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Google launches ‘Cultural Institute’ digitally chronicling the 20th century

Google on Wednesday launched its online “Cultural Institute”, a digital visual archive of landmark 20th century events and personalities, created in cooperation with 17 museums and institutes from across the globe. The archives focus on legends like Anne Frank, the young Jewish-Dutch Holocaust victim whose famous diary chronicled her plight;…

Fossil reveals complex brains evolved earlier than previously thought

A 520-million-year-old, three-inch (7.6-centimetre) fossil has yielded evidence that complex brains evolved much earlier than previously thought, scientists said Wednesday. The preserved external skeleton of Fuxianhuia protensa, an extinct type of arthropod, is the earliest known fossil to show a complex brain, according to a study published in the journal…

French first lady threatens to sue over ‘malicious rumors’ in biography

French first lady Valerie Trierweiler plans to sue the authors of the latest book about her because it spreads malicious rumours, her lawyer said Wednesday. Trierweiler, a 47-year-old journalist and partner of President Francois Hollande, is suing the authors of “La Frondeuse” (The Rebel) — a biography due to be…

France sets marriage equality draft law date

France on Wednesday named October 31 as the date when a draft law authorising gay marriage will be approved by government ministers, amid mounting opposition to the proposed legislation. More than 1,200 French mayors or deputy mayors have signed a petition opposing the government’s plans, with many of them warning…

U.S. economy grew ‘modestly’ in September: Fed

The US economy grew “modestly” in September despite weak momentum in consumer spending, a Federal Reserve report published Wednesday showed. In its report known as the Beige Book, based on anecdotal information, the Fed said it was told “that economic activity generally expanded modestly since the last report” six weeks…

Australian restaurant agrees to remove urinals shaped like women’s mouths

A sumptuous new French restaurant in Sydney said Wednesday it would remove two urinals designed to resemble a woman’s lipsticked mouth, apologising for any offence they have caused. The Ananas Bar and Brasserie said the bright red-lipped urinals shaped like an open mouth were “a commonly used European design piece…

Brazil Supreme Court gets first black president: official

Joaquim Barbosa, the tough justice overseeing Brazil’s high-profile corruption trial, was officially nominated president of the Supreme Court, the first black to assume the post. In a plenary session, the court’s 10 justices picked the 58-year-old Barbosa, the most senior member, to assume the rotating presidency for a two-year term.…

Putin’s stunt to encourage bird migration fails spectacularly as public learns birds taken back to reserve by plane

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s bid to encourage a group of endangered cranes on their winter migration appeared to have failed spectacularly Wednesday when it emerged the birds had been taken back to a wildlife reserve by plane. The 60-year-old president already earned mockery last month when he took to a…

Survey: 40 percent of teens have an iPhone

Two out of five American teenagers have an iPhone, in a sign that Apple is the “pre-eminent technology brand” for youth, a survey by a financial firm shows. In its semi-annual survey of over 7,700 teens, Piper Jaffray found that 40 percent had an iPhone, up from 34 percent six…

French woman astonished at trillion euro phone bill

A Frenchwoman who received a telephone bill for an amount equivalent to nearly 6,000 times the country’s annual economic output has had the real amount she owed waived — after finally convincing the company they must have made a mistake. Solenne San Jose, from Pessac in the Bordeaux region of…

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