• Trump officials to Congress: Goal is deterring Iran, not war
    Politics
    Associated Press

    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.

  • Oklahoma reels, Missouri declares state of emergency from storm, floods
    News
    Reuters

    Oklahoma reels, Missouri declares state of emergency from storm, floods

    Rescue crews using boats pulled at least 50 people from rising water as heavy downpours inundated roads and homes, Oklahoma Emergency Management Agency spokeswoman Keli Cain said, although there were no reports of deaths or serious injuries. Only the tops of cars engulfed by water were could be seen in video footage of roadways near Oklahoma City, and some houses were entirely surrounded by floods. "It's real dangerous," said Ross Reuter, a spokesman for Canadian County, where 10 people were rescued.

  • Tu-95 Bear: Meet the Old Russian Bomber U.S. F-22s Just Intercepted Near Alaska
    World
    The National Interest

    Tu-95 Bear: Meet the Old Russian Bomber U.S. F-22s Just Intercepted Near Alaska

    It’s old, it’s obvious and it has mechanical problems — facts hard to ignore while the Tu-95 plays a key role in a highly orchestrated and much exaggerated effort by the Kremlin to impress its foreign rivals.(This first appeared several years ago and is being reposted due to reader interest.) At first glance, the Russian Tu-95 Bear strategic bomber looks like a 59-year-old flying anachronism, a Cold War leftover that has outlived its usefulness in a century when stealth is king.The Bear is showing signs of its age. In recent months, two Tu-95 crashes led to the grounding of the entire fleet of more than 50 aircraft to resolve mechanical issues. Besides, there is nothing stealthy about the Bear.Even when the bomber is in top-notch shape, the turboprop-powered Tu-95 is loud … really loud. In fact, it’s so noisy that listening devices on submerged U.S. submarines can hear a Bear flying overhead.Furthermore, it has the radar signature of a flying big-box store. The plane is huge.Photos of lumbering Bear-H bombers intercepted by sleek U.S. or NATO warplanes as they flew toward protected airspace are some of the most recognizable images of the East-West nuclear stand-off during the 1970s and ’80s.

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

    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.

  • RV suspect in custody after leading police on wild chase through California
    U.S.
    WPVI – Philadelphia

    RV suspect in custody after leading police on wild chase through California

    A dangerous pursuit through the San Fernando Valley ended after the suspect, who was driving with two dogs in the vehicle, crashed near a home in California on Tuesday night.

  • Fears rise China could weaponise rare earths in US tech war
    Business
    AFP

    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
    Business
    The Independent

    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

  • The Air Force Loves the F-22 Raptor. So Why Not Build More of Them?
    Business
    The National Interest

    The Air Force Loves the F-22 Raptor. So Why Not Build More of Them?

    “Just as F-22 production would compete for fiscal and contractor resources with other Air Force programs, any F-22 export would compete with FMS customers' resources as well, including countries already committed to F-35 purchases. Most nations are not likely to have the resources available for procurement of an export F-22, which extremely limits the ability of FMS to reduce the costs associated with restarting production.”A 2017 Pentagon report to Congress detailing production retail costs for Lockheed Martin’s F-22 Raptor show that reviving the powerful stealth air superiority fighter would be prohibitively expensive. Moreover, it would take so long to reconstitute the production line that it would not be until the mid to late 2020s before the first “new” F-22s would have flown. By that time, the F-22 would be increasingly challenged by enemy—Russian and Chinese—capabilities.(This first appeared last year.)

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

    '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.

  • Business
    Reuters

    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.

  • 14 Garage Organization Ideas That'll Give You Back Your Parking Spot
    Lifestyle
    Car and Driver

    14 Garage Organization Ideas That'll Give You Back Your Parking Spot

    It's so strangely soothing to see everything this organized in the garage.From Car and Driver

  • ‘India Wins,’ Modi Says as He Surges to Decisive Victory
    World
    Bloomberg

    ‘India Wins,’ Modi Says as He Surges to Decisive Victory

    Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has surged to a majority on his own in India’s general election, with his Bharatiya Janata Party establishing a commanding lead in vote counting. "India wins yet again," Modi said in a tweet. BJP supporters have begun celebrating in the streets as the party extended its lead in more than 299 seats -- easily ahead of the 272 seats needed to form government and more than the 282 the party won in 2014.

