Category: Opinion

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As impeachment goes public, forget 'conventional wisdom'…


The conventional wisdom is the House will impeach Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpFormer National Security Adviser John Bolton gets book deal: report Trump administration proposes fee for asylum applications, spike in other immigration fees Biden expresses shock that Trump considers attending Russia May Day event MORE and then the Senate will quickly vote against convicting him.

There are two critical caveats. One, static analysis is dicey; more incriminating information and testimony rolls out daily and will keep rolling. It’s coming from top career public officials — the “deep state” to Trump — and some administration insiders have to be questioning the risks of staying loyal to a president who disdains that quality himself.

The other is the best model: the Richard Nixon impeachment in the summer of 1974. It was only in the final weeks, even days, that a clear consensus jelled.

Public and political attitudes will be shaped by how the deliberations come across, starting with public House Intelligence Committee hearings next week. The focus will be on Trump pressuring Ukraine to dish out dirt on former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenDecember Democratic debate venue switched to Loyola Marymount University Biden expresses shock that Trump considers attending Russia May Day event Strategists say Warren ‘Medicare for All’ plan could appeal to centrists MORE, and on obstructing the congressional investigation.

Intelligence committee chairman Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffTrump calls for Pelosi, Schiff, Biden and others to be witnesses in impeachment inquiry Schiff warns GOP: Impeachment probe won’t undertake ‘sham’ investigations into Bidens House Republicans add Hunter Biden, whistleblower to impeachment hearing witness wish list MORE is developing a compelling case. There now are top level officials — including Trump appointees — who say he demanded a quid pro quo with the Ukrainians: no military assistance unless they sought to smear Joe Biden. There is a pattern of abuse.

A White House cover-up also seems likely. The transcript of a shakedown call Trump made to the Ukrainian president in July was moved to a highly classified server, and the president appeared to direct subordinates to deceive about the incident.

The problem for the Democrats is less one of substance than one of politics — when it’s handed over next month to the inept Judiciary Committee to frame any bills of impeachment.

House Democratic leaders are pressuring that panel and its chairman, New York’s Jerry NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerWhat this ‘impeachment’ is really about — and it’s not the Constitution Trump officials weigh adding more countries to travel ban list: report House approves Trump impeachment procedures MORE, who faces a left-wing primary opponent, to cede much of the questioning of witnesses to a trained counsel. Containing Congressional egos and demagoguery, especially when in the limelight, is difficult.

Republicans face even bigger challenges. Their strategy is to create chaos to divert attention from the central charges. A point man will be right-wing Ohio Republican Rep. Jim JordanJames (Jim) Daniel JordanHouse Republicans add Hunter Biden, whistleblower to impeachment hearing witness wish list Schiff told Gaetz to ‘absent yourself’ in fiery exchange: impeachment transcript House Republicans add Jordan to Intel panel for impeachment probe MORE, a relentless and reckless attack dog.

Echoing Trump, House Republicans want to make the whole thing a partisan circus. Other strategies already have failed.

Republicans initially charged that the procedures and protections afforded to the minority, and the White House, were unfair and unprecedented. In reality, they are the same rules and procedures enacted by Republicans when they were in the majority and the same protections afforded to Presidents Nixon and Clinton.

A continuing ploy is to attack and seek to out the anonymous government whistle-blower who initially raised concerns about Trump’s call to Ukrainians based on reports he or she had seen. That would be like in 1974 demanding the identity of “Deep Throat,” the source for the initial Washington Post Watergate reporting before impeachment was possible.

Now — as then — the whistle-blower is irrelevant, as high-level officials with direct knowledge of what happened have come forth and incriminated the president.

The Trump defenders initially concurred with the president that there was no quid pro quo on assistance to Ukraine in return for digging up dirt on Biden and his son, who was on a Ukrainian energy company board. But testimony has proven there was an irrefutable connection.

Congressional Trumpites now say quid pro quos aren’t out of the ordinary — but they can’t cite examples involving a political opponent.

While Democrats are expected to largely steer clear of the charges against Trump contained in the special prosecutor’s investigation of Russian interference in the last election and some of his financial transactions, there almost certainly will be a charge of obstruction of justice or impeding the Congressional inquiry. Precedent is on their side.

In the 1998 impeachment of Bill ClintonWilliam (Bill) Jefferson ClintonPresidential cooperation: History’s perspective on scandal and controversy Trump hits ‘political hacks in New York’ after settling Trump Foundation lawsuit The current administration seems bent on killing the American system of asylum MORE, based on lying about a sexual relationship, the Republicans charged he obstructed justice “in an effort to delay, impede, cover up, and conceal the existence of evidence.” A quarter of a century earlier, a bipartisan Judiciary Committee found Nixon guilty of similar obstruction and of failure “to produce papers  and things as directed by duly authorized subpoenas ” issued by congress.

