Friday, May 26, 2017

Is Google Home Just a Little Too Close To Home?

Today's hottest tech items are listening devices such as "Google Home" and "Amazon Echo". These  are WiFi/Internet connected and can respond to voice commands and answer them with built in speakers.  For example, if you wanted to know who wrote the Wizard of Oz, and you have an active Google Home device, you would simple say "OK Google" followed by the command "who wrote the "The Wizard of Oz"?  Then it would search the Internet and respond with the answer.

Here's the problem.  These devices respond to anyone's voice.  A fact that resulted in two major problems this year.

The first was during the airing of the Super Bowl.  Google Home ran a 60 second commercial, and the words "OK Google" were repeated over and over again.  As result, any Google Home devices that were within earshot of the commercial literally went nuts trying to comply with multiple commands in such a short period of time.

The second disaster was caused by Burger King, who apparently saw this TV to Google Home relationship as positive.  In a 15 second TV Commercial, the spokesperson leans into the camera and  says "OK Google, What is the Whopper burger".  Immediately every Google Home device within earshot  responded by listing the ingredients of the Whopper from Wikipedia. Here's the commercial and Google Home's response:



I don't know how many Google Home devices were affected by this, but it demonstrates a real problem.  If you have WiFi connected devices/appliances in your home that are compatible with Google Home commands, they can be controlled by anyone's voice.  Those items could include your security system or your garage door opener.

Now, think about that. If someone knows you have Google Home and knows that you have an answering machine within earshot of it, that person could potentially open your garage door or shutdown your security system by simply calling your home.  And, what if your Google Home is hacked and your every conversation is being recorded by an external listener?  After all, Google Home is connected to your network.  A simple phishing attachment to an email that you opened could tell a hacker all the devices that are connected to your WiFi including Google Home, your refrigerator, your security system, or garage door opener.  Google Home is also capable of remotely starting your car or opening its doors; if so connected.

Obviously people should reconsider the convenience of Google Home and the devices that they hook into it.

References:

Google's Home TV ad makes Google Home systems go crazy: http://www.cnbc.com/2017/02/06/googles-home-tv-ad-makes-google-home-systems-go-crazy.html

Alexa and Google Home Record What You Say. But What Happens to That Data?: https://www.wired.com/2016/12/alexa-and-google-record-your-voice/

Why your next Echo command should be: ‘Disconnect me from the internet’: http://www.sacbee.com/news/nation-world/national/article148879664.html

Google Says No Whopper For YOU! Shuts Down Burger King’s Google Home Hack: http://hothardware.com/news/google-shuts-down-burger-kings-google-home-hack

Keeping Your Home Safe With Google Home: https://homealarmreport.com/keeping-home-safe-google-home/

​How to keep your smart TV from spying on you | ZDNet: http://www.zdnet.com/article/how-to-keep-your-smart-tv-from-spying-on-you/


Thursday, May 25, 2017

The Appointment of Mueller Isn't Going to Satisfy Democrats

If any Republican or anyone in the Trump Administration thinks that the appointment of Robert Mueller is going to squelch the ongoing calls by Democrats for a Special Prosecutor to investigate a Trump/Russia collusion, forget-about-it.  For political reasons, the Democrats want this investigation to go on forever, and don't think that if Mueller finds there was "no collusion" the Democrats will  accept it.

Nancy Pelosi has already said as much:
"A special prosecutor is the first step, but it cannot be the last. Director Mueller will still be in the chain of command under the Trump-appointed leadership of the Justice Department. He cannot take the place of a truly independent, outside commission that is completely free from the Trump administration’s meddling."
After the Mueller appointment, Representative Maxine Waters stated this:
"No actual evidence yet, but connecting the dots will lead to Trump impeachment."
There are no dots to connect; but, by making the statement, any listener is lead to believe it is simply a forgone conclusion.  In the case of an impeachment,  "high crimes and misdemeanors" must be proven in a straight line, in a fully connected fashion.  Not merely based on an assumption from a bunch of fictional dots.

