Opinion & Community

Spain launches evasion probe of singer Shakira’s taxes

MADRID (AP) — Pop music star Shakira is under investigation in Spain for possible tax evasion during the three years before she officially moved to Barcelona, Spanish authorities said Tuesday.

Shakira is under investigation for possible tax evasion during the three years before she officially moved to Barcelona. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez, File) /mb.com.ph
Shakira switched residences in 2015 from the Bahamas to Barcelona, where she lives with her partner, Barca soccer player Gerard Pique, and the couple’s two sons.

Spanish tax authorities suspect the Colombian singer already lived in the northeast city between 2012 and 2014, when she allegedly failed to pay income taxes in Spain.

Prosecutor Jose Miguel Company said the tax authorities referred the probe to the Barcelona prosecutor’s office in December. He said a decision on whether to press charges or not is expected by mid-June.

Anna Forastier, a spokeswoman for auditing firm PwC, said the company has been hired by Shakira for the investigation. Forastier declined to disclose any details.

Shakira was named in the “Paradise Papers” leaks that detailed the offshore tax arrangements of numerous high-profile individuals, including musical celebrities like Madonna and U2’s Bono.

The documents obtained by German daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung and investigated by Spanish news website El Confidencial showed that in 2009 Shakira had relocated her intellectual property rights and brands to a company based in Malta, the tiny European Union nation that has faced allegations of being a tax heaven.

Shakira and Pique’s relationship dates back to 2011, when Shakira started frequenting Barcelona. El Confidencial, citing papers it obtained from offshore services providers, reported that she listed the Bahamas as her official residence until 2015.

“It’s public knowledge that this is not the case,” Company told The Associated Press.

If the probe finds wrongdoing, Shakira would engross a list of celebrities that have been in trouble with Spanish tax authorities, including footballers Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

In November, Shakira cancelled the first concerts to promote her 11th album, “El Dorado,” for what she said were medical reasons. The tour is scheduled to begin in June in Germany and then stop in nine more European countries before moving to the United States.

Your brain responses to music reveal if you're a musician or not

Brain areas best predicting musicianship. Red: left/right anterior cingulate gyrus; Green: right inferior frontal gyrus; Blue: right superior temporal gyrus; Gray: caudate nucleus, middle frontal gyrus, inferior frontal gyrus.
Credit: Image courtesy of University of Jyväskylä
How your brain responds to music listening can reveal whether you have received musical training, according to new Nordic research conducted in Finland (University of Jyväskylä and AMI Center) and Denmark (Aarhus University).

By applying methods of computational music analysis and machine learning on brain imaging data collected during music listening, the researchers we able to predict with a significant accuracy whether the listeners were musicians or not. These results emphasize the striking impact of musical training on our neural responses to music to the extent of discriminating musicians' brains from non-musicians' brains despite other independent factors such as musical preference and familiarity.

The research also revealed that the brain areas that best predict musicianship exist predominantly in the frontal and temporal areas of the brain's right hemisphere. These findings conform to previous work on how the brain processes certain acoustic characteristics of music as well as intonation in speech. The paper was published on January 15 in the journal Scientific Reports.

The study utilized functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) brain data collected by Professor Elvira Brattico's team at Aarhus University. The data was collected from 18 musicians and 18 non-musicians while they attentively listened to music of different genres. Computational algorithms were applied to extract musical features from the presented music.

"A novel feature of our approach was that, instead of relying on static representations of brain activity, we modelled how music is processed in the brain over time. Taking the temporal dynamics into account was found to improve the results remarkably," explains Pasi Saari, Postdoctoral Researcher at the University of Jyväskylä and the main author of the study.

As the last step of modelling, the researchers used machine learning to form a model that predicts musicianship from a combination of brain regions.

The machine learning model was able to predict the listeners' musicianship with 77 % accuracy, a result that is on a par with similar studies on participant classification with, for example, clinical populations of brain-damaged patients. The areas where music processing best predicted musicianship resided mostly in the right hemisphere, and included areas previously found to be associated with engagement and attention, processing of musical conventions, and processing of music-related sound features (e.g. pitch and tonality).

