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  1. #46
    Vice Admiral Virtuoso John Watt's Avatar
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    Just when "fake news" is faking everybody out everywhere you look at American media,
    here comes the new upgrade.

    Artificial intelligence is fueling the next phase of misinformation.
    The new type of synthetic media known as deepfakes poses major challenges for newsrooms when it comes to verification.
    This content is indeed difficult to track: Can you tell which of the images below is a fake?




    (Check the bottom of this story for the answer.) I'm adding that it really doesn't matter.


    We at The Wall Street Journal are taking this threat seriously and have launched an internal deepfakes task force,
    led by the Ethics & Standards and the Research & Development teams. This group, the WSJ Media Forensics Committee,
    is comprised of video, photo, visuals, research, platform, and news editors who have been trained in deepfake detection.
    Beyond this core effort, we’re hosting training seminars with reporters, developing newsroom guides,
    and collaborating with academic institutions such as Cornell Tech to identify ways technology can be used to combat this problem.

    “Raising awareness in the newsroom about the latest technology is critical,” said Christine Glancey,
    a deputy editor on the Ethics & Standards team who spearheaded the forensics committee.
    “We don’t know where future deepfakes might surface so we want all eyes watching out for disinformation.”

    John Watt here: Fortunately, no onstage holograms of dead politicians have made any public speeches.

    I used to think Michael Jordan was the master of deep fakes, but now I'm not sure.
    Were some of those slam-dunks photo-shopped?
    Did "Blew Bayou" really run faster on wet tracks?
    Was that really a right-handed Stratocaster with the strings strung upside-down,
    or did Jimi play left-handed strings on an upside-down right-handed guitar?
    Why did I play with a left-handed body with a right-handed neck?
    Did I deepfake myself out?
    Fretting fingers want to know.
    Last edited by John Watt; Nov-22-2018 at 16:03.

  2. #47
    Vice Admiral Virtuoso John Watt's Avatar
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    There is only one story in California, and that is the fires. What are we going to do about the fires?
    On Friday evening, after a week spent indoors trying to avoid breathing the filthy air outside my windows,
    my family and I jumped in the car and drove from San Francisco to Lake Tahoe.
    It was one of the only spots on PurpleAir’s map of the state that wasn’t covered in the orange,
    red, or purple dots that indicate smoke-filled air. While smoke from fires has drifted into San Francisco before —
    most notably last October when multiple fires lashed across the wine country —
    in the 20 years I’ve lived here it’s never stuck around like this.
    I’ve never seen so many people in masks or seen the sky stay so dark for so many days on end.
    As California’s fires go, this was something new.

    ADVERTISEMENT




    2018 is the year when everyone, everyone, in the state ran from the fires or choked on the fumes.
    It is a before-and-after moment.
    In California, in mid-November of 2018, it became as clear as it did in New York in mid-September of 2001,
    that what was a once-distant threat has now arrived.

    Paul Deanno @PaulKPIX

    This statement is now true:
    "The #SanFrancisco #BayArea is in the middle of the most prolonged 'very unhealthy' air quality event in the region's history." @KPIXtv https://t.co/LHqMDVrzf2

    04:53 AM - 17 Nov 2018 Reply Retweet Favorite

    The two major fires (and there are others) that have run through California in recent weeks were unique.
    Scores of people are dead. Almost a thousand are still missing.
    Tens of thousands of homes were destroyed in fires that have chewed through nearly 250,000 acres.
    Meanwhile, millions of people are stuck under a blanket of toxic smoke.
    These fires were equal-opportunity destroyers that ravaged cities as far apart and different as the Northern California hill town outpost of Paradise,
    and Southern California’s wealthy beachside enclave of Malibu. The fire crossed class divides while highlighting them too —
    even as thousands were made homeless, a wealthy few were able to enlist private firefighters to protect their property.

    ADVERTISEMENT




    Many factors made the situation what it is — a sprawl of homes slung into the wilderness, for example, and fire management practices.
    But the most salient cause is climate change. We are a state of dead trees and drought, forests full of upright tinder ,
    where bark beetles chew through perished crimson-colored forests that should be all evergreen boughs.
    We have built our homes in canyons and on hillsides that resemble chimneys. And now it doesn’t seem like there’s any way out.

    It feels like a ratcheting up of calamitous forces already well underway.
    Yes, the Camp fire is the most destructive in California’s history. But the largest fire in California’s history,
    the Mendocino Complex fire, was also in 2018. The second-largest fire? It was in 2017. The second most destructive?
    Also in 2017. And the fires now burn nearly all year round; there is no more “fire season.”

    John Watt here: After the flooding of New Orleans I was talking with the Mayor of Thorold, Ontario.
    She said their flood insurance, to cover storage basements, was $30,000 a year, now building a new City Hall.
    After New Orleans the Province of Ontario, those Toronto politicians, forced them to pay $300,000 for a new policy,
    seen as subsidizing American insurance companies.

