"Orwellian" is an adjective describing the situation, idea, or societal condition that George Orwell identified as being destructive to the welfare of a free and open society. It connotes an attitude and a brutal policy of draconian control by propaganda, surveillance, misinformation, denial of truth, and manipulation of the past, including the "unperson" – a person whose past existence is expunged from the public record and memory, practised by modern repressive governments. Often, this includes the circumstances depicted in his novels, particularly Nineteen Eighty-Four.Nineteen Eighty-Four uses themes from life in the Soviet Union and wartime life in Great Britain as sources for many of its motifs.Orwell's ideas about personal freedom and state authority developed when he was a British colonial administrator in Burma. He was fascinated by the effect of colonialism on the individual, requiring acceptance of the idea that the colonialist exists only for the good of the colonised.There has also been a great deal of discourse on the possibility that Orwell galvanised his ideas of oppression during his experience, and his subsequent writings in the English press, in Spain. Orwell was a member of the Workers' Party of Marxist Unification militia and suffered suppression and escaped arrest by the Comintern faction working within the Republican Government. Following his escape he made a strong case for defending the Spanish revolution from the Communists there, and the misinformation in the press at home. During this period he formed strong ideas about the reportage of events, and their context in his own ideas of imperialism and democracy.This often brought him into conflict with literary peers such as W.H. Auden and Stephen Spender. Wikipedia.
News Article | September 29, 2016
Sybaritic—a word meaning outrageously luxurious—derives from the ancient Greek city of Sybaris, known for its inhabitants' excessively piscine and indulgent feasts. But as with language, meanings ebb, flow, and change in sync with the moving of our times. While the Merriam-Webster Dictionary's definition of luxury is "something that is expensive and not necessary," I consider items such as laptops and smartphones luxuries but also necessary for my job. Another item necessary for my job is tea, which is today considered an everyday staple in Britain but was once deemed opulent. So if our idea of luxury a few thousand years ago was a hearty fish dinner, and a few hundred years ago a fine pot of black tea, what will it be a few hundred or thousand years in the future? A smart place to start looking for answers is science fiction, and specifically utopian science fiction. While it may be easy to imagine what might be deemed a luxury in a dystopian future—think perhaps pets in Philip K Dick's Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep or privacy in Orwell's 1984—it's harder to imagine what could be luxurious in a perfect society. "Let's be optimistic and assume that there'll be an end to mass poverty, famine and so on, at some point in the future. After that, what constitutes luxury?" Alastair Reynolds, author of the Revelation Space series of novels and new book Revenger, mused when Motherboard posed him this question. "Personal access to space travel? A personal space station, moonbase? A flying car? Life extension treatment?" In utopian futures, luxury becomes simultaneously much more tangible and harder to define. Sure, citizens will have unlimited access to life's good stuff in a perfect world, but then how will they get a kick out of feeling like they're part of an exclusive club? Isn't that what most people search for when looking for luxury? In a truly utopian world, luxury would lose its meaning. As Reynolds put it, "The trouble with luxury items [...] is that they have a nasty habit of being democratized and made available to the masses." As a prolific science fiction writer, the late Iain M Banks conjured up an impressive level of detail for his "Culture" utopia; a far-future, post-scarcity society in which the Culture series of books is set. For Banks, the idea of an economy—and with it the concepts of supply and demand—would simply cease to exist in a future where self-replicating artificial intelligence could manufacture anything and everything with the unlimited resources that come about when travelling through hyperspace is just like hopping onto a bus. Inhabitants of the Culture find themselves with a massive amount of time on their hands (thanks to 300-year-plus lifespans), with no hobby or leisurely pursuit out of the question. Banks, describing the Culture on his blog, explained how "human labour [is] restricted to something indistinguishable from play, or a hobby in the Culture." Still, in this perfect world, thoughts of luxury can arise from exclusivity. Reynolds told Motherboard, "Even in a post-scarcity society like the Culture, there will be constraints on individual actions. For instance (I think it's examined in Look to Windward [one of the Culture novels]) there would be a limit to how many people could go to a public performance, so getting a 'ticket' to see a famous musician or actor or suchlike would constitute a kind of luxury since it would be denied to the vast majority. We have something similar today—I could 'afford' to buy a ticket to see Kate Bush, but I [don't] have a hope in hell of actually acquiring one." So is the notion of luxury inextricably tied to having something that others cannot? As tangible products are democratized, perhaps luxury will shift into an experience, not an item. Historian and author Ada Palmer agrees. Palmer last year penned Too Like the Lightning, a sci-fi novel set in the 25th Century concerning a society that lives on the ideals of the Enlightenment. It's definitely utopian. International travel is accomplished in mere minutes and the old ideals of borders and countries are abandoned. Still, it's physical space and exclusive opportunities that remain a luxury, according to Palmer. "Since transportation makes it effortless to hop around the world, a lot of the most scarce and sought-after things are reservations or tickets to do or see something everyone wants," she explained. "A popular chef can still only cook so many meals at once, a physical room can hold so many people, a museum, a beach, a theater, a statue, these are all limited in how many people can enjoy them at once." "Even if technology can create any object or food you want, it can't reproduce a geographic place" Even today, however, the technology exists to enjoy many of these experiences remotely, thanks to virtual reality, augmented reality, and the ability to share once-solo experiences with the rest of the world through the internet. What technology can't reproduce, however, is a sense of realness, said Palmer. "Even if technology can create any object or food you want, it can't reproduce a geographic place, nor can it reproduce the thrill of authenticity that comes from standing where Caesar stood, or seeing the canvas that Raphael touched," she said. No matter how unbounded by economies or technology our lives become, Earth will always have physical limits. Perhaps, soon, our Moon can be included in that too. Maybe, one day, Mars. But there's a reason you pay a higher house price for a bigger back yard. "Simulations of beautiful places will, of course, exist, as they do now, and anyone who wants to will have copies of great masterpieces in their homes, but the copies of the Eiffel Tower or the Parthenon that exist today, while bringing people joy, don't stop people from wanting to see the originals," said Palmer. It's not only physical space that limits us; time does, too. Reducing the time it takes to travel to destinations was once the luxury of those who could afford air travel over boat and then Concorde over a jumbo jet. Today, most of the add-ons we purchase when travelling or going to events involve saving time somehow, such as paying extra for shorter queues at theme parks or to sit further towards the front of an airliner to get off quicker (and enjoy the extra leg room, of course). "The world of Too Like the Lightning has a lot of equality, so everyone has the same chance of visiting a desirable place and seeing a desirable thing (unless they choose to sell their chance to a rich person for a lot of money), but Distance and Time are still real barriers," said Palmer. Time, like space, is ultimately tied to luxury in the sense that we all strive to have more of it. Even then, however, time isn't an unlimited luxury in many future utopian fictions, and no matter how much you pay, it will always catch up with you. While life can be prolonged through medicine, delayed through time travel, or paused by cryogenic freezing, death is a physical law that cannot be escaped or cheated. As Banks put it for his Culture citizens, "Death is regarded as part of life, and nothing, including the universe, lasts forever. It is seen as bad manners to try and pretend that death is somehow not natural." Luxury Week is a series about our evolving views of what constitutes luxury. Follow along here. Get six of our favorite Motherboard stories every day by signing up for our newsletter.
