Amazon Is Going to Drown Us in Alexa Crap

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The battle to listen to you all the time lol

The digital assistant wars are in full swing, and with Google just recently notching the latest victory by finishing Q2 with the top-selling smart speaker in the world, Amazon is revamping its Alexa-powered roster in a very big way.

At the start of its presentation, Amazon’s devices head David Limp set the tone by saying the company had around 70 new devices to talk about, and only an hour to do it. Limp then launched into talking about Amazon’s recent upgrades to Alexa, which in the U.S. includes making Alexa both more opinionated and more approachable for children and adults.

Now, Alexa will know when to whisper a reply back, for those situations when you’re trying not to disturb others, and starting today, Amazon is adding routines to the Echo Dot Kids Edition to help parents create custom Alexa commands for their children.

But the big reveal for Amazon are all the new Echo devices, headlined by an all-new Echo Dot. While the new Dot is retaining its affordable $50 price tag, it sports a new, rounded fabric-covered body with “louder and clearer” sound and both Bluetooth and line-out connectivity.

To help supplement the Dot, Amazon also created the even cheaper (and thinner) Echo Input, which lacks speakers and is instead meant to be plugged directly into existing home audio solutions similar to Google’s Chromecast Audio. Not coincidentally, the Echo Input costs $35, the same as a Chromecast Audio.

And for those who want to augment their speaker setups with a little more thump, Amazon also announced the $130 Echo Sub, which can be used for multi-room audio and synced with a pair of standard Echoes to create your own 2.1 system.

Of course, the audio rabbit hole goes much deeper than just speakers and subs, so Amazon went and made the $200 Echo Link and $300 Echo Link Amp. Neither of these are meant to be standalone products and they don’t include a microphone. Instead, they connect to other Echo speakers and include a dial to help control and fine tune your audio, or in the case of the Echo Link Amp, help boost your sound quality.

But we’re still not done yet, because in an apparent move to better compete against the HomePod and the Google Home Max, Amazon also announced the $150 Echo Plus, which looks vaguely like a HomePod with a blue light ring up top and a built-in smart home hub inside.

On top of featuring better compatibility for smart home gadgets, the Echo Plus has what Amazon is calling Local Voice Control, which means that commands made to devices in your house no longer need to be sent to the cloud before making something happen.

But what about all your existing “dumb” gadgets, you say? Well, Amazon thinks it has a solution for that too with the new $25 Amazon Smart Plug, which plugs into a traditional outlet and lets you turn devices on and off simply by asking Alexa. And to make sure setting all of these devices up is as hassle-free as possible, Amazon is touting a simple setup process that lets you rename a device with your voice during your initial install. . .

via Amazon Is Going to Drown Us in Alexa Crap

Dear Republicans, Your Dark Money Days Are About To Hit A Roadblock

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Could the Republican Party be in receipt for even more negative news? Yes, as many donors of dark monies, (monies they can donate for political purposes anonymously), will have the cloak of anonymity taken away. Again, the courts have stepped in to rule that many of these donors will have to reveal their names to the public, even before the November 2018 elections.

Here is the rest of the story… 

On September 18, 2018, Paul Blumenthal of HuffPost penned the following report, “Dark Money Groups Will Have To Disclose Their Donors In Time For The Midterms” (“A court order invalidating a rule that kept some election spending secret is going into effect.”)

Excerpts:

“There may be a whole lot less dark money in federal elections after the Supreme Court allowed a lower court decision to go into effect on Tuesday invalidating a key regulation that created a loophole for undisclosed spending.”

Image result for photos of americans for prosperity

“The decision came about after Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a liberal watchdog group, fought for the past six years to get the Federal Election Commission to enforce campaign finance laws against Crossroads GPS, a conservative nonprofit group founded by Karl Rove, a senior adviser to George W. Bush when he was president. CREW finally won its battle on Tuesday.”

“As of Sept. 18, any group that runs an independent expenditure ― election ads that expressly call for the election or defeat of a candidate ― in excess of $250 will have to disclose all political donors above $200″. . .
via Dear Republicans, Your Dark Money Days Are About To Hit A Roadblock

Ralph Nader: Questions, Questions Where are the Answers?

