NBC. As ESPN said today, he wrote his way into the International Tennis Hall of Fame. Bill Littlefield, host of Only A Game, joins Here & Now’s Robin Young to remember Bud Collins.

Hillary Clinton leads Bernie Sanders in the polls in the Democratic race in Tennessee.

She made an effort to seal the deal with a rally in Nashville on Sunday. Sanders hasn’t been here but he does have offices in Tennessee and he also has many loyal supporters.

Here & Now’s Jeremy Hobson talks with Tennessee Democrats in a state that learns Republican in presidential races, but which has pockets of Democratic support.

The Supreme Court will hear arguments Wednesday in a case that will put the legality of abortion back in the spotlight. The case challenges a Texas law that requires doctors performing the procedure to have admitting privileges at a local hospital and abortion clinics to meet the same standards as ambulatory surgical centers.

Oil prices have been rebounding this week from historic lows – but those lows have had a big impact on oil supplies in the U.S. There is such a glut of crude oil in the U.S. right now, that traders are running out of storage options, and they’re turning to empty railcars. Here & Now’s Robin Young talks with Jason Bellini of The Wall Street Journal about the implications.

It’s rare to watch television these days and not see an ad for some kind of prescription drug: Viagra, Cialis, Zoloft, Prozac, Nasonex, Spiriva, the list goes on. Always, those ads include a rattling off of potentially dangerous side effects, something drug companies are required by law to include.

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has been been tasked by President Obama with tackling heroin and opioid abuse in rural America. It turns out he has some personal experience with that problem in his family. Secretary Vilsack talks with Here & Now’s Robin Young about the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) agenda for 2016.

Note: This is the first part of a two-part conversation. Part two will air tomorrow in the 1 p.m./3 p.m. Eastern hour of the show.

If you don’t want to watch the Oscars on Sunday, there is an alternative. The All Def Movie Awards are taping Wednesday and will air on the Fusion cable network on Sunday, against the Oscars. Fusion caters to millennials, but it is owned by ABC, which is broadcasting the Oscars.

Debate Over Brexit Heats Up

Feb 22, 2016

Prime Minister David Cameron told the House of Commons today that the U.K. should stay in the European Union. But London Mayor Boris Johnson, a member of Cameron’s Conservative Party, has come out against staying in the E.U.

With the battle lines being drawn, the campaign is underway ahead of a public vote on the so-called “Brexit” or Britain leaving the E.U., on June 23. The BBC’s Rob Watson joins Here & Now’s Jeremy Hobson with details.

Against the backdrop of Hollywood, season two of "Togetherness" on HBO and Judd Apatow's new Netflix series "Love," tell the stories of train wreck relationships that are just realistic enough for comedy. Here & Now's Meghna Chakrabarti talks with NPR's Eric Deggans about the state of romantic comedy on TV.


U.S. Picks Olympic Marathoners

Feb 22, 2016

It was was unseasonably warm, even for Los Angeles, on February 13. The temperature soared into the 70s, certainly not ideal if you have to run 26-point-2-miles, which is what more than 350 athletes did that day.

Only the top three finishers earned spots on the U.S. team that will compete in the Olympics in Brazil this summer.

Amy Cragg won the women’s race, erasing the disappointment of her fourth-place finish in the 2012 marathon trials that were held in Houston.

9/11 Shadows GOP Presidential Race

Feb 18, 2016

Donald Trump has said he blames President George W. Bush for the 9/11 attacks. He has since backed off casting blame directly but he continues to say that there were warnings about an attack that went unheeded during the Bush administration. What’s true? Here & Now’s Robin Young asks Lawrence Wright, a journalist who wrote a Pulitzer Prize-winning book, “The Looming Tower,” about the path to the September 11 attacks.

L.A. Hospital Pays $17K Ransom To Hackers

Feb 18, 2016

Earlier this month, the Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center in Los Angeles was attacked by hackers, who took patient medical records and demanded ransom. This week, the hospital paid $17,000 in bitcoin to get those records back.

From the “white primaries” to “dirty tricks,” South Carolina politics have a long and complicated history. Here & Now’s Jeremy Hobson speaks with historian Vernon Burton and political scientist Gibbs Knotts about how those politics have shaped the state’s presidential primaries into one of the most influential contests in the country.

Since the early 1990s, the percentage of homeless adults who are over the age of 50 has gone from 11 percent to more than 50 percent. That aging community has numerous health problems which often go untreated. Bob Tedeschi, a senior writer at STAT, talks with Here & Now’s Lisa Mullins what he found when he dug deeper into the problems the aging homeless face.

