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Luis Miguel Goitizolo

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RE: ARE WE NOW IN THE END TIMES?
10/11/2018 5:59:56 PM

Disgruntled Amazon Workers About To Be Replaced By Fleet Of Robots

Thu, 10/11/2018 - 11:25

Amazon, which announced a $15 minimum wage bump for 250,000 employees last week, is developing a fleet of "picking" robots to staff its warehouses, known as fulfillment centers, according to The Information, citing three people with knowledge of the work.




Warehouse pickers grab items from shelves and put them into bins before they are prepped and shipped. The new robots will be able to visually identify items as they speed down a conveyor belt, then pick them up with a compressed-air vacuum gripper before moving them onto a table or shelf - said an employee who witnessed the robot in action.

That said, our future robot overlords aren't quite ready for prime time.

For its part, Amazon says picking robots aren’t yet ready to handle the huge variety of items in Amazon fulfillment centers, with their different shapes, weights and sizes. In an emailed statement, Brad Porter, vice president and distinguished engineer at Amazon Robotics, said human pickers are also much better at spotting problems such as a leaking jug of laundry detergent before it is shipped to a customer.

We regularly look at our operations and evaluate how we can bring technology to create new solutions for employees,” said Mr. Porter. “When it comes to using robotic manipulation for item picking, while we’re encouraged by the work in the research community, the simple fact is the current state of the art is not capable of handling the diversity of Amazon’s product selection.” -The Information

Amazon began using automation in its fulfillment centers six years ago. During the same period, they have hired over 300,000 employees worldwide. Of the company's 185 fulfillment centers, over 25 of them, or around 14%, utilize robots.




"We need advanced technology and automation to meet customer demand—it’s just that simple," says Porter.

Opportunity costs

In recent years, strong growth in warehouse jobs has been accompanied by headlines criticizing various companies for low pay and disgruntled employees. Thanks to low unemployment, Amazon has found it increasingly difficult to attract workers - hence the wage increases. All of this means a more expensive workforce, which is a major reason for the push to replace humans with robots.

In 2012, Amazon acquired robotics startup Kiva Systems for $775 million, as Amazon's warehouses are well-suited to repetitive tasks. That said, " in a setting like an Amazon warehouse machine-learning algorithms must advance significantly so the machines can recognize the appropriate items they need to select from an array of objects," according to The Information, which adds that there is "little doubt among academic researchers and engineers that those hurdles will eventually be overcome. That could have profound implications for jobs, as online commerce continues to devour more of the retail business."

Amazon has previously sought to encourage innovation in picking robots with an annual contest, in which participants would compete to develop robots that could perform tasks such as grasping items and placing them on shelves. Amazon awarded $270,000 in prizes to winners of its 2017 robotics challenge. Most contestants came from academia, as opposed to startups.

Amazon didn’t hold the event this year, and instead has shifted its focus to funding proposals in academia through its Amazon Research Awards program, said a person close to Amazon. -The Information

Getting into the picking scene

Online retailer JD.com, meanwhile, has announced plans to conduct a December "picking challenge" of its own in Tianjin, China. The company boasts a fully automated fulfillment warehouse in Shanghai run by a skeleton crew of humans whose job it is to monitor and maintain the machines.




Experts differ on how long it will take before e-commerce fulfillment is fully automated.

Jeff Mahler, CEO at Ambidextrous Laboratories, a robotics startup that was recently spun out of University of California, Berkeley, said some parts of fulfillment can be automated in the near future, such as organizing products on shelves in warehouses. But humans will still have a role to play for some time because robots have a tough time grasping certain objects due to hardware limitations, he said. For example, it is difficult for them to pick up objects that are hard to see, such as a water bottle, he said.

More Aggressive Estimates

Older startups are more optimistic that picking robots will be widely deployed sooner.RightHand Robotics, a company that sells picker robots to retail, pharmaceutical and grocery companies, can handle hundreds of thousands of product SKUs at rates that can exceed 1,000 units per hour, according to Vince Martinelli, the head of product and marketing.

“Once the system is configured to perform a picking and placing function, no human involvement is required for normal operation—even for the majority of exception handling cases,” said Mr. Martinelli, who previously worked at Kiva Systems. -The Information

Robotics startup Kindred Systems has used data obtained from human operators to help train its robots to grasp objects. The company is now phasing out humans - having learned our ways - according to CEO Jim Liefer. Kindred's robots were operating at 20% autonomy in late 2017. Roughly one year later that figure now stands at 85% according to Liefer.




