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'Violent tornado' tears through Jefferson City, Mo.: 'It’s a chaotic situation right now'

'Violent tornado' tears through Jefferson City, Mo.: 'It’s a chaotic situation right now' A violent tornado ripped through Jefferson City, Missouri, late Wednesday, leaving many trapped and others injured. More storms are forecast Thursday.


Surprise: The ‘AI bot’ people talk to on Google Duplex calls is sometimes actually a person

Surprise: The ‘AI bot’ people talk to on Google Duplex calls is sometimes actually a person When Google unveiled Google Duplex last year at I/O 2018, the brand new Assistant feature looked terrific. It was the kind of futuristic technology nobody else had. With a simple voice command, you could instruct the Assistant to make restaurant reservations for you by placing a phone call using an AI bot. But soon after that keynote, it became clear that Duplex is somewhat creepy, as Google failed to identify the robocall to the other person. It was also kind of disingenuous, since the entire demo wasn't live.Google dealt with those issues at the time and Google Duplex deployment continued, culminating with this year's I/O announcement that the feature will be available in 44 states. Also, Google said that Duplex is getting similar functionality for booking reservations on the web. But a brand new report reveals additional details that were previously not known about Duplex, which brings the creepy back. It turns out that Google employees are actively involved in making many of these Duplex calls.A report from The New York Times reveals that about 25% of calls placed through Duplex started with a human. Beyond that, 15% of calls that started off with the Duplex AI bot had a human intervene at some point.The whole point of using the Assistant to make restaurant reservation is to eliminate the human side of things. That's why Google Duplex appeared to be so amazing in the first place. Having humans involved in the whole thing is where things get strange. Yes, maybe Duplex needs human oversight and the best way to train AI is by having it work with a lot of examples to learn from. But Google never really mentioned this human aspect of Google Duplex, which sort of ruins the magic of it all. Yet again, it's somewhat disingenuous.Also, there's user privacy to take into account. A human interacting with a restaurant on your behalf is different from a computer doing it, as the human is also let in on the booking information. It may seem trivial, but where does one agree to involve a Googler in setting up one's dinner plans?Google does say on its support pages that Duplex calls are recorded for quality assurance, which means someone may listen to your reservations:> If the customer wants to book an appointment, the Assistant will confirm specific details like the customer's preferred time, type of service, or size of party. Once this information is confirmed, the Assistant will try to book an appointment with your business by using an online booking partner (if available) or by calling your business using the automated voice-calling technology Duplex (calls are recorded for quality assurance).Also, Google has a tiny note that a manual operator might start calls in the frequently asked questions section, although it's hardly enough (emphasis ours):> At the start of the call, you'll hear the reason for the call and that the call is from Google. You can expect the call to come from an automated system or, in some cases, a manual operator.Google Duplex is clearly a far less polished product that Google led us to believe a year ago. Also, considering its renewed interest in protecting the user's privacy, Google should do a much better job explaining what goes on behind the scenes of a Google Duplex call when it comes to your privacy. The full Times report, complete with examples that explain what a human-made Google Duplex call looks like, is available at this link.


Tornados kill three in central US, damage Missouri state capital

Tornados kill three in central US, damage Missouri state capital Three people were killed in the small town of Golden City, Missouri, officials said, while the midwestern state's capital Jefferson City was struck by what the National Weather Service called a "large and destructive" tornado Wednesday night. The tornado caused significant damage, trapping people in buildings and homes, and knocking down power lines and trees. Rescue workers were checking door-to-door for survivors Thursday, some 20 people were injured and treated at hospitals overnight, and more injuries were expected, officials said.


Trump administration may use Iran threat to sell bombs to Saudis without Congress' approval: senator

Trump administration may use Iran threat to sell bombs to Saudis without Congress' approval: senator "I am hearing that Trump may use an obscure loophole in the Arms Control Act and notice a major new sale of bombs to Saudi Arabia (the ones they drop in Yemen) in a way that would prevent Congress from objecting. In this case, they said the Republican president would cite rising tensions with Iran as a reason to provide more military equipment to Saudi Arabia, which he sees as an important U.S. partner in the region. Trump has touted arms sales to the Saudis as a way to generate U.S. jobs.


Google unveils a fresh new look for Search on mobile devices

Google unveils a fresh new look for Search on mobile devices Google unveiled a new look and feel today for the way it presents Google Search results on mobile, and the update has been regarded in a few corners now as somewhat News Feed-like.It's easy to see why that's the case, as the search giant's changes include putting emphasis on a website name and favicon above the search results. Whereas the source of results had previously not been so clearly emphasized, which makes the new design for showing results feel a little like scrolling through a feed of posts from publishers and the like."With this new design, a website's branding can be front and center, helping you better understand where the information is coming from and what pages have what you're looking for," explains Google Senior Interaction Designer for Search Jamie Leach in a company blog post today. "The name of the website and its icon appear at the top of the results card to help anchor each result, so you can more easily scan the page of results and decide what to explore next."The post notes that the refreshed look for what's arguably Google's most important product will start showing up to users over the coming days. As part of the changes, Leach continues, when you search for a product or service and Google feels like it's got a relevant, "useful" ad that would be worth including in the results, you'll now see an ad label in bold at the top of a search results card. The web address will also be included, so you can quickly determine where the information you're seeing is coming from.The other important thing to note about the Google Search refresh on mobile is that this also lays the foundation for Google to add more action buttons and information previews to search results cards, with Google wanting you to be able to now do everything from buying movie tickets to playing podcasts right there from within the results. "Our goal with Search always has been to help people quickly and easily find the information that they're looking for," Leach says. "Over the years, the amount and format of information available on the web has changed drastically -- from the proliferation of images and video to the availability of 3D objects you can now view in AR." Which is why the company thought a "visual refresh" of Search on mobile would do a better job of helping people find the information they need and quickly determine where it came from.


