Monthly Archives: February 2019

The Rise of the Robot Reporter.

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nytimes.com

By Jaclyn Peiser
Feb. 5, 2019

As reporters and editors find themselves the victims of layoffs at digital publishers and traditional newspaper chains alike, journalism generated by machine is on the rise.

Roughly a third of the content published by Bloomberg News uses some form of automated technology. The system used by the company, Cyborg, is able to assist reporters in churning out thousands of articles on company earnings reports each quarter.

The program can dissect a financial report the moment it appears and spit out an immediate news story that includes the most pertinent facts and figures. And unlike business reporters, who find working on that kind of thing a snooze, it does so without complaint.

Untiring and accurate, Cyborg helps Bloomberg in its race against Reuters, its main rival in the field of quick-twitch business financial journalism, as well as giving it a fighting chance against a more recent player in the information race, hedge funds, which use artificial intelligence to serve their clients fresh facts.

“The financial markets are ahead of others in this,” said John Micklethwait, the editor in chief of Bloomberg.

In addition to covering company earnings for Bloomberg, robot reporters have been prolific producers of articles on minor league baseball for The Associated Press, high school football for The Washington Post and earthquakes for The Los Angeles Times.

Examples of machine-generated articles from The Associated Press:

TYSONS CORNER, Va. (AP) — MicroStrategy Inc. (MSTR) on Tuesday reported fourth-quarter net income of $3.3 million, after reporting a loss in the same period a year earlier.

MANCHESTER, N.H. (AP) — Jonathan Davis hit for the cycle, as the New Hampshire Fisher Cats topped the Portland Sea Dogs 10-3 on Tuesday.

Last week, The Guardian’s Australia edition published its first machine-assisted article, an account of annual political donations to the country’s political parties. And Forbes recently announced that it was testing a tool called Bertie to provide reporters with rough drafts and story templates.

As the use of artificial intelligence has become a part of the industry’s toolbox, journalism executives say it is not a threat to human employees. Rather, the idea is to allow journalists to spend more time on substantive work.

“The work of journalism is creative, it’s about curiosity, it’s about storytelling, it’s about digging and holding governments accountable, it’s critical thinking, it’s judgment — and that is where we want our journalists spending their energy,” said Lisa Gibbs, the director of news partnerships for The A.P.

The A.P. was an early adopter when it struck a deal in 2014 with Automated Insights, a technology company specializing in language generation software that produces billions of machine-generated stories a year.

In addition to leaning on the software to generate minor league and college game stories, The A.P., like Bloomberg, has used it to beef up its coverage of company earnings reports. Since joining forces with Automated Insights, The A.P. has gone from producing 300 articles on earnings reports per quarter to 3,700.

The Post has an in-house robot reporter called Heliograf, which demonstrated its usefulness with its coverage of the 2016 Summer Olympic Games and the 2016 elections. Last year, thanks to Heliograf, The Post won in the category of Excellence in Use of Bots at the annual Global Biggies Awards, which recognize accomplishments in the use of big data and artificial intelligence. (As if to make journalists jittery, the Biggies ceremony took place at Columbia University’s Pulitzer Hall.)

Jeremy Gilbert, the director of strategic initiatives at The Post, said the company also used A.I. to promote articles with a local orientation in topics like political races to readers in specific regions — a practice known as geo-targeting.

“When you start to talk about mass media, with national or international reach, you run the risk of losing the interest of readers who are interested in stories on their smaller communities,” Mr. Gilbert said. “So we asked, ‘How can we scale our expertise?’”

The A.P., The Post and Bloomberg have also set up internal alerts to signal anomalous bits of data. Reporters who see the alert can then determine if there is a bigger story to be written by a human being. During the Olympics, for instance, The Post set up alerts on Slack, the workplace messaging system, to inform editors if a result was 10 percent above or below an Olympic world record.

A.I. journalism is not as simple as a shiny robot banging out copy. A lot of work goes into the front end, with editors and writers meticulously crafting several versions of a story, complete with text for different outcomes. Once the data is in — for a weather event, a baseball game or an earnings report — the system can create an article.

