cherry blossoms, Japan, climate change, earliest bloom
The author writes, “Japan’s famous cherry blossoms have reached their peak in many places earlier this year than any time since formal recordkeeping began nearly 70 years ago. Experts say climate change is the likely cause.” Photo credit: Naoki Nakashima / Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

How the Supreme Court Could Supercharge the GOP’s Voter Suppression Agenda ; Brain Changed by Caffeine in Utero ; and More Picks 3/31

How the Supreme Court Could Supercharge the GOP’s Voter Suppression Agenda (DonkeyHotey)

From Slate: “Sometime later this year, the U.S. Supreme Court will hand down its decision in Brnovich v. Democratic National Committee, a case that Republicans very much hope will grind what little remains of your right to vote into a fine, democracy-tinged dust. Brnovich is about two Arizona laws: one that tosses out provisional ballots cast outside a voter’s assigned precinct on Election Day and another that prohibits most third-party groups, like campaign volunteers, from going door to door to return voters’ completed absentee ballots. Last year, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals struck down these laws under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, finding that they make it more difficult for Black, Hispanic, and Native Arizonans to vote. Now, Arizona and the Arizona Republican Party — a party that just watched in horror as President Joe Biden won their state by about 10,000 votes — hope the justices will decide otherwise.”

This Is What Happens When ICE Asks Google for Your User Information (Reader Steve)

From the Los Angeles Times: “You’re scrolling through your Gmail inbox and see an email with a strange subject line: A string of numbers followed by ‘Notification from Google.’ It may seem like a phishing scam or an update to Gmail’s terms of service. But it could be the only chance you’ll have to stop Google from sharing your personal information with authorities. Tech companies, which have treasure troves of personal information, have become natural targets for law enforcement and government requests. The industry’s biggest names, such as Google, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, receive data requests — from subpoenas to National Security Letters — to assist in, among other efforts, criminal and non-criminal investigations as well as lawsuits. An email like this one is a rare chance for users to discover when government agencies are seeking their data.”

Haiti Deportations Soar as Biden Administration Deploys Trump-Era Health Order (Dan)

The author writes, “The Biden administration has so far deported more Haitians in a few weeks than the Trump administration did in a whole year, with the use of a highly controversial Trump-era public health order denying asylum seekers basic legal rights, according to a new report. The report, The Invisible Wall, published on Thursday by a coalition of immigrant rights groups, focuses on Title 42, part of the 1944 Public Health Service Act invoked a year ago by the Trump administration as grounds for summary expulsion of migrants because of the supposed health risk they posed during the Covid pandemic.”

Brain Changed by Caffeine in Utero (Mili)

The author writes, “New research finds caffeine consumed during pregnancy can change important brain pathways that could lead to behavioral problems later in life. Researchers analyzed thousands of brain scans of nine and ten-year-olds, and revealed changes in the brain structure in children who were exposed to caffeine in utero.”

A Robot Just Sold Its NFT Artwork for Almost $700,000 (Dana)

The author writes, “Human-made objects selling as NFTs are so two days ago. Nonfungible tokens attached to art by robots are where it’s at. On Thursday, Sophia the walking, talking AI-powered humanoid robot auctioned a piece of her NFT digital artwork for almost $700,000. The piece, titled Sophia Instantiation is a 12-second video file showing a portrait by living, breathing Italian artist Andrea Bonaceto evolving into a digital painting by Sophia. It’s accompanied by a physical piece Sophia painted on a printout of her self-portrait.”

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