The Latest: Iran supreme leader critical of FM in nuke deal

The Latest: Iran supreme leader critical of FM in nuke deal TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — The Latest on increased tensions between the U.S. and Iran (all times local):


Libyan commander Haftar told Macron no ceasefire for now: French presidency

Libyan commander Haftar told Macron no ceasefire for now: French presidency The flare-up in the conflict in Libya - which has been gripped by anarchy since Muammar Gaddafi was toppled in 2011 - began in early April, when Haftar's Libyan National Army advanced on the capital Tripoli. The LNA is now bogged down in southern suburbs by fighters loyal to Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj's Government of National Accord (GNA). Macron and French officials have for weeks repeated their official support for the GNA and have called for an unconditional ceasefire.


Tale of suicidal 'Handmaid' in New York goes viral

Tale of suicidal 'Handmaid' in New York goes viral A red-cloaked "Handmaid" ready to hurl herself off a Manhattan building, possibly unhinged by recent legislative assaults on the right to abortion? For months now, amid the #MeToo movement and challenges to the right to abortion in the United States and elsewhere, demonstrations by women dressed in costumes inspired by "The Handmaid's Tale" have multiplied. The hit television series based on Margaret Atwood's 1985 novel evokes a world in which the United States has become a religious dictatorship where fertile women are enslaved and their rape is institutionalized.


U.S. judge approves PG&E $105 million wildfire assistance fund

U.S. judge approves PG&E $105 million wildfire assistance fund PG&E Corp may set up a $105 million housing fund for victims of 2017 and 2018 wildfires in California, which set records for devastation and were blamed on the utility's equipment, the judge overseeing the investor-owned power producer's bankruptcy ruled on Wednesday. Creditors, which include wildfire victims, are fighting for funds as PG&E navigates bankruptcy stemming from the blazes and as the state plans for increasingly long and dangerous fire seasons its officials attribute to climate change. U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Dennis Montali at a hearing approved a motion by PG&E seeking permission to establish the fund for people who lost homes in the fires and were uninsured or have used up or will exhaust their insurance.


Freshman congresswoman tells Trump's Homeland Security chief that deaths of migrants were 'intentional'

Freshman congresswoman tells Trump's Homeland Security chief that deaths of migrants were 'intentional' The acting Homeland Security secretary was grilled over his department's treatment of migrant children, five of whom have died since December.


Ukraine's parliament snubs new president on election law

Ukraine's parliament snubs new president on election law KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — Ukrainian lawmakers on Wednesday turned down the new president's proposal to amend the election law in a blow to his hopes to get more of his supporters into parliament.


Factbox: Global tech companies shun Huawei after U.S. ban

Factbox: Global tech companies shun Huawei after U.S. ban (Reuters) - Global technology companies, including chip suppliers, are cutting off their ties with China's Huawei Technologies Co after the Trump administration put the world's largest telecom equipment maker on a trade blacklist, citing national security concerns. The government has effectively banned U.S. firms from doing business with Huawei, escalating the ongoing trade war. However, Huawei has been allowed to buy U.S. goods until Aug. 19 to maintain existing telecoms networks and provide software updates to its smartphones. ...


The 2020 BMW X5 and X7 Get New M50i Performance Variants

The 2020 BMW X5 and X7 Get New M50i Performance Variants Both SUVs pack 523 horsepower and are positioned above the existing 50i models.


Dem. Rep. Accuses DHS Secretary of Choosing to Let Migrant Kids Die: ‘This Is Intentional’

Dem. Rep. Accuses DHS Secretary of Choosing to Let Migrant Kids Die: ‘This Is Intentional’ Representative Lauren Underwood (D., Ill.) on Wednesday accused the acting Department of Homeland Security secretary of intentionally implementing border-security policies that would lead to the deaths of migrant children.During his appearance before the House Homeland Security Committee on Wednesday, Acting Secretary Kevin McAleenan was asked to explain why five children have died in federal custody after being apprehended at the southern border since December.“These stories are appalling and yet they keep happening,” Underwood said, referring to the recent migrants deaths, as well as reports of inadequate housing and medical care for migrant children apprehended at the border. “Now Congress just provided half a billion dollars in February to address the humanitarian crisis at the border and will soon provide more. Why do these tragedies keep happening?”McAleenan, who succeeded Kirstjen Nielsen in April, responded that the resources provided by Congress are insufficient to address the record number of asylum seekers, many of whom are women and children, arriving at the border each day.“They're happening because the crisis is exceeding the resources provided. That's why we've asked for more and we've asked for more authority to prevent this crisis from happening in the first place and to prevent the children from being placed at risk,” he said.Underwood, a 32-year-old freshman lawmaker, dismissed McAleenan's claims, suggesting instead that he was implementing policies intended to result in the death of children.“People keep dying, sir. People keep dying. So, this is obviously more than a question of resources,” she said. “Congress has been more than willing to provide the resources and work with you to address the security and humanitarian concerns, but at this point, with five kids that have died, 5,000 separated from their families, I feel like — and the evidence is really clear — that this is intentional. It's a policy choice being made on purpose by this administration and it's cruel and inhumane."“That's an appalling accusation and our men and women fight hard to protect people in our custody every single day,” McAleenan responded.> The acting DHS secretary denies the accusation that migrant deaths are "intentional" policy. pic.twitter.com/7xiThg8IVY> > -- VICE News (@vicenews) May 22, 2019Republicans on the panel reacted forcefully to Underwood's assertion. The ranking Republican on the committee, Representative Mike Rogers (R., Mich.) called for a vote to strike her comments from the record. The vote passed 9-7.“You cannot impugn the character of the witness by stating that he intentionally murders children. That is completely inappropriate and her words should be taken down,” Rogers said during the hearing. “She was very explicit.”“It’s absolutely disheartening to see some radical Democrats stoop so low to say that the Acting DHS Secretary McAleenan is murdering children. McAleenan left the private sector to serve his country after the towers fell on 9/11. This is a sad day for America and the Democrat party,” Representative Mark Green (R., Tenn.) said in a statement provided to National Review.On Monday, 16-year-old Carlos Hernandez Vasquez became the fifth migrant child to die in federal custody in the last six months.Vasquez crossed into the U.S. without his parents and died of the flu at a Border Patrol station in Weslaco, Texas after spending a week in the custody of U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CPB). His death has drawn scrutiny from Democratic lawmakers, who have pointed out that policy dictates he should have been transferred to the custody of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) within 72 hours of his apprehension.“Make no mistake: This is a pattern of death. This is an epidemic of death by the Trump administration,” Representative Joaquin Castro of Texas told reporters during a press conference Tuesday. “As I mentioned, nobody had died for ten years. And in the last six months, you've had five deaths.”The Trump administration has for months urged Congress to provide resources for medical care and the construction of housing units that can accommodate the new asylum-seekers arriving at the southern border. The existing detention centers lack the capacity to handle the record influx and were built to accommodate the mostly single men who formerly comprised most of the illegal-migrant population.The administration has also urged Congress to reform the asylum system through legislation in order to limit the number of migrants who must be detained on U.S. soil while their claims are being adjudicated.


