How Does Amazon’s Alexa Really Work?

Natural-sounding and effective voice-activated interfaces are a complex technical problem. Amazon is an industry leader with Alexa, its natural language processing system, and it continues to become better the more skills it activates and the more third-party integrations it allows.

How Globalists Plan To Use Technology And Poverty To Enslave The Masses

Authored by Brandon Smith via Alt-Market.com,

Tyranny is often seen as a sudden and inexplicable development in a society; the product of a singular despot that rockets to power for a limited window of time due to public fear or stupidity. This is one of the great lies of the modern era.

The truth is that for at least the past century almost every historically despised “tyrant” was merely a puppet of a larger managerial cabal, and the construction of each totalitarian state was accomplished slowly and quietly over the course of decades by those some financial elitists. From the Bolsheviks, to Hitler and the Third Reich, to Mao Zedong, to most tin-pot dictators across the Middle East and Africa, there has always been an organized group of money men and think tanks fueling the careers of the worst politicians and military juntas of the epoch.

The rise of a tyrannical system takes extensive time, planning and staging. Human beings do not simply jump right into the arms of a dystopian nightmare regime impulsively at a moment’s notice. We have been told by popular media that this is how it works; that during hard economic or social conditions men with charismatic personalities and evil intentions suddenly rise to the surface and take power by promising a better world in exchange for public fealty. But where did those economic and social crises come from to begin with? Were they a natural consequence of the era, or were they deliberately engineered?

The reality is that people must be psychologically conditioned to trade freedom for the illusion of safety. Sometimes this takes generations.  Every attempt at a totalitarian framework inevitably elicits a rebellion. Therefore, the most successful tyranny would be one that the public DEMANDS. They have to think it is their idea, otherwise they will eventually fight it.

Globalist financiers and power addicts need something more than mere military might or bureaucratic force to obtain their ideal slave society. They need 4th Generation warfare tactics. They need to con the masses into accepting their own servitude.

There are two tools that make this outcome possible: The first is controlled economic decline, the second is the integration of a technological gulag into every aspect of public life.

Economic Weapons Of Mass Distraction

It is no coincidence that dictatorial governments gain prominence as the global economy suffers; it is extremely difficult for people to remain vigilant to tyranny when they are completely distracted by their own survival. This is why my focus as an analyst has always been primarily on economics and solutions to fiscal disaster; it all begins and ends with the economy. If the public can be prepped to develop their own alternative economic systems before a crisis occurs, then they will be less distracted by the chaos and more apt to notice when the globalists offer tyranny as a fix-all.

Without alternative markets at the local level there is no redundancy, no protection from a crash. With most people dependent on the existing system for their livelihoods, the economy becomes a very useful weapon for the globalists.

Holding the economy hostage creates numerous advantages. Through deflationary pressure wages can be kept low while higher paying jobs disappear. Manufacturing can be phased out or outsourced overseas, as in the U.S. Small business ownership becomes difficult as taxes generally rise while financial conditions decline.

Through inflationary or stagflationary pressures, low wages and the inadequate job market are combined with exploding prices. This makes survival for many people untenable without government aid.

In this environment, the working public becomes reliant on the service sector, which provides no useful skill sets. Soon, you have entire generations of people with no production abilities whatsoever. They become drones working in meaningless office and retail jobs squandering away their days knowing that they are accomplishing nothing beyond a meager paycheck.

The lack of a greater purpose or mission in life and the nagging realization that the average person has no productive capacity creates a palpable atmosphere of desperation. They do not own their own work, and they have nothing much to show for their labor; nothing to point at and say, “I built that.” The public gets to the point that they may even welcome an economic collapse simply to escape the drudgery.

This is where movements to support totalitarianism come from — the subset of citizens that are fed up with fighting against the economy and have no sense of independence. These people do not know how to solve their own problems, they are always looking for someone else to do it for them. The globalists are happy to suggest their own predetermined solutions to the public once the financial structure hits a point of maximum pain.

However, after the economy is repaired in exchange for the submission of the citizenry, people might still decide one day that the trade was unfair. Thus, a deterrent is needed to keep them in line.

