News In Focus: A New Time? A New Alphabet? A New Discovery?

News In Focus: A Look At This Week’s Most Interesting Stories

North Korea: Starting from this Saturday, Kim Jong-Un will lead his followers back in time — by turning the clock back half an hour.

The dawn of the “Pyongyang time” will coincide with the 70th anniversary of Japan’s defeat in World War II, and will rid the country of the shame of a Japanese occupation period.

The whole of the Korean Peninsula was annexed by Japan between 1910 and 1945. During this time, the local time in Korea was changed to synchronize with Japan.

The North Korean Central News Agency describes the Japanese imperialist force had committed an “unpardonable crime” in imposing its time on Korea.

But North Korea’s new sovereign time is not adopted by its southern cousins, who say it’s more practical and consistent to keep the same time zone as Japan.

For a brief history of time-keeping, we go to Ted-Ed…


Business: Google has begotten its parent, and names it “Alphabet.”

The Internet search giant, which has of late spawned mind-boggling projects such as robots, self-driving cars, and extending Internet connectivity via balloons, announced on Monday that it has formed its new parent company, Alphabet Inc.

Google’s founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, will run Alphabet, which houses several companies including Google, and several other “moonshot” endeavors such as Nest, the smart-thermostat maker, and Calico, a company focused on a “health and well-being, in particular the challenge of aging and associated diseases.”

Google, which will be run by Sundar Pichai, currently its senior vice president in charge of products, will continue to hold products like search, maps, YouTube and applications like Gmail.

The move is seen as the company’s strategy to separate its moneymaking businesses from its visionary ones.

Larry Page explains the choice of “Alphabet” as being “a collection of letters that represent language, one of humanity’s most important innovations, and is the core of how we index with Google search.”

For a brief history of Google, we go to, um, Google…


Egypt: The tomb of King Tutankhamun’s mother may have been found, a British archaeologist claims.

British archaeologist Dr Nicholas Reeves asserts that one of the hidden doorways in the ancient Egyptian tomb of King Tutankhamun may lead to the long-lost resting place of Queen Nefertiti.

Historians believe King Tutankhamun, Egypt’s 11th Pharaoh, began to rule the empire in 1336 BC when he was about eight or nine. He died of a mysterious cause circa 1327 BC, and was buried in a tiny tomb in in the Valley of the Kings.

Queen Nefertiti, whose name means “the beautiful one has come,” was the royal queen and chief consort of Pharaoh Akhenaten. Some studies suggest that the queen might be King Tutankhamun’s mother.

While Tutankhamun’s burial chamber was discovered by English archaeologist Howard Carter in 1922, it remains an archaeological mystery as to where the beautiful queen was buried.

Having studied high-resolution scans of the walls of King Tutankhamun’s burial chamber in the Valley of the Kings, near Luxor, Dr. Reeves says the scans reveal two hidden entrances behind the painted plaster, one of which may lead to the tomb of Queen Nefertiti.

Dr Reeves’ claim is still to be tested, and if the theory turns out to be true, it would be “potentially the biggest archaeological discovery ever made,” he told the Economist.

For a brief history of Nefertiti, and another take on Nefertiti’s whereabouts, we go to the History Channel…


Finance: China shocked the world earlier this week by allowing the yuan, China’s unit of currency, to devalue against the dollar by more than two percent.

The People’s Bank of China (PBoC), the country’s central bank, devalued the yuan by setting the daily “fix” for the yuan at 1.9 per cent lower — the sharpest shift on record, according to the Financial Times.

The fall on Tuesday was the biggest one-day drop in the currency’s value since January 1994.

The yuan fell further on Wednesday as the PBoC set the official rate for yuan’s exchange at 6.33 per dollar, or 1.6 percent lower than the previous day.

The PBoC explained that it was setting the yuan’s value according to market mechanism, and that the devaluation was to do with gradual liberalization of the exchange rate regime.

It is expected that the devaluation may increase the chance of yuan being accepted as an international reserve currency alongside the dollar, yen, euro, and sterling.

But pundits expect that the move was launched to boost China’s waning export performance and economic circumstances.

For a brief history of money… well, we couldn’t find a good one… so here’s a clip about the making of one of our favorite movies, “Goldfinger”…


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Lead-In Composite Image (Nefertiti Sculpture) Courtesy of underworld /