But machine-generated stories are not infallible. For an earnings report article, for instance, software systems may meet their match in companies that cleverly choose figures in an effort to garner a more favorable portrayal than the numbers warrant. At Bloomberg, reporters and editors try to prepare Cyborg so that it will not be spun by such tactics.

A.I. in newsrooms may also go beyond the production of rote articles.

“I hope we’ll see A.I. tools become a productivity tool in the practice of reporting and finding clues,” said Hilary Mason, the general manager for machine learning at Cloudera, a data management software company. “When you do data analysis, you can see anomalies and patterns using A.I. And a human journalist is the right person to understand and figure out.”

The Wall Street Journal and Dow Jones are experimenting with the technology to help with various tasks, including the transcription of interviews or helping journalists identify “deep fakes,” the convincingly fabricated images generated through A.I.

“Maybe a few years ago A.I. was this new shiny technology used by high tech companies, but now it’s actually becoming a necessity,” said Francesco Marconi, the head of research and development at The Journal. “I think a lot of the tools in journalism will soon by powered by artificial intelligence.”

The New York Times said it had no plans for machine-generated news articles, but the company has experimented with using A.I. to personalize newsletters, help with comment moderation and identify images as it digitizes its archive.

Previous technological advances have rendered moot a number of jobs that were once essential to the journalism industry, such as Linotype operator. But reporters and editors have not yet been tempted to smash the programs now taking care of some of the busy work that once fell to them.

“When you look at the ways things are laid out and printed and produced and distributed, a lot of those functions have been replaced with technology,” said Nastaran Mohit, the organizing director for the News Guild of New York. She added that she did not consider A.I. a threat to newsroom workers, while also noting that the guild monitors emerging technologies to make sure that hypothesis holds true.

Mr. Marconi of The Journal agreed, likening the addition of A.I. in newsrooms to the introduction of the telephone. “It gives you more access, and you get more information quicker,” he said. “It’s a new field, but technology changes. Today it’s A.I., tomorrow it’s blockchain, and in 10 years it will be something else. What does not change is the journalistic standard.”

Marc Zionts, the chief executive of Automated Insights, said that machines were a long way from being able to replace flesh-and-blood reporters and editors. He added that his daughter was a journalist in South Dakota — and although he had not advised her to leave her job, he had told her to get acquainted with the latest technology.

“If you are a non-learning, non-adaptive person — I don’t care what business you’re in — you will have a challenging career,” Mr. Zionts said.

For Patch, a nationwide news organization devoted to local news, A.I. provides an assist to its 110 staff reporters and numerous freelancers who cover about 800 communities, especially in their coverage of the weather. In a given week, more than 3,000 posts on Patch — 5 to 10 percent of its output — are machine-generated, said the company’s chief executive, Warren St. John.

In addition to giving reporters more time to pursue their interests, machine journalism comes with an added benefit for editors.

“One thing I’ve noticed,” Mr. St. John said, “is that our A.I.-written articles have zero typos.”
Correction: Feb. 5, 2019

An earlier version of this article misstated the name of a tool that Forbes is testing for reporters. It is Bertie, not Birdie.

Follow Jaclyn Peiser on Twitter: @jackiepeiser.

Best Bigfoot Stories of 2018.

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coasttocoastam.com
By Tim Binnall

In 2018, the legendary Bigfoot left a mighty footprint on the paranormal news cycle that was worthy of its formidable size and equally enormous popularity. The unofficial spirit animal of C2C, Sasquatch was, per usual, possibly caught on film a few times this past year in a handful of different countries. The creature also found itself at the center of two court cases, was celebrated in three separate states, and even wound up being portrayed in a political ad!

Among the more noteworthy pieces of Bigfoot footage to cross our desks over the last twelve months were a creepy trail cam video captured by an elk hunter, an odd dashcam video from a driver in Russia, and an instance in which the creature may have photobombed a man making a home video of his ATV tricks. There was also a rather remarkable video from Canada as well as some footage from Michigan which was fairly impressive and added to the growing body of possible Bigfoot films.

