Google employees considered manipulating search results to help protest Trump’s travel ban (GOOG, GOOGL)

Sundar Pichai

An undisclosed number of Google workers considered ways to use the company’s powerful search engine to assist in a protest against a travel ban implemented by the Trump administration in January 2017, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday evening.

The Journal said it reviewed emails that show Google employees proposed several ways to “leverage” the company’s search engine to direct users to pro-immigration organizations and contact government agencies.

Those Google workers involved considered the travel ban “islamophobic,” according to the report. Google told the Journal that the plans were never implemented.

The report is sure to draw even more scrutiny into how Google uses it’s influential platforms to sway public opinion. The Trump administration has accused the company of using those platforms to silence politically conservative voices, as well as make him look bad.

The news also comes after Google declined to send CEO Sundar Pichai or Chairman Larry Page to testify earlier this month before a congressional committee in which Facebook and Twitter both sent top decisionmakers .

Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Business Insider.

Read the full Wall Street Journal report here.

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Source:: Business Insider

      

Ghost-hunting shrink turned urban explorer charged in bizarre break-in of N.J. submarine

A woman charged in the water-borne burglary of a World War II-era sub stuck in a murky Bergen County river is a psychologist and ghost hunter who explores abandoned buildings.

A woman charged in the bizarre water-borne burglary of a World War II-era submarine stuck in a murky Bergen County river is a psychologist and ghost hunter with an apparent hobby of exploring abandoned buildings.

Laura B. Palmese, 38, and Jon P. Stevens, 48, both of Connecticut, swam to the USS Ling, which is moored in the Hackensack River, after leaving their car at a nearby diner, city police said in a statement Thursday.

The duo allegedly stole a lantern and a medical corps lieutenant’s shoulder lapel from the historic former Navy vessel on Aug. 11.

Palmese has worked as a member of Thames Society of Paranormal Investigations, a Connecticut-based team of ghost hunters who seek out the supernatural around the region.

“Our mission is to research, investigate, educate and provide assistance to those who are experiencing the paranormal phenomenon,” the group website says.

The group’s director, Shamus Denniston, insisted Palmese was not tracking down a spirit on the Ling for his team during the alleged burglary.

“I know she has a side hobby to do urban exploring,” Denniston told NJ Advance Media, referring to people who visit abandoned sites.

“She wasn’t working with us,” Denniston added.

Denniston said Palmese, a doctor of psychology, served as a “paranormal investigator” with his team.

“She joined the team following a life-long interest in all things paranormal, which was perhaps fueled by her love of horror novels and movies,” according to her profile on the TSPI site.

The ghost investigators follow a strict set of bylaws, which prohibits trespassing, Denniston told NJ Advance Media.

Denniston said the group wasn’t investigating any possible apparitions related to the Ling, but does work cases in New Jersey.

Attempts to reach Palmese by phone and social media were unsuccessful. Online profiles matching her name were deleted after a message sent by a reporter.

Stevens, the man charged alongside Palmese, also could not be reached. The two were scheduled for an Oct. 1 court hearing in Bergen County.

Meanwhile, police were continuing to investigate another case of vandalism and theft targeting the submarine. Vandals flooded the 312-foot Ling and stole four plaques, valued at more than $10,000 that honored sailors and U.S. submarines lost during World War II.

Palmese and Stevens were not connected to …read more

Source:: New Jersey Real-Time News

      

A barrage of new gadgets proves that Amazon is so relentless that it will even compete with its best friends (AMZN)

Jeff Bezos

Amazon announced a whole bevy of new Alexa-powered hardware on Thursday, including a microwave, a car gadget, and a smart plug.
The thing is, though, that some of Amazon’s buddies in the world of electronics manufacturing already offer Alexa-integrated devices in all of those categories. This means Amazon is now competing with some of the partners showing it the most support.
To be fair to Amazon, the world of smart home appliances is growing fast and far from settled, and the retailer could simply be trying to show the rest of the market how it’s done.
But if this is how Amazon treats its friends, I would hate to be its enemy.

If this is how Amazon treats its friends, I would hate to be its enemy.

On Thursday, Amazon unleashed a veritable barrage of new gadgetry, all powered by, or integrated with, its Alexa virtual assistant. The reveals ranged from routine updates to its Echo Dot and Echo Show speakers, all the way to oddities like a $60 microwave, a $25 smart plug, and a $50 Echo speaker for mounting on car dashboards.

It was a feeding frenzy for gadget blogs.

But to me, the most striking part of all the announcements, was how willing the company now seems to be to compete with the very same partners that helped its Alexa platform become as popular as it is.

A major reason why Amazon’s Alexa enjoys so much momentum is that it’s become one of the premiere standards in the fast-growing market for connected home appliances. Since the original Amazon Echo launched in 2015, the retailer has successfully convinced just about every major electronics manufacturer to produce Alexa-compatible gear, from refrigerators, to thermostats, to autos.

It’s something of a flywheel: The more Alexa gear a customer has, the more they want, in the interests of making sure all of their appliances work with each other. It’s good for the manufacturers, who have made Alexa compatibility a selling point. This dynamic is best, though, for Amazon, as its Alexa assistant spreads everywhere.

Now, though, Amazon is signalling an increased willingness to compete with the very same manufacturers whose Alexa-powered gadgetry made it the pioneering platform it is today.

The $60 AmazonBasics microwave with Alexa is going head-to-head with products like GE’s $130 smart microwave. Manufacturers as far-ranging as Belkin, TP-Link, Samsung and even Best Buy’s house brands offer their own smart plugs, much the same …read more

Source:: Business Insider