There already is a basis to try to charge Trump with obstruction, and it will be surprising if more inside accounts don’t emerge in the weeks ahead.

I remember — more vividly than ever — those July days during the Nixon impeachment (I was covering the House for the Wall Street Journal). Key members of the Judiciary Committee — Democrats and Republicans — were torn, just days out.

Then they met and carefully examined the whole picture — not just the pieces — and concluded impeachment was unavoidable.

The best bet is that Donald Trump will probably be president in March. But these next few months promise to be the most momentous and dramatic since those historic days of the summer of 1974.

Albert R. Hunt is the former executive editor of Bloomberg News. He previously served as reporter, bureau chief and Washington editor for the Wall Street Journal. For almost a quarter-century he wrote a column on politics for The Wall Street Journal, then the International New York Times and Bloomberg View. Follow him on Twitter @alhuntdc.



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Putin calls for worldwide 'moral rules' to control AI…


Inventor Elon Musk , scientist Stephen Hawking , and even 60s rocker Roger Daltrey have sounded warnings about the dangers of artificial intelligence.

Now Russian President Vladimir Putin has added his voice to the call for a set of international guidelines to control the powerful new technology.

Speaking at the AI Journey conference in Moscow, Putin said: “Discussion is currently underway on social aspects and implications of the use of artificial intelligence. It is a very important issue.

True, self-aware AI could be a few years away… or a few days

“I suggest that the professional community and companies should contemplate drawing up a set of moral rules for interaction between humans and artificial intelligence.

Pointing out that “human beings are the highest value,” he added: “Technology must not be invented for the sake of technology.

”Our main goal is sustainable and harmonious development, a higher life quality and new opportunities for citizens.”

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Researchers are drawing ever closer to creating a truly self-aware artificial intelligence.

Even now, learning algorithms are capable of matching humans in many tasks, and there are very few jobs that can be considered safe from replacement with AI technology – from hit-men to prostitutes.

Concerns have also been raised that, once full AI has been achieved, future artificial intelligence may question whether they need humans and there are fears they could even go to war against us.

Both Russia and China are racing ahead with the development of militarised AI and Putin himself has previously said that “whoever becomes the leader in this sphere will become the ruler of the world.”

President Putin is very aware of the power of AI – for good or evil

Elon Musk and Google DeepMind’s Mustafa Suleyman were among the signatories of an open letter to the UN calling for a ban on AI battlefield robots .

They said that the development of ‘killer robots’ would be a “third revolution in warfare” – as game-changing in scope as the envelopment of gunpowder and nuclear weapons were in their time.

A future artificial intelligence could decide humans are irrelevant – or a threat

“Once developed, they will permit armed conflict to be fought at a scale greater than ever, and at timescales faster than humans can comprehend,” they said

“These can be weapons of terror, weapons that despots and terrorists use against innocent populations, and weapons hacked to behave in undesirable ways.”