The Technological Fish Tank

It is important to understand that there is no major country in the western OR eastern world that is not building a digital control grid, and this helps to support my position that eastern nations are just as subservient to globalist demands as western nations. All the geopolitical drama surrounding events like the trade war, the Syrian war or various elections, etc.; none of this matters in the end. When determining if the strings of a particular government are being pulled by the globalist cabal, all you have to do is look at how quickly they are implementing oppressive systems that serve globalist interests.

For example, India’s government has been hitting the news feeds lately as their supreme court recently ruled that the controversial Aadhaar biometric program is legal. In a nation of 1.3 billion people, around 1 billion have already been biometrically profiled in a national database. This data can include fingerprints, iris scans and face scans.

I have heard it argued that India is a rather odd place to experiment with such a database, considering 60% of the population is under the poverty line and most people barely have basic amenities. But I would point out that this is why it is a PERFECT place for the globalists to start cataloging the world population on larger scale.

Again, financial desperation and a lack of productions skills tends to produce subservience. Hundreds of millions of poverty stricken people in India’s sprawling urban sewers are voluntarily giving up their biometric data in exchange for government aid programs.

For the people not anchored down by the poor economy India has instituted other measures, including requiring anyone accessing government services, opening a bank account or signing up for a mobile phone service also give up their biometrics to the government.  In nations not yet impoverished at India’s level, more subversive measures have been instituted for surveillance of the population. Data is simply taken rather than traded.

In Russia, Vladimir Putin has put the Yarovaya laws he signed in 2016 into effect. All digital data from phone conversations to emails is now recorded and stored by telecoms for government access for a minimum of six months, this includes Facebook and Twitter posts. The 2014 bloggers law also requires any blogger with over 3,000 followers be put on government file and they cannot remain anonymous. Any business operating a public Wi-Fi network is required by law to identify users by ID, which is also stored for at least six months.

Russia’s FISA-style surveillance grid is vast, yet, many people in the liberty movement seem to ignore this reality with misplaced Putin-worship. As I have noted in numerous articles, Russia is heavily influenced by international financiers.

Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan are the largest investment banks in the country. Their central bank works closely with the IMF and the BIS. The Kremlin has in the past called for a global currency controlled by the IMF. And Putin even admits in his own biography First Person that he has been friends with New World Order salesman Henry Kissinger since before he became president of Russia. In a latest show of how globalist Russia really is, the Russian Foreign Minister recently criticized the U.S. in a speech to the U.N. general assembly over its “attacks” on the “international order,” including undermining the World Trade Organization and global climate change agreements.

With the above in mind, it should come as no surprise to anyone that Russia is playing right along with globalist efforts to identify and track every single living person. It should also come as no surprise that Donald Trump, surrounded by globalists within his own cabinet, is continuing and expanding FISA surveillance under his administration.

At the beginning of 2018 Trump signed a bill renewing the National Security Agency’s warrantless FISA mass surveillance of the American population. Leading Democrats happily supported the action. Despite all of Trump’s rhetoric against FISA recently, it was Trump that made FISA’s continuation possible.

Major social media companies are cooperating wholeheartedly with mass surveillance efforts as they share personal data with governments around the world regularly.  Facebook alone saw an increase in government requests for data of over 33% in 2017, and the nature of most of this data sharing is not open to public scrutiny.  This is one reason why I’m rather bewildered with the recent conservative fury over social media discrimination – it’s as if personal liberty activists are being tricked with reverse psychology to DEMAND unhindered participation in media sites that spy on them.  Why does anyone still want to sign up for these websites?

But where is this all going? How does the combination of poverty and digital surveillance translate to tyranny? I believe China’s “social credit” program is the answer.  The system is based on the idea of “maintaining trust”, but whose trust?  Well, the government’s trust, of course.  Trust is measured using a social credit score that is tracked over a citizens life.  Punished behaviors include anything from smoking in a no smoking area to publishing internet content that the powers-that-be disapprove of.

China is representative of the end game for the globalist ideal for civilization. With mass economic struggle leading to dependency on government welfare programs and employment opportunities, few citizens can afford to be “blacklisted.” China’s social credit system creates an environment in which any and every action on the part of citizens is tracked and then “rated” for acceptance or consequence. This includes how people express attitudes toward the government itself. Obviously, this is the ultimate control mechanism, very similar to the Cheka established by Lenin and Stalin in Russia after the Bolshevik Revolution, but on a massive digital scale.

