Day: September 1, 2018

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Earth set for big freeze? Sun blank…


Scientists are reporting that the sun has been free of sunspots for a total of 133 days this year.

With only 241 days of 2018 passing, that means the sun has been blank for the majority of the year.

Experts warn this is a sign that the solar minimum is on its way.

Website Space Weather says: “The sun is spotless again. For the 133rd day this year, the face of the sun is blank.

“To find a year with fewer sunspots, you have to go back to 2009 when the sun was experiencing the deepest solar minimum in a century.

“Solar minimum has returned, bringing extra cosmic rays, long-lasting holes in the sun’s atmosphere, and strangely pink auroras.”

The sun follows cycles of roughly 11 years where it reaches a solar maximum and then a solar minimum.

During a solar maximum, the sun gives off more heat and is littered with sunspots. Less heat in a solar minimum is due to a decrease in magnetic waves.

The sun was not expected to head into a solar minimum until around 2020, but it appears to be heading in early which could prove to be bad news.

The last time there was a prolonged solar minimum, it led to a ‘mini ice-age’, scientifically known as the Maunder minimum – which lasted for 70 years.

The Maunder minimum, which saw seven decades of freezing weather, began in 1645 and lasted through to 1715, and happened when sunspots were exceedingly rare.

During this period, temperatures dropped globally by 1.3 degrees Celsius leading to shorter seasons and ultimately food shortages.

Vencore Weather, a meteorological website, said: “Low solar activity is known to have consequences on Earth’s weather and climate and it also is well correlated with an increase in cosmic rays that reach the upper part of the atmosphere.

“The blank sun is a sign that the next solar minimum is approaching and there will be an increasing number of spotless days over the next few years.”



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APPLE Self-Driving Car in Crash…


On the afternoon of Aug. 24, Apple’s car was traveling at less than 1 mile per hour, while the car that rear-ended it, a Nissan Leaf, was moving at about 15 miles per hour, according to the report, which was filed by Steve Kenner, who works on Apple’s driverless tech project.



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We Must Fight Back


The Left is out for blood.  In recent years, they have come to see their ideological opponents not as fellow Americans with whom they happen to disagree on certain issues, but as fundamentally bad people who do not deserve a voice and who should be silenced.  If they ever gain power in government again, they will not seek reconciliation with the other side or to bridge the partisan divide.  Instead, revenge will be the order of the day. 

It is absurd to think that the same people who consider Donald Trump a fascist and his supporters “deplorable” want anything other than revenge.  Someday, Democrats will regain control of the House, Senate and Presidency; if not in  2020, then in 2024 or later.  And when that day comes, conservatives had better be prepared.  Polls show that Republicans are much less enthusiastic than Democrats about voting in this year’s midterms.  Conservatives must turn out to vote in November.  The stakes are too high for them to stay home.

Most Republicans don’t realize just how dire the situation is.  If Democrats regain the House in 2018, that will be the end of the Trump agenda, and conservatives may not get another chance to implement such an agenda.  Democrats in Congress will probably attempt to impeach President Trump, which will likely fail in the Senate, but the attempted impeachment will divide the country like nothing else since the Civil War. 

The next Democratic president will likely appoint very liberal justices to the Supreme Court who have no respect whatsoever for the Constitution.  A Leftist Supreme Court would tear the Constitution to shreds, and you can say good-bye to your 1st and 2nd Amendment rights.  If the Supreme Court can find abortion and same-sex marriage in the 14th Amendment, meant to give citizenship to freed slaves, God knows what else they can find in the Constitution.  Perhaps in the future the Supreme Court will rule that the 1st Amendment right of freedom of speech doesn’t apply to hate speech, or that the 2nd Amendment actually mandates gun control. 

Undoubtedly any liberal who reads this will think I am being paranoid, and that I am guilty of the slippery slope fallacy.  But the slippery slope is not a fallacy if we are currently sliding down it.  If you told liberals 20 years ago or even 10 years ago that not only would same-sex marriage be legal in the whole country but that you could be fined refusing to bake a cake for a same-sex couple, they would call you crazy.  And yet here we are. 

The slippery slope is the modus operandi of the Left.  Leftists just call it “evolving” on issues.  Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton “evolved” on same-sex marriage a few years ago.  Who knows what other issues the Left will “evolve” on? 

Republicans shouldn’t focus on issues such as tax cuts or opposing same-sex marriage, universal healthcare and legalized marijuana.  Many swing voters have liberal positions on these issues, and Republicans can’t afford to alienate any of their voters.  All hands on deck are needed for the midterms. 

Instead, Republicans should focus on reducing immigration, supporting gun rights, economic nationalism and building the wall, which are far more popular both with their base and swing voters.  Many voters are not Leftist but vote for Democrats anyway because Republicans don’t have anything to offer them, while Democrats at least give them a social safety net.  The sad fact of the matter is, a welfare state once instituted is almost impossible to destroy.  Since Franklin D.  Roosevelt transformed this country into a welfare state, the Democratic Party has been dominant. 

Ever since polls on the subject have been taken, more Americans have identified as Democrats than Republicans.  Democrats won five elections in a row from 1932 to 1948, and the only Republican elected between 1932 and 1964 was the moderate Dwight D.  Eisenhower, who promised not to touch New Deal programs.  Richard Nixon was also fairly moderate, as was Gerald Ford. 

Ronald Reagan, easily the most popular post-World War II Republican president, was a Democrat for the first few decades of his life.  He insisted that he hadn’t left the Democratic Party, but they had left him, and he hadn’t changed his views.  He was a lot more moderate than people on both sides of the aisle realize.  After all, as Governor of California he signed liberal laws on no-fault divorce and abortion.  George H.  W.  Bush in effect won election as Reagan’s third term.  Since Reagan left office, a Republican had won the popular vote only once, in 2004, as a result of Americans not wanting to change horses in the middle of a stream during the Iraq War and after 9/11. 

Trump won Pennsylvania and Michigan for the first time since 1988 and Wisconsin for the first time since 1984 because like Reagan he was seen as favorable to the working class, as opposed to other Republicans who are seen as more favorable to corporations.  Since inauguration, he has governed like a conventional Republican and unless that changes ,he is unlikely to win those states in 2020. 

The key to winning the Rust Belt is protectionism.  One of the founding principles of the Republican party was protectionism.  From 1861 to 1933, all but two presidents were Republicans, both of whom were elected in part because of divisions in the Republican Party.  Such a winning streak probably won’t happen again, but protectionism is popular with workers, since it protects their jobs from foreign competition. 

If the Republican party is to have any future, it will be as a pro-workers party.  And to do that, the party’s establishment will have to give up on free trade and “corporations are people.” 

Perhaps the most important issue at stake right now is tech censorship of ideological dissidents.  Trump was able to win the 2016 election in large part because his supporters were able to bypass the mainstream media and disseminate their views through the alternative media, which is almost entirely online.  Leftists in big tech want to make sure that such a victory can never happen again.  They can’t have the child telling everyone that the emperor has no clothes. 

On Twitter countless accounts both big and small have been suspended for “inciting hate.”  The most prominent example of this was Alex Jones’s simultaneous ban from YouTube, Facebook and Apple.  Why should a small number of individuals who have almost the same political views which are greatly out of touch with the American people get to decide who can and can’t have a voice? 

Twitter, Facebook and other Internet platforms should be treated as public utilities, since that is essentially what they are.  Just as the telephone and water companies can’t ban you for your political views, tech companies shouldn’t be able to either.  Will the Trump presidency be seen as the beginning of a new era, or will this just be a blip on the radar? We have to make sure that the Trump revolution bears fruit, or else it will just be a speed bump on our road to oblivion.

Thomas OMalley can be contacted at thomasomalley861@yahoo.com

The Left is out for blood.  In recent years, they have come to see their ideological opponents not as fellow Americans with whom they happen to disagree on certain issues, but as fundamentally bad people who do not deserve a voice and who should be silenced.  If they ever gain power in government again, they will not seek reconciliation with the other side or to bridge the partisan divide.  Instead, revenge will be the order of the day. 

It is absurd to think that the same people who consider Donald Trump a fascist and his supporters “deplorable” want anything other than revenge.  Someday, Democrats will regain control of the House, Senate and Presidency; if not in  2020, then in 2024 or later.  And when that day comes, conservatives had better be prepared.  Polls show that Republicans are much less enthusiastic than Democrats about voting in this year’s midterms.  Conservatives must turn out to vote in November.  The stakes are too high for them to stay home.

Protests on Innauguration Day, 2016 (photo credit: Jack)

Most Republicans don’t realize just how dire the situation is.  If Democrats regain the House in 2018, that will be the end of the Trump agenda, and conservatives may not get another chance to implement such an agenda.  Democrats in Congress will probably attempt to impeach President Trump, which will likely fail in the Senate, but the attempted impeachment will divide the country like nothing else since the Civil War. 

The next Democratic president will likely appoint very liberal justices to the Supreme Court who have no respect whatsoever for the Constitution.  A Leftist Supreme Court would tear the Constitution to shreds, and you can say good-bye to your 1st and 2nd Amendment rights.  If the Supreme Court can find abortion and same-sex marriage in the 14th Amendment, meant to give citizenship to freed slaves, God knows what else they can find in the Constitution.  Perhaps in the future the Supreme Court will rule that the 1st Amendment right of freedom of speech doesn’t apply to hate speech, or that the 2nd Amendment actually mandates gun control. 

