Dzhokhar Tsarnaev sentenced to death for 2013 Boston Marathon bombing

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Dzhokhar Tsarnaev will be put to death for his role in the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing. After convicting Tsarnaev of conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction and 29 other charges last month, today a federal court jury voted that he receive capital punishment in the form of lethal injection. Dzhokhar and older brother Tamerlan (who was later killed during a shootout with police) set off two homemade pressure cooker bombs near the finish line of the famed Boston Marathon. Three people were killed and over 250 were injured by the explosions and resulting shrapnel; many required amputations and other life-altering surgeries.

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This interactive map tracks all rat sightings in New York City

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Rats are everywhere in New York City, but they’re more abundant in some areas than others. As we reported earlier this week in our feature on the global war on rats, New York is now aggressively targeting hotspots where rats live in huge numbers.

This map, pointed out by commenter bcswartzfager and designed by Meredith Meyers, shows where some of those hotspots are. It draws on 311 data, displaying the last 10,000 rat sightings that have been called in to the social services hotline. As you can see, some areas are bright red, with hundreds more reports than nearby neighborhoods.

The Rat Reservoir program, as New York’s new initiative is called, identifies these hotspots, then tracks rats back to their burrows in parks, road medians,…

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Panasonic’s Firefox TVs are now on sale

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The first TVs running Firefox OS are now on sale. Mozilla announced this morning that six models of Panasonic TVs running its new OS are starting to ship in Europe, with global availability arriving in “the coming months.” It’s hard to actually find the TVs online, but the two models that did turn up — the 50-inch CX700 and the 40-inch CX680 — were selling for £999 (around US $1,570) and £791 (around US $1,240).

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Hulu picks up The Mindy Project after Fox cancellation

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Streaming services continue to be the saviors of shows that were cancelled too soon, and Hulu is the latest to extend the life of a big name. Hulu announced this morning that it’s giving The Mindy Project a fourth, 26-episode season, saving it from Fox’s cancellation. That makes the series one of Hulu’s most prominent titles, especially when it comes to originals, where the streaming service hasn’t kept up with the likes of Netflix and Amazon. Mindy Kaling is a growing name in TV comedy, and it’s a great move by Hulu to get her on board.

The Mindy Project is already a Hulu streaming exclusive, so the site will be able to let its subscribers catch up on the entire series — something that Yahoo can’t do with its revival of Community….

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Jurassic World’s genetics company forgot all about that rampaging T-Rex

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Is 22 years really so long? In a promotional video for Jurassic World, fictional genetics company InGen invites us to take a step into tomorrow, as they’ve apparently progressed lightyears into the future with their research. Dr. Henry Wu (B.D. Wong) features prominently in the almost Apple-esque video, as he and his team explain that the days of relying on frog DNA to sequence a dinosaur’s genome are long behind them. Of course, we all know things go very, very wrong, and genetically engineering dinosaurs is probably always a bad idea. Jurassic World hits theaters on June 12th.

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The series finale of The Simpsons already happened and it was wonderful

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I wrote earlier today about my frustrations with The Simpsons‘ voice work, which has become the least interesting part of a show that’s doing its best to creatively tread water. A number of people have already responded that the solution to the show’s casting problems is for The Simpsons to finally end. That almost happened in December 2011 due to similar circumstances.

“Holidays of Future Passed” was written as a potential series finale. At the time J. Stewart Burns penned the script, long before the episode’s air date, the show’s producers knew they were about to enter a fresh contract negotiation round with the leads. By fall of 2011, Fox was asking the primary actors to take a rumored 45 percent cut from the $8-million-a-year…

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Carl Icahn invests $100 million in Lyft

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Lyft has gained the attention of a major new investor: Carl Icahn, who’s put $100 million into the ride-hailing startup. Icahn’s involvement in a company’s affairs is often something that executives are wary of — he’s infamous for his role as an activist investor, interested in making big changes at companies for his own profit — but that doesn’t seem to be the case here. In fact, he makes the situation sound pretty straightforward to The Wall Street Journal. “If you look at the way the market evaluates Uber and then look at the valuation of Lyft, Lyft is a tremendous bargain,” Icahn says. “There is room for two.” Lyft is currently valued at $2.5 billion, while Uber could soon hit $50 billion.

