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TECH TECH_Technology

French Google headquarters in Paris raided in an international tax probe

French finance officials investigating tax fraud suspicions raided the Paris headquarters of American tech giant, Google.

100 tax officials reportedly forced entry into the Google offices in Paris in the early morning on May 24, 2016.

The reason for the raid was Google having been charged with owing $1.8 billion (€1.6 billion; £1.3 billion) in unpaid taxes.

“We comply with French law and are co-operating fully with the authorities to answer their questions,” stated Google after the raid.

Google is one of many large international businesses that have come under the scrutinizing eye of tax officials. Many companies, it is alleged, have been minimizing their tax bills by using what is tantamount to state aid from different European countries.

In the case of Google, specifically, they are accused of paying taxes in the Republic of Ireland when sales are made in the United Kingdom. In January, 2016, Google inked a deal with the United Kingdom and its tax authorities to pay an extra £130 million in taxes from a period beginning in 2005.

The deal was met with disapproval because of the small amount agreed to by the tax officials for such large perceived grosses for Google.

“[The deal between Google and UK tax officials] seems disproportionately small,” responded The United Kingdom Public Accounts Committee to the questionable deal.

In April, 2016, the European Union announced that it would work to force large international companies to declare publicly how much they paid in taxes in each EU country in which they did business. The businesses would also have to disclose activities in tax havens.

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NWT_Biology NWT_Earth SCI

New evidence shows Neanderthals were quite intelligent

Archeologists have found a ringlike structures in the Bruniquel Cave in France. The ringlike structures are clearly not natural as they look to have been carved out of the stalagmites in the caves. The rings also date back to the Neanderthal period concluding the theory that the ancient humanoid designed them.

The rings are numerous in number and seem to have been placed in a pattern of some kind as illustrated by 3D projections of the cave. This proves that the Neanderthals were actually intelligent enough to construct structures.

The cave is also quite deep. Researchers previously believed that Neanderthals were afraid to go deep into caves due to lack of light. However, the Bruniquel Cave is over 1000 feet deep. The Neanderthals seem to have created a home in this deep cave.

“What is most surprising to me is that this discovery is showing that Neanderthals ventured underground and far away from any source of natural light, ” says Soressi and archaeologist on the site. “I think we have by now many different lines of evidence to show that Neanderthals, and even Neanderthals 200,000 years ago, had cognitive abilities not so different from our direct ancestors.”

In the deep cave, there is evidence of burnt stalagmites at the center of the cave. Scientists believe that this may have been a fireplace for the early humanoids. They also seem to have created fire torches from bone pieces. The soft fatty tissue at the end of bones may have acted as a fuel to keep the flame burning.

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NONE

Wisconsin factory sued after demanding Muslim workers stop taking breaks for prayer

The Council on American Islamic Relations has filed a religious complaint against Ariens Co., a Wisconsin manufacturing company that has been debating with some of its Muslim employees over prayer breaks.

Ariens Co., a plant located outside of Green Bay, Wisconsin that manufactures snow blowers and lawnmowers, fired seven Muslim employees after they refused to stop taking their extra breaks for prayer. The firings occurred in January, 2016 and since then, 14 other Muslim employees resigned their positions at the company.

Many Muslims pray at least five times a day, a practice called the Salah prayer times. These prayers are never supposed to occur before their designated times, but Ariens Co., and many other employers around the United States, grant a certain time designated for a break during the work day.

The dispute began in November, 2016, and pundits are calling it an example of a multicultural nation working to accommodate all of its many members.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission requires that all American employers accommodate prayers and other religious rites as long as they do not hinder employees from efficiently completing their work or cause “undue hardship” to the company.

“Unless they can prove undue hardship, and that is definitely what is at the heart of the matter,” then the policy change is illegal,” said Ibrahim Hooper, the national communications director for the Council on American Islamic Relations. “What one company thinks is an undue hardship is not actually. It is always a matter of debate and compromise.”

 

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NONE

Primordial black holes and dark matter may be linked

Dark matter is the elusive substance thought to make up about 85 percent of the mass in the universe.  Scientists have observed the effects of dark matter but have not detected it directly and its exact nature remains a mystery.

Headlines & Global News reports that a new study by a NASA scientist makes a possible connection between dark matter and primordial black holes.  Primordial black holes are those created at the dawn of the universe, and the study suggests that dark matter is made of those first-generation black holes.

The study looks to explain observations made of cosmic infrared and X-ray background signals as well as the high masses of recently sighted merging black holes.