"These areas can be regarded as core structures in music processing which are most affected by intensive, lifelong musical training," states Iballa Burunat, Postdoctoral Researcher at the University of Jyväskylä and a co-author of the study.

In these areas, the processing of higher-level features such as tonality and pulse was the best predictor of musicianship, suggesting that musical training affects particularly the processing of these aspects of music.

"The novelty of our approach is the integration of computational acoustic feature extraction with functional neuroimaging measures, obtained in a realistic music-listening environment, and taking into account the dynamics of neural processing. It represents a significant contribution that complements recent brain-reading methods which decode participant information from brain activity in realistic conditions," concludes Petri Toiviainen, Academy Professor at the University of Jyväskylä and the senior author of the study.

The research was funded by the Academy of Finland and Danish National Research Foundation.

Story Source:

Materials provided by University of Jyväskylä. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

Lamborghini considering hybridization of next Aventador

Image: Newspress/Lamborghini via AFP Relaxnews
Nobody needs to be a super-sleuth these days to guess the direction a motor manufacturer is going to be going in over the next few years. If it doesn’t have an SUV in its lineup it soon will have, and no matter what type of automaker it is, electrification is also going to figure in future plans.

Lamborghini has already gone down the SUV route with the stunning Urus, and it appears hybridization is next on the Italian supercar manufacturer’s list of things to do, possibly with a future version of the legendary Aventador.

Speaking to Motor Authority at the Detroit Auto Show last week, Lamborghini’s head of research and development, Maurizio Reggiani, said “we must decide what will be the future of the super sports car in terms of electric contribution.”

Some may assume the problem with developing an electrified powertrain for a car like the Aventador would be getting the kind of performance required for such a model, but the likes of the Porsche 918 and McLaren P1 have shown performance isn’t an issue for hybrid supercars. No, the problem is the weight of batteries, which is a particular problem for the Aventador as it already weighs in at a whopping 1,853 kg. In fact, weight is already such an issue with the Aventador that even a dual-clutch gearbox, which would seem like a must-have for a next-generation Aventador, isn’t going to be approved until it justifies the extra weight it brings over the present single-clutch unit.

The Aventador already uses lightweight carbon-fiber for its bodywork, so the developers can’t drop a whole load of weight by changing what the car is made from.

Even so, it’s really just a matter of when rather than if hybridization comes to Lamborghini, and it’s much the same story with turbocharging. Reggiani has already admitted that turbos will get bolted on “sooner or later,” which Lamborghini’s commercial officer Federico Foschini also confirmed last year. The Urus will almost certainly be getting a hybrid powertrain soon, and a next-generation Huracan is likely to go hybrid in 2022.

As Euro 6 emissions aren’t getting less stringent anytime soon, it’s only a matter of time before the Lamborghini flagship has to adopt at least some level of electrification. JB

Shooting at Marshall County High School

UPDATE: Kentucky State Police report Bailey Nicole Holt & Preston Ryan Cope are the two students who died in the Marshall County High School shooting.
UPDATE: A family member on Tuesday confirmed to Local 6 the name of one of the students who was shot at Marshall County High School.

Daniel Austin was listening to music and giving hugs and high fives to his classmates at the high school when he was shot, his brother Shane Austin tells Local 6. Shane says his younger brother Daniel is a special needs student at the high school. Daniel has a form of autism.

Shane was not at the high school when the shooting happened, but he told Local 6’s Amanda Roberts he is thankful people were there watching over his younger brother.

Initially, five students were sent to Lourdes. Two of those students were airlifted to Vanderbilt University Medical Center. The three students who remained at Lourdes have since been treated and released, a hospital spokeswoman says.

Lourdes released the following statement about the shooting: “Our thoughts and prayers are with the students, faculty and families of this tragedy today in Marshall County.”

We have also obtained some of the recorded conversation between dispatch and first responders.

Dr. Oscar Guillamondegui, who was the trauma team leader for the victims, said a teen who was shot in the head passed away from his injuries. He was one of three teens who suffered gunshot wounds.

One teen had a gunshot injury to the arm, and another teen was shot in the abdomen and chest. Guillamondegui said he beleives those two boys and the two other Marshall students whose injuries are not gunshots will all survive their injuries. To watch the news conference in full, click here.

