National News

'Important Gaps' Remain In Nuclear Talks With Iran, Kerry Says

NPR News - Sat, 2015-03-14 04:10

The U.S. secretary of state also said he will use talks Sunday in Switzerland to assure his interlocutors that a letter from GOP senators on the validity of a nuclear deal with Iran carries no weight.

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Pope Frances's Financial Reforms Rattle Vatican's Old Guard

NPR News - Sat, 2015-03-14 03:35

As the second anniversary of his papacy nears, Pope Francis has made significant progress in bringing transparency to the Vatican's finances. Cardinal George Pell is carrying out sweeping reforms.

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Guardian Editor Pledges To Bolster Coverage Of Climate Change

NPR News - Sat, 2015-03-14 03:35

NPR's Scott Simon talks with Alan Rusbridger, editor of The Guardian, about his recent column detailing his personal motivation for intensifying the paper's focus on climate change coverage.

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Rev. Willie Barrow: Remembering 'The Little Warrior'

NPR News - Sat, 2015-03-14 03:35

NPR's Scott Simon remembers Chicago civil rights leader Rev. Willie Barrow. She became an activist at 12, and later marched with Martin Luther King Jr.

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St. Louis Alderman: People Want To See More Then Resignations

NPR News - Sat, 2015-03-14 03:35

St. Louis Alderman Antonio French joins NPR's Scott Simon to discuss the recent police shooting in Ferguson and the changes he feels need to happen in response to the Department of Justice report.

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How The Luxury Fashion Industry Became All Business

NPR News - Sat, 2015-03-14 03:35

Once family-owned, luxury fashion houses have been gobbled by conglomerates. Industry watchers say designers have suffered from a pressure-cooker environment that focuses intensely on the bottom line.

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Pope Francis' Financial Reforms Rattle Vatican's Old Guard

NPR News - Sat, 2015-03-14 03:35

As the second anniversary of his papacy nears, Pope Francis has made significant progress in bringing transparency to the Vatican's finances and Cardinal George Pell is carrying out sweeping reforms.

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Ooze, Fog And Climate Change Threaten Mummies

NPR News - Sat, 2015-03-14 03:35

The oldest mummies in the world are in northern Chile. Preserved for seven thousand years, the mummies are now deteriorating, and scientists say climate changes are to blame.

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Loretta Lynch To Get A Senate Vote: The Week In Politics

NPR News - Sat, 2015-03-14 03:35

Washington Desk editor Ron Elving joins NPR's Scott Simon to discuss the week in politics: Hillary Clinton's email troubles, the Secret Service accident, the Republican senators' letter to Iran, and more.

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'Midnight Rider' Director Gets Two-Year Sentence In Camera Assistant's Death

NPR News - Sat, 2015-03-14 03:35

NPR's Scott Simon talks with the Los Angeles Times' Richard Verrier about Sarah Jones, who died on the Midnight Rider set. Director Randall Miller will serve two years for involuntary manslaughter.

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Egyptians Diffuse ISIS's Power With Punchlines

NPR News - Sat, 2015-03-14 03:35

Some Egyptians have decided to fight back against ISIS propaganda with video parodies of the militant group's gruesome propaganda.

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The Family Peach Farm That Became A Symbol Of The Food Revolution

NPR News - Sat, 2015-03-14 03:35

Heirloom peach trees, and an essay about them, turned one California farm into a landmark of local food. It's now the scene of another unconventional choice: a daughter's return to take the helm.

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Reverend Willie T. Barrow, A "Little Warrior" For Civil Rights, Dies

NPR News - Sat, 2015-03-14 03:03

Small in size, tiny Willie T. Barrow had a giant profile in civil rights and Chicago politics. When she talked, people paid attention.

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New Dads In Togo Are Guaranteed Something That U.S. Dads Aren't

NPR News - Sat, 2015-03-14 03:03

It's paid paternity leave, which is the law in an increasing number of low- and middle-income countries, but not in the U.S. Research shows that time off for pops can provide lasting benefits.

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Palestinians Ask: The Two-State Solution Or The Two-State Illusion?

