Here and Now on KBIA 2

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Here! Now! Imperative: not to be avoided: necessary. In a typical week, the show will cover not only all the big news stories, but also the stories behind the stories, or some of the less crucial but equally intriguing things happening in the world.

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U.S. Veterans Return To The Front Lines

Dec 30, 2014

The U.S. war in Afghanistan may be over, but for hundreds of thousands of veterans who served in that conflict, the scars may never heal.

There are physical wounds, of course, but many are also suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. Troops who served in Afghanistan are among the estimated 20 veterans who kill themselves every day.

It would seem that the last place a veteran of the Afghanistan conflict would want to return is the front lines of battle. But that is exactly what some U.S. military veterans did recently.

A snap general election in Greece next month has triggered uncertainty among investors and government across Europe.

The election came about when the Greek Parliament rejected the presidential candidate nominated by Prime Minister Antonis Samaras.

The radical left Syriza party is leading in opinion polls, and its leader opposes the deep budget cuts and austerity measures that have been instituted in Greece as a condition of financial bailouts.

Every list of “best books” of the year is as different as a special little snowflake.

Here & Now’s Robin Young speaks with NPR’s Weekend Edition editor Barrie Hardymon about her picks for the best books of 2014.

Ebola, A Year After The Epidemic Began

Dec 29, 2014

It’s been one year this month since the first case of Ebola was found in Guinea, setting off what has become the deadliest Ebola epidemic in history. New cases have slowed down — but there are reports today that a dozen or so new cases have erupted in Liberia along the border of Sierra Leone.

The Centers for Disease Control in the United States say the virus has killed more than 7,600 people in West Africa.

It is no secret: the smartphone industry is booming. But as the number of users rise to one-third of the world’s population, so rises the number of smartphones stolen and traded on the black market.

It is a multibillion dollar industry growing increasingly complicated as security analysts look for answers and black market entrepreneurs work to stay ahead of the curve.

Economists Predict A Bullish 2015

Dec 29, 2014

Every December, economists make predictions about the year ahead, and each year they get hit by unexpected events that make them look clueless. Take the plunge in oil prices — nobody saw that coming.

Still, top economists’ forecasts did get a lot right for 2014.

Last year at this time, most were predicting low inflation, more jobs and rising stock prices — and that’s what we got.

Now they are making their predictions for 2015.

Comedian Flings Insults At Here & Now Host

Dec 26, 2014

[Note: This show is from a previous interview that aired on March 28, 2014.]

Comedienne Susie Essman plays the sassy Susie Greene on HBO’s acclaimed “Curb Your Enthusiasm” series, bringing to it her own brand of biting sarcasm, pointed insults and no-nonsense panache.

Essman is also a veteran of late night comedy and the world of stand-up, where she made her mark.

Coca-Cola’s recent decision to eliminate their voicemail system at their Atlanta headquarters may be a sign of the times.

The company says this isn’t a cost-cutting measure – Coke estimates it will only save them $100,000 annually – but a move to increase worker productivity.

[Note: This show is from a previous interview that aired on November 13, 2014.]

There are federal regulations designed to keep American mineworkers safe, but this year, an NPR investigation found that there’s a loophole in the regulation, allowing mine owners to operate unsafe mines across the country.

For years, the mine owners have failed to pay penalties even as workers continue to be injured.

Did you know that the city with the highest concentration of young workers in the U.S. is Provo, Utah? And the city with the most minorities is McAllen, Texas?

This information is all available in a new census bureau report and interactive tool. it’s called “census explorer,” and it’s geared towards young adults between 18 and 34 years old who may be deciding where to live.

Audiences who come to see the Holiday Pops can usually expect jaunty chestnuts like “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” or “The Polar Express.”

But this year conductor Keith Lockhart was stirred by a bittersweet episode from history: an impromptu and unsanctioned ceasefire that took place during World War I.

“The particular thing about this story is that the uniting force, the thing that brings people together, is music,” Lockhart explained.

Starting Christmas day, audiences can see a new version of Stephen Sondheim’s nearly 30-year-old musical fairy-tale mash-up, “Into the Woods” — this time, on the big screen.

And as the production moves from stage to screen, the high-budget Hollywood version comes with the requisite star power, including Johnny Depp as the iconic big bad wolf, Emily Blunt as a baker’s wife and Meryl Streep as the wicked witch who sets the whole plot in motion.

For this week’s DJ session we sit down with Mike Haile, also known as “Mike in the Morning” and general manager at WHMS in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois.

Jeremy listened to Mike in the morning when he was a kid, and Mike joins us for an annual tradition where he shares his favorite Christmas songs — from oldies, to newer takes on the Christmas classics.

[Note: This show is from a previous interview that aired on May 27, 2014.]

When acclaimed journalist Ron Suskind’s son Owen was just shy of three years old, he suddenly stopped communicating with his family. Owen would sleep and cry a lot and his vocabulary dwindled to the single word “juice.”

Eventually Owen was diagnosed with autism.

Ron and his family tried all sorts of ways of reaching Owen but it was the Disney films that Owen loved that would prove to be the bridge.

Four people were killed and at least 50 injured in Mississippi yesterday, when severe storms — and what is believed to have been a tornado — swept through the southern part of the state.

Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant declared a state of emergency in Jones and Marion counties after the storms, which also knocked over trees, flipped cars, damaged homes and businesses and left thousands without power.

 

NBC has been making waves with their live musical performances of “The Sound of Music” and “Peter Pan” the last couple of holiday seasons.

So Here & Now’s Robin Young’s former choir director Ron Cohen has a suggestion for next year: revive Gian Carlo Menotti’s “Amahl and the Night Visitors!”

New York City Police Commissioner William Bratton sparked a debate on the Today show yesterday after he said, referencing Saturday’s shooting of two police officers by a mentally ill man, that “the targeting of these two police officers was a direct spin-off of this issue of these demonstrations” about police use of force against unarmed Black men.

We hear from Jonathan Metzl, a psychiatrist who has studied the nexus of mental illness and social protest movements.

“The people have spoken! freedom has prevailed!”

That’s a tweet from actor Seth Rogen, a star in the controversial film the “The interview,” about an assassination plot against North Korea’s leaders.

The tweet came in the wake of today’s that there will be a limited release of the film on Christmas day.

In the United States, roughly $180 billion was spend on advertising this past year.

Here & Now media analyst John Carroll, a professor of mass communications at Boston University, shares a few of his favorite ad campaigns, which encompass both television and web advertising.

John Carroll’s Favorite Ads

[Youtube]

[Youtube]

The The Indianapolis Star is shining a light on the booming industry of pet medications and raising some red flags about it.

In a three-part series, the newspaper finds a booming industry with higher risk of unforeseen side effects than the human drug market, veterinarians on the payroll of drug makers, and little legal protection for owners who say their pets have been killed by medications their pets were on.

Dreamers Get To Drive In Arizona

Dec 22, 2014

Arizona’s Motor Vehicles Department is now open to DREAMers.

Starting today, immigrants who qualify for the Obama Administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals can get driver’s licenses in Arizona.

The Supreme Court on Wednesday let stand a ruling requiring the state to issue licenses to residents brought to the U.S. unlawfully as young children by their parents. The policy change follows a recent rollback of a string of strict immigration enforcement policies in Arizona.

Special Coverage: Obama's Year-End Remarks

Dec 19, 2014

Here & Now provided special coverage of the president’s remarks on Friday afternoon, before he and his family left for a Christmas vacation in Hawaii. The audio includes the entirety of the remarks and special coverage.

President Barack Obama praised the reopening of diplomatic relations with Cuba on Friday but said he doesn’t expect it to bring overnight change on the island, a quick end to the U.S. economic embargo or the likelihood that he will soon visit the communist nation.

Obama: Sony Decision To Cancel Movie A 'Mistake'

Dec 19, 2014

President Barack Obama said Friday that Sony Pictures Entertainment “made a mistake” in shelving a satirical film about a plot to assassinate North Korea’s leader, and he vowed the United States will respond “in a place and manner and time that we choose” to a hack attack the FBI blamed on the secretive Communist regime.

Speaking of Sony executives, Obama said at a year-end news conference, “I wish they had spoken to me first. … We cannot have a society in which some dictatorship someplace can start imposing censorship.”

Mixed Reaction As New York Bans Fracking

Dec 19, 2014

This week, New York became the second state in the nation to ban hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.

Vermont’s ban, which was the first, was largely symbolic, as the state doesn’t have any real natural gas resources. New York, though, sits on the gas-rich Marcellus Shale, and the debate over whether to open it to fracking has been deeply emotional and contentious.

Putin Vows To Fix Russian Economy

Dec 18, 2014

In his annual press conference, which ran four hours, Russian President Vladimir Putin promised to ease the country’s economic woes by diversifying its heavy reliance on oil and gas. He also said he’s confident the plummeting ruble will recover.

Three million American families will buy real Christmas trees this year. Most are grown in either Oregon or North Carolina, the top two Christmas-tree-producing states in the country.

However, the real-tree industry has something in common with many other businesses: competition with China. About 79 percent of people now use artificial Christmas trees.

One reason people purchase artificial trees is because they believe they’re more environmentally sound. But is that true?

A Short History Of U.S.-Cuba Relations

Dec 18, 2014

President Obama’s decision to change U.S. policy on Cuba comes after a half century of icy relations. The announcement came as a surprise to many, including Julia Sweig, director for Latin American studies at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Sweig joined Here & Now’s Jeremy Hobson to discuss the history of the struggle between the two nations and outline what the opening of diplomatic relations and easing of restrictions will mean both for Cuba and the United States.

Atticus Lish’s novel “Preparation for the Next Life” and a recent New Yorker article, “The Kitchen Network” by Lauren Hilgers, have thrown a spotlight onto the plight of the workers in Chinese restaurants.

Atticus Lish‘s debut novel “Preparation for the Next Life” has already been drawing raves from critics.

It centers around an unlikely romance between Skinner, a veteran of the war in Iraq, and Zou Lei, a Uyghur from China. Lish told Here & Now‘s Robin Young that the book’s title has significance for both characters.

For more than a decade, federal education policies have pushed schools to get parents more involved on campus. The idea is that if parents are more involved, then their children will do better academically — especially kids who struggle.

In one Texas school district, that idea is taking a new form. From the Here & Now Contributors Network, Laura Isensee of Houston Public Media visits an elementary school to find out more.

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