Here & Now

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NPR's midday news magazine.  

World leaders pledged a total of $10 billion Thursday to help millions of victims of Syria’s civil war – even as diplomatic efforts to end the conflict stuttered and stalled.

Leaders attending an international donors’ conference in London committed almost $6 billion in aid for 2016, with the rest to be handed over by 2020, British Prime Minister David Cameron said. But the funding commitments came as military bombardments in Syria intensified and tentative peace talks in Geneva were on hold.

Here is a look at what some countries have pledged for 2016 and beyond:

Comedian Bob Elliott died on Tuesday at the age of 92. For more than 40 years, he and the late Ray Goulding were “Bob and Ray,” delighting radio and television audiences with their deadpan comedy.

Bob Elliot also fathered a comedic dynasty. His son Chris Elliott and Chris’s daughter Abby Elliot have both been cast members of “Saturday Night Live.”

How Much Does Your Personal Trainer Make?

Feb 4, 2016

Regular gym goers know January is the worst. It's the time when all those people who usually don't show up crowd into classes and hog the equipment in an effort to meet those New Years resolutions.

Whether you're a gym rat or an occasional exerciser, you probably don't realize that though that personal trainer or group class leader has abs you'd pay big money for, they usually don't have an enviable salary. Laura Rice from Here & Now contributor Texas Standard takes a look at the economics.

No games will be played, but tomorrow is still a big day for college football. As per National Signing Day tradition, the best 17 and 18-year-old high school players from around the country are set to officially announce which college they will play for.

Increasingly, the day, and the hype around it, have provided fodder to the critics who say college football is anything but amateur. To discuss the big day, college football analyst John Bacon joins Here & Now‘s Robin Young.

Remembering President Garfield

Feb 2, 2016

As the Republicans move toward their convention in Cleveland this summer, it’s still anyone’s guess who the nominee will be. Things were even less clear over a century ago, when James A. Garfield emerged as the surprise choice at a brokered convention, back in 1880. Garfield won the White House, but his term was cut short by an assassin’s bullet.

Should Quarterly Earnings Reports Matter?

Feb 2, 2016

A flurry of quarterly earnings reports came in today, including those of Exxon, where profits fell more than 58 percent in the fourth quarter, and BP, where profits went down 91 percent in the same period.

The folks in the Hawkeye State get first say in the presidential race. Caucus history dates back to the 1968 convention and the anti-war violence in the streets of Chicago. People were fed up with the top-down system for picking presidential nominees. Reforms were passed and Iowa jumped to take advantage, scheduling its caucus first in 1972. Here & Now’s Alex Ashlock looks at the history of Iowa caucuses.

For this week’s edition of the Here & Now DJ Sessions, host Jeremy Hobson sits down with Anne Litt of KCRW in Santa Monica. She shares new music from Charlie Hilton, M. Ward and Mexrrissey. Mexrrissey is a play on the name of the British artist Morrissey.

The cost of investing in some basic stock funds is falling, as firms try to attract new customers, many of whom are younger and skeptical of paying hefty fees. According to Morningstar, the number of funds that cost $10 or less for every $10,000 invested has more than doubled in recent years, from 40 in 2010, to more than 100 today. This puts pressure on companies to make money elsewhere. Jill Schlesinger of CBS News joins Here & Now’s Jeremy Hobson to explain.

Across the nation, hospitals are paying fines to the government when patients are readmitted to the hospital within 30 days. That can cost medical centers millions and doctors are looking for ways to reduce that readmission rate.

As Casey Kuhn from Here & Now contributor KJZZ reports, one rural city in Arizona has kept patients out of the hospital by sending paramedics to their homes.

It’s been a mixed bag for retail so far this year, with announcements from Macy’s and Wal-Mart of store closings, while online shopping numbers continue to tick up. As the market finds its balance, some customers have fewer and fewer options when it comes to shopping.

Neil Saunders, managing director of the retail research firm Conlumino, talks with Here & Now‘s Meghna Chakrabarti about why some parts of the U.S. might become “retail deserts.”

In Washington D.C., one of the places to find movers and shakers is The Bombay Club, a block from the White House. For nearly 30 years at The Bombay Club, turbaned waiters with white gloves have been serving refined Indian dishes to presidents, as well as tourists, long before Indian food became popular in the U.S.

When the sanctions on Iran were lifted earlier this month, as a result of the nuclear deal, we also got news that four Americans would be released from Iran, as part of a prisoner swap. Separate from that swap, another American, Matthew Trevithick, was being released.

Avoid Tax Identity Theft By Filing Early

Jan 28, 2016

Another reason to dread tax season: the Internal Revenue Service says it paid out $63 billion in fraudulent tax refunds between 2011 and 2014. That means someone posing as you could walk away with a refund check with your name on it.

Shawn Novak teaches tax policy at Arizona State University. He’s also a former tax adviser for the U.S. Senate Finance Committee. He joins Here & Now‘s Peter O’Dowd to discuss the problem, and ways to avoid becoming a victim.

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is now investigating the NFL over its ticketing practices – specifically, whether it is illegally pricing tickets on the resale market using a mechanism known as “resale price floors.” Bloomberg has been covering the story, and Mike Regan of Bloomberg joins Here & Now’s Peter O’Dowd with details.

Oprah announced this week on Twitter that she lost 26 pounds – good news for her, but even better news for Weight Watchers, the program she says she used. Weight Watchers saw its stock increase by 20 percent yesterday after the announcement.

