News Article | February 23, 2017
SAN FRANCISCO, CA--(Marketwired - Feb 23, 2017) - Michael « Mick » Moran, qui a aidé à sauver des milliers d'enfants victimes de matériel pédopornographique depuis qu'il a commencé à travailler sur le terrain en 1997, a défié l'industrie de l'Internet de faire plus pour protéger des enfants innocents, alors qu'il recevait aujourd'hui le prix M3AAWG Mary Litynski. Moran, directeur adjoint de la Division des communautés vulnérables d'INTERPOL a, lors de la 39e réunion générale du Groupe de travail portant sur la messagerie, les logiciels malveillants et la lutte contre les abus par voie mobile, été honoré pour son engagement personnel dans ce travail difficile et pour avoir encouragé la coopération internationale pour lutter contre l'exploitation en ligne. Le Prix M3AAWG Mary Litynski récompense les réalisations des personnes dont le travail a contribué de façon significative à la sécurité de la communauté en ligne. Dans sa présentation d'acceptation et dans une vidéo du M3AAWG diffusée sur YouTube, Moran a mis en relief certaines des stratégies changeantes dans la lutte contre le matériel pédopornographique et a offert des suggestions sur la façon dont l'industrie peut mieux protéger ses réseaux. Jusqu'à il y a quelques années, le traitement du matériel pédopornographique était fondamentalement une entreprise commerciale dont les photos ou films étaient largement diffusés en ligne. Mais les efforts de l'industrie, tels que le contrôle du flux de spam utilisé pour faire circuler des liens vers ces matériaux, l'ont largement éconduit du Web ouvert et vers les courriels privés, le stockage sur le nuage et les événements en direct, explique M. Moran. « Jusqu'à 95 % du matériel pédopornographique est aujourd'hui échangé à l'identique, sans qu'aucune monnaie ne change de mains, la monnaie réelle étant la douleur des enfants. Mais chaque image, chaque film, implique un véritable enfant et à INTERPOL, nous sommes devenus très centrés sur les victimes. Nous nous éloignons du travail superficiel consistant à arrêter quelqu'un pour possession ou distribution et pensons maintenant à ce que nous pouvons faire, en tant que force de l'ordre, pour identifier cet enfant et arrêter ainsi l'abus », a-t-il dit. À partir de cette stratégie centrée sur l'enfant, la base de données internationale sur l'exploitation sexuelle des enfants est utilisée pour identifier et localiser les victimes. INTERPOL maintient l'ICSE, qui relie cinquante pays et leur fournit des informations actualisées sur les enfants vulnérables. Les données de l'ICSE aident à identifier une moyenne de six victimes par jour dans le monde dont l'âge, selon M. Moran, va des nourrissons aux pré-adolescents. S'agissant de la façon dont l'industrie peut mieux protéger cette population vulnérable, M. Moran a déclaré : « À mon avis, quiconque possède un réseau porte la responsabilité de s'assurer qu'il n'est pas utilisé par de mauvais acteurs. Je dirais que vous faites preuve de négligence si, en tant qu'administrateur système, vous permettez aux agresseurs d'enfants d'utiliser votre système. « Pourquoi pouvez-vous scanner vos systèmes pour détecter les logiciels malveillants mais n'analysez-vous pas les matériaux d'abus envers les enfants? Pourquoi vous assurer que vous ne laissez pas de relais ouverts sur vos serveurs de messagerie, mais ne pas vous assurer que ces serveurs ne sont pas utilisés pour transmettre ou stocker du matériel d'abus d'enfant? Bien qu'il existe quelques grandes entreprises qui gèrent cette question d'une manière responsable, pour une entreprise qui le fait, il en existe dix, quinze ou vingt qui ne font pas », a-t-il dit. M. Moran a également exhorté l'industrie à renforcer la sécurité dans les nouvelles plates-formes et les applications depuis la phase de conception initiale. « Nous devons reconnaître que les personnes malveillantes abuseront de nouveaux services dès que ceux-ci sont en ligne. Si nous pensons à cela lors de l'étape du codage, il sera possible d'arrêter l'exploitation dès le début », a-t-il déclaré. Des salles de discussion au nuage Moran a commencé sa carrière dans l'application de la loi dans la Garda Síochána, la police d'Irlande, à laquelle il est affilié. Il est détaché auprès d'INTERPOL depuis 10 ans et est stationné à Lyon, en France, où est basée sa division des communautés vulnérables. Moran a commencé à travailler contre le matériel pédopornograpique dans les premières salles de discussion IRC, suivant les agresseurs alors qu'ils s'orientaient vers le Web et d'autres technologies pour distribuer des matériaux. Au fil des ans, il a apporté son soutien et son expertise aux organisations privées sur le terrain et à d'autres organismes d'application de la loi à l'échelle mondiale, en forgeant une communauté internationale qui coopère au sauvetage des enfants exploités, et il s'exprime souvent sur ce sujet, à la fois devant des professionnels et devant le grand public. En annonçant le prix, Michael Adkins, président du M3AAWG, a déclaré : « Nous reconnaissons les efforts inlassables de Michael au cours des vingt dernières années pour protéger ces victimes tout en travaillant dans un domaine très exigeant, son engagement à protéger leur dignité et sa volonté de protéger autant d'enfants que possible. Mais ce prix est aussi un appel au réveil pour l'industrie. Nous devons tous suivre l'exemple de Mick et assumer la responsabilité de ce problème de société. Nous avons tous besoin de faire plus pour le garder hors de nos systèmes et réseaux. » Le prix 2017 a été présenté lors de la 39ème Assemblée Générale du M3AAWG, qui s'est ouverte le 20 février à San Francisco. Plus de 500 experts en sécurité, FAI, chercheurs, représentants des politiques publiques et fournisseurs participent à la réunion de quatre jours qui regroupe plus de 50 séances sur la cybersécurité et l'échange d'informations. Le M3AAWG tient trois réunions chaque année dont une en Europe, afin développer les meilleures pratiques et autres travaux qui protégeront les utilisateurs en ligne. La prochaine réunion du M3AAWG se tiendra du 12 au 15 juin à Lisbonne, au Portugal. À propos du M3AAWG (Groupe de travail portant sur la messagerie, les logiciels malveillants et la lutte contre les abus par voie mobile) Le Groupe de travail portant sur la messagerie, les logiciels malveillants et la lutte contre les abus par voie mobile (M3AAWG) rassemble les acteurs du secteur pour lutter ensemble contre les bots, les logiciels malveillants, les spams, les virus, les attaques par déni de service et d'autres cas de cyberexploitation. Le M3AAWG (www.m3aawg.org) représente plus d'un milliard de boîtes de réception appartenant à certains des plus grands opérateurs de réseaux du monde. Le groupe s'appuie sur le sérieux et l'expérience de ses membres à travers le monde pour s'attaquer aux abus sur les réseaux existants et au sein des nouveaux services émergents en exploitant la technologie, la collaboration et les politiques publiques. Ce dernier se consacre également à la sensibilisation des décideurs mondiaux aux questions techniques et opérationnelles liées à l'abus en ligne et à la messagerie. Basé à San Francisco, en Californie, le M3AAWG est axé sur les besoins du marché et soutenu par des grands opérateurs de réseau et des fournisseurs de messagerie. Conseil d'Administration du M3AAWG : AT&T, CenturyLink, Cloudmark, Inc., Comcast, Endurance International Group, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Mailchimp, Microsoft Corp., Orange, Return Path, SendGrid, Inc., Charter Communications, Vade Secure et Yahoo! Inc. Membres à part entière du M3AAWG : 1&1 Internet AG, Adobe Systems Inc., Agora, Inc., AOL, Campaign Monitor Pty., Cisco Systems, Inc., CloudFlare, Dyn, Exact Target, Inc., IBM, iContact, Internet Initiative Japan, Liberty Global, Listrak, Litmus, MAPP Digital, Sparkpost, Mimecast, Nominum, Inc., Oracle Marketing Cloud, OVH, PayPal, Proofpoint, Rackspace, Spamhaus, Sprint, Symantec et USAA. Une liste complète des membres est disponible à l'adresse https://www.m3aawg.org/about/roster.