News Article | March 2, 2017
Harwich Haven Authority is extremely proud to achieve the revised 2015 version of the Environmental Management Standard – ISO14001 - which has been certified by Lloyd’s Register Quality Assurance Limited (LRQA). Achievement of this internationally recognised standard is keenly sought by many organisations who place importance on the environmental impact they make. Key improvements to the revised standard include: “We were really keen to progress to the revised standard because environmental management is core to our strategic planning,” says chief executive officer Neil Glendinning. “We work within a highly regulated industry and achieving ISO14001:2015 supports us to both achieve our objectives and continually improve the way we operate." “Throughout the certification process we were supported by the LRQA who supplied clear, easy to understand collateral and were always available to answer questions.” About Harwich Haven Authority: As one of the UK’s largest Trust Ports our jurisdiction covers the River Stour, the lower part of the River Orwell, Harwich Harbour and a 12 nautical mile stretch of sea leading into the Haven. Our mission is to run a safe, efficient and cost effective operation that benefits port users and the local community. We provide Vessel Traffic Services (VTS) to mariners, conserve and protect the channels into the Harbour and provide pilotage services to vessels using the commercial ports of Felixstowe, Harwich International, Harwich Navyard, Ipswich and Mistley. About LRQA: Lloyd's Register Quality Assurance (LRQA) is the world's leading provider of independent assessment services including certification, validation, verification and training across a broad spectrum of standards and schemes, with recognition from over 50 accreditation bodies.
News Article | February 28, 2017
Everywhere you look, there's the Trump Bump. What's the Trump Bump? It's the fresh rise of activism, it's the traffic jumps for online news outlets and it's the pumped-up entertainment industry that we have seen in the month following President Donald Trump's inauguration. SEE ALSO: An orange alligator exists and people are calling it 'Trumpigator' If you've been wondering how wide Trump's reach actually is and how many industries have been impacted, here are all the things blessed or cursed by the mighty Trump bump. Every time Trump hates on media outlets like the New York Times, CNN and NBC News, they get another click. The president's attention means that more people are signing up to get information from these and other trustworthy news sources. In the weeks after Trump's election, the Times saw its paid subscribers reach 2.5 million, per Politico. Reuters reported Thursday that this past quarter the Times added a record 276,000 new digital subscribers. The Wall Street Journal scored 113,000 new digital subscribers, while the Financial Times' digital subscriptions rose 6 percent. Conservative news outlet Breitbart has shot up the charts since Trump became president. This Alexa web traffic data shows the huge jump. CNN, which has been covering practically every moment of the new Trump administration, also saw an Donald Trump boost. The company reported "historical records," with the day after the election as the cable news outlet website's "most trafficked day ever" with 483 million page views. The resistance is growing. Whether it's bodega strikes, a massive Women's March, airport rallies, a Day Without Immigrants and tech company walk-outs, protesting and exercising your first amendment right is becoming an everyday thing. Wikipedia has been tracking anti-Trump protests around the U.S. and world since Election Day and into Trump's presidency. More than two dozen demonstrations have been tracked since Jan. 20, not including the huge turn out around the world for the Women's March. Several big marches are still coming up: A Day Without Women, March for Science, and Tax Day. Sadly, social activism isn't the only thing getting a boost this election season. Hateful speech and violence against minorities, immigrants, Muslims, women and more has become more prevalent. In the week and a half after Trump won the election, the Southern Poverty Law Center tracked a hefty 867 hate crimes. That's a huge chunk in a short amount of time compared to the number of total hate crimes in a year. In 2015, there were 5,850 hate incidents reported the entire year, according to the FBI. In just the week and a half after Trump's win nearly 15 percent of the year's total hate incidents were reported. With Trump in office, SNL sketches and cold opens are featuring a lot more of Trump and his team. Melissa McCarthy's Sean Spicer impression along with Alec Baldwin's Trump impersonation is quite the winning combination. The Feb. 11 show brought in the best ratings in six years at 16 million viewers. When Trump was on the show in 2015 his episode reached only 9.3 million viewers. For other late night shows, covering Trump has also been a boon. Stephen Colbert's Late Show has rocketed to the top in February after trailing behind the Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. For two weeks straight, Colbert has pulled in more than 3 million viewers, up from an average of 2.68 million viewers a week in December, according to Nielsen numbers. Colbert's new perch on the top coincides with more coverage of Trump, with the show digging into the president and his decisions. After the Women's March, pink cat ear "pussyhats" have become a de facto uniform for the resistance fighting against a Trump administration and the president's policies. Ahead of the march, finding pink yarn to join in on the popular Pussyhat Project was a struggle. For the upcoming "Day Without Women," pink yarn will no doubt become a scarce commodity once again. Get in early. Books about our likely dystopian future Amazon can barely keep up with the demand for certain books. 