Thursday, 15 April

21:00 EDT

Resident Evil 4 VR announced for Oculus Quest 2 as a first-person remake [Ars Technica]

Resident Evil 4 VR announced for Oculus Quest 2 as a first-person remake

Enlarge (credit: Capcom)

On Thursday, Capcom announced that its megaton horror series Resident Evil will soon return to virtual reality. But instead of adding a VR mode to the upcoming Resident Evil VIII: Village, slated to launch next month, the game maker threw horror fans a curveball. The project, as it turns out, is Resident Evil 4 VR, a wildly revised port of the 2005 classic, and it appears to be an Oculus Quest 2 exclusive.

You read that correctly: Quest 2, as opposed to Rift or other PC-VR platforms. No release date or estimate has yet been confirmed.

The VR port was announced as part of the latest announcement frenzy otherwise dedicated to May 7th's RE8, and it confirmed that Oculus Studios and Armature Studios (made up of ex-Metroid Prime developers) are leading the VR port's production. Because of Armature's recent ties to Oculus, in terms of releasing exclusive VR games for its Rift and Quest systems, that collaboration points to this game remaining an Oculus exclusive.

Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Bezos Says Amazon Workers Aren't Treated Like Robots, Unveils Robotic Plan To Keep Them Working [Slashdot]

In his final letter to shareholders as Amazon CEO, Jeff Bezos said that the company has to "do a better job for our employees." But, as The Verge points out, the outlined strategy includes "a robotic scheme that will develop new staffing schedules using an algorithm." From the report: Bezos pushed back on the idea that, according to news reports, Amazon doesn't care for its employees. "In those reports, our employees are sometimes accused of being desperate souls and treated as robots. That's not accurate,â he wrote. To address concerns about working conditions, Bezos said the company will develop new staffing schedules "that use sophisticated algorithms to rotate employees among jobs that use different muscle-tendon groups to decrease repetitive motion and help protect employees from MSD risks." The technology will roll out throughout 2021, he said. In addition to giving a nod to working conditions at Amazon, the letter is the first time Bezos has publicly addressed the failed union drive at its Bessemer, Alabama plant. "Does your Chair take comfort in the outcome of the recent union vote in Bessemer? No, he doesn't," Bezos wrote. "I think we need to do a better job for our employees. While the voting results were lopsided and our direct relationship with employees is strong, it's clear to me that we need a better vision for how we create value for employees -- a vision for their success."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Ireland Opens GDPR Investigation Into Facebook Leak [Slashdot]

An anonymous reader quotes a report from TechCrunch: Facebook's lead data supervisor in the European Union has opened an investigation into whether the tech giant violated data protection rules vis-a-vis the leak of data reported earlier this month. Here's the Irish Data Protection Commission's statement: "The Data Protection Commission (DPC) today launched an own-volition inquiry pursuant to section 110 of the Data Protection Act 2018 in relation to multiple international media reports, which highlighted that a collated dataset of Facebook user personal data had been made available on the internet. This dataset was reported to contain personal data relating to approximately 533 million Facebook users worldwide. The DPC engaged with Facebook Ireland in relation to this reported issue, raising queries in relation to GDPR compliance to which Facebook Ireland furnished a number of responses. The DPC, having considered the information provided by Facebook Ireland regarding this matter to date, is of the opinion that one or more provisions of the GDPR and/or the Data Protection Act 2018 may have been, and/or are being, infringed in relation to Facebook Users' personal data. Accordingly, the Commission considers it appropriate to determine whether Facebook Ireland has complied with its obligations, as data controller, in connection with the processing of personal data of its users by means of the Facebook Search, Facebook Messenger Contact Importer and Instagram Contact Importer features of its service, or whether any provision(s) of the GDPR and/or the Data Protection Act 2018 have been, and/or are being, infringed by Facebook in this respect." "We are cooperating fully with the IDPC in its enquiry, which relates to features that make it easier for people to find and connect with friends on our services," Facebook said in a statement. "These features are common to many apps and we look forward to explaining them and the protections we have put in place."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Apple’s App Store hosted kiddie games with secret gambling dens inside [The Verge - All Posts]

In popular culture, access to an illicit gambling den is as easy as stumbling into the right shop and saying the password — or greasing some palms. Apple’s App Store apparently has a real-life parallel: today, app developer Kosta Eleftheriou discovered a terrible kiddie game that’s actually a front for gambling websites.