News Article | May 19, 2017
Whether you first knew # as a number sign, the pound symbol, or a tic-tac-toe board, its incarnation as the hashtag has changed language for millions around the world. Sure, it can indicate where you’re posting from (#OvalOffice) or what you’re posting about (#FakeNews). But it has also shaped elections, launched social movements, and transcended its meaning as a mere keystroke to become a defining symbol of the digital age. Its story started on a bare-bones social-networking site called Twitter back in 2007, when early adopters began developing tools to organize their tweets. Chris Messina: Ten years ago we were at South by Southwest in Austin when Twitter was really blowing up. But there were a lot of people back in San Francisco frustrated that their Twitter feeds were full of stories from Austin that were not relevant to them. There was no way of organizing tweets so you knew what to pay attention to and what to ignore. Stowe Boyd: Chris suggested in a blog post that we start using tags in Twitter, and he proposed calling them channels. His orientation to that word came from his exposure to IRC chat rooms, right? Internet Relay Chat. Messina: I’d been an active user on IRC for a while, and they had this concept of channels, which you named with the pound symbol and a word. So one day, in August 2007, I went to Twitter’s headquarters in South Park, in San Francisco. I didn’t really know anybody, but I walked up to Biz Stone and was like, “Hey, we’ve been talking about this problem with groups on Twitter. What do you think about using pound symbols to tag posts?” Biz Stone: I don’t think he was proposing an actual system by which we would search or display the tags. He was just saying people should use tags. I said, “OK, but what do you want me to do about that? Go ahead and do it.” Boyd: We started using them with our friends, but I never liked the name channels. My background was in computer science. The hash mark is one of the operators in C, and everybody I knew referred to it as the hash, right? Not pound. So the name came from programmer culture. Messina: It took a few months to get going. I believe it was October before the hashtag had its first breakout success. Nate Ritter: My wife and I were traveling around San Diego and saw smoke. We turned on the TV to try to get information about the fire so we could let other people know about it. The speed at which things were coming out was much too fast for me to blog about it, so I started posting about it on Twitter. Messina: I reached out to him and proposed using a tag that was already being used on Flickr: #SanDiegoFire. Ritter: I asked him, “Remind me again: What’s a hashtag?” And he pointed me to his blog post. So from that point forward, I started using the hashtag. Messina: Because Nate was so prolific and was posting constantly for days, it gave people a taste of what it looks like to have hashtags. Stone: Enough people started using them eventually that in 2009 Twitter decided to embrace them. Our developers built an automatic search tool so users could see who else was using that hashtag. When hashtags started moving to other platforms, I was like, “Whoa, this is crazy.” Messina: When Instagram launched in 2010, the hashtag became the lingua franca for labeling content on both platforms. Heather Gautney: In 2010 there was the Arab Spring and the European anti-austerity movement, which both used hashtags to brand what they were doing. In 2011 unions and anarchists and the group Adbusters, of course, very famously started organizing and used the Occupy Wall Street hashtag. It became very useful in terms of just-in-time information about protest activity. Stone: It added another dimension to Twitter. You could be linked via hashtag to people you didn’t follow or who didn’t follow you. You could make new discoveries. The denser the network became, the better the network became. Messina: The number one question I get is, “Oh, you worked for Twitter, right?” No, I never worked at Twitter. Yes, I contributed to it at some point. But the hashtag was not created for Twitter. The hashtag was created for the internet. This article appears in the June issue. Subscribe now.
News Article | May 16, 2017
LA JUNTA, CO--(Marketwired - May 16, 2017) - To meet the growing demand of Sprout Tiny Homes' ( : STHI) commercial tiny homes and office pods, Equipment Leasing Services has allocated $5 million of lease financing credit with an additional $10 million reserve for Sprout manufactured tiny homes. The Equipment Leasing program will enable developers, hotel and resort owners to finance Sprout's full line of commercial tiny homes and retail pods with flexible terms. The financing that Equipment Leasing Services has created for Sprout Tiny Homes offers developers and commercial resort owners a monthly lease rate to maximize cash flow while reducing the upfront capital expenditure of expanding their business models. "We are proud that Equipment Leasing has approved our collateral for commercial financing and look forward to providing our commercial clients with ELS's financing options," said Rod Stambaugh, President of Sprout Tiny Homes. Equipment Leasing Services LLC differentiates itself from the crowd of equipment financing and leasing companies by providing individualized service to each client and effectively understands their needs, goals, and individual situations. The company offers several financing options as well as convenient, customized service and an efficient experience. By maintaining relationships with a variety of capital sources of funding and a variety of individual and institutional equity investors, ELS is able to offer a wide range of financing alternatives not always available from a single bank or finance company. ABOUT SPROUT TINY HOMES Sprout Tiny Homes is a leading designer and manufacturer of high quality, commercial-grade tiny homes featuring chemical free interiors. Sprout homes, office and retail pods are built with Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs) making them stronger, and greener than traditional stick built tiny homes. They employ the latest HVAC and ERV technology making our homes comfortable in the most extreme environments. Sprout builds homes on wheels, homes on foundations and converted shipping container homes. Sprout homes on wheels are built to the ANSI 119.5 standard and homes on foundations are built to IRC code. Sprout is recognized as the premier commercial-grade builder and our homes have been the featured homes in the world's first tiny home hotel (weecasa.com) and deployed as a modern employee housing solution for Aspen Skiing Company. For more information call 719-247-6195 or visit: http://sprouttinyhomes.com Certain statements contained herein are "forward-looking statements" (as defined in the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995). Sprout Tiny Homes Inc. cautions that statements, and assumptions made in this news release constitute forward-looking statements and makes no guarantee of future performance. Forward-looking statements are based on estimates and opinions of management at the time statements are made. These statements may address issues that involve significant risks, uncertainties, estimates made by management. Actual results could differ materially from current projections or implied results. Sprout Tiny Homes, Inc. undertakes no obligation to revise these statements following the date of this news release.
News Article | May 25, 2017
TORONTO, ON--(Marketwired - May 25, 2017) - Purpose Investments Inc. ("Purpose" or the "Manager") and NexC Partners Corp. ("NexC" or the "Company") (TSX: NXC) would like to announce that NexC has sold all of its shares in Purpose, a private company holding, back to Purpose. NexC was established in February 2013 with the goal of providing its shareholders with an investment in a high quality portfolio of North American dividend-paying equity securities, plus the opportunity to participate as a small equity shareholder of Purpose, which at that time was a start-up asset management business founded by Som Seif. NexC has provided a total return since inception of 69.69% and an annual compounded total return of 13.21% for the Class A shares and a total return of 76.30% and an annual compounded total return of 14.23% for the Class F shares as of May 24, 2017. Since the launch of NexC, the value of Purpose Investments has grown to excess of 16% of the Company's net asset value. NexC has also paid out total dividends from inception on the Class A shares and Class F shares of $2.33 per share. In considering the decision to sell its stake in Purpose, the independent members of the Board of Directors of NexC considered a number of factors including: i) the ability to realize full liquidity on its investment in Purpose, a private company, at an attractive price; ii) the opportunity to monetize a holding that, due to the success of Purpose as a business, had grown to become a very large proportion of the overall Company's NAV; and iii) the ability to provide NexC investors with a significant gain in the form of a special cash dividend, in order to reward investors for their commitment to the Company. The independent members of the Board of Directors of NexC reviewed the proposed transaction and approved the transaction subject to the terms and conditions of the agreement. The Manager referred the transaction to the Company's Independent Review Committee ("IRC") for its consideration and the IRC provided a positive recommendation on the basis that the sale of the shares is fair and reasonable to NexC. The Board of Directors has further decided to pay out the proceeds from the sale of the Purpose stake held by NexC and has declared a special dividend of $2.31 per Class A share and $2.42 per Class F share payable on June 12, 2017 to holders of record on June 5, 2017. The special dividend will be designated as a capital gains dividend for purposes of the Income Tax Act (Canada) and any similar provincial and territorial legislation. Purpose Investments is an asset management firm inspired by the belief that all investors should have access to great investment products along with low fees. Purpose believes in focusing first on managing risk and creating value that is currently missing from the marketplace, thus empowering all Canadians to be better investors. Purpose has over $3.3 billion in assets under management and currently offers 33 exchange traded funds and mutual funds and 6 closed-end funds across multiple asset classes and both traditional and alternative investment strategies. Commissions, trailing commissions, management fees and expenses all may be associated with investment fund investments. Please read the prospectus and other disclosure documents before investing. The indicated rates of return are the historical annual compounded total returns including change in share/unit value and reinvestment of all distributions and do not take into account sales, redemption, distribution or optional charges or income taxes payable by any security holder that would have reduced returns. Investment funds are not covered by the Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation or any other government deposit insurer. There can be no assurance that the full amount of your investment in a fund will be returned to you. If the securities are purchased or sold on a stock exchange, you may pay more or receive less than the current net asset value. Investment funds are not guaranteed, their values change frequently and past performance may not be repeated.