Undoubtedly any liberal who reads this will think I am being paranoid, and that I am guilty of the slippery slope fallacy.  But the slippery slope is not a fallacy if we are currently sliding down it.  If you told liberals 20 years ago or even 10 years ago that not only would same-sex marriage be legal in the whole country but that you could be fined refusing to bake a cake for a same-sex couple, they would call you crazy.  And yet here we are. 

The slippery slope is the modus operandi of the Left.  Leftists just call it “evolving” on issues.  Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton “evolved” on same-sex marriage a few years ago.  Who knows what other issues the Left will “evolve” on? 

Republicans shouldn’t focus on issues such as tax cuts or opposing same-sex marriage, universal healthcare and legalized marijuana.  Many swing voters have liberal positions on these issues, and Republicans can’t afford to alienate any of their voters.  All hands on deck are needed for the midterms. 

Instead, Republicans should focus on reducing immigration, supporting gun rights, economic nationalism and building the wall, which are far more popular both with their base and swing voters.  Many voters are not Leftist but vote for Democrats anyway because Republicans don’t have anything to offer them, while Democrats at least give them a social safety net.  The sad fact of the matter is, a welfare state once instituted is almost impossible to destroy.  Since Franklin D.  Roosevelt transformed this country into a welfare state, the Democratic Party has been dominant. 

Ever since polls on the subject have been taken, more Americans have identified as Democrats than Republicans.  Democrats won five elections in a row from 1932 to 1948, and the only Republican elected between 1932 and 1964 was the moderate Dwight D.  Eisenhower, who promised not to touch New Deal programs.  Richard Nixon was also fairly moderate, as was Gerald Ford. 

Ronald Reagan, easily the most popular post-World War II Republican president, was a Democrat for the first few decades of his life.  He insisted that he hadn’t left the Democratic Party, but they had left him, and he hadn’t changed his views.  He was a lot more moderate than people on both sides of the aisle realize.  After all, as Governor of California he signed liberal laws on no-fault divorce and abortion.  George H.  W.  Bush in effect won election as Reagan’s third term.  Since Reagan left office, a Republican had won the popular vote only once, in 2004, as a result of Americans not wanting to change horses in the middle of a stream during the Iraq War and after 9/11. 

Trump won Pennsylvania and Michigan for the first time since 1988 and Wisconsin for the first time since 1984 because like Reagan he was seen as favorable to the working class, as opposed to other Republicans who are seen as more favorable to corporations.  Since inauguration, he has governed like a conventional Republican and unless that changes ,he is unlikely to win those states in 2020. 

The key to winning the Rust Belt is protectionism.  One of the founding principles of the Republican party was protectionism.  From 1861 to 1933, all but two presidents were Republicans, both of whom were elected in part because of divisions in the Republican Party.  Such a winning streak probably won’t happen again, but protectionism is popular with workers, since it protects their jobs from foreign competition. 

If the Republican party is to have any future, it will be as a pro-workers party.  And to do that, the party’s establishment will have to give up on free trade and “corporations are people.” 

Perhaps the most important issue at stake right now is tech censorship of ideological dissidents.  Trump was able to win the 2016 election in large part because his supporters were able to bypass the mainstream media and disseminate their views through the alternative media, which is almost entirely online.  Leftists in big tech want to make sure that such a victory can never happen again.  They can’t have the child telling everyone that the emperor has no clothes. 

On Twitter countless accounts both big and small have been suspended for “inciting hate.”  The most prominent example of this was Alex Jones’s simultaneous ban from YouTube, Facebook and Apple.  Why should a small number of individuals who have almost the same political views which are greatly out of touch with the American people get to decide who can and can’t have a voice? 

Twitter, Facebook and other Internet platforms should be treated as public utilities, since that is essentially what they are.  Just as the telephone and water companies can’t ban you for your political views, tech companies shouldn’t be able to either.  Will the Trump presidency be seen as the beginning of a new era, or will this just be a blip on the radar? We have to make sure that the Trump revolution bears fruit, or else it will just be a speed bump on our road to oblivion.

Thomas OMalley can be contacted at thomasomalley861@yahoo.com



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The Value of Online Privacy and How You Can Defend Yours


If you’ve read The New York Times recently, you may have read that the tech industry is trying to write its own privacy law.  This is rich, especially since among these companies are Facebook and Google — two companies that are infamous for their treatment of user privacy.

But why are they so concerned about California’s privacy law so much?  It’s even gotten to the point where they’re only willing to join talks for a federal privacy law if California’s law is first neutralized.

The reason for their concern is simple: the California law protects user privacy above all, not these companies’ interests.

These companies live on the personal data they collect from us.  They use this data to make personalized ads that supply them the bulk of their yearly income.  Just last year, Google made $95.4 billion, out of a total of $110.9 billion, on ad revenue alone.

It is this hunger for our personal data that drives these companies to great lengths to collect them.  Haven’t you ever wondered why Facebook and Google are free to use?  You may not know it, but you’re actually paying them something in return for their services.  You’re paying them with something much more valuable than money — your personal information.

Your personal information is what makes you who you are and these companies know this.   Your personal information can be used to target you with personalized ads.  While these personalized ads don’t necessarily succeed in luring us into buying their products, they do get annoying.

Something more concerning, though, is profiling.  With our personal data, companies like Google can easily make accurate profiles of anyone who’s ever used their services.  In 2009, their CEO, Eric Schmidt, has even been quoted as saying:

“If you have something that you don’t want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place.  If you really need that kind of privacy, the reality is that search engines — including Google — do retain this information for some time and it’s important, for example, that we are all subject in the United States to the Patriot Act and it is possible that all that information could be made available to the authorities.”

While I wholeheartedly support the notion that “you’ve got nothing to fear if you’ve got nothing to hide” and I do commend Google for its willingness to work with authorities to stop crimes, I am concerned about the fact that I don’t know who else gets access to my personal profile.  Who else will these companies sell my information to?

This concern stems from the fact that hackers are also after our personal information for their own nefarious means.  Just recently, BBC has reported that the health records of over 100 million users around the world were put in jeopardy when 30 bugs were found in the OpenEMR system by a cyber-security group called Project Insecurity.

While data breaches target larger enterprises, they aren’t the only reason for concern.  Individuals could just as easily find their lives ruined by the malicious whims of bad actors looking to make a quick buck or to simply ruin one’s social standing.

“The Fappening”, the name given to the iCloud breach of 2014, was caused when a hacker broke into Apple’s system and posted nude photographs of various celebrities, mostly women, on 4chan.  While his event no doubt tarnished the reputations of the celebrities who were part of it, it also showed that not even Apple was safe from hackers.

The most common way that hackers attack your privacy is by employing malware.  This can be further classified into many types but their main purpose remains the same: obtain access to your data.  Once a hacker gets hold of your data, he is then free to do whatever he wants with them.

Have you ever entered your banking credentials or credit card details into an online form?  Maybe you’ve saved these details in your computer for safekeeping.  Are you keeping confidential corporate information in your laptop or cell phone?

If you’ve answered “yes” to any of these questions, you should be concerned about how privately you keep your data.  You never know when a hacker targets your for a spear-phishing attempt.

Long story short: online privacy should be everyone’s concern.

It is because of my own concern for online privacy that I’ve listed these recommendations on how you can defend your online privacy from hackers, ad companies, and even your ISPs.

1. Get yourself the best VPN you can afford.  A VPN not only hides your IP address but also keeps your personal data under wraps by encrypting them.  Using a VPN, therefore, prevents hackers and ISPs from reading your online data and tracking your data back to you.  It also blocks those annoying ads that keep popping up by not letting them target your real IP address in the first place.

2. The TOR (The Onion Router) works well with a VPN to protect your privacy.  TOR does this by wrapping your data in three layers of encryption and sending them to three separate “hops” before they arrive at the intended server.  Using TOR with a VPN means that your data get a fourth layer of encryption as well as any other security feature the VPN provides.

3. Let’s learn from “The Fappening” and not put any of our private photos on the internet.  Turn off your device’s auto-backup if possible and make regular checks on your device’s backed-up data.  You can never be too sure when it comes to your personal data.

4. Think about what you’re posting on social media.  Maybe delete your phone or home number and address on your Facebook profile and make sure to never upload any private photos on these sites.  Never share your banking or credit card information on social media sites, too.

5. Watch out for the security of each website you access.  If it doesn’t have a green padlock, the word “Secure”, and the letters “https” before the URL, that site isn’t encrypted and you shouldn’t risk entering any of your personal data in any of that site’s forms.

6. Beware of free public Wi-Fi like the one at Starbucks.  These public networks aren’t secure as you never know what data they may be logging.  They’re also prime targets for MitM attacks which let hackers access your data by intercepting the unsecured Wi-Fi connection.

These recommendations haven’t failed me yet and I’m positive that they’ll help you defend your privacy as well.

John Mason is the founder of TheBestVPN.com. He holds an MSc in cyber-security from Northumbria University and has experience working as a security analyst for IBM.

If you’ve read The New York Times recently, you may have read that the tech industry is trying to write its own privacy law.  This is rich, especially since among these companies are Facebook and Google — two companies that are infamous for their treatment of user privacy.

But why are they so concerned about California’s privacy law so much?  It’s even gotten to the point where they’re only willing to join talks for a federal privacy law if California’s law is first neutralized.

The reason for their concern is simple: the California law protects user privacy above all, not these companies’ interests.