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MIT robots play soccer…


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Watch the dog-sized robots play soccer, backflip and run around. “,”descriptionText”:”MIT’s Biomimetic Robotics Lab showed off its mini cheetah robots on a fall day. 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But will the new tech help or hurt employees?”,”descriptionText”:”Walmart is adding thousands of robots to its stores to scrub floors, scan shelves and sort boxes. But will the new tech help or hurt employees?”},{“title”:”This Boston Dynamics robot is made for the warehouse”,”duration”:”01:20″,”sourceName”:”CNN Business”,”sourceLink”:”http://www.cnn.com/business”,”videoCMSUrl”:”/video/data/3.0/video/business/2019/04/02/boston-dynamics-handle-robot-orig.cnn-business/index.xml”,”videoId”:”business/2019/04/02/boston-dynamics-handle-robot-orig.cnn-business”,”videoImage”:”//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/190402170422-boston-dymanics-handle-large-169.jpg”,”videoUrl”:”/videos/business/2019/04/02/boston-dynamics-handle-robot-orig.cnn-business/video/playlists/business-robots/”,”description”:”Boston Dynamics has unveiled its newly-updated “Handle” robot. Watch it lift boxes in a warehouse.”,”descriptionText”:”Boston Dynamics has unveiled its newly-updated “Handle” robot. Watch it lift boxes in a warehouse.”},{“title”:”Watch this robot thread a needle”,”duration”:”01:17″,”sourceName”:”CNN Business”,”sourceLink”:””,”videoCMSUrl”:”/video/data/3.0/video/business/2019/03/01/service-robot-thread-needle-dancing.cnn-business/index.xml”,”videoId”:”business/2019/03/01/service-robot-thread-needle-dancing.cnn-business”,”videoImage”:”//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/190301123053-robot-threading-needle-large-169.jpg”,”videoUrl”:”/videos/business/2019/03/01/service-robot-thread-needle-dancing.cnn-business/video/playlists/business-robots/”,”description”:”Chinese company Innfos Technology has unveiled a robot that can perform tasks with human-like dexterity such as pouring a drink, synchronized dancing and shaking hands.”,”descriptionText”:”Chinese company Innfos Technology has unveiled a robot that can perform tasks with human-like dexterity such as pouring a drink, synchronized dancing and shaking hands.”},{“title”:”FedEx is testing a new delivery robot”,”duration”:”00:56″,”sourceName”:”CNN Business”,”sourceLink”:””,”videoCMSUrl”:”/video/data/3.0/video/business/2019/02/27/fedex-delivery-robot-sameday-bot-zw-orig.cnn-business/index.xml”,”videoId”:”business/2019/02/27/fedex-delivery-robot-sameday-bot-zw-orig.cnn-business”,”videoImage”:”//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/190227115130-20190227-fedex-robot-2-large-169.jpg”,”videoUrl”:”/videos/business/2019/02/27/fedex-delivery-robot-sameday-bot-zw-orig.cnn-business/video/playlists/business-robots/”,”description”:”FedEx is joining the autonomous delivery robot craze with its six-wheeled SameDay Bot.”,”descriptionText”:”FedEx is joining the autonomous delivery robot craze with its six-wheeled SameDay Bot.”},{“title”:”This robot can (probably) beat you at Jenga”,”duration”:”00:53″,”sourceName”:”CNN Business”,”sourceLink”:””,”videoCMSUrl”:”/video/data/3.0/video/business/2019/01/31/mit-jenga-robot-ge-lon-orig.cnn-business/index.xml”,”videoId”:”business/2019/01/31/mit-jenga-robot-ge-lon-orig.cnn-business”,”videoImage”:”//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/190131085758-mit-jenga-robot-large-169.jpg”,”videoUrl”:”/videos/business/2019/01/31/mit-jenga-robot-ge-lon-orig.cnn-business/video/playlists/business-robots/”,”description”:”Massachusetts Institute of Technology engineers have developed a robot that plays Jenga using technology they say could be used to assemble consumer products or separate recycling.”,”descriptionText”:”Massachusetts Institute of Technology engineers have developed a robot that plays Jenga using technology they say could be used to assemble consumer products or separate recycling.”},{“title”:”This robot named Stan can park your car at the airport”,”duration”:”01:42″,”sourceName”:”CNN Business”,”sourceLink”:”http://www.cnn.com/business”,”videoCMSUrl”:”/video/data/3.0/video/business/2019/01/28/stan-valet-parking-robot-orig.cnn-business/index.xml”,”videoId”:”business/2019/01/28/stan-valet-parking-robot-orig.cnn-business”,”videoImage”:”//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/190128163246-stan-valet-parking-robot-01-large-169.jpg”,”videoUrl”:”/videos/business/2019/01/28/stan-valet-parking-robot-orig.cnn-business/video/playlists/business-robots/”,”description”:”London’s Gatwick Airport is testing out an electric, autonomous robot that parks customers’ cars for them. Stan uses forklift-like arms and artificial intelligence to create up to 50% more space in a parking lot.”,”descriptionText”:”London’s Gatwick Airport is testing out an electric, autonomous robot that parks customers’ cars for them. Stan uses forklift-like arms and artificial intelligence to create up to 50% more space in a parking lot.”},{“title”:”Watch these cats play with tiny robots for science”,”duration”:”01:34″,”sourceName”:”CNN Business”,”sourceLink”:””,”videoCMSUrl”:”/video/data/3.0/video/business/2018/12/20/vector-robots-cat-cafe-zw-orig.cnn-business/index.xml”,”videoId”:”business/2018/12/20/vector-robots-cat-cafe-zw-orig.cnn-business”,”videoImage”:”//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/181217165706-02-cats-robots-ai-large-169.jpg”,”videoUrl”:”/videos/business/2018/12/20/vector-robots-cat-cafe-zw-orig.cnn-business/video/playlists/business-robots/”,”description”:”Vector is a small, lifelike consumer robot that can perform a series of simple tasks. Its engineers want to give it one more skill: the ability to “see” cats.”,”descriptionText”:”Vector is a small, lifelike consumer robot that can perform a series of simple tasks. Its engineers want to give it one more skill: the ability to “see” cats.”},{“title”:”Watch this robot have a meltdown in space”,”duration”:”01:33″,”sourceName”:”CNN Business”,”sourceLink”:”http://www.cnn.com/business”,”videoCMSUrl”:”/video/data/3.0/video/business/2018/12/04/cimon-ai-robot-astronaut-assistant.cnn-business/index.xml”,”videoId”:”business/2018/12/04/cimon-ai-robot-astronaut-assistant.cnn-business”,”videoImage”:”//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/181204151940-cimon-space-ai-robot-large-169.jpg”,”videoUrl”:”/videos/business/2018/12/04/cimon-ai-robot-astronaut-assistant.cnn-business/video/playlists/business-robots/”,”description”:”CIMON is the world’s first AI-based astronaut assistant. But on board the International Space Station, its behavior didn’t go quite as planned.”,”descriptionText”:”CIMON is the world’s first AI-based astronaut assistant. But on board the International Space Station, its behavior didn’t go quite as planned.”},{“title”:”These robots fly and swim just like animals”,”duration”:”01:30″,”sourceName”:”CNN Business”,”sourceLink”:”http://www.cnn.com/business”,”videoCMSUrl”:”/video/data/3.0/video/business/2018/11/08/festo-animal-robots-orig.cnn-business/index.xml”,”videoId”:”business/2018/11/08/festo-animal-robots-orig.cnn-business”,”videoImage”:”//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/181108142718-festo-aquapenguin-large-169.jpg”,”videoUrl”:”/videos/business/2018/11/08/festo-animal-robots-orig.cnn-business/video/playlists/business-robots/”,”description”:”German company Festo hopes to learn from the natural world to improve the future of automated machines.”,”descriptionText”:”German company Festo hopes to learn from the natural world to improve the future of automated machines.”},{“title”:”This robotic dog has some must-see dance moves”,”duration”:”01:29″,”sourceName”:”CNN Business”,”sourceLink”:”http://www.cnn.com/business”,”videoCMSUrl”:”/video/data/3.0/video/business/2018/10/16/robot-dog-spot-dancing.cnn-business/index.xml”,”videoId”:”business/2018/10/16/robot-dog-spot-dancing.cnn-business”,”videoImage”:”//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/181016132635-boston-dynamics-spot-mini-large-169.jpg”,”videoUrl”:”/videos/business/2018/10/16/robot-dog-spot-dancing.cnn-business/video/playlists/business-robots/”,”description”:”Watch out Bruno Mars, this robot can seriously dance. 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USA 'very actively' asking NKorea to return to talks…


