"And I beheld, and heard the voice of one eagle flying through the midst of heaven,
saying with a loud voice: Woe, woe, woe to the inhabitants of the earth....
[Apocalypse (Revelation) 8:13]

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Signs of the Times (February 21, 2017)

Signs of the Times  (February 21, 2017)
Rise of the Robot Military?
Here is the latest madness coming form the modern world
Warning: Sensitive Material

Robots poised to take over wide range of military jobs

The wave of automation that swept away tens of thousands of American manufacturing and office jobs during the past two decades is now washing over the armed forces, putting both rear-echelon and front-line positions in jeopardy.

“Just as in the civilian economy, automation will likely have a big impact on military organizations in logistics and manufacturing,” said Michael Horowitz, a University of Pennsylvania professor and one of the globe’s foremost experts on weaponized robots.
“The U.S. military is very likely to pursue forms of automation that reduce ‘back-office’ costs over time, as well as remove soldiers from non-combat deployments where they might face risk from adversaries on fluid battlefields, such as in transportation.”
Driver-less vehicles poised to take taxi, train and truck driver jobs in the civilian sector also could nab many combat-support slots in the Army.
Warehouse robots that scoot goods to delivery vans could run the same chores inside Air Force ordnance and supply units.
New machines that can scan, collate and analyze hundreds of thousands of pages of legal documents in a day might outperform Navy legal researchers.
Nurses, physicians and corpsmen could face competition from computers designed to diagnose diseases and assist in the operating room..
Frogmen might no longer need to rip out sea mines by hand — robots could do that for them.
“Robots will continue to replace the dirty, dull and dangerous jobs, and this will affect typically more uneducated and unskilled workers,” said Henrik Christensen, director of the Institute for Contextual Robotics at UC San Diego. “You need to look at the mundane things. Logistics tasks will not be solved by people driving around in trucks. Instead, you will have fewer drivers. The lead driver in a convoy might be human, but every truck following behind will not be. The jobs that are the most boring will be the ones that get replaced because they’re the easiest to automate.”
As for warships, Horowitz said because of economic and personnel reasons, they’re increasingly designed to “reduce the number of sailors required for operations.”
The highly automated guided-missile destroyer Zumwalt that arrived in San Diego in December carries 147 sailors — half the crew that runs similar warships — and deploys up to three drone MQ-8 Fire Scout helicopters to find targets, map terrain and sniff out bad weather.
The Office of Naval Research and the Pentagon’s Strategic Capabilities Office continue to experiment with what futurists call a “ghost fleet” of unmanned but networked surface and underwater boats — and their flying drone cousins overhead.
Tomorrow’s sailors could begin to encounter what scores of bookkeepers, cashiers, telephone operators and automotive assembly line workers already faced in the past two decades as increasingly fast and cheap software and automated machinery replaced some of their tasks in factories and offices.
And that trend isn’t diminishing.  Advances in artificial intelligence, software and robotics threaten nearly half of all American civilian jobs during the next several decades, according to a 2013 analysis by Oxford University.
While such cuts might hit low-wage manual laborers the hardest, the cheap cost of high-speed computing also will slash many “high-income cognitive jobs” while triggering the “hollowing-out of middle-income routine jobs,” the study concluded.
In the United States, the push to automate blue-collar trades accelerated after the 2009 global financial crisis. American factories installed 27,500 units in 2015, triple the number six years earlier, according to the International Federation of Robotics.
They also bought 60,000 robots between 2010 and 2015, second only to China’s nearly 90,000 units.
“Rapid diffusion of technological advances could have something of a leveling effect at some level, since many actors, both states and non-state actors, could have access to cutting edge commercial (artificial intelligence) and robotics,” Horowitz said.
Automobile manufacturers paced robot purchases in the United States.
There’s now more than one robot for every 10 human jobs in the automotive sector, but that doesn’t always mean the end of employing people. Jobs at the big auto factories and parts makers rose 14 percent in the past year, according to the January report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
“It’s more complicated than people realize,” said UC San Diego’s Christensen. “You will need more people to maintain the new technology and the new technology displaces people so that they can do other things. There are more bank tellers today than there were 30 years ago. There are more administrative assistants than there were 30 years ago. They don’t work in typing pools. They do other things.”
That’s the thinking at Massachusetts-based Endeavor Robotics, too. A spin-off of iRobot — maker of the Roomba vacuum cleaner — Endeavor manufacturers top-end robots that nimbly spin and scoot on mini-tank treads.
Some machines are so small that they can fit inside a backpack. The military uses them to clear roadside bombs or booby-trapped bunkers, keeping Explosive Ordnance Disposal teams as far away from lethal explosives as possible.
“We don’t look at one of our machines replacing a person,” said Joseph Smith, an Endeavor rep who attended the Marine West 2017 trade expo at Camp Pendleton last month. “There’s always a person in the loop. The robot is just an extension of the human hand and the human brain.”
Endeavor’s front-line robots aren’t that different from the automation arriving in rear-echelon units like North Island Naval Air Station’s Fleet Readiness Center Southwest.
At the center, Inovati KM-PCS, a $500,000 robot that looks like a cake mixer mated with a dental drill, hasn’t missed a day of work in over a year and has saved taxpayers at least $6.7 million by fixing aircraft parts that used to get junked.
Made in Santa Barbara, the robot toils in the depot’s Cold Spray Systems room, stripping corrosion off of expensive fighter-jet components before jetting a “moon dust” of metal particles into the dents and fissures.
“This looks very attractive,” said William Taylor, the Marine Corps’ assistant deputy commandant for aviation, as he eyed the robot recently. “There’s the ability to save money, to avoid cost, to allow us to get stock back into shelves and to avoid scrapping parts and salvaging them through repair.”
Nearby, depot engineer Conrad Macy held up a pitted and scoured aluminum mounted accessory drive housing hydraulic pads for the F-18 E/F Super Hornet strike fighter. The gizmo retails for about $160,000 when it’s new, but the robot fixed it in minutes for pennies.
“Before this technology, you’d just throw the housing away,” Macy said.
In the past, even when workers found parts they thought they could salvage, the needed fixes were labor-intensive and failed between 20 percent to 40 percent of the time, said depot chemical engineer Matthew Minnick.
He pointed to one complicated gadget a worker once had to spend two days masking with special tape before it underwent a flame spray treatment that took hours to cool before anyone could touch it.  After Inovati began fixing such parts, human employees could pop them out with their bare hands.
“And the rejection (failure) rate for parts is zero — 150 parts with no rejections,” Minnick said.