The secret password isn’t one you’d be likely to guess: you have to be in the right country —or pretend to be in the right country using a VPN.

But then, instead of launching an ugly monkey-flipping endless runner game filled with typos and bugs, the very same app launches a casino experience:

Continue reading…

A Resident Evil 4 VR remake is launching on Oculus Quest 2 [The Verge - All Posts]

Capcom

Resident Evil 4 will be rereleased in virtual reality on the Oculus Quest 2 headset. Resident Evil 4’s VR remake will be a collaboration between series publisher Capcom, Oculus parent company Facebook, and the independent studio Armature. While Capcom didn’t offer much detail, some early footage shows a first-person adaptation of the classic third-person shooter.

Capcom announced its news during a Resident Evil showcase that also included a new trailer for the non-VR Resident Evil Village. Oculus and Facebook Reality Labs will reveal more about the game on April 21st, when Facebook is holding its own VR showcase for the Quest.

The Resident Evil series has tried VR before. The 2017 first-person game Resident Evil 7 let you play through...

Continue reading…

20:00 EDT

EFF Partners With DuckDuckGo [Slashdot]

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) today announced it has enhanced its groundbreaking HTTPS Everywhere browser extension by incorporating rulesets from DuckDuckGo Smarter Encryption. According to the digital rights group's press release, HTTPS Everywhere is "a collaboration with The Tor Project and a key component of EFF's effort to encrypt the web and make the Internet ecosystem safe for users and website owners." From the press release: "DuckDuckGo Smarter Encryption has a list of millions of HTTPS-encrypted websites, generated by continually crawling the web instead of through crowdsourcing, which will give HTTPS Everywhere users more coverage for secure browsing," said Alexis Hancock, EFF Director of Engineering and manager of HTTPS Everywhere and Certbot web encrypting projects. "We're thrilled to be partnering with DuckDuckGo as we see HTTPS become the default protocol on the net and contemplate HTTPS Everywhere's future." EFF began building and maintaining a crowd-sourced list of encrypted HTTPS versions of websites for a free browser extension -- HTTPS Everywhere -- which automatically takes users to them. That keeps users' web searching, pages visited, and other private information encrypted and safe from trackers and data thieves that try to intercept and steal personal information in transit from their browser. [...] DuckDuckGo, a privacy-focused search engine, also joined the effort with Smarter Encryption to help users browse securely by detecting unencrypted, non-secure HTTP connections to websites and automatically upgrading them to encrypted connections. With more domain coverage in Smarter Encryption, HTTPS Everywhere users are provided even more protection. HTTPS Everywhere rulesets will continue to be hosted through this year, giving our partners who use them time to adjust. We will stop taking new requests for domains to be added at the end of May.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

19:00 EDT

99.992% of fully vaccinated people have dodged COVID, CDC data shows [Ars Technica]

Residents wait in an observation area after receiving Covid-19 vaccines at a vaccination site in Richmond, California on Thursday, April 15, 2021.

Enlarge / Residents wait in an observation area after receiving Covid-19 vaccines at a vaccination site in Richmond, California on Thursday, April 15, 2021. (credit: Getty | Bloomberg)

Cases of COVID-19 are extremely rare among people who are fully vaccinated, according to a new data analysis by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Among more than 75 million fully vaccinated people in the US, just around 5,800 people reported a “breakthrough” infection, in which they became infected with the pandemic coronavirus despite being fully vaccinated.

