Globetrotting: news from around the world — September 2016

Ireland’s recent GDP surge is a result of corporate inversions, and digital traces left in apps can be turned into the equivalent of digital fingerprints.

ECONOMY

Paper growth

Ireland’s GDP grew by an impressive 7.8% in 2015. But the Central Statistics Office issued revised numbers that boosted it to an astounding 26.3%. The increase, however, is a result of “penmanship” rather than workmanship, reports Quartz.

How did it happen? Corporations, taking advantage of Ireland’s low corporate tax rate of 12.5%, rushed into “corporate inversions”: merging with entities already domiciled in Ireland, dramatically increasing Ireland’s capital asset base. At the stroke of a pen, property previously owned by foreign companies domiciled elsewhere suddenly became the property of “Irish” companies.

DO-IT-YOURSELF

Crossword aficionado

Reading-work-piece by Arthur Köpcke

When a 91-year-old woman saw what appeared to be a huge crossword puzzle on a wall accompanied by a sign saying “Insert words,” she obliged by filling in the blank spaces, reports The Telegraph.

Unfortunately, the “puzzle” was located in the Neues Museum of Nuremberg and happened to be a 1977 work of art by Arthur Köpcke called “Reading-work-piece.” The lady had just filled in a “puzzle” valued at 80,000 euros.

Questioned by the police, the woman explained that she had simply followed the artist’s instructions and if the museum didn’t want people following the instructions, it should post other notices making that clear. Fortunately, restoring the work should cost only a few hundred euros, an expense the museum graciously agreed to cover.

WHERE ON EARTH?

Nowhere to hide

Anyone who thinks they can hide behind fake names on Twitter, Instagram and other portals had better think again. According to a report by researchers from Columbia University and Google, as reported in BuzzFeed News, digital traces left in apps can be easily turned into the equivalent of digital fingerprints. In fact, with geotagged posts from just two social media apps, it’s possible to identify a specific user. But even with geotagging turned off, a 2014 IBM algorithm showed a Twitter user’s location can still be determined with 58% accuracy.

SUPERFOODS

Cockroach

Move over krill, kale and spirulina. The new superfood contender could be cockroach milk, reports Science Alert, according to research published in IUCrJ, the journal of the International Union of Crystallography.

One species of cockroach feeds its offspring with a kind of “milk” that contains protein crystals that are reportedly four times more nutritious than cow’s milk. Packed with all the essential amino acids, plus fats and sugars, the substance has the added advantage of being time-released.

Does this mean apartment dwellers with cockroach infestations should rejoice? Maybe not. The milk is produced by only one type of cockroach, which bears live young.

About the Author

Yan Barcelo


Yan Barcelo is a journalist in Montreal.

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