This is why mass surveillance is evil, regardless of whether someone is breaking the laws or not. It gives government the power to dictate and mold behavior by inspiring self-censorship rather than holding people directly at gun point. It is tyranny enforced in a less obvious way; a prison in which the prisoners maintain the locks and the chains and the bars.  Individuals do not dare do anything outside of collective norms for fear that it could be interpreted as socially negative. Punishment might include loss of access to the economy itself, and when most people are living from paycheck to paycheck, this could mean death.

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“Eye-Watering” Homeownership Costs In Canada Hit 30-Year High, RBC Says

Bank of Canada Gov. Stephen Poloz including “home prices” on his list of risk factors that “keep me up at night”, which he shared with an audience of economists at the prestigious Canadian Club earlier this year. But Poloz’s words of caution have not stopped housing costs for Canadians form climbing to precarious new highs. Signs of this stress are already apparent – for example, in Vancouver, where a chasm between bids and asks has caused the local housing market to grind to a halt.

The latest warning about an impending implosion in the Canadian housing bubble comes courtesy of a quarterly RBC report, which found that the aggregate costs of homeownership in Canada, a category that includes mortgage fees, interest, property taxes and utilities and other miscellaneous costs, have reached their highest levels since 1990.

The most alarming aspect of this trend, according to the bank, is that rising mortgage costs, not home prices, have been the biggest contributing factor over the past year, with mortgage rates rising in each of the last four quarters.

RBC

Rising mortgage rates have, of course, been spurred by the BoC’s rate hikes. Today, the average Canadian would need to spent roughly 54% of their income to buy a home. That’s up sharply from 43.2% three years ago.

RBC

But in Canada’s most unaffordable housing markets, these figures are considerably higher.

“From overheating to correction to the onset of recovery, we’ve seen pretty much everything in the past three years in Canada’s housing market,” economists at the Toronto-based bank said in the report. “Yet an eye-watering loss of affordability has been a constant.”

In Vancouver, Toronto and even Victoria, RBC’s index of home prices relative to average income has reached 88%, 76% and 65%, respectively. The bank’s data includes costs for condos and detached single-family homes.

Home

Courtesy of Bloomberg

And with the BoC widely expected to continue raising interest rates…

“We expect the Bank of Canada to proceed with further rate hikes that will raise its overnight rate from 1.50 percent currently to 2.25 percent in the first half of 2019,” the report said. “This will keep mortgage rates under upward pressure and boost ownership costs even more across Canada in the period ahead.”

…its analysts have warned that a momentous housing implosion looks increasingly likely. Adding a dash of irony to this scenario, the BoC has expressed caution about the housing bubble and cited raising interest rates as a necessary measure to combat it.

Read the whole report below:

 

2018.09.30rbcreport by Zerohedge on Scribd

 

Is Global Warming A Significant Contributor To America’s Wildfires?

Via Cliff Mass’ Weather and Climate blog,

During the past several summers there have been major wildfires in Washington State producing a lot of smoke.  And many people have been asking an important question:

To what degree is anthropogenic global warming contributing to Washington State wildfires?

If 90% of the blame for Northwest wildfires is due to anthropogenic (human-caused) global warming and 10% is due to fire suppression, poor forest management, or people starting more fires, then the logical response is to put most of  our efforts into reducing atmospheric CO2.   A climate-dominated problem.

If 90% of the blame is due to past fire suppression, forest mismanagement, invasive species, and human encroachment, then we should put most of our efforts into fixing the forests and other non-climate measures. A surface-management problem.

And yes, the percentages could be somewhere in between.

Supporters of the carbon fee initiative (1631) are suggesting that the recent wildfires are mainly the result of anthropogenic climate change and using the fires to push their carbon fee plan.

And Governor Inslee has stated explicitly that the fires have been made much worse by climate change.

In contrast, others, including a number of folks in the forestry community, have suggested that poor forest practices are the main cause of most of the wildfires over the eastern side of the state.

It is important to note that relative role of global warming in influencing the threat of wildfires may change in time.  For example, global warming could be relatively unimportant today for wildfires, but of great importance later in the century when temperatures will be much warmer.

The Need for Better Information

There is actually very little limited quantitative information on the role of global warming on Washington State wildfires.   Which is kind of strange considering the importance of the issue and the authoritative statements being made by some.  A lot of hand waving, but not much data.

