After a wild week with dueling presidential town hall events and a Supreme Court nominee push only weeks before the election, our Google searches were pretty wide-ranging and involved some scandals and gossip.
For the week of Oct. 15 to Oct. 23 here were some of the top questions for Google’s search engine.
1. Who is Jeffrey Toobin?
When Zoom and an “accidental” exposure/masturbation incident collide, people want to know the details. Political commenter and contributor to CNN and The New Yorker Jeffrey Toobin was on a work call with the New Yorker and WNYC radio when, he later said, he thought he was off camera, so he got to some pressing, uh, personal business. He wasn’t. Now the magazine has suspended him and CNN has given him some time off.
2. Who is Corn Pop?
“Corn Pop” came up most recently in 2017 when now Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden talked about a gang leader he confronted when he was a 19-year-old lifeguard in Delaware. That gang leader’s name was actually Corn Pop, like the cereal. This past week, amid final town halls and debates as voters head to the polls, Corn Pop is resurfacing in political commentary as Biden’s true nemesis that he has to confront. Biden has a tendency to go on long tangents and tell stories about the past and this one always raises some eyebrows.
Thread: I’m always astounded by the imaginings of white people as it relates to race. Many of them have this fictionalized jigaboo version that is almost alien-like. And one of the greatest examples of this ever is Joe Biden’s story about Corn Pop the gangsta.
— michaelharriot (@michaelharriot) September 14, 2019
3. Who is Savannah Guthrie married to?
Savannah Guthrie is a TODAY show anchor on NBC who moderated last week’s Donald Trump town hall. For an hour at an outdoor venue in Miami she managed to take on Trump. As for her spouse, he’s 52-year-old Michael Feldman. They’ve been married for 11 years and have two children together.
4. What is the crime bill?
At Joe Biden’s own town hall over on ABC with George Stephanopoulos at the exact same time as Trump’s, one voter asked him about his legislation as a senator, the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act (known as the 1994 crime bill or law).
During the town hall Biden defended the controversial bill, but admitted some parts of it were a “mistake.”
5. What are the five freedoms of the First Amendment?
After Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett couldn’t remember all five freedoms in the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution when asked at her confirmation hearing last week, we’re trying to list all five.
She remembered speech, press, religion and assembly, but couldn’t recall “protest.”
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The bizarre UFO anomaly was filmed earlier this month by an alleged eyewitness in South Korea. The video appears to show a white disk with a domed top hovering over a mountain range. A man can be heard talking in Korean and the UFO was supposedly brought forward by a bout of meditation.
The original clip has since been removed from YouTube but it was re-uploaded this week by UFO researcher and conspiracy theorist Scott C Waring.
Mr Waring is a popular promoter of supposed extraterrestrial phenomena who believes aliens are hiding among us.
He took to his blog UFO Sightings Daily to discuss the South Korea video, branding it exquisite proof of his bizarre theories.
He said: “This is absolutely fantastic! A person in South Korea uses his meditation skills to summon UFOs to him and this time he does it to show his best friend (his dog… so cute) that they are real.
UFO sighting: A video claims to show a alien disk over South Korea
UFO sighting: Not everyone was convinced by the video footage
“I have tried meditation (mentally calling aliens) and it worked the first time with an orb coming two metres from my face (camera on tripod focused opposite direction so missed it), but on no other occasions did it work for me.
“This is 100 percent proof that sending telepathic messages to UFOs and aliens works!
“Mentally calling a UFO with kind and thoughtful thoughts… works.”
And the re-uploaded video gained some traction on YouTube as it was praised by some of Mr Waring’s followers.
One person said: “Looks just like the one that landed by the California wind farm.
“Another person chimed in: “Very cool looks similar to the UFO in Palm Springs.”
However, according to hoax buster Scott Brando, the video was forged by a smartphone app designed to create spoof videos like these.
Mr Brando runs the website ufoofinterest.org, where he frequently breaks down UFO sightings and questionable reports.
Based on his analysis of the evidence, the same app was used to “film a UFO” off the coast of Dubai in August.