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

    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

  • British Steel collapses; thousands of jobs could go
    World
    AFP

    British Steel collapses; thousands of jobs could go

    British Steel collapsed on Wednesday after the government said last-ditch talks with its owners failed to secure a full financial rescue. The High Court in London ordered British Steel Limited into compulsory liquidation, a statement said. "British Steel Limited was wound-up in the High Court" on Wednesday, meaning its assets would be sold to help pay debts.

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

    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.

  • Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez says she'd be 'hard pressed' to back Biden in primary
    Politics
    The Guardian

    Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez says she'd be 'hard pressed' to back Biden in primary

    Bernie Sanders appears to be the favorite to secure Ocasio-Cortez’s prized endorsement in the Democratic presidential primaryCongresswoman Alexandria Ocasio Cortez told the Guardian: ‘I’m not close to an endorsement announcement any time soon.’ Photograph: Joshua Roberts/ReutersAlexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the progressive US congresswoman and social media sensation, has said she would be “hard pressed” to endorse the frontrunner, Joe Biden, in the Democratic presidential primary.The statement is the latest sign of the left’s apathy towards the former vice-president, who has surged ahead of the Senator Bernie Sanders and other rivals in recent polls.Sanders, a self-declared democratic socialist, appears to be the favourite to secure 29-year-old Ocasio-Cortez’s prized endorsement but she said she was still some way off making a decision.“I’m not close to an endorsement announcement any time soon,” she told the Guardian on Tuesday. “I’m still trying to get a handle on my job. It seems like ages but I’m just five months in and we have quite some time. The debates are in the summer and our first primary election for the entire country isn’t until next year.” Asked if she would consider endorsing Biden, widely seen as a centrist, Ocasio-Cortez replied: “I’d be hard pressed to see that happen, to be honest, in a primary.”Biden, comfortably leading every opinion poll, came under fire last week when Reuters reported he was pursuing a “middle ground” approach to the climate crisis. He later distanced himself from the implication.Ocasio-Cortez criticised politicians seeking “a middle-of-the-road approach to save our lives”. Sanders, running second in most polls, tweeted that there was “no ‘middle ground’ when it comes to climate policy”.If and when Ocasio-Cortez does endorse a candidate, Sanders probably remains the favourite to secure her support. She was an organiser for his 2016 primary campaign against Hillary Clinton. The pair appeared at a rally in Washington last week to support the Green New Deal climate plan.In a short interview on Tuesday the congresswoman, who has more than 4 million Twitter followers, also reiterated her demand for Donald Trump’s impeachment. “I think that the grounds have been there for quite some time but the case is really getting to a larger point that we haven’t seen before,” she said.Democratic leaders are putting the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, under pressure to move ahead with the process. Ocasio-Cortez added: “I know that the conversation is really changing this week in the caucus and so we’ll see where the speaker lands.”

  • AG Barr says nationwide rulings are hampering Trump's agenda
    Business
    Associated Press

    AG Barr says nationwide rulings are hampering Trump's agenda

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Attorney General William Barr is taking on another item from President Donald Trump's agenda, railing against judges who issue rulings blocking nationwide policies.

  • Rain, flooding expected in U.S. Southern Plains after deadly storms
    News
    Reuters

    Rain, flooding expected in U.S. Southern Plains after deadly storms

    Weather forecasters on Wednesday expected drenching rains to roll into the storm-ravaged U.S. southern and central states, where thunderstorms and tornadoes killed at least three people and triggered widespread flooding. More than 30 tornadoes struck a swath from Texas to Iowa since Monday, according to the National Weather Service, and residents in at least three Oklahoma riverfront communities were urged to evacuate due to flooding. One person was killed and another was injured when a tornado struck the rural town of Adair, Iowa, about 50 miles (80 km)west of Des Moines, at about 1:30 a.m. local time, the weather service said.

  • Bigger cuts expected: 23,000 more Ford layoffs needed, analysts say
    Business
    USA TODAY

    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.

  • Accused Thief Taunted Disney World With Photo of Stolen Robot’s Mutilated Head
    News
    The Daily Beast

    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.

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

    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.