Lastly, Nancy Pelosi continues to call Mueller a Special Prosecutor and not his actual title of Special Counsel.  The reason of course, is obvious. "Prosecutor"  implies guilt, and the only thing left to do is to prosecute. If you doubt this, just look at the poster being displayed at a news conference showing "President" Trump happily shaking the hand of the Foreign Minister:


If that isn't political theater then nothing is.  Of course there are plenty of similar pictures of Hillary Clinton doing the same thing.  I especially like this one of eager President Obama being quicker on the handshake draw in his meeting with Putin:

Enough Said!

References:

Dems Laud Special Counsel, But Say It's Not Enough: http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2017/05/18/dems_laud_special_counsel_but_say_its_not_enough.html

Maxine Waters: No Actual Evidence Yet, But Connecting The Dots Will Lead To Trump Impeachment: http://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2017/05/18/maxine_waters_no_actual_evidence_yet_but_connecting_the_dots_will_lead_to_trump_impeachment.html

Source of the Obama Photo: http://www.zimbio.com/pictures/D2mrMsiiK8f/President+Obama+Holds+Talks+Moscow/UcMh37HL9e7

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

The Most Ridiculous "Leak" Regarding Trump

Last week the Washington Post trotted out another leak designed to cement the theory that Trump and Putin are BFF's.  This time, it was regarding Democratic House Leader, Kevin McCarthy, who commented to a group of House Republicans that "I think Putin pays" Trump.  Then to add some heft to the story, it was also reported that Speaker of the House, Ryan, told everyone to keep this quiet. "No leaks".

According to the Washington Post article, this exchange took place almost a year ago in June 2016.  Yet, somehow, it wasn't news worthy until a Special Counsel was appointed to investigate possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia to ensure that Trump won the presidency.

But, here's the stupidity of this whole article by the "Post".  Trump is a billionaire.  According to Forbes magazine, his fortune sits at $3.5 billion.  Why in God's name would Donald Trump see a need to be paid by Putin?  And, to what purpose?  When asked about the comment, Kevin McCarthy responded that it was "a bad attempt at a joke."  And, it's a joke for anyone to think otherwise.

This appeared to be just another attempt to imply that Trump is an illegitimate President. Merely a pawn of Vladimir Putin.  As more and more of these ridiculous stories surface, I pay less and less attention and am only reminded of "The Boy Who Cried Wolf".

References:

House Majority Leader McCarthy reportedly said 'I think Putin pays' Trump last year: http://www.cnbc.com/2017/05/17/kevin-mccarthy-reportedly-said-i-think-putin-pays-trump-last-year.html

President Donald Trump is the nation's first billionaire president -- but he's not as rich as he used to be, according to the Forbes 2017 Billionaires List published Monday: http://money.cnn.com/2017/03/20/news/companies/trump-forbes-net-worth/


Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Is the Wikileaks/Russia Story a Coverup for the Real Truth?

In this era of endless politically-motivated negative stories about Trump, and the possible collusion with Russia, it's no surprise that a story that may exonerate the President of that claim has gained zero traction.  That story is about a former DNC staffer by the name of Seth Rich who was shot in the back and killed in July 2016; just as the Wikileaks dump of the DNC emails began.

According to Rod Wheeler (a former D.C. Homicide Detective and now private investigator  for the family of Seth Rich, and frequent crime analyst for Fox News)  his investigation has shown that there were contacts between Rich and Wikileaks before his death.  Additionally, Fox News is reporting that federal law enforcement officers found that 44,053 emails and 17,761 attachment reside on Rich's laptop that may have been shared with Wikileaks.  That laptop is sitting in an FBI office. In addition, the Wikileaks founder offered a $130,000 reward for information leading to the apprehension of Rich's murderer.  Why would Julian Assange care enough about one murdered person in Washington D.C. if there was no connection to Wikileaks.

There are too many coincidences here, to ignore the fact that Rich may have been the real hacker of the DNC email server and not the Russians.  Is the Russia story a coverup to avoid the embarrassment of the Democratic Party having been duped by its own internal mole?  It sure seems like it. Especially when you find out that the FBI never examined the DNC server to determine if a hack occurred and by whom.  Instead, they completely relied on the analysis of a DNC-paid, third-party consulting firm to come to the Russian hacking conclusion.  Dare I say: "I smell a rat!"