U.S. Treasury's Mnuchin: No discussion with White House on Trump's taxes

U.S. Treasury's Mnuchin: No discussion with White House on Trump's taxes Mnuchin told U.S. lawmakers he did not know who in the Internal Revenue Service had written the draft memo, which concluded that tax returns must be given to lawmakers unless the president takes the rare step of asserting executive privilege. The newly disclosed draft memo was looking at a different issue, Mnuchin told a hearing of the House Financial Services Committee. Mnuchin said he had been advised it would be unlawful to release the returns, and underscored that the memo that reportedly contradicted that advice had only been in draft form.


Walmart Takes Huge Discounts Off Tires for Memorial Day

Walmart Takes Huge Discounts Off Tires for Memorial Day Act quickly to get savings up to 40 percent off.


Mnuchin Says It’s ‘Unlawful’ to Give Democrats Trump’s Tax Returns

Mnuchin Says It’s ‘Unlawful’ to Give Democrats Trump’s Tax Returns “If I had turned them over, I would have been violating the law,” Mnuchin told the House Financial Services Committee on Wednesday. The chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, Richard Neal, has demanded six years of Trump’s personal and business returns under a law allowing him to make such requests.


This Is the Secret to Making Your Driveway 10 Times More Beautiful

Bigger cuts expected: 23,000 more Ford layoffs needed, analysts say

Bigger cuts expected: 23,000 more Ford layoffs needed, analysts say Ford CEO Jim Hackett plans for layoffs won't deliver savings the company has said it wants. An analyst says another 23,000 layoffs are needed.


Pelosi says Trump 'is engaged in a cover-up' — drawing his fury

Pelosi says Trump 'is engaged in a cover-up' — drawing his fury The House speaker slammed the president’s efforts to stonewall ongoing congressional investigations amid calls from some members of her party for his impeachment.


Man who threatened to kill ‘as many girls as I see’ because he was repeatedly rejected set to be spared jail

Man who threatened to kill ‘as many girls as I see’ because he was repeatedly rejected set to be spared jail A man who threatened to murder “as many girls” as he could see may escape a jail sentence, despite pleading guilty to a charge of attempted threat of terrorism.Christopher Cleary wrote a detailed Facebook post about how he planned to become “the next mass shooter” in January 2019.The 27-year-old described himself as a virgin who had never had a girlfriend.He also said he wanted to make the fact that so many women had turned him down “right” by going on a shooting spree, according to documents filed by Provo Police.Cleary was arrested on 19 January after publishing the Facebook post.Cleary then struck a deal with Utah prosecutors, pleading guilty to a reduced criminal charge.Attempted threat of terrorism is a third-degree felony, punishable by up to five years in prison.But Utah prosecutors agreed to recommend him for probation, despite his extensive criminal record.A judge will decide whether or not to accept the deal at a hearing on Thursday.The 27-year-old has been accused of stalking multiple times, with at least eight alleged victims contacting the authorities about his behaviour since 2012, according to police and court records.He was on probation following a marijuana conviction in 2016 when he was charged with stalking two teenagers he had met online.Cleary was put on probation for the stalking cases but in 2017 was charged with stalking and harassing his case worker.In 2018 judges in Jefferson County, Colorado sentenced him, once again, to probation for all three stalking cases.In one of the cases a 19-year-old woman said she lived with Cleary for a fortnight in a hotel room. She said that he strangled and urinated on her during that time, court records show.Cleary was out on probation for the three cases when he was arrested in a McDonald's in January, after publishing his Facebook post.Pam Russell, a spokeswoman for the Utah’s county prosecutor’s office, said once the case was concluded Cleary would be returned to Colorado.Prosecutors in Denver will seek to revoke his probation and send him to prison in relation for the stalking and harassment cases, she added.“All I wanted to be was loved,” Cleary wrote in his Facebook post.“Yet no one cares about me, I’m 27 years old and I’ve never had a girlfriend before and I’m still a virgin, this is why I’m planning on shooting up a public place soon and being the next mass shooter cause I’m ready to die.”It is unclear how truthful the Facebook post was, as at least two of Cleary’s accusers have said they had a sexual relationship with him.Some news reports have speculated that Cleary could be part of the “incel movement”, which promotes the misogynistic idea that men are entitled to have sex with women.But a Colorado police detective, who investigated two accusations against the 27-year-old, said there as no evidence he was part of the movement.“I truly think he’s just wired differently,” he said. Additional reporting by agencies


