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Friday August 20, 2010

New Report Shows Record Number Of ‘Hardship Withdrawals’ From 401(k)s

One day after the U.S. Department of Labor reported an unexpected rise in new applications for unemployment benefits, Fidelity Investments released a report today showing a record number of workers made “hardship withdrawals” from their retirement accounts in the second quarter. The withdrawals come with penalties and tax burdens if the account holder is younger than 59 and a half, yet the average age of the 62,000 investors who took “hardship withdrawals” is between 35 and 55. We speak to USA Today’s personal finance columnist Sandra Block.

Oil Still Lurks Beneath The Surface In The Gulf

A 22-mile-long invisible mist of oil is meandering far below the surface of the Gulf of Mexico, where it will probably loiter for months or more, scientists reported in the first conclusive evidence of an underwater plume from BP’s oil gusher. The research from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute contradicts reports from the government that 75 percent of the oil had dispersed. We’ll speak with marine microbiologist John Paul.

Scientists Test Seafood Safety

Shrimper Brian Amos shows off some of his catch in Bastian Bay, La., on the first day of shrimp season since the Gulf oil spill on Monday (AP)

It’s called the sniff test, and it’s the first line of defense against seafood that could be contaminated with oil in the Gulf of Mexico. But how does it work and how effective is it? And if oil, and dispersants used to break up the oil, contaminate microscopic plankton, how do we know that fish that eat plankton are safe to eat? We pose all those questions to John Stein, head of the seafood safety program in the Gulf and deputy director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Ocean Fisheries’ Northwest Science Center.

Teen Computer Programmer Creates Twitter App That Goes Viral

Are you an efficient tweeter? What does that even mean? This week, the social media site Twitter was practically taken over by a new application, called Twifficiency, that claimed to measure how efficient users were at tweeting. The app went viral after people’s Twifficiency scores were automatically posted to all of their followers. We talk to Scottish 17-year-old James Cunningham who developed the app to find out how he did it and what it means.

Bobby Thomson Remembered

Bobby Thomson, center, celebrates with New York Giants club owner Horace Stoneham, left, and manager Leo Durocher after his 'shot heard round the world.' (AP)

Bobby Thomson, who hit arguably the most famous home run in baseball history, died Monday at his home in Savannah, Georgia at age 86. Thomson hit 264 homeruns, including the so-called “shot heard round the world” for the New York Giants against the Brooklyn Dodgers, in his 15 year career. Last year, Here & Now’s Robin Young asked Thomson about his most famous home run and the search for the ball that was never found.

Obama Administration Considers Government Role In Housing Finance

Dozens of leading experts on housing finance gathered at the Treasury Department this week to talk about re-working the role the government plays in housing finance. Binyamin Appelbaum of the New York Times was at the conference and joins us to talk about what happened.

Matisyahu Balances Pop Music And Orthodox Judaism

Matisyahu performs at Farm Aid in 2007. (AP)

Musician Matisyahu is on tour this summer promoting his most recent CD “Light.” We revisit a conversation Here & Now producer Emiko Tamagawa had with Matisyahu about his music and his commitment to his religious beliefs.

Music From The Show

  • The Lickets, “Meat City”
  • Volcano Choir, “Sleepymouth”
  • The Ventures, “Steel Guitar Rag”
  • Marcus Roberts, “The Truth Is Spoken Here”
  • Ahmad Jamal, “Stolen Moments”
  • Matisyahu, “One Day”
  • Matisyahu, “King Without a Crown”
  • Matisyahu, “Exaltation”
  • Matisyahu, “For You”
  • Matiyahu, “On Nature”
  • Matisyahu, “Silence”
  • Matisyahu, “I Will be Light”
  • emily navetta

    really appreciated binyamin appelbaum’s anaylsis of the housing crisis. he was very articulate, personable and gave a great snapshot of the current situation, which is hard to find muddled in with opinion and politics even in the news magazines lately. thanks— also enjoyed the reggae music at the end of the show– had never heard of him before– thanks!

  • Dan Fulton
Robin and Jeremy

Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

April 22 Comment

What Do We Have To Teach Plato?

Philosopher Rebecca Newberger Goldstein discusses her new book "Plato at the Googleplex: Why Philosophy Won't Go Away."

April 22 21 Comments

Children’s Literature: Apartheid Or Just A General Lack of Color?

African-American children's book authors Walter Dean Myers and his son Christopher Myers weigh in.

April 21 Comment

Remembering Rubin ‘Hurricane’ Carter

We remember the boxing champion, who was twice wrongly convicted of murder, with his longtime friend and defender.

April 21 2 Comments

‘Wait Wait’ Host Peter Sagal Runs Boston Marathon As Guide

For the second year in a row, the host of NPR's "Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me" is running with a legally blind athlete.