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UFo sighting: The video made using the UFO Video Camera app on iOS
The ufoofinterest.org Twitter account tweeted yesterday: “A hoax channel published a video claiming some alleged UFOs filmed in South Korea, Dubai and Rome (Italy) was the same object taken by different witnesses.
“Nope, they used the same iOS App named ‘UFO Video Camera’ as I exposed in my latest YouTube video.”
In his video, Mr Brando stabilised the Korean video, exposing a strong jitter in the supposed UFO.
He said in the video: “Many hoax promoters shared two videos of alleged UFO sightings filmed in Korea a few days ago.
“Here’s what happens after stabilising those videos of alleged UFOs.
“What you’ve just seen is a bad motion tracking. This tells us those are just two fake videos.”
The UFO Video Camera app is branded an “augmented reality movie maker” that can impose alien objects onto real-time video footage.
The app description on the Apple App Store reads: “This app creates ultra-realistic UFO effects that appear as if they are really in the sky.
“UFO effects include: Fleet, Birther, Vortex, Exploding Moon, Triangular UFO Lights, Eclipse and more! There are UFO effects that work great in daylight and others in a night sky.”
Another prominent evangelist has now come out in support of this message, suggesting Mr Trump’s stint in the White House is linked to Biblical prophecy.
Pastor Paul Begley of West Lafayette in Indiana, US, took to his YouTube channel to announce “there is no doubt” we are living in the end times.
The firebrand preacher hosts the weekly TV series The Coming Apocalypse and has more than 340,000 subscribers on his YouTube channel.
Pastor Begley believes President Trump’s predicted second term in office is one link in a chain of events that will lead to the end of the world.
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Donald Trump hopes to secure another term in the White House
Following Mr Robertson’s prophecy announcement, Pastor Begley said: “I’m gonna say that I agree with him on that, I really do. Trump will win the election.”
According to the bizarre prophecy, President Trump’s second term in office will be marked by civil unrest and chaos.
Mr Robertson predicts at least two attempts on President Trump’s life will take place, followed by a war in Israel.
Then, he said God will instigate a five-year period of peace.
But the prophecy took a turn for the worse as the evangelist claimed an asteroid will strike the planet afterwards, possibly ending the world as we know it.
Pastor Begley concurred, saying all of this can be backed up by passages in the Bible.
Trump will win the election
He said: “I can tell you if you study Matthew 24, Mark 13, Luke 21, Daniel 7 and 8, Daniel 9, and then study 1 Thessalonians 4, 1 Thessalonians 5, 2 Thessalonians 2, also read 2 Peter 3, and then go read Revelation.
“You can definitely see the time we’re in. There’s no doubt about it, I mean, there’s not even a question about it guys. It’s unbelievable.”
And yet, none of these prophetic warnings seem to measure up to reality.
Not only is President Trump trailing behind in the polls, but there is also no asteroid or comet threatening to hit the planet in the next 100 years.
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Donald Trump is trailing behind Joe Biden in the latest polls
As of October 23, Poll aggregator FiveThirtyEight gives Mr Biden a narrow lead over his opponent.
A Muhlenberg College polls carried out in Pennsylvania predicts a seven-point lead for the Democrat.
Another poll by EPIC-MRA in Michigan predicts a nine-point lead over Mr Trump.
And unless an asteroid unexpectedly materialises out of thin air in the next five years, our home planet will avoid a date with Armageddon.
The US space agency NASA said: “No known asteroid poses a significant risk of impact with Earth over the next 100 years.”
From a religious perspective, the Bible advises against attempts to predict when the world will end.
Jesus Christ himself revealed in the Gospels that no one, including Him, will know when the hour will strike.
Matthew 24 reads: “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.
“As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.
“For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away.
“That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.”
The 90 second-long poor-quality clip seems to show more than a dozen bright lights clearly visible against brilliant blue sky.
This is a lot of UFOs moving fast and low over Oakland, California three days ago
The person shooting the footage on the smartphone is heard sounding slightly dumbstruck by what he is seeing.
Well-known alien life conspiracy theorist Scott Waring believes what the man has captured warrants further investigation.
Mr Waring took to his UFO Sightings Daily site to speculate about the highly-dubious discovery.