Biden blasts Trump for saying he 'deserted' Pennsylvania: 'I was 10'

Biden blasts Trump for saying he 'deserted' Pennsylvania: 'I was 10' The former vice president blasted President Trump for telling the crowd at a rally in Pennsylvania earlier this week that he “deserted” them.


Booker Vows to Create ‘Office of Reproductive Freedom’ If Elected

Booker Vows to Create ‘Office of Reproductive Freedom’ If Elected Senator Cory Booker (D., N.J.) announced on Wednesday that he will create a “White House Office of Reproductive Freedom” if he triumphs in the expansive Democratic primary field and is elected president in 2020.According to a plan released by Booker's campaign, the office would coordinate with officials from multiple agencies to ensure the fulfillment of his administration's reproductive-health priorities, including, among other things, access to abortion, contraception, paid family leave, and pregnancy care.“Republican-controlled state legislatures across the country are mounting a coordinated attack on abortion access and reproductive rights,” Booker said in a statement. “A coordinated attack requires a coordinated response. That’s why on day one of my presidency, I will immediately and decisively take executive action to respond to these relentless efforts to erode Americans’ rights to control their own bodies. I will also pursue a legislative response, including legislation to codify Roe v. Wade into federal law.”As part of this effort, Booker also vowed to reinstate funding for the United Nations Population Fund, which focuses on promoting global reproductive health. He also would reverse the Trump administration's Mexico City policy, which prohibits clinics that receive federal funding under Title X from providing or promoting abortion overseas.The announcement comes just days after Alabama governor Kay Ivey signed the nation's most restrictive abortion bill into law. The bill, which prohibits virtually all abortions at any stage of pregnancy, is currently unenforceable but was advanced by the state's Republican legislature in order to prompt a challenge to Roe v. Wade.Booker and a number of his fellow presidential aspirants have vowed to advance federal legislation to codify the federal abortion policy created by the Supreme Court decision in Roe.


Don't miss out on these epic Memorial Day weekend sales

Don't miss out on these epic Memorial Day weekend sales On May 27th, get 80 percent off new markdowns


Fears rise China could weaponise rare earths in US tech war

Fears rise China could weaponise rare earths in US tech war The US has hit China where it hurts by going after its telecom champion Huawei, but Beijing's control of the global supply of rare earths used in smartphones and electric cars gives it a powerful weapon in their escalating tech war. A seemingly routine visit by President Xi Jinping to a Chinese rare earths company this week is being widely read as an obvious threat that Beijing is standing ready for action. Xi's inspection tour "is no accident, this didn't happen by chance," said Li Mingjiang, China programme coordinator at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS) in Singapore.


Trump administration considers blacklisting another major Chinese technology firm, further inflaming trade conflict

Trump administration considers blacklisting another major Chinese technology firm, further inflaming trade conflict The Trump administration is considering blacklisting another major Chinese technology company in a move that would broaden a US campaign to sever China’s access to American know-how and inflame a deepening trade conflict, according to an individual familiar with the debate.Although no final decision has yet been reached, the administration is preparing to move against Hikvision, the world’s largest maker of video surveillance technology, the person said, speaking on the condition of anonymity.The deliberations were first reported by The New York Times.The disclosure comes less than a week after the administration barred US companies from supplying Huawei, perhaps China’s most prominent manufacturer, without first obtaining a US government license.The administration earlier this week relaxed the ban, saying it would grant temporary 90-day waivers for US companies to help Huawei maintain its existing networks.US officials are said to be eyeing the same penalty for Hikvision, using a Commerce Department mechanism known as the “entity list”.Citing national security considerations, the US congress last year banned federal agencies from purchasing equipment made by Hikvision and four other Chinese technology companies: Huawei, ZTE, Hytera and Dahua.The measure was triggered by “classified information the committee reviewed in the course of our regular oversight activities”, according to Claude Chafin, a spokesman for the House Armed Services Committee.Hikvision supplies surveillance cameras that the Chinese government has deployed throughout the Muslim-majority Xinjiang region to combat what it describes as separatist terrorism.Randall Shriver, US assistant secretary of defence for Asia, said earlier this month that the Chinese government is detaining 3 million Uighur Muslims in re-education camps. The authorities in Beijing describe the facilities as vocational training centres.In an interview with Fox News on Tuesday, Cui Tiankai, China’s ambassador to the United States, denied reports of human rights abuses.“They are real training centres,” he said. “They are not camps. They have open gates. There’s no armed guards. People could go home over weekend.”Hikvision last month reported earning about $1.65bn (£1.3bn) on revenue of roughly $7.2bn (£5.7bn) in 2018.In its annual shareholder letter, the company said it had faced numerous challenges last year but remained “upbeat about growth in the domestic and overseas markets in the years ahead”.The administration’s intensifying campaign to limit China’s access to advanced US technologies comes as a year-long trade conflict defies hopes of an early settlement.Despite the president’s continued pursuit of a trade deal, the administration has been cracking down on China in other realms.The Justice Department in December indicted two hackers who allegedly worked with the Chinese Ministry of State Security, targeting companies holding advanced technologies with military applications.The Commerce Department is drawing up new regulations to restrict US exports of 14 advanced technologies including robotics and quantum computing, in a move motivated by concern over China’s access to American innovations.Some Trump administration officials want to disconnect American investors and companies from Chinese companies that help beef up the Chinese military, “Big Brother” surveillance networks or those that benefit from China’s alleged theft of US trade secrets.Last year, the Commerce Department banned state-backed ZTE from doing business with American suppliers after the company violated the terms of an earlier enforcement action.But the president reversed the ban, which would have crippled ZTE, after a personal plea from Chinese President Xi Jinping.The episode illustrates that any move to sever Chinese companies’ links to the United States might cause collateral damage to the US economy.ZTE spends about $2.6bn (£2.05bn) annually buying products from US companies such as Qualcomm and Intel. Huawei also relies heavily on American suppliers.Administration officials recognise that the greater the number and significance of Chinese companies sanctioned, the greater the pain for US companies and their workers.The Washington Post