1984 and the Handmaid's Tale were both unexpected popular sellers in the weeks since Trump took office, with the George Orwell classic sold out online at one point. A San Francisco bookstore was even giving away free copies of the dystopian reads. Trump might not be a big reader, but his 1987 book The Art of the Deal is back in best-seller territory following his big election win. Just this week the book is No. 80 on Amazon's best sellers list for books. Back when Trump announced his candidacy in July 2015 it was way back at No. 1,128. CNN reported the book was No. 1 on Amazon's Entrepreneurship list at the end of 2016. Donald Trump's Art of the Deal is back at the top of the charts 30 years later. The stock market and beyond is having its Trump moment too. The Dow Jones, Nasdaq and S&P are at record highs since the election. Markets are up 10 percent since the election. Even private prison stocks have jumped since Trump won. Stocks for the two biggest private prison companies, CoreCivic and Geo Group, are up 140 percent and 98 percent, respectively, according to CNN. Trump had promised during his campaign to keep contracts with private facilities even after the U.S. Department of Justice said these types of prisons were problematic for inmate safety. Last week, the new Attorney General Jeff Sessions agreed. Private prisons: 1. Prisoner rights: 0. One other business that benefitted from Trump's meddling: Nordstrom. More recently the department store chain saw a small stock bump presumably led by the anti-Trump movement after the president went after the store for dropping his daughter Ivanka's fashion line. Following what many saw as a conflict of interest with Trump targeting the retailer, Nordstrom was met with a flurry of support. After Trump’s tweet on Feb. 8, Nordstrom stock jumped from a high of $44.54 to $46.07 the next day. In the days and weeks since, the price has creeped up and stayed up. Almost three weeks after the tweet, Nordstrom is now at $47.86. My daughter Ivanka has been treated so unfairly by @Nordstrom. She is a great person — always pushing me to do the right thing! Terrible! This whole "Trump tweets about a company" keeps happening so much that there are now apps to alert you when Trump mentions a company — for better or worse. Boeing, Lockheed Martin, General Motors and Toyota are just some of the companies that have gotten the Trump treatment. In Boeing's case this meant a huge drop: within an hour of Trump's tweet, the company's value dropped $4 billion — with a "b." With our model-turned-first lady hailing from the eastern European country of Slovenia, it's no surprise her home country is becoming a destination. Even her small hometown is seeing the benefits of a Trump presidency. According to the Slovenian Tourist Board, American tourism has jumped 11 percent in the past year. Thanks, Melania. Isn't it convenient when your presidency directly affects your family business? Trump's "Winter White House" in Florida saw membership prices double following his inauguration. The initial fee for a Mar-a-Lago membership is now at $200,000. So much for any chance of him actually divesting from his business. Even more egregiously, Trump Hotels have a plan for nationwide expansion, which would triple the number of his hotels around the country. The ACLU has seen donations coming in fast and furious. After Trump's executive order came down limiting travel for refugees and immigrants, donations to the ACLU were through the roof. The organization raised as much money in the last weekend of January, which followed travel ban, as they did in all previous years. That's more than $24 million in a few days. Update: the @ACLU just ran the numbers again. Spokesman says the group received 356,306 online donations totaling $24,164,691 this weekend. As Trump continues to threaten to defund Planned Parenthood, financial support has been coming into that organization as well. Especially helpful is the long list of celebrity pleas asking for support for the health care organization. Celebs, including Katy Perry who donated $10,000, are using Twitter to encourage donations. Indie singer Halsey promised $1 to the organization for every retweet. She ended up giving $100,000. Inadvertently, Trump's short-lived travel ban gave ride-hailing app Lyft a boost. It's competitor Uber got caught up in a PR nightmare during a taxi strike at JFK International Airport. Once #DeleteUber started trending, Lyft was the unexpected benefactor of Trump's controversial policies. This Lyft chart from App Annie shows how just a whisper of Trump can sway app rankings. Notice that Trump bump at the end of January when the ban was first introduced. Lyft's app rankings sine Trump's inauguration are up and away. The Trump bump is not just relegated to a preponderance of red Make America Great Again hats. It's found in book sales, the Dow Jones, ride-hailing apps and social activism. Trump is actually everywhere.