These companies live on the personal data they collect from us.  They use this data to make personalized ads that supply them the bulk of their yearly income.  Just last year, Google made $95.4 billion, out of a total of $110.9 billion, on ad revenue alone.

It is this hunger for our personal data that drives these companies to great lengths to collect them.  Haven’t you ever wondered why Facebook and Google are free to use?  You may not know it, but you’re actually paying them something in return for their services.  You’re paying them with something much more valuable than money — your personal information.

Your personal information is what makes you who you are and these companies know this.   Your personal information can be used to target you with personalized ads.  While these personalized ads don’t necessarily succeed in luring us into buying their products, they do get annoying.

Something more concerning, though, is profiling.  With our personal data, companies like Google can easily make accurate profiles of anyone who’s ever used their services.  In 2009, their CEO, Eric Schmidt, has even been quoted as saying:

“If you have something that you don’t want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place.  If you really need that kind of privacy, the reality is that search engines — including Google — do retain this information for some time and it’s important, for example, that we are all subject in the United States to the Patriot Act and it is possible that all that information could be made available to the authorities.”

While I wholeheartedly support the notion that “you’ve got nothing to fear if you’ve got nothing to hide” and I do commend Google for its willingness to work with authorities to stop crimes, I am concerned about the fact that I don’t know who else gets access to my personal profile.  Who else will these companies sell my information to?

This concern stems from the fact that hackers are also after our personal information for their own nefarious means.  Just recently, BBC has reported that the health records of over 100 million users around the world were put in jeopardy when 30 bugs were found in the OpenEMR system by a cyber-security group called Project Insecurity.

While data breaches target larger enterprises, they aren’t the only reason for concern.  Individuals could just as easily find their lives ruined by the malicious whims of bad actors looking to make a quick buck or to simply ruin one’s social standing.

“The Fappening”, the name given to the iCloud breach of 2014, was caused when a hacker broke into Apple’s system and posted nude photographs of various celebrities, mostly women, on 4chan.  While his event no doubt tarnished the reputations of the celebrities who were part of it, it also showed that not even Apple was safe from hackers.

The most common way that hackers attack your privacy is by employing malware.  This can be further classified into many types but their main purpose remains the same: obtain access to your data.  Once a hacker gets hold of your data, he is then free to do whatever he wants with them.

Have you ever entered your banking credentials or credit card details into an online form?  Maybe you’ve saved these details in your computer for safekeeping.  Are you keeping confidential corporate information in your laptop or cell phone?

If you’ve answered “yes” to any of these questions, you should be concerned about how privately you keep your data.  You never know when a hacker targets your for a spear-phishing attempt.

Long story short: online privacy should be everyone’s concern.

It is because of my own concern for online privacy that I’ve listed these recommendations on how you can defend your online privacy from hackers, ad companies, and even your ISPs.

1. Get yourself the best VPN you can afford.  A VPN not only hides your IP address but also keeps your personal data under wraps by encrypting them.  Using a VPN, therefore, prevents hackers and ISPs from reading your online data and tracking your data back to you.  It also blocks those annoying ads that keep popping up by not letting them target your real IP address in the first place.

2. The TOR (The Onion Router) works well with a VPN to protect your privacy.  TOR does this by wrapping your data in three layers of encryption and sending them to three separate “hops” before they arrive at the intended server.  Using TOR with a VPN means that your data get a fourth layer of encryption as well as any other security feature the VPN provides.

3. Let’s learn from “The Fappening” and not put any of our private photos on the internet.  Turn off your device’s auto-backup if possible and make regular checks on your device’s backed-up data.  You can never be too sure when it comes to your personal data.

4. Think about what you’re posting on social media.  Maybe delete your phone or home number and address on your Facebook profile and make sure to never upload any private photos on these sites.  Never share your banking or credit card information on social media sites, too.

5. Watch out for the security of each website you access.  If it doesn’t have a green padlock, the word “Secure”, and the letters “https” before the URL, that site isn’t encrypted and you shouldn’t risk entering any of your personal data in any of that site’s forms.

6. Beware of free public Wi-Fi like the one at Starbucks.  These public networks aren’t secure as you never know what data they may be logging.  They’re also prime targets for MitM attacks which let hackers access your data by intercepting the unsecured Wi-Fi connection.

These recommendations haven’t failed me yet and I’m positive that they’ll help you defend your privacy as well.

John Mason is the founder of TheBestVPN.com. He holds an MSc in cyber-security from Northumbria University and has experience working as a security analyst for IBM.



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The F-35 Stealth Fighter vs Russia's S-300 Anti-Aircraft System


As an avid reader of Aviation Week, I became interested in the F-35, the newest Department of Defense fighter plane. The DOD had sold nine initial units to our ally Israel. I thought it was a wise decision for three reasons:

1. It provided actual testing for the new aircraft under realistic battle conditions. Aviation Week noted that Israel used several of its F-35s to attack more than 50 Iranian military installations in Syria. All these were presumably protected by the Russian-built Anti-Aircraft system S-300. Their latest design with more powerful radars, is being sold worldwide.  Israel had a chance to study an earlier version, sold to Cyprus.

The F-35 attack was completed in less than 90 minutes, a notable achievement in military intelligence, as well as in operational planning and coordination.

Aviation Week didn’t tell us how many F-35s took part in the operation, and whether they returned safely; presumably they all did. Aviation Week did not reveal the tricks Israeli pilots used to evade the S-300 AA system.           

2. A [June 5, 2018] Report of the Government Accountability Office [GAO] is quite critical of the F-35 joint strike fighter-bomber. Many experts doubt the viability of the aircraft to meet the various requirements of all the DOD services. In particular, the Report criticizes the design of the helmet-mounted display that presents the necessary operational data to aid the pilot.

In other words, while the aircraft itself provides propulsion and carries the required air-to-ground and air-to-air missiles, the electronics, associated with the helmet, represents the “brain” of the F-35.

It so happens that Israeli engineers have much experience in this field, following the design of the IAF [Israel Air Force] Lavie fighter [that was never built.] Apparently, the DOD expects that some of the design experience for the display will be carried over to the F-35.

3.  Finally, allowing the F-35 to be sold now lowers the huge procurement cost for the DOD, about 400 billion dollars. The buy-decision is due in October 2019.

In the wake of the successful air strike, what will Russia do now?  Obviously, there will be some redesign and improvement of the Russian S-300 system to make it saleable to “non-captive” customers.

F-35 (photo credit USAF)

But beyond this, Russia is likely to not become involved further in the mess in Syria. This seems to be the outcome also of the recent Helsinki summit between Trump and Putin. The Pan-Arab paper Al-Hayat, published in London, even suggests that Russia may not object to Israel “clipping the wings” of the Iranian Eagle.

Writing in Ha’aretz, former Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Arens, himself chief designer of the Lavie fighter, believes that Russia will not want to tangle with Israel, in view of its demonstrated technological superiority.

After all, Israel could easily destroy the Russian-built plutonium reactor at Arak, Iran, after getting permission to overfly Saudi Arabia. (Plutonium is the second way to build a nuclear weapon; Iran apparently has decided to go the route of the enriched Uranium-235. The U.S. used both methods in WW II.)                    

The Russian naval base at Latakia, Syria, is within easy range. The Russians have deployed a more advanced S-400 system to protect Latakia and other installations, which they claim can take down stealth fighters such as the F-35 at a range of over 150 miles. The S-400 failed to respond to the April 14, 2018 missile strikes by U.S., British, and French forces, leading some observers to conclude that the system was overrated.

I might add that Latakia and the main Russian naval base on the Crimean peninsula outflank Turkey and thus would discourage it from bottling up the Russian Black-Sea fleet.

As an avid reader of Aviation Week, I became interested in the F-35, the newest Department of Defense fighter plane. The DOD had sold nine initial units to our ally Israel. I thought it was a wise decision for three reasons:

1. It provided actual testing for the new aircraft under realistic battle conditions. Aviation Week noted that Israel used several of its F-35s to attack more than 50 Iranian military installations in Syria. All these were presumably protected by the Russian-built Anti-Aircraft system S-300. Their latest design with more powerful radars, is being sold worldwide.  Israel had a chance to study an earlier version, sold to Cyprus.

The F-35 attack was completed in less than 90 minutes, a notable achievement in military intelligence, as well as in operational planning and coordination.

Aviation Week didn’t tell us how many F-35s took part in the operation, and whether they returned safely; presumably they all did. Aviation Week did not reveal the tricks Israeli pilots used to evade the S-300 AA system.           

2. A [June 5, 2018] Report of the Government Accountability Office [GAO] is quite critical of the F-35 joint strike fighter-bomber. Many experts doubt the viability of the aircraft to meet the various requirements of all the DOD services. In particular, the Report criticizes the design of the helmet-mounted display that presents the necessary operational data to aid the pilot.

In other words, while the aircraft itself provides propulsion and carries the required air-to-ground and air-to-air missiles, the electronics, associated with the helmet, represents the “brain” of the F-35.

It so happens that Israeli engineers have much experience in this field, following the design of the IAF [Israel Air Force] Lavie fighter [that was never built.] Apparently, the DOD expects that some of the design experience for the display will be carried over to the F-35.

3.  Finally, allowing the F-35 to be sold now lowers the huge procurement cost for the DOD, about 400 billion dollars. The buy-decision is due in October 2019.

In the wake of the successful air strike, what will Russia do now?  Obviously, there will be some redesign and improvement of the Russian S-300 system to make it saleable to “non-captive” customers.

