National / International News
It's the first time Queen Elizabeth is facing a possible strike by employees of the royal family. At issue is whether employees should be expected to do extra work for no additional pay.
Mixing judges with campaign contributions can lead to conflicts of interest. Fresh Air talks to retired Judge Sue Bell Cobb and the Center for American Progress' Billy Corriher.
March 31, 2015
They're tiny little sticker things with a button on it that come branded with various household products ... Tide detergent, for instance, or Gatorade.
The idea is that you put 'em in your pantry, or your laundry room, they connect through your wifi network at home, and if you need a re-supply, you just push the button and presto, order made.
I get the whole "internet of things" thing but ... I just don't know.
Whatever the outcome of attempts this week to reach a tentative nuclear agreement between six world powers and Iran, experts say the process of lifting sanctions against the country will likely be slow and incremental, with many hurdles.
Iran is under sanctions from many entities, including the United States, the United Nations and the European Union, for refusing to halt activities that could result in the production of nuclear weapons. The sanctions have hammered its economy, throttled its oil exports and choked off investment there. Iran wants the sanctions lifted as soon as any deal goes into place.
“It’s unrealistic to expect that the sanctions will be lifted immediately,” says Elizabeth Rosenberg, director of the Energy, Economics and Security program at the Center for New American Security.
The six world powers negotiating with Iran are the U.S., Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China. Rosenberg says even if they hash out a deal with Iran by the final deadline of June 30th, there will be yet more steps to easing sanctions. She notes that the European Union, for example, will have to get consensus from all 28 member states.
“And that's been a challenge in the past when it comes to Iran, is getting everyone on the same page,” she says.
Rosenberg says it's even more complicated in the U.S., which has some of the most powerful sanctions in place limiting commerce with Iranian individuals and institutions. There are also sharp disagreements here between President Barack Obama and Congress over whether to ease sanctions.
Suzanne Maloney, a senior fellow at the Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution, says the president has some ability to waive sanctions but only on a temporary basis.
“The president will in most cases have no more than 180-day waiver authority, and in some cases even less,” she says.
Maloney says some members of Congress want to limit the president’s powers even further. She says with that much uncertainty in the air, American businesses will likely be very cautious about any investment in Iran for the foreseeable future.
The announcement took place at a press conference featuring not only Jay Z, but a line-up of superstar musical acts ranging from Madonna to the Daft Punk guys — complete with robot helmets.
March 30, 2015 Three takeaways from TIDAL's debut:
1.The musicians emphasized, repeatedly, that the new product would be artist-owned. (The Financial Times reports that at least 15 musicians received equity portions and cash.)
2. Music lawyer Dina LaPolt says it's an example of artists doing something major record labels have done — negotiating for not only royalties but equity from streaming companies. That gives them a piece of the potential upside of a growing streaming business. "About a third of revenues are generated from streaming music services," says Cara Duckworth of the Recording Industry Association of America.
3. But how much more artists will make from the "artist-owned" platform remains unclear — even if they're able to convince consumers to cough up the money for a paid subscription. TIDAL's membership tiers of $9.99 and $19.99 are slightly more expensive than comparable streaming services, and it offers no free version. "In terms of the brass tacks of how much artists get paid, there really isn't much Tidal can do," says Mark Mulligan, music industry analyst at MIDiA Consulting.
Oil prices took another dip today on Monday, a barrel of U.S. crude was back down under $48 as of Monday afternoon.
There are all sorts of reasons why the price of oil is falling. There's the fact that global demand is low; there's the worry that Iran may start pumping its oil into the market; there's the fact that we may be running out of room to put all the oil we have in the market right now.
And then there's the strong dollar.
This may sound a bit counterintuitive. Why would a strong dollar put pressure on oil prices? Surely a strong dollar gives American companies more purchasing power, which, given the size of the U.S. economy would mean more activity, which would translate to more demand, which would lead to an increase in the price of oil. I mean ... surely!
The oil business does business in dollars. Which means everyone who wants to buy (or sell) oil has to do it in dollars. Why dollars? Because they're readily available, anywhere in the world, and it makes life easy to do business in just one currency when you're dealing in such an important global commodity.
The problem is, in order to do business in dollars you have to buy dollars. And right now, dollars are expensive. In January, a barrel of Brent crude would have cost me about $50. It would have cost my cousin Brendan, in Ireland, about 40 euro. In March, a barrel of Brent crude will cost me ... about $50, but Brendan, because he has to buy dollars with his euro before he can buy the oil, ends up paying about 45 euro for that barrel. Now, 5 euro doesn't sound like much, but the people who by oil by the barrel usually buy hundreds of thousands of barrels at a time, and pretty soon that adds up to real money.
In other words, the price of oil may not be rising in dollars, but it's certainly rising in euro and rubles and yen. And the higher it rises, the less the Europeans and Russians and Japanese are willing to buy. So demand falls. And as demand falls, producers find they have a surplus. And to reduce that surplus, they cut the price.
Ad that's why, if the dollar continues to rise, the price of oil could continue to fall.