News Article | June 30, 2016
CLEVELAND, June 30, 2016 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Gas Natural Inc. (NYSE MKT:EGAS) (the “Company”), a holding company operating local natural gas utilities serving approximately 68,000 customers in four states, announced that it is mailing a letter to shareholders in connection with the Company’s 2016 Annual Meeting of Shareholders to be held on July 27, 2016. Gas Natural shareholders of record at the close of business on May 27, 2016 are entitled to vote at the 2016 Annual Meeting of Shareholders. The Gas Natural Board of Directors strongly recommends that shareholders vote on the GREEN proxy card “FOR” all six of Gas Natural’s qualified and experienced director nominees: Michael B. Bender, James P. Carney, Richard K. Greaves, Robert B. Johnston, Gregory J. Osborne and Michael R. Winter. This letter and other materials regarding the Board’s recommendation for the 2016 Annual Meeting of Shareholders can be found at http://proxy.egas.net. The full text of the letter follows: Your vote is especially important at this year’s annual meeting of shareholders. Richard M. Osborne, who was fired by your board as chairman and CEO of Gas Natural on May 1, 2014, has nominated a slate of six candidates (including himself) for election as directors. After his removal, Richard Osborne retaliated by filing numerous lawsuits against Gas Natural and our officers and directors (our full proxy statement contains additional information regarding these pending cases) and is illegally stealing customers from our Ohio utilities. Now, after selling almost all of his remaining Gas Natural stock — he and his other nominees own less than 0.1% of our stock — he is seeking to regain control of your board. You may have received a proxy statement, white proxy card and other solicitation materials from the self-proclaimed “Committee to Re-Energize Gas Natural” which was formed by Richard Osborne. Richard Osborne would have you believe that he ran your company successfully. In fact, he left the company in a regulatory and litigation quagmire. Your current board was left holding the bag and is addressing the numerous problems he left behind. Richard Osborne has criticized us for amounts the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) required our Ohio utilities to refund to customers in 2015. What he did not tell you is those amounts relate to a period when he was chairman and CEO of Gas Natural. Richard Osborne claims that he and one of his nominees, Darryl L. Knight, have extensive experience in the utility industry. We agree they do have experience — in mismanaging our utilities. While Richard Osborne was at the helm of your company and Darryl Knight was the president of our North Carolina utility, our utilities struggled with regulatory issues that continue to negatively impact our financial results, including: “[T]he evidence shows that there is a severe organizational dysfunction within the companies and between the regulated companies and their non-regulated affiliates.” “[The PUCO’s audit recommendation] comes following a series of extremely frustrating audits of the companies, rife with self-dealing that demonstrates a remarkable lack of control.” Richard Osborne tries to make light of these unprecedented statements by one of our regulators, showing that he still doesn’t understand what it takes to successfully operate a regulated utility in the long term. Since his removal, we have reduced related party transactions significantly and made improvements to address the concerns voiced by the PUCO and regulators in other jurisdictions. Our management team has worked hard to reestablish regulatory relations and repair the damage caused by Richard Osborne. Two of these accomplishments include: “The findings of Rehmann [the investigative auditor] were noteworthy in part, because all of the issues identified with respect to the operations and management of the companies, took place during the time Richard Osborne was CEO and chairman of the board of directors of the companies.” Once again Richard Osborne tries to make light of this by claiming we are quoting a stipulation we wrote. But this isn’t from the stipulation and it isn’t our quote; it’s directly from a PUCO order. It appears Richard Osborne is trying to mislead you, but perhaps it’s possible he truly doesn’t understand the difference between the stipulation and a PUCO order. We acquired one of our Ohio utilities, Orwell Natural Gas Company (Orwell), from Richard Osborne in 2010. Before he sold Orwell to us, Richard Osborne had the utility sign a natural gas transportation agreement with another company he owns, Orwell-Trumbull Pipeline Co. (OTP). With Richard Osborne on both sides, this was hardly an arms-length agreement. We were then saddled with this fifteen-year agreement when we acquired Orwell. The agreement did not allow us to use other pipelines in OTP’s service area but did allow OTP to interrupt service to our customers. In March 2015, OTP threatened to shut off service to some of our customers, forcing us to petition the PUCO for an order requiring OTP to maintain service. On June 15, 2016, the PUCO eliminated the sole source provision of the agreement so that we are now free to use another company to transport natural gas to our customers. Furthermore, in reviewing Richard Osborne’s actions, the PUCO concluded that there are: “Serious issues … concerning the pipeline companies that Richard Osborne owns and controls, including Cobra and OTP,” and ordered an investigative audit of “all of the pipeline companies owned or controlled by Richard Osborne and their affiliates…” Could this order sweep our Ohio utilities back into another PUCO audit if Richard Osborne regains control of Gas Natural, requiring significant cost and management attention? We don’t know, but we are confident that returning him to power would threaten to destroy the strides we have made to rehabilitate your company since his ouster. Richard Osborne Has Embroiled Your Company in Litigation That Has Cost You Millions Richard Osborne and his companies have been involved in no fewer than 140 lawsuits in the last five years alone. He and his companies have been subject to more than a dozen judgments to the tune of nearly $100 million. In the wake of the PUCO’s November 2013 order, Gas Natural was sued by its shareholders five times relating to Richard Osborne’s treatment of the Ohio utilities and related party payments he received. This draining litigation is ongoing and has cost us nearly $1.5 million. When your board took action to reduce related party transactions with Richard Osborne and investigate his management practices, he refused to cooperate and attempted to interfere with the investigation. It’s unfortunate that Richard Osborne’s precarious financial situation brought him to this point, but the board had no choice but to remove him as chairman and CEO. He responded to his removal by physically assaulting a director and suing the company, its officers, directors and agents nine times. The company has been forced to defend itself, costing you more than $1.5 million. Although Richard Osborne is critical of our management teams’ employment agreements, he fails to mention that he demanded three-times his salary ($1.0 million) in severance when he was removed for, in part, failing to follow board directives. Or that he is currently suing the company to obtain that payment. No, Richard Osborne hasn’t told you any of these things. Is Richard Osborne the man you trust to lead your company? Richard Osborne and Darryl Knight Are Stealing Our Customers and Jeopardizing the Safety of the Public He doesn’t mention it in his proxy materials, but in addition to the lawsuits he has brought against your company, Richard Osborne started a business that competes with our utilities