So let’s examine the issue in some depth, using a more quantitative approach than most.  But before I do so, let me give you the bottom line.

Human-caused global warming has played only a minor role regarding  Washington State wildfires through today, but will become much more important later in this century.

Now let me provide some evidence for this conclusion.

How Has Global Warming Changed Washington’s Summer Climate?

Before we look at the correlation of global warming and wildfires, we need to know how much Washington State climate has changed during the past half century or so, and then  estimate how much of that change is due to anthropogenically forced increases in greenhouse gases. To gain some insight into this, I secured the official NOAA/NWS climate division data averaged over Washington State for summer (June through August).

First, consider daily mean temperatures from 1930 to today..  Very little warming until the mid-70s and then perhaps 2°F overall during the past 40 years.

Summer average maximum temperatures have similar  pattern of change–again roughly 2F warmer since the mid 1970s.

There is a substantial research that suggested that the radiative effects of increasing CO2 in the atmosphere became significant for climate forcing something around the 1970s.   And there was an important shift in a mode of natural variability, the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PD0) during the mid-70s:  a shift from the cool to warm phase of this oscillation, which would have resulted in warming over the Pacific Northwest.

Now the question is how much of the recent warming shown above is due to anthropogenic global warming and how much is due to natural variability.

A group of researchers at the UW (including myself) are working on this question, using the most sophisticated approach applied to date:  an ensemble of high-resolution regional climate runs forced by the best global models.  This is the gold standard for such work.  We started with global climate models driven by the most aggressive increase of greenhouse gases (RCP 8.5) and then ran a high-resolution weather prediction model (WRF) driven by several climate models over time (1970-2100).

I don’t have this output interpolated to the exact boundaries of WA state (working on this now), but let me show you the projections for summer max temperatures from the high-resolution model for two sides of the state (Hoquiam, HQM, and Spokane, GEG) forced by several climate models (see below in colors).  I also show the observed temperatures during the contemporary period at these location).  Virtually all of our simulation show greater warming at Spokane then along the coast, so let me show you that first.

Between 1970 and roughly 2000 there is very little change in observed or modeled temperatures at Spokane, and roughly1.7F warming between 2000 and now in most of the simulations.  Since natural variability will differ between the simulations, the 1.7F average of all of the runs is a reasonable estimate of the impact of global warming until now.   And note how the warming revs up later in the century if the aggressive increase in greenhouse gases continue s(about 7F warming!).

At Hoquiam, near the WA coast, the warming is less for both the recent decades and into the future.  Perhaps 1F of warming through this year.

Now, I could show you a lot more material, but my conclusions from looking at a lot of high-resolution model data is that anthropogenic global warming due to increasing greenhouse gases may well have warmed up the state as a whole by roughly 1-1.5F during the past half-century, with any additional warming coming from natural variability (e.g., the PDO).   I really doubt that there would be much disagreement about this estimate from members of the atmospheric community.

What about changes in precipitation?

Summer (June to August) precipitation has always been relatively modest (4-5 inches) in our state (our summers are very dry), and there appears to be a modest wetting trend through 1980 and some drying since the late 1990s (see below).  In contrast, annual precipitation has been very constant (also below)

Summer Precipitation for WA State (1930-2017)

WA State Annual Precipitation

What do the climate simulations suggest about precipitation trends?

The annual precipitation will slowly increase according to the models (not shown), but what about summer?  Spokane summer precipitation has always been low (around 2.5 inches typical for June through August) and will remain low.  Any decline is small–a half-inch at most.  The recent dry years look like natural variability.

Let’s compare that to Seattle on the western side of the State.   Summers are equally dry as Spokane, but there is a more clearcut drying– by roughly 2 inches by 2100, and perhaps .5 inches during the past years.  These results are consistent with previous studies by the UW climate impacts group and others indicating a slow increase of total annual precipitation, but a small downward trend in summer precipitation over our area.

So to summarize.   Looking at past climate data and the best model information, one concludes that increasing greenhouse gases may well have warmed out state by 1-1.5F during summer (June through August) over the past half century, had little impact on annual precipitation, and perhaps dried an already very dry summer by perhaps .5 inches.

But how did global warming impact the recent wildfires in Washington State? And how will future warming impact them?

We are now ready to answer this question.