The numbers suggest that breakthroughs occur at the teeny rate of less than 0.008 percent of fully vaccinated people—and that over 99.992 percent of those vaccinated have not contracted a SARS-CoV-2 infection.

Read 11 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Popular software development tool Docker gets Apple M1 support [Ars Technica]

Docker running on a Mac.

Enlarge / Docker running on a Mac. (credit: Docker)

Docker, a popular multi-platform application used by software developers, has released a version that runs natively on Apple Silicon hardware, including Macs released with Apple's custom-designed M1 chip.

The M1 chip uses the ARM instruction set and cannot natively run software that was designed to run on the x86 architecture that the Intel processors in previously released Macs used. Though the previous version of Docker did work via Apple's Rosetta solution, the introduction of an M1-native version of Docker contributes to a closing gap for developers concerned about running their entire suite of tools in an optimal way.

It follows the release of M1 versions of Homebrew, Visual Studio Code, and other developer tools and applications. But some gaps remain—for example, Microsoft's Visual Studio 2019 IDE (which is distinct from the comparatively lightweight Visual Studio Code) has not been updated.

Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

MIT scientists study spider web structure by translating it into music [Ars Technica]

Now you can walk through a virtual spider web, using VR headset and controllers to interact with a web sonification model.

A spider weaving its intricate web is a bit like a person composing a song, at least in the eyes of MIT materials engineer Markus Buehler, whose research involves translating web structure into musical melodies. Together with his collaborators, he has devised a way for humans to "enter" a 3D spider web and explore its structure both visually and aurally via a virtual reality setup. Buehler described the ongoing project during a talk at the (virtual) meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS) this week.

The work may one day lead to a means of rudimentary communication with spiders in their own "language" of web vibrations, such as when they stretch a strand of silk while building a web or when the strands vibrate in response to a gust of wind or to the presence of trapped prey. "The spider lives in an environment of vibrating strings," Buehler said during an online press conference. "They don't see very well, so they sense their world through vibrations, which have different frequencies."

As we've reported previously, several years ago, Buehler led a team of MIT scientists that mapped the molecular structure of proteins in spider silk threads onto musical theory to produce the "sound" of silk in hopes of establishing a radical new way to create designer proteins. The hierarchical elements of music composition (pitch, range, dynamics, tempo) are analogous to the hierarchical elements of a protein structure. Much like how music has a limited number of notes and chords and uses different combinations to compose music, proteins have a limited number of building blocks (20 amino acids) that can combine in any number of ways to create novel protein structures with unique properties.

Read 10 remaining paragraphs | Comments

FreeBSD 13 Released [Slashdot]

"FreeBSD, the other Linux, reached version 13," writes long-time Slashdot reader undoman. "The operating system is known for its stable code, native ZFS support, and use of the more liberal BSD licenses." Phoronix highlights some of the major new improvements: FreeBSD 13.0 delivers on performance improvements (particularly for Intel CPUs we've seen in benchmarks thanks to hardware P-States), upgrading to LLVM Clang 11 as the default compiler toolchain, POWER 64-bit support improvements, a wide variety of networking improvements, 64-bit ARM (AArch64) now being a tier-one architecture alongside x86_64, EFI boot improvements, AES-NI is now included by default for generic kernel builds, the default CPU support for i386 is bumped to i686 from i486, and a variety of other hardware support improvements. Various obsolete GNU tools have been removed like an old version of GNU Debugger used for crashinfo, obsolete GCC 4.2.1 and Binutils 2.17 were dropped from the main tree, and also switching to a BSD version of grep. The release announcement can be found here.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

The Looming Software Kill-Switch Lurking In Aging PlayStation Hardware [Slashdot]