To be fair, the family of Rich considers Rod Wheeler's conclusion to be fake evidence.  However, isn't it possible that the family is simply being protective of Seth Rich? Not to, would imply some serious wrongdoing on his part.

Then there's this latest news.  Hacker Kim Dotcom has recently announced this: "I knew Seth Rich. I know he was @Wikileaks source. I was involved."

References:

Harvard Study Reveals Huge Extent of Anti-Trump Media Bias: https://heatst.com/culture-wars/harvard-study-reveals-huge-extent-of-anti-trump-media-bias/

Murdered DNC Staffer Seth Rich Shared 44,053 Democrat Emails With WikiLeaks: Report: http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-05-16/murdered-dnc-staffer-seth-rich-shared-44000-emails-wikileaks

Fix Is In: Comey Praised DNC-Hired Cybersecurity Firm Even After Botched Report: http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2017/03/20/fix-is-in-comey-praised-dnc-hired-cybersecurity-firm-even-after-botched-report/

FBI Never Examined DNC Hacked Servers: http://thehill.com/policy/national-security/312767-fbi-never-examined-hacked-dnc-servers-report

Did he or didn't he? Murdered DNC staffer Seth Rich 'had WikiLeaks links' according to private investigator - but the victim's family have dismissed the PI's claims as 'fake evidence' http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4509952/DNC-staffer-Seth-Rich-DID-links-Wikileaks.html

Breaking: ‘Complete Panic’ at Highest Levels of DNC Over Kim DotCom’s Seth Rich Announcement: http://www.thegatewaypundit.com/2017/05/breaking-complete-panic-set-highest-levels-dnc-seth-rich-murder-investigation/


Monday, May 22, 2017

CNN Now Uses "Mind Reader" to Blast Trump

According to a recent Harvard study, CNN shares the top spot with NBC for negative reporting regarding President Trump.  Both report negatively, about 93% of the time.

However, apparently, anonymous sources aren't enough for CNN.  Now, they are employing "mind readers".  In an article dated Saturday May 20th, titled "First on CNN: Comey now believes Trump was trying to influence him, a source says." The network reached that conclusion based on a source who was "a person familiar with his [Comey's] thinking."

Really? A person "familiar with" Comey's "thinking?"   From what carnival tent did CNN dig this joker up?  This network claims journalistic integrity?  Also, think about this.  Comey, as the former head of the FBI, is apparently too stupid to see when someone is trying to sway his investigation?  Then perhaps Trump was right.  Comey "is" a "nut job"!  Of course, Comey didn't think that Hillary's careless handling of classified information rose to the level of criminality, although a helluva lot of other people thought it did.  And, just maybe, Loretta Lynch's meeting with Bill Clinton might have been another form of obstruction of justice.  But, I digress.

References:

Harvard Study Reveals Huge Extent of Anti-Trump Media Bias: https://heatst.com/culture-wars/harvard-study-reveals-huge-extent-of-anti-trump-media-bias/

First on CNN: Comey now believes Trump was trying to influence him, source says: http://www.cnn.com/2017/05/19/politics/james-comey-trump-influence/index.html

Trump Told Russians That Firing 'Nut Job' Comey Eased Pressure: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/19/us/politics/trump-russia-comey.html

Statement by FBI Director James B. Comey on the Investigation of Secretary Hillary Clinton's Use of a Personal Email Server: https://www.fbi.gov/news/pressrel/press-releases/statement-by-fbi-director-james-b-comey-on-the-investigation-of-secretary-hillary-clinton2019s-use-of-a-personal-e-mail-system

Comey cites Lynch-Clinton meeting for lost faith in Justice investigation: http://www.cnn.com/2017/05/03/politics/comey-loretta-lynch-clinton-tarmac-meeting/


Friday, May 19, 2017

Will Africa Make America's Coal Great Again?