News Article | May 23, 2017
When news broke recently that the US Justice Department is preparing criminal charges against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, the story reverberated across not only London, where Assange is holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy, but also in Iceland, where a bit player in the WikiLeaks story has been living for five years. Six years ago, during a military hearing over the actions of Wikileaks source Chelsea Manning, a government witness testified that someone named "Jason Katz" helped WikiLeaks try to crack the password on a particular file. This file contained a video Manning allegedly leaked to the group (she was later acquitted of this charge). Katz has never spoken publicly about the matter and aside from his name and a few details presented in court, the story of his role in the incident has long remained a mystery. Katz, now 36, tells Motherboard he made a single, failed attempt to crack the password. And WikiLeaks never ended up publishing the video. But Katz lost his job with a US government lab and, after an FBI raid at his work place, his apartment, and the home of his girlfriend's parents, he says the feds subpoenaed him to appear before a grand jury investigating Assange and WikiLeaks. Katz refused to testify without immunity and never heard from the feds again. He also was never charged with any crime. In 2012, he moved to Iceland, where he founded the Pirate Party with several former WikiLeaks associates, and says he has lived ever since on the "straight and narrow." Last week, Manning was released from prison after having her sentence commuted. But Katz is concerned that if the government now goes after Assange on conspiracy charges, it could go after him as well, however brief and inconsequential his role in the Manning leaks was. "I don't regret my actions, because they led me on a really interesting journey." Katz has kept a low profile since the raid and says he avoids speaking with friends in Iceland about his brush with the law. "[W]hen I got raided, they rounded up my entire support network—all of my friends, all of my close family, and just wrecked all of that," he tells Motherboard. "It made me very wary of involving anyone around me with what all of this was about." Several times during a voice call interview that he initiated with Motherboard, he questioned the wisdom of talking now. "I'm being dumb," he says. "You can put that on the record. I don't want to say something that will create new charges or trouble for me at this point." Despite reservations, Katz spoke with Motherboard in an attempt to set the record straight about his role in the Manning case. "I don't regret my actions, because they led me on a really interesting journey," he says. "I would do the same again. It got me to move here, and if I hadn't moved here, the Pirates never would have happened." Katz was a 28-year-old systems administrator in late 2009, when he was in a WikiLeaks IRC room and someone mentioned a password-protected file they needed help opening. This was months before the first Manning leaks were published, and the public was still largely ignorant about WikiLeaks. The organization had been operating for three years at the time and had published a few news-making leaks from other sources, but these had garnered little attention inside the US. Katz says he was drawn to the organization because he supported founder Julian Assange's ideas about government secrecy and transparency, and he found the idea of helping WikiLeaks exciting. "It appealed to the hacker ethos," he recalls. "The David-Goliath archetype." It's unclear exactly who requested help in the IRC room that day. Everyone in the group chat used pseudonyms and refrained from providing details that identified themselves, and Katz says he doesn't know if he ever communicated directly with Assange. Motherboard contacted WikiLeaks for comment, but the organization did not respond in time for this article's publication. Katz decided to download the file, which turned out to be a .zip file called "b.zip". He also downloaded a password-cracking tool to try to open it. But the password cracker didn't work. "That's pretty much as far as I got," Katz tells Motherboard. Four months later, WikiLeaks published the now infamous "Collateral Murder" video, the first major release of classified information leaked by Chelsea Manning (then known as Bradley Manning), which thrust the secret-sharing organization into the public spotlight. The video showed a 2007 US helicopter attack in Iraq that wounded two children and killed their father, two Reuters employees, and a number of others. It wasn't the video Katz had tried to open, though he didn't know this at the time. The file Katz tried to open, according to later testimony from Special Agent David Shaver of the Army's Computer Crimes Investigative Unit, contained a different classified military video depicting a May 2009 US air strike near the Garani village in Afghanistan, which killed nearly 100 civilians, most of them children, according to locals. WikiLeaks has never published this video, reportedly because the group never succeeded in cracking the password. Katz says at the time he downloaded the b.zip file, he had no idea what was in it. "I didn't really understand what the data was and what we were working with," Katz says, "until all of these other [Manning] leaks came out and WikiLeaks started getting press." Katz's involvement was significant because he was working at the time as a systems administrator in the physics department of Brookhaven National Laboratory, a Department of Energy (DoE) complex on Long Island that operates a particle accelerator, and is part of a collaborative project for analyzing data from the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland. Asked if he downloaded the encrypted WikiLeaks file to his personal computer or his government one, Katz demurred. "Let me think about answering this one," he says. "I'm going to say 'skip' for that." But according to testimony at Manning's hearing, investigators found the file and password-cracking program on his work computer. Katz was fired a few months after he downloaded the file, over "inappropriate computer activity." Ironically, Katz says Brookhaven was unaware at the time of his connection to WikiLeaks, since none of Manning's leaks had been published yet. Instead, Katz says he was fired for something more mundane. "It appealed to the hacker ethos. The David-Goliath archetype." A few weeks after he downloaded the files, Katz says, a programmer working at Brookhaven suffered a mental health crisis over the Christmas break. The worker, whom Katz describes as an immigrant from Asia, had no family in the area. So when the lab closed for the holidays and everyone went home, he reportedly remained on campus alone. The extended isolation apparently triggered a psychotic episode. Katz remembers receiving a phone call from the worker during the holiday break and having a "nonsensical" conversation with him. "I knew who was calling me and I knew where he was, but I didn't know what he was talking about," Katz recalls. Katz says the worker set fire to his room on the Brookhaven campus, and when security arrived, he was spouting gibberish. Katz says his name came up in the conversation, though he's not sure why or what the worker said about him. Katz and the programmer had discussed WikiLeaks in the past, but Katz doesn't know if the programmer mentioned that to security. "This is somebody that I had worked with, and [he] had asked at one point what was going on with my computer," Katz says. But Katz didn't think the worker knew that he downloaded a WikiLeaks file. At some point after Katz returned to work following the holiday break—he can't remember how long after—he says Brookhaven security approached him. Katz says they took his work computer and personal laptop, which he used to communicate in IRC rooms. The latter was encrypted, and Katz refused to hand over his password or sign a document saying he was relinquishing his laptop voluntarily. "[T]his is probably what got me fired," Katz tells Motherboard. "I wasn't cooperating with counter-intelligence and because of that, it was akin to insubordination." Katz eventually got the laptop back, but was dismissed in March 2010—presumably, for simply having the password-cracking tool on his computer, since Brookhaven investigators wouldn't learn what was in the encrypted .zip file until months later. (Brookhaven did not respond to repeated requests for information about Katz's employment with the lab.) Shortly after his dismissal, on April 5, 2010, WikiLeaks published "Collateral Murder." Manning was arrested the next month after confessing to a hacker named Adrian Lamo that he had leaked hundreds of thousands of documents to WikiLeaks, and Lamo turned him in. By September, Katz had moved on to a new job as a systems administrator with Tower Research Capital, a hedge fund company in New York, and had put the incident at Brookhaven behind him. But a series of events were unfolding that would soon bring it all back. In July, Lamo had somehow learned of Katz's attempt to crack the Garani video file and told Army investigators who were working the Manning case. They examined Katz's old Brookhaven work computer, or images of it, and found evidence that he had downloaded the b.zip file as well as a password-cracking tool and had attempted to open the file—though they were unable to determine if he succeeded. Katz remained oblivious to Lamo's betrayal of him for many months. He was working a cushy job earning $75,000 a year with free meals, rooftop parties and five weeks of paid vacation. But he was someone who got bored with jobs fairly quickly and in early 2011 began looking for new work. He saw an ad for a job in Iceland with a startup called Videntifier, which developed technology for fingerprinting and identifying videos. He wasn't interested in the job, but was curious about Iceland and saw it as a chance for a free trip. But after flying to meet with the founders that February, he was blown away by their technology and decided to take the job. "I had been talking about living outside the US for a while," Katz says. "And I'm fairly impulsive sometimes." Katz returned to New York in late February and after taking some time to think about it, gave notice to his employer, saying he'd continue to work a few more months before taking off. But on March 31, two weeks after giving notice, the FBI showed up at Tower. "I think what they saw was me flying to Iceland and back, and that freaked them out," he says. Given the timing of these events, there's reason to believe Katz had been under surveillance since the previous July, when Lamo gave the feds his name. Assange and WikiLeaks had used Iceland as a home base in 2010 while preparing the Manning leaks for publication, and Katz's trip there a year later must have looked highly suspicious. And three months before Katz's trip to Iceland, US Attorney General Eric Holder revealed publicly for the first time that there was an "active, ongoing criminal investigation" and grand jury probe against Assange and WikiLeaks. The next month, the FBI served a sealed grand jury subpoena to a man named Andrew Strutt, to seize a server he managed. Strutt, known in the wider hacker community as r0d3nt, was co-owner and administrator of pinky.ratman.org, a Linux shell server for more than 300 security researchers and technology enthusiasts. He was also a defense contractor. Strutt has successfully straddled the hacker and government communities for years, having hosted the IRC network for the hacker community 2600 while contracting for the military and government and also being a member of the FBI's Infragard program, which fosters cooperation between the feds and the private sector. He tells Motherboard he tried to fight the subpoena but didn't have the resources to do so, and ended up turning over the server to the