F-35 (photo credit USAF)

But beyond this, Russia is likely to not become involved further in the mess in Syria. This seems to be the outcome also of the recent Helsinki summit between Trump and Putin. The Pan-Arab paper Al-Hayat, published in London, even suggests that Russia may not object to Israel “clipping the wings” of the Iranian Eagle.

Writing in Ha’aretz, former Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Arens, himself chief designer of the Lavie fighter, believes that Russia will not want to tangle with Israel, in view of its demonstrated technological superiority.

After all, Israel could easily destroy the Russian-built plutonium reactor at Arak, Iran, after getting permission to overfly Saudi Arabia. (Plutonium is the second way to build a nuclear weapon; Iran apparently has decided to go the route of the enriched Uranium-235. The U.S. used both methods in WW II.)                    

The Russian naval base at Latakia, Syria, is within easy range. The Russians have deployed a more advanced S-400 system to protect Latakia and other installations, which they claim can take down stealth fighters such as the F-35 at a range of over 150 miles. The S-400 failed to respond to the April 14, 2018 missile strikes by U.S., British, and French forces, leading some observers to conclude that the system was overrated.

I might add that Latakia and the main Russian naval base on the Crimean peninsula outflank Turkey and thus would discourage it from bottling up the Russian Black-Sea fleet.



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Hotel staffed by robot dinosaurs…


Dinosaur robots wait to check in customers at the Henn na hotel

The reception at the Henn na Hotel east of Tokyo is eerily quiet until customers approach the robot dinosaurs manning the front desk. Their sensors detect the motion and they bellow “Welcome.”


It might be about the weirdest check-in experience possible, but that’s exactly the point at the Henn na (whose name means ‘weird’) chain, which bills itself as offering the world’s first hotels staffed by robots.

The front desk staff are a pair of giant dinosaurs that look like cast members of the Jurassic Park movies, except for the tiny bellboy hats perched on their heads.

The robo-dinos process check-ins through a tablet system that also allows customers to choose which language—Japanese, English, Chinese or Korean—they want to use to communicate with the multilingual robots.

The effect is bizarre, with the large dinosaurs gesticulating with their long arms and issuing tinny set phrases. Yukio Nagai, manager at the Henn na Hotel Maihama Tokyo Bay, admits some customers find it slightly unnerving.

“We haven’t quite figured out when exactly the guests want to be served by people, and when it’s okay to be served by robots,” he told AFP.

But for other guests the novelty is the charm: each room is staffed with mini-robots that look a bit like spherical Star Wars droid BB-8, and help guests with everything from changing channels to playing music.

Even the fish are robotic with electric lights on their battery-powered bodies

Even the fish swimming in the lobby run on batteries, with electric lights in their articulated bodies flickering on and off as they work their way around giant tanks.

“The dinosaurs looked intriguing, and I thought my son would love it,” said Chigusa Hosoi, who was at the hotel with her three-year-old.

“My son is really happy. There’s an egg-shaped robot inside the room. He was playing with it a lot.”

The first Henn na Hotel opened in Nagasaki in 2015, and was certified the following year by Guinness World Records as the world’s first hotel with robots on its staff.

The travel agency group that operates the chain now runs eight hotels across the country, all with robots on the staff, some of them dinosaurs, but others taking a more humanoid shape.

The Henn na Hotel in Nagasaki was certified by Guinness World Records as the world’s first hotel with robots on staff

Some humans are also on call to intervene in case of glitches, which customer reviews online suggest are a not infrequent problem at check-in.

But Nagai said relying on robots for everything from front desk duty to cleaning had proved an efficient choice in a country with a shrinking labour market.

“It’s becoming difficult to secure enough labour at hotels. To solve that problem, we have robots serving guests.”


Explore further:
Robot butlers are coming to this downtown hotel. Is Miami ready for robo-room service?



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Weissman Fake Dossier Knowledge Should Shut Mueller Down


While all legacy media and liberal eyes have been focused on Trump “fixer” Michael Cohen and Clintonista lawyer Lanny Davis’s lies about Trump payoffs to old girlfriends, few have focused on the activities of Andrew Weissmann, special counsel Robert Mueller’s chief deputy and investigator, who has a well deserved reputation as Mueller’s “pit bull.”

Weissmann, among his other jobs, was lead prosecutor in the trial of former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort.  Weissmann was also Mueller’s attorney on the ground, who oversaw the pre-dawn raid on Manafort’s home.  He was a key player in Mueller’s team of angry Democrat lawyers and donors bent on bringing down the Trump presidency based on false charges of Trump collusion with Russians meddling in the 2016 presidential election.  Problem is, as former deputy assistant attorney general Bruce Ohr’s closed-door testimony before Congress shows, Weissmann had full knowledge of the fake nature of the Steele dossier, which was a major predicate of the Russian witch hunt that became the Mueller probe.  Weissman knew there was collusion with the Russians and that it was among the DNC; the Clinton campaign; British agent Christopher Steele; Fusion GPS; the DOJ; the FBI; and, yes, Russian sources interested in upending the Trump presidency.

In the parlance of the day, this would make Weissmann an unindicted co-conspirator in the Deep State plot to bring Trump down.  He could have pulled the plug on the Mueller witch hunt but didn’t.  He could have pushed to go after Democrat collusion with Russia on the dossier but didn’t.

Bruce Ohr, the number-four official at the Justice Department as U.S. deputy associate attorney general and the highest ranking non-appointee, with an office a couple of doors down from Deputy A.G. Rod Rosenstein, kept Weissmann “in the loop” about the fake dossier and its journeys through the Deep State swamp.  Joining him were a myriad of other co-conspirators in a web of conspiracy and deceit so vast that Watergate trivia question Carl Bernstein may be right in a way he did not intend when he suggested that this whole matter may be bigger than Watergate.  It seems that only the DOJ janitor was not involved.

As Catherine Herridge of Fox News reports:

Embattled Justice Department official Bruce Ohr had contact in 2016 with then-colleague Andrew Weissmann, who is now a top Robert Mueller deputy, as well as other senior FBI officials about the controversial anti-Trump dossier and the individuals behind it, two sources close to the matter told Fox News.


The sources said Ohr’s outreach about the dossier – as well as its author, ex-British spy Christopher Steele; the opposition research firm behind it, Glenn Simpson’s Fusion GPS; and his wife Nellie Ohr’s work for Fusion – occurred before and after the FBI fired Steele as a source over his media contacts.  Ohr’s network of contacts on the dossier included: former FBI agent Peter Strzok; former FBI lawyer Lisa Page; former deputy director Andrew McCabe; Weissmann and at least one other DOJ official; and a current FBI agent who worked with Strzok on the Russia case.


Weissmann was kept “in the loop” on the dossier, a source said, while he was chief of the criminal fraud division.  He is now assigned to Special Counsel Mueller’s team.

Weissmann had to know that the dossier was fake and that its use in obtaining FISA warrants to conduct surveillance on Team Trump and provide a predicate for the Mueller witch hunt was a fraud committed upon the FISA court.  If he knew, Robert Mueller should have known.  Their proceeding with their “investigation” into Team Trump based on the fraudulently obtained FISA warrants is more than an abuse of power.  It is a criminal act.  Fox News legal analyst Gregg Jarrett notes that Ohr’s testimony is damning in a criminal sense:

We learned today that James Comey’s FBI was far more corrupt than we ever knew.  We already knew that he used a false document from a wire they fire (ph).  But today we learned that Bruce Ohr told Comey and his confederates that this is a guy, Christopher Steele, who had said he was desperate to stop Donald Trump.  He was vagrantly (ph) anti- Trump.  They should have stopped right there in their tracks and said goodbye to Steele, thrown his dossier in the garbage.  But they didn’t care.  They moved ahead to launch this investigation of Trump to damage him and to spy on a Trump associate.


These people should be prosecuted for obstruction of justice, for perjury, abuse of power, and about three other felonies I can think of.  The law enforcers became the law breakers.  And where is the FISA court?  Why aren’t these judges holding these in criminal contempt?  Why didn’t they prosecute these people with indictments[?]

As Sean Hannity noted on his show Tuesday, Bruce Ohr was well aware of the fraudulent nature on the Steele dossier and the FISA applications based on them, a fact that he no doubt passed on when he was keeping everyone involved in this conspiracy “in the loop”:

“We did learn from Bruce Ohr today that he understood the Steele dossier would never have been accepted in a court of law, 65 pages of notes and text of meetings between him and Steele … so much to cover, it might take the whole hour,” Hannity said.  “There is no doubt that a conspiracy to commit fraud multiple times against FISA judges did take place.”


“Everyone who signed off on this FISA request signed off on fraudulent documents, and they knew they were fraudulent,” he said.

Christopher Steele himself could not confirm the dossier’s claims.  Even the corrupt James Comey said they were “salacious and unverified.”  So if they could not be used in a court of law, why were they used in FISA applications to authorize surveillance of Team Trump?  Because it was a means to their desired end – the destruction of the Trump presidency, which also meant lying to the court about its sourcing and financing.  Andrew Weissman knew this, and no doubt Robert Mueller knows this, too.

When the FBI “fired” Steele for leaking to the press, a back channel through Ohr and his wife Nellie was created:

“It was obvious early on that Bruce Ohr was the backchannel for Steele,” said a congressional source with direct knowledge of the testimony.  “The FBI was aware of potential bias of Nellie Ohr and they knew about Steele’s bias early on but never included it in the FISA application.  It’s astonishing the FBI kept the information from the court: the fact that there was a back channel after they terminated Christopher Steele and also Fusion GPS, knowing Ohr’s wife was working there.”