and has sabotaged service to our customers. Richard Osborne and Darryl Knight are officers of Ohio Rural Natural Gas Co-Op (Ohio Rural), which began competing with one of our Ohio utilities in 2015. Last November, Ohio Rural and Richard Osborne severed gas lines owned by our Ohio utility, terminating service to approximately 50 independently owned businesses we serve, and replaced our meters with their own. Once again, we were forced to file an action with the PUCO to protect our customers. If Richard Osborne and Darryl Knight join your board, whose interests will they serve, yours, or Ohio Rural’s? And this wasn’t an isolated event. In September 2014, employees of Cobra Pipeline Co., another Ohio pipeline company owned by Richard Osborne, tampered with one of our regulator stations by inserting a solid metal plate in the pipeline, cutting off the flow of gas to some of our customers. We immediately called the police and lodged a complaint with the PUCO, who issued a cease and desist order against Cobra on the same day. In its order, the PUCO noted that interrupting the flow of gas “could result in an explosive concentration of gas…” and “could have resulted in an incident that would have seriously jeopardized public safety.” At Gas Natural, the safety of the public and our customers is our number one priority. Unfortunately, we are unable to say the same for Richard Osborne. We believe Richard Osborne and his nominees lack the experience to effectively lead, manage and govern public utilities, and his history demonstrates his disregard for our regulators, lack of understanding of utility operations, and furtherance of his own self-serving interests. Vote the GREEN Proxy Card to Protect the Future of Your Company! Richard Osborne claims that your current board isn’t qualified. As you can see from the proxy materials we sent you, our board members are highly experienced in terms of leadership, financial, legal and regulatory matters. Richard Osborne’s claims to the contrary are patently false and just another desperate attempt on his part to regain control of your company. Your current board is the change that Gas Natural has needed in a time of significant regulatory scrutiny. We have led the transformation of Gas Natural to an inflection point, and have the knowledge and expertise to drive our strategy forward to deliver superior value. We strongly recommend that you elect our highly qualified leaders by voting FOR all of your board’s experienced nominees — Michael B. Bender, James P. Carney, Richard K. Greaves, Robert B. Johnston, Gregory J. Osborne and Michael R. Winter — on the GREEN proxy card enclosed and returning it in the prepaid envelope provided for your convenience. On behalf of your board of directors, thank you for your continued support. NO MATTER HOW MANY OR FEW SHARES YOU OWN Please follow the easy instructions on the enclosed GREEN proxy card. If you have any questions or need assistance in voting your shares, please contact: Proxy Solicitor: D.F. King & Co., Inc. 48 Wall Street New York, NY 10005 Banks and brokers call collect: (212) 269-5550 All others call toll free: (800) 821-8780 About Gas Natural Inc. Gas Natural Inc., a holding company, distributes and sells natural gas to residential, commercial, and industrial customers. It distributes approximately 21 billion cubic feet of natural gas to roughly 68,000 customers through regulated utilities operating in Montana, Ohio, Maine, and North Carolina. The Company’s other operations include interstate pipeline, natural gas production, and natural gas marketing. The Company's Montana public utility was originally incorporated in 1909. Its strategy for growth is to expand throughput in its markets, while looking for acquisitions that are either adjacent to its existing utilities or in under-served markets. Further information is available on the company’s website at www.egas.net. Gas Natural will hold its 2016 Annual Meeting of Shareholders on July 27, 2016. The Company has filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”) and mailed to its shareholders a definitive proxy statement together with a GREEN proxy card in connection with the 2016 Annual Meeting. The definitive proxy statement contains important information about the Company, the 2016 Annual Meeting, and related matters. COMPANY SHAREHOLDERS ARE STRONGLY ENCOURAGED TO READ THE DEFINITIVE PROXY STATEMENT, THE ACCOMPANYING GREEN PROXY CARD, AND ANY OTHER RELEVANT SOLICITATION MATERIALS WHEN THEY BECOME AVAILABLE AS THESE DOCUMENTS CONTAIN IMPORTANT INFORMATION. The Company and its directors and executive officers may be deemed to be participants in the solicitation of proxies from the stockholders of the Company in connection with the matters to be considered at the 2016 Annual Meeting. Information regarding the Company’s directors and executive officers is contained in the Company’s annual report on Form 10-K/A filed with the SEC on April 27, 2016, and definitive proxy statement filed with the SEC on June 21, 2016. The proxy statement and other relevant solicitation materials (when they become available), and any and all documents filed by the Company with the SEC, may be obtained by investors and security holders free of charge at the SEC’s web site at www.sec.gov. In addition, the Company’s filings with the SEC, including the proxy statement and other relevant solicitation materials (when they become available), may be obtained, without charge, from Gas Natural Investor Relations at (716) 843-3821. Such materials are also available at http://proxy.egas.net. Safe Harbor Regarding Forward-Looking Statements The Company is including the following cautionary statement in this release to make applicable and to take advantage of the safe harbor provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 for any forward-looking statements made by, or on behalf of, Gas Natural Inc. Forward-looking statements are all statements other than statements of historical fact, including, without limitation, those that are identified by the use of the words "anticipates," "estimates," "expects," "intends," "plans," "predicts," "believes" and similar expressions. Such statements are inherently subject to a variety of risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those expressed. Factors that may affect forward-looking statements and the Company's business generally include, but are not limited to the Company’s ability to consummate the corporate reorganization and debt refinancing on terms that are acceptable to the Company, or at all; the Company's ability to successfully integrate the operations of the companies it has acquired and consummate additional acquisitions; the Company's continued ability to make or increase dividend payments; the Company's ability to implement its business plan, grow earnings and improve returns on investment; fluctuating energy commodity prices; the possibility that regulators may not permit the Company to pass through all of its increased costs to its customers; changes in the utility regulatory environment; wholesale and retail competition; the Company's ability to satisfy its debt obligations, including compliance with financial covenants; weather conditions; litigation risks; and various other matters, many of which are beyond the Company's control; the risk factors and cautionary statements made in the Company's public filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission; and other factors that the Company is currently unable to identify or quantify, but may exist in the future. Gas Natural Inc. expressly undertakes no obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statement contained herein to reflect any change in Gas Natural Inc.'s expectations with regard thereto or any change in events, conditions or circumstances on which any such statement is based.