feds. "I refused to answer any questions," Strutt says. "They threatened to either put me on the stand to the grand jury, for a crime that is unknown to me, and a person that is unknown to me.. or I comply with a very specific sealed legal process…. [H]undreds of hackers and users and security researchers trust me with their secrets. I will take them to my grave. I was not about to sit on the stand to a grand jury and have to answer questions about unknown crimes and persons." In a statement Strutt would publish online on March 30 after the feds gave him permission, he said the FBI was looking for information about "the activities of a particular user whose identity I am not aware of." It's unclear if the file Katz tried to open ever passed through Strutt's server, but Katz believes this was likely the case. Strutt says initially the feds thought he was responsible for the activity they were investigating. "[W]hatever it was they were looking for, they thought it was me," Strutt wrote in a message to Motherboard. Because of relationships he had developed through Infragard, Strutt says they called him initially instead of just showing up to seize his server. When he delayed responding while he sought assistance from the Electronic Frontier Foundation, they showed up at his work. "[W]hen I explained to them via my lawyer, that there were 300+ people with accounts on that machine, and that I'm a ISP. It blew their mind. They had no idea other people had access to the machine," he says. He says the FBI promised he'd eventually be given a list of what they examined on the server, but they never did. It's notable, however, that they were only interested in activity that occurred prior to August 2010, which was around the time Lamo informed on Katz. Strutt says he eventually figured out why the server was seized when he read an article about Katz's role in the Manning case. He eventually got the server back, but not until October 2015. He tells Motherboard he had to sign another gag order to get the server. In a tweet he sent out when he got the server back, he referenced WikiLeaks, Katz and Lamo, essentially signaling to everyone in the community the reason his server had been seized. On the morning of March 31st, 2011, the day after Strutt had published his initial note about the seizure, Katz says he arrived to his hedge fund job, opened the personal laptop he'd brought with him, then noticed three strangers walking toward him. He tells Motherboard he sensed immediately that something was odd, and got up to get a drink. That's when he says one of the guys lunged at him, yelling, "FBI! You're not under arrest!" while another one seized his personal laptop. It was the same netbook laptop that Brookhaven security had seized a year earlier and returned to him. "This is how dumb I am," Katz told Motherboard. "I'm still bringing around the laptop that had been given back to me, because I still want to IRC and do things not on the company workstation." Since he wasn't under arrest, Katz suggested they talk in a conference room. "I think the second or third sentence out of my mouth was, 'I need to speak with my lawyer,'" he recalled. He recalls being handed a document containing the names of Assange, Manning and Jacob Appelbaum... The agents told him they weren't really interested in him; their focus was on someone else. His memory is foggy, but he recalls being handed a document containing the names of Assange, Manning and Jacob Appelbaum—the latter a friend of Assange and WikiLeaks who occasionally made public appearances on WikiLeaks' behalf—but can't remember if that occurred the day of the raid or later. If he helped them out, they said, they'd let prosecutors know that he'd cooperated. "I said, 'that's great, if you can put that in writing I will hand it over to my lawyer and we'll get back to you,'" Katz said. By chance, Katz says he had a business card in his wallet from Rainey Reitman, an activist with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, whom he'd met a month earlier at Shmoocon, an annual hacker conference held in Washington, DC. He excused himself to call Reitman and got the name of a defense lawyer in New York who could help him. (Motherboard called Reitman for comment, but did not receive a response in time for this article's publication). Katz's meeting with the FBI lasted more than an hour, by his recollection. And during that time, Katz says his apartment in Brooklyn was raided, as was a house on Long Island that belonged to his girlfriend's family. The FBI allegedly imaged his roommate's laptop as well as other laptops in the apartment, and examined computers in his girlfriend's home. Katz says his girlfriend saw an FBI agent take something from his car, which was parked outside her parents' house; Katz thinks it may have been a GPS tracker. Days later, someone identifying themselves as an FBI agent called Jason's father and asked to talk, but the elder Katz refused unless a lawyer was present. The FBI agent hung up and never called back, Katz's father recalled to Motherboard in a phone interview. Motherboard has agreed not to identify the elder Katz to protect his privacy. Agents also reportedly confronted Katz's younger brother at work, convincing him to leave his job and go to FBI headquarters for what turned out to be several hours of intensive questioning. "I didn't involve a lot of people in what I did. So nobody could say with certainty anything if they were asked questions." Although he still had a few months left to work on his job at Tower, when Katz returned to his office after the raid, the hedge fund company fired him. (Motherboard called Tower Research Capital for comment, but did not receive a response in time for this article's publication.) Over the next couple of weeks, Katz says anyone he had more than a passing acquaintance with was approached by the FBI. His girlfriend was also subpoenaed to appear before the grand jury in Virginia, and agreed to go after securing immunity, but Katz says she didn't know anything about his involvement with WikiLeaks. "I didn't involve a lot of people in what I did," he explained. "So nobody could say with certainty anything if they were asked questions." After refusing to testify to the grand jury himself, Katz decided to proceed with his move to Iceland. Lamo has publicly stated that Katz ran to Iceland to avoid prosecution. But Katz's visa application for Iceland required that he pass an FBI background check. So while still under FBI suspicion for his involvement with WikiLeaks, Katz dutifully mailed his fingerprints to the FBI. He got a clean report back several months later and moved to Iceland in February 2012. He never asked the FBI to return the laptop they seized from him, fearing that doing so would renew the agency's interest in his case. (Motherboard emailed the FBI for comment about their investigation into Katz, but did not receive a response in time for this article's publication). Eight months after making the move, he founded the Pirate Party with Icelandic politician and former WikiLeaks collaborator Birgitta Jónsdóttir, and a handful of other WikiLeaks supporters and activists. "All of this stuff with the FBI forced my hand into following through on activist angles," Katz said. "There was no going back at that point." 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News Article | February 15, 2017
Global Online Conversation Aims to Improve Teaching-of-Teachers Around the World RENSSELAERVILLE, NY--(Marketwired - February 14, 2017) - Registration is open for Action for Teachers of Refugees, a global online convening to be held March 14 through 16 at learning.careyinstitute.org. Registration in the worldwide text-based conversation is free, but space is limited. It is anticipated that hundreds of learning practitioners and leaders from around the world will participate. Action for Teachers of Refugees is hosted by the Center for Learning in Practice at the Carey Institute for Global Good and co-sponsored by Teachers College, Columbia University and the Teachers in Crisis Contexts Working Group. The event will collect and analyze crowdsourced insights from practitioners around the world, with emphasis on teachers and teachers-of-teachers of pre-K to college age students who work in refugee host and destination countries. "Every child in the world has a right to education. We have seen, all too often, the devastating impact of displacement, whether by conflict or natural disaster, on children and their education," said Carey Institute President and CEO, Gareth Crawford. "With 1 in 200 children in the world a refugee, this is something we cannot ignore. The economic consequences of interruption to education are horrendous. We cannot afford to have another lost generation. The Teachers of Refugees initiative at the Center for Learning in Practice will ensure that these men and women have an online community for continued discussion and exchange in their effort to give a brighter future to marginalized children." The event directly responds to the UN Sustainable Development Agenda's fourth goal to ensure inclusive and quality education for all and promote lifelong learning. Action for Teachers of Refugees aims to increase the supply of qualified teachers by adopting the recommendations of the International Network for Education in Emergencies (INEE) which include: developing, applying, measuring and institutionalizing standards for teacher professional development; creating professional development opportunities that promote teacher collaboration; and providing teachers with ongoing support, and using information and communication technology (ICT) to provide access to content, professional development and professional learning communities. "The world will be short 69 million teachers by 2030 and the teacher professional development currently available is not yielding the impact on quality teaching that is universally desired. We have to figure out not just what to teach, but how to teach-the-teachers of refugees," said Center for Learning in Practice Director, Dr. Diana Woolis. "Teacher prep has to look very different than it does today. For example, it will need to be personalized, standards driven, use micro-learning strategies and be practice-based, not just content-based." Quoting Diana Laurillard, professor of Learning With Digital Technologies at UCL Institute of Education in London, Woolis says, "teaching is not rocket science. It is much harder than that." "We have to work hard, fast and smart to avert the impending crisis," explains Woolis. "The Center for Learning in Practice hopes to accelerate learning to do just that." Action for Teachers of Refugees will focus on the opportunities at the intersection of sustainable processes and effective methods for teachers of professional learning. There are multiple methods of engagement including the rapid, brief sharing of evidence-based practices known as peer-sourcing, discussion forums and a practice lab. Teachers, learning designers, technologists, principals, content experts, providers, standards and assessment developers, analysts, researchers and more from every time zone are invited to engage in facilitated conversations. Guest discussion hosts include the center's advisory council as well as representatives from organizations including United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), International Rescue Committee (IRC), USAID, UNICEF and more. Participants are welcome to join the conversation at any time throughout the event. Register and learn more by creating a user account at learning.careyinstitute.org. The Carey Institute for Global Good is a not-for-profit organization founded in 2012 by Wm. Polk Carey and is dedicated to making the world better by contributing to a strong, educated and just society. Through its programs, the Institute strives to bring together innovative and dynamic people from around the world to address the most pressing issues of the day.
