Bowen Xiao


Online sales on Black Friday—a day traditionally seen as kicking off the U.S. holiday season—rose to a record $7.4 billion, while fewer people showed up at physical store locations, according to data from Adobe Analytics.

Purchases made on phones accounted for 39 percent of online sales on Black Friday and 61 percent of all online traffic. For Cyber Monday, Adobe expects online sales to break another record, with an estimated total of $9.4 billion.

Online sales jumped more than 19 percent over last year, according to Adobe, which tracks transactions at 80 of the top 100 U.S. retailers. For Thanksgiving, Adobe estimated that sales grew almost 15 percent to $4.2 billion.

Under the Trump administration, consumer sentiment in 30 of the past 35 months remained high, with the Sentiment Index recorded at 95 or higher—”a level of optimism second only to when the index was above 100 for 34 out of 36 months from January 1998 to December 2000,” according to recent data from the University of Michigan.

Numbers from ShopperTrak, which is part of retail data firm Sensormatic Solutions, showed that visits to stores fell a combined 3 percent on Thanksgiving and Black Friday, compared with the same days a year ago.

Meanwhile, for the first time in several years, store traffic on Thanksgiving evening rose 2.3 percent, when compared to last year.

Consumer confidence is also positive related to personal finances. Fifty-four percent of all households reported that their finances had recently improved, according to data from a survey by the University of Michigan. In the past 50 years, there have only been nine other surveys that recorded a higher percentage, with the largest recorded number just three percentage points higher at 57 percent.

The steady stream of positive economic news under the Trump administration is more important to most Americans than the impeachment probe, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) said in a Nov. 29 appearance on Fox News.

“At the end of the day, I think voters are concerned about their own needs, their own challenges, their own opportunity in their lives,” Gaetz said. “And if you look at the Trump economy, the hottest in the world, it’s creating that opportunity for Americans each and every day.”

Last month, President Donald Trump criticized Democrats for using the impeachment probe as a political tool to distract from the good news.

“The Do Nothing Democrats are working hard to make everyone forget the Best Economy Ever, the monumental weekend raid, Tax Cuts, the Rebuilding of our Military, etc,” he said on Twitter. “The Impeachment Hoax is a disgrace. Read the transcript!”

Meanwhile, the National Retail Federation forecast 2019 U.S. holiday retail sales to increase 3.8 percent to 4.2 percent from a year ago, for a total of $727.9 billion to $730.7 billion. That compares to an average annual increase of 3.7 percent over the past five years.

While the U.S. economy is still growing steadily, gains have slowed since its sizzling start to the year. Strong spending by households is helping to bolster growth, economists say.

According to the latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the national unemployment rate in October was at 3.6 percent, while the economy added 128,000 jobs in the same month.

The rate for Hispanic Americans, in particular, fell to 3.9 percent—breaking the 4 percent mark for the first time since the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) began keeping such records in 1973. Hispanic men over the age of 20 enjoyed an unemployment rate of just 3 percent last month, on par with white men over 20 at 2.9 percent.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report

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Author: Bowen Xiao

Source: The Epoch Times: Black Friday Online Sales Hit Record $7.4 Billion on Strong Consumer Sentiment

The White House is keeping a close eye on Google amid reports that the company is working with the Chinese Communist Party’s military and allegedly interfering in the U.S. presidential elections, both in 2016 and in the upcoming 2020 election.

President Donald Trump made the warning in a series of Twitter posts on Aug. 6, in which he talked about a recent meeting he had with Google CEO Sundar Pichai. He said Pichai was working “very hard” to show they liked him and said he praised the “great job” the administration is doing.

Trump said Pichai denied that Google was involved with China’s military and denied helping then-presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in the 2016 elections. He said Pichai assured him they are “not” planning to subvert the 2020 elections, “despite all that has been said to the contrary.”

“It all sounded good until I watched Kevin Cernekee, a Google engineer, say terrible things about what they did in 2016 and that they want to ‘Make sure that Trump losses in 2020,’” Trump continued.