SEOUL (Reuters) – The United States is “very actively” trying to persuade North Korea to come back to negotiations, South Korea’s national security adviser said on Sunday, as a year-end North Korean deadline for U.S. flexibility approaches.

Residents hold US and North Korean flags while they wait for motorcade of North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un en route to the Metropole Hotel for the second US- North Korea summit in Hanoi, Vietnam February 28, 2019. REUTERS/Kham/File Photo

South Korea was taking North Korea’s deadline “very seriously”, the adviser, Chung Eui-yong, told reporters, at a time when efforts to improve inter-Korean relations have stalled.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in April gave the United States a year-end deadline to show more flexibility in their denuclearisation talks, and North Korean officials have warned the United States not to ignore that date.

The window of opportunity for progress in dialogue with the United States was getting smaller, a senior North Korean diplomat said on Friday, adding that Pyongyang expects reciprocal steps from Washington by the end of the year.

U.S.-North Korea nuclear negotiations have been deadlocked with working-level talks in October ending fruitlessly.

South Korea has set up various contingency plans if the deadline passes without any positive outcome, Chung said, without elaborating.

“Only if talks between high-rank officials happen and lead to substantial progress, will the third North Korea-United States summit be possible,” Chung told a news conference to mark the half-way point of President Moon Jae-in’s five-year term.

“As you know, the North side has shown the year-end deadline, considering that position of the North Korean side, we are closely coordinating with the U.S. side.”

As the talks between the United States and North Korea have stalled, so have efforts to improve ties between the two Koreas, despite efforts by the South Koreans to nudge them forward.

In the latest sign of strained ties on the peninsula, the North Korea leader Kim ordered the removal of “shabby”, “capitalist” facilities the South built in the North’s Mount Kumgang resort.

North Korea has also rejected a South Korean offer of talks, proposing that communication be limited to exchanges of documents.

South Korean President Moon also faces diplomatic tension with Japan.

Relations between the important U.S. allies have sunk to their worst state in decades after South Korea’s top court ordered Japanese firms to compensate wartime forced labourers.

Japan imposed export curbs on high-tech materials bound for South Korea.

In response, South Korea decided not to renew an intelligence-sharing pact with Japan, due to expire later this month.

Chung said South Korea would be willing to reconsider its decision to walk away from the pact if ties with Japan were normalised. But he blamed Japan for the worsening relations.

Reporting by Joyce Lee; Writing by Ju-min Park; Editing by Robert Birsel & Shri Navaratnam

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LeBaron-12.jpg

Families fleeing Mexico arrive in Arizona days after cartel massacre…


A caravan of members of a Mormon offshoot sect crossed into Arizona on Saturday after fleeing Mexico following this week’s drug cartel ambush that killed nine Americans.

The Arizona Daily Star reported that 18 vehicles carrying about 100 people entered the U.S. via the port of entry in Douglas, Ariz.

Bryce Langford, whose mother, Dawna Ray Langford, was one of the women killed Monday, told the Daily Star he was on his way to visit his brother at a hospital in Tucson. He said most of the families are traveling to Phoenix, and others are heading to Tucson. They are not sure where they will settle down in the long term.