According to futurist and author Martin Ford, Amazon will have replaced most of its human pickers with autonomous robots within five years.

According to Ford, the productivity gains made in automation won't matter if there aren't enough employeed people to spend money on consumer goods. "We have to solve the problem of getting rid of people and replacing them with machines."



(zerohedge.com)




"Choose a job you love and you will not have to work a day in your life" (Confucius)

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Luis Miguel Goitizolo

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RE: ARE WE NOW IN THE END TIMES?
10/11/2018 6:52:28 PM

World on brink of FINANCIAL CRASH? Economic MELTDOWN as Europe, Asia and US markets PLUNGE

GLOBAL markets have been plunged into chaos today with stocks plummeting in Europe and Asia following Wall Street’s worst day since February. Shares sank into a sea of red as world markets slumped to their lowest level in eight months, according to data provider MSCI.

Investors have been rattled about rapidly rising interest rates and an expected slowdown in global economic growth.

While in Europe, the market has also felt the ripple effects of the ongoing fallout between Italy and European Union chiefs over Rome’s deficit budget proposal.

The FTSE 100 opened down 1.6 percent, while the pan-European Euro Stoxx 600 Index had dropped by 1.2 percent in early deals.

At 12:21pm, the FTSE 100 was trading at 7,030.90, according to Bloomberg, before later clawing back gains to reach 7,055.15 at 15:09 GMT.

In Italy, the FTSE MIB had tumbled by 1.5 percent this morning, before later clawing back some gains.

Markets also sunk this morning in Asia, with Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 losing 3.9 per cent, its biggest daily drop since March.

China witnessed its lowest stock market level in almost four years, while the Shanghai Composite ended the day down 5.2 percent.

The turbulent start for investors comes after the US stock market tumbled, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average sinking last night by more than 800 points.

As of 16:08 GMT, the Dow was down some 295 points, having initially clawed back gains of 42 points earlier this afternoon.

Trading information at the New York Stock Exchange in New York last night (Image: AVALON)

italy ftse mib

Italy's FTSE MIB had tumbled by around 1.5 percent (Image: BLOOMBERG)

ftse 100 index

The FTSE 100 opened down 1.6 percent (Image: BLOOMBERG)

The S&P 500 fell to a fifth-day straight loss yesterday, the longest slump since President Donald Trump was elected, as Wall Street endured its sharpest one-day fall in months.

The crumbling of global markets comes following concerns from investors surrounding global economic growth and rising interest rates.

The Federal Reserve is raising interest rates which makes it more expensive for companies to borrow and harms share prices.

The rout suggests businesses are not able to sustain the runaway growth that is marked 2018 so far.

Investors are nervous a trade war would slash profits.

President Trump described the Fed as having “gone crazy” after walking off Air Force One in Erie, Pennsylvania for a rally.

He said: ”I think the Fed is making a mistake. They are so tight. I think the Fed has gone crazy.

"Actually, it's a correction that we've been waiting for for a long time, but I really disagree with what the Fed is doing.”



The International Monetary Fund downgraded its predictions for global growth this week, and is now forecasting 3.7 percent global growth in both 2018 and 2019.

This is down from its July forecast of 3.9 percent growth for both years.

Maurice Obstfeld, the IMF's chief economist, pointed part of the blame to growing tensions between the US and China, who are currently locked in an increasingly bitter trade war.

Mr Obstfeld said at a media briefing about the fund's latest World Economic Outlook: "When you have the world's two largest economies at odds, that's a situation where everyone suffers.”

He continued: ”Trade policy reflects politics and politics remain unsettled in several countries, posing further risks.”

Investors have also been keeping their eyes on rising US Treasury yields.

The benchmark 10-year note yield recently soared its highest level in seven years while the two-year yield reached its highest mark since 2008 earlier this week.


(express.co.uk)



"Choose a job you love and you will not have to work a day in your life" (Confucius)

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Luis Miguel Goitizolo

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RE: ARE WE NOW IN THE END TIMES?
10/12/2018 11:21:54 AM
Bad Guys

Britain and NATO prepare for war on Russia in the Arctic

Arctic helicopter
© Flickr
On September 30 the UK's foreign minister, Jeremy Hunt, delivered an astonishing tirade, saying "The EU was set up to protect freedom. It was the Soviet Union that stopped people leaving. The lesson from history is clear: if you turn the EU club into a prison, the desire to get out won't diminish, it will grow - and we won't be the only prisoner that will want to escape." His comparison of the EU to gulags of former years played well with many people in Britain, but was understandably regarded as totally inappropriate by the EU, whose spokesman's polite observation was "I would say respectfully that we would all benefit - and in particular foreign affairs ministers - from opening a history book from time to time."

