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Google Shakeup, Portugal's Raging Fires, Our Dying Universe

Google Shakeup, Portugal's Raging Fires, Our Dying Universe


Google, arguably the most recognizable company in the world, has announced a surprising rebranding in which all of its business entities will exist under a new parent company called Alphabet. As part of the restructuring, Google senior vice president Sundar Pichai will become CEO of Google, and company founder Larry Page will become chief executive of Alphabet. "Our company is operating well today, but we think we can make it cleaner and more accountable," Page said. "The whole point is that Alphabet companies should have independence and develop their own brands." Read more about the restructuring and Google's new chief from NBC.


Alcatraz federal prison in San Francisco Bay received its first inmates on this day in 1934. Before it closed in 1963, it housed some of America's most ruthless criminals, including Al Capone and James "Whitey" Bulger. Get today's shot of history here.


Forest fires have been raging in Portugal for several days now, with today's Público newspaper reporting that they have nine thousand hectares have been destroyed in the last 10 days. Read more in our Extra! feature.


Photo: Christian Gooden/TNS/ZUMA

Nearly two dozen people were arrested last night in Ferguson, Mo., during yet another night of demonstrations marking the anniversary of Michael Brown's death at the hands of officer Darren Wilson. St. Louis County has issued a state of emergency, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.

On Sunday night, police officers in Ferguson shot and wounded a young man who reportedly fired his gun at them during an otherwise peaceful protest march.


"All the natural resources are yours. Even Cecil the lion is yours. He is dead but yours to protect, and you failed to protect him," Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe said yesterday in expand=1] a televised speech, saying Zimbabweans should protect what's theirs from "vandals who come from all over."


The Turkish military said today that overnight jets hit 17 targets of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) in Hakkari province, which borders Iran and Iraq, the AP reports. The fresh airstrikes on rebel positions come a day after nine people, including five police officers, were killed in Istanbul and in the southeastern Sirnak province. The attacks were blamed on the Kurdish forces.


As Süddeutsche Zeitung reports, Til Schweiger may be Germany's most popular actor-director, but right now he's squarely in the middle of the real-life, hot-button political issue of the day: immigration. "It all started quite innocently: A 12-year-old girl asks a well-known actor/director to share an appeal for donations on his Facebook page. She asked, he delivered. But because the campaign was for a polarizing subject, immigration, and the man in question is named Til Schweiger and has 1.3 million followers on Facebook, it didn't take long for things to escalate. A racist debate unfolded on Schweiger's Facebook page and the star was forced to shoot down the racist trolls with unambiguous responses such as, ‘piss off of my page' and ‘you shouldn't unload all that hatred and stupidity on my page.'" Then he put his money where his mouth was.

Read the full article, How Racist Trolls Led A German Star To Build A Refugee Home.



Amid strong protests, Japan has restarted its first nuclear power plant since the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster. Kyushu Electric Power Co. activated the No. 1 reactor at the Sendai nuclear power plant today, Japanese daily Asahi Shimbun reports. The reactor is subject to new safety regulations instituted after the Fukushima disaster, the largest nuclear accident since the 1986 Chernobyl catastrophe.


There are still a few billion years left on the clock, but "the Universe has basically plonked itself down on the sofa, pulled up a blanket and is about to nod off for an eternal doze."

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Life On "Mars": With The Teams Simulating Space Missions Under A Dome

A niche research community plays out what existence might be like on, or en route to, another planet.

Photo of a person in a space suit walking toward the ​Mars Desert Research Station near Hanksville, Utah

At the Mars Desert Research Station near Hanksville, Utah

Sarah Scoles

In November 2022, Tara Sweeney’s plane landed on Thwaites Glacier, a 74,000-square-mile mass of frozen water in West Antarctica. She arrived with an international research team to study the glacier’s geology and ice fabric, and how its ice melt might contribute to sea level rise. But while near Earth’s southernmost point, Sweeney kept thinking about the moon.

“It felt every bit of what I think it will feel like being a space explorer,” said Sweeney, a former Air Force officer who’s now working on a doctorate in lunar geology at the University of Texas at El Paso. “You have all of these resources, and you get to be the one to go out and do the exploring and do the science. And that was really spectacular.”

That similarity is why space scientists study the physiology and psychology of people living in Antarctic and other remote outposts: For around 25 years, people have played out what existence might be like on, or en route to, another world. Polar explorers are, in a way, analogous to astronauts who land on alien planets. And while Sweeney wasn’t technically on an “analog astronaut” mission — her primary objective being the geological exploration of Earth — her days played out much the same as a space explorer’s might.

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