Accused Thief Taunted Disney World With Photo of Stolen Robot’s Mutilated Head

Accused Thief Taunted Disney World With Photo of Stolen Robot’s Mutilated Head Photo Illustration by Sarah Rogers/The Daily Beast/Photos GettyIf you’re accused of stealing an animatronic child from Disney World, maybe don’t make a wildly popular Disney-related Twitter account and post a picture of the stolen robot child with its eyes gouged out.“Buzzy,” an animatronic boy from an abandoned Disney World attraction, has been missing for months. Online, Disney superfans treated the disappearance like a kidnapping. But the investigation into the theft led police to someone in the online Disney fandom: a Disney blogger who taunted Disney about their security, posted conspiracy theories about Buzzy’s disappearance and, in the final days before his arrest, uploaded a picture of the robot’s decapitated and eyeball-less head.Patrick Spikes, 24, was arrested last week. He worked at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, until last year. But Spikes didn’t completely part ways with the theme park after he stopped working there. Instead, he started churning out videos, podcasts, and tweets under the username “BackDoorDisney.” His Twitter account, which amassed more than 17,000 followers before going dark last week, promised to give fans an inside view of Disney World. In its seven months of operation, the account uploaded pictures of Disney control rooms, secret maps, and Disney cast members pretending to have sex while dressed as characters from Toy Story.Soon, Spikes was posting about an even more salacious Disney World story. In August, Disney told police that someone had stolen clothes off Buzzy. The 300-pound animatronic child used to sit inside the “Cranium Command” exhibit, in Epcot’s Wonders of Life Pavilion. But the building, which hosted somewhat dated attractions, had been closed for years. The stolen clothes (including a miniature bomber jacket) were worth nearly $7,000, Disney claimed, according to an affidavit from Florida’s Orange County Sheriff’s Department. Later, the entire robot was stolen, an operation that required the thief to cut through electric cables.Spikes and other Disney bloggers posted about Buzzy’s rumored disappearance. But Spikes and a crowd of Disney fans who broke into the park soon came under suspicion. Spikes routinely boasted of secret trips through Disney World, including with a friend who climbed the park’s Thunder Mountain roller coaster.“Good job filling the holes under the Mk back fence this morning,” Spikes wrote in a January tweet directed at Disney. “I told you guys about this issue 2 months ago but it took somebody going in and climbing one of your coasters for you to care.”On his personal Twitter account, Spikes taunted Disney, advising them to buy a bulk box of security cameras from Best Buy. As the search for Buzzy continued, Disney fans speculated that an urban explorer might have snatched the robot.Eventually, police began narrowing in on Spikes and his scene. Investigators found an October picture of Buzzy on Spikes’ @BackDoorDisney account. The picture does not appear to have been taken inside the Cranium Command exhibit. In texts with investigators, Spikes allegedly let slip that Buzzy’s clothes were sold on the black market for $8,000.Police got a warrant for Spikes’ cellphone and called him in for questioning in December. The meeting went poorly when Spikes tried to cut it short.“The defendant stated he felt sick and felt that he was going to vomit,” police alleged in an affidavit. “A short time later, he began to make strained breathing noises, and stated he couldn’t breath. He requested water, which was given to him, and also was allowed to lay on the floor. The fire department responded and all vitals were normal.” Spikes was taken to a hospital. Police charged him with non-violently resisting arrest. He has pleaded not guilty.Spikes later made a video about a police search on his house, and professed his innocence.“I said ‘really? The entire thing got stolen?’ I didn’t really believe it,” he said in the March video. “It blew my mind. I was like, you can’t be serious right now.”Later in the video, Spikes suggested that Disney had staged Buzzy’s disappearance in order to shut down his BackDoorDisney account.“There’s a theory someone talked about that Imagineering [a Disney team] removed Buzzy and didn’t tell anyone else. So when Operations, the part of the company that runs the Pavillion noticed he was missing, they filed him as ‘stolen,’” he said. “Did Disney willingly file a report, knowing the thing wasn’t stolen, just to run me down? Because obviously I had been posting a lot of backstage photos and stuff, and information … It almost seems like they wanted my phones because they knew I had a lot of backstage photos on them.”But BackDoorDisney kept implying inside knowledge of Buzzy’s disappearance.In a May 12 tweet, he tweeted a picture of Buzzy’s fate. The tweet showed a picture of Buzzy’s decapitated head, with its eyeballs scratched off. The image was included in a screenshot of a text Spikes received, which meant someone else might have stolen the robot.TwitterFive days later, police arrested Spikes. Although Buzzy’s disappearance featured prominently in an arrest affidavit (police appear to have started investigating him over Buzzy’s theft), Spikes was actually charged for a different series of alleged thefts from Disney World. His lawyer did not return The Daily Beast’s request for comment.In July, police alleged, Spikes printed a fake Disney employee card for his cousin and snuck him into the park. The pair allegedly snuck into the Haunted Mansion, a popular ride, and stole a collection of wigs and outfits from backstage. The clothes, which were designed for the ride’s animatronic ghosts, cost between $40 (a tiara) and $1,746 (a robot’s jacket), adding up to more than $7,000.Spikes and his cousin allegedly took pictures throughout the heist, and posed in the wigs at a nearby 7-Eleven. A video from shortly after the theft allegedly shows Spikes’ cousin’s girlfriend wearing a robot’s stolen dress.Disney may have priced the clothes at just over $7,000, but they allegedly went for four times that price on the black market. Days after the alleged burglary, Spikes allegedly received a combined $29,451 payment from two people over Paypal. One of the people, whose name is redacted in the affidavit, told police he paid Spikes $8,890 for 18 items from various Disney heists, including $1,000 for a Haunted Mansion dress.Shortly before his arrest, Spikes teased a forthcoming video about the black market for stolen Disney gear.Police haven’t charged Spikes with Buzzy’s disappearance. But they say his video about the raid on his house raised questions about his involvement. In the video, he showed part of a search warrant for his house. Police say he edited the document to remove references to two pieces of evidence police sought.“The fact that Spikes altered the warrant for his video and only removed these two items indicate that he was aware these items were used in a crime,” the affidavit reads.In that same video, Spikes tells viewers he’ll keep his lips tight about Buzzy’s disappearance until the investigation is over.“If things are still under investigation, I’m not going to get on YouTube and run my mouth about it,” he said. “That would be dumb.”Read more at The Daily Beast.Got a tip? Send it to The Daily Beast hereGet our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.


