National / International News

Army Warns Of 'Armed Citizens' Trying To Protect Recruiting Stations

NPR News - Thu, 2015-07-23 12:56

Vigilante guards — some associated with militia groups — have begun appeared outside recruiting stations around the country, ostensibly to protect them in the wake of the Chattanooga shootings.

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An 80-Year-Old Looks Into The Eyes Of Her Teenage Self

NPR News - Thu, 2015-07-23 12:51

In 1950, a teenage girl in Nigeria put on her mother's fancy clothes and posed for a photo. In 2015, she had her first encounter with the original, hand-colored portrait.

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In Hot Pursuit Of Public Safety, Police Consider Fewer Car Chases

NPR News - Thu, 2015-07-23 12:39

Each year, 300 to 400 people are killed in high-speed police pursuits in the U.S. Some solutions to create safer chases have emerged — such a Batman-like dart that tracks fleeing cars.

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Obama Thinks Solar Power Will Boost Kenya. Kenyans Aren't So Sure

NPR News - Thu, 2015-07-23 12:39

Are solar panels the best way to connect millions of Africans to electricity? That's the plan President Obama will tout on his visit to Kenya. Critics ask: What about tapping into power lines?

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Amazon surprises with profit jump

BBC - Thu, 2015-07-23 12:37
Amazon shares surged more than 14% in after-hours trading after it reported better than expected sales figures.

Even If You're Lean, 1 Soda Per Day Ups Your Risk Of Diabetes

NPR News - Thu, 2015-07-23 12:26

A daily habit of sugary-sweetened drinks can boost your risk of developing the disease — even if you're not overweight. And diet soda might not be doing you any favors, either.

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Shampoo bottle 'killer' took cocaine

BBC - Thu, 2015-07-23 12:24
A man accused of murdering a woman in a "perverted sexual assault" with a shampoo bottle went on a cocaine binge the night before she was taken to hospital, a court hears.

VIDEO: Shark freed from fishing line

BBC - Thu, 2015-07-23 12:14
A hammerhead shark has been freed from a fishing line on a crowded Florida beach.

Dozens of migrants 'drown off Libya'

BBC - Thu, 2015-07-23 12:08
Up to 40 African migrants are feared to have drowned when their boat sank off Libya's coast, survivors tell UN and aid agencies.

Obama's First Trip To Kenya As President Is Less About His Roots This Time

NPR News - Thu, 2015-07-23 11:53

President Obama is heading to Kenya, where his father was born. He'll meet with relatives, but the trip is not strictly personal. There's plenty of official business on the agenda.

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Williams consider Button for Bottas

BBC - Thu, 2015-07-23 11:43
British driver Jenson Button is a potential target for Williams next season if they lose Finland's Valtteri Bottas to Ferrari.

Why Disability And Poverty Still Go Hand In Hand 25 Years After Landmark Law

NPR News - Thu, 2015-07-23 11:38

Disabled Americans are twice as likely to be poor as those without disabilities. They continue to face many financial and physical barriers, despite the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.

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Everyone's getting the music streaming business wrong

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2015-07-23 11:19

Taylor Swift picked a pretty big fight this summer. No, not that one.

The pop megastar took on Apple over allegedly skimping on royalties during Apple Music's free trial period, and got the company to change its tune. This wasn't the first time Swift and others had spoken out about low royalty payments from music streaming services like Spotify, from which she pulled her catalog last year. Meanwhile, Spotify argues it has paid out over $2 billion in royalties.

But a new report from the Berklee Institute for Creative Entrepreneurship says these squabbles miss the point. In fact, there are a bunch of other players, complex accounting and backroom deals that stand between the royalties services pay out and the artists' paychecks.

"We were trying to figure out what exactly happens in the value chain from the minute I [listen] to music, to the minute the creator on the other end gets paid," says Allen Bargfrede, Berklee associate professor and one of the authors of the report.

Berklee has launched a new initiative, Rethink Music, to untangle all the streams of money, dispel misconceptions about the business and propose more transparency. Let's do the numbers:

70 percent

That's the portion of revenue the iTunes store and streaming services pay out in royalties. It's tempting to think of per-stream royalties — often a fraction of a cent — as piddly contrasted with a 99 cent song or $9.99 album, but you can't really compare the two business models. The report notes someone could easily stream a song enough times to generate far more in royalties than they would have ever paid to own it. As streaming grows, what's more important is the way businesses split revenue, Bargfrede says.