13 pounds of horse genitals concealed in woman's luggage; claimed it was for medicinal purposes

STERLING, Va. - Customs agents have seen all sorts of things come through travelers' baggage. And what they seized from two women at Washington Dulles International Airport last month may take the cake.
On January 29, two women arrived from Mongolia. Customs and Border Protection officers sent them for a routine agriculture examination. What was found inside might turn your stomach.
RELATED: TSA lost-and-found virtual treasure chest at BWI
The women had a combined 42 pounds of horse meat concealed inside juice boxes. That includes 13 pounds of horse genitals that one of the women claimed were for medicinal purposes.
Horse meat is prohibited from entering the country unless the traveler has an official government horse meat certification from the country of origination. The concern is bringing foot and mouth disease into the United States and introducing it to livestock here.
Customs and Border Protection takes no pleasure in seizing and destroying travelers’ food products,” said Wayne Biondi, CBP Port Director for the Area Port of Washington Dulles. “We’re in the business of protecting America’s agriculture industries, like the livestock industry, from the potential introduction of animal diseases posed by these unpermitted food products.”
All of the meat was incinerated.
“Safeguarding America’s agriculture industries, and by extension our nation’s economy, remains an enforcement priority for Customs and Border Protection.  It is a mission that we take very seriously,” said Casey Owen Durst, CBP’s Field Operations Director in Baltimore, the agency’s operational commander in the mid-Atlantic region.
CBP agriculture specialists inspect more than 1 million people coming into the U.S. every day.


Hawaii Bill Could Legalize Prostitution Industry

Hawaii lawmakers are considering decriminalizing prostitution in the state after the speaker of the House introduced a bill that would also legalize buying sex and acting as a pimp. The proposal also would end a state law that says police officers cannot have sex with prostitutes in the course of investigations.
Transgender activist Tracy Ryan said she is trying to convince state lawmakers to pass the bill because transgender women are overrepresented in the sex trade and therefore disproportionately affected by criminalization laws. House Speaker Joseph Souki said in an interview that he does not have a position on the bill and he introduced it as a favor for Ryan. READ MORE

Kindergartners Taught Sex-Ed And Parents Can’t Stop It

Primary schools and academies in England will be forced to teach sex education, with no right of withdrawal for parents, if a new proposal becomes law. New Clause 5 (NC5), would create a national curriculum subject of “Relationships Education,” opening the door for lobby groups to push explicit material on kids as young as five. It has been put forward by MPs David Burrowes and Maria Miller as part of the Children and Social Work Bill. It would apply to all state-funded
schools. Marketed as “Relationships Education,” the new clause is so broad that it includes many aspects of sex education for which parents currently have a right of withdrawal. However, because it creates a compulsory subject, this right of withdrawal would no longer apply. It could also be used to compel church schools to endorse same-sex marriage. READ MORE

Buffalo mom jailed over homeschooling decision?