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Get high every morning with marijuana K-cups

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As more and more states legalize marijuana for recreational use, edibles and infusions are becoming a massive marketplaceYahoo Finance now reports that coffee businesses are now infusing cannabis in their brews, ready to be bought in K-cups and coffee pods.

Uncle Ike’s Pot Shop of Seattle sells pods of “premium infused” coffee, containing 10mg of THC, for $10 each. “I liken it to a Red Bull and vodka,” Uncle Ike’s sales manager Jennifer Lanzador told Yahoo. “I had more energy, but I still had the relaxation you get from cannabis.” The pods are becoming big sellers — probably because of their undeniable convenience — and now reportedly account for 60 percent of Uncle Ike’s coffee sales.

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How the man behind Pitch Perfect’s music built an a cappella empire

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Sometimes the best way to get a job for yourself is to invent one. Today Deke Sharon, who may be the most enthusiastic supporter of a cappella music on earth, is best known as a producer of NBC’s The Sing-Off and the man who arranged the music for Pitch Perfect and Pitch Perfect 2, which opens this weekend. Later this year, he’ll co-star in his own show about a cappella on Lifetime. But none of that would have happened if a cappella weren’t having a cultural moment — a moment Sharon worked overtime to bring about. After graduating from Tufts University, he founded a society for a cappella music, began organizing global a cappella competitions, and toured the world with his a cappella band, the House Jacks. Now that it’s all paying off,…

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Cannes journal, part 1: welcome to the aquarium

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The official theme song of the Cannes Film Festival is “The Aquarium” from Camille Saint-Saëns’ The Carnival of the Animals. It’s a piece that’s somehow become the go-to “magic of cinema” theme, due to its frequent use in “magic of cinema” montages in awards show telecasts and other settings in which the art of filmmaking needs to be defended or justified. Saint-Saëns’ tinkling, undulating piano line, originally written to capture the flickering of underwater light, has now been repurposed to capture the flickering of light through a film projector.

It’s a theme that, for a moment, can make you forget mainstream cinema’s crippling franchise addiction, the crass tabloid dissection of the lives of actors, the focus groups and studio…

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How musician Holly Herndon created the ‘alien’ sounds on her new album

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Holly Herndon wouldn’t have been able to make her newest album without modern technology, but that doesn’t mean she’s totally fine with it. The Bay Area electronic artist will release her sophomore LP Platform next week, and though lyrics are sparse, the album has an obvious theme: with technology comes conflict. A MacBook is great at hosting audio workstations, but Apple’s labor practices are questionable, at best. Software can create sounds no instrument can make, but it can also be the target of unwanted cybersurveillance.

Herndon was born in Johnson City, Tennessee, and says she was “terrified” of computers growing up. “We didn’t have any extensive technical training,” she said when I met up with her in New York City recently….

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The NSA wants you to know it’s totally cool with Notorious B.I.G.

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The National Security Agency is a secretive government organization with a vast foreign and domestic surveillance apparatus, the boundaries of which, despite major leaks, are still perhaps not fully understood by the public.

It is also cool as #heck.

The evidence:

Although this could be seen as an unfortunate attempt by a controversial agency to add a dose of relatability to daily operations, you have to understand the level of analogy the NSA is working on. Much as documents released by Edward Snowden have sparked a national debate on the ethics of spying for…

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Maybe The Simpsons would be better with new voice actors

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I’m going to say something, and I ask that you give me a few paragraphs before you begin preparing kindling in the comments with which to burn me alive. Okay. Ready? Maybe new voice actors are the best thing that could happen to The Simpsons.

I love the show. I’m one of those people who still regularly watches the show. The worst part about the show isn’t the scripts, which have steadily improved from its creative nadir a decade ago. Nor is it the animation, which thanks to computers and outside artists has become one of the strangest, most impressive examples of the craft on television. The worst — or let’s just say most disappointing — aspect of The Simpsons today is the voice work.