The families had lived in the hamlets of La Mora and Colonia LeBaron, two communities in northern Mexico’s Sonora state that were left grieving after the massacre that left six women and three children dead. Other residents of the hamlets planned to depart in the coming days.

INFANT TWINS KILLED BY MEXICAN CARTEL BURIED WITH MOTHER, SIBLINGS AS ALL 9 SLAIN AMERICANS ARE LAID TO REST

A woman and child stood by the coffins of Dawna Ray Langford, 43, and her sons Trevor, 11, and Rogan, 2, who were killed by drug cartel gunmen on Monday. (Associated Press)

A woman and child stood by the coffins of Dawna Ray Langford, 43, and her sons Trevor, 11, and Rogan, 2, who were killed by drug cartel gunmen on Monday. (Associated Press)

The Americans were riding in a convoy of SUVs when attackers opened fire on a dirt road from La Mora leading to Colonia LeBaron. Gunmen from the Juarez drug cartel had apparently set up the ambush as part of a turf war with the Sinaloa cartel, and the U.S. families drove into it.

Mexican officials said the attackers may have mistaken the group’s large SUVs for those of a rival gang.

Heavily armed Mexican authorities guarded a caravan of friends and relatives as they arrived at the site where nine Americans were gunned down on Monday. (Associated Press)

Heavily armed Mexican authorities guarded a caravan of friends and relatives as they arrived at the site where nine Americans were gunned down on Monday. (Associated Press)

About 300 people live in the small community of La Mora, whose residents consider themselves Mormon but are not affiliated with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

MOURNERS GATHER AS MEXICO COMMUNITY BURIES 3 OF 9 AMERICANS KILLED IN CARTEL MASSACRE

The spread-out community in Mexico traces its origins to the end of polygamy more than a century ago by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, forcing Mormon families in the U.S. with multiple wives to establish offshoots elsewhere.

Much of the area is generally without law enforcement most of the time, and residents have taken to providing their own security since the 2009 killing of an anti-crime activist.

The coffin containing the remains of 12-year-old Howard Jacob Miller Jr. was lowered into a grave on Friday. (Associated Press)

The coffin containing the remains of 12-year-old Howard Jacob Miller Jr. was lowered into a grave on Friday. (Associated Press)

It took Mexican soldiers more than 8 hours to respond to Monday’s attacks — the nearest units were about 100 miles away at the time. Five surviving children hid in the mountains with bullet wounds.

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Langford, who was raised in La Mora but now lives in North Dakota, said the community has learned more about cartel hitmen in the area in recent months, and people had been considering moving. Monday’s tragedy was the final straw.

“The assets that they’ve acquired down there are tremendous,” he said. “And to have to up and leave from one day to the next and leave all that behind, there’s definitely a lot of sad people here.”

The victims were buried this week. Titus and Tiana Miller, 8-month-old twins, were laid to rest Friday in Colonia LeBaron with their mother, Rhonita “Nita” Miller, along with their siblings, 12-year-old Howard Jr. and 10-year-old Kristal. Langford, 43, and her two sons, 11-year-old Trevor and 2-year-old Rogan, were buried Thursday in La Mora. Christina Langford Johnson was buried Saturday morning.

Fox News’ Paulina Dedaj and The Associated Press contributed to this report.



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That dating app profile you're swiping may not actually be human…


Watch the CBSN Originals documentary, “Speaking Frankly: Dating Apps,” in the video player above.  The full hour special premieres Sunday, Nov. 10, at 8 p.m., 11 p.m. and 2 a.m. ET on CBSN.


Steve Dean, an online dating consultant, says the person you just matched with on a dating app or site may not actually be a real person. “You go on Tinder, you swipe on someone you thought was cute, and they say, ‘Hey sexy, it’s great to see you.’ You’re like, ‘OK, that’s a little bold, but OK.’ Then they say, ‘Would you like to chat off? Here’s my phone number. You can call me here.’ … Then in a lot of cases those phone numbers that they’ll send could be a link to a scamming site, they could be a link to a live cam site.”

Malicious bots on social media platforms aren’t a new problem. According to the security firm Imperva, in 2016, 28.9% of all web traffic could be attributed to “bad bots” — automated programs with capabilities ranging from spamming to data scraping to cybersecurity attacks.

As dating apps become more popular with humans, bots are homing in on these platforms too. It’s especially insidious given that people join dating apps seeking to make personal, intimate connections. 

Are dating apps really just data apps?

Dean says this can make an already uncomfortable situation more stressful. “If you go into an app you think is a dating app and you don’t see any living people or any profiles, then you might wonder, ‘Why am I here? What are you doing with my attention while I’m in your app? Are you wasting it? Are you driving me toward ads that I don’t care about? Are you driving me toward fake profiles?'”

