Trilobites: The Crystals That May Have Helped Vikings Navigate Northern Seas

The Crystals That May Have Helped Vikings Navigate Northern Seas Photo A depiction of Erik the Red arriving at Greenland in the 10th century. Researchers theorize that crystals called sunstones aided Viking navigation, even in overcast weather. Credit via Alamy When the Vikings left the familiar fjords of Norway for icy, uncharted territories, they were at the mercy of weather. They had no magnetic compasses, and no way to ward off stretches of heavy clouds or fog that made it difficult to navigate by sun. How the explorers traversed open ocean during these times is a mystery that has long captivated scholars.
Norse sagas refer to a sólarstein or “sunstone” that had special properties when held to the sky. In 1967, a Danish archaeologist named Thorkild Ramskou suggested these were crystals that revealed distinct patterns of light in the sky, caused by polarization, which exist even in overcast weather or when the sun dips below the horizon.
Multiple translucent crystals fit the bill, n..

Facebook to Require Verified Identities for Future Political Ads

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Facebook to Require Verified Identities for Future Political Ads

SAN FRANCISCO — Facebook on Friday announced a series of moves meant to improve the transparency of political ads and pages on its social media service. The changes came just days before Mark Zuckerberg, the company’s chief executive, is to testify before Congress.
Mr. Zuckerberg said in a post that the company has started requiring advertisers to verify their identity and location before they can run political ads on Facebook. That verification is meant to prevent foreign interference in elections, like the paid posts by so-called Russian trolls ahead of the 2016 presidential election.
Mr. Zuckerberg added that he supported a proposed Senate bill, the Honest Ads Act, that would require such disclosures.
Facebook will also soon start verifying the identify and location of people who run large Facebook pages, Mr. Zuckerberg said. Officials say Russian agents used pages to pose as American..

Kenya Barris, Creator of ‘Black-ish,’ Is Said to Seek an Exit From ABC

Supported by Media Kenya Barris, Creator of ‘Black-ish,’ Is Said to Seek an Exit From ABC Photo Kenya Barris and his wife, Dr. Rainbow Edwards-Barris, at the Golden Globe Awards in January. His topical comedy series on ABC, “black-ish,” is in its fourth season. Credit Photo Bank, via Getty Images Kenya Barris, the A-list writer-producer behind the ABC comedy “black-ish,” has grown frustrated with his home network and is examining the possibility of making an early exit from his contract, according to three people familiar with the negotiations.
Mr. Barris, 43, has also begun talks with Netflix, the streaming titan that has poached superproducers like ABC’s Shonda Rhimes and Fox’s Ryan Murphy with eye-popping pay packages and promises of artistic freedom.
Mr. Barris’s deteriorating relationship with ABC stems, in part, from the network’s decision to pull an episode of the show that examined race relations in America in pointed fashion, according to the people briefed on the situati..

Fed Chairman Powell Touts Economy’s Strength in First Speech

Supported by Economy Fed Chairman Powell Touts Economy’s Strength in First Speech Photo Jerome H. Powell, the Federal Reserve chairman, testifying before the Senate Banking Committee in March. Economists and analysts are looking for signs of how a potential trade war will affect the Fed’s plans to continue gradually raising interest rates this year. Credit Erin Schaff for The New York Times CHICAGO — Jerome H. Powell used his inaugural speech as Federal Reserve chairman on Friday to highlight the strength of the United States economic recovery, offering no hint that recent concerns over a potential trade war will affect the Fed’s plans to continue gradually raising interest rates this year.
Mr. Powell, in prepared remarks for a speech before the Economic Club of Chicago, said that the economy continued to experience tailwinds and that “the labor market remains strong, and my colleagues and I on the Federal Open Market Committee expect it to remain strong.”
He said the Fed saw “oth..