Sasquatch sightings, sans footage, occurred throughout the year and a specific pair of such cases seemingly rose above the rest to make headlines in 2018. First, in April, a couple in New Jersey who were heading home after walking their dog in the notorious Pine Barrens spotted what appeared to be Bigfoot run behind their car. Likely owing to the fact that the creature is rarely associated with the state, the story captured the imagination of the mainstream media which gave it considerable coverage.

Alternatively, an August account of a driver passing through the New York village of Whitehall and seeing the elusive cryptid generated quite a lot of attention as the encounter just so happened to have occurred in what is considered by many to be a hot spot for the creature. And, in this particular instance, the timing of the sighting was impeccable as the community named Sasquatch their ‘official animal’ shortly thereafter.

They weren’t the only locale that embraced Bigfoot in 2018 as two other spots in the United States also officially recognized Sasquatch this year. Preceding Whitehall’s proclamation in July was the Texas city of Jefferson which declared itself the ‘Bigfoot capital’ of the state back in February. Inspired by these strange pieces of legislation, the North Carolina town of Marion also decreed that Sasquatch was the ‘official animal’ of their community. One can only hope that this leads to a proverbial ‘foot race’ among other towns and cities in America to also get on board with Bigfoot.

It was not all good news for Sasquatch in 2018, however, as the creature also happened to be the subject of two lawsuits which sought legal recognition that the creature exists. Unfortunately, the unorthodox cases, in British Columbia and California, both failed to produce their desired results with the American litigation being dropped for the time being and the Canadian lawsuit summarily dismissed by a judge. Bureaucracy also dealt a blow to Bigfoot in Washington state as attempts to get the creature showcased on a commemorative license plate never got out of the starting blocks.

As we’ve seen over the years, when it comes to Bigfoot, things can sometimes get a little weird, and 2018 was no exception as evidenced by the time Sasquatch popped up during the mid-term election in a fantastic campaign ad that aired in Minnesota. Earlier in year, the U.S. Forest Service was forced to issue a statement assuring Montana residents that Bigfoot was not running amok in a National Forest after flyers declaring such a scenario were plastered throughout the area. In retrospect, perhaps those weird warnings had something to do with the Montana man who was nearly shot after being mistaken for Sasquatch later in the year.

Ultimately, although the creature made news in a variety of ways this past year, it was, sadly, not the subject of the one headline that we’ve all been waiting for: Bigfoot proven real. As such, we’ll keep our fingers crossed that 2019 will be different and that we’ll finally get to meet the creature that has captured the hearts and minds of so many people around the world. Failing that, we may have to simply be satisfied with seeing how Sasquatch surprises us next year, since that seems to be one of the creature’s favorite things to do when it isn’t appearing in videos or being honored by small towns.

President Trump Delivers Best Speech Of His Political Career And Rejects Socialism As Expressionless Dems Sit Unmoved.

Trump Rejects Socialism At SOTU As Expressionless Dems Sit Unmoved.

President Trump drew a clear line Tuesday night between his party’s policies and the creeping socialism some see on the left, declaring at the State of the Union “America will never be a Socialist country” as many nonplussed Democrats appeared to shift uncomfortably in their seats.

The vow from Trump, whose speech was delayed a week amid a partial government shutdown, came as Democrats have proposed an evolving agenda of “Medicare-for-all,” free college tuition, minimum wage increases and even guaranteed basic income. Trump cited the ongoing disaster in Venezuela, where socialist policies have wrought “abject poverty and despair,” and pledged to maintain free-market economics in the U.S.

“America was founded on liberty and independence and not government coercion, domination and control,” he said to Republican applause. “We are born free and we will stay free.”

DAVID BOSSIE: TRUMP TOLD DEMS IN SOTU SPEECH HE WANTS TO WORK WITH THEM. I’M OPTIMISTIC

“Tonight, we renew our resolve that America will never be a Socialist country,” Trump added as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi sat stone-faced behind him.

Viewers at home were treated to a tight shot of a frowning Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, an avowed Socialist and modern-day godfather of a movement that has produced a host of far-left young Democrats, including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D- N.Y., who also was shown expressionless. Other Democrats, including Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, however, applauded the line.