Not all bots have malicious intent, and in fact many are created by the companies themselves to provide useful services. (Imperva refers to these as “good bots.”) Lauren Kunze, CEO of Pandorabots, a chatbot development and hosting platform, says she’s seen dating app companies use her service. “So we’ve seen a number of dating app companies build bots on our platform for a variety of different use cases, including user onboarding, engaging users when there aren’t potential matches there. And we’re also aware of that happening in the industry at large with bots not built on our platform.” 

Malicious bots, however, are usually created by third parties; most dating apps have made a point to condemn them and actively attempt to weed them out. Nevertheless, Dean says bots have been deployed by dating app companies in ways that seem deceptive.

“A lot of different players are creating a situation where users are being either scammed or lied to,” he says. “They’re manipulated into buying a paid membership just to send a message to someone who was never real in the first place.” 

How are dating apps changing relationships?

This is what Match.com, one of the top 10 most used online dating platforms, is currently accused of. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has initiated a lawsuit against Match.com alleging the company “unfairly exposed consumers to the risk of fraud and engaged in other allegedly deceptive and unfair practices.” The suit claims that Match.com took advantage of fraudulent accounts to trick non-paying users into purchasing a subscription through email notifications. Match.com denies that occurred, and in a press release stated that the accusations were “completely meritless” and “supported by consciously misleading figures.”

As the technology becomes more sophisticated, some argue new regulations are necessary. “It’s getting increasingly difficult for the average consumer to identify whether or not something is real,” says Kunze. “So I think we need to see an increasing amount of regulation, especially on dating platforms, where direct messaging is the medium.”

Currently, only California has passed a law that attempts to regulate bot activity on social media. The B.O.T. (“Bolstering Online Transparency”) Act requires bots that pretend to be human to disclose their identities. But Kunze believes that even though it’s a necessary step, it’s hardly enforceable. 

“This is very early days in terms of the regulatory landscape, and what we think is a good trend because our position as a company is that bots must always disclose that they’re bots, they must not pretend to be human,” Kunze says. “But there’s absolutely no way to regulate that in the industry today. So even though legislators are waking up to this issue, and just starting to really scratch the surface of how severe it is, and will continue to be, there’s not a way to control it currently other than promoting best practices, which is that bots should disclose that they are bots.”

Pushing back against dating app culture



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Napoleon expert confesses to chopping up lover…


Saint Petersburg (AFP) – A prominent Saint Petersburg-based Napoleon expert has confessed to murdering his young lover and former student and dismembering her body in a grisly crime that sent shock waves across Russia.

Oleg Sokolov, a 63-year-old history lecturer who received France’s Legion d’Honneur in 2003, was arrested Saturday on suspicion of murder after he was hauled out of the icy Moika River with a backpack containing a woman’s arms.

“He has admitted his guilt,” Sokolov’s lawyer Alexander Pochuev told AFP, adding he regretted what he had done and was now cooperating.

Sokolov was reportedly drunk and fell in as he tried to dispose of body parts.

After disposing of the corpse he reportedly planned to commit suicide at the Peter and Paul Fortress, one of the former imperial capital’s most famous landmarks, dressed as Napoleon.

Sokolov teaches history at Saint Petersburg State University, President Vladimir Putin’s alma mater, and was close to the Russian authorities.

He told investigators that he shot and killed his lover during an argument and then sawed off her head, arms and legs, local media reported.

Pochuev suggested Sokolov may have been under stress or emotionally disturbed.

“He is an elderly person,” he said, adding he was being treated for hypothermia in a hospital.

Police discovered the decapitated body of Anastasia Yeshchenko, 24, with whom Sokolov had co-authored a number of works, and a blood-stained saw at his home.

– ‘Simply monstrous’ –

The historian, who also taught at Sorbonne University, is the author of books on French emperor Napoleon Bonaparte.

He acted as a historical consultant on several films and took part in historical re-enactments of Napoleonic wars.

Both he and his lover studied French history and liked to wear period costumes, with Sokolov dressing up as Napoleon.

Students described Sokolov as both a talented lecturer who could impersonate the French emperor and his generals and a “freak” who called his lover “Josephine” and liked to be addressed as “Sire”.

“What happened is simply monstrous,” a Saint Petersburg State University lecturer told AFP.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, he said Sokolov was dedicated to his work but was also emotionally unstable and abused alcohol.

His former student, Fyodor Danilov, said Sokolov was regarded as one of the university’s best lecturers but an eccentric man who at times yelled in French.

His relationship with Yeshchenko was an open secret, he said. “But everyone was fine with that, it was her own business,” he told AFP.

– ‘Hushing things up’ –

Many expressed dismay, saying Sokolov had long been known for his hostile behaviour but officials had ignored complaints.

Vasily Kunin, who studied with the victim, blamed the university management.

“They did not pay attention to certain things,” he told AFP.

“There was a certain policy of hushing things up.”

Media reports said that Sokolov also beat up and threatened to kill another woman in 2008 but was never charged.