News Article | February 23, 2017
CICERO, Ill., Feb. 23, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Broadwind Energy, Inc. (NASDAQ:BWEN) reported sales of $48.2 million in Q4 2016, up 28% compared to $37.6 million in Q4 2015 as a result of significantly improved production at the Company’s Abilene, Texas tower facility. The Company reported income from continuing operations of $.4 million, or $.03 per share, in Q4 2016, compared to a net loss from continuing operations of $10.7 million, or $.73 per share, in Q4 2015. The $.76 per share improvement was due to significant operational improvements in the Towers and Weldments segment and successful cost management actions across the Company, notably in the Gearing segment. The Company reported a net loss from discontinued operations of $.1 million, or $.01 per share, in Q4 2016, unchanged from the prior year quarter. The Company reported non-GAAP adjusted EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, amortization, share-based payments and restructuring costs) of $2.5 million in Q4 2016, compared to a non-GAAP adjusted EBITDA loss of $8.1 million in Q4 2015 (please refer to the reconciliation of GAAP measures to non-GAAP measures at the end of this release). The $10.6 million improvement was mainly attributable to the factors described above. Broadwind CEO Stephanie Kushner stated, “Broadwind had a solid fourth quarter, culminating in our first profitable year. We exceeded our targets for every metric that we set at the beginning of the year. Orders in 2016 totaled $275 million, nearly triple the orders in 2015. We removed $9 million from manufacturing overhead and operating expenses in 2016, which was $1 million more than our target. Our tower production was on schedule in both plants, and productivity in our Abilene plant improved dramatically during 2016, ending the year at a record level with record low overtime. This is a reflection of the process improvements we made throughout the year and the strong team we have in place. Our Gearing segment managed well through a challenging year. On 30% lower sales, we were able to cut the segment’s operating loss by $5 million and generate positive net cash flow.” Ms. Kushner continued, “Late last year, our Board approved a strategy whereby we plan to double our sales over the next three years by growing our existing businesses and expanding our presence in clean tech. We plan to accomplish this by a combination of organic growth and bolt-on acquisitions including the recently announced Red Wolf transaction. The Abilene tower plant expansion will be complete by mid-2017 and will offer us important operating flexibility and a 30% increase in capacity at this plant. For FY 2017, we expect revenue of $210-220 million and EBITDA of approximately $14-16 million. For Q1 2017, we expect revenue of $54-56 million and EBITDA of approximately of $3 million. Income guidance is highly uncertain pending a third-party determination of purchase accounting for Red Wolf. We will update income guidance following Q1 17.” For FY 2016, revenue totaled $180.8 million, compared to $199.2 million for FY 2015. The 9% reduction was due primarily to lower Towers and Weldments revenue, attributable to lower steel and other material costs, which are generally passed through to the customer, and lower Gearing revenue related to reduced demand from oil & gas and mining customers. Net income from continuing operations for the twelve months ended December 31, 2016 was $1.3 million, or $.09 per share, compared with a net loss from continuing operations of $12.2 million, or $.83 per share, for the twelve months ended December 31, 2015. The increase was due to significantly improved operating efficiencies in the Towers and Weldments segment and successful cost containment efforts Company-wide. The net loss from discontinued operations for FY 2016 totaled $1.0 million, or $.07 per share, compared to net loss from discontinued operations of $9.6 million, or $.65 per share, for FY 2015 due to the sale and wind-down of the unprofitable Services segment. The Company reported non-GAAP adjusted EBITDA of $9.6 million for FY 2016, compared to a non-GAAP adjusted EBITDA loss of $.4 million for FY 2015 (please refer to the reconciliation of GAAP measures to non-GAAP measures at the end of this release). The Company booked $32.3 million of net new orders in Q4 2016, up significantly from $5.0 million of net new orders booked in Q4 2015. Towers and Weldments orders, which vary considerably from quarter to quarter, totaled $29.4 million in Q4 2016, up substantially from $2.8 million in Q4 2015. Gearing orders totaled $2.9 million in Q4 2016, compared to $2.1 million in Q4 2015. FY 2016 net new orders totaled $275.0 million, up sharply from $94.0 million for FY 2015. 2016 orders included a $137 million multi-year tower order booked in Q2. At December 31, 2016, total backlog was $188.7 million, more than doubling backlog of $93.9 million at December 31, 2015. Towers and Weldments Broadwind Energy produces fabrications for wind, oil and gas, mining and other industrial applications, specializing in the production of wind turbine towers. Towers and Weldments segment sales totaled $42.3 million in Q4 2016, compared to $31.9 million in Q4 2015. The 32% improvement was due to significantly improved production at the Abilene facility compared to the prior year when the plant experienced severe production issues associated with a challenging contract with a long-term customer. The Towers and Weldments segment operating income totaled $2.8 million in Q4 2016, compared to an operating loss of $5.8 million in Q4 2015. The substantial improvement was due to significantly improved operations compared to the prior year when the segment experienced low throughput and losses related to labor overruns and increased logistics and contractor fees associated with the contract referenced above. Net income for the segment totaled $1.8 million in Q4 2016, compared to a net loss of $3.8 million in Q4 2015. Non-GAAP adjusted EBITDA totaled $3.9 million in Q4 2016, compared to a non-GAAP adjusted EBITDA loss of $4.2 million in Q4 2015 as a result of the factors described above (please refer to the reconciliation of GAAP measures to non-GAAP measures at the end of this release). Towers and Weldments segment sales for FY 2016 totaled $160.2 million compared to $170.5 million for FY 2015. The decrease is due to lower steel and other material costs of $16 million, which are generally passed through to customers, partially offset by a 6% increase in volume in the current year attributable to consistent production flow. FY 2016 operating income totaled $12.8 million compared to FY 2015 operating income of $4.7 million. The $8.1 million improvement was due to significantly improved operating efficiencies, including higher labor productivity and better cost management. Net income for the segment totaled $8.5 million in 2016 compared to net income of $3.1 million in 2015. Non-GAAP adjusted EBITDA for FY 2016 totaled $17.2 million, compared to $9.5 million for FY 2015, as a result of the factors described above (please refer to the reconciliation of GAAP measures to non-GAAP measures at the end of this release). Gearing Broadwind Energy engineers, builds and remanufactures precision gears and gearboxes for oil and gas, mining, steel and wind applications. Gearing segment sales totaled $5.9 million in Q4 2016, up slightly from $5.8 million in Q4 2015. On essentially flat revenue, the Q4 2016 operating loss narrowed to $.2 million compared to an operating loss of $2.9 million in Q4 2015. The significant improvement was due to a higher-margin mix, better operating performance including improved productivity, lower scrap and successful cost management that led to an overall $.7 million decrease in cash manufacturing overhead and operating expenses, and also due to a $.6 million reduction in depreciation expense. The net loss for the Gearing segment totaled $.2 million in Q4 2016, compared to a net loss of $2.8 million in Q4 2015. Non-GAAP adjusted EBITDA for Q4 2016 totaled $.5 million compared to Non-GAAP adjusted EBITDA loss of $1.5 million in Q4 2015. (please refer to the reconciliation of GAAP measures to non-GAAP measures at the end of this release). The sharp improvement was due mainly to the factors described above. FY 2016 Gearing segment sales totaled $20.6 million compared to FY 2015 sales of $29.6 million. The 30% decrease was due to weaker demand from oil & gas and mining customers. Despite lower revenue, the operating loss for FY 2016 narrowed to $3.2 million compared to an operating loss of $8.2 million for FY 2015. The improvement was due to successful cost management which led to a $3.3 million overall decrease in cash manufacturing overhead and operating expenses, a $2.5 million reduction in depreciation expense and the absence of a $.9 million environmental remediation expense that was recognized in Q3 2015. FY 2016 Gearing segment net loss totaled $3.3 million compared to a net loss of $8.2 million in 2015. The Non-GAAP adjusted EBITDA loss totaled $.6 million in 2016 compared to a non-GAAP adjusted EBITDA loss of $2.1 million in 2015 due mainly to the factors described above (please refer to the reconciliation of GAAP measures to non-GAAP measures at the end of this release). Corporate and other expenses totaled $1.9 million in Q4 2016, compared to $2.4 million in Q4 2015. The decrease was due mainly to the absence of a $1.2 million cost incurred in 2015 related to the separation of the Company’s former CEO, and the favorable impact of cost management efforts, partially offset by higher incentive compensation and medical expense. During Q4 2016, operating working capital (accounts receivable and inventory, net of accounts payable and customer deposits) increased $.6 million due to lower accounts payable at year end. Capital expenditures, net of disposals, in Q4 2016 totaled $2.7 million, bringing FY 2016 expenditures to $6.2 million. Expenditures included investments to upgrade the coatings systems in the tower plants, and outlays associated with the expansion of the Abilene tower plant which will be operational in mid-2017. Cash assets (cash and short-term investments) totaled $21.9 million at December 31, 2016, compared to $24.3 million at September 30, 2016. Subsequent to year end, on February 1, 2017, the Company announced the acquisition of Red Wolf Company, LLC for a closing cash payment of $16.5 million, subject to adjustment and additional earn-out payments. Debt and capital leases totaled $4.1 million at December 31, 2016, including the $2.6 million New Markets Tax Credit loan which is expected to be substantially forgiven when it matures in 2018. The Company’s credit line with The Private Bank was undrawn at December 31, 2016. About Broadwind Energy, Inc. Broadwind Energy (NASDAQ:BWEN) is a precision manufacturer of structures, equipment and components for clean tech and other specialized applications. From gears and gearing systems for wind, oil and gas and mining applications, to wind towers and industrial weldments, we have solutions for the clean tech, energy and infrastructure needs of the future. With facilities throughout the U.S., Broadwind Energy's talented team is committed to helping customers maximize performance of their investments—quicker, easier and smarter. Find out more at www.bwen.com Forward-Looking Statements This release contains “forward looking statements”—that is, statements