News Article | February 15, 2017
It's been a year since Apple fought the FBI over data privacy, and we've barely heard a peep from either side on the issue. So everything's fine, right? The FBI's attempt to force Apple to unlock an iPhone used by a terrorist set up a grand legal battle between security and privacy. On one side is a massive tech company envisioning a future similar to the setting in George Orwell's "1984" (which, coincidentally, has become a bestseller again after President Donald Trump's inauguration). On the other is the world's most powerful government dangling the threat of a terrorist attack if it can't get access to vital information. The stakes were sky-high. Cybersecurity experts said the dispute could have far-reaching implications for everything from how private our personal photos are to how tech companies operate in other countries. Both were poised to head to court, and then a funny thing happened: The FBI suddenly said it didn't need Apple's help, and the whole affair just faded away. But that doesn't mean everything is hunky-dory. Because the battle never went to court, we never got an answer on whether security or privacy takes priority. A year later, the only thing that's clear from the public battle is just how hazy everything still is. And the conflict isn't going away anytime soon, especially if there's another terrorist attack. "This past year was kind of a missed opportunity to work this thing out," said William Snyder, visiting assistant professor of law at the Syracuse University College of Law. "It hasn't gone away. The question is whether you deal with it now when things are calm or later when the stakes are high." The FBI referred CNET to comments made by FBI Director James Comey in April, when he talked about how the US has always balanced privacy with public safety and how encryption has upset that balance. "The logic of strong encryption means that all of our lives, including law enforcement's life, will soon be affected by strong encryption," he said. "The notion that privacy should be absolute, or that the government should keep their hands off our phones, to me just makes no sense given our history and our values." Apple CEO Tim Cook, meanwhile, has continued to champion strong encryption and Apple's efforts to protect customer data. Last week at the University of Glasgow in Scotland, he said that "it wasn't that we were being activists; it's that we were being asked to do something that we knew was wrong. And so we had a choice to just blindly do what the institution said to do, or to fight. And we just fought." Here's a quick refresher: In early 2016, the FBI wanted Apple to create software to unlock an iPhone 5C used by Syed Farook, who weeks earlier had killed 14 people in a terrorist attack in San Bernardino, California. Apple helped pull data from Farook's iCloud account, but some dates were missing. And the FBI couldn't get into the phone because it didn't know the passcode. On February 16, 2016, US Magistrate Judge Sheri Pym ordered Apple to create that software for the FBI. Apple refused, with Cook arguing that the order went too far and would threaten the security of all iPhone users. Bypassing the iPhone's password meant creating a "back door" in its iOS mobile software that could then be used to access every other iPhone, he said. The two sides battled over the following weeks in legal filings and public comments. The fight ended with a whimper on March 21 -- the day before a slated court hearing -- when the FBI found a third party to unlock the phone. It turned out the government didn't need Apple's help after all. A separate case in Brooklyn, New York, that involved a confessed drug dealer ended in a similar fashion, with the FBI dropping its request for Apple's help after finding another way into the iPhone. In both instances, the FBI initially said Apple was the only organization that could get into the iPhones. But both times, the bureau ended up being able to access the phone with the help of third parties at the 11th hour. The government didn't specify in either instance who helped it get into the iPhones, but reports later named Israeli security firm Cellebrite as the company that helped the FBI in the San Bernardino case. Cellebrite earlier this year was hacked, something Apple had worried about. "I would characterize this as the opening volley in what's going to be a very long-term conversation," said Paul Rosenzweig, a former Department of Homeland Security official and founder of cybersecurity company Redbranch Law and Consulting. What the fight came down to was the encryption used on Farook's iPhone 5C. The technology scrambles data and requires a passcode before letting you have access. If investigators copied the hard drive, the data would remain scrambled. And if investigators entered the wrong passcode 10 times, the iPhone's data would be wiped. Tech firms and privacy advocates argue that encryption is essential to secure personal information and communications. The government and law enforcement officials counter that encryption hurts their ability to investigate criminal and terrorist activity. Apple's battle with the FBI got the average consumer and Congress thinking about the once wonky topic of encryption. It spurred others to act. Facebook-owned messaging app WhatsApp rolled out end-to-end encryption in early April, which means it doesn't have access to those messages and can't be forced to surrender them to the authorities. The same time Apple was battling the FBI, draft legislation leaked for a possible encryption bill from two US senators, Richard Burr, a Republican from North Carolina, and Dianne Feinstein, a Democrat from California. The bill would have given federal judges the authority to order tech companies like Apple to help law enforcement officials access encrypted data. Tech companies essentially would be legally required to build back doors into their products, the very thing Apple fought against. "The consensus among security and privacy and legal experts was that was a terrible idea," said Larry Downes, project director for the Center for Business and Public Policy at Georgetown University McDonough School of Business. "It would mean the end of any actual privacy protection." In late May, that bill -- which was never actually introduced to the Senate -- died. No other encryption bill has been proposed since. As of January, more than half the volume of internet traffic is now encrypted, according to Firefox browser maker Mozilla. While Apple may not have been back in court over this issue, others have. Microsoft and Google faced legal battles over giving law enforcement access to data stored in their cloud services, and law enforcement has asked Amazon to send recordings made by its Echo smart speaker that relate to a murder in Arkansas. Microsoft has prevailed in court with its argument that it shouldn't have to hand over data held in an Irish data center until Ireland gives approval. Google, though, wasn't as lucky. Earlier this month, a US judge ruled that Google has to give the FBI emails stored overseas. "It's a question about information stored in the cloud that isn't encrypted, but the government wants to get through the Stored Communications Act," said David Opderbeck, a professor of law at Seton Hall University Law School. It's an issue that could pop up more, he said. Apple, meanwhile, continues to beef up the security of its devices. In August, it introduced its first "bug bounty" program for outside researchers to find vulnerabilities in its software. That's long been a common practice for other tech companies, but Apple previously performed its