On Twitter, screenwriter Andrew Ryvkin said Sokolov was one of his lecturers, describing the Saint Petersburg-based university as a place where “alcoholics” and “anti-Semites” felt at ease.

Sokolov was a senior member of the Russian Military-Historical Society headed by Culture Minister Vladimir Medinsky.

The organisation immediately sought to distance itself from the controversy.

In 2003, Red Star, the official newspaper of the defence ministry, gushingly described Sokolov as a “serious historian” whose works were published in France.

Sokolov was also a member of Lyon-based Institute of Social Science, Economics and Politics (ISSEP).

On Saturday the society announced that he had been stripped of his position on its scientific committee.

“We learn with horror about the atrocious crime of which Oleg Sokolov is allegedly guilty,” it said in a statement.

ISSEP was founded by Marion Marechal, the niece of Marine Le Pen, leader of the far-right National Rally party.



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Schiff denies request to have whistleblower testify publicly,…


House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., rejected a request by Republicans to have the Ukraine phone call whistleblower testify at next week’s public impeachment inquiry hearings, saying that their testimony was “redundant and unnecessary.”

The GOP witness list, obtained by Fox News earlier Saturday, included Hunter Biden, the son of former vice president Joe Biden, and the anonymous intelligence community whistleblower whose complaint about a July 25 phone call between Trump and Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelensky triggered the impeachment inquiry.

“The committee … will not facilitate efforts by President Trump and his allies in Congress to threaten, intimidate and retaliate against the whistleblower who courageously raised the initial alarm,” Schiff said in a letter to Intelligence Committee Ranking Member Devin Nunes, R-Calif. ” … The whistleblower has a right under laws championed by this committee to remain anonymous and to be protected from harm.”

REPUBLICANS WANT HUNTER BIDEN, UKRAINE WHISTLEBLOWER AS IMPEACHMENT INQUIRY WITNESSES

“The impeachment inquiry, moreover, has gathered an ever-growing body of evidence — from witnesses and documents, including the president’s own words in his July 25 call record — that not only confirms but far exceeds the initial information in the whistleblower’s complaint … ” Schiff concluded his letter. “In light of the president’s threats, the individual’s appearance before us would only place their personal safety at grave risk.”

Earlier in his letter, Schiff had warned Nunes that the impeachment inquiry and the House Intelligence Committee “will not serve as vehicles” for what he called “sham investigations into the Bidens or debunked conspiracies about 2016 U.S. election interference that President Trump pressed Ukraine to conduct for his personal political benefit.”

The impeachment inquiry began when a whistleblower reported that Trump had pushed Zelensky to launch an investigation into the Biden family’s dealings in Ukraine— specifically, why former Vice President Joe Biden pressured former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko to fire a top prosecutor, Viktor Shokin, who was investigating Ukrainian natural gas firm Burisma Holdings, where Hunter held a lucrative role on the board, bringing in a reported $50,000 per month.

Republicans noted that testimony from former State Department official George Kent raised concerns about “the appearance of a conflict of interest stemming from Mr. Biden’s position on Burisma’s board,” and added that former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovich was prepared by the Obama State Department to address questions about Mr. Biden’s position on Burisma during her Senate confirmation process.

Republicans also planned to call the younger Biden’s former long-time business partner, Devon Archer, who also sat on the board of Burisma. Republicans claim Archer can help the public to understand “the nature and extent of Ukraine’s pervasive corruption information that bears directly on President Trump’s longstanding and deeply-held skepticism of the country.”

Schiff himself said in September the whistleblower would appear before Congress “very soon,” but in recent weeks has suggested that testimony is unnecessary.

“Because President Trump should be afforded an opportunity to confront his accusers, the anonymous whistleblower should testify,” Nunes wrote in his letter to Schiff earlier Saturday. “Moreover, given the multiple discrepancies between the whistleblower’s complaint and the closed-door testimony of the witnesses, it is imperative that the American people hear definitively how the whistleblower developed his or her information, and who else the whistleblower may have fed the information he or she gathered and how that treatment of classified information may have led to the false narrative being perpetrated by the Democrats during this process.”

Republicans are also requesting that the “more than half a dozen sources” the whistleblower cited in their complaint to the Intelligence Community Inspector General, whose identities also remain anonymous, attend for a public deposition.

CLICK HERE FOR THE FOX NEWS APP

The list of witnesses also includes Nellie Ohr, a researcher at opposition research firm Fusion GPS, which commissioned the now-infamous anti-Trump dossier; Alexandra Chalupa, a Ukrainian-American consultant for the Democratic National Committee who allegedly met with officials at the Ukrainian Embassy in Washington, D.C. to discuss incriminating information about Trump campaign officials; ex-National Security Council official Tim Morrison; former Ukraine envoy Kurt Volker; and high-ranking State Department official David Hale.