“Lou Dobbs stated that this is a fraud on the American public. Peter Schweizer stated with certainty that they suppressed negative stories on Hillary Clinton, and boosted negative stories on Donald Trump.

“All very illegal,” Trump added. “We are watching Google very closely!”

A Google spokesman rejected Cernekee’s claims in an Aug. 6 email to The Epoch Times.

“The statements made by this disgruntled former employee are absolutely false,” the spokesperson wrote. “We go to great lengths to build our products and enforce our policies in ways that don’t take political leanings into account. Distorting results for political purposes would harm our business and go against our mission of providing helpful content to all of our users.”

Election Interference

A current Google employee was caught on hidden camera in June by Project Veritas saying that the company’s goal, in some of its efforts, was preventing Trump or anybody like him from getting elected again.

Dr. Robert Epstein, a senior research psychologist at the American Institute for Behavioral Research and Technology, told The Epoch Times last year that a 2016 secret monitoring project he conducted showed Google hid negative autocomplete search results for Clinton, months before the election.

“It’s one thing to show the power that search results have, but in the project, we showed that Google search results actually did favor one candidate,” he said.

Epstein’s peer-reviewed research found that Google’s algorithms can easily shift 20 percent or more of votes among voters, up to 80 percent in some demographic groups. He also found that Google search suggestions can turn a 50-50 split among undecided voters into a 90-10 split (pdf).

Chinese Military

In March, the United States’ top general testified that China’s military is benefiting from the work Google is doing in the communist country.

“The work that Google is doing in China is indirectly benefiting the Chinese military,” Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing.

“We watch with great concern when industry partners work in China knowing that there is that indirect benefit,” he said. “Frankly, ‘indirect’ may be not a full characterization of the way it really is, it is more of a direct benefit to the Chinese military.”

James Andrew Lewis, senior vice president and director of the Technology Policy Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told The Epoch Times in an Aug. 6 email, “All companies have to rethink research relations with China given Beijing’s increasing hostility.”

“Right now, what Google is doing in China is not illegal,” Lewis said. “That may change as the administration tightens export controls.”

Google said in 2018 that it no longer plans to acquire a $10 billion cloud-computing contract with the U.S. Defense Department. Google said that part of the reason why it stopped competing for the contract was because of new ethical guidelines that it said don’t align with the project, according to Reuters.

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Author: Bowen Xiao

Source: The Epoch Times: White House Watching Google Closely Amid Reports of Election Interference, Trump Says

About 50 miles of brand new wall has been completed by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) along the United States’ southwest border, with more expected to be constructed, according to acting Commissioner Mark Morgan.

“Fifty miles of new border wall on the Southwest border and construction continues every day,” Morgan announced in a July 10 Twitter post. “Construction is underway for more than 50 additional miles and more contract awards are anticipated by the end of the year.”

Accompanying Morgan’s Twitter post were a few photos, some showing the construction process—others depicting the finished product. It didn’t say exactly where the new wall was being built.

The Department of Homeland Security announced weeks ago that Morgan would serve as the acting commissioner of CBP after John P. Sanders’s decision to resign. Morgan became the acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in May.

Last month, President Donald Trump praised a decision reached by the federal court denying a request by House Democrats to block funds being appropriated from other accounts for the construction of the border wall.

“Just had a big victory in Federal Court over the Democrats in the House on the desperately needed Border Wall. A big step in the right direction. Wall is under construction!” Trump wrote on Twitter.

U.S. Border Patrol apprehended 688,375 illegal aliens on the southern border this fiscal year, according to the latest CBP data. In June alone, Border Patrol agents apprehended 94,897 illegal immigrants.

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan said last month that each week, about two miles of additional border wall are being built.

“[It’s] coming along aggressively,” McAleenan told Trump during a meeting at the White House on June 12. “By the end of next year, over 400 miles [will be built].”

The United States is dealing with a rising influx of illegal aliens, most of whom are traveling through Mexico from Central America.

Just last weekend, Border Patrol agents said they arrested a sex offender and also foiled a maritime smuggling attempt.

