Here & Now

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NPR's midday news magazine.  

Soldier Receives Medal Of Honor Today

Oct 15, 2013

Army Captain William Swenson will be presented with the nation’s highest military honor at the White House today.

When President Obama hangs the medal around his neck it will be the end of a rocky road.

Swenson is credited with risking his life to save fellow troops and recover bodies during a battle in Afghanistan in 2009.

Smooth Sounds From The Twin Cities

Oct 14, 2013

As he does every Monday, NPR Music writer and editor Stephen Thompson is here to freshen our playlists and recommend a new song for us.

This week, Thompson bring us a band from the Twin Cities called Poliça.

Thompson describes Poliça’s sound as “very cool, sleek, kinda slinky music.”

He singles out Poliça’s vocalist, Channy Leaneagh.

After the Supreme Court ruled a decade ago that race could be a factor in college admissions in a Michigan case, affirmative action opponents persuaded the state’s voters to outlaw any consideration of race.

Now, the high court is weighing whether that change to Michigan’s constitution is itself discriminatory.

It is a proposition that even the lawyer for civil rights groups in favor of affirmative action acknowledges a tough sell, at first glance.

Electronic Music Pioneer Turns 80

Oct 14, 2013

To call Morton Subotnick a pioneer of electronic music has become commonplace.

What is not so well known about Subotnick, who celebrated his 80th birthday this year, is that he had a role in fathering electronic dance music.

His innovations involving new technologies and musical accessibility continue today.

His most recent project is an app for young children to use, with which they can compose essentially by fingerpainting on an iPad.

There was a scarcely a dry eye when the hit show “Glee” paid tribute last night to one of its stars, Cory Monteith, who portrayed football player-turned-singer Finn Hudson.

Monteith died of a drug overdose in July. He was 31.

There had been a lot of speculation about how the show would explain his character’s death, but the program made no mention of how Finn died.

The finalists for the National Book Award for fiction will be announced next week.

With China’s rapid rise as a global economic power, it’s become increasingly fashionable to talk about reviving the Old Silk Road: the interlocking series of routes — dating back to pre-Christian times — along which merchants, pilgrims and soldiers travelled from East to West.

The latest person to talk romantically that period is Chinese President Xi Jinping, during his first visit of neighboring Central Asian states in September.

Alice Munro Wins Nobel Prize In Literature

Oct 10, 2013

This morning, Canadian author Alice Munro won the 2013 Nobel Prize in Literature.

Known for her short stories, her 14th collection “Dear Life” was published almost a year ago.

Here & Now’s Jeremy Hobson visits 27-year-old Otoniel “Tony” Navarrete, who was born in poverty in Phoenix to a single mother who was an undocumented immigrant.

Navarrete credits local church social workers for inspiring him to attend college and become an advocate for the poor.

A New York judge has ruled that an unpaid intern is not an employee and, therefore, is not able to bring suit under provisions of the New York City Human Rights Law.

Lihuan Wang, 26, filed a lawsuit against Phoenix Satellite Television U.S., alleging her former supervisor, Liu Zhengzhu, sexually harassed her.

Author Ann Leary isn’t shy about mining her life for her writing.

In a New York Times column, she wrote about how her marriage to actor Denis Leary came to the brink of divorce, but that admitting their need to separate actually kept them together.

Prosecutors in Orange County, Calif., have taken the rare if not unique step of creating their own DNA database.

They’re asking for voluntary DNA swabs from people arrested for minor crimes such as shoplifting, in exchange for dropping charges.

The argument is that it could help authorities solve cold cases.

Experts and other district attorneys are taking note.

Representatives from 140 countries gather in Minamata, Japan, this week to sign a global agreement to reduce mercury in the environment.

This comes nearly 80 years after a chemical plant in Minamata began releasing methyl mercury into the ocean.

The resulting mercury poisoning affected some 60,000 people and was officially recognized as Minamata disease in 1956.

The chemical poisoning is described as one of the world’s worse environmental disasters.

Los Angeles boasts artists from Charles Mingus to The Byrds.

KCRW DJ Travis Holcombe gives Here & Nows Jeremy Hobson a sonic tour of L.A., including new songs by Beck, funk duo The Internet, singer-songwriter Banks and electronic producer Kauf.

Legal Questions Over Special Ops Raids

Oct 8, 2013

Accused al-Qaida leader Anas al-Libi is being questioned in U.S. military custody on a Navy Ship, even as questions rise about the laws under which he was captured and is being held.

The U.S. Army’s Delta Force conducted raids in Somalia and in the Libyan capital, Tripoli, over the weekend, capturing al-Libi, who is suspected of masterminding the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in East Africa.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has said al-Libi was a “legal target,” and added that the raids show that terrorists who attack American interests “can run but they can’t hide.”

Despite the government shutdown, the Federal Reserve starts distributing its brand new $100 bills to banks today.

The new $100 bill is the first redesign since 1996, and includes new features to thwart counterfeiters.

Jason Bellini of the Wall Street Journal joins Here & Now’s Jeremy Hobson to explain.

