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May 17, 2018
Screenshot/The Verge

Your smartphone already knows a lot about you: where you go, what you buy, and what you're searching online.

But The Verge revealed that Google has imagined taking that knowledge much, much further. An eerie video produced by X, Google's futuristic concept lab, shows users creating a data "ledger" as a device learns about each person's preferences, goals, and decisions over time.

For example, if a user's goal was to protect the environment (a goal that "reflects Google's values as an organization"), Google would prompt the user to make environmentally friendly choices at the store or when hailing an Uber. If Google doesn't know enough about a user to make the right recommendations, it can 3D-print new devices to collect even more information, like a scale to learn a user's weight.

Rather than making devices user-centric, the video asks, "what if the ledger could be given a volition or purpose?" The stored data doesn't have to just sit there, it could be guiding multigenerational life decisions, Google suggests.

Google told The Verge that the concept was meant to be "disturbing" and thought-provoking, and said it was not related to any current or future products. Even so, the creepy video is enough to inspire a viewer to power down their phone — at least until they feel a phantom vibration. Read more at The Verge. Summer Meza

11:49 a.m. ET
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Rep. Beto O'Rourke's (D-Texas) campaign is heating up, in part thanks to his odious opponent.

O'Rourke is running to unseat Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), and the gap between the two candidates keeps shrinking. BuzzFeed News on Monday noted that an important part of O'Rourke's growing popularity is a growing disdain for Cruz, as voters tire of his pompous politics and support for President Trump.

The Senate hopeful isn't putting all his eggs in one Cruz-hating basket, though: O'Rourke has run an impressively energetic campaign, driving all over Texas to drum up support from apathetic Democrats and moderate voters. The grassroots effort has raised more than double Cruz's fundraising efforts, without taking any money from PACs, which BuzzFeed describes as politically enthralling to voters who feel frustrated by politicians' assumptions that Texans will always vote red.

For voters that feel left behind by Cruz, O'Rourke is an exciting alternative, convincing crowds that establishment politics don't have to be so divisive and cynical. That notion is popular among moderate voters and even some wary Republicans who worry that Cruz's reputation slows down any hope of progress. "They hate [Cruz] in Washington," one voter in Abilene, Texas told BuzzFeed. "So how's he supposed to get anything done?"

Despite some Texans' appreciation of Cruz's anti-abortion and pro-Second Amendment politics, many are disenchanted with his sanctimonious style. "I'm not a Democrat," said another Abilene voter. "But I'm sure as heck not voting for Ted Cruz." Read more at BuzzFeed News. Summer Meza

11:38 a.m. ET
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College students who've swapped degrees for a life of video gaming can't be shamed anymore. The University of Akron is also swapping out 80 of its degree programs, building three state-of-the-art gaming spaces for its new esports teams instead.

The Ohio school announced the money-saving measure last week, revealing it'll phase out unpopular degrees to focus on stronger programs, The Chronicle of Higher Education reports. Targeted programs include a Ph.D in electrical engineering and a bachelor's degree in interior design. The low-enrollment programs are available at similar institutions, and cutting them will save about $6 million to devote to other priorities, Akron explains.

One of those priorities? Video games. About $750,000 will go toward transforming three rooms into video gaming spaces, creating "the largest amount of dedicated esports space of any university in the world to date," the university says. Another $400,000 will be spent on operating costs each year, plus $70,000 for game licenses, league dues, and more, the Chronicle reports.

While Akron is drawing a lot of flack for the announcement, it's not an unusual move. Several other colleges have sprouted esports teams and facilities over the past few years, and Akron is just taking it to a new level, the Chronicle points out.

With any luck, this investment will make the eZips more successful than their real-football-playing counterparts. Kathryn Krawczyk

11:01 a.m. ET
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A 16-year-old girl identified in court filings as C.R. was traveling with her adult sisters on a family trip to Mexico last fall when U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CPB) agents stopped her at the San Ysidro pedestrian port in Southern California. A drug-sniffing dog had alerted to C.R., and the agents demanded she undress, relinquishing even her sanitary pad, and squat "while officers probed and shined a flashlight at her vaginal and anal areas." No drugs were ever found.

C.R.'s family is suing, and they are not the only ones. As The Washington Post reported Sunday, the last seven years have seen at least 11 similarly disturbing lawsuits accusing CPB of grossly invasive searches of women and underage girls at U.S. ports of entry.

