Here & Now

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Here! Now! In the moment! Paddling in the middle of a fast moving stream of news and information, Here & Now is public radio's daily news magazine.

'Star Trek' Star Leonard Nimoy Dies At 83

Feb 27, 2015

Leonard Nimoy, known around the world as Spock on “Star Trek,” died this morning at age 83. Nimoy, of course, was more than just Spock. He was a poet, a photographer and a musician. But he touched a chord as the brainy, unflappably logical, half-human half-Vulcan Spock.

On Sunday’s glamorous Academy Awards red carpet, Disney star Zendaya Coleman decided to shake things up and wear dreadlocks extensions with her Oscar gown.

The following day when the E! network’s Fashion Police aired, the show’s co-host Giuliana Rancic commented that the 18-year-old woman looked like she smelled of “patchouli oil” or “weed.”

Why Can't We Beat ISIS?

Feb 27, 2015

Every week, it’s a new story of destruction and hubris from the self-proclaimed Islamic State, or ISIS. This week in Syria, the extremists emptied 30 villages and captured 300 Assyrain Christians. In Iraq, they smashed priceless artifacts that date back thousands of years.

But for all of the destruction, the ISIS force is relatively small. The U.S. estimates it is between 25,000 and 30,000. The U.S. military is the most powerful in the world. So, why is it so hard to defeat ISIS?

Tonight and tomorrow, 1,200 students from across the country will perform with the National Children’s Honor Choir in Salt Lake City.

It’s one of the most prestigious junior choruses in the country. Among them will be three students from a school in southwest Denver, where more than three-quarters of the kids qualify for free or reduced lunch.

A photograph of a $77 dress has ricocheted around the Internet, apparently breaking BuzzFeed’s traffic records, with 16 million hits in six hours.

The dress drew attention after Scottish musician Caitlin McNeill posted it on Tumblr with the question, “guys please help me – is this dress white and gold, or blue and black?”

Earl Lloyd broke down color barriers in professional basketball in 1950, three years after Jackie Robinson integrated baseball.

At 6’5″, Lloyd started out as a forward for the Washington Capitals, after being a star player at the black college West Virginia State.

He also became the NBA’s first black assistant coach in 1968 and was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2003.

In Ukraine, Russian Military Threat Remains

Feb 27, 2015

In Ukraine, the fighting may have eased around Donetsk, but it’s continuing to the south, near the port city of Mariupol, which is just 37 miles from the Russian border.

Pro-Kiev forces in a variety of guises are preparing for a potential attack by pro-Russian forces. The BBC’s Rupert Wingfield-Hayes reports.

U.S. National Security Adviser Susan Rice referred to the upcoming speech from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Congress as “destructive,” and President Obama will not meet with the prime minister during the visit.

Some Israeli groups say they are offended by these moves. The controversy stems, in part, from the way in which Republican House Speaker John Boehner invited Netanyahu to speak without consulting the White House.

More Parents Say No To Standardized Testing

Feb 27, 2015

A growing number of parents and students are deciding to “opt out” of assessment tests in an effort to stem the rise of what they call a “toxic testing culture.”

Pennsylvania saw a five-fold increase in parents “opting out” over the past three years. In New York, some 67,000 students – 5 percent of all students – sat out the statewide math test.

And it seems that some officials are paying attention. U.S. Secretary Arne Duncan pledged to urge Congress to set state testing limits.

The three British schoolgirls who traveled from London to Turkey last week, likely for the purpose of joining the group that calls itself the Islamic State, have successfully crossed the border into Syria, authorities say. But how did they do it? The BBC’s Selin Girit reports from Gaziantep on the Turkish-Syria border.

Officials in Saudi Arabia estimate that more than 2,000 young men have joined up with the self-proclaimed Islamic State, or ISIS.

The Saudi Special Operations Forces, under the Ministry of the Interior, have begun large-scale exercises to protect the border between that country and Iraq, to the north. Officials also worry about Saudis returning home after fighting with ISIS and carrying out attacks.

The Conservative Political Action Conference, known as CPAC, usually attracts the country’s most die-hard conservative activists. This year it’s also attracting nearly a dozen – depending on how you count – Republican presidential hopefuls for 2016.

NPR’s Don Gonyea is there and joins Here & Now’s Meghna Chakrabarti to talk about who’s at CPAC to show off their stuff, and how they might try to win hearts and minds.

‘Tis the season to speculate who’s going to run for president, who will make it through the primary, who will ultimately end up in Oval Office.

But before you slap a bumper sticker on your car, or hang a political cartoon at work, you might want to think twice. Because it turns out that either of those could get you fired. And in most states in the country, labor laws will not protect you.

While federal law bars employers from firing workers for race, religion or gender, there is no protection for freedom of political speech or action.

Cellphones are just about everywhere these days. But in remote, rural places the key ingredient – a cell network – is often missing. In the U.S., long-distance users pay a surcharge into the Universal Service Fund, which the government uses to pay network operators to provide affordable phone access in rural or low-income areas.

All across Pakistan, cellphone users are lining up to get fingerprinted. The government has ordered cellphone companies to collect the biometric data for every SIM card — and it says it will cut off service for any phone not registered.

Tim Craig, the Islamabad bureau chief for The Washington Post, tells Here & Now’s Robin Young that the new program is a response to recent brutal terrorist attacks that have used cell phones.