Sanders would tweet following the speech: “Trump said tonight, ‘We are born free, and we will stay free.’ I say to Trump: People are not truly free when they can’t afford health care, prescription drugs, or a place to live. People are not free when they cannot retire with dignity or feed their families.”

“We are born free and we will stay free.”

— President Trump

The socialism storyline was just one of several dividing lines Trump highlighted in a speech that simultaneously called for bipartisanship and unity.

Trump pledged to pursue his signature project, the wall on the Mexican border, saying: “I will build it.”

“I am asking you to defend our very dangerous southern border out of love and devotion to our fellow citizens and to our country,” Trump said, in a speech that variously referred to both “walls” and “barriers” at the border.

bernie-sanders-SOTU-TV

Sanders scowled as President Trump vowed that ‘America will never be socialist.’

“Simply put, walls work and walls save lives,” Trump added. “So let’s work together, compromise and reach a deal that will truly make America safe. … This is a smart, strategic, see-through steel barrier — not just a simple concrete wall.”

Trump framed border security as a matter of preventing human trafficking, stopping the flow of illegal drugs from Mexico and maintaining federal resources for legal citizens. Democrats, including Ocasio-Cortez, sat on their hands as Trump praised an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agent, Elvin Hernandez, for breaking up a notorious human trafficking ring.

WHAT WAS NANCY PELOSI READING BEHIND TRUMP?

But perhaps more than any other issue, the socialism schism brought into sharp relief the differences between the two parties as 2020 looms.

Trump began the portion of his 82-minute speech by citing the economic decline and civil disorder in Venezuela as a cautionary tale, after his administration last week imposed sweeping sanctions against the regime of Nicolas Maduro.

The country’s government in recent years limited citizens’ access to foreign currency, implemented substantial subsidies and price controls on food and other items, and fell victim to sweeping corruption — before effectively collapsing last month.

 

AOC

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., center, listens as President Trump delivers his State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

“Two weeks ago, the United States officially recognized the legitimate government of Venezuela, and its new interim president, Juan Guaido,” Trump said. “We stand with the Venezuelan people in their noble quest for freedom — and we condemn the brutality of the Maduro regime, whose Socialist policies have turned that nation from being the wealthiest in South America into a state of abject poverty and despair.

BERNIE SANDERS ACKNOWLEDGES ECONOMY IS A ‘DISASTER’ IN VENEZUELA

“Here, in the United States, we are alarmed by new calls to adopt socialism in our country,” Trump continued, prompting boos from Republicans in the chamber. “America was founded on liberty and independence — not government coercion, domination and control. We are born free, and we will stay free.”

Then, after a prolonged chant of “USA” broke out, Trump concluded, “Tonight, we renew our resolve that America will never be a Socialist country.”

Democrats largely remained seated as Republicans resumed the “USA” chant and applauded for several seconds.

Still, Democrats did find enough common ground to applaud many of Trump’s remarks.

“We stood up and cheered dozens of times. I stood up and cheered more often than last time I was at a Dodgers game,” Rep. Brad Sherman, D-Calif., told Fox News Channel’s Laura Ingraham Tuesday night. “We stood up and cheered dozens of times. Not as often as the Republicans did, we cheered more than when Obama was cheered for by Republicans, we cheered plenty, but you can’t stand up after every half a sentence and give a standing ovation.”

The Secret Racist History Of The Democrat Party Revealed.


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History Of The Democrats And The KKK…..(Why the Democrats started the KKK)

Live Leak  freerepublic.com

Posted on 8/6/2009, 11:59:36 AM by IrishMike

The original targets of the Ku Klux Klan were Republicans, both black and white, according to a new television program and book, which describe how the Democrats started the KKK and for decades harassed the GOP with lynchings and threats.

An estimated 3,446 blacks and 1,297 whites died at the end of KKK ropes from 1882 to 1964.

The documentation has been assembled by David Barton of Wallbu More..ilders and published in his book “Setting the Record Straight: American History in Black & White,” which reveals that not only did the Democrats work hand-in-glove with the Ku Klux Klan for generations, they started the KKK and endorsed its mayhem.