Back in Marshall County, Kentucky, state police say anyone who has a vehicle parked on Marshall County High School property can pick them up at 4 p.m. Tuesday. You must got to the U.S. 68 entrance to pick up your car. If your keys are in the school, you will not be allowed in any campus buildings to get them. You will need to bring a second set from home.

Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin spoke at a news conference and said 19 people total are or have been treated for wounds from the shooting. Of that, 14 had gun shot wounds and 5 others were hurt, but not shot.

Bevin said of the 14 shot, a 15-year-old girl and 15-year-old boy have died from their wounds. He added the suspected shooter was a 15-year-old student.

Bevin said while troopers are investigating, they believe everyone shot was a student.

Kentucky State Police say the scene is secure and the suspect is in custody.

Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin says on Twitter that one person has been confirmed dead and multiple others have been wounded. Kentucky State Police have also confirmed that information.

Bevin is on his way to Marshall County. WLEX said he left from the Capitol.

Lourdes Emergency Department received five students. Three are still being treated, two have been transported to Vanderbilt University Medical Center by helicopter.

Students are being bused to North Marshall Middle School where parents can pick their kids up. Parents are asked to not call the school.

The school district says at this time the other schools will remain in session for the rest of the day. Parents who feel the need to check their child out may do so.

The American Red Cross in on the ground providing support. Right now they are providing canteen services and will be supporting a Family Assistance Center.

Missouri man mistakes neighbor’s house for his own, kills homeowner thinking he was an intruder

RAYTOWN, Mo. - A Missouri man was charged with involuntary manslaughter after he allegedly went to his neighbor’s home, thinking it was his own, then choked the homeowner to death.

Police believe Michael G. Augustine was drunk at the time he allegedly killed 60-year-old Clifton King, according to WDAF.

Michael G. Augustine
King died in his front yard Friday night, after he came to his door to find Augustine, one of his neighbors, trying to come inside.

Neighbors told WDAF that Augustine, who lives further down the block, believed that it was his home, and that King had broken in.

During the incident, Augustine called 911 to report that he had an intruder in a choke hold. But when officers arrived at his address, no one was there. They later found both men about a block up the street at King's house.

According to court documents, police believe Augustine was drunk because his speech was incoherent and officers noted a strong smell of alcohol.

A neighbor, who did not want her face to appear on camera because the incident has made her concerned for her own safety, said she watched paramedics try to revive King - a military veteran - for about half an hour.

"He served our country and that was not an honorable way to treat him," the woman said. "I think that it’s sad. It’s sad! Someone had to give up their life because someone was so messed up they didn’t know it wasn’t their home."

Other neighbors said that King had been homeless at one time in his life because he couldn't find a job, but since moving on the block he was friendly and kind.

Some feel guilty about not immediately calling police themselves when they heard the commotion. They said there are often arguments on the block, and some say it's better for them not to get involved.

Prosecutors have charged Augustine with first degree involuntary manslaughter, but neighbors said he's already posted bond and moved out of the area. There was no answer at his door when WDAF tried to speak with him.

Hawaii's governor couldn't correct the false missile alert sooner because he forgot his Twitter password

How folks reacted to the false missile threat 01:00
(CNN)When Hawaii pushed out a ballistic missile alert earlier this month, Gov. David Ige knew within two minutes it was a false alarm. But he couldn't hop on Twitter and tell everybody -- because he didn't know his password.

"I have to confess that I don't know my Twitter account login and passwords," Ige told reporters Monday after giving his State of the State address. "I will be putting that on my phone."
The Hawaii Emergency Management Agency issued the alert -- sent to cell phones and broadcast on the airwaves there -- at 8:07 a.m. on January 13. A state official told Ige two minutes later it was false, CNN affiliate KHNL reports.
It took another 15 minutes before the state relayed that news on social media. And it took 38 minutes after the alert was sent for the emergency management agency to send out a second message telling the public it was a false alarm.
Under mounting criticism about the delays, Ige told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser that while he was unable to get into his Twitter account immediately to alert the public, he did during that time make calls to his leadership team at the emergency management agency.
"The focus really was on trying to get as many people informed about the fact that it was a false alert," he told the newspaper.
Chaos roiled paradise
The false alert was blamed on a lone employee who "pushed the wrong button" during an end-of-shift procedure.
The governor promised that steps were being taken to ensure that such a false alarm never happens again.
Resident and tourists alike scrambled for safety the morning the alert was issued.
People huddled in hotel basements, crawled under tables, raced from beaches and took shelter in military hangars when the alert hit phones.
If North Korea were to launch a missile toward Hawaii, the 1.4 million residents of the islands would have only about 20 minutes' notice before it hit. The emergency management agency had begun testing the state's nuclear warning siren system. Residents have been told their best plan of action is to remain inside and shelter in place until it's safe to leave.

