Billionaire Masayoshi Son will start selling his humanoid robots named “Pepper” at Sprint Corp. (S) stores in the U.S. by next summer, part of SoftBank Corp.‘s push to take the technology beyond factory floors.
SoftBank also has received between 300 and 400 inquiries about Pepper from companies in finance, food service and education, Fumihide Tomizawa, chief executive officer of SoftBank Robotics, said yesterday. The 1.2 meter (4 foot) robot dances, makes jokes and estimates human emotions based on expressions. Pepper will go in sale in Japan in February for 198,000 yen ($1,900) while the company hasn’t set a U.S. price.
SoftBank, which paid $22 billion for control of Sprint last year, is investing in robotics as Japan seeks to double the value of domestic production to 2.41 trillion yen by 2020. SoftBank has developed an operating system that controls robots in the same way Google Inc.’s Android software runs smartphones, with the platform open to customization for use in construction, health care and entertainment industries.
“We will sell Pepper in the United States within a year after gathering information in Japan,” Tomizawa said. “I won’t be surprised if Pepper sales will be half to business and half to consumers.”
SoftBank Robotics was established as a subsidiary in July to direct the company’s business and sell Pepper, which is equipped with a laser sensor and 12 hours of battery life.
Shares (9984) of SoftBank rose 1.3 percent to 7,541 yen at the close of trade in Tokyo. The stock has declined 18 percent this year while the benchmark Topix index is little changed.
The robot was initially targeted at families and the elderly before getting attention for business use since its June unveiling.
Tomizawa declined to specify the company’s sales targets for robotics. SoftBank expects to generate revenue through applications and original content as customers personalize their robots.
“The basic premise is to produce profit,” Tomizawa said. “Son is aggressively involved in the project and we report to him one or two times a month.”
Son said in 2010 his vision was to create a society that coexists with intelligent robots. The SoftBank chairman has said Pepper is a result of his time spent watching the TV show “Astro Boy,” an animated 1960s series based on a character who couldn’t experience emotions.
In July, Son said he expects to improve labor productivity by replacing 90 million jobs with 30 million robots.
“We could enter the robot business for industrial use in the mid or long term,” Tomizawa said.
Pepper was initially developed by SoftBank subsidiary Aldebaran Robotics SA. The robot operating system, which isn’t currently used by Pepper, was developed by its Asratec Corp. division. The businesses continue to operate as separate units of SoftBank.
SoftBank’s development of robots comes as Google acquired robotics companies, including Schaft Inc., a Tokyo-based maker of two-legged humanoid robots. Other robot makers include Honda Motor Co. (7267), which has the soccer-playing Asimo, and Panasonic Corp. (6752), which created Hospi-R machines to deliver medicines to patients in hospitals.
Sunday, September 7
1:00 PM – New Orleans at Atlanta
1:00 PM – Cincinnati at Baltimore
1:00 PM – Buffalo at Chicago
1:00 PM – Washington at Houston
1:00 PM – Tennessee at Kansas City
1:00 PM – New England at Miami
1:00 PM – Oakland at New York
1:00 PM – Jacksonville at Philadelphia
1:00 PM – Cleveland at Pittsburgh
1:00 PM – Minnesota at Saint Louis
4:30 PM – San Francisco at Dallas
4:30 PM – Carolina at Tampa Bay
8:30 PM – Indianapolis at Denver
Monday, September 8
7:00 PM – New York at Detroit
10:30 PM – San Diego at Arizona
A developing federal investigation has brought up allegations that a Hidalgo County Commissioner paid for votes with bags of cocaine while other politicians paid for votes also with cash, cigarettes, marijuana and beer.
Court records obtained by Breitbart Texas from the arrest of two women accused of buying votes show that during the democratic primaries in 2012, a campaign manager for a Hidalgo County Commissioner who said that during the campaign, he bought $50 worth of cocaine, commonly known as an 8-ball and split it up in order to give it to the two women so they could use it to entice voters.
Earlier this week Belinda Solis and Veronica Salazar went before U.S. Magistrate Judge Peter Ormsby who formally charged them with vote buying and set their bond at $10,000.
The two women were part of a large year and a half long FBI investigation into election corruption in Hidalgo County.
The investigation began in January 2013 when agents met with a campaign manager for a Hidalgo County Commissioner, who told the agents that he bought cocaine so his campaign workers could give it to the voters in exchange for their votes. The court records do not identify the commissioner by name; however they state that he ran during the 2012 primaries. The women were paid campaign workers, also known as politiqueras, who targeted low income areas and elderly individuals enticing them to vote for a particular candidate.
Over the course of the investigation, agents met with the two women who told the agents that they had received the cocaine from the campaign manager who is only identified on court records as campaign worker 1 and then gave it to the voters. The women also told the agents that they gave cocaine to voters during the school board election in Donna ISD in addition to cash, beer, cigarettes, and marijuana.
Political corruption primarily by democrats in South Texas has been exposed by federal agencies, shedding light into other cases of vote buying, contract rigging by school boards, bribery money laundering, and other criminal cases.
Eight months ago, Donna ISD School board president Alfredo Lugo hanged himself after federal agents arrested another group of politiqueras for buying votes using cash, beer and cigarettes and the school board was mentioned.
One of the public figures to be exposed in recent years is former Hidalgo County Sheriff, Lupe Trevino, who is preparing to serve a 5-year-prison term for taking money from a Mexican drug lord and depositing the cash into his campaign funds.