  3. #48
    Vice Admiral Virtuoso John Watt's Avatar
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    From non-stop wildfires in California to prairie farmers who don't have a prayer,
    the United States is facing a national catastrophe with global warming and losing the code-war to China.

    Harvesting in a trade war: U.S. crops rot as storage costs soar

    Mark Weinraub, P.J. Huffstutter
    6 Min Read

    (Reuters) - U.S. farmers finishing their harvests are facing a big problem -
    where to put the mountain of grain they cannot sell to Chinese buyers.



    • For Louisiana farmer Richard Fontenot and his neighbors, the solution was a costly one: Let the crops rot.

      Fontenot plowed under 1,000 of his 1,700 soybean acres this fall, chopping plants into the dirt instead of harvesting more than $300,000 worth of beans.
      His beans were damaged by bad weather, made worse by a wet harvest. Normally, he could sell them anyway to a local elevator - giant silos usually run by international grains merchants that store grain.
      But this year they aren’t buying as much damaged grain. The elevators are already chock full.
      “No one wants them,” Fontenot said in a telephone interview. As he spoke, he drove his tractor across a soybean field, tilling under his crop. “I don’t know what else to do.”
      Across the United States, grain farmers are plowing under crops, leaving them to rot or piling them on the ground, in hopes of better prices next year, according to interviews with more than two dozen farmers, academic researchers and farm lenders. It’s one of the results, they say, of a U.S. trade war with China that has sharply hurt export demand and swamped storage facilities with excess grain.
      In Louisiana, up to 15 percent of the oilseed crop is being plowed under or is too damaged to market, according to data analyzed by Louisiana State University staff. Crops are going to waste in parts of Mississippi and Arkansas. Grain piles, dusted by snow, sit on the ground in North and South Dakota. And in Illinois and Indiana, some farmers are struggling to protect silo bags stuffed with crops from animals.
      FILE PHOTO: Eric Honselman opens a shed which holds 75,000 bushels of corn he was forced to store after his regular bins were filled to capacity with corn and soybeans on the family farm in Casey, Illinois, U.S., October 25, 2018. REUTERS/Mark Weinraub

      U.S. farmers planted 89.1 million acres of soybeans this year, the second most ever, expecting China’s rising demand to give them better returns than other bulk crops.
      But Beijing slapped a 25 percent tariff on U.S. soybeans in retaliation for duties imposed by Washington on Chinese exports. That effectively shut down U.S. soybean exports to China, worth around $12 billion last year. China typically takes around 60 percent of U.S. supplies.
      The U.S. government rolled out an aid program of around the same size - $12 billion - to help farmers absorb the cost of the trade war. As of mid-November, $837.8 million had been paid out.
      Some of that money will pass from farmers to grain merchants such as Archer Daniels Midland Co (ADM.N) and Bunge Ltd (BG.N), who are charging farmers more to store crops at elevators where there is limited space. Bunge and ADM did not respond to requests for comment on storage fees.
      The storage crunch and higher fees have boosted revenues at grain elevator Andersons [ANDE.O], Chief Executive Officer Pat Bowe said in an interview.
      “It’s paying a grain handler to store - it’s the old-fashioned way to make money,” Bowe said.
      These are also boom times for John Wierenga, president of grain storage bag retailer Neeralta. Sales of their bags - white tubes up to 300 feet now littering Midwest fields - are up 30 percent from a year ago.
      “The demand has been huge,” Wierenga said. “We are sold out.”
      HIGHER FEES

      Farmers are feeling the pinch. Those in central Illinois could pay up to 40 percent more than in previous years to store crops over the coming weeks, agricultural consultant Matt Bennett estimated.
      FILE PHOTO: 75,000 bushels of corn is stored in a shed after the regular bins have been filled to capacity with corn and soybeans on the family farm of Eric Honselman in Casey, Illinois, U.S., October 25, 2018. REUTERS/Mark Weinraub


      That amounts to between 3 cents to 6 cents a bushel, Bennett said, a painful expense for a crop that was already expected to deliver little income to farmers.
      Storage rates are swinging wildly, depending on the elevator location. Grain dealers at rivers typically charge more than their inland counterparts because they are more dependent on export markets.
      At some Midwest river terminals, farmers were paying 60 cents a bushel to store soybeans until the end of the year - more than twice as much as a year ago. Some commercial terminals are charging farmers to just drop off their soybeans.
      The trade war has only exacerbated the strain on storage, which has been a persistent problem in recent years due largely to a worldwide oversupply of grains.
      Even before this fall’s harvest, around 20 percent of total grain storage available in the U.S. was full with corn, soybeans and wheat from previous harvests, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. That was the highest in 12 years for this time of year.
      Tesla cuts China car prices amid trade war

