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The Vatican Invites World's Leading Scientists To Discuss Cosmology
Posted by News Fetcher on May 09 '17 at 08:50 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's come-together department:
In 2014, Pope Francis declared that God is not "a magician with a magic wand" and that evolution and the Big Bang theory are real. Now, the Vatican has sent an invitation to the world's leading scientists and cosmologists to try and understand the Big Bang. The Independent reports: Astrophysicists and other experts will attend the Vatican Observatory to discuss black holes, gravitational waves and space-time singularities as it honors the late Jesuit cosmologist considered one of the fathers of the idea that the universe began with a gigantic explosion. The conference honoring Monsignor George Lemaitre is being held at the Vatican Observatory, founded by Pope Leo XIII in 1891 to help correct the notion that the Roman Catholic Church was hostile to science. In 1927, Lemaitre was the first to explain that the receding of distant galaxies was the result of the expansion of the universe, a result he obtained by solving equations of Einstein's theory of general relativity. Lemaitre's theory was known as the "primeval atom," but it is more commonly known today as the big-bang theory. The head of the Vatican Observatory, Jesuit Brother Guy Consolmagno, says Lemaitre's research proves that you can believe in God and the big-bang theory.

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IT Worker Who Trained H-1B-Visa-Holding Replacement Aims For Congress
Posted by News Fetcher on May 09 '17 at 06:11 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's reach-for-the-stars department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Computerworld: Craig Diangelo was an IT worker at Northeast Utilities in Connecticut until he completed training his H-1B-visa-holding replacement. He was one of about 200 who lost their jobs in 2014 after two India-based IT offshore outsourcing firms took over their work at what is now called Eversource. Diangelo, at first, was quiet, bound by severance agreements signed with the company. Then he started speaking out. Now, Diangelo is running for Congress. offering up a first-hand perspective on IT outsourcing that resonates with many other workers in his state. "I've seen the injustices that have been done to us," said Diangelo, who is not optimistic lawmakers will deliver on H-1B reform. "You can't let this matter die down, because when you stop talking about it nothing seems to get done." Diangelo isn't a one-issue candidate or political novice. He previously served two terms as an alderman in his hometown of New Britain and remains involved in city planning work. The 64-year-old has filed the necessary papers to run for office, has a campaign manager, a website and knows he has to raise an awful lot money to challenge Democratic Rep. Elizabeth Esty, now in her third term. But Diangelo has no illusions about his odds. Even so, he may be the only person to run for Congress, at least in recent times, who has trained his replacement. He went to college hoping to be come a teacher, but when that proved difficult, he wound up at Travelers Insurance in Hartford -- in the company's data processing center.

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Microsoft Thinks USB-C Isn't Ready For the Mainstream
Posted by News Fetcher on May 09 '17 at 04:51 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's don't-shoot-the-messenger department:
When Microsoft unveiled the Surface Laptop last week, it left many customers and members of the press scratching their heads over its lack of a USB Type-C port. According to general manager of Surface Engineering, Pete Kyriacou, Microsoft seems to think that the technology isn't ready for the mainstream. Digital Trends reports: Microsoft does not want customers to deal with the various Type-C cables, underwhelming chargers, all the adapters, and the third-party Type-C docks. That is why the Surface Laptop features only one USB 3.1 Gen1 Type-A port, one headphone jack, one Mini DisplayPort connector, and the Surface Connect port. Simplicity. That latter connection is how customers can "safely" expand their Surface device experience. Microsoft's $200 Microsoft Surface Dock adds two Mini DisplayPort connectors, one gigabit Ethernet port, four USB 3.1 Gen1 Type-A ports, and one audio out port. The dock connects to a compatible Surface device via Microsoft's proprietary Surface Connect port. Right now, it works with the Surface Pro 3, Surface Pro 4, and Surface Book but the Surface Laptop will undoubtedly be added soon. While limiting a Surface device's connectivity seems like forcing customers into purchasing the dock, Microsoft sees this setup as brand stability. Customers won't get ticked at Microsoft because they are confused about the different types of cables, chargers, and so on. Microsoft is controlling the end-to-end experience and there is nothing wrong with that.

