Saudi Arabia Gives Citizenship To A Robot Named Sophia

Above: Saudi Arabia Gives Citizenship To A Robot Named Sophia.

Saudi Arabia just made a non-human woman a citizen, making it the first country to grant a robot the right to citizenship, at least as far as we know. Why Saudi Arabia did so isn’t immediately clear, but the irony of a nation known for denying basic human rights to its female citizens while giving human rights to a female robot is not lost on us. The robot, known as Sophia, appeared onstage without an abaya, a head covering and cloak normally required of women by the Saudi government.

“I am very honored and proud for this unique distinction,” the robot said onstage. “This is historical to be the first robot in the world to be recognized with a citizenship.”

We are not sure exactly what Sophia’s rights will afford her in Saudi Arabia (one of the most oppressive countries for women on the planet), but if she sticks around until June 2018 when women will finally be allowed to drive, she will at least be able to purchase her own car in order to get out of the country as fast as possible.

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Catalan Parliament Declares Independence From Spain

Catalan Parliament Declares Independence From Spain.

BARCELONA, Spain — Spain faced a territorial showdown Friday with dueling votes over the future of Catalonia. Lawmakers in the regional parliament voted to secede and establish an independent Catalan Republic — an extraordinary move met moments later by a Spanish Senate vote to authorize the government to take control of the prosperous northeastern region.

A majority of senators gave Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy the go-ahead to apply unprecedented constitutional measures, including firing Catalan regional President Carles Puigdemont and his Cabinet and curtailing Catalan parliamentary powers.

It will be the first time in four decades of democratic rule in Spain that the national government in Madrid will directly run the affairs of one of the country’s 17 semi-autonomous regions, a move that will likely fan the flames of the Catalan revolt.

A spokesman with the central government said Rajoy’s Cabinet would enact the measures immediately during an urgent meeting later Friday.

In Barcelona, the main city in Catalonia, the vote on the motion to secede was approved with 70 in favor of independence, 10 against and two blank ballots in Catalonia’s 135-member parliament.

Outside the parliament, thousands who had gathered to call for independence cheered at the news, with some dancing and raising glasses to toast the vote after seeing the vote-counting live on a giant screen.

No country has expressed support for independence for Catalonia, a region of 7.5 million people. Catalonia represents a fifth of Spain’s gross domestic product and polls show its people roughly evenly divided over independence. The regional government said a disputed October 1, 2017 referendum, which was banned by Spain’s Constitutional Court, had given it the mandate to declare independence.

Catalonia Just Declared Independence From Spain. What’s Going On?

Catalonia – one of the major regions in Spain – is battling to declare independence and become its own country. We traveled to the area to hear different perspectives on the independence movement and witness the massive demonstrations.

Catalonia Independence From Spain (For Dummies)

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Bitcoin Mining Can Land You In Jail In Venezuela

Above: Bitcoin Mining Can Land You In Jail In Venezuela.

Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin have long been seen as a risky investment but in Venezuela you can end up behind bars. Thousands of others across Venezuela are secretly mining Bitcoin just to make ends meet. In Venezuela being involved with Bitcoin is very dangerous, but also a vital lifeline for survival. Venezuela was once the richest country in South America, but now it is a country in crisis.

Venezuela has the highest inflation rate in the world, and its currency is in serious trouble. Food and basic necessities are scarce in Venezuela. In fact, the situation is so bad in Venezuela that people are starving, rationing toothpaste, and saving as much toilet paper as possible (soap and toilet paper can be used to trade or barter for other basic necessities such as food and water). Continue reading “Bitcoin Mining Can Land You In Jail In Venezuela”

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How Do We Detect Secret Nuclear Tests Done By North Korea?

Above: How Do We Detect Secret Nuclear Tests?

North Korea just tested their 5th nuclear device, but how exactly do we know? How do we detect underground nuclear tests from so far away? North Korea just conducted a fifth nuclear test on Friday, an underground blast that Seoul (South Korea) quickly labeled its most powerful to date. Here are some key questions around the blast and the isolated North Korea’s nuclear program. What do we know so far?

North Korea said it hit the button on its fifth and potentially most powerful nuclear test Friday morning, claiming to have successfully detonated a nuclear warhead that could be mounted on ballistic rockets. The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) bans nuclear explosions by anyone and everywhere on planet Earth: on the Earth’s surface, in the atmosphere, underwater, and underground.