Backlash as Trump set to shun tradition with his own ringside seat at sumo tournament in Japan

Backlash as Trump set to shun tradition with his own ringside seat at sumo tournament in Japan Sumo fans and traditionalists have reacted with disappointment to reports that Donald Trump will have a ringside seat at a sumo tournament in Japan - eschewing hundreds of years of tradition of sitting cross-legged on a cushion. Mr Trump is set to step centre stage into Japan’s sumo world this weekend as he presents a trophy dubbed the “Trump Cup” to the winner of a major tournament during his visit to Japan. But the planned visit is already sending ripples through the deeply traditional sumo community. In a sport steeped in rituals dating back 1,500 years, reports of Trump's seat has prompted controversy at the special treatment, with one fan, Masaru Tomamoto, 73, telling Reuters: “I also want to sit on a chair as we watch sumo wrestling. “But if (Trump) watches a Japanese traditional sport, sumo, I think that it would be much better for him to sit cross-legged with the cushion on the floor, rather than on chair.” Trump has developed a close relationship with Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe Credit:  Susan Walsh/AP Another sumo fan Izumi Chiba, from Sapporo in northern Japan, added: “As we say, when you are in Rome, do as the Romans do.” Mr Trump is expected to watch the final three bouts of the last day of the Summer Grand Sumo Tournament – a highly awaited climax of the sumo calendar – alongside Mr Abe and their respective wives at the Ryogoku Kokugikan hall in Tokyo on Sunday. The US president, who said last month that he had always found sumo “fascinating”, will then present a special trophy custom-made in the US to the champion wrestler – triggering fevered media speculation as to whether he will wear slippers in the sumo ring as he hands it over, as shoes are not typically permitted. Mr Trump is expected to sit in a chair among the most prized seats that immediately encircle the ring known as masu seki, which sell for around £71 (10,000 yen) each and normally involve sitting on flat cushions known as zabuton on the floor. Security is another key issue flagged up by Japanese media, with almost an eighth of the 11,000 seats reserved for the president, Mr Abe and their security teams. There are concerns that around 1,000 people who have already bought coveted ringside seats face being security vetted. There were also reports that organisers were considering the ban of canned beer sales in the same seating area, apparently in a bid to minimise potential security dangers to Mr Trump. Mr Abe, who famously shares a love of golf with his “friend” Mr Trump, has apparently pulled out all the stops for the president’s state visit, having also arranged for him to become the first foreign leader to meet the new Emperor Naruhito.


China's big three airlines seek 737 MAX payouts from Boeing: reports

China's big three airlines seek 737 MAX payouts from Boeing: reports China's three biggest airlines have filed claims seeking compensation from Boeing over the grounding and delayed delivery of 737 MAX 8 aircraft following two deadly crashes, Chinese state media reported on Wednesday. The reports in various state-run media that China Southern Airlines, China Eastern Airlines, and Air China would seek payouts from the American aerospace giant come against the backdrop of an escalating US-China trade war. China Southern is Asia's largest carrier by fleet size, China Eastern is the country's number two, while Air China is the state flag carrier.


N. Korea state media hits out at 'imbecile' Biden

N. Korea state media hits out at 'imbecile' Biden North Korean state media on Wednesday slammed former US vice president Joe Biden as an "imbecile" and a "fool of low IQ" after he criticised leader Kim Jong Un. Biden, who served two terms as President Barack Obama's deputy, has been on the campaign trail since announcing last month his candidacy for the Democratic Party nomination in the 2020 presidential election. It accused Biden of "slandering the supreme leadership" of North Korea -- a term usually referring to leader Kim -- and said the former senator had become "reckless and senseless, seized by ambition for power".


Murrieta, California residents concerned as illegal immigrants are flown into town

Murrieta, California residents concerned as illegal immigrants are flown into town Murrieta resident Bob Kowell speaks out about migrants being relocated to his city on 'Tucker Carlson Tonight.'