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Unless something changes, an issue lurking in older PlayStations' internal timing systems threatens to eventually make every PS4 game and all downloaded PS3 games unplayable on current hardware. Right now, it's not a matter of if but when this problem will occur. [...] The root of the coming issue has to do with the CMOS battery inside every PS3 and PS4, which the systems use to keep track of the current time (even when they're unplugged). If that battery dies or is removed for any reason, it raises an internal flag in the system's firmware indicating the clock may be out of sync with reality. After that flag is raised, the system in question has to check in with PSN the next time it needs to confirm the correct time. On the PS3, this online check happens when you play a game downloaded from the PlayStation Store. On the PS4, this also happens when you try to play retail games installed from a disc. This check has to be performed at least once even if the CMOS battery is replaced with a fresh one so the system can reconfirm clock consistency. Why does the PlayStation firmware care so much about having the correct time? On the PS3, the timer check is used to enforce any "time limits" that might have been placed on your digital purchase (as confirmed by the error message: "This content has a time limit. To perform this operation go to settings date and time settings set via internet"). That check seems to be required even for downloads that don't have any actual set expiration date, adding a de facto one-time online check-in requirement for systems after their internal batteries fail. On the PS4, though, the timing check is apparently intended to make sure PSN trophy data is registered accurately and to prevent players from pretending to get trophies earlier than they actually had. You'd think this check could be segregated from the ability to load the non-trophy portions of the game, but player testing has shown that this seems to be a requirement to get PS4 games to load at all. Last month, Sony shut down PlayStation Store access for the PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita, and PlayStation Portable. Sony will eventually shut off the PSN servers that power the timing check for hardware it no longer considers important. "After that, it's only a matter of time before failing CMOS batteries slowly reduce all PS3 and PS4 hardware to semi-functional curios," adds Ars. Sony could release a firmware update that limits the system functions tied to this timing check, but Sony hasn't publicly indicated it has any such plans.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

I am confused by and excited about Epic Games 'CORE' trailer [Boing Boing]

I really have no clue what I have just seen or what CORE is. I think Bill and Ted's Aggro Experience or some sort of 'Sliders but you engage in war with every culture you meet' — however, what I think is hidden inside the awful advertising is a creative game design platform. — Read the rest

La Soufrière Volcano: A Growing Humanitarian Crisis [News : NPR]

An ash plume rises over La Soufriere on St. Vincent on April 13. The volcano is expected to continue erupting and has caused a humanitarian crisis.

Between 16,000 and 20,000 people were evacuated from the area around the volcano on St. Vincent. Some evacuees are with family and friends; others are fleeing the island entirely.

(Image credit: Orvil Samuel/AP)

Brazil COVID-19: 'Humanitarian Crisis' With More Than 3,000 Deaths A Day [News : NPR]

A health worker treats a COVID-19 patient at a field hospital in Ribeirao Pires, greater Sao Paulo area, on Tuesday.

The Supreme Court has approved an inquiry into President Jair Bolsonaro's pandemic response. Doctors Without Borders says the country's approach has led to a "near collapse of Brazil's health system."

(Image credit: Andre Penner/AP)

Officer Who Killed Daunte Wright Makes 1st Court Appearance In Manslaughter Case [News : NPR]

Former Brooklyn Center, Minn., police officer Kim Potter was arrested Wednesday and released later that day on a $100,000 bond.

Kim Potter has been charged with second-degree manslaughter. Wright's family has expressed skepticism about the police explanation that Potter mistook her gun for her Taser.

(Image credit: Hennepin County, Minn., Sheriff's Office via Getty Images)

Chicago Releases Video Showing Fatal Police Shooting Of 13-Year-Old Adam Toledo [News : NPR]

Two boys hold signs at an April 6 news conference, days after a Chicago police officer fatally shot 13-year-old Adam Toledo.

The highly anticipated footage was released to the public on Thursday, more than two weeks after the seventh-grader was killed by an officer following an alleyway foot pursuit.