Not only was Bruce Ohr a conduit for the dossier information, but he and his wife also profited handsomely from their involvement in its production and dissemination:

Fusion GPS and its co-founder have not responded to Fox News’ questions for this story, or previous reports.  While Fusion GPS financial records were the subject of a lawsuit, and are not public, sources told Fox News that Nellie Ohr received “multiple payments” in 2016 from Fusion GPS, and the amounts were “not small change.”

This is corruption of the highest order at the highest level.  Nellie Ohr worked for Fusion GPS and was paid by Fusion GPS as her high-ranking DOJ husband was colluding with a British agent and Russian sources to bring down Trump.

Also working with, if not for, Fusion GPS was one Natalia Veselnitskaya, the Russian lawyer who met with Donald Trump, Jr. at Trump Tower.  Manafort’s home, hotel, and office were raided at the behest of Mueller, whose team admitted in a court filing that the Veselnitskaya meeting was a motive for the Manafort raid, managed by Andrew Weissmann.

Never interviewed by Mueller’s team, Veselnitskaya did meet with Fusion GPS founder Glenn Simpson before and after the Trump Tower meeting, suggesting it was a setup to entrap Team Trump as part of the Deep State coup against Trump:

[H]ours before the Trump Tower meeting on June 9, 2016, Fusion co-founder and ex-Wall Street Journal reporter Glenn Simpson was with Veselnitskaya in a Manhattan federal courtroom, a confidential source told Fox News.  Court records reviewed by Fox News, email correspondence and published reports corroborate the pair’s presence together.  The source told Fox News they also were together after the Trump Tower meeting.

Weissmann is a partisan hack and Mueller thug who sent an email to acting attorney general Sally Yates, one of those who signed the fraudulent FISA applications, congratulating her on her for refusing to defend in court President Trump’s travel ban:

A senior member of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigative team said he was in “awe” of former acting Attorney General Sally Yates the day she was fired for refusing to defend President Trump’s controversial travel ban, according to emails obtained by a conservative watchdog group.


Andrew Weissmann, a veteran Justice Department prosecutor who is one of Mueller’s top lieutenants on the special counsel probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election, sent a Jan. 30 email to Yates that appeared to laud her for standing up to Trump.


“I am so proud and in awe,” Weissmann wrote, according to emails obtained by Judicial Watch through a Freedom of Information Act request.  “Thank you so much.”

He also attended Hillary Clinton’s 2016 almost victory party, probably shedding a tear over her loss and fueling his desire to overturn Trump’s surprising victory.

Weissmann knew all about the Deep State coup starting with but not stopping with the fake Fusion GPS dossier.  As he sits with Robert Mueller, looking to see if Trump paid any Russian’s unpaid parking tickets, it is obvious that the Mueller witch hunt is just that.  It is an enterprise interested not in true Russian collusion and meddling, but in a conspiracy to bring down the Trump presidency.

Bruce Ohr’s closed-door testimony is enough to justify shutting it down.

Daniel John Sobieski is a freelance writer whose pieces have appeared in Investor’s Business Daily, Human Events, Reason Magazine, and the Chicago Sun-Times among other publications.

While all legacy media and liberal eyes have been focused on Trump “fixer” Michael Cohen and Clintonista lawyer Lanny Davis’s lies about Trump payoffs to old girlfriends, few have focused on the activities of Andrew Weissmann, special counsel Robert Mueller’s chief deputy and investigator, who has a well deserved reputation as Mueller’s “pit bull.”

Weissmann, among his other jobs, was lead prosecutor in the trial of former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort.  Weissmann was also Mueller’s attorney on the ground, who oversaw the pre-dawn raid on Manafort’s home.  He was a key player in Mueller’s team of angry Democrat lawyers and donors bent on bringing down the Trump presidency based on false charges of Trump collusion with Russians meddling in the 2016 presidential election.  Problem is, as former deputy assistant attorney general Bruce Ohr’s closed-door testimony before Congress shows, Weissmann had full knowledge of the fake nature of the Steele dossier, which was a major predicate of the Russian witch hunt that became the Mueller probe.  Weissman knew there was collusion with the Russians and that it was among the DNC; the Clinton campaign; British agent Christopher Steele; Fusion GPS; the DOJ; the FBI; and, yes, Russian sources interested in upending the Trump presidency.

In the parlance of the day, this would make Weissmann an unindicted co-conspirator in the Deep State plot to bring Trump down.  He could have pulled the plug on the Mueller witch hunt but didn’t.  He could have pushed to go after Democrat collusion with Russia on the dossier but didn’t.

Bruce Ohr, the number-four official at the Justice Department as U.S. deputy associate attorney general and the highest ranking non-appointee, with an office a couple of doors down from Deputy A.G. Rod Rosenstein, kept Weissmann “in the loop” about the fake dossier and its journeys through the Deep State swamp.  Joining him were a myriad of other co-conspirators in a web of conspiracy and deceit so vast that Watergate trivia question Carl Bernstein may be right in a way he did not intend when he suggested that this whole matter may be bigger than Watergate.  It seems that only the DOJ janitor was not involved.

As Catherine Herridge of Fox News reports:

Embattled Justice Department official Bruce Ohr had contact in 2016 with then-colleague Andrew Weissmann, who is now a top Robert Mueller deputy, as well as other senior FBI officials about the controversial anti-Trump dossier and the individuals behind it, two sources close to the matter told Fox News.


The sources said Ohr’s outreach about the dossier – as well as its author, ex-British spy Christopher Steele; the opposition research firm behind it, Glenn Simpson’s Fusion GPS; and his wife Nellie Ohr’s work for Fusion – occurred before and after the FBI fired Steele as a source over his media contacts.  Ohr’s network of contacts on the dossier included: former FBI agent Peter Strzok; former FBI lawyer Lisa Page; former deputy director Andrew McCabe; Weissmann and at least one other DOJ official; and a current FBI agent who worked with Strzok on the Russia case.


Weissmann was kept “in the loop” on the dossier, a source said, while he was chief of the criminal fraud division.  He is now assigned to Special Counsel Mueller’s team.

Weissmann had to know that the dossier was fake and that its use in obtaining FISA warrants to conduct surveillance on Team Trump and provide a predicate for the Mueller witch hunt was a fraud committed upon the FISA court.  If he knew, Robert Mueller should have known.  Their proceeding with their “investigation” into Team Trump based on the fraudulently obtained FISA warrants is more than an abuse of power.  It is a criminal act.  Fox News legal analyst Gregg Jarrett notes that Ohr’s testimony is damning in a criminal sense:

We learned today that James Comey’s FBI was far more corrupt than we ever knew.  We already knew that he used a false document from a wire they fire (ph).  But today we learned that Bruce Ohr told Comey and his confederates that this is a guy, Christopher Steele, who had said he was desperate to stop Donald Trump.  He was vagrantly (ph) anti- Trump.  They should have stopped right there in their tracks and said goodbye to Steele, thrown his dossier in the garbage.  But they didn’t care.  They moved ahead to launch this investigation of Trump to damage him and to spy on a Trump associate.


These people should be prosecuted for obstruction of justice, for perjury, abuse of power, and about three other felonies I can think of.  The law enforcers became the law breakers.  And where is the FISA court?  Why aren’t these judges holding these in criminal contempt?  Why didn’t they prosecute these people with indictments[?]

As Sean Hannity noted on his show Tuesday, Bruce Ohr was well aware of the fraudulent nature on the Steele dossier and the FISA applications based on them, a fact that he no doubt passed on when he was keeping everyone involved in this conspiracy “in the loop”:

“We did learn from Bruce Ohr today that he understood the Steele dossier would never have been accepted in a court of law, 65 pages of notes and text of meetings between him and Steele … so much to cover, it might take the whole hour,” Hannity said.  “There is no doubt that a conspiracy to commit fraud multiple times against FISA judges did take place.”


“Everyone who signed off on this FISA request signed off on fraudulent documents, and they knew they were fraudulent,” he said.

Christopher Steele himself could not confirm the dossier’s claims.  Even the corrupt James Comey said they were “salacious and unverified.”  So if they could not be used in a court of law, why were they used in FISA applications to authorize surveillance of Team Trump?  Because it was a means to their desired end – the destruction of the Trump presidency, which also meant lying to the court about its sourcing and financing.  Andrew Weissman knew this, and no doubt Robert Mueller knows this, too.

When the FBI “fired” Steele for leaking to the press, a back channel through Ohr and his wife Nellie was created:

“It was obvious early on that Bruce Ohr was the backchannel for Steele,” said a congressional source with direct knowledge of the testimony.  “The FBI was aware of potential bias of Nellie Ohr and they knew about Steele’s bias early on but never included it in the FISA application.  It’s astonishing the FBI kept the information from the court: the fact that there was a back channel after they terminated Christopher Steele and also Fusion GPS, knowing Ohr’s wife was working there.”

Not only was Bruce Ohr a conduit for the dossier information, but he and his wife also profited handsomely from their involvement in its production and dissemination:

Fusion GPS and its co-founder have not responded to Fox News’ questions for this story, or previous reports.  While Fusion GPS financial records were the subject of a lawsuit, and are not public, sources told Fox News that Nellie Ohr received “multiple payments” in 2016 from Fusion GPS, and the amounts were “not small change.”

