Senators ask US border agency about reported tracking of journalists

In this file photo taken on November 19, 2018 a Customs and Border Protection officer asks travelers for their visas as seen through barriers set by US authorities at San Ysidro port of Entry, at the US-Mexico border, in preparation for the arrival of a Central American migrants' caravan moving towards the United States, as seen from Tijuana, Mexico US authorities created a secret database of journalists and activists linked to a caravan of Central Americans who tried to enter the US last year from Mexico, NBC reported on March 6, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 12 March 2019
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Senators ask US border agency about reported tracking of journalists

  • At least three journalists and the attorney listed on the documents were unable to enter Mexico to work because of alerts placed on their passports
WASHINGTON: Two senior US senators asked US Customs and Border Protection on Monday to provide information on a report that the agency inappropriately tracked seven American journalists covering the migrant caravan from Central America last year.
Republican Chuck Grassley, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, and Ron Wyden, the panel’s top Democrat, wrote a letter to CBP Commissioner Kevin McAleenan asking for an unclassified briefing no later than Thursday.
They cited news reports alleging the border agency and the Department of Homeland Security “inappropriately flagged for scrutiny seven American journalists.”
“Unless CBP had reason to believe the individuals in question were inciting violence or physical conflict, it is deeply concerning that CBP appears to have targeted American journalists at our borders,” Grassley and Wyden wrote.
Representatives of the agency did not immediately respond to Reuters requests for comment on Monday.
The senators referred to an NBC News report last week about documents listing 10 journalists, an attorney and 47 others, some of them labeled organizers and instigators from the United States and elsewhere.
The NBC affiliate in San Diego, KNSD-TV, said it received the documents from an unidentified source in the Department of Homeland Security, which includes Customs and Border Protection.
At least three journalists and the attorney listed on the documents were unable to enter Mexico to work because of alerts placed on their passports and others have been subject to secondary screenings when crossing the border, the news station reported.
Reuters did not see the documents and was unable independently to corroborate NBC’s findings. One of the journalists the station said was listed was Go Nakamura, a photographer who has done several freelance assignments for Reuters and began covering the caravan on Nov. 10.
CBP spokesman Andrew Meehan said in a statement last week that the tracking was related to assaults on agents that occurred during November and January. CBP does not target journalists for inspections, he said.


First artificial intelligence Google Doodle features Bach

Updated 22 March 2019
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First artificial intelligence Google Doodle features Bach

  • Google says the Doodle uses machine learning to “harmonize the custom melody into Bach’s signature music style”
  • Bach’s chorales were known for having four voices carrying their own melodic line

MOUNTAIN VIEW, California: Google is celebrating composer Johann Sebastian Bach with its first artificial intelligence-powered Doodle.
Thursday’s animated Google Doodle shows the composer playing an organ in celebration of his March 21, 1685, birthday under the old Julian calendar. It encourages users to compose their own two-measure melody.
Google says the Doodle uses machine learning to “harmonize the custom melody into Bach’s signature music style.” Bach’s chorales were known for having four voices carrying their own melodic line.
To develop the AI Doodle, Google teams created a machine-learning model that was trained on 306 of Bach’s chorale harmonizations. Another team worked to allow machine learning to occur within the web browser instead of on its servers.
The Doodle will prompt users who are unsure of how to interact with the animated graphic.