The sex offender was detained after agents spotted a man approximately six miles north of the U.S.-Mexico International Boundary. The man was identified as a 53-year-old Honduran national who had no legal documentation. He was arrested and sent to a nearby station for processing.

After running records checks at the station, the man was revealed to have had a “criminal conviction out of New Hampshire for aggravated felonious sexual assault against a child,” according to CBP.

The smuggling attempt was foiled when a U.S. Coast Guard cutter intercepted a pleasure-craft vessel operating near Point Loma, California. During the initial interception, they observed one person on board, but after boarding the vessel, they found an additional 12.

“All onboard were suspected of attempting to enter the U.S. illegally and were transported to the USCG base on North Harbor Drive, San Diego,” CBP said. Agents later took all 13 individuals into custody.

The vast majority of those being detained by border agents are children and family units from Central America that Border Patrol is forced to release quickly, despite the fact that 90 percent of them never show up for their subsequent immigration hearings.

Trump has also applauded Mexico for its recent efforts to curb illegal immigration.

“Mexico, using their strong immigration laws, is doing a very good job of stopping people… long before they get to our Southern Border. Guatemala is getting ready to sign a Safe-Third Agreement. The only ones who won’t do anything are the Democrats in Congress,” Trump said on multiple Twitter posts last month.

Epoch Times reporter Charlotte Cuthbertson contributed to this report.

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Author: Bowen Xiao

Source: The Epoch Times: CBP Completes 50 Miles of New Border, 50 More Underway

Pope Francis has sent half a million dollars in funds from the “Peter’s Pence collections” to 27 Mexico-based projects to assist migrant communities, the Vatican said on April 27.

It comes as President Donald Trump warned days ago of a new migrant caravan attempting to get on U.S. soil.

The funds are to be sent to 16 Mexican dioceses and religious congregations that requested assistance in basic aid for the migrants stranded at the border. The Vatican noted that more than 75,000 migrants arrived in Mexico last year in six different migrant caravans. The migrants mainly come from Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala.

“The Catholic Church hosts thousands of them in hotels within the dioceses or religious congregations, providing basic necessities, from housing to clothing,” the Vatican said.

Trump has urged Mexico to stop the influx of migrants attempting to enter the United States illegally. The president has repeatedly floated the idea of closing certain parts of the southern border in order to stem what he described previously as an “attempted invasion of illegals.

U.S. officials said they arrested or denied entry to more than 103,000 people along the border with Mexico in March, more than twice as many as the same period in 2018.

Border Patrol agent Tait Seelhorst and his K-9 Zak find an illegal alien who was trying to evade capture near McAllen, Texas, on April 18, 2019. (Charlotte Cuthbertson/The Epoch Times)
A group of illegal aliens walks up the road after crossing the Rio Grande from Mexico. Further up the road, they will board a bus bound for the Border Patrol processing facility in McAllen, Texas, on April 18, 2019. (Charlotte Cuthbertson/The Epoch Times)

“A very big Caravan of over 20,000 people started up through Mexico,” Trump said in an April 24 Twitter post. “It has been reduced in size by Mexico but is still coming. Mexico must apprehend the remainder or we will be forced to close that section of the Border & call up the Military. The Coyotes & Cartels have weapons!”

Peter’s Pence, which are donations or payments made directly to the Holy See, must be evaluated for transparency, the Vatican said.

In a statement, the church insisted that “a regulated and transparent use of the resources, which must be accounted for, is required before the aid is assigned.” It also noted that 13 projects of the 27 have already been approved, with another 14 currently being evaluated.

The Pentagon said on April 26 that it expects to send about 300 additional troops to the U.S.–Mexico border. The move is a sign of a growing military support role, as the Trump administration seeks to add assistance to an overwhelmed Border Patrol dealing with what Customs and Border Protection chief Kevin McAleenan has called “unprecedented humanitarian and border security crisis all along our Southwest border.”

Trump, who has made tackling illegal immigration a signature issue of his presidency, praised the Border Patrol for their recent efforts and noted the record numbers of illegal’s apprehended.

