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Microsoft Wants To Ban Curvy Females From Video Games




Developers have been urged to avoid negative gender stereotypes, according to updated guidelines

US tech giant Microsoft is discouraging using excessively curvy female characters in video games, according to updated guidelines issued by the company on Tuesday.

As part of its inclusivity initiative, Microsoft offered developers a list of questions to consider while working on their products to check whether they are reinforcing any negative gender stereotypes. The guide, dubbed ‘Product Inclusion Action: Help Customers Feel Seen’, includes various stereotypes that the gaming giant believes are best left out.

According to the guidance, game designers should check if they are unnecessarily introducing gender barriers and should make sure they create playable female characters that are equal in skill and ability to their male peers, and equip them with clothing and armor fitting to the tasks.

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“Do they have exaggerated body proportions?” the guideline asks.

Female characters play a significant role in the gaming industry and have become fan favorites throughout the years. Various females, including Lara Croft, Bayonetta, and Ada Wong have played iconic roles in video games.

One of the most vivid examples of unrealistically looking female characters is Bayonetta, who is integrated into every facet of the eponymous fantasy action-adventure game. Stellar Blade, another game with a controversial design, has used a Korean model for its main character.

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World News

Israel Launches Missiles At Iran – Media





Air defenses have been reportedly activated in several provinces of the Islamic Republic

Israel launched missiles at Iran in the early hours of Friday, CNN and ABC News reported, citing senior US officials.

Iranian news agency Mehr reported that several explosions were heard around 4 am local time in the skies over the central city of Isfahan.

Broadcaster IRNA said that Israel struck targets in Syria and Iraq, hitting military airfields and a radar site.

Hossein Dalirian, spokesman for Iran’s civilian space program, wrote on X (formerly Twitter) that several drones have been shot down. He added that there is no confirmation of a missile attack on Isfahan. 

According to Al Jazeera, Iran suspended flights at several airports, including those in Tehran and Isfahan.

On April 1, Israel struck an Iranian consulate building in Damascus, Syria, killing seven senior officers with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Quds Force. Iran retaliated by firing a barrage of drones and missiles at Israel on April 13. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said that the majority of the projectiles was successfully intercepted and reported only minor damage on the ground.


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World News

Google Fires Anti-Israel Employees





The employees were ousted after staging sit-ins at the company’s offices

Google has fired 28 workers who protested against the company’s ties with the Israeli government amid the continuing war in Gaza. The Silicon Valley-based tech giant claimed that defiant employees were disrupting the normal work process. 

“Physically impeding other employees’ work and preventing them from accessing our facilities is a clear violation of our policies, and completely unacceptable behavior,” Google spokesperson said in a statement to the media on Wednesday. “After refusing multiple requests to leave the premises, law enforcement was engaged to remove them to ensure office safety.”

According to tech publication the Verge, a group of employees occupied the office of Google Cloud CEO Thomas Kurian in Sunnyvale, California on Tuesday, while another group staged a nearly eight-hour sit-in in the common area of the company’s office in New York. Disgruntled workers also demonstrated outside several Google campuses.

The activist group behind the demonstrations – No Tech for Apartheid – described the firings as illegal and “retaliatory.” They claimed that the sit-ins “did not damage property or threaten other workers,” and had “received an overwhelmingly positive response and shows of support” from colleagues.

Some employees have been publicly speaking out since 2021 against Project Nimbus, a large cloud computing contract Google and Amazon received from the Israeli government. Time magazine reported this month that Israel’s Defense Ministry has a security entry point to Google Cloud and its AI services.

The Israeli military’s ties with big tech have faced additional scrutiny after +972 Magazine and news website Local Call cited intelligence sources in early April as saying that the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) use a secret AI program called Lavender to identify human targets during its ongoing war with Hamas in Gaza. Although the IDF stated that such programs are “merely tools for analysis” and that it does not rely on AI to pick targets for strikes, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said he was “deeply troubled” by the report.

READ MORE: Israel using AI to pick targets in Gaza – report

Multiple human rights groups are accusing the IDF of indiscriminately killing civilians in Gaza, where nearly 34,000 Palestinians have died since October 7, according to local authorities. The Israeli army admitted to accidentally killing seven foreign humanitarian workers during April 1 drone strikes on an aid convoy. The IDF cited misidentification and other errors as causes of the tragedy and said that it had dismissed two senior officers involved in the strikes. 

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World News

US, UK Sanction Iran Over Israel Strike





The two countries targeted Tehran’s drone-building industry

London and Washington have blacklisted several Iranian military officials and companies in the steel, automotive and drone industries for the “destabilizing” strike on Israel last Saturday.

Iran had targeted Israel with a barrage of drones and missiles, in what Tehran called lawful retaliation for the April 1 bombing of its consulate in Damascus, Syria which killed seven high-ranking officers of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Quds Force.

British Foreign Secretary David Cameron announced the sanctions at the meeting of G7 foreign ministers in Capri, Italy. US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen also issued a statement.

“The sanctions announced today alongside the US demonstrate our unequivocal condemnation of Iran’s attack on a sovereign state,” Cameron said.

“We’re using the Treasury’s economic tools to degrade and disrupt key aspects of Iran’s malign activity, including its UAV program and the revenue the regime generates to support its terrorism,” said Yellen. “Our actions make it harder and costlier at every turn for Iran to continue its destabilizing behavior.”

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Debris is being cleared away after the Israeli attack on the Iranian consulate in which the commander of the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), Mohammad Reza Zahedi, was killed in Damascus, Syria on April 01, 2024.
Israel’s next step still a mystery – media

UK sanctions involve seven individuals and six entities accused of enabling Iran to conduct “destabilizing regional activity, including its direct attack on Israel.” London has already imposed over 400 sanctions on Tehran, including designating the IRGC in its entirety.

The US Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) went after 16 individuals and two entities, including the company that makes engines for the Shahed drones that were used in Saturday’s strike.

UK sanctions involve the freezing of any assets the designated individuals or entities may have under London’s jurisdiction, as well as a ban on traveling to Britain. 

American sanctions likewise involve the blocking of property, as well as a ban on any US citizens, permanent residents, and even persons passing through the country from doing any business with the sanctioned individuals or entities. The sanctions regime allows Washington to target financial institutions and banks that “engage in certain transactions or activities” with the sanctioned entities and individuals.

While Israel never officially took responsibility for the strike on the consulate building, Israeli officials told the New York Times that it had been in the works for months and deliberately targeted an IRGC general. West Jerusalem has accused Iran of supporting Hamas and other militant groups that carry out attacks on Israeli soldiers and civilians. 

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