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Updated: 1 hour 57 min ago

Rome's 'Holy Stairs' bared for first time in 300 years

Wed, 04/17/2019 - 07:19

Rome's "Holy Stairs," which some Catholics believe were climbed by Jesus in Jerusalem, have been uncovered from a protective wooden casing for the first time in nearly three centuries and restored. The 28 marble steps will remain bare temporarily for devout pilgrims to climb on their knees with direct contact with the stone until they are covered again in June. According to tradition, the stairs, known as the "Scala Sancta," were part of Pontius Pilate's palace in Jerusalem and brought to Rome in 326 by St. Helen, the mother of Roman emperor Constantine, after she converted to Christianity.


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Pinterest Shuns Social-Media Label That May Help Demand for IPO

Wed, 04/17/2019 - 06:48

Zoom boosted its IPO price to as much as $35 a share.  A rare example of a profitable tech startup launching a public listing, Zoom could seek a market valuation of almost $9 billion. Pinterest has taken a slow and steady approach to growth and making money from the service, compared with the faster expansion rates of Facebook, Twitter, and Snap when they went public. Analysts expect revenue will likely come more from squeezing additional ad dollars from the base of users Pinterest already has, rather than growing its total audience.Despite Pinterest’s efforts to distance itself from the label of a "social media company", analysts say it can be a useful benchmark for valuation.


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Teen climate change activist Greta Thunberg meets Pope Francis ahead of protest

Wed, 04/17/2019 - 06:22

Teenage climate change activist Greta Thunberg met the pope in Rome Wednesday ahead of a youth rally against climate change this week. "The Holy Father thanked and encouraged Greta Thunberg for her commitment in defense of the environment, and in turn Greta, who had requested the meeting, thanked the Holy Father for his great commitment in defense of creation," the director of the Holy See Press Office, Alessandro Gisotti, told reporters about the meeting Wednesday morning in the Vatican. The teenage climate change activist rose to worldwide fame after addressing the United Nations climate change summit in Poland at the age of 15 in August.


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NASA plans record-setting stay for Christina Koch at International Space Station

Wed, 04/17/2019 - 06:17

Last month, NASA astronaut Christina Koch was less than a week away from a historic all-women spacewalk before a spacesuit availability problem nixed that plan, but Wednesday the space agency announced its intentions to give Koch a different piece of history. NASA announced that Koch -- who took off for the International Space Station on March 14, or Pi Day -- will stay in space through February 2020.


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4 scary health issues that should be on your college-bound child’s radar

Wed, 04/17/2019 - 06:01

Colleges can be a hotbed for germs with so many students living in close quarters. So making sure your teen knows the symptoms of certain health conditions — especially more serious ones — and what to do are crucial.


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With Climate Losses Rising, Central Banks Push Greener Finance

Wed, 04/17/2019 - 06:00

The move led by the Bank of France, Bank of England and People’s Bank of China draws the group deeper into a controversial area of policy-making where they advocate funding for alternatives to fossil fuels. The U.S. Federal Reserve and Banco do Brasil were the most prominent institutions not involved in the initiative, reflecting doubt about climate science voiced by Presidents Donald Trump and Jair Bolsonaro.


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With Climate Losses Rising, Central Banks Push Greener Finance

Wed, 04/17/2019 - 06:00

The move led by the Bank of France, Bank of England and People’s Bank of China draws the group deeper into a controversial area of policy-making where they advocate funding for alternatives to fossil fuels. The U.S. Federal Reserve and Banco do Brasil were the most prominent institutions not involved in the initiative, reflecting doubt about climate science voiced by Presidents Donald Trump and Jair Bolsonaro.


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Exclusive: RWE CFO maps out planned expansion in renewables, U.S. in focus

Wed, 04/17/2019 - 05:54

German utility RWE expects to spend heavily in the U.S. renewable energy market as it maps out its future as a global renewable champion after its pending asset swap deal with peer E.ON. "We expect to spend several billions of euros on the expansion of the U.S. renewables business in the next few years," chief financial officer Markus Krebber told Reuters in an interview.


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Portugal's truck drivers to meet essential supplies as fuel dries up

Wed, 04/17/2019 - 05:35

Portugal declared an energy crisis on Tuesday night after the strike forced it to order striking workers to get back on the road immediately as airports resorted to emergency reserves, forcing at least one flight to be canceled. Airports in Lisbon and Faro, the country's two biggest tourist hubs, have been running low on fuel supplies, and long queues of motorists have formed outside thousands of petrol stations across the country. The government said in a statement that representatives from the National Union of Dangerous Goods Drivers had agreed to provide minimum services in talks held late on Tuesday.


