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.

On July 15, NASA’s unmanned spacecraft New Horizons is expected to encounter its primary target of Pluto. It’s a project nine years in the making, and with 3 billion miles recorded, it is the longest, farthest and fastest-ever space mission.

“Time flies when you’re having fun,” Alan Stern, who leads the mission, told Here & Now’s Jeremy Hobson. “We’ve crossed the entirety of the solar system and now we’re on Pluto’s doorstep.”

Obama To Expand Overtime Pay For Millions

Jun 30, 2015

President Obama announced this week that the Labor Department will expand overtime pay, in a move the administration estimates would impact 5 million U.S. workers. That would double the income threshold at which employers can avoid paying overtime.

Right now, only salaried employees earning less $23,660 a year are eligible for overtime. This rule would raise that threshold so that employees making up to $50,660 a year would get paid overtime.

Its been a busy week for the Supreme Court. Not surprisingly, that means it has been a busy week for linguists. Consider that in the last few days we’ve heard Justice Antonin Scalia use both jiggery-pokery and mummeries.

While watching the match between Rafael Nadal and Thomaz Belucci at Court 1, former Wimbledon champion Stan Smith joins Here & Now’s Robin Young to talk about how the game has changed since the ’70s. He says he can tell by the grass what kind of game today’s players are executing.

Interview Highlights: Stan Smith

On the new lines in the grass at Wimbledon

Bad news if you like cheap wine: California’s drought could affect production of low-cost bottles. But, if can you shell out for the more expensive stuff, you might be in for a treat.

Grape growers on the West Coast are facing a trade-off. If they want the best flavor, they use as little water as possible, but a reduction in water use means they can’t grow as many grapes and have to sell fewer bottles. Ben Bergman from KPCC reports in Southern California.

The wildfire season is off to an early and fierce start in Washington state. Strong winds and 100-degree temperatures sent one fire in the central part of the state skipping through a subdivision, sparing some homes and burning others to the ground. Hundreds of firefighters have been called in from around the state to try to bring the blaze under control.

It’s down-to-the-wire for Greece. Negotiations continued today with a 6 p.m., Washington time, deadline for Greece to pay the International Monetary Fund what it owes – the equivalent of $1.7 billion.

Greece could become the first developed country ever to default on a loan to the IMF, with symbolic and economic ripple effects across Europe and beyond.

Shawn Donnan of the Financial Times joins Here & Now’s Jeremy Hobson to discuss the concerns from the U.S. perspective.

A new chorus in Cambridge, Massachusetts, is helping transgender men and women find their voices – and community. The Butterfly Music Transgender Chorus was founded by Sandi Hammond, a singer and vocal teacher, who wanted to help trans men and women learn to use their changing voices in a safe space.

In the aftermath of the invasion of Iraq in 2003, when Americans were frustrated at the flare up of sectarian violence between Sunnis and Shiites, historians pointed out that it took the U.S. a full 100 years after the Civil War to achieve civil rights. After the massacre at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, it’s obvious that racial tensions still exist.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has launched a 2016 campaign for president.

The Republican governor formally announced his plans in a Tuesday morning event in the gymnasium of his old high school.

He says both political parties “have failed our country” in an announcement speech calling for more compromise in politics.

Christie was once thought to be a leading White House contender, but his star has faded over the last year. He’s been hurt by a traffic scandal involving senior aides and a lagging state economy.

When homeless people with chronic diseases get off the streets and get the care they need, their health improves and they use emergency rooms less. But does that mean health care dollars should be used to house them?

Los Angeles County has been doing just that, and now California wants to expand the effort statewide. Anna Gorman from Here & Now contributor Kaiser Health News reports.

Some States Still Don't Have Budgets

Jun 30, 2015

Forty-six states begin the new fiscal year tomorrow, but a handful have not settled on budgets yet. In Illinois, that means some state workers could go without pay and some state services could be disrupted. In the past, Pennsylvania has shut down highway rest stops when its budget hasn’t been settled.

But there is some good news: state budget watchers say for the most part, most other states are now doing well, after struggling through the Great Recession.

Puerto Rico Says It Can't Pay Its Debt

Jun 30, 2015

The governor of Puerto Rico wants creditors to postpone bond payments and restructure the U.S. territory’s $72 billion in public debt as the government closes out its fiscal year today, amid growing uncertainty about the island’s economy.

Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla also said the island could face huge budget cuts as it deals with its financial crisis, which has drawn comparisons to the debt crunch that has hit Greece.

Google may offer the benefit of filtering a world of data into a digestible stream of links, but new research says those results are subject to manipulation.

The study, authored by top legal and economic scholars from Columbia and Harvard University, but paid for by Google rival Yelp, says the search engine giant knowingly buries its competitors. Google refutes the findings.

Our electricity system is changing rapidly around us. New sources of renewable power are meeting technologies that can crunch unprecedented amounts of data. It’s all leading to a major shakeup for how utilities do business. Dan Boyce from Here & Now’s contributor Inside Energy takes us to Fort Collins, Colorado, for a peek into our utility’s possible future.

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