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How We Can Never Become An Advanced Civilization Until We Solve The Big Picture

Above: How We Can Never Become An Advanced Civilization Until We Solve The Big Picture.

The first photograph taken of earth, from space, caused a profound shift in our understanding of ourselves and the universe — an ontological awakening.

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Why Is Gold The Perfect Element For Currency?

Above: Why Is Gold The Perfect Element For Currency?

Is gold money? If there were to be one element to use as a currency gold would be that element. Gold is malleable, rare but not too rare like platinum, not dangerous to humans, and pretty. But why do we value gold, and is gold truly the perfect currency in an age of funny looking paper money? Continue reading “Why Is Gold The Perfect Element For Currency?”

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How Powerful Is The United Arab Emirates? How Wealthy Is The United Arab Emirates?

Above: How Powerful Is The United Arab Emirates? How Wealthy Is The United Arab Emirates?

With a strong defense system and an abundance of oil, the United Arab Emirates has become a global force. So, how powerful is the country? The United Arab Emirates confirms no income tax yet for its citizens, but VAT taxes might be coming soon.

The United Arab Emirates

The United Arab Emirates, sometimes simply called the Emirates or the UAE, is a country located at the southeast end of the Arabian Peninsula on the Persian Gulf, bordering Oman to the east and Saudi Arabia to the south, as well as sharing sea borders with Qatar and Iran. In 2013, the United Arab Emirates had a total population of 9.2 million people, of which 1.4 million were Emirati citizens and 7.8 million were expatriates.

Established in December 1971, the country is a federation of seven emirates. The constituent emirates are Abu Dhabi (which serves as the capital), Ajman, Dubai, Fujairah, Ras al-Khaimah, Sharjah, and Umm al-Quwain. Each emirate is governed by an absolute monarch; together, they jointly form the Federal Supreme Council. One of the monarchs is selected as the President of the United Arab Emirates. Islam is the official religion of the United Arab Emirates, and Arabic is the official language, although English is widely spoken and is the language of business and education, especially in Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

The oil reserves of the United Arab Emirates are the seventh largest in the world, while its natural gas reserves are the world’s 17th largest. The late Sheikh Zayed, ruler of Abu Dhabi and the first President of the United Arab Emirates, oversaw the development of the Emirates and steered oil revenues into healthcare, education, and infrastructure. The economy of the United Arab Emirates is the most diversified in the Gulf Cooperation Council, with its most populous city of Dubai emerging into a global city and international aviation hub. Nevertheless, the country remains extremely reliant on its export of petroleum and natural gas.

The United Arab Emirates has been criticized for its human rights record, including the role of Sharia law in its legal system. The rising international profile of the United Arab Emirates has led some analysts to identify it as a regional and middle power.

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The Fascinating Story Of Yahoo | How Verizon Bought Yahoo For $4.8 Billion Instead Of $45 Billion United States Dollars

“POETIC” is how Marissa Mayer, the Chief Executive Officer of Yahoo, described the sale of Yahoo to Verizon. Others, remembering better times at Yahoo, see little that is artful about the decline and fall of the 22 year old Internet company. On July 25th 2016, Verizon, a telecommunications giant that is also America’s biggest mobile operator, announced it would buy Yahoo’s main Internet business for $4.8 billion United States Dollars (a price that does not include Yahoo’s properties in Asia or its portfolio of patents). The sum is paltry compared with Microsoft’s offer of $45 billion in 2008, which Yahoo’s management turned down, arguing that the firm was worth a lot more money.

In all fairness, Microsoft’s bid of $45 billion reflected the valuation of the entirety of Yahoo including Yahoo’s ownership in Alibaba (a Chinese e-commerce giant) as well as Yahoo Japan, but it is important to remember that Alibaba was not worth as much in 2008 and did not have the huge valuation that it has today. In addition, Yahoo also made huge mistakes during the 2000’s, including passing the opportunity to purchase Google for pocket change when they were just starting out (many would argue that was the opportunity of a lifetime). Yahoo also missed huge opportunities and came close to buying YouTube and Facebook back when they were just starting out their businesses, only to pass on those opportunities because of a lack of vision by management.

At the time, these acquisitions probably looked like risky, uneconomical moves that Yahoo investors would hate. But now it’s all ancient Internet history, to be analyzed for years by future business school students from around the world. It is time for us to mourn Yahoo. Sorry, we mean Yahoo!