Arellano survives stern test, turns back Perpetual

Arellano University survived its toughest test yet, climbing back from two sets down to beat University of Perpetual Help, 22-25, 19-25, 25-21, 25-20, 15-5, in the NCAA Season 93 women’s volleyball tournament Tuesday at Filoil Flying V Centre in San Juan.
The Lady Chiefs leaned on their trio of Jovielyn Prado, Andrea Marzan and Regine Arocha, who combined for 50 points.
“We played so bad in the first two sets so I made adjustments beginning the third set and things started to click,” said Arellano head coach Obet Javier in Filipino after steering his squad to its 18th consecutive win dating back to last season.

Prado scored 20 points with four blocks while Marzan and Arocha scored 16 and 14 points, respectively.
“I just told them to play with heart,” Prado said in Filipino. “The games become more important as the season goes so we have to treat every game like there’s no tomorrow.”
After a tough first four sets, defending champion Arellano showed its composure and raced to a 10-1 start in the deciding fifth set.
Maria Tripoli had 20 points while Cindy Imbo added 19 for the Lady Altas, whose lead over fourth-running San Sebastian in the standings is now just half a game after falling to 4-2.
Joyce Sta. Rita set a career-high to lead San Sebastian past Mapua, 25-20, 25-7, 29-31, 25-14, in the other match.


Braking system glitch halts MRT-3 train again; 800 passengers unloaded

It’s still the morning rush hour and yet the Metro Rail Transit 3 (MRT3) is down to only seven operational trains after two trains have already conked out Wednesday morning.

The latest train hiccup occurred around 9 a.m., dropping off 800 commuters at the southbound section of MRT-3’s Guadalupe Station due to an “electrical failure in our braking system.”

Based on its service report, the disruption was caused by “defective electrical and braking sub-components” like relay, cable, and brake actuator.


Affected passengers had to wait around nine minutes to be able to get on the next train.

Earlier, at around 6 a.m., a northbound train of the MRT-3 unloaded 230 passengers at Magallanes Station after its motor encountered an electrical failure. It took seven minutes for the affected passengers to board the next train.

The unloading incidents brought to just seven the number of working trains by 9:30 a.m., according to the report.

The Department of Transportation had said that spare parts that would increase the reliability of the trains are expected to start arriving only by February. /kga



Customs exec linked to ‘tara’ back

Customs Commissioner Isidro Lapeña

CEBU CITY — Customs Commisioner Isidro Lapeña has reinstated a district collector whom Sen. Panfilo Lacson earlier implicated in alleged systematic corruption in the Bureau of Customs (BOC).

Lapeña said Elvira Cruz was reinstated in her post at the BOC Cebu office because she had done a good job during her assignment here.

He clarified that Cruz was relieved not because of corruption allegations but because of her failure to meet BOC Cebu’s target collection in September 2017.


In August last year, former Customs Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon and other BOC officials, including Cruz, were accused by Lacson of receiving payoffs for every shipment smuggled through the country’s major ports — an allegation which Cruz strongly denied.

Over a month after the exposé, Cruz and seven district collectors, along with 30 section chiefs, were relieved from their posts by Lapeña as a way of cleansing the BOC’s ranks.

In a separate interview, Cruz assailed Lacson for dragging her into the controversial “tara,” or bribe system, at the BOC.

“He was just all talk, with no evidence to prove it,” she said, adding that she was never investigated on the matter.

A native of Manila, Cruz was assigned in Cebu in 2008 as deputy collector for operations. She was named district collector in January last year. —Ador Vincent S. Mayol

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