related to future, not past, events—as defined in Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended (the “Exchange Act”), that reflect our current expectations regarding our future growth, results of operations, financial condition, cash flows, performance, business prospects and opportunities, as well as assumptions made by, and information currently available to, our management. Forward looking statements include any statement that does not directly relate to a current or historical fact. We have tried to identify forward looking statements by using words such as “anticipate,” “believe,” “expect,” “intend,” “will,” “should,” “may,” “plan” and similar expressions, but these words are not the exclusive means of identifying forward looking statements. Forward looking statements include any statement that does not directly relate to a current or historical fact. Our forward-looking statements may include or relate to our beliefs, expectations, plans and/or assumptions with respect to the following: (i) state, local and federal regulatory frameworks affecting the industries in which we compete, including the wind energy industry, and the related extension, continuation or renewal of federal tax incentives and grants and state renewable portfolio standards; (ii) our customer relationships and efforts to diversify our customer base and sector focus and leverage customer relationships across business units; (iii) our ability to continue to grow our business organically and through acquisitions; (iv) the sufficiency of our liquidity and alternate sources of funding, if necessary; (v) our ability to realize revenue from customer orders and backlog; (vi) our ability to operate our business efficiently, manage capital expenditures and costs effectively, and generate cash flow; (vii) the economy and the potential impact it may have on our business, including our customers; (viii) the state of the wind energy market and other energy and industrial markets generally and the impact of competition and economic volatility in those markets; (ix) the effects of market disruptions and regular market volatility, including fluctuations in the price of oil, gas and other commodities; (x) the effects of the recent change of administrations in the U.S. federal government; (xi) our ability to successfully integrate and operate the business of Red Wolf Company, LLC and to identify, negotiate and execute future acquisitions; and (xii) the potential loss of tax benefits if we experience an “ownership change” under Section 382 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended (the “IRC”). These statements are based on information currently available to us and are subject to various risks, uncertainties and other factors that could cause our actual growth, results of operations, financial condition, cash flows, performance, business prospects and opportunities to differ materially from those expressed in, or implied by, these statements. We are under no duty to update any of these statements. You should not consider any list of such factors to be an exhaustive statement of all of the risks, uncertainties or other factors that could cause our current beliefs, expectations, plans and/or assumptions to change. Non-GAAP Financial Measure The Company provides non-GAAP adjusted EBITDA (earnings before interest, income taxes, depreciation, amortization, and stock compensation) as supplemental information regarding the Company’s business performance. The Company’s management uses adjusted EBITDA when it internally evaluates the performance of the Company’s business, reviews financial trends and makes operating and strategic decisions. The Company believes that this non-GAAP financial measure is useful to investors because it provides investors with a better understanding of the Company’s past financial performance and future results allows investors to evaluate the Company’s performance using the same methodology and information as used by the Company’s management. The Company's definition of adjusted EBITDA may be different from similar non-GAAP financial measures used by other companies and/or analysts.
News Article | March 1, 2017
When Jim Crawford released a browser game named Frog Fractions in 2012, half the people who played it called him a genius; the rest thought he was deranged. What most of them seemed to agree on however, was that they loved it. When influential site Rock Paper Shotgun covered the game, it did so under the header: “Frog Fractions might be the greatest game of all time”. Unpredictable and absurd, Frog Fractions starts out under the guise of a piece of edutainment software in which you control a frog sat on a pond scooping up bugs and defending fruit. Then after buying a few upgrades, you’re suddenly riding a dragon through an underground tunnel that takes you into Crawford’s own bizarre version of video game wonderland. Many read it as a comment on the absurd conventions of video games. Many others read it as weird frog game. Whatever the case, most players thought Frog Fractions would be a one-off, a weird, singular piece of outsider art. However, in December 2016, Crawford announced his intention to release Frog Fractions 2. He’d spent two and a half years working it out, going back through the past 20 years of his life, surfacing everything he could to bundle everything up into a single video game. By the time it was released, Frog Fractions 2 was practically an interactive autobiographical portrait of the author. Who would do something like this? Currently living with his fiancee in Castro Valley, California, the 37-year-old Crawford isn’t quite the colourful clown you might expect him to be. Humble and ponytailed, he speaks over his glasses as he cranks out a stream of one-liners about really, really liking soup (one of his elaborate running gags). He pursues his lifelong interest in making games from home, or at least whenever he can manage to focus on doing so. “I’ve been a hardcore dilettante all my life,” he shrugs. He’s a man with an erratic attention span, who has a history of getting bored by a project and moving to the next one without finishing it, a man who spends his time hopping between hobbies. He doesn’t know why he can’t sit still. If there’s one constant in his life it’s his love of programming. He can trace his interest back to sixth grade, when he randomly picked up a book that listed code for games made in BASIC. “I remember skimming through it and getting excited that it all seemed pretty intuitive to me, and that I wanted to do this sort of thing,” he says. “My divorced parents conspired together to get me a Commodore 128, and programming was instantly my primary hobby from then on. “Programming clicked for me in a way that felt very primal, like acquiring an additional sense, becoming one of the fundamental ways I interact with the world.” What helped to keep programming at the forefront of Crawford’s interests is its application in other creative fields. His understanding of programming widened in 1992 when he encountered the demoscene – artists and programmers who create impressive audiovisual sequences under tight computer memory restrictions. Crawford’s uncle showed him the demo Unreal, made by Finnish demogroup Future Crew, and that was it, he was hooked. “I was exactly the right age and temperament to be blown away by this sort of thing,” says Crawford. “Watching talented people strain against the limitations of an underpowered CPU is goddamned inspiring. “At the time I saw Unreal, I lived in Princeton, New Jersey and, presumably by some security oversight, the university just let people wander into their computer rooms and use the hardware. I spent a lot of time there. After I figured out that I had to set the FTP client to binary mode, I downloaded all the demos and all the source I could find, and dove into real-time graphics programming. I got good enough to impress my friends, but never felt like I was good enough to really be a part of the scene.” The next programming deviation came in 1995, when Crawford discovered Scream Tracker 3, and used it to make electronic music that he shared with friends. He got so into it that he joined the #trax IRC channel and attended a few demo parties, but he grew frustrated with his inability to make proper friends in that community, and eventually drifted away. Since then, Crawford has dabbled in learning various musical instruments, but only ever got anywhere with drums. He also spent a while building his own electronics, some of which he began making music before he moved on to his next pursuit. Over the years he’s continued to jump between hobbies like this, picking up new skills and interests, which explains why Frog Fractions is structured like it is. Once its mad descent begins, it starts to cycle through game genres before you can get a grip on any one of them: it’s a shoot ’em-up, no it’s a courtroom drama, oh wait now it’s a text adventure. This smorgasbord of game mechanics and scenarios is a direct imprint of Crawford’s wavering attention span. Without that chaos, it’s likely that Frog Fractions wouldn’t even exist. It came at a crucial time in Crawford’s life, not long after the life-changing promise he made to himself in 2010: “I decided it was a priority for me to actually ship games and actually have people play them,” he says. This was unprecedented. As a child, Crawford spent years reiterating the same platformer engine, never actually making a game with it, “because when it came time to actually take the engine and make a finished game out of it, it was a bunch of art and level design work I was scared of.” Despite struggling to finish making games, Crawford dreamed of being paid to do it full-time, and he pursued this ambition until 2005, the year he landed a position at a game middleware startup. “It had the combined stresses of a startup and an R&D department doing cutting-edge work,” he says. “I just didn’t have it in me to dedicate the time and energy it demanded. I was let go after six months, and I relegated game dev to hobby status.” What changed in 2010 to encourage Crawford to make that promise of finishing games to himself was that the web design company he worked for in San Diego, California was slowly cutting his hours as it went out of business. He realised he had to do something to break his habits and railroaded his goal by working in Flash, “the lowest barrier to entry platform for players at the time”. He concentrated on projects small enough to hold his attention span, and by forcing himself to stop dwelling on code quality. “The first thing I shipped, Futility Pong, took about a day of work. The next, Futilitris, was probably a week’s worth of man-hours, spread over a month,” Crawford says. “I also did a bunch of game jams at the time, which helped reinforce the ethos of getting lots of small things done fast.” At some point, Crawford began to weave his small games together under a single identity. “I stumbled into Frog Fractions as a larger scale project that could keep my attention, by sheer dint of its variety,” says Crawford. “If I felt like building a text adventure, I damn well could, and it’d fit the project.” Everything seemed to come together. He was even able to use some of the music he had made between 2001 and 2012 as the game’s soundtrack. When it came to making Frog Fractions 2 in 2014, however, some of the energy that pulled together the multiple parts of the first game had been lost. One issue was that Crawford had