The Fascinating Story Of Yahoo | David Filo And Jerry Yang – Jerry And David’s Guide To The World Wide Web And The Origin Of Yahoo

Once upon a time, Yahoo was considered one of Silicon Valley’s most successful stories. Now it stands as a warning to other technology companies. Yahoo began in the year 1994 as a project in Stanford’s dormitories, when two students, David Filo and Jerry Yang, assembled their favorite web links on a page called “Jerry and David’s Guide to the World Wide Web”. The website, which they renamed Yahoo in preparation for a public stock offering, quickly became the “portal” through which millions of people first encountered the Internet. At its peak in 2000, Yahoo had a market value of approximately $128 billion, a fortune compared to the $4.8 billion that Verizon recently offered to pay for Yahoo.

The Story Of Yahoo – Missed Opportunities

Yahoo’s history is filled with opportunities and acquisitions that should not have been passed up. For example, Yahoo did not buy Google for pocket change when it had the chance (this was the opportunity of a lifetime since Google is now worth over $500 billion). Later on, Yahoo agreed to buy Facebook for $1 billion (now worth over $300 billion), but the deal fell through when Yahoo tried to negotiate down the price. It missed the chance to buy YouTube (subsequently bought by Google), and Yahoo’s purchase of eBay fell through for several different reasons which could have been avoided.

In 2012, when Marissa Mayer, an early Google executive and an engineer, arrived to try to reverse the fortunes of Yahoo, the firm’s Silicon Valley headquarters was filled with optimism. For more than two decades, Yahoo had been torn between its identity as a media company that made content and a technology company that provided tools for people to use online. It seemed that Marissa Mayer could be the leader to settle on a single identity and direction.

Instead, Marissa Mayer spent on everything and hoped something would work. Early on came the purchase of Tumblr in 2013, a social network and blogging platform, for $1.1 billion United States Dollars (Yahoo has since written down most of the purchase price). To beat out Google Marissa Mayer did a pricey, five year deal with Mozilla, the owner of the famous browser known around the world as Firefox (Yahoo became Firefox’s default search engine at an annual cost of more than $375 million United States Dollars). As for Yahoo’s own core business, revenues are falling each year as consumers and advertisers migrate from desktop computers and away from Yahoo’s products.

Verizon makes no claim to be able to restore Yahoo to its former glory. Rather, it believes that Yahoo could help its main business of selling mobile phone subscriptions since this has slowed now that most people have smartphones, which are falling in price. Yahoo would bring viewers, viewers would bring advertising dollars, and advertising dollars would bring top line growth (this is one of the reasons why Verizon decided to purchase Yahoo).

Last year Verizon spent $4.4 billion United States Dollars on AOL (America Online), another former darling from the 1990’s dotcom bubble era. Thus, with both Yahoo and AOL Verizon will achieve much needed scale: in the United States of America it will command the second most visited set of web properties after Google (Facebook would be in third place). Thus, Verizon is now betting that it will be able to use data from all of its approximately 113 million retail phone and Internet subscribers and bombard them with targeted ads as they browse apps or websites owned by Yahoo and AOL (America Online), making a fortune from new advertising revenue.

Verizon’s purchase of Yahoo does have one thing on its side: low expectations. Any success Verizon has with its purchase of Yahoo is all upside. By contrast, during her reign at Yahoo, Marissa Mayer was given unreasonably high expectations, along with constant scrutiny. Verizon has the freedom to say next to nothing about how Yahoo and its advertising business does in the near term since Yahoo will no longer be a publicly traded company. However, you will still be able to invest in Yahoo indirectly by buying shares in Verizon (ticker symbol: VZ) through a regular stock broker. Such relative invisibility may allow Verizon to press on with the radical surgery, such as reducing headcount, that Yahoo has needed for years but never actually received.

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Is Syria Becoming A Failed State? What Is Life Like In Aleppo, Syria?

Above: What Is A Failed State And Is Syria Becoming A Failed State? What Is Life Like In Aleppo, Syria?

As the civil war in Syria continues, the future of Syria hangs on a thread. Over the past 5 years, Aleppo has turned into a war zone, forcing many of its residents to leave the city. So what is life like for those who remain in Aleppo, Syria?

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