In recent weeks, the former Mayor of Progreso, his father and his brother who ran the school board ended up getting sentenced for running a scheme where they controlled all of the contracts that the city and the school board gave out and demanding cash payments from anyone looking to do business with them.
The official at the center of the Internal Revenue Service tea party scandal once dismissed complaints that labor unions were not reporting millions of dollars in political activities on their tax forms, according to an email obtained by The Daily Caller News Foundation.
In 2007, Lerner responded directly to a complaint that some major labor unions reported completely different amounts of political expenditures when filing with the IRS and the Department of Labor.
At the time of the email, Lerner was the Director of Exempt Organizations at the IRS.
Lerner wrote, “We looked at the information you provided regarding organizations that report substantial amounts of political activity and lobbying expenditures on the DOL Form LM-2, but report little to no political expenditures on the Form 990 filed with the IRS.”
“We believe this difference in reporting does not necessarily indicate that the organization has incorrectly reported to either the DOL or the IRS,” Lerner concluded.
Don Todd, the deputy assistant secretary of the Office of Labor-Management Standards (OLMS) at the time the email was sent, confirmed seeing Lerner’s email and remembering similar complaints at the time. OLMS oversees labor union financial disclosures within the Department of Labor.
“The laws never been enforced,” Todd told TheDCNF. “The IRS was telling us it would cost more to enforce the law then they would collect.”
In 2006, the year leading up to Lerner’s email, the national headquarters for the AFL-CIO reported no direct or indirect political expenditures with the IRS on their 990 form, leaving the line 81a blank. That same year, the AFL-CIO reported $29,585,661 in political activities with the Department of Labor.
Also in 2006 the Teamsters Union reported no political expenditures with the IRS while at the same time reporting $7,081,965 with the Labor Department.
Again in 2006, Unite-Here reported no political activity with the IRS and $1,451,002 with the Labor Department.
In 2005, the National Education Association also reported no political expenditures with the IRS while at the same time reporting $24,985,250 with the Labor Department.
Labor union political spending overwhelmingly benefits Democrats. Todd told TheDNCF Lerner may have been playing favorites. Lerner has been accused of singling out tea party groups applying for tax-exempt status.
Lerner acknowledged in the 2007 email, “The definition of political campaign activity required to be reported on Form LM2 coincides with the definition of political campaign activity expenditures required to be reported on Form 990.”
But she did offer some possible reasons for the discrepancies. “The Form LM-2 does not separate this reporting from the reporting of lobbying expenditures,” she wrote. “Furthermore, even if section 501(c)(5) labor organizations were required to report their lobbying expenditures, the amount required to be reported on Form LM-2 includes activity, such as attempting to influence regulations, that is not required to be reported as lobbying, as the IRS limitations apply to legislative lobbying.”
Lerner conceded, “Having said that, we did see some instances that raised concerns and we referred that information to our Dallas office to determine whether examination is warranted.” It does not appear any further investigation was conducted.
The Bush administration mandated more detailed disclosure requirements for labor unions, but they were relaxed by the Obama administration’s Labor Department.
An IRS spokesman told TheDCNF the agency had no “immediate comment” on the matter.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is expected to allow thousands of illegal immigrant deportees to return to the U.S., so long as they have ties to Southern California. Taxpayers will additionally fund a media campaign in Mexico, alerting deportees that they may be eligible to come back to the United States.
An agreement outlining the new settlement was announced in late August, according to the Los Angeles Times. The plan, which only applies to Southern California, was reportedly drawn up in response to a lawsuit that was filed last year by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) relating to the rights of illegal immigrants.
The Times reported that an unknown fraction of the some 250,000 previously-deported illegal immigrants will be allowed to come back to the country under the new plan.
Under the settlement, Border Patrol agents will be required to inform illegal immigrants of their right to fight deportation in the U.S. court system. Agents also must “provide them access to an informational hot line and a list of free legal service providers,” the Times reported.
A taxpayer-funded “outreach effort” will also be launched through Mexican media outlets. The ad campaigns will inform deportees that they might be eligible to come back to the United States.
Many believe the agreement will soon be adopted by areas around the nation.
The ACLU said in its lawsuit that illegal immigrants were being intimidated and threatened by federal agents. The group alleged that such treatment unfairly caused illegals to agree to leave the country, without informing them of their rights to challenge deportation in court.
The director of San Diego’s ACLU reportedly said, “This is a historic settlement that will end a practice that tears families apart.”
The DHS said in a statement, “In an effort to address the issues raised in this litigation, both agencies have agreed to supplement their existing procedures to ensure that foreign nationals fully comprehend the potential consequences of returning voluntarily to Mexico.”
Breitbart Texas Contributing Editor and border security expert Sylvia Longmire pointed out that “some of the concessions being made by the U.S. government in this agreement are appalling. The agreement is limited to voluntary removals that occurred only in Southern California for now, but as word of this agreement spreads – and as the concessions spread to removals made in other border sectors – the floodgates will open once more.”
“Some may say that justice is being served to the Border Patrol for using these tactics in the first place,” Longmire continued. “However, the overall negative impact of this agreement on our already floundering immigration system and morale of agents who have been doing things by-the-book will be hard to recover from.”
It is notable that what the ACLU asserted are mere allegations; according to the Times, some Border Patrol agents deny the alleged abuse. Many feel that the new settlement will undermine their National Border Patrol Council (NBPC) spokesperson Gabe Pacheco said to the Times, “At every turn, they’re tying our hands.”