NPR News - Sat, 2015-03-14 01:27

Palestinians are viewing Israeli elections with tremendous skepticism. After 20 years of on-and-off peace talks, a growing number have given up on a negotiated solution to the conflict.

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Palestinians Ask: The Two-State Solution Or The Two-State Illusion?

NPR News - Sat, 2015-03-14 01:27

Palestinians are viewing Israeli elections with tremendous skepticism. After 20 years of on-and-off peace talks, a growing number have given up on a negotiated solution to the conflict.

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Several Americans Possibly Exposed To Ebola, As Epidemic Smolders

NPR News - Fri, 2015-03-13 17:15

This week an American aid worker contracted Ebola in West Africa and may have infected other people. No one else is showing symptoms, but one person is being flown to Atlanta for observation.

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Fraternity's Defense Lawyer Not Ruling Out Suing OU

NPR News - Fri, 2015-03-13 16:56

Stephen Jones, famous for defending Oklahoma City Bomber Timothy McVeigh, argues for due process. He says "every student deserves a second chance."

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Lego Says You Can't Build That — Because Of Politics

NPR News - Fri, 2015-03-13 15:19

LEGO rejects submission of women Supreme Court justices as product, reflecting view that the high court has become political.

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The music industry's cassette comeback

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2015-03-13 14:44

The way Popeye is about spinach or Jane Goodall is about chimpanzees is how Mike Haley is about cassette tapes. Haley’s got a podcast called Tabs Out and it’s all about cassettes. Haley lives in Wilmington, Delaware, and every few weeks or so he gets his friends together and talks tape.

“[We] sit around, and drink some beers, play some tapes, and ramble on about whatever dumb thing you can think about to critique a cassette tape, I think we’ve talked about it already,” says Haley.

While Haley features indie, quirky and unique artists who release cassettes, some big players are getting into the cassette game. Disney sold about 2,500 copies of the "Guardians of the Galaxy" soundtrack on tape, according to Nielsen. Then, there are indie labels like Burger Records, which claims to have sold more than 300,000 cassette tapes since 2007.

What’s driving this cassette tape renaissance? Well, tapes are cheap. Jessica Bordeaux is co-owner of Portland-based New Moss Records. Boudreaux says tapes are a low-risk gamble.

“We don’t know realistically how many people are going to buy [releases],” Bordeaux says. “And I think tapes do lend themselves to more creative packaging then … and a lot of the record stores aren’t going to sell your tapes, and so you can be more weird and creative.”

That creativity can help keep super fans interested in a band — and those super fans really matter for the $15 billion global music industry. According to Nielsen, which tracks music sales, about 70 cents of every music dollar comes from a super fan. So, if a band like Metallica puts out rare or hard to get material, there’s a good chance super fans will snatch it up.

If that material is on cassette — with its high profit margins — cha-ching.

For collectors, tapes are so much better than digital music, says label Kill Rock Stars' production manager, James Reling, since you can actually hold them.

“Things have become so disposable, when you see something that is so obviously not disposable, it has that much more appeal as something that is kinda precious or special,” Reling says.

That tangibility also has some data geeks are clamoring for these cassettes, as well. That’s because Sony, IBM and other hardware companies have developed tapes that aren’t your grandma’s tapes. They can store about 185 terabytes of data, the equivalent all the printed collected works in the Library of Congress times 18.5.

Graeme McMillian writes for Wired magazine, and he says cassette tapes are appealing for the same reason music collectors might like them — they exist in real life.

“If you have a glitch with your digital storage, it could be gone,” says McMillian. “Whereas with tape, it’s tangible. It’s right there.”

So, does all this mean we really do have a cassette tape renaissance? Mike Haley thinks probably not, they're just a fad.

“Metallica, and Jeff Bridges are making thousands and thousands of tapes or whatever,” Haley says. “I think they’ll eventually figure out that this isn’t really working. I think that enough people wrote think pieces that cassettes are making a comeback, to make people think cassettes are making a comeback, when in reality writing about cassettes are making a comeback.”

Wait a minute ... writing about cassette tapes was once a thing?

This story comes to us from The Future of What, a new public radio program focusing on the music industry.

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