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Netflix Analysts Shrug Off Weak Forecast as Shares Erase Decline

Wed, 04/17/2019 - 05:30

Strong first-quarter results, pricing power and improving margins were the focus of analyst reports in the wake of Netflix’s first-quarter earnings. Netflix’s results showed “pricing power on display” with record global paid net adds of 9.6 million in the first quarter, “well ahead of our expectations and guidance.” The forecast for second-quarter U.S. net additions was “modestly below” Morgan Stanley’s estimate.


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Ancient Christian manuscripts digitized at monastery beneath Mount Sinai

Wed, 04/17/2019 - 05:10

ST. CATHERINE’S, EGYPT - (Reuters) - At St. Catherine's Monastery at the foot of Egypt's Mount Sinai, the silence in the library is broken only by low electrical humming, as an early manuscript is bathed in green light. A team from Greece are photographing thousands of fragile manuscripts, including some of the earliest copies of the Christian gospels, using a complex process that includes taking images in red, green and blue light and merging them with computer software to create a single high-quality color picture. Although the monastery has survived centuries of warfare, it lies in a region where Islamist militants have destroyed countless cultural artifacts and documents in Syria and Iraq.


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Pakistan's PM Khan to visit China next week, sign new pacts

Wed, 04/17/2019 - 05:02

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan will visit China next week to meet its leaders and deliver a keynote speech at the vast Belt and Road Forum in Beijing, the South Asian nation's foreign ministry said on Wednesday, as economic anxiety grows at home. China has pledged about $60 billion in infrastructure loans for Pakistan, touted as a success story of its Belt and Road initiative, which aims to build road and maritime trading routes across the globe.


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Turkey looking at new trade mechanisms with Iran to avoid U.S. sanctions

Wed, 04/17/2019 - 04:54

Cavusoglu reiterated Turkey's opposition to the sanctions and said Ankara and neighboring Iran needed to keep working to raise their bilateral trade to a target of $30 billion, around triple current levels. "Along with the existing mechanisms, we evaluated how we can establish new mechanisms, like INSTEX...how we can remove the obstacles before us and before trade," Cavusoglu told a news conference after talks with his Iranian counterpart Javad Zarif.


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Apple’s Qualcomm Settlement Is Good News for Tons of Chip Stocks

Wed, 04/17/2019 - 04:30

In Europe, shares of Austrian Apple supplier AMS AG jumped as much as 5.3 percent, while STMicroelectronics NV gained as much as 4.6 percent. Qualcomm rose 23 percent in U.S. trading on Tuesday afternoon after the settlement was reported and is trading up another 6 percent pre-market. “You could argue that an agreement with Qualcomm will allow Apple to introduce 5G next year and then the demand for iPhones could pick up,” H&A analyst Robin Brass said in emailed comments, adding that this could positively affect suppliers in Europe.


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Back on Earth, China's Mars simulation base greets first visitors

Wed, 04/17/2019 - 04:25

Mars Base 1 Camp, covering an area about one-fifth of an American football field, is the brainchild of a media company and officials in Gansu, a poor province in northwest China. Officials hope the camp, about 40 km (25 miles) from the township of Jinchang, will boost tourism and allow visitors to feel as though they are on the red planet. "I am very excited to be here," said a 13-year-old student from Jinchang.


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Who is this alien? Why, it's the psychedelic frogfish.