The lunacy didn't stop there. Not content with insulting the EU's 27 countries, the government in London decided to whip up even more patriotic fervour by again trying to portray Russia as a threat to the United Kingdom.

In June 2018 the UK's Sun newspaper carried the headline "Britain will send RAF Typhoon fighter jets to Iceland in bid to tackle Russian aggression" and since then Mr Williamson hasn't altered his contention that "the Kremlin continues to challenge us in every domain." (Williamson is the man who declared in March 2018 that "Frankly Russia should go away - it should shut up," which was one of the most juvenile public utterances of recent years.)

It was reported on September 29 that Williamson was concerned about "growing Russian aggression 'in our back yard'," and that the Government was drawing up a "defence Arctic strategy" with 800 commandos being deployed to a new base in Norway. In aninterview "Mr Williamson highlighted Russia's re-opening of Soviet-era bases and 'increased tempo' of submarine activity as evidence that Britain needed to 'demonstrate we're there' and 'protect our interests'."

Mr Williamson has not indicated what "interests" the United Kingdom could have in the Arctic region, where it has no territory.


The eight countries with territory north of the Arctic Circle are Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and the United States. They have legitimate interests in the region which is twice the area of the US and Canada combined. ButBritain has not one single claim to the Arctic. Not even a tenuous one like Iceland's, which is based on the fact that although its mainland is not within the Arctic Circle, the Circle does pass through Grimsey Island, about 25 kilometres north of Iceland's north coast. Britain's Shetland Islands, its northernmost land, are 713 kilometres (443 miles) south of the Arctic Circle.

So why does the UK declare that it has "interests" in the Arctic and that the region is "in our back yard"? How can it possibly feel threatened?

The Arctic Institute observed in February 2018 that Russia's "newer Arctic strategy papers focus on preventing smuggling, terrorism, and illegal immigration instead of balancing military power with NATO. These priorities suggest that Russia's security aims in the Arctic have to do with safeguarding the Arctic as a strategic resource base... In general, the government-approved documents seem to have moved from an assertive tone that highlights Russia's rivalry with NATO to a less abrasive tone based on securing economic development."

And economic development is what it's all about. On September 28 "it was reported that "a Danish-flagged cargo ship successfully passed through the Russian Arctic in a trial voyage showing that melting sea ice could potentially open a new trade route from Europe to east Asia." It is obviously in the best economic interests of the European Union and Russia that the route be developed for commercial transit. To do this requires avoidance of conflict in the region.


Comment: They needn't get too excited about 'melting sea ice': Icebreaker encounters most difficult ice conditions in 15 years in the Arctic


So what's your problem, Defence Minister Williamson?

In August Britain's Parliamentary Defence Committee published On Thin Ice: UK Defence in the Arctic which concluded that "There is little doubt that the Arctic and the High North are seeing an increasing level of military activity. There is much greater divergence in the evidence we have taken on what the reasons behind this are, particularly in relation to Russia. One view is that there is no offensive intent behind Russia's military build-up and that it is simply trying to regenerate military capacity in order to reassert sovereignty. The opposite view is that this is just one more part of Russia's aggressive reassertion of great power competition."

The Danish Government told the Committee that "Presently, Denmark sees no need for an increased military engagement or enhanced operative role for NATO in the Arctic", and the Swedish Ambassador said "The Swedish Arctic is a limited part of Swedish territory. We are more a Baltic Sea nation than an Arctic nation... Obviously, the whole area around the Arctic, in particular the Kola Peninsula, is of strategic importance to Russia and they have a serious military presence there. We see all of that. Is that reason to call it militarisation of the Arctic?"

In January Reuters reported that China had notified its Arctic strategy, "pledging to work more closely with Moscow in particular to create an Arctic maritime counterpart - a 'Polar Silk Road' - to its 'one belt, one road' overland trade route to Europe. Both the Kremlin and Beijing have repeatedly stated that their ambitions are primarily commercial and environmental, not military." It couldn't be plainer that Russia and China want the Arctic to be a profitable mercantile trade route, while Russia wants tocontinue exploration for oil, gas and mineral deposits, which are important for its economy.

To develop the Arctic requires peace and stability. It would be impossible to reap the benefits of the new sea-route and potentially enormous energy and mineral riches if there were to be conflict in the North. It is obviously in the best interests of Russia and China that there be tranquillity rather than military confrontation.