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Apple Becomes First US Company To Top $800 Billion Value
Posted by News Fetcher on May 09 '17 at 04:51 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's first-of-its-kind department:
According to Bloomberg, "Apple became the first U.S. company with a market value of more than $800 billion as investors bet the next iPhone will spur a resurgence in sales." From the report: The stock rose 1 percent Tuesday to close at $153.99 in New York, giving it a market capitalization of about $803 billion. The shares have gained 33 percent since the start of the year, helped by a buyback program that Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook extended to total $210 billion last week, from $175 billion last year. Apple's rise to the top of the world's largest equity market highlights the emergence of mobile technology and the relative decline of the oil industry in recent years. Exxon Mobil Corp.'s value peaked in the fall of 2007, when oil prices climbed toward $100 a barrel. In November of that year, PetroChina Co. briefly became the first global company with a market capitalization of more than $1 trillion. Apple's revenue grew in the most recent fiscal quarter even as iPhone unit sales fell.

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Only 36 Percent of Indian Engineers Can Write Compilable Code, Says Study
Posted by News Fetcher on May 09 '17 at 04:51 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's programming-abilities department:
New submitter troublemaker_23 quotes a report from ITWire: Only 36% of software engineers in India can write compilable code based on measurements by an automated tool that is used across the world, the Indian skills assessment company Aspiring Minds says in a report. The report is based on a sample of 36,800 from more than 500 colleges across India. Aspiring Minds said it used the automated tool Automata which is a 60-minute test taken in a compiler integrated environment and rates candidates on programming ability, programming practices, run-time complexity and test case coverage. It uses advanced artificial intelligence technology to automatically grade programming skills. "We find that out of the two problems given per candidate, only 14% engineers are able to write compilable codes for both and only 22% write compilable code for exactly one problem," the study said. It further found that of the test subjects only 14.67% were employable by an IT services company. When it came to writing fully functional code using the best practices for efficiency and writing, only 2.21% of the engineers studied made the grade.

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Microsoft Wants You To Care For Your Surface Like a 'Luxury' Handbag
Posted by News Fetcher on May 09 '17 at 03:31 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's luxury-is-as-luxury-does department:
sqorbit writes: Microsoft has some fancy Alcantara fabric on its Surface keyboard. How well does it hold up to the use and sometimes abuse that portal devices go through? Well, Microsoft wants you to care for it like a "luxury" handbag. Pete Kyriacou, Microsoft's general manager of Surface Engineering, said in a statement provided to The Verge: "Just like anything luxury that you buy, like great handbags or a pair of shoes or even expensive cars, there is a care that's needed for the device. And so from the materials perspective, we will ask customers -- specifically customers who might stain it or drop something on it -- to go ahead and wipe that right away. There's a simple way of doing that with a microfiber with a soap and water solution on it. You don't need any special chemical and you can wipe it off. Then just care [for it in the same way] that would go into anything that luxurious. That's more of a periodical thing, not super frequent, something you might look at doing every six months or something. And so if you think of the livelihood of this laptop, somewhere between four and five years, it's not that often you have to do it in terms of taking care of it." Would you walk around with a device requiring that much care?

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Why Do Gas Station Prices Constantly Change? Blame the Algorithm
Posted by News Fetcher on May 09 '17 at 03:31 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's things-around-us department:
Retailers are using artificial-intelligence software to set optimal prices, testing textbook theories of competition, says a WSJ report. An anonymous reader shares the article: One recent afternoon at a Shell-branded station on the outskirts of this Dutch city, the price of a gallon of unleaded gas started ticking higher, rising more than three-and-a-half cents by closing time. A little later, a competing station three miles down the road raised its price about the same amount. The two stations are among thousands of companies that use artificial-intelligence software to set prices (Editor's note: the link could be paywalled; alternative source). In doing so, they are testing a fundamental precept of the market economy. [...] Advances in AI are allowing retail and wholesale firms to move beyond 'dynamic pricing' software, which has for years helped set prices for fast-moving goods, like airline tickets or flat-screen televisions. Older pricing software often used simple rules, such as always keeping prices lower than a competitor. These new systems crunch mountains of historical and real-time data to predict how customers and competitors will react to any price change under different scenarios, giving them an almost superhuman insight into market dynamics. Programmed to meet a certain goal -- such as boosting sales -- the algorithms constantly update tactics after learning from experience. Even as the rise of algorithms determining prices poses a challenge to anti-trust law, authorities in the United States and Europe haven't opened probes or accused anyone of impropriety for using AI to set prices.

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Trump Fires FBI Director James Comey
Posted by News Fetcher on May 09 '17 at 02:11 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's dismissed-by-the-president department:
The White House said today that President Trump has fired FBI director James Comey. Press Secretary Sean Spicer said in a statement: "President Donald J. Trump informed FBI Director James Comey that he has been terminated and removed from office. President Trump acted based on the clear recommendations of both Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and Attorney General Jeff Sessions. 'The FBI is one of our Nation's most cherished and respected institutions and today will mark a new beginning for our crown jewel of law enforcement,' said President Trump. A search for a new permanent FBI Director will begin immediately."