In one case from 2016, a woman named Tameika Lovell was selected for a random search at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport. Though she was allowed to remain clothed, Lovell's suit says an agent "placed her right hand into [Lovell's] pants 'forcibly' inserting four gloved fingers into plaintiff's vagina" and then separated her buttocks "for viewing." Again, no drugs.

In another case from 2012, an unidentified woman was detained on suspicion of drug smuggling at the Philadelphia airport. She was held for seven hours, shackled, forcibly taken to a hospital, and told she'd be detained "until she had urinated and defecated into a plastic container in the presence of an officer." Then, her lawsuit said, she was "tied to a bed with restraints, stripped naked by medical staff, and had a tampon removed from her vagina during a body search." She was also given intravenous sedation, catheterized, and subject to multiple scans. No illegal drugs were found. CPB and the hospital settled the case.

Read the full Post report here. Bonnie Kristian

10:25 a.m. ET
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A memo for Democratic candidates from debate strategists Ron Klain and John Neffinger advises an aggressive approach to messaging in the 2018 midterms. The document, obtained by Axios, advises Democrats to stay on the offensive this year, to "smile ... and attack."

"Debates are much more confrontational now," argues Klain, who has worked with every Democratic presidential nominee since 1992. "The emphasis has shifted from persuading undecided voters to motivating your own supporters, and showing your supporters you'll fight for what you believe in."

That means goals like "staying above the fray" or "just getting my own message out" aren't good enough, the memo argues. This is not a time for going high when opponents go low.

Strategies thus include maintaining a small smile to look like you are the candidate having the most fun; preparing one-liner comebacks, especially if you're facing a Trump-y candidate who has a few favorite phrases; resisting the urge to play fact-checker on stage; and ending answers with direct attacks on the opponent. And when shaping the post-debate coverage, the memo concludes, "[l]ook for specific issues raised in the debate, especially (but not exclusively) gaffes or odd answers or behavior by your opponent." Bonnie Kristian

10:10 a.m. ET
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The cloud of corruption surrounding New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) is closing in.

Top lobbyist Todd Howe still had a sizable influence on the governor's administration long after he left his post as a Cuomo aide, emails obtained by The New York Times show. Howe was able to push multimillion-dollar construction deals in favor of his clients and arrange Cuomo mansion meetings just months before a federal investigation into several ex-aides' influence was launched.

Cuomo, who is seeking a third term this fall, has already seen two former aides convicted on corruption charges. Howe's cooperation with the federal probe helped make those convictions happen, the Times says — as did emails much like those the Times published Monday.

In one email, a handful of Cuomo officials were discussing how the governor opted not announce multimillion-dollar deals with two business executives in his January 2016 State of the State address. Howe was looped into the email chain and suggested inviting the men to the Executive Mansion to smooth things over; another aide then made the arrangements. Similar emails show Howe inquiring into late payments the state owed two developers — the same developers also targeted in federal corruption cases, the Times reports.

Cuomo has tried to distance himself from Howe as he prepares to fight progressive actress and activist Cynthia Nixon in New York's Democratic gubernatorial primary. Read more about Cuomo's corruption worries at The New York Times. Kathryn Krawczyk

9:57 a.m. ET

President Trump's personal attorney and sufferer of chronic foot-in-mouth syndrome Rudy Giuliani made headlines Sunday when he declared "truth isn't truth." Early Monday, Giuliani hopped on Twitter to try to walk it back:

To be fair, a lawyerly wariness of letting a voluble client with a casual relationship to the truth speak to an experienced federal investigator is not unusual. Still, maybe Giuliani should limit his television appearances on strategic grounds — because his helping isn't helping. Bonnie Kristian

9:14 a.m. ET

President Trump on Monday launched into a tirade against Special Counsel Robert Mueller and the investigation he is leading into whether the Trump campaign was involved with Russian election interference. He claimed without evidence that Mueller has been "disgraced and discredited," writing on Twitter that the probe is "looking for trouble" while ignoring corruption within the Democratic Party.

"They are enjoying ruining people's lives," Trump tweeted, additionally claiming that collusion is a "phony crime" and obstruction of justice is an unfair way of punishing Trump when he "fights back." Mueller's investigation has so far filed charges against five Americans, 26 Russians, and one Dutch citizen, along with three Russian businesses. Summer Meza

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