checks internally. It now offers up to $200,000 for any flaws found and reported to the company. The wildcard in all of this is President Trump. He's expected to take an even tougher stance than President Barack Obama when it comes to strengthening law enforcement access. "I can only expect the new administration ... to go even further than the Obama administration did in terms of data collection and the expectation that even private companies are going to be compelled to share private information with the government," said Charley Moore, CEO of online legal technology company Rocket Lawyer. The White House didn't respond to a request for comment. During the campaign, Trump repeatedly bashed Apple for not helping the government hack the iPhone. "Who do they think they are?" he asked at one time. Another occasion, Trump called for a boycott of Apple's products until the company helped unlock the device. That never happened. "They have to open it up," Trump said in mid-February 2016. "I think security -- overall, we have to open it up and we have to use our heads. We have to use common sense." Some of Trump's early moves have butted up against the technology industry. His ban on immigrants from seven Muslim-majority nations caused an outcry joined by Apple, Microsoft and dozens of other companies. His pick for the head of the Federal Communications Commission, Ajit Pai, will likely dismantle net neutrality, which most of the tech industry favors. Trump also withdrew from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which had a provision that would ensure no company from a member state had to provide access to its software source code as a condition of entering the market another member state's market. "That provision would have gone a long way toward avoiding the parade of foreign horribles that Apple raised in its opposition to the FBI warrant," said Joshua Rich, a partner at law firm McDonnell Boehnen Hulbert & Berghoff. "But because the US withdrew, other TPP member states will not be required to extend those protections to US companies." Trump made Hillary Clinton's use of a private server while secretary of state a key campaign talking point. And in late January, he was slated to sign an executive order on cybersecurity but canceled those plans without explanation. With Trump in the White House and with Congress controlled by the Republican party, pro-law enforcement legislation is likely. The hope among cybersecurity experts is that anything related to encryption or privacy that happens takes place soon, not in the aftermath of an attack as was the case with the Patriot Act. That post-Sept. 11 law increased surveillance powers and caused major privacy concerns. "The pendulum swung wildly to the national security side because we suffered through a catastrophic attack," said Daniel Rosenthal, a former counterterrorism official with the National Security Council who currently works as an associate managing director at Kroll, a corporate investigations and risk consulting firm. "If we suffer through another [attack], there's a good chance the pendulum swings again, away from the privacy and data security side." Does the Mac still matter? Apple execs tell why the MacBook Pro was over four years in the making, and why we should care.
News Article | February 16, 2017
BRIGHTON, 16-Feb-2017 — /EuropaWire/ — The public’s fascination with diaries and their writers will come under the microscope at the University of Sussex during the latest in the School of English’s colloquium series. On 22 February at 5:00pm, ‘The Public Life of the Private Diary’ will see authors Alexander Masters and Sally Bayley examine the pleasures of reading, writing, and working with diaries, as well as how the diary continues to evolve in the 21st century. Masters is best known for penning the award-winning book Stuart: A Life Backwards (2005), which won critical acclaim before scooping the Guardian First Book Award and the Hawthornden Prize. Masters later adapted it for the BBC: the resulting dramatisation, starring Benedict Cumberbatch as Masters and Tom Hardy as Stuart, won a Royal Television Society award for Best Single Drama. Dr Sally Bayley is a Teaching and Research Fellow at the Rothermere American Institute and a Lecturer in English at Lady Margaret Hall, University of Oxford. She has published two books on Sylvia Plath, Eye Rhymes: The Art of the Visual (Oxford University Press, 2007) and Representing Sylvia Plath (Cambridge University Press, 2011), as well as a book on domesticity in American literature and culture, focusing on Emily Dickinson and Bob Dylan, titled Home on the Horizon: America’s Search for Space (Peter Lang, 2010). The seminar will be followed by drinks and an opportunity to meet the two authors, who will be discussing their latest projects. In The Private Life of the Diary: From Pepys to Tweets (Unbound, 2016), Bayley tells her own coming-of-age story through diary writing, and mixes memoir with reflections on the diaries of famous literary figures such as Virginia Woolf, Sylvia Plath and George Orwell. She also discusses political diarists: Samuel Pepys himself, John Adams, and the more recent musings of Alan Clark and Tony Benn. In A Life Discarded: 148 Diaries Found in a Skip (HarperCollins, 2016), Masters is seduced by the unique project of writing the biography of a person he encounters only through reading a random selection of her diaries, found by a close friend, in a skip. With some reluctance he eventually uncovers the identity of the diary-writer – but what are the ethics of playing detective with a real person’s life and writing? Both projects explore the gendered boundaries between public and private lives, our fascination with diaries, and our relationship with their writers, who in some sense become intimate friends. The event is presented by the Centre for Life History and Life Writing Research, the English Colloquium, and the Mass Observation Archive. It is free to attend and open to all. For more information, go to http://www.sussex.ac.uk/clhlwr/seminarseries/2016and17seminars/mastersbayley.
News Article | February 27, 2017
Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives. Everyone feared -- or, depending on their bent, hoped -- that there would be politics infused into the Oscars. One unexpected moment was delivered by "Star Trek" actor Zachary Quinto. Spock was suddenly seen with a bushy beard and a reminder of the power of fear. In an Oscars ad for the Audible audiobooks company, Quinto read a very short piece from George Orwell's "1984." "If he were allowed contact with foreigners, he would discover that they are creatures similar to himself and that most that had been told about them is lies," read Quinto. Now why might this passage have been chosen? Perhaps as a commentary on the president's immigration order, one opposed by so many tech companies? "The sealed world in which he lives would be broken the fear, hatred and self-righteousness on which his morale depends might evaporate," continued Quinto. Oh, of course Audible couched this as an ad that "celebrates the performers whose voices bring books to life." Who wouldn't conclude that this was less of a celebration and more of an passive-aggressive warning about our troubled times and our tweet-happy president? Of course, this ad might make some never want to listen to an Audbile audiobook. It also might make those who warm to this message remember that bad things can happen in simple ways. Disturbingly simple. Solving for XX: The industry seeks to overcome outdated ideas about "women in tech." Special Reports: All of CNET's most in-depth features in one easy spot.