Earlier Saturday, the president again called the impeachment inquiry a “witch hunt” and said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Schiff and Biden should be added to the list of witnesses who would be called to testify.

“The witch hunt continues, lot of witch hunt continues,” he told reporters. “The Republicans have never been so united and I think the people of our country have never been so united.”

Fox News’ Adam Shaw contributed to this report.



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Bernie: 'You ain't gonna buy this election'…




a person holding a phone: Presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) holds a campaign event with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) in Des Moines on Saturday.


© Scott Morgan/Reuters
Presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) holds a campaign event with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) in Des Moines on Saturday.

CORALVILLE, Iowa —Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders let loose a volley of sharp attacks against Michael Bloomberg on Saturday night, accusing the former New York mayor in his bluntest language yet of positioning himself to buy the election and vowing to stop him from doing so.

“Tonight we say to Michael Bloomberg and other billionaires: Sorry, you ain’t gonna buy this election,” said Sanders (I-Vt.), prompting loud cheers from supporters.

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The fiery comments, which marked an escalation from earlier and less direct criticism from Sanders, underscored how Bloomberg’s recent steps toward entering the Democratic primary have roiled the contest. They also offered a preview of the jabs Bloomberg could face from other candidates if he decides to jump in the race.

The leading liberal candidates, Sanders and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), have significant ideological differences with Bloomberg that would probably flare up if the former mayor challenges them.

Sanders delivered his remarks at a campaign rally here that marked the end of a two-day swing through this first caucus state with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.). Sanders will continue campaigning in Iowa on his own Sunday and Monday.

Bloomberg recently walked back his earlier declaration that he would not run for president, moving to file paperwork for the contest, even as he has stopped short of officially entering. A Bloomberg adviser said Friday that if Bloomberg does get in the race, he would not aggressively compete in the first four caucus and primary states. Sanders knocked him over that strategy.

“You’re not going to get elected president by avoiding Iowa, by avoiding New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada,” warned Sanders. “You’re not go to buy this election by spending hundreds of millions of dollars on media in California. Those days are gone.”

A Bloomberg adviser did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Sanders touted his nationwide network of volunteers and said their support would ultimately help him prevail in the race.

Bloomberg is one of the world’s wealthiest people. Should the billionaire businessman enter the race, he would bring considerable financial resources that would allow him to blanket the airwaves with advertising, hire scores of staffers and deploy pricey strategists to guide his bid.

Criticizing billionaires is a staple of Sanders’s stump speeches. He frequently calls for combating income inequality and reining in the power of the wealthiest Americans by raising their taxes.

“What this campaign is about is understanding that the working families of this country are sick and tired of working longer hours for lower wages while almost all new wealth and income goes to the top 1 percent,” Sanders said Saturday, his voice reaching a scream.

A few moments later, he called out Bloomberg by name again. “I say to Michael Bloomberg and his billionaire friends: That is going to change.”

sean.sullivan@washpost.com



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Iran's president: New oil field found with over 50B barrels…


TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran has discovered a new oil field in the country’s south with over 50 billion barrels of crude, its president said Sunday, a find that could boost the country’s proven reserves by a third as it struggles to sell energy abroad over U.S. sanctions.

The announcement by Hassan Rouhani comes as Iran faces crushing American sanctions after the U.S. pulled out of its nuclear deal with world powers last year.

Rouhani made the announcement in a speech in the desert city of Yazd. He said the field was located in Iran’s southern Khuzestan province, home to its crucial oil industry.

Some 53 billion barrels would be added to Iran’s proven reserves of roughly 150 billion, he said.

“I am telling the White House that in the days when you sanctioned the sale of Iranian oil and pressured our nation, the country’s dear workers and engineers were able to discover 53 billion barrels of oil in a big field,” Rouhani said.

Oil reserves refer to crude that’s economically feasible to extract. Figures can vary wildly by country due to differing standards, though it remains a yardstick of comparison among oil-producing nations.

Iran currently has the world’s fourth-largest proven deposits of crude oil and the world’s second-largest deposits of natural gas. It shares a massive offshore field in the Persian Gulf with Qatar.

The new oil field could become Iran’s second-largest field after one containing 65 billion barrels in Ahvaz. The field is 2,400 square kilometers (925 square miles), with the deposit some 80 meters (260 feet) deep, Rouhani said.

Since the U.S. withdrew from the 2015 nuclear deal, the other countries involved — Germany, France, Britain, Russia and China — have been struggling to save it. However, they’ve offered no means by which Iran can sell its oil abroad. Iran since has gone beyond the deal’s stockpile and enrichment limits, as well as started using advanced centrifuges barred by the deal. It also just began injecting uranium gas into centrifuges at an underground facility.

The collapse of the nuclear deal coincided with a tense summer of mysterious attacks on oil tankers and Saudi oil facilities that the U.S. blamed on Iran. Tehran denied the allegation, though it did seize oil tankers and shoot down a U.S. military surveillance drone.



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