Due to EPA regulations and fracking for natural gas, the coal industry has been greatly hurt.  Donald Trump has eased EPA regs but he can't do anything about coal fired power plants being switched over to cheaper/cleaner natural gas.  This is because many of the states have their own EPA regulations that punish coal.

However, now there may be hope for coal mining from Africa.  As a continent, most of Africa is electricity starved as the demand for what we take for granted increases.  Right now 100 coal power plants are in various stages of planning or development in 11 countries.  According to the Global Warming Policy Forum, those new plants represent 8 times more electricity than those countries now have.

United States coal mining could be in an excellent position to export coal to Africa.  After all, we have 27% of the world's known coal reserves.  The only real supplier of coal on that continent is South Africa.  But, South Africa has only 5.4% of the known reserves; making it difficult for them to supply the rest of Africa.

So, simply, the Trump administration should take the initiative and try to negotiate agreements with those 11 nations planning to build coal plants to buy our coal.  Just a thought.

References:

African Nations To Build More Than 100 New Coal Power Plants: http://www.thegwpf.com/african-nations-plan-more-than-100-new-coal-power-plants/

Coal by Country: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coal_by_country

How much coal does the U.S. export and import? https://www.americangeosciences.org/critical-issues/faq/how-much-coal-does-us-export-and-import

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Trump Money Laundered for the Russians?

In what appears to be an intentional leak, a story was run by CNBC/NBC regarding the Senate Intelligence Committee requesting documents from the financial intelligence unit of the Treasury Department (FinCEN), about money laundering violations by the Trump Taj Mahal from 2010-2012.  Apparently, this is part of that Senate probe into the Russia/Trump connection. In essence, the "Taj" was found guilty of paperwork violations with regard to "high rollers", whereby, in some cases, the Social Security numbers on the required filings under the Anti-Money Laundering law (AML) did not match the name appearing on the filing.  Further, the casino failed to report persons who had pumped more that $10,000 into slot machines in one day.  As a result, the Trump Taj Mahal was fined $50 million in 2015.

The trouble with the entire story is that the casinos prime violators of the AML are not only restricted to the one with "Trump's" name on it.   Caesar's Palace was fined $9.5 million.  The Vegas Sands paid $47.4 million to avoid prosecution under AML.  Wynn Resorts is rumored to be under a similar investigation.  None of these have anything to do with Donald Trump.

Now, here's the biggest problem with the story.  Donald Trump had basically divested himself of most of his interests in the parent company that owned the Trump Taj Mahal in 2009 following a bankruptcy.  Something that Hillary Clinton was quick to point out on the campaign trail.  At the same time that Trump divested his interest in that holding company, he stepped down as its CEO.  But, his name was still associated with the Taj Mahal under a licensing agreement that was struck at the time he stepped down. So, the bottom line is that the whole story seems to be political in order to label Trump as a money launderer.  I am quite sure a Senate Democrat was at the heart of the leak.  Further, if there is any evidence that a single Russian was one of the AML violators, it will be spread all over the news as if, somehow, Trump was personally responsible.

References:

Russia probe: Senate requests Trump documents from agency that monitors money laundering: http://www.cnbc.com/2017/05/10/russia-probe-senate-requests-documents-from-money-laundering-watchdog-agency.html

Trump Taj Mahal fined a record $10m for willfully violating Bank Secrecy Act: https://calvinayre.com/2015/02/12/casino/trump-taj-mahal-fined-10m-violating-bank-secrecy-act/

Trump Bankruptcies: Bankruptcy No. 6: Trump Entertainment Resorts, 2009: http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2016/jun/21/hillary-clinton/yep-donald-trumps-companies-have-declared-bankrupt/

Caesars Palace to pay $9.5 million in fines for money laundering violations: https://lasvegassun.com/news/2015/sep/08/caesars-palace-agrees-95-million-fine-money-launde/

Hillary Clinton will visit Atlantic City on Wednesday, where she plans to highlight Donald Trump's business record, ABC News reported Friday: http://www.pressofatlanticcity.com/news/hillary-clinton-may-be-appearing-at-taj-mahal-in-a/article_ac4a4186-3ff6-11e6-9a38-c71e8dcc3563.html