“Of all forms of violent intimidation, lynchings were by far the most effective,” Barton said in his book. “Republicans often led the efforts to pass federal anti-lynching laws and their platforms consistently called for a ban on lynching. Democrats successfully blocked those bills and their platforms never did condemn lynchings.”

Further, the first grand wizard of the KKK was honored at the 1868 Democratic National Convention, no Democrats voted for the 14th Amendment to grant citizenship to former slaves and, to this day, the party website ignores those decades of racism, he said.

“Although it is relatively unreported today, historical documents are unequivocal that the Klan was established by Democrats and that the Klan played a prominent role in the Democratic Party,” Barton writes in his book. “In fact, a 13-volume set of congressional investigations from 1872 conclusively and irrefutably documents that fact.

“The Klan terrorized black Americans through murders and public floggings; relief was granted only if individuals promised not to vote for Republican tickets, and violation of this oath was punishable by death,” he said. “Since the Klan targeted Republicans in general, it did not limit its violence simply to black Republicans; white Republicans were also included.”

Barton also has covered the subject in one episode of his American Heritage Series of television programs, which is being broadcast now on Trinity Broadcasting Network and Cornerstone Television.

Barton told WND his comments are not a condemnation or endorsement of any party or candidate, but rather a warning that voters even today should be aware of what their parties and candidates stand for.

His book outlines the aggressive pro-slavery agenda held by the Democratic Party for generations leading up to the Civil War, and how that did not die with the Union victory in that war of rebellion.

Even as the South was being rebuilt, the votes in Congress consistently revealed a continuing pro-slavery philosophy on the part of the Democrats, the book reveals.

Three years after Appomattox, the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, granting blacks citizenship in the United States, came before Congress: 94 percent of Republicans endorsed it.

“The records of Congress reveal that not one Democrat � either in the House or the Senate � voted for the 14th Amendment,” Barton wrote. “Three years after the Civil War, and the Democrats from the North as well as the South were still refusing to recognize any rights of citizenship for black Americans.”

He also noted that South Carolina Gov. Wade Hampton at the 1868 Democratic National Convention inserted a clause in the party platform declaring the Congress’ civil rights laws were “unconstitutional, revolutionary, and void.”

It was the same convention when Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest, the first grand wizard of the KKK, was honored for his leadership.

Barton’s book notes that in 1868, Congress heard testimony from election worker Robert Flournoy, who confessed while he was canvassing the state of Mississippi in support of the 13th and 14th Amendments, he could find only one black, in a population of 444,000 in the state, who admitted being a Democrat.

Nor is Barton the only person to raise such questions. In 2005, National Review published an article raising similar points. The publication said in 1957 President Dwight Eisenhower, a Republican, deployed the 82nd Airborne Division to desegregate the Little Rock, Ark., schools over the resistance of Democrat Gov. Orval Faubus.

Further, three years later, Eisenhower signed the GOP’s 1960 Civil Rights Act after it survived a five-day, five-hour filibuster by 18 Senate Democrats, and in 1964, Democrat President Lyndon Johnson signed the 1964 Civil Rights Act after former Klansman Robert Byrd’s 14-hour filibuster, and the votes of 22 other Senate Democrats, including Tennessee’s Al Gore Sr., failed to scuttle the plan.

Dems’ website showing jump in history

The current version of the “History” page on the party website lists a number of accomplishments � from 1792, 1798, 1800, 1808, 1812, 1816, 1824 and 1828, including its 1832 nomination of Andrew Jackson for president. It follows up with a name change, and the establishment of the Democratic National Committee, but then leaps over the Civil War and all of its issues to talk about the end of the 19th Century, William Jennings Bryan and women’s suffrage.

A spokesman with the Democrats refused to comment for WND on any of the issues. “You’re not going to get a comment,” said the spokesman who identified himself as Luis.

“Why would Democrats skip over their own history from 1848 to 1900?” Barton asked. “Perhaps because it’s not the kind of civil rights history they want to talk about � perhaps because it is not the kind of civil rights history they want to have on their website.”

The National Review article by Deroy Murdock cited the 1866 comment from Indiana Republican Gov. Oliver Morton condemning Democrats for their racism.

