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Activision's new 'Call of Duty' game rakes in $550 mln in three days

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Videogame maker Activision Blizzard Inc said “Call of Duty: Black Ops III” generated more than $550 million in global sales in the first three days after its Friday release, setting the tone for the crucial holiday quarter.

On Sony’s PlayStation 4 console, “Black Ops III” set a record as the best-selling digital game by units sold on its first day, Activision said on Wednesday.

The videogame, a military first-person shooter like the earlier “Call of Duty” games, is set in a dystopian future in 2065, 40 years after the events of prequel “Black Ops II”.

Activision has generated significant revenue from the “Black Ops” series, with sales of “Black Ops II” exceeding $500 million worldwide within the first 24 hours of its 2012 release.

The company launched a film and TV studio last week to create original content based on its popular franchises such as “Call of Duty” in its latest push to expand beyond console-based games.

Another much anticipated videogame this season, Microsoft Corp’s “Halo 5: Guardians” raked in more than $400 million in sales globally in its first week after launching last month.

Other blockbuster videogames in the holiday quarter include Electronic Arts’ “Star Wars: Battlefront” and action role-playing game “Fallout 4”, published by Bethesda Softworks.

“Star Wars: Battlefront” is set to release next week, a month before Disney releases “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”, the latest movie in the Star Wars franchise, while “Fallout 4”, a videogame about charting through a nuclear wasteland, went on sale worldwide on Tuesday.

Activision’s shares were little changed at $33.73 in morning trade.

(Reporting by Anya George Tharakan and Sai Sachin R in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila)

Source: R-Entertainment

Prehistoric "Stonehenge" monument in Golan Heights fuels mystery

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GOLAN HEIGHTSDriving past it, one of the most mysterious structures in the Middle East is easy to miss. The prehistoric stone monument went unnoticed for centuries in a bare expanse of field on the Golan Heights.

After Israel captured the territory from Syria in a 1967 war, archaeologists studying an aerial survey spotted a pattern of stone circles not visible from the ground. Subsequent excavations revealed it was one of the oldest and largest structures in the region.

Known as Rujm el-Hiri in Arabic, meaning the “stone heap of the wild cat”, the complex has five concentric circles, the largest more than 500 feet (152 m) wide, and a massive burial chamber in the middle. Its Hebrew name Gilgal Refaim, or “wheel of giants”, refers to an ancient race of giants mentioned in the Bible.

It is up to 5,000 years old, according to most estimates, making it a contemporary of England’s Stonehenge. Unlike the more famous monument built with about 100 huge stones topped by lintels, the Golan structure is made of piles of thousands of smaller basalt rocks that together weigh over 40,000 tons.

“It’s an enigmatic site. We have bits of information, but not the whole picture,” said Uri Berger, an expert on megalithic tombs with the Israel Antiquities Authority.

“Scientists come and are amazed by the site and think up their own theories.”

No one knows who built it, he said. Some think it might have been a nomadic civilisation that settled the area, but it would have required a tremendous support network that itinerants might not have had.

There could be an astrological significance. On the shortest and longest days of the year – the June and December solstices – the sunrise lines up with openings in the rocks, he said.

Standing on the ground inside the complex, it looks like a labyrinth of crumbling stone walls overgrown with weeds. From on top of the five-meter-high burial mound, it is possible to make out a circular pattern. Only from the air does the impressive shape of a massive bull’s-eye clearly emerge.

Shards of pottery and flint tools were found in various excavations to help date the site, Berger said. Scholars generally agree that construction started as early as 3,500 BC and other parts may have been added to over the next two thousand years.

The complex is in an area now used for training by Israel’s military, but visitors can explore the walls and crawl into the 20-foot-long burial chamber on weekends and holidays.

(Editing by Tom Heneghan)

Source: R-Entertainment

Trinidad-born author wins top Canada fiction prize with dog tale

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TORONTOTrinidad-born author Andre Alexis on Tuesday won Canada’s Giller Prize, the country’s richest fiction award, for his novel “Fifteen Dogs”, about a group of animals at a Toronto vet­erinary clinic who gain human consciousness and language.

The C$100,000 ($75,540.11) prize was awarded by a jury that included Irish author John Boyne, Canadian writers Cecil Foster, Alexander MacLeod and Alison Pick, and British author Helen Oyeyemi.

The jury said the novel is “a wonderful and original piece of writing that challenges the reader to examine their own existence and recall the age old question, what’s the meaning of life?”

Alexis was previously shortlisted for the Giller for his novel “Childhood”. His other books include “Asylum”, “Ingrid & the Wolf” and “Pastoral”.

($1 = 1.3238 Canadian dollars)

(Reporting by Jeffrey Hodgson; Editing by Ryan Woo)

Source: R-Entertainment

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