(Image credit: Shafkat Anowar/AP)

You can play the second demo for Resident Evil Village on May 1st, or earlier on PlayStation [The Verge - All Posts]

During today’s Resident Evil Showcase, Capcom announced that a second demo for its upcoming survival horror game, Resident Evil Village, will release on May 1st. That’s six days before the game’s official release date.

Unlike the previous “Maiden” demo, this demo will be playable on all platforms the game will releases on, including PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X and S, Windows PC (via Steam), and Stadia. The demo will allow you to play for 60 minutes and explore both the village and castle areas, regardless of the platform.

PS4 and PS5 users will have the option to preload the demo beginning today via the PlayStation Store. Additionally, players on these two platforms will receive early access to the demo on two separate weekends — April 17th...

Continue reading…

The Fyre Festival settlement reveals the true cost of schadenfreude — $7,220 a pop [The Verge - All Posts]

Image: Fyre Festival LLC

The organizers of Fyre Festival — think: The Hunger Games, but for influencers — have agreed to a settlement with 277 attendees for $7,220 apiece, The New York Times reports.

Tickets for the 2017 “luxury” music festival on a remote island in the Bahamas that actually turned out to be a beach full of FEMA tents and some pathetic cheese sandwiches, cost anywhere from $1,000 to as much as $12,000 — more if you bought a package deal. Yes, really, because Fyre Festival organizers, while apparently not adept enough to coordinate hotel bookings and a caterer, did enlist big-name Instagram stars to sing the praises of the inaugural event, including Kendall Jenner, who received $250,000 for a post she’s since deleted.

Organizers also (falsely)...

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Please keep Anish Kapoor away from the whitest white paint [The Verge - All Posts]

A man with sunglasses on holding up a panel with a very bright white square painted on it.
Xiulin Ruan, one of the researchers who made the whitest white paint, holding up a sample. | Photo by Jared Pike / Purdue University

Researchers at Purdue University say they have created the whitest paint on record. In fact, they’ve now crafted an ultra-white paint twice: in October, they announced a white paint that was capable of reflecting 95.5 percent of sunlight. But they decided to outdo themselves with a new formulation, announced today, that reflects up to 98.1 percent of sunlight.

The thing about a very white paint is that, along with reflecting light, it also rejects heat. As any goth who has spent the day on the beach knows, black absorbs light and will heat up. The hope with an ultra-white paint is that it could be used on buildings to keep them cooler without air conditioning.

The science of the paint comes down to a high concentration of barium...

Continue reading…

Amazon tried to coerce Ecobee into collecting private user data, the WSJ reports [The Verge - All Posts]

Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

Amazon tried to use its power to coerce Ecobee into using its smart home products to collect user data by threatening Ecobee’s ability to sell its products on Amazon, according to a report from The Wall Street Journal.

As of now, Ecobee’s products can still be purchased on Amazon, but the WSJ claims that negotiations between Ecobee and Amazon are ongoing. According to the WSJ, the online retail giant asked Ecobee to share data from its Alexa-enabled smart thermostats, even when the customer wasn’t actively using the voice assistant. Ecobee reportedly refused to have its devices constantly report back to Amazon about the state of the user’s home, including data on which doors were locked or unlocked and the set temperature. The reasoning...

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How to turn off autoplay videos on Facebook, Twitter, Firefox, and more [The Verge - All Posts]

Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

You’ve probably been caught off guard by videos that play automatically on Facebook, Twitter, or just across the internet in general. They begin playing as soon as you load a page or (if they’re more deviously implemented) when you start scrolling through a page.

Automatic video play is a feature that, while nice to have when it’s surfacing content that’s related to your interests, can be pretty annoying. Autoplay videos can be harmful, too, exposing you to violent, offensive, or otherwise unwanted content that you shouldn’t have to see by default.

Whether you just want to put an end to autoplay videos on social media platforms or are looking for a more comprehensive fix, we’ve got some tips. Keep in mind that you’ll need to adjust...