Police Leaders Call To Curb Deadly Force

Feb 17, 2016

A consortium of police officers and researchers is promoting a plan to prevent so-called “lawful but awful” fatal shootings involving law enforcement. The Police Executive Research Forum (PERF) has 30 recommendations for curtailing excessive force in the line of duty, from not shooting at vehicles to abandoning the “21-foot rule.”

The recommendations are contentious in many police departments. Denver Police Chief Robert White, a PERF board member, talks with Here & Now’s Robin Young about the recommendations and shifting police tactics.

Most states have some kind of coverage for firefighters who get work-related cancers. Last year, Michigan created a special cancer-coverage fund for firefighters. But as Kate Wells from Here & Now contributor Michigan Radio reports, legislators never put any money in it.

As part of our continuing coverage of the opioid crisis, Here & Now‘s Robin Young talks with Dr. Howard Fields, who has spent much of his career working with chronic pain patients. He believes many chronic pain patients are actually undertreated for legitimate, life-altering pain, and that their experiences are being left out of the current conversation about opioids.

Despite their political and ideological differences, the late Justice Antonin Scalia and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg were lifelong friends who shared a love of opera.

That relationship inspired composer Derrick Wang to write the one-act opera, “Scalia/Ginsburg,” using court opinions as source material.

Here & Now’s Robin Young speaks with Derrick Wang about his work.

Saudi Arabia, Russia, Venezuela and Qatar announced a plan today to freeze oil output in an effort to stop the dramatic slide in oil prices. It is welcome news for many OPEC countries struggling from low prices, but it is not a production cut as some had hoped, and it comes with some caveats. Jason Bellini of the Wall Street Journal talks with Here & Now‘s Lisa Mullins to explain the details.

Today, the 140th annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show kicks off in New York City. Here & Now revisits host Robin Young’s conversation last year with the 2015 judge for Best in Show at Westminster, David Merriam.

More than 11 million people watched Saturday’s contentious debate on CBS between the six Republican presidential candidates, matching the viewership for last week’s GOP debate on ABC. Donald Trump and Jeb Bush sparred over whether George W. Bush kept the country safe after the 9/11 attacks, and Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio went mano a mano on immigration and who could speak Spanish better. Here & Now‘s Robin Young and Lisa Mullens sat down with Rick Klein of ABC News to discuss the debate.

The red carpet will be rolled out tonight for the 58th annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles. While all eyes will be on artists like Taylor Swift and The Weeknd – both nominated for “Record of the Year” and “Song of the Year” – a group of Grammy nominees and previous winners want you to be thinking about something else: fair compensation for artists.

Earlier this month, a Saudi court overturned the death sentence of a Palestinian poet named Ashraf Fayadh. Fayadh was accused of renouncing his Muslim faith through his poetry.

After international outrage broke out over his sentencing, the Saudi government modified his punishment to eight years in prison and 800 lashes. He will also have to publicly renounce his poetry on Saudi state media.

Here & Now‘s Peter O’Dowd speaks with Mona Kareem, a poet and friend of Ashraf Fayadh who is translating his controversial book of poetry.

A far-right group that calls itself the Soldiers of Odin is patrolling the streets of Finland dressed in leather jackets, saying people need protection from the influx of migrants.

But not all Finns feel the same. Clowns calling themselves the Loldiers of Odin (think LOL – laugh out loud – plus soldiers) is responding.

Here & Now‘s Robin Young speaks with Helsinki-based reporter Ilpo Salonen about the colorful activists.


Remembering Ballet Great Violette Verdy

Feb 12, 2016

French ballerina Violette Verdy died on Monday at the age of 82. She was an acclaimed star of the New York City Ballet, dancing more than 140 ballets with the company during the 1960s and 1970s.

Verdy originated roles in works by legendary choreographers George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins. After she retired, she went into teaching and eventually became a professor at Indiana University Bloomington.

A majority of Americans think that editing a baby’s genes before birth should be illegal, according to a new poll from STAT and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

The poll finds that 65 percent of people think that altering an unborn baby’s genes for the sake of preventing a serious genetic disease should be illegal. And 83 percent believe that genetic editing for the sake of improving IQ or looks should be illegal.

For this week’s edition of the Here & Now DJ Sessions, host Jeremy Hobson talks with Rhonda LeValdo, host of Native Spirit at KKFI community radio in Kansas City, Missouri. She plays music from Native American artists, ranging from traditional music to rock and rap.