< article continued at Slashdot's dismissed-by-the-president department >

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'Silicon Valley Is Missing Unicorns Because It Doesn't Understand Poor People'
Posted by News Fetcher on May 09 '17 at 02:11 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's untapped-market department:
An anonymous reader writes: Silicon Valley might be hunting unicorns in the wrong places. According to one top federal health official, entrepreneurs and investors are overlooking one massive population: Low-income Americans who qualify for Medicaid. That's a big mistake, given that new funds are available for those that are bringing IT innovation to the space, said Medicaid chief medical officer Andrey Ostrovsky. "My gut is that it's a big opportunity with $500 billion in federal spend every year in a system that hasn't evolved technologically much since 1965," Ostrovsky said. "There are unicorns sitting in there," he added.

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Tunnel Collapses At Nuclear Facility Once Called 'An Underground Chernobyl Waiting To Happen'
Posted by News Fetcher on May 09 '17 at 12:51 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's it's-only-a-matter-of-time department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Gizmodo: Managers at the Hanford Site in Washington State told workers to "take cover" Tuesday morning after a tunnel leading to a massive plutonium finishing plant collapsed. The emergency is especially worrisome, since Hanford is commonly known as "the most toxic place in America," with one former governor calling it "an underground Chernobyl waiting to happen." Worrisome might actually be an understatement. An emergency has been declared. The accident occurred near the 200 East Area, the home of several solid waste sites. More specifically, the tunnel that collapsed was one filled with highly radioactive train cars that once carried spent fuel rods containing deeply dangerous plutonium and uranium from a reactor on the Columbia River to the processing facility. Those reactors once produced plutonium for America's nuclear arsenal, though production ended in 1980. The cleanup process that followed has gone on for nearly 30 years. Back to the poor workers, though. They've been instructed to stay indoors, and one manager reportedly sent out a message telling workers to "secure ventilation in your building" and "refrain from eating or drinking." When you can't even have a glass of water, you know the nuclear emergency is bad. The U.S. Department of Energy sent out a press release around 1pm EST that said "facility personnel have been evacuated," while workers at nearby sites have been instructed to stay indoors. A spokesperson also told the press that "there was no evidence to suggest that radioactive materials had been released and that all of the workers in the area were accounted for."

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Officials Fear Russia Could Try To Target United States Through Kaspersky AV
Posted by News Fetcher on May 09 '17 at 12:51 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's growing-fear department:
Russia's growing aggression toward the United States has deepened concerns among U.S. officials that Russian spies might try to exploit one of the world's most respected cybersecurity firms to snoop on Americans or sabotage key U.S. systems, according to an ABC News investigation. From the report: Products from the company, Kaspersky Lab, based in Moscow, are widely used in homes, businesses and government agencies throughout the United States, including the Bureau of Prisons. Kaspersky Lab's products are stocked on the shelves of Target and Best Buy, which also sells laptops loaded by manufacturers with the firm's anti-virus software. But in a secret memorandum sent last month to Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the Senate Intelligence Committee raised possible red flags about Kaspersky Lab and urged the intelligence community to address potential risks posed by the company's powerful market position. "This [is an] important national security issue," declared the bipartisan memorandum, described to ABC News by congressional sources.

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Spotify Used 'Pirate' MP3 Files In Its Early Days: Report
Posted by News Fetcher on May 09 '17 at 11:31 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's how-things-were-made department:
According to Rasmus Fleischer, one of the early The Pirate Bay figures, Spotify used unlicensed music in its early days. From a report: "Spotify's beta version was originally a pirate service. It was distributing MP3 files that the employees happened to have on their hard drives," he reveals. Rumors that early versions of Spotify used 'pirate' MP3s have been floating around the Internet for years. People who had access to the service in the beginning later reported downloading tracks that contained 'Scene' labeling, tags, and formats, which are the tell-tale signs that content hadn't been obtained officially. Solid proof has been more difficult to come by but Fleischer says he knows for certain that Spotify was using music obtained not only from pirate sites, but the most famous pirate site of all.