But first we needed a list of the annual area burned and number of fires in Washington State over time.  It turns out this is a difficult information to get–which is surprising considering its importance.  I was able to get an Excel file from Josh Clark of WA State DNR with the fire information from 1992 to the present.  The prior period has not been digitized, with fire information in cabinets somewhere.  Oregon and California has done a better job in creating a long-term digital record of their fires.

OK, we will use what we have.  Here is the number of acres burned by wildfires over WA state since 1992.  A very slow trend upward, except for the HUGE peak in 2015, the year with the big ridge and crazy-warm spring.

The number of fires (see below) have been nearly constant in the long term, with some ups and downs

But now the really interesting part.  Let’s plot the acres burned against warm season (June through September) temperatures (see below).

This is really fascinating.  A very slow increase of fire acres with temperature, with considerable scatter,  showing that acres burned is not that temperature sensitive.  The one big year was the warmest.. 2015 with 61.4 F and nearly 1.2 million acres burned.

Now, let’s put a regression line on this plot and see how much of the variability is explained by increasing temperature. Temperature only explains 22% of the increase in acres burned…so 78% is explained by something else.

The bottom line of all this is that warming temperatures can explain only a small portion of the variability in Washington wildfires.

What about precipitation?   Here is the plot of WA state precipitation for May through Sept since 1992.  A very slight downward trend, with the big fire year (2015) not showing anything anomalous.

Another “scatterplot”, this time of acres burned versus precipitation, is presented below.  Very poor relationship, with the suggestion of a decline in burned acreage with greater rainfall.  And the precipitation only explains about 2% of the variability of acres burned!  This is not surprising because our region is naturally dry during the summer and being a little drier doesn’t make that much of a difference.   Like being a little more dead.

The Essential Message Here

Climate/weather changes do affect wildfires over Washington State.  Warmer temperatures and lesser precipitation correlate with increasing acreage, but the relationship is not a strong one.  The correlation of summer precipitation with wildfire acreage is very, very weak and summer temperature only explains less than a quarter of the variability in wildfire area.  

Then we look at the look at the amount of climate change produced by human-caused greenhouse warming so far, and we find it is relatively small. Perhaps 1.5F for WA State temperatures and a slight drying over the summer.

You put the lack of sensitivity together to temperature/precipitation with the small climate changes due to global warming and one has to conclude that human-caused climate change is undoubtedly NOT a major driver of the increased wildfires and wildfire smoke we have seen during some recent years.

Based on my extensive reading on the wildfire issue, discussions with forestry experts at the UW, and a number of seminars/meetings I have attended, my conclusion is that the real culprits for our invigorated fire/smoke situation include:

1.   Nearly a century of fire suppression and poor forest management that have produced unnatural, explosive forests, particularly on the dry side of our state.

2.  Huge influx of people into the urban-wildland interface and forest areas that help initiate fires and make us more vulnerable to them.

3.  Invasion of highly flammable, non-native species like cheatgrass.

And we should not forget that fire is a natural part of our east-side forests.

Claiming the climate change is the big villain in the current wildfire situation, may be a useful tool for some ambitious politicians and for those searching for arguments to support climate-related initiatives, but the truth is probably elsewhere.  In the FUTURE, as temperatures warm profoundly (particularly during the second half of the century), the influence of human-produced global warming on our wildfires will clearly increase substantially.

Only by a sober, fact-driven approach, such as thinning, debris-removal, and proscribed burning of our east-side forests, with will be able to improve the health of our forests and reduce the potential for megafires and big smoke production.  Even if we could stop anthropogenic climate change in its tracks this year, we still need to  deal with the issues of forest management, human initiation of fires, and human changes at the surface.

PS:  Although we had considerable background smoke from Canada, the really extreme smoke periods (August 21-22 in Puget Sound) was associated with fires over NE Washington, not Canada.  Same thing in 2017, with WA fires resulting in ash falling on Seattle.

PSS:  Some folks might bring up the Pine Beetle issue.  I have read several papers and talked to experts in UW Forestry that suggest that rather than lack of cold temperatures, unnaturally dense east-side forests and lack of fire allowed the Beetle kill.  In any case, peer-reviewed papers suggest that pine beetle infestation does NOT contribute to fires.

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A local forest landowner named Michael August has written a very interesting perspective on NW forests and smoke, found here.