News Article | February 15, 2017
MIDDLEFIELD, Ohio--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Middlefield Banc Corp. (NASDAQ: MBCN) today announced that the company’s board of directors has declared a quarterly cash dividend of $0.27 per common share payable on March 15, 2017, to shareholders of record on February 28, 2017. Middlefield Banc Corp., headquartered in Middlefield, Ohio, is a bank holding company with total assets of $786.5 million at December 31, 2016. The bank operates 14 full-service banking centers and an LPL Financial® brokerage office serving Beachwood, Chardon, Cortland, Dublin, Garrettsville, Mantua, Middlefield, Newbury, Orwell, Solon, Summit, Sunbury, Twinsburg, and Westerville. The Bank also operates a Loan Production Office in Mentor, Ohio. Additional information is available at www.middlefieldbank.bank. This press release of Middlefield Banc Corp. and the reports Middlefield Banc Corp. files with the Securities and Exchange Commission often contain “forward-looking statements” relating to present or future trends or factors affecting the banking industry and, specifically, the financial operations, markets and products of Middlefield Banc Corp. These forward-looking statements involve certain risks and uncertainties. There are a number of important factors that could cause Middlefield Banc Corp.’s future results to differ materially from historical performance or projected performance. These factors include, but are not limited to: (1) a significant increase in competitive pressures among financial institutions; (2) changes in the interest rate environment that may reduce interest margins; (3) changes in prepayment speeds, charge-offs and loan loss provisions; (4) less favorable than expected general economic conditions; (5) legislative or regulatory changes that may adversely affect businesses in which Middlefield Banc Corp. is engaged; (6) technological issues which may adversely affect Middlefield Banc Corp.’s financial operations or customers; (7) changes in the securities markets; or (8) risk factors mentioned in the reports and registration statements Middlefield Banc Corp. files with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Middlefield Banc Corp. undertakes no obligation to release revisions to these forward-looking statements or to reflect events or circumstances after the date of this press release.
News Article | January 1, 2017
Scott Walker's Wisconsin continues to scrub its websites of climate change mentions Prior to the election of the business-worshipping, union-busting, climate denying Wisconsin governor Scott Walker, the state's Department of Natural Resources website was a rich trove of information about climate change -- as you'd expect from a state with a lot of fresh water, where resource extraction played an important part in the economy. For years now, the DNR's website has been systematically, silently flensed of mentions of climate change, even as the governor has publicly contemplated shutting down the DNR altogether. The latest science to get a political whitewash is the DNR's page on the Great Lakes and climate change, whose rewrite would do Orwell proud.
News Article | February 27, 2017
Here are a few things the Nazi sign has in common with the pixelated bomb icon from the original Macintosh OS: Both have a circular but jagged shape. Black is the predominant color for each, although a militaristic red surrounds the swastika. Both designs feel similarly potent: You no longer see them in the wild, but for a time, each succinctly signaled destruction. These are the kinds of connections you’ll find while exploring Graphic: 500 Designs That Matter, a new book out from Phaidon next month. The stout compendium of graphics includes designs dating back to 1377, when Zen Buddhists printed the first text with moveable type. But rather than show the Zen Buljo Jikji Simche Yojeol book next to, say, The Gutenberg Bible, Graphic: 500 ($25) showcases it opposite Paul Rand’s 1947 book Thoughts on Design. Likewise, it features graphic designer Susan Kare’s pixelated bomb icon beside the symbol of the Nazi party. Rather than explain these pairings outright, the book implies similarity by placing designs beside each other. This use of juxtaposition has a delightful secondary effect: It primes readers to compare not only the graphics that appear on opposing pages, but images from entirely separate portions of the book. The result is a volume that lays bare the interconnectedness of the visual world, bridging the present with the past, the digital with the physical, and hundreds of other seemingly unrelated subjects and symbols. On page 278, the International Maritime Flag system sits opposite the cover of Oliver Byrne’s Victorian-era edition of Euclid’s Elements of Geometry. Both systems use color and simple layouts to express more complicated ideas. You could say the same of the Apple logo, first released in resplendent rainbow colors in 1976, which appears on page 271. That design, by Rob Janoff, contrasts against a black-and-white poster for a play called “William Tell,” by Swiss designer Armin Hofmann. An apple fills the poster, but perhaps more interestingly, so does a jagged piece of text reading “Tell.” The treatment is supposed to make the letters fade into the distance, but it looks pixelated, not unlike Kare’s 8-bit bomb on page 467—one of several icons Kare designed for Apple in the early ’80s. That the book makes none of these connections explicitly makes the reading experience all the more engrossing. None of this is by accident. “We didn’t want to do something alphabetical or chronological because it’s not the way we look at graphic design,” says Emilia Terragni, who edits architecture and design books at Phaidon Press. “For us it’s important to do a sequence that shows the richness of design.” To do that, Terragni had to scramble history. Graphic: 500 descended from an earlier Phaidon project from 2012, a set of cards that featured the same designs found in this book. Terragni consulted with designers, typographers, and artists from around the world to settle on a canon of work for The Phaidon Archive of Graphic Design. The box of cards was beautiful, but not as easy to devour as a book. So Terragni and her team took up the daunting task of hanging the cards in a room and inspecting them all for interesting visual similarities. The matchups became the page layout for Graphic: 500. A chronological index in the back offers a brief synopsis of each design. Terragni and Phaidon aspired to show the many surprising ways that certain motifs appear throughout time and across geography. Graphic: 500’s unique layout prompts these kinds of circuitous observations. The longer you look, the more you’re bound to notice. (Like, for instance, the fact that President Trump’s ties to the alt-right has helped spur a spike in sales of George Orwell’s 1984—the year Kare designed the original Mac icons.) Some of these similarities are likely happy accidents. But that doesn’t make them any less real.