But Britain's Defence Minister insists there must be a military build-up by the UK in the Arctic "If we want to be protecting our interests in what is effectively our own back yard." He is backed by the Parliament's Defence Committee which states that "NATO's renewed focus on the North Atlantic is welcome and the Government should be congratulated on the leadership the UK has shown on this issue."

NATO is always on the lookout for excuses to indulge in military action (such as its nine-month blitz that destroyed Libya), and has announced it will conduct Arctic-focussed Exercise Trident Juncture in November, which Naval Today noted will be "one of the largest ever with 40,000 personnel, around 120 aircraft and as many as 70 ships converging in Norway."

The NATO military alliance is preparing for war in the Arctic, and deliberately confronting Russia by conducting manoeuvres ever-closer to its borders. It had better be very careful.

Comment: NATO's days are numbered, but it won't be going away quietly:Also check out SOTT radio's: NewsReal: Trump on Tour! US President Takes Wrecking Ball to NATO & EU, Mueller Indicts Russians

(sott.net)



"Choose a job you love and you will not have to work a day in your life" (Confucius)

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Luis Miguel Goitizolo

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RE: ARE WE NOW IN THE END TIMES?
10/12/2018 5:31:07 PM
Bad Guys

New Pentagon report outlines US preparations for total war with Russia and China

pentagon at night
Over the past two weeks, with next to no media coverage, the United States has moved substantially closer toward open military confrontation with both Russia and China, the second- and third-ranked nuclear powers in the world.

On October 3, the United States threatened, for the first time since the Cold War, to directly attack the Russian homeland. UN Ambassador to NATO Kay Bailey Hutchison accused the country of violating the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty by developing a nuclear cruise missile and said that Washington was preparing to "take out" the weapon with a US strike.

This statement came just three days after a Chinese warship set a collision course with a US destroyer carrying out a so-called "freedom of navigation" operation in the South China Sea, forcing the American ship to maneuver to avoid a collision and the potentially deadliest military clash in the Pacific in decades.

Behind such hair-raising incidents, the United States is undertaking serious, long-term preparations to restructure the American economy to fight a major war with a "peer" adversary, entailing radical changes to American economic, social and political life.

This is the essential content of a 146-page document released by the Pentagon last Friday, titled "Assessing and Strengthening the Manufacturing and Defense Industrial Base and Supply Chain Resiliency of the United States." It makes it clear that Washington is preparing not just for isolated regional clashes, but rather for a massive, long-term war effort against Russia and China under conditions of potential national autarchy.

The document made clear that a major restructuring of the American economy will be necessary to reach the United States military's stated goal of being prepared to "fight tonight" against a "peer adversary." The United States must "retool" for "great-power competition," the document declared.

"America's manufacturing and defense industrial base," observes the report, creates the "platform and systems" upon which "our Warfighter depends." This complex encompasses not just the government, but the private sector, as well as "R&D organizations" and "academic institutions." In other words, the entire economy and society.

It warns that "The erosion of American manufacturing over the last two decades... threatens to undermine the ability of U.S. manufacturers to meet national security requirements. Today, we rely on single domestic sources for some products and foreign supply chains for others, and we face the possibility of not being able to produce specialized components for the military at home."

Correcting this strategic deficiency, the report concludes, means that "support for a vibrant domestic manufacturing sector, a solid defense industrial base, and resilient supply chains is a national priority."

The report squarely targets China, declaring, "China's economic strategies, combined with the adverse impacts of other nations' industrial policies, pose significant threats to the U.S. industrial base and thereby pose a growing risk to U.S. national security."

The promotion of US manufacturing dominance, in other words, is vital for promoting military dominance.

The protection of heavy industry goes together with the administration's efforts to defend America's high-tech sector, the source of a vast portion of US profitability.

As the report notes, "One of the Chinese Communist Party's primary industrial initiatives, Made in China 2025, targets artificial intelligence, quantum computing, robotics, autonomous and new energy vehicles, high performance medical devices, high-tech ship components, and other emerging industries critical to national defense."

It warns that "Chinese R&D spending is rapidly converging to that of the U.S. and will likely achieve parity sometime in the near future," and worriedly points to the fact that the Chinese manufacturer DJI dominates the commercial aerial drone market.

The Pentagon's plans for protecting and expanding the US high-tech sector include its backing for the administration's efforts to limit the admission of Chinese students to US universities through visa restrictions. The report complains that, with as many as 25 percent of "STEM [Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics] graduates in the U.S. being Chinese nationals... American universities are major enablers of China's economic and military rise."