Gig economy union files £200,000 holiday pay claim against courier company CitySprint

Employer denied couriers their holiday entitlements by falsely claiming that they are independent contractors, the Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain says
A union representing gig economy workers has filed a legal claim for £200,000 of unpaid holiday pay against courier company CitySprint.
The Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain (IWGB) says CitySprint denied couriers their holiday entitlements by falsely claiming that they are independent contractors, instead of workers or employees.
An employment tribunal ruled in January 2017 that CitySprint courier Maggie Dewhurst was a worker, meaning she was entitled to basic rights including holiday and sick pay and the national living wage.
Read more Matthew Taylor rates government response to his review four out of 10 In November, CitySprint was accused by the IWGB of delivering a “slap in the face” to the English legal system by issuing a newly worded contract to describe the same employment relationship so that it cou..

Economic View: How to Clean Up the Student Loan Mess

Supported by Business Day How to Clean Up the Student Loan Mess Photo The University of California at Berkeley. A Princeton researcher has found that the arbitrary process of loan servicers’ assigning a call to one operator instead of another has real effects on a borrower’s loan status. Credit Jim Wilson/The New York Times Student loans are central to financing college educations, yet millions of borrowers are in default. That is clear evidence that the system is in dire need of improvement.
In fact, new research on student loans is reinforcing a key lesson of behavioral economics: Seemingly minor details matter in a major way. Who answers the phone at the loan company, what choices you’re offered and how they are framed can have profound effects on your financial well-being.
Federal policy ignores these simple truths. While the federal government owns the loans, private companies collect payments, keep records and communicate with borrowers.
It might seem trivial to worry about ..

Vocations: Catering to Fliers’ Tastes at 30,000 Feet

Supported by Business Day Catering to Fliers’ Tastes at 30,000 Feet Photo William Gillen oversees the design and development of recipes for LSG Sky Chefs, a Lufthansa subsidiary that prepares meals for about 300 airlines. Credit Dylan Hollingsworth for The New York Times William Gillen, 53, is the director of culinary excellence for the North America region of LSG Sky Chefs, based in Irving, Tex.
Your company is a subsidiary of Lufthansa and prepares in-flight meals for some 300 airlines. What’s the scope of operations in the region you handle?
In North America, we have about 40 customer service centers located in or near airports, where our teams do all the cooking and prepping from scratch. Then we transfer plated dishes to planes via trolleys.
What is your role?
I manage 13 chefs in Irving, Tex., part of our more than 500 employees throughout North America. I oversee the design and development of recipes and liaison between our airline customers and these chefs. My goal is to e..

Royal Mail fined for sending 300,000 nuisance emails

The postal group apologises for sending emails to people who had already opted out of receiving marketing
Royal Mail has been fined £12,000 for sending over 300,000 nuisance emails to people who had already opted out of receiving marketing.
The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) said on Friday that Royal Mail did not have the consent to send emails to recipients, and therefore it had broken the law.
Royal Mail sent emails on two separate dates in July last year.
Read more Facebook knew about Cambridge Analytia one year before Trump election According to the ICO, Royal Mail has claimed the emails were a service as opposed to marketing information informing customers of a price drop.
The ICO did not agree with Royal Mail’s version of events.
“Royal Mail did not follow the law on direct marketing when it sent such a huge volume of emails, because the recipients had already clearly expressed they did not want to receive them,” said ICO head of enforcement Steve Eckersley.
“T..

Your Money Adviser: Higher Property Taxes? You May Be Able to Appeal

Supported by Business Day Higher Property Taxes? You May Be Able to Appeal Photo Credit Minh Uong/The New York Times If your property tax bills are increasing, you’re not alone.
The average tax bill in 2017 was about $3,400, or 3 percent higher than the prior year, according to a report published on Thursday by Attom Data Solutions, which analyzed tax information on 86 million single-family homes across the country.
Of course, tax bills were much higher in some markets. The report identified nine counties with average property taxes greater than $10,000 — most of them in the New York area, led by Westchester County ($17,179).
Property taxes are typically the second largest cost for homeowners after their mortgage, said Daren Blomquist, senior vice president at Attom Data. Real estate taxes fund local governments, allowing them to operate schools and parks, pick up trash and provide emergency services and other functions.
The higher tax bills reflect, in part, rising home values in..