This is corruption of the highest order at the highest level.  Nellie Ohr worked for Fusion GPS and was paid by Fusion GPS as her high-ranking DOJ husband was colluding with a British agent and Russian sources to bring down Trump.

Also working with, if not for, Fusion GPS was one Natalia Veselnitskaya, the Russian lawyer who met with Donald Trump, Jr. at Trump Tower.  Manafort’s home, hotel, and office were raided at the behest of Mueller, whose team admitted in a court filing that the Veselnitskaya meeting was a motive for the Manafort raid, managed by Andrew Weissmann.

Never interviewed by Mueller’s team, Veselnitskaya did meet with Fusion GPS founder Glenn Simpson before and after the Trump Tower meeting, suggesting it was a setup to entrap Team Trump as part of the Deep State coup against Trump:

[H]ours before the Trump Tower meeting on June 9, 2016, Fusion co-founder and ex-Wall Street Journal reporter Glenn Simpson was with Veselnitskaya in a Manhattan federal courtroom, a confidential source told Fox News.  Court records reviewed by Fox News, email correspondence and published reports corroborate the pair’s presence together.  The source told Fox News they also were together after the Trump Tower meeting.

Weissmann is a partisan hack and Mueller thug who sent an email to acting attorney general Sally Yates, one of those who signed the fraudulent FISA applications, congratulating her on her for refusing to defend in court President Trump’s travel ban:

A senior member of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigative team said he was in “awe” of former acting Attorney General Sally Yates the day she was fired for refusing to defend President Trump’s controversial travel ban, according to emails obtained by a conservative watchdog group.


Andrew Weissmann, a veteran Justice Department prosecutor who is one of Mueller’s top lieutenants on the special counsel probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election, sent a Jan. 30 email to Yates that appeared to laud her for standing up to Trump.


“I am so proud and in awe,” Weissmann wrote, according to emails obtained by Judicial Watch through a Freedom of Information Act request.  “Thank you so much.”

He also attended Hillary Clinton’s 2016 almost victory party, probably shedding a tear over her loss and fueling his desire to overturn Trump’s surprising victory.

Weissmann knew all about the Deep State coup starting with but not stopping with the fake Fusion GPS dossier.  As he sits with Robert Mueller, looking to see if Trump paid any Russian’s unpaid parking tickets, it is obvious that the Mueller witch hunt is just that.  It is an enterprise interested not in true Russian collusion and meddling, but in a conspiracy to bring down the Trump presidency.

Bruce Ohr’s closed-door testimony is enough to justify shutting it down.

Daniel John Sobieski is a freelance writer whose pieces have appeared in Investor’s Business Daily, Human Events, Reason Magazine, and the Chicago Sun-Times among other publications.



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Is CNN proving President Trump's point?


Recently, “[m]ore than 300 newspapers published editorials on the dangers of President Trump and his administration’s verbal assault on the press.” Many of these media outlets took exception to the fact that the president referred to them as “fake news” and “the enemy of the people,” and accused the president of engaging in a propaganda war against legitimate news sites. “This dirty war on the free press must end,” Marjorie Pritchard, the Boston Globe‘s editorial page deputy managing editor said in a statement obtained by ABC News. “It calls for urgent action by those committed to free speech and the free press to stand against a White House and its allies who are bent on eroding a pillar of an informed democracy.”  

In a sense, the various media outlets that participated in the “editorial blitz” against President Trump were well within their right to do so as long as they did not violate any laws. After all, the media serves a vital purpose in our free society and the work that journalists do should be respected on most occasions. However, when a media outlet makes a mistake, publishes a story that is based on questionable sources, or discovers that a story in not true, it should redact or correct the story so as to remain credible.

Several weeks ago, CNN published an anonymously sourced report stating that President Trump allegedly knew about the “Trump Tower meeting” ahead of time. Subsequently, Michael Cohen’s lawyer, Lanny Davis, admitted that he was the source of this information and indicated that he was wrong to imply that he could prove such a thing. According to Davis: “I regret not being much clearer in saying I’m not sure about this story… It’s a major mistake for which I am 100 percent sorry. Period. I never should have done it unless I was certain and could prove it.”  

Despite this obvious bombshell, CNN continues to stand by its reporting, leading some to question the network’s credibility. For example, Tucker Carlson recently interviewed Glenn Greenwald, founder of The Intercept. According to Greenwald: “They can’t retract the story and they can’t admit they lied… So they are continuing to stick to what everybody knows is a lie, but not many people care because people think — a lot of people, anyway — that it was done for the right political agenda.” 

Carlson also asked Greenwald whether CNN had an obligation to its viewers to explain what is going on relative to this story. “Journalists rightly demand transparency from powerful institutions, that’s our job,” Greenwald replied. “But how can CNN have any credibility to do that when you call them and ask them what happened here, as I did, and everyone else did, and they say, ‘Talk to our PR spokesperson,’ who then refuses to answer any questions. They have zero credibility if they don’t provide transparency themselves.”

Despite Mr. Davis’ retractions, CNN continues to stand by its story and to assert that “CNN does not lie.” While the network published a new report acknowledging Mr. Davis’ change of heart,” the new report did not explain why the original report asserted that Mr. Davis declined comment when he was actually used as a source. Donald Trump, Jr. took issue with this and issued a blistering statement: “CNN you just lied again by saying you don’t lie. You said Lanny Davis declined to comment when he was in fact a source.” “Are you kidding me with this BS. Do you have any journalistic credibility at all? I mean seriously??? You’re a joke!!!” 

Credibility is a very interesting, yet delicate, phenomenon. It is very difficult to earn/establish, yet very easy to lose. In this case, CNN brought this firestorm on itself and cannot blame the president, Republicans, or forces of nature. Moreover, given this recent controversy, the network cannot question why President Trump uses terms like “fake news” when describing some in the media.

What is even more unfortunate for CNN is that, once your credibility is questioned, much of what you say is also looked at with skepticism. For example, CNN recently suspended political analyst Paris Dennard after Mr. Dennard voiced his support of the president’s decision to revoke John Brennan’s security clearance. CNN attributed the suspension to allegations in a Washington Post article stating that Dennard was fired from a job at Arizona State University “for making sexually explicit comments and gestures towards women.” However, the timing of the suspension raised some eyebrows given that it occurred shortly after Mr. Dennard made his comments supporting the president’s decision. Said Denard, “”This is sadly another politically motivated attempt to besmirch my character, and shame me into silence for my support of President Trump and the GOP.” Is it possible that Dennard was suspended because of his political stance?

The media serves a vital role. With this role comes responsibility. CNN printed a story allegedly based on a source who subsequently recanted his statements. At that time, the network should have simply recanted the story. By failing to do so, it put its credibility in serious jeopardy, and substantiated some of President Trump’s comments and concerns

Mr. Hakim’s articles have been published in The Daily Caller, The Federalist, The Western Journal, American Thinker, World Net Daily, and other online publications.  

Twitter: @Elad3599

https://thoughtfullyconservative.wordpress.com

Recently, “[m]ore than 300 newspapers published editorials on the dangers of President Trump and his administration’s verbal assault on the press.” Many of these media outlets took exception to the fact that the president referred to them as “fake news” and “the enemy of the people,” and accused the president of engaging in a propaganda war against legitimate news sites. “This dirty war on the free press must end,” Marjorie Pritchard, the Boston Globe‘s editorial page deputy managing editor said in a statement obtained by ABC News. “It calls for urgent action by those committed to free speech and the free press to stand against a White House and its allies who are bent on eroding a pillar of an informed democracy.”  

In a sense, the various media outlets that participated in the “editorial blitz” against President Trump were well within their right to do so as long as they did not violate any laws. After all, the media serves a vital purpose in our free society and the work that journalists do should be respected on most occasions. However, when a media outlet makes a mistake, publishes a story that is based on questionable sources, or discovers that a story in not true, it should redact or correct the story so as to remain credible.

Several weeks ago, CNN published an anonymously sourced report stating that President Trump allegedly knew about the “Trump Tower meeting” ahead of time. Subsequently, Michael Cohen’s lawyer, Lanny Davis, admitted that he was the source of this information and indicated that he was wrong to imply that he could prove such a thing. According to Davis: “I regret not being much clearer in saying I’m not sure about this story… It’s a major mistake for which I am 100 percent sorry. Period. I never should have done it unless I was certain and could prove it.”  

Despite this obvious bombshell, CNN continues to stand by its reporting, leading some to question the network’s credibility. For example, Tucker Carlson recently interviewed Glenn Greenwald, founder of The Intercept. According to Greenwald: “They can’t retract the story and they can’t admit they lied… So they are continuing to stick to what everybody knows is a lie, but not many people care because people think — a lot of people, anyway — that it was done for the right political agenda.” 

Carlson also asked Greenwald whether CNN had an obligation to its viewers to explain what is going on relative to this story. “Journalists rightly demand transparency from powerful institutions, that’s our job,” Greenwald replied. “But how can CNN have any credibility to do that when you call them and ask them what happened here, as I did, and everyone else did, and they say, ‘Talk to our PR spokesperson,’ who then refuses to answer any questions. They have zero credibility if they don’t provide transparency themselves.”