Continue reading…

18:00 EDT

Apple Wins New Trial in $506 Million Patent-Damages Award [Slashdot]

A federal judge tossed a $506.2 million damages award against Apple after ruling the iPhone maker should have been able to argue that patent owner Optis Wireless Technology was making unfair royalty demands, though he refused to throw out the liability finding. From a report: Optis and its partners in the case, PanOptis Patent Management and Unwired Planet, claimed that Apple's smartphones, watches, and tablets that operate over the LTE cellular standard were using its patented technology. U.S. District Court Judge Rodney Gilstrap said the jury should have been allowed to consider whether the royalty demand was consistent with a requirement that standard-essential patents be licensed on "fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory," or FRAND, terms. The patent trial in August, one of the few held during the pandemic, was part of an unusual sweep of verdicts in Texas that collectively resulted in $3.7 billion in damages against tech companies like Apple and Intel Corp. Apple was also hit with damages awards of $502.8 million in a decade-long battle over security communications technology, and $308.5 million in a case over digital rights management.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

17:00 EDT

US government strikes back at Kremlin for SolarWinds hack campaign [Ars Technica]

US government strikes back at Kremlin for SolarWinds hack campaign

Enlarge (credit: Matt Anderson Photography/Getty Images)

US officials on Thursday formally blamed Russia for backing one of the worst espionage hacks in recent US history and imposed sanctions designed to mete out punishments for that and other recent actions.

In a joint advisory, the National Security Agency, FBI, and Cybersecurity and Information Security Agency said that Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service, abbreviated as the SVR, carried out the supply-chain attack on customers of the network management software from Austin, Texas-based SolarWinds.

The operation infected SolarWinds’ software build and distribution system and used it to push backdoored updates to about 18,000 customers. The hackers then sent follow-up payloads to about 10 US federal agencies and about 100 private organizations. Besides the SolarWinds supply-chain attack, the hackers also used password guessing and other techniques to breach networks.

Read 15 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Singapore's Most Expensive Facebook Link [Slashdot]

An anonymous reader shares a report: On November 7, 2018, Leong Sze Hian, a financial advisor and blogger, shared an article on his Facebook page, without comment. The article, published by Malaysian website The Coverage, alleged that Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong had become a target of ongoing investigations in the 1Malaysia Development Berhad scandal, a massive case of graft in Malaysia that drew in banks in Singapore, Hollywood stars, and Saudi royalty. The article claimed that Malaysia, under former Prime Minister Najib Razak, had signed unfair deals with Singapore in return for help to launder stolen funds. These were serious allegations, particularly in Singapore, where the government is ultra-sensitive to any suggestion of corruption. The response, unsurprisingly, was strong and swift: the law and home affairs minister issued a clear rebuttal, Singapore's High Commission in Kuala Lumpur described the article as libelous, and the Monetary Authority of Singapore lodged a police report against the author of a similar article published in the States Times Review, a website run by a Singaporean in Australia who is highly critical of Singapore's ruling People's Action Party. The Infocomm Media Development Authority, Singapore's media regulator, told Leong to remove the link from his Facebook page; he did. But it was already too late to save him from trouble. Two days later, he found out that Prime Minister Lee was going to sue him for defamation. Last month, the High Court ruled that Leong did defame Lee and ordered him to pay almost $100,000 (133,000 Singapore dollars) in damages. It's an extraordinary sum for a simple Facebook link that stayed up for only three days. But there's a particular legal precedent in Singapore: public leaders are usually awarded higher damages when they win defamation suits related to their character or integrity. In his judgment, Justice Aedit Abdullah quoted a previous case in which the courts stated that public "leaders are generally entitled to higher damages also because of their standing in Singapore society and devotion to public service."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Schwab Sues Former Client After Accidental Transfer of $1.2 Million [Slashdot]