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By Ralph Nader  In the Public Interest  September 18, 2018

 

In an oft-reported exchange between Gertrude Stein, an American widely known for her wisdom and glittering 1920s Parisian literary salon, and one of her earnest admirers, the admirer asked her – “What are the answers, Madame Stein?” She replied “What are the questions?”

Within our media/political/corporate culture of self-censorship and taboo topics, we should restate Ms. Stein’s rejoinder—what are the questions of gravity and relevance that are chronically unasked?

Here are some questions that should be asked, until answered!

  1. Why are Supreme Court nominees, including Judge Brett Kavanaugh, not asked by the Senate Judiciary Committee about corporate crime, tyrannical, one-sided fine print contracts, weakened tort law and U.S. violations of constitutional and international law affecting all Americans?”
  2. Why do reporters and elected and regulatory officials decline to ask questions about peer-reviewed studies concluding a minimum of 250,000 Americans are losing their lives every year due to preventable problems in hospitals? (see Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine’s May 2016 report). Five thousand fatalities a week on the average plus many more preventable injuries and illnesses should be an ongoing subject of urgent inquiry for action.
  3. Computerized billing fraud is rampant. Last year in the health care industry alone, computerized billing fraud amounted to about $350 billion dollars. The leading expert, Harvard’s Malcolm Sparrow, and a Congressional GAO report estimate at least 10% of all health expenditures are a result of fraudulent billings. Why aren’t the TV networks, PBS and NPR, and the major newspapers all over this massive ongoing heist?
  4. Sanctions imposed on foreign agencies and personnel are flying out of Washington. What are these sanctions, how are they enforced, are they legal under international law, is there any due process to protect the innocent or indirect victims, and how are they countered? There are regular stories about the U.S. government announcements of sanctions, but no follow-up questions about this burgeoning unilateral foreign policy.
  5. The Taliban is composed of no more than 30,000 to 35,000 fighters without an air force, navy or heavy ground armor. Why are they holding down for over a decade U.S. forces and their allies many times their number, with advanced weaponry, and enlarging their territorial control? Is it because expelling foreign invaders motivates their astonishing determination? And who are all those suicide bombers and what is motivating them to stand in line waiting for the call?
  6. Why has the Congressional scrutiny of the wasteful, unauditable military budget crumbled as never before with the Democrats voting for more money than even Trump initially asked for in the last funding cycle? Over 50 percent of the federal government operating expenses goes to defense? Both parties act as if adequate money for infrastructure repair in this country is nowhere to be found.
  7. Why aren’t the hundreds of full-time reporters covering Congress demanding to know why members, or their staff, routinely do not reply to substantive letters, calls, or e-mails, without constant hammering by citizens? The exception is if you are a campaign donor. Why are Congressional offices often so unavailable during working hours? If you are lucky you can leave a message on the office voicemail. Inside the heavily guarded Russell Senate Office Building, Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) even locks the door to his suite of offices.
  8. Similar non-responsiveness holds true with government agencies in the executive branches at the federal and state levels. A group of citizens, including me, has been waiting for months to get a reply from the Justice Department about their request for the Department‘s position on starting a long needed corporate crime database. One would think that newspapers, begging for readers, would do regular, random surveys of these agencies who, after all, work for the people they are shutting out. Small wonder citizens are turned off government when they can’t get through to get answers to their critical inquiries. . .

via Ralph Nader: Questions, Questions Where are the Answers?

Despite US Opposition, Joint Liaison Office Opens On Shared Korean Border

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By Tyler Durden – Zero Hedge – 09/15/2018

On Friday an unprecedented development occurred that could put the Korean peninsula on a permanent trajectory of stability should talks between the North and South continue their positive direction, and which signals an intensification of diplomacy between the two.

South Korea has opened a new liaison office in the North Korean city of Gaeseong (or alternately Kaesong), which is to allow for 24-hour communication between the two sides for first time since war. The office is located inside an industrial park and Gaeseong is just inside the North’s side of the border.

