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Here & Now

Weekdays, noon to 2pm

NPR's midday news magazine.  

Carol Burnett

We tip our hat to legendary comedienne Carol Burnett, 80, who was awarded the Mark Twain Award for Comedy at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. last night.

Julie Andrews, Tony Bennett and Tina Fey were among those who honored Burnett in the tribute.

As he does every Monday, NPR Music writer and editor Stephen Thompson brings us a new song to kick off our week. This week it’s “This Lonely Morning” by Los Angeles rock duo Best Coast, off their new album “Fade Away.”

Thompson says Best Coast’s latest offering is a good follow up to its album that came out last year, “The Only Place.”

“It’s a really worthy sequel — full of irresistibly summery, beachy songs that are really sad if you scrape just slightly below the surface.”

A growing number of communities are creating places for people with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia — and their caregivers — to socialize and share a meal.

Among the latest are: Stamford, Conn., Brookfield, Wis., Chalfont, Calif. and Presque Isle, Maine.

From the Here & Now Contributors Network, Rick Howlett of WFPL reports on the memory cafe in Louisville, Kentucky.

Four Years Later, Army Hero Honored

Oct 18, 2013

This week, retired Army Capt. William Swenson was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions during an intense firefight in Afghanistan in 2009.

His team was conducting meetings with village elders in the village of Ganjar, in Kunar Province, when they were ambushed.

Swenson was honored for risking his life several times to rescue fellow troops and recover bodies during the seven-hour battle.

Mickey Edwards represented Oklahoma’s 5th district for 16 years in Congress. Edwards says the dysfunction in Washington is a “systemic problem,” and can’t be cured until the power of political parties diminishes.

Edwards told Here & Nows Jeremy Hobson that the last impasse in Washington is a result of how the political parties, both the Democrats and the Republicans, operate.

Puerto Rico Struggles With Debt Crisis

Oct 18, 2013

Puerto Rico has about $87 billion of debt — that’s about $23,000 for every resident.

The island nation is a U.S. territory, but it can’t declare bankruptcy.

Puerto Rican politicians are looking to raise taxes and cut pension obligations. 

Kyle Meredith, music director at WFPK public radio in Louisville, Kentucky, says that Louisville’s music scene, like the city, has always had an identity crisis — because Louisville is “not really the South, the East, the West or the North.”

The Sheriff of Polk County, Fla. has arrested two middle school girls for bullying another girl, Rebecca Sedwick, until her suicide earlier this month.

Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said Facebook comments were the last straw after a month long investigation into Sedwick’s death. Two girls were arrested on felony aggravated stalking charges.

A new report by researchers at the University of California Berkeley finds that despite working and taking home a pay-check, more than half of fast-food workers rely on public assistance programs such as food stamps or Medicaid to cover their basic needs.

The Senate is proposing a bipartisan plan that would avoid a default and reopen the federal government, but it remains to be seen whether the Senate plan will pass in the House.

“I am confident and optimistic that the bipartisan, bicameral agreement will be adopted by the House,” Rep. Charlie Dent (R-PA) told Here & Now‘s Jeremy Hobson.

He says that there will probably remain stalwarts in his party who will vote against the plan, but remains confident that it will have bipartisan support in the House.

Esther's Follies Take On Washington

Oct 16, 2013

What’s happening in Washington can seem like a joke these days, and Esther’s Follies, the campy political sketch comedy troop from Austin, Texas, is raking in the material.

Interview Highlights: Shannon Sedwick and Ted Meredith

Sedwick on how their comedy show works in Austin:

Picking The Gridiron Contenders

Oct 16, 2013

Next season, there will be a new playoff system for big time college football.

A committee, which includes former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, will select the four teams that will play in the semifinals ahead of the championship game.

That system will replace the Bowl Championship Series which has, until now, determined which college teams play for the national championship.

Amazon Partners With Procter & Gamble

Oct 15, 2013

If you haven’t heard of Ali-Baba, you will soon.

China’s largest e-commerce company recently announced it is going public in 2014, which means it will be the internet’s third largest company, and Amazon’s newest competitor.

Ali Baba’s edge is pricing — it’s able to keep prices super low because it has direct access to seller’s supply chains, which is exactly what Amazon is trying to do, by partnering with the giant like Procter & Gamble.

In the days after the Boston marathon bombings in April — we turned to Here & Now’s Alex Ashlock for reporting and more.

Six months later, he shares his thoughts.

Alex Ashlock is a producer and the director of Here & Now.

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.

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