UFO sighting: A video clip has supposedly captured an alien fleet over the US
He said: “For the life of me I just could not see any wings on these objects in the sky, but just like the eyewitness.
“At first I thought it was a flock of birds, but its not.
“Guys, this is a lot of UFOs moving fast and low over Oakland, California three days ago.
“Something big is going on for so many UFO sightings world-wide to be occurring.
UFO sightings are often fake
UFO sighting: This image was captured over Massachusetts in the 1950s
“UFOs often try to disguise themselves with cloaks, clouds, fog, impersonating planes and even trying to look like birds.
“Be warned, sometimes what you see are what aliens want you to see.”
The UFO enthusiast also includes quotes from the original – and unnamed – eyewitness of the so-called “fleet” of alien craft.
They said: “A friend and I went on our break at Walmart when we noticed a silver looking object crossing the sky.
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“The sun was reflecting off of it as it spun. At first I thought it was a helium balloon because of the colour but then my friend said it stopped moving.
“I then went to activate my video recorder on my phone but then noticed a V-shaped formation of white lights crossing the blue sky.
“I started recording them instead of the the silver thing.
“The V shaped suddenly changed into a C-shape as if on command.
UFO sighting: A life conspiracy theorist Scott Waring believes the man captured a UFO fleet
“I knew they were not birds because they were moving too fast and these things didn’t have wings flapping.
“They also stayed in perfect formation even when changing shape.
“They looked like Tic-Tacs or oval-shaped. No sound or exhaust.”
However, the latest sensationalist claims made Mr Waring are yet again easily debunked.
The video has captured nothing more exciting than a flock of white birds flying in formation.
YouTube Paul Stevenson is one of the scores of people who took to social media to discuss the incident.
He wrote: “You need to take the initiative to post videos of better quality.
“This spinning shaky camera work should not have been posted if you want people to take you and your subject matter seriously. And BTW, it was just birds.”
A retired Air Force official in charge of one of its most famous UFO research efforts said before his death last year that the effort may have been scuttled not because it was fruitless, but just the opposite.
In a clip from the new documentary “The Phenomenon,” Lt. Col. Robert Friend pointed to the sudden closure of Project Blue Book in 1969.
“Which would suggest what?” he asked before answering his own question: “That they knew what it was.”
James Fox, the film’s director added: “Or didn’t know what it was.”
But Friend, who led Project Blue Book from 1958-1963, persisted.
“Also the other way,” Friend replied with a telling grin. “That they did know what it was.”
Officially, the project was shuttered despite some 700 open cases because it “no longer can be justified either on the ground of national security or in the interest of science.”
But Friend, who died last year at the age of 99, suggested in his last interview that the shutdown could have been for another reason:
Friend, who was one of the Tuskegee Airmen during WWII and the only Black leader of Project Blue Book, heading it during the civil rights movement, was originally skeptical of claims that aliens had ever made the long trip to Earth.
“Do I believe that we have been visited? No, I don’t believe that,” he told HuffPost in 2012. “And the reason I don’t believe it is because I can’t conceive of any of the ways in which we could overcome some of these things: How much food would you have to take with you on a trip for 22 years through space? How much fuel would you need? How much oxygen or other things to sustain life do you have to have?”
However, Friend also called for more study and said he believes there could be life elsewhere.
“I think that anytime there’s a possibility of scientific pay dirt from studying these phenomena, that yes, it would be much better if the government or some other agency was to take on these things and to pursue the scientific aspects of it,” he said.
Former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said in the film that the federal government has been covering up UFOs and that most of the evidence “hasn’t seen the light of day.”
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President Donald Trump called New York City a “ghost town” during the third and (thank God) final debate on Thursday evening.
New Yorkers, as New Yorkers are wont to do, rushed to defend their city. The jokes flew in because, quite frankly, as a New Yorker living in New York, the city is not a ghost town. Far from it.
People made jokes about what kind of, erm, ghosts were in New York, including scenes from Ghostbusters. They also made memes because, well, of course. And people also posted images and videos of actual New York City, as bright and lively as the country’s largest city could be in a deadly pandemic.