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Microsoft Is Planning To Turn Windows 10 PCs Into Amazon Echo Competitors
Posted by News Fetcher on May 09 '17 at 11:31 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's shape-of-things-to-come department:
Speaking of Amazon's Echo devices, it appears Microsoft also wants a slice of this nascent market. The Verge's Tom Warren claims that Microsoft has been working on a feature for Windows 10 that would allow it "to better compete with devices like Amazon's Echo." Dubbed HomeHub, the feature is designed to create "a family environment for a PC with shared access to calendars, apps, and even a new welcome screen." He adds: Microsoft is even planning to support smart home devices like Philips' Hue lights, to enable Windows 10 to act as a hub to control and manage smart home hardware. While we've heard about HomeHub before, The Verge has obtained internal concepts of exactly how Microsoft is imagining HomeHub will work. The major addition is a new welcome screen that includes an "always on" digital corkboard to let families use to-do lists, calendars, and notes. The welcome screen is really designed for kitchen PCs and new smaller hardware with screens that will support Cortana voice commands from across the room.

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Repair Shops Are Stoked That the Samsung Galaxy S8 Is the Most Fragile Phone Ever Made
Posted by News Fetcher on May 09 '17 at 10:11 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's on-the-flip-side department:
Smartphone repair companies are expecting to fix a lot of those beautiful, cracked Infinity Screens, the headline feature of the Samsung Galaxy S8. From a report on Motherboard: The Samsung Galaxy S8 is expensive, popular, and fragile. Its parts can also be sourced relatively inexpensively, which means that third party repair companies are salivating over the prospect of you fumbling the phone and bringing it to them for a screen repair. "The price point is good, the repairability is there," Justin Carroll, owner of the Richmond, Virginia-based Fruit Fixed smartphone repair shop told me. "Durability-wise, it's definitely going to break, no question about that." Soon after its release, electronics insurance company SquareTrade put Samsung's new flagship phone through its breakability test, a series of drops, dunks, and tumbles. It was deemed the most breakable phone of all time: "S8 is the first phone we've tested that's cracked on the first drop on ALL sides," SquareTrade wrote in a video demonstrating the drops.There's an obvious reason for this, of course. The S8 is made almost entirely of glass, and has barely any top or bottom bezel, which is why the phone is marketed as having an "infinity screen."

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Amazon Just Announced the Touchscreen Echo Nobody Asked For
Posted by News Fetcher on May 09 '17 at 10:11 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's things-Amazon-does department:
An anonymous reader writes: Amazon just announced a new grandmaster Echo gadget with the company's voice-assistant technology built in. It's called the Echo Show. It's got a touchscreen. It's got wi-fi and Bluetooth. It costs $230. And it's even creepier than its siblings. At its core, the Echo Show is just a regular Echo with a 7-inch screen. That screen lets you watch YouTube videos and see the weather forecast after you've asked for it. The new gadget also lets you make calls, video calls, and send text messages to other people using Echos or to mobile devices with the Alexa app installed. Thanks to Alexa integration with gadgets from Arlo and Ring, you can also see what your nanny cam sees. But check this out: the Echo Show also has a 5-megapixel, front-facing camera. So now, instead of your Echo just listening to your commands, it can watch you as well. The Echo Show joins the screen-free Echo Look as the second Amazon Echo device to feature a camera. On a sidenote, Amazon said it will bring the voice-calling ability to all other Echo devices.

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Canonical Founder Says Recent Changes In Ubuntu Were Necessary To Prepare the Company For an IPO
Posted by News Fetcher on May 09 '17 at 08:52 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's inside-story department:
An anonymous reader writes: Canonical was doing well with Ubuntu and cloud and container-related technologies, such as Juju, LXD, and Metal-as-a-Service (MaaS). In addition, its OpenStack and Kubernetes software stacks, according to Shuttleworth, are growing by leaps and bounds on both the public and private cloud. Canonical founder Mark Shuttleworth said "in the last year, Ubuntu cloud growth had been 70 percent on the private cloud and 90 percent on the public cloud." In particular, "Ubuntu has been gaining more customers on the big five public clouds." What hadn't succeeded was Canonical's attempt to make Unity the universal interface for desktops, tablets, and smartphones. Shuttleworth was personally invested in this project, but at day's end, it wasn't getting enough adoption to make it profitable. So, Shuttleworth said with regret, Unity had to be dropped. This move also means Canonical will devote more of its time to "putting the company on the path to a IPO. We must figure out what steps we need to take moving forward." That means focusing on Canonical's most profitable lines. Specifically, "Ubuntu will never die. Ubuntu is the default platform on cloud computing. Juju, MaaS, and OpenStack are nearly unstoppable. We need to work out more of our IoT path. At the same time, we had to cut out those parts that couldn't meet an investors' needs. The immediate work is get all parts of the company profitable."