“This study is an effort to bring together a broad set of ideas and observations to test how well they fit, and the fit is surprisingly good,” Alexander Kashlinsky of NASA said. “If this is correct, then all galaxies, including our own, are embedded within a vast sphere of black holes each about 30 times the sun’s mass.”

Earlier this year, scientists announced that the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) had detected gravitational waves produced by a massive black hole merger.  Kashlinsky’s research suggests that the black holes detected by LIGO may be primordial black holes casting their influence across the history of the universe.

The study looked at the feasibility that dark matter may be made of primordial black holes, perhaps like those detected by LIGO.  Astrophysicists believe that, at the dawn of the universe, clumps of dark matter drew in gases which then collapsed into stars.  This early star formation gave off infrared light.

At the same time, matter falling in toward black holes is known to produce X-rays.  The study found that if the assumption is made that the clumps of dark matter at the universe’s birth were made of black holes, the scenario matches up with current readings of infrared and X-ray signals present in the cosmos.

“Future LIGO observing runs will tell us much more about the universe’s population of black holes, and it won’t be long before we’ll know if the scenario I outline is either supported or ruled out,” Kashlinsky said.

The paper was published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters.

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CELEB

Fans to have more say in movie scripts

The voice of the fans is getting clearer and louder. So much so, that Hollywood is paying attention. Tools such as social media has turned fans into worthy contributors. Proof of this is the trending hash tag#GiveCaptainAmericaABoyfriend.

Fans of Marvel have expressed their disappointment with Captain America’s relationship with Peggy Carters Niece. Recently, the fans voted that James Bond should be a woman. They have even gone as far as fronting LupitaNyongo, Helen Mirren, and Gillian Anderson for upcoming roles.

This idea is not a new. In the past, fans voted on who should play Doctor Who. They also voted to get Star Trek to run for a few more seasons. In most cases, the feedback was not entertained by creators. However, a paradigm shift is in the making.

Social media has changed the tide to the fans favor. It is way easier for anyone with a keyboard and The Internet to locate creators. If the complaining fans can collect into a large enough group, then the creators have to take note.

Creators are gradually taking a pro fan position. The iconic figures are being altered to fit the specifications of the fans. Star Wars has led the pack. Casino Royale has responded in kind.

A more human persona has replaced the perfect James Bond stereotype. This willingness to change the rule book is the first in many steps. Fans are casting doubt on traditional ideas. Hollywood is nothing without fans.”It sends signals fan discussion is being heard,” a Marvel representative said, the creator of the Marvel sequel.

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SPORT_MMA

Ricky Burns wants big payday brawl against Adrien Broner

British former World Boxing Organization featherweight and lightweight champion, Ricky Burns (39-5-1, 13 KOs) is eyeing a large cash match up with the controversial former four weight class world champion, Adrien Broner (32-3-1, 24 KOs).

Burns, who hasn’t fought since November and who went bankrupt after a legal battle with his former promoter, Frank Warren, will look to defeat Italian Michele di Rocco (40-1-1, 18 KOs) May 28, 2016 in his next match.

“I was meant to fight Adrien Broner at super-featherweight and lightweight,” said Burns. “It’s always been a fight on the table but you don’t know what sort of Broner will turn up and if he’ll make the weight. I’ll take on anyone if I win though.”

The fight between Burns and Di Rocco will be for the World Boxing Association Light Welterweight Championship belt of which Broner was stripped after failing to make the weight against another Brit in Ashley Theophane.

“The last couple of years have been up and down for me, but I don’t need any extra incentive on this fight, it’s a massive chance for me to create history,” remarked Burns. “I’ve put myself through it over the last 10 weeks because there’s no way I am losing — I am ready for anything that comes my way.”

With a win over di Rocco, Burns hopes to obtain a contract to fight Broner, who will likely provide the largest payday Burns has garnered in his career. Broner has been embroiled in controversy stemming from issues making weight, legal troubles, and off color comments of late.

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SCI

Oldest beer recipe unearthed

Scientists have discovered evidence of beer brewing in China. The archaeological site dates back to 3400 BC. The most surprising bit of this info is that there is evidence that the Chinese used barley as part of their recipe. This is peculiar as there is no evidence to support that the crop was grown in Asia at the time. The Barley use has led scientists to think that perhaps intercontinental trade started much earlier than previously thought.

The beer brew facility proved that the art has changed very little over the 7000 years of drink making. The Chinese used a fermentation pot much like the one used today. They also used a fermentation technique very similar to the one used today.