decided to hide the game inside another one, a fairy-themed city builder called Glittermitten Grove. Unfortunately, this made it difficult for him to introduce a protagonist capable of carrying the rest of the game forward. This was only the start of the difficulties. The development process of Frog Fractions 2 was somehow more intentional and yet more chaotic. The original had made Jim Crawford the Frank Zappa of video games, and expectations were high, but Crawford was confident he could deliver due to the improvements his life had seen. “Frog Fractions was itself a huge inflection point in my life, because the reputation it gave me as a designer gave me the means to make games on my own terms – with creative control, and with working hours appropriate for a human being,” he says. In April 2014, Crawford used that reputation to raise $72,107 (£58,254) on Kickstarter towards the development of Frog Fractions 2. That meant he had people actively invested in the game being finished and it being entertaining, which added to the pressure. Crawford was not really set up for that. “I haven’t had a consistent work schedule since I was laid off from my day job in mid-2012,” he says. He does have a few “constraints” in his daily life: a co-working event at The MADE every Tuesday, a podcast with the Kingdom of Loathing developers on Wednesday evenings, a fiancee to spend time with outside of her day job. But the rest is what Crawford describes as a “free for all”. He had to battle the distractions of his mind while managing to properly dedicate time to work on Frog Fractions 2, as well as oversee the two alternate reality games (ARG) that accompanied it. These involved 23 other indie games on Steam, with developers hiding puzzle pieces about Crawford’s sequel in their own projects. In one incredibly staged moment, the ARG broke out into real life, with a letter from a “time traveler” turning up in a library book in Berkeley, California. The time traveller then kidnapped Crawford in front of spectators who managed to piece together the clues to the surreal piece of marketing theatre. In the end, those two ARGs were taken over by designers Justin Bortnick and Erica Newman. Crawford had moved on. “I suspect I’d be more productive if I had a fixed schedule, but I also suspect I’m happier like this,” Crawford says. “There was a pattern I’d observed in my late 20s, when I was comfortably in day-job mode, that time seemed to be accelerating, and that I might be on my deathbed and it would all feel like an eye-blink. “I haven’t felt that way since Frog Fractions, and I suspect it’s the tumultuousness and unpredictability of my life,” Crawford continues. “Some of that comes from the drama that falls out of the Kickstarter, of course, but also a lot of it is just that I don’t really plan my life: it just happens to me, and I don’t really know what to expect.” Frog Fractions 2 was born out of contained mayhem. Crawford initially spent a year working on a number of small prototype games that were unrelated and varied in their quality. “My usual mode of operations is to create chaos and try to tie it together into something coherent only when absolutely necessary,” he says. Seeing that his work was getting out of hand, he eventually sat down in early 2015 to organise it into a single package, ensuring Frog Fractions 2 would have a build for PAX 2015. At this time, the sequel was playable but not necessarily something that anyone other than Crawford could comprehend. That sounds like it was a failure but, in part, it was meant to be that way. “It’s probably meaningful that Frog Fractions was ‘outsider art’, and after Frog Fractions, I suddenly became very much an insider, and I mentally compensated for this by making my allusions more wide-ranging and esoteric,” says Crawford. “That’s why the hub world [in Frog Fractions 2] is a mashup of ZZT, Insanity, and DROD, three PC games that I loved, but very few people have played.” Moving out from that hub world, Frog Fractions 2 only becomes more obscure as genres are picked up and dropped suddenly, and story arcs are cut off without warning. Some reviewers found it too stretched and confounding, others loved the maelstrom of ideas. One moment you were playing a Flappy Bird pastiche, the next it was asking you to install your Mass Effect 2 save. Nobody really makes games like this. William Pugh and Davey Wreden have questioned game tropes and broken the fourth wall in titles like Stanley Parable and Beginner’s Guide, while titles such as Jazz Punk and Thirty Flights of Loving play with conventions. But Crawford brings in the surrealist anarchy of psychedelic rock. At some point, while playing through Frog Fractions 2, the references and digressions will probably lose you; it steers itself into complete chaos and drags you in with it. This is where Crawford wants you, it’s where he’s most comfortable, as it’s from there that he can engineer moments of true surprise. If there’s one thing you can rely on when playing one of Crawford’s games, it’s that, if you’re lost, then you’re exactly where you’re supposed to be.
American National Life Insurance Company of New York Introduces Two New Accelerated Benefit Riders for Terminal and Chronic Illness in New York on its New York Life Insurance products Accelerated Benefit Riders
News Article | February 14, 2017
GLENMONT, N.Y., Feb. 14, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- American National Life Insurance Company of New York (American National) announces two new Accelerated Benefit Riders for Terminal Illness and Chronic Illness, available [February 1, 2017]. These industry leading innovative Accelerated Benefit Riders provide the potential to receive a partial or full accelerated life insurance benefit if the insured is diagnosed with a qualifying Terminal or Chronic Illness at no additional premium.1 The owner can choose to take a partial acceleration, paid in lieu of a portion of the policy’s death benefit. Multiple partial benefits are available if a partial benefit is taken. For example if 25% of the death benefit is accelerated, 75% of the death benefit would remain and could be accessed later, if needed. Or, the owner can choose a full acceleration, paid in lieu of the entire policy death benefit. The maximum total Death Benefit available for acceleration is $2,000,000 for issue ages 0-65 and $1,000,000 for issue ages 66+. This benefit will be available on the following New York life policies: Term Life: ANICO Signature Term-NY, ANICO Signature Term SI-NY3 Although life insurance policies primarily provide a death benefit, American National’s life policies have the additional advantage of providing living benefits for insureds diagnosed with a qualifying condition. When struck with an illness, bills can pile up and the ability to provide for a family’s needs can be dramatically affected. American National allows a policy owner to access living benefits when they are going through an illness and need them the most. The benefit is an unrestricted cash benefit and can be used however the insured decides. Because there are no restrictions on how the benefit is used, the insured can decide whether to pay for care of the insured, pay for household expenses, ease financial burdens of illness, or go on the trip of a lifetime. David A. Behrens, President and Chief Operating Officer of American National Life Insurance Company of New York stated, “American National Life Insurance Company of New York’s new Accelerated Benefit Riders for Terminal Illness and Chronic Illness will provide expanded options for life policy holders with more choices including partial or full acceleration of these living benefits.” American National Life Insurance Company of New York, headquartered in Glenmont, New York is licensed to conduct the business of insurance in the state of New York. American National Life Insurance Company of New York offers a broad line of Life Insurance and Annuity products and services, which include life insurance, annuities, health insurance, credit insurance and pension products. American National Life Insurance Company of New York has been evaluated and assigned the following ratings by nationally recognized, independent rating agencies. The ratings are current as of October 20, 2016. Ratings reflect current independent opinions of the financial capacity of an insurance organization to meet the obligations of its insurance policies and contracts in accordance with their terms. They are based on comprehensive quantitative and qualitative evaluations of the company and its management strategy. The rating agencies do not provide ratings as a recommendation to purchase insurance or annuities. The ratings are not a warranty of an insurer's current or future ability to meet its contractual obligations. Ratings may be changed, suspended, or withdrawn at any time. For the most current ratings view the full rating reports on American National Life Insurance Company of New York’s Internet site at www.anicony.com 1 A.M. Best’s active company rating scale is: A++ (Superior), A+ (Superior), A (Excellent), A- (Excellent), B++ (Good), B+ (Good), B (Fair), B- (Fair), C++ (Marginal), C+ (Marginal), C (Weak), C- (Weak) and D (Poor). 2Ratings from ‘AA’ to ‘CCC’ may be modified by the addition of a plus (+) or minus (-) sign to show relative standing within the major rating categories. For more information, including company news and investor relations information, visit the company’s web site at www.AmericanNational.com 1) The riders are offered for no additional premium; however, the accelerated death benefit payment will be less than the requested death benefit because it will be reduced by an actuarial discount and an administrative fee of up to $500. The amount of the reduction is primarily dependent on American National’s determination of the insured’s life expectancy at the time of election. 2) The maximum benefit that may be paid to you in a calendar year under the Chronic Illness rider may not exceed the annualized per diem amount that is in effect for long term care services. Please see 26 USC 7702B(d)(4) to determine the amount currently in effect for the current year. 3) Chronic Illness is not available in ANICO Signature Term SI-NY. See policy rider forms ABR14-CH(NY) and ABR14-TM(NY) for a full description of terms and conditions. Exercising an Accelerated Benefit Rider will reduce or terminate the death benefit available for your beneficiary. Accelerated life insurance benefits are not replacements for long-term care insurance. The Accelerated Benefit Rider for Terminal and Chronic Illness are intended to receive favorable tax treatment under 101(g) of the IRC. Receipt of an accelerated benefit could be a taxable event. Consult a tax advisor regarding the tax status of any benefit paid under these riders. Receipt of an accelerated benefit may affect eligibility for Medicaid, supplemental security income or other governmental benefits or entitlements. Before accelerating, consult an advisor to determine the impact on eligibility. The Accelerated Benefit Rider for Chronic Illness is a life insurance policy that accelerates the death benefit on account of chronic illness and is not a health insurance policy providing long term care insurance subject to the minimum requirements of New York Law, does not qualify for the New York State Long Term Care Partnership program, and is not a Medicare supplement policy. Forms: ART12(NY); EXEC-UL(NY); EXEC-ULU(NY); IUL14(NY); SGUL15(NY).