Despite Mr. Davis’ retractions, CNN continues to stand by its story and to assert that “CNN does not lie.” While the network published a new report acknowledging Mr. Davis’ change of heart,” the new report did not explain why the original report asserted that Mr. Davis declined comment when he was actually used as a source. Donald Trump, Jr. took issue with this and issued a blistering statement: “CNN you just lied again by saying you don’t lie. You said Lanny Davis declined to comment when he was in fact a source.” “Are you kidding me with this BS. Do you have any journalistic credibility at all? I mean seriously??? You’re a joke!!!” 

Credibility is a very interesting, yet delicate, phenomenon. It is very difficult to earn/establish, yet very easy to lose. In this case, CNN brought this firestorm on itself and cannot blame the president, Republicans, or forces of nature. Moreover, given this recent controversy, the network cannot question why President Trump uses terms like “fake news” when describing some in the media.

What is even more unfortunate for CNN is that, once your credibility is questioned, much of what you say is also looked at with skepticism. For example, CNN recently suspended political analyst Paris Dennard after Mr. Dennard voiced his support of the president’s decision to revoke John Brennan’s security clearance. CNN attributed the suspension to allegations in a Washington Post article stating that Dennard was fired from a job at Arizona State University “for making sexually explicit comments and gestures towards women.” However, the timing of the suspension raised some eyebrows given that it occurred shortly after Mr. Dennard made his comments supporting the president’s decision. Said Denard, “”This is sadly another politically motivated attempt to besmirch my character, and shame me into silence for my support of President Trump and the GOP.” Is it possible that Dennard was suspended because of his political stance?

The media serves a vital role. With this role comes responsibility. CNN printed a story allegedly based on a source who subsequently recanted his statements. At that time, the network should have simply recanted the story. By failing to do so, it put its credibility in serious jeopardy, and substantiated some of President Trump’s comments and concerns

Mr. Hakim’s articles have been published in The Daily Caller, The Federalist, The Western Journal, American Thinker, World Net Daily, and other online publications.  

Twitter: @Elad3599

https://thoughtfullyconservative.wordpress.com



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China's Most Dangerous Geopolitical Weapon


The Obama years may have allowed China to infringe on American global power, but under Trump, the tide is turning. As governments around the world watch China’s expanding reach with a sense of resignation, the president has signed into law a bill promising to restrict foreign investment in the U.S.

Under the Foreign Investment Risk Review Modernization Act, the U.S. government has added a powerful tool to block other countries — namely China — from buying up or funneling money into U.S. companies. This is directly protecting vital strategic assets and know-how.

The new investment law is a big step toward shielding the U.S. from dangerous Chinese intrusions on our home soil. Following the White House’s tougher stance on American global competitors, Chinese acquisitions and investments in America have already plummeted 92 percent to $1.8 billion in the first half of this year. The drop comes off the back of an already tough year for Chinese entities seeking to extend their tentacles into the U.S. following pressure from the Trump administration.

Such guardianship has been long awaited by those with an eye on national security: in 2015 and 2016, Beijing’s corporations went on an overseas acquisitions spree that concluded with multibillion dollar deals throughout the U.S. while the Obama administration stood idly by and let the buyout occur. U.S. intelligence has long classified Chinese firms as security risks, raising concerns that China is able to access technologies underpinning American military might and economic power. Now, with the investment law and the new National Defense Authorization Act prohibiting U.S. government agencies from using telecommunications and surveillance products from Chinese technology firms like ZTE and Huawei, their voices are finally codified into U.S. law.

The White House moves are a significant blow to Beijing’s foreign policy objectives. America has been a major destination for Chinese foreign direct investment (FDI) in the last decade, and the largest target of Chinese capital flows since 2005. But even if Chinese President Xi tirelessly touts the supposed benign nature of investments, don’t be fooled: such investments are a favorite, and more surreptitious, weapon in the Chinese arsenal than the military – a weapon China is employing freely given the country cannot compete with U.S. military might in terms of capabilities and global force projection.

But as it turns out, the Chinese strategy of encroaching on America’s geopolitical position and security interests in this way has already borne fruit. Massive FDI flows into allied countries and strategic regions have unambiguously exposed Beijing’s money as a pertinent threat. In a prime example of how easy it is to seize an entire country’s strategic infrastructure, China Three Gorges in May bid $11 billion to take over the entire capital of Portugal’s largest grid company, with subsidiaries in the U.S., Spain, and Brazil.

Beijing’s bid to bind Europe to itself extends also to the political realm. Following a billion-dollar deal involving the Greek port of Piraeus, China has been able to count on Greek support to divert EU criticism of Beijing’s behavior in areas from human rights to maritime security. The implications of Beijing’s encroachment are a direct threat to our security, because these maneuvers affect the sovereignty — and the reliability — of America’s supposed allies.

Similar scenes are also playing out across Africa, where China is the single largest investor by far. And the effects are already painfully felt. Chinese capital flows into strategic choke points like Djibouti are turning the country into a Chinese puppet whose intentions can no longer be trusted. The country is of vital importance to counterterrorism efforts, and is home to 4,000 American troops gathering key intelligence on al-Qaeda and Islamic State terror cells. Yet at the beginning of the year, the government of Djibouti lost a high-profile court case over the way it kicked out the operator of the country’s port — whose business was promptly handed out to a Chinese state-owned cargo company at around the same time as the takeover.

That’s a problem, since the Chinese have already built a military base a stone’s throw away from the Americans. With China looking for additional facilities to expand its presence, top U.S. military officials are warning of the “significant consequences” if China takes hold of the port facilities, since counterterrorism operations will suffer a massive blow.

All this shows that China is trying to undermine America’s global power status through money rather than military might. China’s reach is extending as wide as Beijing’s pockets appear deep, and Washington must act fast. Just as he has drawn red lines in the sand at home, Trump must draw red lines abroad when it comes to strategic Chinese investments. Otherwise, the consequences of the Obama era’s years of neglect will only give China more of an advantage.

The Obama years may have allowed China to infringe on American global power, but under Trump, the tide is turning. As governments around the world watch China’s expanding reach with a sense of resignation, the president has signed into law a bill promising to restrict foreign investment in the U.S.

Under the Foreign Investment Risk Review Modernization Act, the U.S. government has added a powerful tool to block other countries — namely China — from buying up or funneling money into U.S. companies. This is directly protecting vital strategic assets and know-how.

The new investment law is a big step toward shielding the U.S. from dangerous Chinese intrusions on our home soil. Following the White House’s tougher stance on American global competitors, Chinese acquisitions and investments in America have already plummeted 92 percent to $1.8 billion in the first half of this year. The drop comes off the back of an already tough year for Chinese entities seeking to extend their tentacles into the U.S. following pressure from the Trump administration.

Such guardianship has been long awaited by those with an eye on national security: in 2015 and 2016, Beijing’s corporations went on an overseas acquisitions spree that concluded with multibillion dollar deals throughout the U.S. while the Obama administration stood idly by and let the buyout occur. U.S. intelligence has long classified Chinese firms as security risks, raising concerns that China is able to access technologies underpinning American military might and economic power. Now, with the investment law and the new National Defense Authorization Act prohibiting U.S. government agencies from using telecommunications and surveillance products from Chinese technology firms like ZTE and Huawei, their voices are finally codified into U.S. law.

The White House moves are a significant blow to Beijing’s foreign policy objectives. America has been a major destination for Chinese foreign direct investment (FDI) in the last decade, and the largest target of Chinese capital flows since 2005. But even if Chinese President Xi tirelessly touts the supposed benign nature of investments, don’t be fooled: such investments are a favorite, and more surreptitious, weapon in the Chinese arsenal than the military – a weapon China is employing freely given the country cannot compete with U.S. military might in terms of capabilities and global force projection.

But as it turns out, the Chinese strategy of encroaching on America’s geopolitical position and security interests in this way has already borne fruit. Massive FDI flows into allied countries and strategic regions have unambiguously exposed Beijing’s money as a pertinent threat. In a prime example of how easy it is to seize an entire country’s strategic infrastructure, China Three Gorges in May bid $11 billion to take over the entire capital of Portugal’s largest grid company, with subsidiaries in the U.S., Spain, and Brazil.

Beijing’s bid to bind Europe to itself extends also to the political realm. Following a billion-dollar deal involving the Greek port of Piraeus, China has been able to count on Greek support to divert EU criticism of Beijing’s behavior in areas from human rights to maritime security. The implications of Beijing’s encroachment are a direct threat to our security, because these maneuvers affect the sovereignty — and the reliability — of America’s supposed allies.

Similar scenes are also playing out across Africa, where China is the single largest investor by far. And the effects are already painfully felt. Chinese capital flows into strategic choke points like Djibouti are turning the country into a Chinese puppet whose intentions can no longer be trusted. The country is of vital importance to counterterrorism efforts, and is home to 4,000 American troops gathering key intelligence on al-Qaeda and Islamic State terror cells. Yet at the beginning of the year, the government of Djibouti lost a high-profile court case over the way it kicked out the operator of the country’s port — whose business was promptly handed out to a Chinese state-owned cargo company at around the same time as the takeover.

That’s a problem, since the Chinese have already built a military base a stone’s throw away from the Americans. With China looking for additional facilities to expand its presence, top U.S. military officials are warning of the “significant consequences” if China takes hold of the port facilities, since counterterrorism operations will suffer a massive blow.

All this shows that China is trying to undermine America’s global power status through money rather than military might. China’s reach is extending as wide as Beijing’s pockets appear deep, and Washington must act fast. Just as he has drawn red lines in the sand at home, Trump must draw red lines abroad when it comes to strategic Chinese investments. Otherwise, the consequences of the Obama era’s years of neglect will only give China more of an advantage.