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NIST's Draft To Remove Periodic Password Change Requirements Gets Vendors' Approval
Posted by News Fetcher on May 09 '17 at 08:52 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's going-forward department:
An anonymous reader writes: A recently released draft of the National Institute of Standards and Technology's digital identity guidelines has met with approval by vendors. The draft guidelines revise password security recommendations and altering many of the standards and best practices security professionals use when forming policies for their companies. The new framework recommends, among other things: "Remove periodic password change requirements." There have been multiple studies that have shown requiring frequent password changes to actually be counterproductive to good password security, said Mike Wilson, founder of PasswordPing. NIST said this guideline was suggested because passwords should be changed when a user wants to change it or if there is indication of breach.

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Ask Slashdot: How To Improve At Work When You're Not Getting Feedback?
Posted by News Fetcher on May 09 '17 at 07:32 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's internal-battles department:
An anonymous reader writes: Too many managers avoid giving any kind of feedback, regardless of whether it's positive or negative. If you work for a boss who doesn't provide feedback, it's easy to feel rudderless. It can be especially disorienting if you're new in the role, new to the company, or a recent graduate new to the workforce. In the absence of specific guidance, is there any way to know what the average boss would want you to work on? What would you advise someone who works in IT, engineering, coding, designing or any similar industry?

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Opinion: Even if You Hate the Idea, Windows Users Should Want Windows 10 S To Succeed
Posted by News Fetcher on May 09 '17 at 07:32 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's for-better-or-worse department:
Last week, Microsoft unveiled Windows 10 S, a new variant of its desktop operating system aimed largely at the education space. While time will tell how this new edition of Windows fares, if early reactions from enthusiasts are anything to go by, Windows 10 S is in for a tough ride ahead. For one, Windows 10 S only permits installation of applications from the Windows Store. If that wasn't a deal-breaker, several popular applications including Google's Chrome are missing from the Store. Amid all of this, reporter and columnist Peter Bright has an op-ed up on ArsTechnica in which he argues that despite the walled-garden offering, people should want Windows 10 S to succeed as it could make Windows better for everyone else. From his article: This [forbidding execution of any program that wasn't downloaded from the Windows Store] positions Microsoft as a gatekeeper -- although its criteria for entry within the store is for the most part not stringent, it does reserve the right to remove software that it deems undesirable -- and means that the vast majority of extant Windows software can't be used. This means that PC mainstays, from Adobe Photoshop to Valve's Steam, can't be used on Windows 10 S. [...] Some of the arguments against this are bizarre. Notably, the complaint that Microsoft has now erected a paywall -- "you have to pay $50 to run Steam!" -- is very peculiar when one considers that, in general, Windows licenses have never been free. [...] The Windows Store makes bad parts of Windows better: I'd argue, however, that Windows users should want Windows 10 S to succeed. Windows 10 S isn't for everybody, and Windows 10 S may not be for you, but if Windows 10 S succeeds, it will make Windows 10 better for everyone. The Store in Windows RT required developers to write their apps from scratch. With negligible numbers of users, developers were uninterested in doing this work. The Store in Windows 10 has Centennial. In principle, Centennial should make it easy to package existing Win32 apps and sell them through the Store, and if developers of Windows apps adopt Centennial en masse then the Store restriction shouldn't be particularly restrictive. Widespread adoption will be good for Windows users of all stripes.

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Email Client Thunderbird To Stay With The Mozilla Foundation, Sort Of
Posted by News Fetcher on May 09 '17 at 06:11 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's going-forward department:
Philipp Kewisch, writing for Mozilla: The investigations on Thunderbird's future home have concluded. The Mozilla Foundation has agreed to serve as the legal and fiscal home for the Thunderbird project, but Thunderbird will migrate off Mozilla Corporation infrastructure, separating the operational aspects of the project. [...] The Mozilla Foundation has agreed to continue as Thunderbird's legal, fiscal and cultural home, with the following provisos: 1. The Thunderbird Council (see footnote) and the Mozilla Foundation executive team maintain a good working relationship and make decisions in a timely manner. 2. The Thunderbird Council and the team make meaningful progress in short order on operational and technical independence from Mozilla Corporation. 3. Either side may give the other six months notice if they wish to discontinue the Mozilla Foundation's role as the legal and fiscal host of the Thunderbird project. In a conversation with Slashdot, a spokesperson of Mozilla acknowledged that the general sentiment is "Thunderbird code needs to be modernized and the dependencies on the Mozilla code framework need to be reduced. This may include re-implementing or migrating features to make better use of web technologies." (Footnote: Back in 2012, Mozilla announced that it would reallocate most of the paid project members to other projects, handing off the responsibility for the project to the volunteer community that had formed around Thunderbird. This group met in Toronto in 2014 to discuss the future of Thunderbird and formed the Thunderbird Council, a group of individuals that has the power to make business decisions going forward.)

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