An anonymous reader writes: Charles Schwab is suing one of its former customers after the retail brokerage allegedly sent more than $1.2 million to an account of the Louisiana woman and then could not get the money back. Schwab meant to send $82.56 to Kelyn Spadoni's Fidelity Brokerage Services account in February, but a computer glitch caused it to erroneously transfer more than $1.2 million, according to the lawsuit. Schwab tried to get the money back, but repeated calls and texts to Spadoni, who lives in a suburb of New Orleans, were not returned, the brokerage said in the lawsuit. "We are fully cooperating with authorities in an effort to resolve this issue," Schwab said in a statement on Tuesday. Fidelity declined comment. After receiving the money in her account, Spadoni transferred a quarter of the money to another account, after which she bought a house and a car using the funds, Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office spokesman Captain Jason Rivarde said in an interview on Tuesday. "Obviously you are not planning to give the money back if you spent it," he said. When Spadoni signed up with Schwab in January, the agreement she signed included a section that said any overpayment of funds must be returned, said the lawsuit, filed March 30.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Oopsie! Canadian lawmaker caught stark naked in online House of Commons meeting [Boing Boing]

Ah, the all-too-common mishap of online meetings! Canadian Parliament member William Amos, who had just come back from jogging, somehow appeared at a virtual meeting stark naked. He later apologized.

From AP:

"This was an unfortunate error,″ Amos said in a statement sent by email.

Read the rest

Fewer Migrant Children Held In Border Detention Facilities, But Challenges Remain [News : NPR]

Unaccompanied minors wait to be processed by U.S. Border Patrol agents near the U.S.-Mexico border in La Joya, Texas on April 10. The Biden administration faces big challenges as it deals with the record-breaking surge of unaccompanied minors.

Health and Human Services has opened a dozen emergency influx shelters for unaccompanied migrant children, easing a bottleneck at the border. But the Biden administration still faces big challenges.

(Image credit: John Moore/Getty Images)

Democrats Unveil Long-Shot Plan To Expand Size Of Supreme Court From 9 To 13 [News : NPR]

Democratic Rep. Hank Johnson (from left), Sen. Ed Markey, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler and Rep. Mondaire Jones announce legislation Thursday to expand the number of seats on the U.S. Supreme Court outside the high court.

Republicans were scathing in their response to the measure, but the bill has a grim future even without their opposition. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she has no plans to bring it to the floor.

(Image credit: J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

Republicans really are that nasty [Pharyngula]

The only way Republicans can win elections is by a) picking a repressed minority, b) ginning up some horrific, imaginary reason accusing them of destroying all of culture, and c) profit. In case you haven’t noticed, their current target is trans folk. It’s so blatant it’s dismaying that more people haven’t yet figured out they’re being played.

And so Republicans have conjured a new existential threat, targeting trans people, a tiny segment of the population that is nevertheless the subject of full-blown panic. Earlier forays into anti-trans politics resulted in a backlash, with North Carolina’s infamous 2016 “bathroom bill” being repealed. But Republicans have since redoubled their efforts, with a particular emphasis on “protecting” children, a familiar echo of their opposition to the civil rights of gay Americans.

Republican legislators in Arkansas just passed a ban on gender-affirming medical care for trans youth, overriding the governor’s veto, and Alabama is on the verge of passing a similar ban. Republican legislators in North Carolina have proposed legislation that would go further, forcing state employees to immediately notify parents in writing if a child displays “gender nonconformity,” forcing public workers to act as gender cops. A Texas proposal would label gender-affirming care a form of child abuse and separate trans children from parents who helped them secure it. More such proposals are sure to follow, as Republicans indulge the moral panic about trans identity, hoping to reap the benefits of once again forcing Democrats to defend the civil rights of a small community that lacks the numbers to outvote them.

Keep that in mind for the future. Republicans are always looking for a scapegoat.