Debate over impeaching Trump grows among Democrats

Debate over impeaching Trump grows among Democrats Reaction and analysis from 'The Aggressive Progressive' host Chris Hahn and Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz.


Abducted Idaho girl found safe in Arizona, suspect jailed

Abducted Idaho girl found safe in Arizona, suspect jailed SURPRISE, Ariz. (AP) — A 17-year-old girl abducted from an Idaho fast-food restaurant where she worked was found safe in Arizona on Tuesday and the man accused of taking her was jailed on a $1 million bond, authorities said.


U.S. eases curbs on Huawei; founder says clampdown underestimates Chinese firm

U.S. eases curbs on Huawei; founder says clampdown underestimates Chinese firm The U.S. Commerce Department blocked Huawei Technologies Co Ltd from buying U.S. goods last week, a major escalation in the trade war between the world's two top economies, saying the firm was involved in activities contrary to national security. The two countries increased import tariffs on each other's goods over the past two weeks after U.S. President Donald Trump said China had reneged on earlier commitments made during months of negotiations. On Monday, the Commerce Department granted Huawei a license to buy U.S. goods until Aug. 19 to maintain existing telecoms networks and provide software updates to Huawei smartphones, a move intended to give telecom operators that rely on Huawei time to make other arrangements.


Trump officials to Congress: Goal is deterring Iran, not war

Trump officials to Congress: Goal is deterring Iran, not war WASHINGTON (AP) — Tamping down talk of war, top Trump administration officials told Congress on Tuesday that recent actions by the U.S. deterred attacks on American forces. But some lawmakers remained deeply skeptical of the White House approach in the Middle East.


'Nowhere for the water to go': Tornadoes, floods hit central US day after 20 tornadoes

'Nowhere for the water to go': Tornadoes, floods hit central US day after 20 tornadoes A tornado tore through a neighborhood near Tulsa International Airport on Tuesday as a powerful storm triggered flash flooding and washed out roads across parts of Oklahoma.


Hospital that treated baby cut from womb investigated

Hospital that treated baby cut from womb investigated CHICAGO (AP) — The agency that licenses and inspects health care facilities in Illinois has started an investigation of a suburban Chicago hospital where doctors treated a baby brought in by a woman claiming to be his mother, a spokeswoman for the agency said Tuesday. The woman was charged weeks later with killing the actual mother and cutting the child from her womb.


30+ Father’s Day Brunch Recipes, From Oreo Pancakes to Breakfast Burgers

Latest migrant child death raises questions about U.S. detention practices

Latest migrant child death raises questions about U.S. detention practices The fifth Guatemalan child to die after illegally crossing the border since December, Carlos Vasquez’s death at a Border Patrol station raises new questions about the length of time minors are being detained, as well as the conditions provided to them while in custody.


U.S. Intel to Congress: No Evidence al Qaeda Is Helping Iran

U.S. Intel to Congress: No Evidence al Qaeda Is Helping Iran Kena Betancur/AFP/GettyThe American intelligence community has no evidence that al Qaeda has cooperated with the Iranian government in its recent aggressive moves in the Persian Gulf region, a senior U.S. government official told members of Congress on Tuesday. That finding, which was relayed to The Daily Beast by three sources familiar with the matter, could undercut a potential legal case for going to war with Iran if tensions between Washington and Tehran keep escalating. The assessment was delivered in a classified briefing with dozens of House members on Capitol Hill. According to the three sources, one of the officials who briefed the members said the U.S. government does not have evidence of operational coordination between the Iranian government and the terrorist group responsible for 9/11 with respect to the current threat stream. The significance of the admission is likely to divide lawmakers. Democrats who worry about the prospect of war between the U.S. and Iran will likely say that the lack of intelligence means the Trump administration cannot use Congress’s 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) to fight al Qaeda as a legal basis to start a war with the regional power. Republicans, in contrast, are likely to view it as a non sequitur, arguing that the administration isn’t trying to start a war but rather to act in defense of U.S. interests and forces in the Gulf region. Over the last decade, presidents from both parties have circumvented Congress when it comes to waging military campaigns. Presidents George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and Donald Trump have all used the 2001 AUMF to justify a wide range of military activity—drawing pointed but largely toothless criticism from Capitol Hill. Obama, for instance, used the 2001 AUMF to justify the American fight against the Islamic State, which did not exist in 2001. Trump Admin Moves Fueled Iran’s Aggression, U.S. Intel SaysLast month, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo publicly connected Iran and al Qaeda, calling the ties “very real.” “They have hosted al Qaeda, they have permitted al Qaeda to transit their country,” said Pompeo, “There is no doubt there is a connection between the Islamic Republic of Iran and al Qaeda. Period, full stop.”When Pompeo testified to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee last October, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) pressed him on whether the 2001 AUMF would permit a war on Iran. “I would prefer just to leave that to the lawyers,” he said, as France24 reported.Pompeo is not the only government official to see a connection between Iran and al Qaeda. In 2011, the Obama administration’s Treasury Department accused the two of forming an alliance to move arms and fighters. In February of this year, The Washington Times, a conservative paper, ran a story citing anonymous Trump administration officials saying that Iran is “providing high-level al Qaeda operatives with a clandestine sanctuary to funnel fighters, money and weapons across the Middle East”—a claim the newspaper noted could be used to justify war. Increased tensions between the U.S. and Iran have generated concern on the Hill about an escalatory spiral. Earlier this month, the U.S. moved an aircraft carrier strike group to the Persian Gulf, with administration officials saying Iranian proxies were threatening U.S. forces in the region. That came after the administration eliminated sanctions waivers for countries looking to buy Iranian oil and after the administration designated the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist group. The Daily Beast reported last week that officials in multiple U.S. government agencies have assessed that Iran’s increasingly hostile behavior came in response to those moves. A year ago, the Trump administration withdrew the United States from an international deal with the Iranian government intended to keep it from developing nuclear weapons by trading caps and insight on their program for targeted sanctions relief. Read more at The Daily Beast.Got a tip? Send it to The Daily Beast hereGet our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.