It’s being described as allowing “around-the-clock” communication between rival officials on either side the military demarcation line, and could avoid the potential for future misunderstandings or provocations, and further comes amidst a parallel diplomatic push by the United States and its allies for complete North Korean denuclearization.

When the proposal was being finalized this summer, however, the US was opposed to the plan, with the State Department last month saying progress between the two Koreas must occur “in lockstep” with talks on the north’s denuclearization.

According to Bloomberg:

The Aug. 20 announcement of the office’s establishment had raised concerns in the U.S. about whether it would violate sanctions meant to penalize Pyongyang over its nuclear arsenal. But on Thursday, the United Nations Command said it had approved South Korean vehicles and personnel to cross the border into North Korea and begin constructing a communications center at the Gaeseong complex.

Meanwhile the United Nations welcomed the development, with UNC commander Vincent Brooks saying in a statement that communication between two sides is “a way to prevent incidents or crises.”

About 50 South Korean officials crossed into the North to attend the opening ceremony, where South Korean Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon told ceremony attendees, “A new chapter in history is starting here today,” and added, “It is a symbol of peace made jointly by South and North Korea.”

The two sides agreed to open the office during the prior historic April summit between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, with the two again set to meet in Pyongyang next week. And meanwhile the White House is reportedly working toward plans for another meeting between President Trump and the North Korean leader.

But even though outlets like the New York Times reported the joint liaison’s office as a positive step in relations, much of the reporting this week has failed to recall that Washington firmly opposed it

 

via Despite US Opposition, Joint Liaison Office Opens On Shared Korean Border

Treat the Inflammation not the Cholesterol

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dr-dwight-lundell

Dr. Dwight Lundell, former Chief of Staff and Chief of Surgery at Banner Heart Hospital in Arizona told the world not to take statin drugs.  “We physicians with all our training, knowledge and authority often acquire a rather large ego that tends to make it difficult to admit we are wrong. So, here it is. I freely admit to being wrong. As a heart surgeon with 25 years experience, having performed over 5,000 open-heart surgeries, today is my day to right the wrong with medical and scientific fact.

His frontal attack on the field of cardiology tears apart the practice of prescribing medications to lower cholesterol and a diet that severely restricted fat intake. Doctors in this field have been continually bombarded with scientific literature, continually attending education seminars, all of which insisted heart disease resulted from the simple fact of elevated blood cholesterol. They were wrong. Unfortunately for too many people—dead wrong.

Dr. David Brownstein has debated publically about this issue and many people do recognize how off base the world of cardiology actually is. I have gone as far as writing an essay telling people to run from their statin prescribing cardiologist. And I have written an essay about The Statin Disaster and the recent increasing recommendation and prescription of this quite useless drug.

We know that inflammation in the artery wall is the real cause of heart disease. Simply stated, without inflammation being present in the body, there is no way that cholesterol can accumulate in the wall of the blood vessel and cause heart disease and strokes. Without sufficient magnesium in the body inflammation results and it is the inflammation that causes cholesterol to become trapped.

Magnesium, not statin drugs should be the foundation drug of for the prevention and treatment of heart disease, diabetes, and arteriosclerosis; it serves as a natural calcium antagonist, normalizes blood pressure and irregular heartbeat. Magnesium is The Ultimate Heart Medicine!

What are the biggest culprits of chronic inflammation? Quite simply, they are the overload of simple, highly processed carbohydrates (sugar, flour and all the products made from them) and the excess consumption of omega-6 vegetable oils like soybean, corn and sunflower that are found in many processed foods. Low magnesium though is the most basic culprit as is excessive irregular breathing, which reduces both CO2 and O2 levels in the body, both of which cause systemic inflammation. . .

via Treat the Inflammation not the Cholesterol

International Criminal Court unfazed by US threats of sanctions over Afghan war crimes probe

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RT | September 11, 2018

The International Criminal Court (ICC) has said it will “continue to do its work undeterred,” after US National Security Advisor John Bolton threatened sanctions if the tribunal investigates alleged US war crimes in Afghanistan.

