Monday January 21, 2019
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Googling ‘idiot’ Bringing up Donald Trump Pictures Drags Google in Trouble

The House committee had also questioned YouTube, Twitter and Facebook executives at separate hearings on bias in big tech

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Sundar Pichai, social media
Google CEO Sundar Pichai testifies at a House Judiciary Committee hearing "examining Google and its Data Collection, Use and Filtering Practices" on Capitol Hill in Washington. VOA

US Democratic Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren, in an effort to understand how Google search algorithms work, asked its CEO Sundar Pichai why so many pictures of President Donald Trump appear when she does a Google search for “idiot”.

“Right now, if you Google the word ‘idiot’ under images, a picture of Donald Trump comes up. I just did that,” the California Democrat told Pichai during a House Judiciary Committee hearing on Tuesday here.

“How would that happen? How does search work so that would occur?” Lofgren asked Pichai, according to the Washington Post.

The Google CEO — who was at the hearing to address allegations of political bias in his company’s widely used search engine — said the results were based on billions of keywords ranked according to over 200 factors such as relevance, popularity, how others were using the search term, to determine how to best match a query with results.

“So it’s not some little man sitting behind the curtain figuring out what we’re going to show the user?” Lofgren asked. “It’s basically a compilation of what users are generating.”

Republicans have long accused Google of political bias, which the company has strongly denied.

Climate Change, Trump, disasters
Why googling ‘idiot’ brings up Trump photos, Congresswoman asks Pichai. VOA

In August, Trump said in a tweet that a Google search for “Trump News” showed only reports from “Fake News Media.” He concluded it was “rigged” against him so “almost all stories and news was bad.”

House Republicans said they wanted to hold the hearing — entitled “Transparency & Accountability: Examining Google and its Data Collection, Use and Filtering Practices” — to make sure the search giant was being impartial.

“Americans put their trust in big tech companies to honour freedom of speech and champion open dialogue,” Republican House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte of Virginia said in a statement before the hearing.

The House committee had also questioned YouTube, Twitter and Facebook executives at separate hearings on bias in big tech.

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In response to Republicans who complained about Google searches, Democratic Representative Ted Lieu said: “If you want positive search results, do positive things. If you don’t want negative search results, don’t do negative things.”

“And to some of my colleagues across the aisle, if you’re getting bad press articles and bad search results, don’t blame Google or Facebook or Twitter, consider blaming yourself.” (IANS)

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Democrats Stand Firm Against Donald Trump’s Exchange Offer

Virginia Democratic Senator Mark Warner said Democrats should not "reward the kind of behaviour of hostage-taking"

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President Donald Trump speaks about American missile defense doctrine, Jan 17, 2019, at the Pentagon. VOA

Despite President Donald Trump’s offer to end the ongoing partial government shutdown and fund a border wall in exchange for temporary protections for groups of immigrants, Democrats stood by their demand to reopen the government before negotiating about the border.

“Let’s not hold the American people, especially the federal workers, hostage to these negotiations,” South Carolina Representative Jim Clyburn, a member of Democratic leadership, told Fox News on Sunday.

“And hopefully we will open with what he has put on the table, and let’s go back and forth on this and see where we can find common ground.”

The Democratic rejection came as Vice President Mike Pence made clear on Sunday that the Republicans intended to go forward with the plan the President outlined on Saturday during a 13-minute televised speech from the White House, CNN reported.

Trump has suggested extending protections for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) programme recipients for three years and a three-year extension of protections for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders.

The shutdown that began on December 22, has left roughly a quarter of the government closed and forcing 800,000 federal employees furloughed or work without pay.

Trump, Government, Afganistan
Trump presses Democrats on border wall funding ahead of Senate meeting. VOA

But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi rejected it even before Trump spoke. On Sunday, the President took to Twitter to slam Pelosi for rejecting his deal.

“Nancy Pelosi and some of the Democrats turned down my offer yesterday (Saturday) before I even got up to speak. They don’t see crime and drugs, they only see 2020 – which they are not going to win. Best economy! They should do the right thing for the country and allow people to go back to work.

“No, Amnesty is not a part of my offer. It is a three year extension of DACA. Amnesty will be used only on a much bigger deal, whether on immigration or something else. Likewise there will be no big push to remove the 11,000,000 plus people who are here illegally-but be careful Nancy,” he said in a series of tweets.

Some other Democrat leaders have also slammed the President’s offer.

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New York Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, who entered the 2020 race just days ago, told CNN on Sunday that Trump’s offer of only temporary protection from deportation showed he “has no empathy” for people affected by the decision.

Virginia Democratic Senator Mark Warner said Democrats should not “reward the kind of behaviour of hostage-taking”.

Hawaii Representative Tulsi Gabbard, meanwhile, told CNN that “both sides” were responsible for the ongoing impasse and called for genuine negotiations. (IANS)