"They're still paying 70 percent of their revenue, so what do you expect them to do? Do you expect them to pay 140 percent of their revenue, so you're getting twice as much? Twice as much would still be a fraction, maybe a penny or two," he says. "What exactly can a digital service do beyond what they're already doing, and waiting for the market to grow?"


That's about how many streams of royalty revenue a single song can have, according to music data company Kobalt. That's all the internet and terrestrial radio stations, streaming services, digital music stores, physical sales, licencing and so on. As more music becomes available online and services start paying royalties by-the-stream instead of by-the-sale, the amount of micro-transactions increases exponentially, Bargfrede says, and it's harder for the existing technology to keep up with all that information.

68 cents

That's the portion of a $9.99 monthly subscription to a streaming service actually makes it to artists, according to the Berklee report, and all told, labels keep about 73 percent of royalties from streaming. But that doesn't even tell the whole story.

Here's the rub: those royalties are passed down a line of rights groups, publishers or third-party distributors before they make it to the label and then the artist. These players are supposed to divvy up the royalties companies like Spotify are paying out, which is complicated; the composition and recording are usually two separate copyrights, or there might be several co-writers or publishers. All the agreements dictating those payments are secret, and researchers found that royalty statements were difficult to parse.

Bargfrede says Rethink Music got a hold of one statement from a "platinum-selling artist" signed to a major label and traced back the average royalty rate per stream, but it's difficult to know how accurate those numbers are if a sizable chunk of royalty payments don't make it to artists at all.

$42.5 million

That's the advance royalty payment stipulated by a 2011 contract between Sony and Spotify that leaked this spring. According to the Berklee report, if royalty payouts add up to less than an advance, it's typical for labels to pocket the remainder. And that's not the only way royalties get stuck in between services and artists.

When streaming services or rights organizations don't know where to distribute royalties, they're put in a "black box" account that's eventually paid out to labels according to market share. 

How could rights groups not know whom to give royalties to? Songs are often not registered in a consistent way, and sometimes titles are incorrectly translated, Bargfrede says. The disconnect could come down to a simple spelling issue — the difference between "Beyonce" and "Beyoncé."

Some have pushed for standardizing codes assigned to each composition and recording to more easily distribute royalties, but the report notes these standards — along with better technology for tracking royalties — haven't been widely adopted yet.

"There are a lot of things that could be fixed here, and there's a lot of foot-dragging," he says. "You're looking at a legacy business that's decades old, and it takes time to adopt new technology. But it's time to say, 'OK lets march forward, we need to do this,'" Bargfrede says.

Jury Confirms That Holmes Is Eligible For Death Over Aurora Theater Shootings

NPR News - Thu, 2015-07-23 11:07

A jury still needs to determine how to punish James Holmes. Convicted of first-degree murder, he faces either a lifetime prison sentence or execution.

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Administration Prods States To Scrutinize Insurers' Rate Hikes

NPR News - Thu, 2015-07-23 10:56

As health insurers propose their rates for 2016, state agencies are So far only a handful of states have finalized rates for 2016.

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How Democratic-Leaning Detroit Helped Shape Ben Carson's Conservative Views

NPR News - Thu, 2015-07-23 10:48

Detroit is not exactly known as a haven of conservatism, especially in the black community, but a look at where Carson grew up reveals a young man determined to carve his own path.

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Surprise: America's Roads Are Improving

NPR News - Thu, 2015-07-23 10:40

A common talking point in the Highway Trust Fund fight is that roads are crumbling. So it may surprise you to know that the country's roads and bridges actually have been looking better lately.

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Donald Trump visits Mexican border

BBC - Thu, 2015-07-23 10:36
Donald Trump arrives on the Texas-Mexico border, an area he vows to secure if he is elected US president.

Bolt unsure of fitness for London

BBC - Thu, 2015-07-23 10:32
Usain Bolt says he is unsure how his pelvic injury will cope with possibly running two races at Friday's Anniversary Games.

Emergency call over 'vicious' badger

BBC - Thu, 2015-07-23 10:31
A 999 call from a man complaining he had been chased by a "vicious" badger, is released by police.