“Every one who shoots down Negroes in the streets, burns Negro schoolhouses and meeting-houses, and murders women and children by the light of their own flaming dwellings, calls himself a Democrat,” Morton said.

It also cited the 1856 criticism by U.S. Sen. Charles Sumner, R-Mass., of pro-slavery Democrats. “Congressman Preston Brooks (D-S.C.) responded by grabbing a stick and beating Sumner unconscious in the Senate chamber. Disabled, Sumner could not resume his duties for three years.”

By the admission of the Democrats themselves, on their website, it wasn’t until Harry Truman was elected that “Democrats began the fight to bring down the final barriers of race and gender.”

“That is an accurate description,” wrote Barton. “Starting with Harry Truman, Democrats began � that is, they made their first serious efforts � to fight against the barriers of race; yet � Truman’s efforts were largely unsuccessful because of his own Democratic Party.”

Even then, the opposition to rights for blacks was far from over. As recently as 1960, Mississippi Democratic Gov. Hugh White had requested Christian evangelist Billy Graham segregate his crusades, something Graham refused to do. “And when South Carolina Democratic Gov. George Timmerman learned Billy Graham had invited African Americans to a Reformation Rally at the state Capitol, he promptly denied use of the facilities to the evangelist,” Barton wrote.

The National Review noted that the Democrats’ “Klan-coddling” today is embodied in Byrd, who once wrote that, “The Klan is needed today as never before and I am anxious to see its rebirth here in West Virginia.”

The article suggested a contrast with the GOP, which, when former Klansman David Duke ran for Louisiana governor in 1991 as a Republican, was “scorned” by national GOP officials.

Until 1935, every black federal legislator was Republican, and it was Republicans who appointed the first black Air Force and Army four-star generals, established Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday as a national holiday, and named the first black national-security adviser, secretary of state, the research reveals.

Current Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice has said: “The first Republican I knew was my father, and he is still the Republican I most admire. He joined our party because the Democrats in Jim Crow Alabama of 1952 would not register him to vote. The Republicans did. My father has never forgotten that day, and neither have I.”

Barton’s documentation said the first opponents of slavery “and the chief advocates for racial equal rights were the churches (the Quakers, Presbyterians, Methodists, etc.). Furthermore, religious leaders such as Quaker Anthony Benezet were the leading spokesmen against slavery, and evangelical leaders such as Presbyterian signer of the Declaration Benjamin Rush were the founders of the nation’s first abolition societies.”

During the years surrounding the Civil War, “the most obvious difference between the Republican and Democrat parties was their stands on slavery,” Barton said. Republicans called for its abolition, while Democrats declared: “All efforts of the abolitionists, or others, made to induce Congress to interfere with questions of slavery, or to take incipient [to initiate] steps in relation thereto, are calculated to lead to the most alarming and dangerous consequences, and all such efforts have the inevitable tendency to diminish the happiness of the people.”

Wallbuilders also cited John Alden’s 1885 book, “A Brief History of the Republican Party” in noting that the KKK’s early attacks were on Republicans as much as blacks, in that blacks were adopting the Republican identity en masse.

“In some places the Ku Klux Klan assaulted Republican officials in their houses or offices or upon the public roads; in others they attacked the meetings of negroes and displaced them,” Alden wrote. “Its ostensible purpose at first was to keep the blacks in order and prevent them from committing small depredations upon the property of whites, but its real motives were essentially political � The negroes were invariable required to promise not to vote the Republican ticket, and threatened with death if they broke their promises.”

Barton told WND the most cohesive group of political supporters in American now is African-Americans. He said most consider their affiliation with the Democratic party longterm.

But he said he interviewed a black pastor in Mississippi, who recalled his grandmother never “would let a Democrat in the house, and he never knew what she was talking about.” After a review of history, he knew, Barton said.

Citing President George Washington’s farewell address, Barton told WND, “Washington had a great section on the love of party, if you love party more than anything else, what it will do to a great nation.”

“We shouldn’t love a party [over] a candidate’s principles or values,” he told WND.

Washington’s farewell address noted the “danger” from parties is serious.

“Let me now � warn you in the most solemn manner against the baneful effects of the spirit of party, generally. � The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism,” Washington said.