      Some grain merchants are also charging additional fees for farmers who deliver less-than-perfect soybeans, said Russell Altom, a soybean farmer and senior vice president of agricultural lending at Relyance Bank in Pine Bluff, Arkansas.
      “I’ve never seen things this bad,” Altom said. “I know several farmers who hired lawyers, to see if they can sue over the pricing and fees issues.”
      Eric Maupin, a farmer in Newbern, Tennessee, said he was facing so-called dockage rates of between 60 cents at $1.20 per bushels at Bunge Elevators in his area - more than three times as high as a year ago.
      “Damage can be anything - a split bean, one that’s too small, one that’s too big - whatever,” Maupin said.
      Some farmers are pulling farm equipment out of barns to make room for the overflow of grains.
      After packing nearly half a million bushels of corn and soybeans in their usual steel bins, Terry Honselman and his family found some additional space in 35-year-old shed on their Casey, Illinois, farm.
      Most years, the building protects farm equipment and bags of seed. Now, it is stuffed with 75,000 bushels of corn.
      Like others, Honselman is banking on a resolution to the trade war before this spring - when he says he will need the space back for his planting supplies.
      Reporting by Mark Weinraub in Chicago and Casey, Illinois; and P.J. Huffstutter in Chicago; Editing by Caroline Stauffer, Simon Webb and Paul Thomasch


      Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.
    Last edited by John Watt; Nov-23-2018 at 15:11.

  4. #49
    Vice Admiral Virtuoso John Watt's Avatar
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    For me, the reports of laser and satellite microwave technology being used to start California wildfires is new.
    I looked through almost twenty YouTube videos to see what was being said and by who, and for the best visuals too.
    I'm sure you know when you look at a YouTube video it prompts the display of similar videos. I'm depending on that.
    This video is short and shows convincing photos with a realistic narrative, which is why I'm using it here.
    Other videos offer scientific explanations, describe existing military use, and offer motives for burning California.

    I also saw a video about "autobots", small, self-flying drones of artificial intelligence with facial recognition software.
    Supposedly, they have been used to seek out persons of military interest where they detonate in their faces, killing them.
    This death is directed, saying the information in the brain is also destroyed.
    When the strange gets deranged you can only start wondering how your mind is being played.
    Please, watch at the risk of your own sanity.


  5. #50
    Vice Admiral Virtuoso John Watt's Avatar
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    This video is part of todays' Canadian Broadcasting Corporations' news report about the immigrant border crisis.
    11/29/2018, just over three minutes.

    Last night I looked at replies to one American YouTube video about this,
    and for the first time reported replies for hate and violent speech.
    Most of them had very bad spelling and grammar, hard to see them as legit.

    For sure, most Americans don't know that these South American countries were taken over by Americans,
    and the people who are leaving that country behind are fleeing American oppression and induced poverty.
    This inspired a couple of lines from me that I'd use as a reply to the most negative postings.

    Does this mean that you should only let in people named Nina, Santa Maria and Pinto?
    When you wave your flag in their face long enough they're going to want to wave it back.

    This kind of border crisis is the result of the all the unregistered and non-citizen labour around the world.
    It's only going to get worse everywhere.
    The Canadian Professor Marshall McCluhan predicted this in the sixties as the result of global online use.
    He invented the term "global village" and talked about how technology and it's use, and being an end user yourself,
    will over-ride the truth of our lives and media news as an addictive process.
    I was offered political asylum if I crossed the Queenston-Lewiston Bridge, it's not any different for me.
    Why type that my heart goes out to these people, when I don't have enough heart for my own life.



  6. #51
    Vice Admiral Virtuoso John Watt's Avatar
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    I don't want to be very specific about a video, because if it's timely now it might not be, even in a few days.
    But this talk show "comedy sketch" about President Donald Trump is one of the better ones, new today, 11/30/2018.
    One of President Trumps' advisors has confessed to lying to Congress about President Trumps business dealings.
    His Russian contacts are coming under increasing investigation.
    This video features a lot of President Trump being interviewed outside the White House.

    What I would like to point out is the Russian Premier Vladamir Putin reference.
    That's a major theme in American news, saying the heads of other countries are assassinating reporters.
    This video is over seven minutes long.
    If you go into a bar and order a white Russian, what do you get? A photo of Donald Trump.


    Last edited by John Watt; Nov-30-2018 at 16:08.

  7. #52
    Vice Admiral Virtuoso John Watt's Avatar
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    Major wildfires continue to burn in California as more evidence comes to light.
    This video is very convincing about housing and businesses burning when the forests aren't.
    A news station helicopter provides video of massive, unexplained clouds and these fires.