Someday, I will master spider photomicrography [Pharyngula]

Today’s hour of spider-zen was spent feeding (they were hungry — they always hunger) and tinkering with the photography lighting. The image below is a product of some experimenting: I use an LED ring light attached to the microscope, which gives a uniform brightness to everything, which isn’t always desirable. My photographs come out looking flat, with shadows mostly lost. So today I 1) used a darkfield background, and 2) fired up my halogen lamp with the fiber-optic dual goosenecks, and tried lighting more from the side. I still have some work to do, but I kind of like this image. The side-lighting and darker background is much more effective at imaging the spider silk, and the warmer lighting of the halogen added some lovely red-gold highlights to the spider.

Compared to my other recent photo, I think it’s less cartoony and much more true to life.

The photomicrography experiments must continue.

Except now I’ve got a class coming up. I wonder what I’m going to say?

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Joho the Blog XML 17:00, Thursday, 15 April 01:00, Friday, 16 April
Joi Ito's Web XML 21:00, Thursday, 15 April 22:00, Thursday, 15 April
LESSIG Blog, v2 XML 21:00, Thursday, 15 April 09:00, Friday, 16 April
MichaelZimmer.org XML 20:00, Thursday, 15 April 22:00, Thursday, 15 April
Mr. Money Mustache XML 17:00, Thursday, 15 April 01:00, Friday, 16 April
NeuroLogica Blog XML 19:00, Thursday, 15 April 23:00, Thursday, 15 April
News : NPR XML 21:00, Thursday, 15 April 22:00, Thursday, 15 April
Nikki XML 19:00, Thursday, 15 April 23:00, Thursday, 15 April
Pharyngula XML 17:00, Thursday, 15 April 23:00, Thursday, 15 April
Philip Greenspun’s Weblog XML 20:00, Thursday, 15 April 22:00, Thursday, 15 April
Philosophical Disquisitions XML 20:00, Thursday, 15 April 22:00, Thursday, 15 April
PressThink XML 20:00, Thursday, 15 April 22:00, Thursday, 15 April
Priceonomics Blog XML 17:00, Thursday, 15 April 23:00, Thursday, 15 April
Professional-Lurker: Comments by an academic in cyberspace XML 21:00, Thursday, 15 April 22:00, Thursday, 15 April
quarlo XML 11:00, Thursday, 15 April 23:00, Thursday, 15 April
ragesoss XML 20:00, Thursday, 15 April 22:00, Thursday, 15 April
Science-Based Medicine XML 17:00, Thursday, 15 April 01:00, Friday, 16 April
Slashdot XML 21:00, Thursday, 15 April 21:30, Thursday, 15 April
Stories by J. Nathan Matias on Medium XML 17:00, Thursday, 15 April 01:00, Friday, 16 April
Stories by Yonatan Zunger on Medium XML 17:00, Thursday, 15 April 01:00, Friday, 16 April
Study Hacks - Decoding Patterns of Success - Cal Newport XML 17:00, Thursday, 15 April 01:00, Friday, 16 April
Sublime Blog XML 11:00, Thursday, 15 April 23:00, Thursday, 15 April
The Blog of Author Tim Ferriss XML 20:00, Thursday, 15 April 22:00, Thursday, 15 April
The Verge - All Posts XML 21:00, Thursday, 15 April 22:00, Thursday, 15 April
This Sociological Life XML 17:00, Thursday, 15 April 01:00, Friday, 16 April
tinywords XML 19:00, Thursday, 15 April 23:00, Thursday, 15 April
Tynan | Life Outside the Box XML 17:00, Thursday, 15 April 01:00, Friday, 16 April
Valerie Aurora's blog XML 19:00, Thursday, 15 April 23:00, Thursday, 15 April
W3C News XML 21:00, Thursday, 15 April 22:00, Thursday, 15 April
Wealth of Ideas XML 17:00, Thursday, 15 April 01:00, Friday, 16 April
Women4Wikipedia XML 19:00, Thursday, 15 April 23:00, Thursday, 15 April
Wooster Collective XML 21:00, Thursday, 15 April 22:00, Thursday, 15 April