Single mother Kiarre Harris started researching homeschooling last November. She says her two elementary school aged children weren't excelling at their failing Buffalo Public Schools.
"I felt that the district was failing my children and that's when I made the decision to homeschool," she said.
Harris says she filed documents at Buffalo City Hall, following all the steps, informing the district of her intent to homeschool her children. According to documents she provided to 7 Eyewitness News, they're dated December 7th and the district says it received her paperwork.
"I spoke directly to the homeschool coordinator and she told me from this point on my children were officially un-enrolled from school."
Things took a turn when she says a week later, Child Protective Services called, wondering why her kids weren't in school.
"I told them that my kids were homeschooled now and that I could furnish the documents if they need to see them."
Thinking everything was fine, Harris says she went on with her homeschooling, but then, less than a month later she says she was confronted by CPS workers and police. According to Harris, they told her they had a court order to take her children and when she told them no, she was arrested for obstruction.
She says she hasn't seen her kids in three weeks, and they've been in a foster institution.
The Buffalo Public School District says it cannot comment on this case due to Federal Laws but says in order for a parent to file for homeschooling, they must have full custody of the children.
Harris says she's a single parent and has always had full custody until her kids were taken away.
This case is far from finished. The Buffalo Common Council will be addressing it tomorrow.

Sex cinemas that allow the audience to take part in ORGIES with actors using virtual reality and robot technology will be 'more addictive than porn', vows inventor


Christina Portales of the University of Valencia was updating experts at the Love and Sex with Robots conference in London earlier this month. 
According to the Daily Star, she told delegates: 'Imagine a device where you could really kiss Leonardo DiCaprio. It could be as addictive as pornographic material. 
'All senses have been integrated. People will see, people will smell, people will touch. They will feel the movement. It is not an individual activity. It is a group.' 
The high-tech environment will encompass seats which vibrate in the most appropriate places along with surround sound and 3D glasses. 
One future development could involve the deployment of 'sex robots' to make the shows fully interactive.  
Patrons will be empowered to decide whether they receive the attentions of the actors on screen. 
However, it is unlikely the shows will feature A-listers, as they would have to consent to their images to be used in such a manner.

Florida Couple Told To Remove Cross From Front Yard

Larry and Rose Kehoe never thought the roughly 12-inch, white cross would cause controversy when they put it in their front yard. But someone in the neighborhood apparently did not like it and filed an anonymous complaint with the
Community Standards office. They showed up at the Kehoe’s house and told them “lawn ornaments” of any kind are not allowed under homeowner’s rules and that the cross had to come down. Click here to read The Villages, District 9 Deed Restriction Rules (PDF). CONTINUE

Texas Mayor Comes Out as Transgender

Eight months after taking office, the mayor of a small Texas town has become the first transgender elected official to come out publicly in the state’s history. “As your Mayor I must tell you about something that has been with me since my earliest memories, I am Transgender” said Jess Herbst, the mayor of New Hope in Collin County. She gave the message in an open letter posted on the town’s website.
Herbst, who has been documenting her transition on her personal blog JessHerbst.com., also talked about how her decision affected her family: “It is gender identity not sexual preference that applies to me. I love my wife, and she loves me, we have no intention of change. My daughters have been adamant supporters of me and are proud to tell people their father is transgender.” READ MORE

Soon, married Italians might not have to promise to be faithful


Married couples in Italy will no longer have to promise to be faithful to each other, if a new bill is approved.
The proposed amendment to Italy's Civil Code would remove the word "fidelity" from Italian marriage contracts.

The promise not to cheat is a "cultural legacy from an outdated and obsolete vision of marriage, family, and the rights and duties of spouses", according to the senators who have signed the bill.
They cited a previous ruling from Italy's top court, which declared that judges could not legally place the blame for a marriage separation "on the mere failure to observe the duty of fidelity".
Instead, the other party has to prove that their spouse's infidelity led to the irreconcilable breakdown of the marriage.

The bill, which was presented to the Italian Senate last year and has now been passed to its Judiciary Committee, goes on to argue that there is an element of sexism in the current wording. It was originally included to refer to the woman's sexual fidelity, in order to determine whether children were "legitimate", they noted.
"Until not long ago, only the fidelity of the woman was sufficient to guarantee the 'legitimacy' of children," the bill notes, saying that since the "hateful" legal distinction between "legitimate" and "natural" children was scrapped in a 2012 ruling, there is no longer a need for the clause.
The senators assert that fidelity should not be thought of only in sexual terms, but also in terms of "trust and respect", and that while it was an "important value", it should not be up to the State to impose it by law.
References to fidelity and faithfulness were removed from Italy's civil unions bill which was passed earlier this year - a change which provoked outcry from some of the LGBT community, who saw this as a failure to acknowledge the parity of same-sex and opposite-sex romantic relationships.
Instead, that bill simply refers to "moral and material support" and "cohabitation".
Laura Cantini, one of the senators arguing for the fidelity clause to be dropped from heterosexual marriage, said that the wording of the civil unions bill is "a much more advanced model".
As to whether Italians live up to their reputation as Casanovas, the jury's still out.
A 2013 poll showed that 55 percent of men and one in three women in Italy admitted to cheating on their partners, making them the most likely to be unfaithful in Europe.