Mississippi judge who blocked 15-week abortion ban hears arguments on fetal heartbeat law

Mississippi judge who blocked 15-week abortion ban hears arguments on fetal heartbeat law Mississippi's fetal heartbeat law which bans abortions after approximately six weeks could be blocked or upheld by Judge Carlton Reeves.


Tornado season has been wild, and more storms are coming

Tornado season has been wild, and more storms are coming The deadly and destructive 2019 tornado season has been above-average, and shows no signs of letting up.


HUD Secretary Ben Carson stumped during congressional hearing

HUD Secretary Ben Carson stumped during congressional hearing The HUD secretary faced a tough hearing before the House Financial Services Committee on Tuesday.


New Feature on 2020 Chevrolet and GMC Models Won't Let Car Move Till Driver Fastens Seatbelt

New Feature on 2020 Chevrolet and GMC Models Won't Let Car Move Till Driver Fastens Seatbelt The new tech is called Buckle to Drive, and it rolls out on several Chevrolet and GMC models for 2020 as part of the Teen Driver package.


Trump says he doesn't want war with Iran. Is John Bolton driving the US into a conflict anyway?

Trump says he doesn't want war with Iran. Is John Bolton driving the US into a conflict anyway? The view that John Bolton is driving Trump into military confrontation with America's principal foe in the Middle East is spreading across the globe.


Dog sitter caught walking around naked in customer's home

Dog sitter caught walking around naked in customer's home A dog sitter has been caught on camera walking around her client’s house naked. Rosie Brown hired Casey Brengle to look after her two dogs, Penny and Daisy, while she went to a wedding for four days.


Eiffel Tower climber 'admitted to psychiatric unit'

Eiffel Tower climber 'admitted to psychiatric unit' A man, believed to be Russian, who sparked a mass evacuation of the Eiffel Tower by scaling the iconic Paris landmark has been admitted to a psychiatric unit, legal sources said Tuesday. The man caused chaos Monday and the closure of the monument to tourists by spending six hours clinging to the outer metal framework of the Eiffel Tower. An investigation has been opened for unauthorised entry into a cultural monument, a judicial source said.


Apple offered to buy Tesla back in 2013 for more than it’s worth today

Apple offered to buy Tesla back in 2013 for more than it’s worth today For years, analysts have maintained that Apple needs to move past the iPhone and look for additional revenue streams. Consequently, many analysts over the years have proposed that Apple would be well advised to make a blockbuster acquisition and snatch up a company like Netflix or Tesla.Interestingly enough, it turns out that Apple actually did make an effort to acquire Tesla six years ago at a valuation of $240 a share. Incidentally, Tesla's share price has been reeling lately and is currently hovering in the $200 range. Word of Apple's efforts to acquire Tesla was brought to light by analyst Craig Irwin of Roth Capital Partners who revealed the interesting tidbit on CNBC (via Electrek) earlier today."Around 2013, there was a serious bid from Apple at around $240 a share," Irwin said."This is something we did multiple checks on," Irwin added. "I have complete confidence that this is accurate. Apple bid for Tesla. I don't know if it got to a formal paperwork stage, but I know from multiple different sources that this was very credible."Notably, there have been rumblings over the years regarding Apple's interest in Tesla, but this is the first time we've seen a report that Apple was legitimately trying to make a serious play for the electric automaker.You might also recall reports from a few years back which revealed that Elon Musk, sometime in mid-2013 -- sat down for a meeting with Apple's mergers and acquisitions chief Adrian Perica and, rumor has it, Tim Cook himself.Apple, of course, has been busy working on its own car initiative -- known as Project Titan -- for the past few years, though it remains to be seen if anything concrete ever manifests from its efforts. Early reports hinted that Apple was set on designing and building its own car, though a plethora of technical challenges ultimately resulted in a few rounds of layoffs and employees being shifted over to other projects. Last we heard, Apple's Project Titan is still ongoing but is now focused on autonomous systems as opposed to designing a car from the ground up.Interestingly, and somewhat uncharacteristically, Tim Cook confirmed this during an interview a few years ago. "We're focusing on autonomous systems," Cook said in 2017. "It's a core technology that we view as very important."Lastly, with Morgan Stanley recently noting that Tesla shares may sink to $10/share in a worst-case scenario, it will be interesting to see if Apple might swoop in and pick up the company at a huge discount.


Don't Just Vacation in Any Old Airbnb When You Can Choose One on Wheels

Yemen's Houthis step up drone attacks on Saudi Arabia

Yemen's Houthis step up drone attacks on Saudi Arabia The latest hostilities coincide with rising tensions between Iran and Gulf Arab states allied to the United States and come just as a sensitive, U.N.-sponsored peace deal is being carried out in Yemen's main port of Hodeidah, a lifeline for millions. The Houthis, who claimed responsibility for last week's armed drone strikes on oil assets in Saudi Arabia, said on Tuesday that one of their drones hit an arms depot at the kingdom's Najran airport near the Yemeni border, causing a fire. It said on Monday that Saudi defense forces intercepted Houthi ballistic missiles fired toward Mecca, Islam's holiest site.