Wed, 04/17/2019 - 04:00

"Who’s this alien?" is Mashable’s enduring series about the exceptionally peculiar critters that inhabit a relatively small, ocean-dominated world in the outer realms of the Milky Way galaxy, called Earth. Many of these lifeforms, you’ll find, are quite alien. Hiding in the nooks and crannies of dead piles of Indonesian coral is a pudgy fish, wholly covered in swirls of orange and white. Seen from the right perspective, the critter might be mistaken for a vibrantly colored brain.  But amid the explosion of whirling lines are cryptic, aquamarine eyes and a camouflaged frown. Inhabiting shallow seas around the tropical Ambon Island, this creature was mostly unknown to the scientific world until 2008.  It's the psychedelic frogfish.  "It's an incredibly vibrant frogfish," said Rachel Arnold, a marine scientist who coauthored the research that identified the kaleidoscopic creature as a new species.  Many frogfish — a stocky group of fish notorious for violently gobbling their prey — are also known for blending into their undersea worlds. Some look like sponges, and others like seaweed, noted Arnold. The psychedelic frogfish — or Histiophryne psychedelica — certainly takes camouflaging to an extreme level. "They do aggressive mimicry," she said. The fish take on an appearance similar to species of tropical coral with whirling, orange patterns. "It reminded me of many patterns of corals I have seen," said David Hall, an underwater wildlife photographer who captured the first shots of the frogfish.  A psychedelic frogfish in Ambon, Indonesia. Image: David Hall  /  seaphotos.com This allows the lumbering, ungainly fish to hole up in the shadowy coral as unassuming prey comes near. At the right time, perhaps when naive prey swim near or inside a fateful cavern amid the coral, the psychedelic frogfish will promptly "swallow them whole," said Arnold.   Curiously, when Arnold traveled to Ambon to see these astonishing critters, hiding out amid coral rubble some 10 to 15 feet beneath the ocean surface, the psychedelic frogfish didn't match the surrounding environment, which was devoid of the brain-like, orange corals that the psychedelic frogfish often resembles.  SEE ALSO: Glowing snow is falling thousands of feet under the sea. Here's why. It's unknown why the psychedelic frogfish live in these particular dark holes, then, and also why the fish seem to vanish from their Ambon homes for extended lengths of time, only to turn up once again.  "They're still a bit of an enigma," said Arnold. "It shows up and disappears for long periods of time." What's more, the fish are fantastically-patterned, but never easy to find here — even when they're known to be around. "If I had to search for these fish on my own, I would never have found them," said the photographer Hall, noting that he relied upon a local guide who had previously spotted a psychedelic frogfish.  Though relatively new to science, the psychedelic frogfish are well-known to Indonesian locals — though before Hall no one had a camera in the right place at the right time.  A pair of psychedelic frogfish in Ambon, Indonesia. Image: Shutterstock / SergeUWPhoto "It's the local people that really knew about its existence," said Arnold. "The local people really understand more about this fish than we do." Yet with limited time diving around these elusive frogfish, Arnold and her team deciphered a good deal about the species. Most known frogfishes have a lure hanging from their head, which they hold out to attract prey, said Hall. But the psychedelic frogfish doesn't carry a lure. It just waits for unwitting prey to pass by. True to its name, the psychedelic frogfish often "hops" around to get places, using its fins to push off the bottom of the seafloor. Curiously, when egg-bearing females emerge from their dark holes, they wrap their dorsal (back side) and tail fin around a peach-colored clutch of some 200 eggs, looking for safe harbor to place the priceless sacks of life.  Leaving hundreds of eggs on the coral-littered seafloor, however, poses modern-day problems. "Conservation-wise, it's a pretty big red flag," explained Arnold, noting that it would be easy for collectors — perhaps eager to capture the hallucinatory fish — to sleuth out the eggs and over-harvest the species.  Each psychedelic frogfish — while all almost fantastical and brilliantly patterned — is markedly distinct. Though, amid the profusion of lines and swirls, their unique line expressions might be indiscernible to the human eye.  "Their striping is like their fingerprint," said Arnold.  WATCH: Jordan Peele explains the childhood experience that made him love horror


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Uganda says it is willing to consider asylum for Sudan's ousted leader Bashir

Wed, 04/17/2019 - 03:53

"Uganda would not be apologetic at all for considering an application by Bashir," Okello Oryem, Uganda's state minister for foreign affairs, told Reuters in Kampala. Bashir, 75, who had ruled Sudan for 30 years after seizing power in a military coup, was toppled by the military last week after months of street protests. Bashir faces an International Criminal Court arrest warrant over the death of an estimated 300,000 people during an insurgency in Sudan's western Darfur region over a decade ago.


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Greta takes climate change campaign to Vatican, meets pope

Wed, 04/17/2019 - 03:33

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Swedish teenage environmental activist Greta Thunberg has brought her climate change campaign to the Vatican, where she met with Pope Francis and carried a sign saying "Join the climate strike."


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Bezos Disputes Amazon’s Market Power. But His Merchants Feel the Pinch

Wed, 04/17/2019 - 03:00

Amazon has evolved from partner to competitor, making products similar to his, selling them for less and giving them prominence on the site. To stand out, Boyce must now buy advertising, which makes Amazon even more profitable at his expense.Amazon.com Inc. Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bezos touted the success of merchants like Boyce this month in his annual letter to shareholders, suggesting they were beating Amazon at its own game because they make up 58 percent of all sales on the site.


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Shells hit Tripoli as Haftar's two-week siege rages

Wed, 04/17/2019 - 02:57

The rockets, just before midnight on Tuesday, hit the southern residential district of Abu Salim near a disused airport, killing at least four people and adding to a death toll the United Nations puts at more than 800. "This is a senseless war against civilians," one man, Mohamed in his 40s, told Reuters among angry people in the area, where houses and cars were damaged. The United Nations' humanitarian agency the OCHA said thousands of civilians were trapped in southern districts of Tripoli due to the fighting.


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