“Can anyone comprehend what a GREAT job Border Patrol and Law Enforcement is doing on our Southern Border. So far this year they have APPREHENDED 418,000 plus illegal immigrants, way up from last year,” he said April 24 on Twitter.

“Mexico is doing very little for us. DEMS IN CONGRESS MUST ACT NOW!”

Author: Bowen Xiao

Source: Theepochtimes: Pope Francis Sends $500,000 in Funds to Assist Migrants at Mexico–US Border Amid Surge

President Donald Trump told reporters on April 5 that he would skip the annual White House Correspondents’ Association dinner scheduled for later this month.

Trump’s comments confirm that he will not attend the event for the third year in a row. As he was leaving the White House on his trip to the southern border in California, he told reporters that the event was not to his liking.

Instead, he said he would hold one of his MAGA-style rallies as a counter-program to the April 27 press dinner. The president’s rallies often gather tens of thousands of supporters. In a recent rally in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Trump drew in 14,000 supporters who filled the Van Andel Arena stadium to capacity, with nearly 20,000 outside.

“The dinner is so boring and so negative that we’re going to hold a very positive rally instead,” he said.

President Donald Trump talks to reporters as he departs for travel to the U.S.-Mexico border from the White House on April 5, 2019. (Reuters/Carlos Barria)

Presidents and first ladies have traditionally attended the event, and a number of reporting awards also are distributed at the dinner. Trump has not been to the dinner since he took office but had suggested he might appear this year after organizers scrapped the usual format featuring a comedian and instead invited Pulitzer Prize-winning author Ron Chernow to speak.

Trump became the first president since Ronald Reagan to skip the dinner. Reagan did not attend in 1981 because he was recovering from an assassination attempt.

The association this year decided to shift to a featured speaker instead of a comic after a sharply anti-Trump performance last year by comedian Michelle Wolf that some thought was too pointed against White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and other White House staff.

Chernow, a biographer of presidents and statesmen including George Washington and Alexander Hamilton, is expected to speak about the importance of the First Amendment.

President Donald Trump at a MAGA rally in Grand Rapids, Mich., on March 28, 2019. (Charlotte Cuthbertson/The Epoch Times)

The president, who often refers to the media as “fake news” for their coverage of his presidency, recently ramped up his criticisms on Twitter. Previously he has criticized The New York Times, CNN, ABC, and NBC, for their coverage.

“The press is doing everything within their power to fight the magnificence of the phrase, MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!” he wrote on April 5.

“They can’t stand the fact that this Administration has done more than virtually any other Administration in its first 2yrs. They are truly the ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE!”

Trump said his team has yet to settle on a location for his April 27 rally, but stressed: “It’ll be a big one.”

‘They Have to Be Accountable’

At the Michigan rally, Trump’s first one since special counsel Robert Mueller wrapped up his nearly 2-year-long investigation, the president returned to familiar ground—the campaign trail—where he put those behind the investigation in the spotlight.

“After 3 years of lies and smears and slander, the Russia hoax is finally dead. The collusion delusion is over,” Trump told 12,000 supporters in the Van Andel Arena.

The stage was set with a giant American flag as a backdrop, flanked with banners reading “Jobs Jobs Jobs!”—a different tone from Trump’s opening rally of the year in El Paso, Texas, which read “Finish the Wall.”

Donald Trump Jr., who spoke right before his father struck a victorious tone: “It’s not just our vindication it’s your vindication…. Because you stuck by us.”

The first thing the president addressed was his vindication via the Mueller report, which concluded that he and his campaign associates did not collude or coordinate with Russia in efforts to interfere in the 2016 U.S. election.

The president also made reference to the so-called Steele dossier which was at the heart of the allegations that he colluded with Russia.

“All of the current and former officials who paid for, promoted, and perpetuated the single greatest hoax in the history of politics in our country, they have to be accountable,” Trump said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Author: Bowen Xiao

Source: Theepochtimes: Trump to Skip White House Press Dinner for Third Year in a Row

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