National / International News

Outsider Varela wins Panama election

BBC - Mon, 2014-05-05 01:00
Opposition leader Juan Carlos Varela wins the presidential election in Panama with almost 40% of the vote, promising cleaner government.

The guitarist with 78 fingers

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-05-05 01:00

Tom Jenkinson, aka Squarepusher, is known for pushing the limits of electronic music.

His latest EP goes beyond electronic sounds and into the territory of electronic musicians: robots that play instruments.

He first encountered the musical machinery last year when Japanese researchers introduced him to the Z-Machine robots: a 78-fingered guitarist, a percussionist utilizing 22 drums, and a lightning speed keyboardist. Jenkinson was immediately impressed by the robots' capabilities.

He also discovered that in spite of their incredible abilities, they are not limitless. In fact, Jenkinson even had fun playing with pushing the guitar robot too far:

"There are elements in the recording where I’ve actually deliberately pushed it too far, because you can then start to get these very strange, random, idiosyncratic...barrage of noise that I find really fascinating and quite interesting."

Ultimately, though, Jenkinson wanted to find out if robot musicians could make emotional music. While he is reluctant to say whether or not he succeeded, he's fairly certain that the album went a long way in providing an answer:

"I find technology fascinating in it’s own right, but my criteria for releasing a piece of music is that it has something above and beyond that. It has an element which can’t be written down, it can’t be quantified."

Find out more about "Music for Robots" here, or purchase the EP here.

Marketplace Tech gets musical

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-05-05 01:00

When you ask someone about their favorite piece of music, the conversation gets personal. Everyone feels music differently -- that's what makes it human.

It's why music and technology, at least to some people, seem like a mismatch. Machines are cold. Music is not. 

Here's the thing: We use technology to make music all the time. No, I do not count the auto-tuned antics of Glee tracks released on iTunes. I'm talking about musicians using technology to compose, create, and record music. It's a relationship that gets deeper and more complex all the time. The place where music and technology cross paths is a fascinating intersection.

All this week, we'll talk to musicians for whom tech is an integral part of their process. From Squarepusher, who wrote an entire EP of music played by robot musicians, to Merrill Garbus of tUnE-yArDs, who turns herself into a one-woman percussion instrument using loops and drum machines. We'll also talk to prolific film composer John Powell about his recording process for film, and electronic musician/composer Dan Deacon about why the computer is the biggest diva he's ever worked with (and why it has a right to be). DJ Rekha, credited with bringing Bhangra music to America, talks about the technology involved in being a DJ, and how it has evolved over time.

These are musicians and performers at the top of their game who constantly ask themselves how technology can help them be better at what they do, but also wonder how far is too far when it comes to letting machines take over. Each of these guests have funny and insightful comments to offer.

So plug in your keytar, boot up your computer, and let's get to playing with machines.

Police commissioners 'on probation'

BBC - Mon, 2014-05-05 00:57
The concept of police and crime commissioners remains "on probation" two years after the first elections, a committee of MPs says.

Ann Maguire malicious message charge

BBC - Mon, 2014-05-05 00:21
A 42-year-old Port Talbot man is to appear in court charged with "malicious communications" after the murder of Leeds teacher Ann Maguire.

All The Single Ladies: 5 Takeaways About Unmarried Female Voters

NPR News - Mon, 2014-05-05 00:21

Going into midterm elections, this key demographic poses a big challenge for Democrats: getting their most reliable female supporters to become more reliable voters.

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Thousands take part in marathon

BBC - Mon, 2014-05-05 00:10
Thousands of people take part in this year's Belfast Marathon, won by Kenyan Freddy Sittuk.

S Sudan oil town offensive falters

BBC - Sun, 2014-05-04 23:47
South Sudan government troops trying to retake the oil town of Bentiu from rebels have been forced back amid heavy gunfire, a BBC correspondent says.

£184,000 to promote food and drink

BBC - Sun, 2014-05-04 23:40
More than £184,000 is set aside to help food festivals in Wales promote home-grown produce this year.

South Sudan's Unrest Turns Politicians To Rebels, Tents To Homes

NPR News - Sun, 2014-05-04 23:40

Even where there is peace, there is distrust, as the country divides along ethnic lines. In the government-controlled capital, members of the Nuer ethnic group are seeking protection in a U.N. camp.

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Learning A New Skill Works Best To Keep Your Brain Sharp

NPR News - Sun, 2014-05-04 23:39

Brain training has become a multimillion-dollar industry. But if you want to improve your memory, don't waste your time and money on brain games. You'd be better off learning how to quilt.

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You Had Me At Hello: The Science Behind First Impressions

NPR News - Sun, 2014-05-04 23:39

Maybe it's true that you never get a second chance to make a first impression. People are judging your personality from the first word you speak, scientists say. Try it yourself with our quiz.

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Seeking A Fortune Through Search Funds

NPR News - Sun, 2014-05-04 23:38

Normally, investors look for promising companies to invest in. With search funds, they invest in promising people. Investors back "searchers" by covering their pay while they hunt for companies.

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Blessed Be Thy Bicycle: New York Riders Roll Into Church

NPR News - Sun, 2014-05-04 23:37

The Cathedral of St. John the Divine held its 16th annual ceremony to bless the city's bikes and cyclists on Saturday. Some come for God's help; others are just hoping for "a little extra mojo."

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US-Philippine military drills begin

BBC - Sun, 2014-05-04 23:26
About 5,500 troops from the United States and the Philippines begin an annual military exercise, amid tensions between Manila and China.

VIDEO: Coverage of Pistorius trial

BBC - Sun, 2014-05-04 23:14
Live coverage of the trial of South African athlete Oscar Pistorius, who denies the premeditated murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine's Day 2013.

Chaplain speaks of Adams 'memorial'

BBC - Sun, 2014-05-04 23:08
The grand chaplain of the Orange Order tells a public rally he is sad that a new mural erected in tribute to Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams is not a "memorial mural".

Are love locks romantic or a menace?

BBC - Sun, 2014-05-04 23:07
Are love locks on bridges romantic or a menace?

VIDEO: Is less time at work more productive?

BBC - Sun, 2014-05-04 23:05
A new study by researchers at the University of Leeds suggests the UK economy could benefit from people working fewer hours.

Elena Baltacha's career in pictures

BBC - Sun, 2014-05-04 22:52
Highlights of former British number one Elena Baltacha's career
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