However, their recipe was unique to that used in Europe at the time. They used barley has their main ingredient, but added Chinese pearl barley was giving it both a sour and sweet taste. “All indications are that ancient peoples, including those at this Chinese dig site, applied the same principles and techniques as brewers do today,” said McGovern, an expert in ancient fermented drinks.

The Chinese were however not the first people to partake in beer. Iran records the earliest evidence of creating a distiller. Egypt follows next with a more sophisticated method of beer creation.

Scientists assume that the reason for beer has always been the same since its first invasion. It was meant for tension breaking. This is evident from the most of the big empires having a brewery by 2000 BC.

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NONE

Black inmate may get a new lease on life after evidence of racial discrimination

Timothy Tyrone Foster, an inmate, accused of murdering an elderly 79-year-old white woman, has gotten a hearing with the Supreme Court. New evidence emerging from the case files show that the court removed all black jurors from the case.

From the case files, the appeal team found that next to the black jurors’ names a “B” was placed indicating their race. The courts then replaced them with as predominantly black new set of jurors. The appeal says that this is enough ground to hold an appeal from.

“The focus on race in the prosecution’s file plainly demonstrates a concerted effort to keep black prospective jurors off the jury,” said Chief Justice John Roberts. “The State’s new argument today does not dissuade us from the conclusion that its prosecutors were motivated in substantial part by race.”

But the story took another former twist judge; Thomas the judge who gave the ruling was not pleased with all with the decision to review his judgment. He says the Supreme Court had no power to review his decision. He says it is not lawful to look for new evidence so many years later because you will find it.

But former Judge Thomas says he did have his reasons for replacing the black jurors. He said that jurors should be impartial and the fact that the man on trial was on trial the would have made the black jurors bias.

However, Timothy’s accusations are quite gruesome, to say the least. He is accused of attacking, drugging, sexually assaulting and strangling the 79-year-old woman to death. Experts believe that it would be tough for him to win the appeal. However, this would open more investigations on other cases.

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CELEB HOUNDS_Entertainment

Shia Labeouf to Hitchhike for Art and passion

Shia has done it all, from motivational speeches to decorating paper bags. He has used these radical measures to send a message across. To add to his set of conquests, he is going to be hitchhiking for art. His colleagues Rönkkö and Turner are accompanying him for the hike. Although his fans were surprised, they have been very supportive.

The next one month will see Shia used tweets and GPS systems to track the journey. The project has the blessings of The Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art. The Finnish Institute in London and MediaLive 2016. Vice and the Frame, Contemporary Art Finland are also contributors.

To add to the fun Shia promised to do anything strangers requested of him along the way. The journey began on Monday. In the company of five friends, he talked to his father. His father was a circus clown who made a living by juggling chicken.

The residents who have taken him up on the offer, report he is very down to earth. People complimented him as being calm, humble and receiving. His friends were quick to point out the dangers of the journey. However, Shia is not worried.

Using the analogy of a mirror, the actor was doubtful anything would happen.”I am a mirror, if I put out good, good reflects back,” said the transformer star. “I do what I can for what I love.” Hitchhiking is not the safest way to move from one point to another. Many have lost their lives during the journey.

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TECH TECH_Social TECH_Technology

Google set to launch a program that will mimic human conversation

Google has launched a new project to make the company more intimate with its users. Google’s new digital butler is called Google Assistant. The assistant is similar to Amazon Echo. Google hopes the assistant can speak to users.

Conversation experts are skeptical about the human touch.”To be able to imitate human conversation is not going to be easy. Said Bell, Simple tasks such as texting a friend and playing music can be done by a simple voice command Intel’s cultural anthropologist. “There is something about speech that is human.”

There are already players in the digital butler space. Contenders include Facebook and Amazon. Facebook announced they were working on chatbots. The chatbots shall be able to chat with users via Facebook messenger. The bots will handle simple frequently asked questions.

Apple and Microsoft have also been working overtime to bring their assistants to life. Computers can now talk to man thanks to the countless layers of code. Amazons Alexa can even respond to customer queries.
Google Assistant will be housed in the application called Allo. To be able to talk to people a smart speaker called Google Home comes into play. TA simple voice commands can do simple tasks such as texting a friend and playing music

Talking robots looked like a far-fetched dream. Google aims to have an assistant that can answer questions in real time.

The bone of contention is how digital butlers will fit in family conversations. Computers have never been here before. Creators are keen on adding the personal component. A digital butler should be able to get into family conversations just like any member of the family.