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MASTERCARDGOOGLE Secret Deal to Track Retail Sales…


(Bloomberg) — For the past year, select Google advertisers have had access to a potent new tool to track whether the ads they ran online led to a sale at a physical store in the U.S. That insight came thanks in part to a stockpile of Mastercard transactions that Google paid for.

But most of the two billion Mastercard holders aren’t aware of this behind-the-scenes tracking. That’s because the companies never told the public about the arrangement. 

Alphabet Inc.’s Google and Mastercard Inc. brokered a business partnership during about four years of negotiations, according to four people with knowledge of the deal, three of whom worked on it directly. The alliance gave Google an unprecedented asset for measuring retail spending, part of the search giant’s strategy to fortify its primary business against onslaughts from Amazon.com Inc. and others.

But the deal, which has not been previously reported, could raise broader privacy concerns about how much consumer data technology companies like Google quietly absorb.

“People don’t expect what they buy physically in a store to be linked to what they are buying online,” said Christine Bannan, counsel with the advocacy group Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC). “There’s just far too much burden that companies place on consumers and not enough responsibility being taken by companies to inform users what they’re doing and what rights they have.”

Google paid Mastercard millions of dollars for the data, according to two people who worked on the deal, and the companies discussed sharing a portion of the ad revenue, according to one of the people. The people asked not to be identified discussing private matters. A spokeswoman for Google said there is no revenue sharing agreement with its partners.

A Google spokeswoman declined to comment on the partnership with Mastercard, but addressed the ads tool. “Before we launched this beta product last year, we built a new, double-blind encryption technology that prevents both Google and our partners from viewing our respective users’ personally identifiable information,” the company said in a statement. “We do not have access to any personal information from our partners’ credit and debit cards, nor do we share any personal information with our partners.” The company said people can opt out of ad tracking using Google’s “Web and App Activity” online console. Inside Google, multiple people raised objections that the service did not have a more obvious way for cardholders to opt out of the tracking, one of the people said.  

Seth Eisen, a Mastercard spokesman, also declined to comment specifically on Google. But he said Mastercard shares transaction trends with merchants and their service providers to help them measure “the effectiveness of their advertising campaigns.” The information, which includes sales volumes and average size of the purchase, is shared only with permission of the merchants, Eisen added. “No individual transaction or personal data is provided,” he said in a statement. “We do not provide insights that track, serve up ads to, or even measure ad effectiveness relating to, individual consumers.”

Last year, when Google announcedthe service, called “Store Sales Measurement,” the company just said it had access to “approximately 70 percent” of U.S. credit and debit cards through partners, without naming them.

That 70 percent could mean that the company has deals with other credit card companies, totaling 70 percent of the people who use credit and debit cards. Or it could mean that the company has deals with companies that include all card users, and 70 percent of those are logged into Google accounts like Gmail when they click on a Google search ad.

Google has approached other payment companies about the program, according to two people familiar with the conversations, but it is not clear if they finalized similar deals. The people asked to not be identified because they were not authorized to speak about the matter. Google confirmed that the service only applies to people who are logged in to one of its accounts and have not opted out of ad tracking. Purchases made on Mastercard-branded cards accounted for around a quarter of U.S. volumes last year, according to the Nilson Report, a financial research firm.

Through this test program, Google can anonymously match these existing user profiles to purchases made in physical stores. The result is powerful: Google knows that people clicked on ads and can now tell advertisers that this activity led to actual store sales. 

Google is testing the data service with a “small group” of advertisers in the U.S., according to a spokeswoman. With it, marketers see aggregate sales figures and estimates of how many they can attribute to Google ads — but they don’t see a shoppers’ personal information, how much they spend or what exactly they buy. The tests are only available for retailers, not the companies that make the items sold inside stores,the spokeswoman said. The service only applies to its search and shopping ads, she said.

For Google, the Mastercard deal fits into a broad effort to net more retail spending. Advertisers spend lavishly on Google to glean valuable insight into the link between digital ads a website visit or an online purchase. It’s harder to tell how ads influence offline behavior. That’s a particular frustration for companies marketing items like apparel or home goods, which people will often research online but walk into actual stores to buy.

That gap created a demand for Google to find ways for its biggest customers to gauge offline sales, and then connect them to the promotions they run on Google. “Google needs to tie that activity back to a click,” said Joseph McConellogue, head of online retail for the ad agency Reprise Digital. “Most advertisers are champing at the bit for this kind of integration.”

Initially, Google devised its own solution, a mobile payments service first called Google Wallet. Part of the original goal was to tie clicks on ads to purchases in physical stores, according to someone who worked on the product. But adoption never took off, so Google began looking for allies. A spokeswoman said its payments service was never used for ads measurement.

Since 2014, Google has flagged for advertisers when someone who clicked an ad visits a physical store, using the Location History feature in Google Maps. Still, the advertiser didn’t know if the shopper made a purchase. So Google added more. A tool, introduced the following year, let advertisers upload email addresses of customers they’ve collected into Google’s ad-buying system, which then encrypted them. Additionally, Google layered on inputs from third-party data brokers, such as Experian Plc and Acxiom Corp., which draw in demographic and financial information for marketers.

But those tactics didn’t always translate to more ad spending. Retail outlets weren’t able to connect the emails easily to their ads. And the information they received from data brokers about sales was imprecise or too late. Marketing executives didn’t adopt these location tools en masse, said Christina Malcolm, director at the digital ad agency iProspect. “It didn’t give them what they needed to go back to their bosses and tell them, ‘We’re hitting our numbers,’” she said.

Then Google brought in card data. In May 2017, the company introduced “Store Sales Measurement.” It had two components. The first lets companies with personal information on consumers, like encrypted email addresses, upload those into Google’s system and synchronize ad buys with offline sales. The second injects card data.

It works like this: a person searches for “red lipstick” on Google, clicks on an ad, surfs the web but doesn’t buy anything. Later, she walks into a store and buys red lipstick with her Mastercard. The advertiser who ran the ad is fed a report from Google, listing the sale along with other transactions in a column that reads “Offline Revenue” — only if the web surfer is logged into a Google account online and made the purchase within 30 days of clicking the ad. The advertisers are given a bulk report with the percentage of shoppers who clicked or viewed an ad then made a relevant purchase. Mastercard’s spokesman said the company does not view data on the individual items purchased inside stores.

It’s not an exact match, but it’s the most powerful tool Google, the world’s largest ad seller, has offered for shopping in the real world. Marketers once had a patchwork of consumer data in their hands to triangulate who saw their ads and who was prompted to spend. Now they had far more clarity.

Google’s ad chief, Sridhar Ramaswamy, introduced the product in a blog post, writing that advertisers using it would have “no time-consuming setup or costly integrations.” Missing from the blog post was the arrangement with Mastercard.

Early signs indicate that the deal has been a boon for Google. The new feature also plugs transaction data into advertiser systems as soon as they occur, fixing the lag that existed previously and letting Google slot in better-performing ads. Malcolm said her agency has tested the card measurement tool with a major advertiser, which she declined to name. Beforehand, the company received $5.70 in revenue for every dollar spent on marketing in the ad campaign with Google, according to an iProspect analysis. With the new transaction feature, the return nearly doubled to $10.60.

“That’s really powerful,” Malcolm said. “And it was a really good way to invest more in Google, frankly.”

But some privacy critics derided the tool as opaque. EPIC submitted a complaint about the sales measuring tack to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission last year. A report in August that Facebook Inc. was talking with banks about accessing information for consumer service products sparked similar criticism. For years, Facebook and Google have worked to link their massive troves of user behavior with consumer financial data.

And financial companies have plotted ways to tap into the bounty of digital advertising. The Google tie-up isn’t Mastercard’s only stab at minting the data it collects from customers. The company has built out its data and analytics capabilities in recent years through its consulting arm, Mastercard Advisors, and gives advertisers and merchants the ability to forecast consumer behavior based on cardholder data.

Ad buyers that work with Google insist that the company is careful to maintain the walls between transaction information and web behavior, keeping any info flowing to retailers and marketers anonymous. “Google is really strict about that,” said Malcolm.

Before launching the product, Google developed a novel encryption method, according to Jules Polonetsky, head of the Future Privacy Forum, who was briefed by Google on the product. He explained that the system ensures that neither Google nor its payments partners have access to the data that each collect. “They’re sharing data that has been so transformed that, if put in the public, no party could do anything with it,” Polonetsky said. “It doesn’t create a privacy risk.”

Future Privacy Forum, a nonprofit, receives funding from 160 companies including Google.

Google’s ad business, which hit $95.4 billion in 2017 sales, has maintained an astounding growth rate of about 20 percent a year. But investors have worried how long that can last. Many major advertisers are starting to funnel more spending to rival Amazon, the company that hosts far more, and more granular, data on online shopping.

In response, Google has continued to push deeper into offline measurements. The company, like Facebook and Twitter Inc., has explored the use of “beacons,” Bluetooth devices that track when shoppers enter stores.

Some ad agencies have actively talked to Google about even more ways to better size up offline behaviors. They have discussed adding features into the ads system such as what time of day people buy items and how much they spend, said John Malysiak, who runs search marketing for the Omnicom agency OMD USA. “We’re trying to go deeper with Google,” he said. “We’d like to understand more.” Google declined to comment on the discussions.



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