  8. #53
    Vice Admiral Virtuoso John Watt's Avatar
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    American news about President Donald Trump is happening fast and furious.
    Obviously, Democrat Party control of the House of Representatives, which happens officially in January,
    is already causing a huge shift in the power of the White House and its' employees.
    This two minute video sums up todays' action and shows the most recent developments.
    This isn't good. When dictators are feeling the public rising up against them,
    and President Trump is having his worst lowest approval numbers, according to polls,
    they usually attack a country to get the public behind them, always a big American thing.
    President Trump has been saying that America doesn't know how to fight a war any more,
    saying Vietnam to Afghanistan were wars that America lost.
    His idea of a war isn't American soldiers entering other countries to fight specific groups,
    but fighting an entire country to own it.


    Last edited by John Watt; Dec-01-2018 at 04:51. Reason: forgot to embed the video

  9. #54
    Vice Admiral Virtuoso John Watt's Avatar
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    Trumpty-Dumpty wanted to build a great wall, but Trumpty-Dumptys' presidency had a great fall.
    All the White House women, and all the White House men, couldn't put up with Trumpty-Dumpty again.

    yes... it's true... I've been watching too many YouTube videos...

    izzara song in there? or izzat just a leer-rick?

  10. #55
    Vice Admiral Virtuoso John Watt's Avatar
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    Farmland. You would think a description of rural life would be ripe and refreshing,
    just like the food that's grown there, thinking outdoor air and farm living.
    America. Here's a brief description that defies what the land and life used to be.

    California’s San Joaquin Valley, from Stockton in the north to Arvin in the south, is 234 miles long and 130 miles wide.
    If you drive there from the Bay Area, in less than an hour the temperature will go from 57 to 97 degrees. It will keep rising.
    The radio stations are predominantly Spanish: ranchera music, boleros, corridos, ballads of spurned love,
    and the distinctive norteño sound—percussive, driving, no brass.
    On the English-language station an indignant voice advises listeners to be mentally vigilant against “sitcoms, news reports,”
    the entire panoply of “mainstream media because it’s all the same skank, it’s all from one cesspool, their snakish agenda for a one-world order.”
    The country music summer hit is called “Take a Drunk Girl Home.”

    The Valley is flat, under a constant cloud of dust, smog, pesticides, and smoke. The smog is from Bay Area traffic carried in by the wind,
    the pesticides from the millions of pounds of chemicals poured onto the land every year,
    the smoke from the wildfires that burn to the north and get trapped in the Valley, pushed to the ground by the heat.
    The cloud is kept there by the Sierra Nevada to the east, the Coast Ranges to the west, and the Tehachapi Mountains to the south,
    which the Fresno-based writer Mark Arax calls “our Mason-Dixon Line,”
    because it marks the Valley’s physical and psychological separation from the cosmopolitan culture of Southern California and Los Angeles.
    The city of Bakersfield and the area around it, on the southern edge of the Valley, has the worst air quality in the United States.

    Measured by yearly production, the San Joaquin Valley is one of the highest-value stretches of farmland in the country,
    and is dominated by large growers who preside over a labor force of migrant workers in a way that has not changed much
    since Carey McWilliams described it in his 1939 book, Factories in the Fields. Arax likens it to a Central American country.
    “It’s the poorest part of California,” he told me. “There’s almost no middle class.
    To find its equivalent in the United States you’d have to go to Appalachia or the borderlands of Texas.”

    Raisins, table grapes, pistachios, almonds, tomatoes, stone fruits, garlic, and cabbage are some of the crops of the Valley.
    The clementines that we buy in netted bags at the supermarket are grown here,
    as are the pomegranates that make the juice we are told protects us from cancer.
    The revenue from all the crops harvested here and elsewhere in California is $47 billion a year, more than double that of Iowa,
    the next-biggest agricultural state. Most of this revenue benefits a few hundred families,
    some with as many as 20,000 or even 40,000 acres of land.
    Plantations on the west side of the Valley are so huge that managers keep track of workers by airplane.

    John Watt here: Further on, this article describes the soil as "being a crumble", dry and chunky,
    after being soaked with pesticides and artificial nutrients for generations, now unable to grow without chemicals.
    Last edited by John Watt; Dec-06-2018 at 12:16.

  11. #56
    Vice Admiral Virtuoso John Watt's Avatar
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    This is one of the most incredible online news articles I have seen in our online age.
    It describes a new form of fire tornado in California and uses many high tech features.
    I recommend looking for volumes and mutes so you access the voices and soundtracks.
    There are many mini-videos and moving graphics to describe the storms' path.
    Some of the functions and animated displays are unknown to me.
    I'm not sure how long this will remain active online as this newspaper publishes,
    dated now, 12/8/2018. This is the Carr wildfire, not the one that burned Paradise City.

    The San Fransisco Chronicle: 150 minutes of hell.

    https://projects.sfchronicle.com/201...-fire-tornado/
    Last edited by John Watt; Dec-08-2018 at 11:42.

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