The vision in the document, in other words, is the concrete expression of the conception outlined in the latest US national security strategy, calling for "the seamless integration of multiple elements of national power-diplomacy, information, economics, finance, intelligence, law enforcement and military."

A leading element of this equation is the American corporate technology sector, which has scrambled for fat Pentagon contracts to develop the latest generation of weapons systems. In exchange for these payouts, and aggressive protection from their international rivals, they have worked closely to implement what one leaked internal Google document called a "shift towards censorship" in cooperation with the demands of the US military and intelligence agencies.

The logic of this growing fusion between the repressive apparatus of the state and increasingly powerful monopolies is the necessary correlation between "total war" and a "totalitarian" society, in which key constitutional provisions are rendered effectively meaningless.

The central target of such measures will be the forcible suppression of the class struggle in the name of promoting "national security." The escalation of global US militarism has coincided with a major upsurge in the class struggle, including the rejection of a concessions contract by workers at UPS, the logistics giant whose powerful workforce is capable of crippling not just America's industrial base, but substantial sections of the wartime economy.
(sott.net)



"Choose a job you love and you will not have to work a day in your life" (Confucius)

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Luis Miguel Goitizolo

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RE: ARE WE NOW IN THE END TIMES?
10/12/2018 6:19:08 PM

Facebook purges hundreds of political pages, some alt-media with millions of followers

Edited time: 12 Oct, 2018 16:02


© Reuters / Aaron P. Bernstein

Facebook is again being called out for purging political accounts too far left and right of center, after it removed more than 800 pages just in time for the 2018 midterm elections. Some had millions of followers.

Many of the affected pages were supposedly sharing links between groups using fake accounts, which then clicked "Like" on the posts, artificially upping their engagement numbers. This "inauthentic behavior" violates Facebook's anti-spam policies and goes against "what people expect" from Facebook, the company said.

While some of the deleted pages have been known to run content of questionable credibility at times, Facebook did not expressly accuse them of spreading "fake news" – or actually provide a list of names or examples of postings at all. However, under the platform's new policies, simply spreading "news" is frowned upon: it has recently tweaked its algorithm to prevent users' feeds from being dominated by news stories.



Twitter was in an uproar as many voices on the left and right alike saw their pages removed without cause.

On the Left, AntiMedia, with its 2.1 milion followers, and the Free Thought Project with 3.1, were among the victims. AntiMedia's Twitter account was suspended shortly after they posted about their removal from Facebook.

Press For Truth was also dropped.

Right Wing News (more than 3.1 million followers) and Nation In Distress (also over 3mn followers) were some of the conservative pages that got the axe.

Among those dragged under in the 'inauthentic behavior' purge is RT America correspondent Rachel Blevins, who says she took years to build up a following by posting her reports and articles – though RT content is probably not very popular with Facebook staff these days.

In August, the aggressively pro-NATO think tank Atlantic Council announced it was joining Facebook as a "fact-checking" partner. A press statement from the social media platform gushed that the think tank, which boasts such esteemed warmongers as Henry Kissinger and Michael Chertoff on its board, would serve as the "eyes and ears" of Facebook, so the platform could play a "positive role" in ensuring democracy was practiced correctly in the future.

In the recent months, accounts that post anti-establishment political content have noticed a massive drop in engagement on their posts – if they haven't been kicked off the platform altogether. In August, Facebook deleted 652 accounts after cybersecurity firm FireEye claimed they were linked to Iran.

After it emerged that political research firm Cambridge Analytica had used publicly-available user data to target possible Trump voters, CEO Mark Zuckerberg dismissed the idea that social media manipulation played a significant role in the 2016 US presidential election. Since then, however, the company has been playing catch-up, trying to preempt government regulation by banning and blocking any user who deviates from an increasingly narrow centrism.

Remembering the days when Facebook was all about cat videos and clickbaity headlines, one cannot help but link the sense of social responsibility it's suddenly developing to how US lawmakers have set their sights on social media platforms. In April, Zuckerberg had to endure House and Senate hearings, taking cringe-worthy questions from politicians who at time seemed to barely know what a social network is and how it works.

Meanwhile, mainstream media fearmongering is already kicking in. The New York Times – an outlet Facebook is unlikely to delist for posting misleading content anytime soon – has cited "experts" to accuse these domestic US pages of "emulating the Russian strategy


(RT)


"Choose a job you love and you will not have to work a day in your life" (Confucius)

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