The Simpsons has one of the finest voice casts, if…

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LG returns to Windows Phone with a budget Verizon handset

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It took a long time, but LG is returning to building Windows Phone handsets. Verizon is launching the LG Lancet, the first LG handset running Windows Phone 8.1. LG created a handset for the original Windows Phone 7 launch back in 2010, but the company skipped Windows Phone 8 and it looked like it might never return to Microsoft’s mobile software. While many had hoped LG would return with an equivalent to the G4, the LG Lancet is the type of Windows Phone you’d expect to have seen announced five years ago.

LG is using a FWVGA (854 x 480) 4.5-inch display on the Lancet, alongside 8GB of storage (only 4GB is usable) and a 1.2GHz quad-core processor. There’s an 8-megapixel camera at the rear and a VGA front-facing one, adding to overall…

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First Click: Don’t confuse smart devices with a smart home

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Waiting on a complete smart home solution that just works out of the box is like waiting for Godot: he’s not arriving today but surely tomorrow.

It was four years and four days ago that Google announced Android@Home with the intent of extending Android into household objects. Google’s announcement brought the promise of scale and software know-how to an obtuse industry then dominated by companies better suited to drawing up wiring and plumbing schematics than user interfaces. Although Android@Home fizzled like a cool Buzz from a tasty Wave, the announcement put the entire smart home industry on notice: the big brands are coming!

Today the aisles of Home Depot are a testament to the mass consumerfication of smart home products enabled…

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Samsung Wallet gives way to Samsung Pay

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Samsung is planning to discontinue its Wallet service at the end of next month. In an email, obtained by SamMobile, to current Samsung Wallet users, the company says it’s killing off the service on June 30th with no explanation for the discontinuation. Coupons clipped in Samsung Wallet will no longer function after June 30th, and any tickets and reservations stored in the service will be accessible from existing partner apps.

Samsung’s Wallet service was originally introduced as a central hub to store coupons, membership cards, flight boarding passes, and mobile payment services. Samsung partnered with Expedia, American Express, Walgreens, United Airlines, and other companies to integrate apps and services into Samsung Wallet….

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Verizon named its secret plan to buy AOL after Tom Hanks

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These days, AOL is an advertiserpublisher, and investment firm, but the company is probably still best known for being America’s most popular internet provider at the turn of the century. So ubiquitous was AOL’s internet service that 1998 romantic comedy You’ve Got Mail used the company’s email client, and its distinctive incoming mail alert, as its central conceit. The film cast Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan as business adversaries who nonetheless become soulmates through then-nascent email technology.

So when Verizon was putting together a deal to buy the venerable ISP for $4.4 billion — the existence of which was confirmed earlier this week — the carrier’s bankers had a neat name to give the secret plan. They called it “Project Hanks.”

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Google’s self-driving car is hitting public roads this summer

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Google’s own self-driving car is almost ready to be tested on public roads. In a blog post, project director Chris Urmson says that a few of the prototype vehicles will drive around Mountain View, California, where the company is based. Safety drivers will accompany the cars, which will be capped at 25mph. Unlike Google’s ultimate vision for the vehicles, these cars will come with a removable steering wheel, accelerator pedal, and brake pedal.

The prototypes will be running the same software as used by Google’s self-driving Lexus RX450h fleet, which formed the basis of the company’s research before it announced an entirely original car. Google says that the fleet has logged almost a million miles on the road, or what Urmson…

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Watch the once-lost short film that ran before The Empire Strikes Back

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Black Angel almost slipped into movie folklore. The 25-minute short film, directed by Empire Strikes Back art director Roger Christian, was played before the fifth Star Wars episode when Lucas’ movie opened in Europe in 1980. While Star Wars went on to become a cultural juggernaut, the original prints for Black Angel were lost. Now, 35 years after it disappeared from movie theaters, Black Angel has arrived on YouTube.

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