News Article | February 22, 2017
The image, inserted into a discussion about the Hulk Hogan sex video that Gawker had published, was part of a long-running joke between editors and reporters. Cook couldn’t have imagined at the time that three years later, he would have to explain and defend it to a court of law after Hogan filed a multimillion-dollar lawsuit. The jury ruled in favor of the wrestler, Gawker is over, and Cook is now an editor for a retooled entity under Univision, the Gizmodo Media Group. But Cook’s messages did underscore a new reality for anyone who uses digital chatrooms to communicate with their colleagues: Chats that seem to be more ephemeral than email are still being recorded on a server somewhere. Amid concerns by a battered but determined press about privacy and the Trump administration’s quest to stop leaks, a growing number of journalists and editors are being forced to think carefully about how they communicate with each other. Newsrooms still use chatroom apps like Campfire and HipChat, but neither has been embraced by the tech and media industries quite like Slack has. In just a few years, the company has rocketed up to 4 million daily users, with 1.25 million of them paying for extra features. You’d be hard pressed to find a media organization that doesn’t have at least some Slack interactions; many companies use it as their primary way of communicating. “There are several dangers that I think journalists need to be aware of when they’re putting so much of their communications on Slack,” says Trevor Timm, executive director of the Freedom of the Press Foundation. Slack “has access to all of your chats,” he tells me, “[as well as] any internal communication you may not want in public,” including private conversations. The reminder extends beyond journalism too, to organizations like Timm’s, he notes: Indeed, even Freedom of the Press uses Slack. Slack’s ease of use is great for a busy newsroom. Reporters and staff can post links they’ve found online, leads they’ve uncovered, public records they want to request, or edits, in real-time and in one place. (Most of Fast Company‘s staff relies heavily on Slack.) New chatrooms or “channels”—either public or private ones—can be created on the fly. The app’s ease of use also means the virtual newsroom is a sort of digital watercooler, where reporters share the sort of gossip they would never want associated with their bylines. A release of this data—either by a court’s subpoena or a hacker’s intrusion—wouldn’t only require the public explanation of private jokes. It could risk compromising an already delicate trust between journalists and their audiences, and lead to the inadvertent disclosure of the identities of anonymous sources. This last part is of the utmost importance to reporters. The relationship between a source and an investigative journalist hangs on trust: Sources provide sensitive information under the assumption that writers will protect their identities. Despite the best of intentions, reporters using Slack and other digital platforms may be inadvertently breaking this pact. Sources like John Kiriakou, the first CIA officer to speak openly on waterboarding—and whose disclosure of classified information to investigative journalists helped send him to prison—serve as an example of how high the stakes can be. Beyond Gawker’s “penis-gate,” another recent incident highlights the risks of seemingly “private” chatrooms. This month, police in Washington, D.C., subpoenaed information from Facebook regarding users in the area who protested President Trump’s inauguration. The subpoena, uncovered by CityLab, asks Facebook to appear in court and provide specific user information, including names and addresses of people who use the social network and were recently arrested by the Washington, D.C., police department during the protest. Facebook and Slack are not the same thing, but as communication and organizing tools, they serve similar functions. Facebook was used as a tool for protesters to share information. Slack serves a similar purpose for journalists who might use it to keep information about sources and material. Timm emphasizes that reporters’ fear of inadvertent disclosure isn’t new. In recent years, the Obama administration took steps to either indict journalists for withholding sources and whistleblowers or to have them subpoenaed to give information before a court of law. Timm has written about the groundwork that President Obama laid for Trump in this regard, using the Espionage Act–a World War I-era law intended to target spies–as a means to stem leaks and out sources. If authorities ask Slack for data about journalists, the company may be forced to comply. In its Data Request Policy, the company says, “Except as expressly permitted by the Contract or in cases of emergency to avoid death or physical harm to individuals, Slack will not disclose Customer Data, unless it is compelled by law to do so or is subject to a valid and binding order of a governmental or regulatory body.” It also says it will notify a customer before disclosing any of their data, “unless Slack is prohibited from doing so” or if the data is associated with “illegal conduct” or the risk of harm to people or property. As of last April, Slack said it had received four requests for user data, one from the government and three from third parties, but had responded to none of them. The company wouldn’t offer further information about these requests. Slack does not offer a warrant canary, a web page that some tech firms use to alert users to government data requests that are intended to be kept secret through gag orders. Part of the problem, as Timm sees it, is the allure of Slack and its slick interface. “Slack does make things so easy and enjoyable,” he says. “Often the people who are using Slack let their guard down.” Which is to say that they’ll assume the digital space is completely secure. “There really needs to be an increased awareness within news organizations,” he says, “about when it’s appropriate to discuss things on Slack or when you should go to a more secure channel.” To Adrianne Jeffries, senior editor of The Outline, “Slack is best for coordination and brainstorming,” she writes in an email. “Using it for editorial conversations can lead to hasty judgments, but sometimes you have to for expediency.” Reporters aren’t the only chatroom users who should be concerned about privacy. Anyone using Slack at work—even in private messages and in non-work-related semi-“safe spaces”—can be surveilled by an employer. If the employer is using a “Plus plan” and can demonstrate legal authorization to access employee chats, the company can access archives and conversations from private channels after submitting an application to Slack. And the risks aren’t relegated to Slack alone. Nearly every communication platform can pose a security risk. Gawker, for example, had its Campfire hacked in 2010 (an incident unrelated to the court order it received in 2016). “I’m not sure the risk is any greater than with email,” says Jeffries, who, as an editor at Motherboard, moved her staff off Slack for a week last year as an experiment in productivity. But, she adds, “I do think Slack is a big juicy target for hackers.” Slack says it takes security “very seriously,” and has recently made it possible for enterprise employees in health care and financial services to share documents using industry privacy standards HIPAA and FINRA. Still, user data on Slack—as on HipChat and Campfire—is encrypted only at rest and in transit, which to the chagrin of privacy advocates like Timm, is not as secure as end-to-end encryption. If Slack Were Like Signal And Snapchat There are a few things newsrooms can do to fortify their chatroom security. First, they can be very intentional about what they say and don’t say on platforms like Slack. If an editor and writer are sharing privileged information, it’s best to take that to a system where the information is end-to-end encrypted. Privacy-focused chat apps like Signal or Wickr offer that level of security, and for the more technically inclined, rigorous encryption methods and private servers can be used with IRC, the decades-old chat protocol. Timm mentions a Slack alternative made by SpiderOak called Semaphor, which is pretty much a privacy-first solution for workplace communication. Mattermost bills itself as a secure, open-source Slack alternative, and Wickr also offers a group chat app aimed at the Slack crowd. It’s in the media’s best interest to “have a very strict data retention policy.” More important is for organizations to implement policies that will protect them in the long run. For example, organizations can require all users to use two-factor authentication to sign in, and can choose to have their Slack archives deleted at regular intervals. (Fast Company‘s Slack archives are erased after 30 days.) It’s in the media’s best interest, says Timm, to “have a very strict data retention policy.” Additionally, there are things Slack can do to make its product better for journalists. For one, it could end-to-end encrypt its messages, better ensuring that the contents won’t be intercepted by a nefarious third party. A Slack spokesperson says the company may evaluate end-to-end encryption in the future. Slack could also offer the option for organizations to host their data on their own servers, something the company says it has no plans to do. (Slack currently hosts data on Amazon Web Services servers.) If it did allow self-hosting, individual organizations could be in charge of their own security and wouldn’t be in peril if Slack itself were to receive a subpoena, court order, or warrant—or if the company’s security was somehow compromised. Timm adds that either of these solutions could fit within Slack’s business model, provided it was not interested in mining user conversations for data. Slack’s rules on customer data are similar to many other digital platforms: It won’t share information with third parties unless given explicit consent from the user (this often means the corporate account holder, not the individual user). But the company also keeps track of all metadata, which it calls “other information”–including log data and well as device and geolocation information–to “research and analyze trends.” And last month, Slack announced it was using artificial intelligence to help users and managers “analyze content to address information overload.”