The Hague-based court investigates genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes and is backed by 123 countries – but not by China and the US.

“The ICC, as a court of law, will continue to do its work undeterred, in accordance with those principles and the overarching idea of the rule of law,” it said in a statement on Tuesday.

The tribunal’s remarks came in response to a scathing verbal attack launched by Bolton in Washington DC on Monday during a speech to the conservative Federalist Society.

“Today, on the eve of September 11th, I want to deliver a clear and unambiguous message on behalf of the president,” Bolton began, before launching into the blistering offensive against the ICC.

“The United States will use any means necessary to protect our citizens and those of our allies from unjust prosecution by this illegitimate court. We will not cooperate with the ICC. We will provide no assistance to the ICC… We will let the ICC die on its own. After all, for all intents and purposes, the ICC is already dead to us.”

Bolton then issued a very clear threat: If the international court continues to pursue the probe, Washington will ban ICC judges from entering the country, prosecute them and sanction their funding. His main objection is the notion that the ICC could have higher authority than the US constitution and US sovereignty.

“In secular terms we don’t recognize any higher authority than the US constitution,” he said, adding that Trump “will not allow American citizens to be prosecuted by foreign bureaucrats, and he will not allow other nations to dictate our means of self defence.”

In November 2017, an ICC prosecutor requested approval to launch a probe into potential war crimes by the US armed forces and the CIA through the torture of detainees in Afghanistan.

However, Bolton didn’t come out swinging solely on the behalf of the US – he also attacked the ICC’s threat to Washington’s “friend and ally” Israel, as the Middle Eastern country faces an investigation into alleged war crimes against Palestinians.

Bolton said the probe into the actions of Israel, which he described as a “liberal, democratic nation,” was unacceptable, and added that any countries supporting the investigation and cooperating with the ICC would be subject to secondary sanctions

 

via International Criminal Court unfazed by US threats of sanctions over Afghan war crimes probe

Guardian Continues Shameless Misinformation Campaign Against Nicaragua and its People

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Camilo Mejía
Via Tortilla Con Sal
Roberto Huembes Market, Managua, September 7, 2018

On its September 7 article, the once progressive newspaper reports that Nicaragua was brought to a standstill by a general strike called by the Civic Alliance, one of the main opposition coalitions behind the attempted soft-coup, citing how banks and upscale shopping malls in Managua are all closed in support of the strike. What The Guardian fails to mention is that those upscale businesses only represent a small portion within the Nicaraguan sector, which is mostly driven by micro, small, and mid-size businesses that are part of the country’s popular market economy, which in turn employs about 90 percent of the country’s workers. In truth, commerce was business as usual throughout Nicaragua, as these images show.

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Market in Matagalpa, September 7, 2018
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Market in Granada, September 7, 2018

The paper then quotes Ana Margarita Vigil, calling her the ‘national director of the outlawed Sandinista Renovation Movement (MRS).” What they omit is that the MRS was not arbitrarily “outlawed,” it simply lacks the legal status of a political party because its leaders have not been able to obtain more than 1.3 percent of the popular vote, which isn’t enough to qualify them to run in elections.

“With 200 political prisoners and [new] murders every day,” Vigil is quoted, “this strike is just one more sign that nothing is normal here in Nicaragua.” Here, again, The Guardian leaves out vital information. First, since the roadblocks were removed, the only people who have died as a result of political turmoil have been Sandinistas, including Lenin Mendiola, who died as a result of gunshots fired directly from an opposition march in Matagalpa on August 11 of this year.

Another Sandinista, Bismarck Martinez Sanchez, is presumed dead after video evidence of his capture and torture was found on the cell phones of opposition operatives; he was kidnapped at a tranque (or roadblock) on June 29 of this year. Several of the perpetrators of these crimes have been arrested. They are the kind of criminals being called “political prisoners,” by people in the opposition, such as Vigil. . .

via The Guardian Continues its Shameless Misinformation Campaign Against Nicaragua and its People