Benjamin Franklin is arguably the most famous American ever. His youngest sister Jane is mostly lost to history. But Harvard historian Jill Lepore found her in the letters she and her brother exchanged over their long lives. They were called Benny and Jenny and Benny wrote more letters to Jenny than he did to anyone else. Most of his survive; many of hers do not.

All eyes are on whether Congress will resolve the government shutdown, which has entered its seventh day.

But an even more serious concern is the debt ceiling.

If lawmakers on Capitol Hill fail to raise the nation’s debt ceiling by October 17th, the government will run out of money to pay all of its bills.

If this were to happen it hurt the economy and the country’s credit rating, and some people simply wouldn’t get paid.

Rodriguez Sues MLB, Yankees' Doctor

Oct 7, 2013

This weekend, the Oakland A’s beat the Detroit Tigers 1 to 0, and the Boston Red Sox bested the Tampa Bay Rays 7 to 4 in the American League. In the National League, the Dodgers won against the Braves 13 to 6 and the Pirates took the Cardinals 5 to 3.

But New York Yankees fans might have been paying more attention to Alex Rodriguez’s lawsuits.

On Thursday, the Yankee’s third baseman announced that he’s suing Major League Baseball and MLB commissioner Bud Selig over his 211-game suspension for taking performance enhancing drugs, claiming MLB is trying to ruin his career.

Vermont couple Leon Marasco and Kate Harper were friends for 17 years before they became romantically involved.

Because of that friendship, they knew all about each other’s former partners and felt that that knowledge deepened the bond between them.

Harper and Marasco wondered if other couples had had similar experiences.

After doing interviews and collecting hundreds of stories, they found the answer seems to be yes.

'Hump Day' Disrupts Class

Oct 4, 2013

The Geico commercial “Hump Day,” has gone viral.

Students at Vernon Center Middle School in Connecticut made news when they used the phrase “hump day” so much it became disruptive.

Lawmakers battling over the food assistance program SNAP failed to pass a new farm bill this year, and the current one expired on Monday.

The farm bill traditionally touches on trade, rural development, loan credit, subsidies for farmers, a safety net for farmers and food for poor women and children.

With this season’s harvest underway, farmers are worried about getting crop insurance for the next cycle of planting.

Glenn Brunkow, a farmer in Westmoreland, Kansas, says the government shutdown is causing ripple effects for farming.

FBI Seeks Answers Following DC Car Rampage

Oct 4, 2013

FBI agents in Stamford, Conn., are searching for clues about why an unarmed 34-year-old mother who lived there went on a driving rampage in Washington, D.C. yesterday.

The incident resulted in her shooting death by Capitol police.

Miriam Carey was traveling with her 1-year-old daughter when she tried to breach a barrier at the White House, and then veered her car down Constitution Avenue, driving up to 80-miles-per-hour, toward the Capitol buildings. She eventually crashed into a barrier.

Andre Dubus III's Tales Of 'Dirty Love'

Oct 3, 2013

Note: This segment contains content that may not be appropriate for younger listeners.

Andre Dubus III is the author of the critically-acclaimed novel “House of Sand And Fog” and memoir “Townie.”

With the negotiations between Democrats and Republicans stalled in Washington, D.C., Here & Now turns to a negotiation expert.

We ask, what would get both parties to agree?

Every month, investors turn to the jobs report to assess the state of the U.S. job market.

But due to the partial government shutdown that began on Tuesday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics is not expected to meet its Friday deadline for the September jobs report.

NPR business reporter Jim Zarroli joins us to talk about what that could mean for investors.

Writer Tom Clancy Dies At 66

Oct 2, 2013

Best selling author Tom Clancy died today; he was 66.

His top-selling novels helped forge a new genre of military fiction that gave readers detailed knowledge of the Pentagon and the Soviet war machine.

Best-sellers included “A Clear and Present Danger,” “Patriot Games” and “The Hunt For Red October,” which inspired the 1990 film of the same name.

Joseph Finder writes thrillers, and joins Here & Now to discuss Clancy’s legacy.

Marc Jacobs Leaves Louis Vuitton

Oct 2, 2013

After months of speculation American fashion designer Marc Jacobs has announced that he is leaving Louis Vuitton.

After 16 years as the creative director for the the French fashion house best known for their LV monogrammed canvas bags, Jacobs is turning his attention to preparing the Marc Jacobs brand for an eventual public offering.

Matt Victoriano served two tours of duty as a Marine sniper team leader in Iraq.

Since he came home in 2004, he has battled post-traumatic stress disorder.

He has also struggled to find meaningful work.

We met Victoriano a year ago, when we were covering the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte.

He told us about his business plan to open a microbrewery. This brewery would also serve as an incubator for fellow veterans, to help them open their own businesses.

Elizabeth Gilbert is known for her memoirs “Eat, Pray, Love” and “Committed.” But she dives into the world of late 18th and 19th century science to write her first novel in 13 years, “The Signature of All Things.”