NEW YORK IS A GHOST TOWN???!! LMAO BITCH HELLO FROM QUEENS WE JUST WENT FROM ORANGE TO YELLOW, PEOPLE ARE OUT & ABOUT & THRIVING, FUCK YOU
— porochista khakpour (@PKhakpour) October 23, 2020
So no, New York is not a ghost town because the city was hit hard by the pandemic. Just ask a New Yorker. They are more than happy to tell you about it.
The battle over Uber and Lyft drivers’ status saw a significant development Thursday. A Californian appeals court has unanimously upheld a ruling that the ride-hailing companies’ drivers must be classified as employees, meaning they’re eligible for healthcare, paid sick leave, and other such benefits.
The stay on the Superior Court’s August injunction will therefore soon be lifted, requiring Uber and Lyft to provide these benefits to drivers.
“[Uber and Lyft describe] the injunction here as ‘radical’ and ‘unprecedented,'” wrote Justice Jon Streeter in his 74-page ruling. “But these adjectives perhaps say more about the reach of modern technology and the scale of today’s technology-driven commerce than they do about the order itself… It is broad in scope, no doubt, but so too is the scale of the alleged violations.”
Workers’ rights campaigners are thrilled with the decision.
“This decision makes it abundantly clear that Uber and Lyft have been breaking the law for years,” San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera said in a statement. “For too long Uber and Lyft have illegally denied their drivers basic workplace protections and shifted that burden onto drivers and taxpayers.”
“This is a huge victory for workers,” driver advocacy group Gig Workers Rising told Mashable. “Uber and Lyft drivers deserve basic protections and benefits… This is about the future of work in this country. This is about securing good jobs with real benefits for generations to come.”
Uber and Lyft were less happy with the appellate court’s decision. “This ruling makes it more urgent than ever for voters to stand with drivers and vote yes on Prop. 22,” Lyft spokesperson Julie Wood told Mashable.
“Today’s ruling means that if the voters don’t say Yes on Proposition 22, rideshare drivers will be prevented from continuing to work as independent contractors, putting hundreds of thousands of Californians out of work and likely shutting down ridesharing throughout much of the state,” said an Uber spokesperson.
Proposition 22 is a Californian ballot measure that has been backed by various delivery and ride-hailing companies, including Uber and Lyft. If passed in November, it will give drivers limited benefits but keep them classified as independent contractors.
Uber claims 72 percent of drivers support Prop. 22, citing a survey of 718 drivers that the company commissioned. The company also argues that treating drivers as employees would cause prices to rise.
However, Gig Workers Rising told Mashable it considers Prop. 22 a “dangerous and deceptive” attempt to deny drivers their legal rights as employees.
“First the state legislature, then the governor, and now the courts have all agreed that drivers are employees under state law, and Prop. 22 is nothing more than an attempt by multi-billion dollar gig companies to undo that recognition,” said Gig Workers Rising, urging Californians to vote against the proposition.
Today we went to SFO airport & talked to drivers about Prop22.
There were about 100 drivers there and all but 1 are voting #NoOnProp22.
We can win this.
— Gig Workers Are Voting No On Prop 22 (@GigWorkersRise) October 22, 2020
The group further dismissed Uber and Lyft’s threats to suspend services or withdraw from California if forced to treat drivers as employees, calling it “a bluff intended to scare voters during this election.”
“These companies have never pulled out of a market as large as California before, even when cities across the world have sought to ensure they comply with local labor laws,” said Gig Workers Rising. “It’s important drivers and riders don’t get distracted by Uber & Lyft fear-mongering… We cannot allow corporations to blackmail us into voting in their best interests.”
“When Prop. 22 is defeated, the companies’ bag of tricks will have shrunk, as both voters and now the courts will have recognized that gig workers should receive employee benefits, protections, and wages.”
Uber and Lyft will continue to operate as normal for now, as the ruling won’t take effect immediately. The appeals court still has to transfer jurisdiction of the case back to the lower courts, which may take a few months, and the stay on the injunction will expire 30 days after that. However it may be extended again if Uber and Lyft file another appeal, a move that both companies are considering.