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Washington: President Barack Obama took a victory lap highlighting his successes of 2015 from thawing relations with Cuba to halting Iran’s nuclear programme to bringing China, India and Brazil on board for a historic climate deal.

The Paris climate change agreement “would not have happened without American leadership,” he said addressing a year-end press conference at the White House Friday before flying off to Hawaii for a two-week vacation with his family.

“…working with other countries, culminating in the joint announcement with China, bringing in India, bringing in Brazil and the other big, emerging countries, working with the Europeans and getting this done.”

“And, by the way, the same is true for the Iran nuclear deal. The same is true for the Trans-Pacific Partnership,” said Obama. “The same is true for stamping out Ebola — something, you guys may recall from last year, which was the potential end of the world.”

“This year, what you really saw was that steady, persistent leadership on many initiatives that I began when I first came into office,” he said.

Obama also claimed progress against ISIS, saying the group has lost 40 percent of the area it once held in Iraq and is losing ground in Syria, but acknowledged that the government could not stop all potential strikes in advance.

“We are going to defeat ISIS,” Obama said, insisting that US airstrikes in Syria and Iraq were hitting the group “harder than ever” and were taking the group’s leaders, commanders and forces off the battlefield.

But he warned the group would continue to be a menace: “In any fight, even as you make progress, there are still dangers involved.”

Obama admitted that ISIS’ new focus on orchestrating and inspiring spontaneous terror attacks on the West — often by radicalised individuals — would be much more difficult to stop in advance than the more intricate plots once organized by Al Qaeda.

“It is very difficult for us to detect lone wolf plots or plots involving a husband and wife,” Obama said, referring to the San Bernardino, California, attack by a Pakistani-origin couple earlier this month that killed 14 people.

Obama also took a jab at Russian President Vladimir Putin, saying he had predicted that the Russian operation in Syria would not change the shape of the battlefield between Moscow-backed President Bashar al-Assad and his internal foes.

“I do think you have seen from the Russians that after a couple of months they are not really moving the needle that much,” he said.

Obama insisted that he would use his final year to continue to try to close a detention camp for terrorists at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, arguing that it remained an important recruiting tool for jihadists around the world.(Arun Kumar, IANS)

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Developers Can Now Start Building Hindi Skills for Alexa in India

Right now, Alexa can understand some Hinglish commands but these are few and far between

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Alexa, Amazon, Virtual Assistant
Amazon Echo led the Indian smart speakers market with 59 per cent share in 2018 (Representational image). Pixabay

Amazon on Tuesday announced that developers can now start building Alexa skills for customers in India with the new Hindi voice model available in Alexa Skills Kit (ASK).

Developers would get a headstart and submit skills for certification as the company prepare to offer engaging experiences for Alexa users in one of the most spoken languages in the country, the company said in a statement.

Commercial hardware manufacturers who want to develop Alexa Built-in products for Hindi-speaking customers in India can request early access to the invite-only Alexa Voice Service (AVS) developer preview.

The Alexa Skills Kit (ASK) is a collection of free, self-service APIs and tools that make it fast and easy for developers to create skills, or capabilities, for Alexa.

Amazon last year launched a new category of skill called “Cleo” that enables customers in India help Alexa learn Hindi and other languages. The idea was to improve Alexa’s language model and help her gradually speak in local languages.

Lawsuit, Amazon, Alexa
The lawsuit alleges Amazon of saving ‘voice prints’ of millions of children by unlawfully recording their conversations around Alexa-enabled smart devices. Pixabay

Apart from Hindi, users can respond to Alexa’s English statements in Tamil, Marathi, Kannada, Bengali, Telugu, Gujarati and other regional languages.

Alexa is currently available in over 80 countries and speaks more than 14 language variants.

One can sign up for the first webinar on Hindi skill building scheduled on July 24. Developers in India who have their Hindi-language skill certified for publication in India before July 31 would receive exclusive early bird Alexa merchandise.

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Rohit Prasad, Vice President and Head Scientist for Alexa, told IANS recently that the company is working on infusing regional languages capabilities in Alexa for the Indian market but these are early days.

Right now, Alexa can understand some Hinglish commands but these are few and far between. (IANS)