The diet company has struggled in recent years with competition from new diet apps and online services. Oprah purchased 10 percent of the company in October. Here & Now‘s Robin Young talks with Maggie Lake of CNN about Oprah Winfrey and her effect on the company.

Guest

Acorn TV Streams Shows From Abroad

Jan 27, 2016

After the acclaimed period drama “Downton Abbey” wraps up its final season, what new shows can Anglophiles latch onto? The Acorn TV streaming service brings beloved British programs, along with productions from Canada, Australia and New Zealand, to subscribers’ devices. NPR TV Critic Eric Deggans speaks to Here & Now's Robin Young about Acorn TV's roots and growing popularity.

Guest

With U.S. stocks off to a dismal start in 2016 and China’s economic growth slowing, Here & Now‘s Jeremy Hobson checks in with Harvard economist Larry Summers. Summers says there’s a 1 in 3 chance the U.S. is heading for a recession. He also says he’s supporting Hillary Clinton for the presidency.

Interview Highlights: Larry Summers

Are you worried about the volatility of the stock market and the direction of the U.S. economy?

Authorities say the armed group occupying the national wildlife preserve in Oregon was given “ample opportunity” to leave peacefully.

Greg Bretzing, the FBI’s Portland special agent in charge, said at a news conference Wednesday that authorities took a deliberate and measured response to those who took over Malheur National Wildlife Refuge on Jan. 2. He says they’re working to safely remove those who are still occupying the site.

At a forum in Iowa this week, an undecided young voter questioned Hillary Clinton’s honesty, while Bernie Sanders was pressed to acknowledge that he’d raise taxes to pay for his universal health care plan.

In the Republican race, Donald Trump continued to discredit Ted Cruz, while Cruz insisted he wouldn’t engage in personal attacks. Here & Now‘s political analysts take a look at the unfolding week in politics, ahead of next Monday’s caucuses in Iowa.

In Texas yesterday, a grand jury that was investigating possible misconduct by Planned Parenthood cleared the organization, and instead indicted two anti-abortion activists, David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt.

The grand jury was called after undercover videos released last summer purportedly showed Planned Parenthood officials talking about selling fetal tissue.

Meanwhile in Florida, lawmakers advanced legislation yesterday that would essentially make abortion illegal in the state.

A Day At Auschwitz

Jan 26, 2016

The road to Auschwitz winds past farmland, historic churches and small country homes. Our driver, Irek Wis, knows the route well. For nearly two decades, he has taken visitors to the world’s most infamous concentration camp, making the round-trip roughly 250 times each year.

As we drive there, he offers us this advice: “You are on vacation,” he says. ‘Try to relax…I know that for you it will be a very unpleasant visit. No one promises that it will be easy. But try to little bit relax or the bad emotions will burn you.”

The Federal Reserve is meeting today amid concerns about some wild swings in stocks in China and around the world in recent weeks. The Fed in December raised interest rates for the first time in nearly a decade, and some are concerned that may have been a mistake.

This week, we’re expected to hear more about when the next rate hike may be coming. Jason Bellini of the Wall Street Journal joins Here & Now’s Jeremy Hobson with details.

Recent polls show Ohio Governor John Kasich tied for second place in the Republican presidential field in New Hampshire, where the first primary elections will be held on Feb. 9. Kasich spoke with Here & Now’s Jeremy Hobson from his campaign bus on Friday.

Countering The Super Bowl Counterfeiters

Jan 25, 2016

The match-ups for Super Bowl 50 are now set. On Feb. 7, it will be the Denver Broncos and the Carolina Panthers vying for the Vince Lombardi Trophy at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California.

Now is the time that sophisticated counterfeit tickets and merchandise scams go into overdrive. Beth Willon from Here & Now contributor KQED looks at the technological race between the NFL and counterfeiters.

This weekend’s East Coast blizzard is expected to have much less of an economic impact than if it had fallen on a weekday. But there are still many who were impacted economically.

Airlines had to cancel thousands of flights and will most likely take a hit, and many businesses that get visitors on weekends had to close, including theaters, restaurants and museums.

Here & Now‘s Robin Young talks with Jill Schlesinger of CBS News about the economic effects of the winter storm.

The spokesman for Haiti’s electoral council says that a much-criticized presidential runoff election will be postponed for a second time.

Roudy Stanley Penn tells The Associated Press that the Provisional Electoral Council has agreed to postpone the presidential and legislative runoffs that had been set for Sunday.

Penn did not immediately provide any other specifics Friday, saying a news conference would be held later.

'Modern Love' Becomes A Podcast

Jan 22, 2016

The New York Times’ popular column Modern Love is now a podcast. Modern Love: The Podcast, is a production of WBUR in Boston, in collaboration with the Times.

Low Oil Prices Bring Down Airfares

Jan 22, 2016

Airlines are reaping the benefits of low fuel prices. Both United and Southwest earned record profits this week, and they are passing some of the savings onto consumers.

Here & Now‘s Jeremy Hobson talks with Jill Schlesinger of CBS News about the cheap flights and whether prices will fall further.

It’s been a little more than a year since the Atlanta Streetcar took its first trip. The transit system is modest: 12 stops on a 2.7 mile loop in the heart of downtown Atlanta.

Since then, the streetcar has had some issues, from collisions with cars to a letter from the federal government questioning the system’s management.

Now, stakeholders are assessing how the streetcar’s first year has gone, and where it might be going next. Sam Whitehead from Here & Now contributor Georgia Public Broadcasting reports.

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