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.

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.

With funding for the Department of Homeland Security set to run out on Friday, President Obama was in South Florida yesterday for a televised town hall-style meeting on immigration reform.

Here & Now’s Meghna Chakrabarti talks to Enrique Acevedo, anchor and correspondent at Univision, about the issue that’s at the heart over this fight over funding DHS: the president’s executive actions on immigration. Acevedo also discusses how all of this is playing out among Latinos.

The Department of Homeland Security could run out of money by this Friday, Feb. 27, if the House and the Senate don’t vote for a funding extension before then.

The Senate has made noises like it has reached a deal; Democrats say they’ll vote for a Republican plan to vote separately on the Homeland Security funding and the president’s executive actions on immigration.

The Republican-controlled House has already passed a bill tying the two together. So will the House compromise and vote on a bill that matches up with the Senate?

The name on everybody’s lips is going to be Jennifer Nettles, as she stars in the Broadway musical “Chicago.”

Nettles, who is best known for the Grammy-winning country duo Sugarland, is playing the role of Roxie Hart, a murderess awaiting trial in 1920s jazz-age Chicago.

Here & Now’s Robin Young speaks with the country star about her debut and the challenges of going from singer to Broadway actor.

Two Tennessee high school girls basketball teams made news this week after playing so badly as to tip off the referee and the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association that they were playing to lose. Here & Now sports analyst Mike Pesca joins host Meghna Chakrabarti with details.

The Labor Department today reported that the Consumer Price Index, which measures how much Americans pay for various goods and services, fell in January from a year earlier, the first annual drop in five years. This comes as the economy is improving and wages are slowly growing. NPR’s Marilyn Geewax joins Here & Now’s to explain what’s happening.

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The Federal Communications Commission today voted to override state laws blocking city-owned broadband companies from expanding and competing with commercial Internet providers.

At the center of this debate are communities like Wilson, North Carolina. The city, about 50 miles east of Raleigh, built its own broadband network before the state legislature prohibited cities from competing with private broadband providers.

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.

Senate Dems Agree To GOP Plan To Fund Homeland Department

Feb 25, 2015

Senate Democrats on Wednesday signed onto a Republican plan to fund the Homeland Security Department without the immigration provisions opposed by President Barack Obama. The announcement by Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid put the Senate on track to pass the bill as a partial agency shutdown looms Friday at midnight.

The House’s response was uncertain. Earlier Wednesday, House Republicans reacted tepidly at best to the plan from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who proposed decoupling the issue of DHS funding from immigration.

Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren is an unusual rookie politician. The freshman senator has a seat at the leadership table and a loudspeaker many veteran politicians would envy. Her fans are hoping she’ll run for president in 2016, but Warren insists she’s not. So what is Senator Warren’s emerging role in the Democratic Party? From the Here & Now Contributors Network, Asma Khalid of WBUR reports.

Refinery Strike Continues Into Fourth Week

Feb 25, 2015

A nationwide oil refinery strike continued this week and expanded to 15 plants. The United Steelworkers union organized the walkout, after the union’s contract with oil companies expired.

One of the latest refineries to be impacted is the Motiva Enterprises refinery in Port Arthur, Texas, the largest of its kind in the country. CNN’s Maggie Lake joins Here & Now’s Robin Young with details.

Michael Twitty is a culinary historian who brings together the flavors of his own diverse roots. He’s an African-American who, after a lifelong interest in Jewish culture, converted to Judaism in his early 20s.

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