Cold-Plunging With Maine’s ‘Ice Mermaids’

A photographer in Maine has been documenting groups of women who submerge themselves in near-freezing water. Here’s what she’s seen.

#ice, #lakes, #maine, #photography, #saunas-and-sweat-lodges, #senses-and-sensation, #swimming, #water

Maine’s End Run Around the Supreme Court Is an Example for Other States

The move in a religion case offers hope to those worried about the dominance of the court’s conservative majority.

#abortion, #decisions-and-verdicts, #discrimination, #gun-control, #law-and-legislation, #maine, #maryland, #new-york-city, #politics-and-government, #private-and-sectarian-schools, #religion-state-relations, #state-legislatures, #states-us, #supreme-court-us

Supreme Court Rejects Maine’s Ban on Aid to Religious Schools

The decision was the latest in a series of rulings forbidding the exclusion of religious institutions from government programs.

#discrimination, #education-k-12, #freedom-of-religion, #maine, #montana, #private-and-sectarian-schools, #supreme-court-us, #tuition

What to Watch in Tuesday’s Primary Elections

Representatives Tom Rice and Nancy Mace are facing Trump-backed challengers in South Carolina, and Nevada is a battleground. Here’s what else to know.

#democratic-party, #elections-house-of-representatives, #maine, #midterm-elections-2022, #nevada, #primaries-and-caucuses, #republican-party, #senate, #south-carolina, #texas, #united-states-politics-and-government, #voting-and-voters

Canadian Hydropower Destined for U.S. Hits a Roadblock in Maine

Power companies, conservationists, local residents and two U.S. states are mired in an acrimonious dispute about hydroelectricity from Quebec.

#alternative-and-renewable-energy, #canada, #energy-and-power, #global-warming, #greenhouse-gas-emissions, #hydro-quebec, #iberdrola-sa, #maine

How Two Democrats Fought and Won in Rural America

The only way for the party to regain traction in rural places is by running strong campaigns in districts that usually back Republicans.

#democratic-national-committee, #democratic-party, #elections-state-legislature, #maine, #midterm-elections-2022, #politics-and-government, #rural-areas, #state-legislatures, #united-states-politics-and-government

Winslow Homer: Radical Impressionist

A show of masterworks at the Met snaps into sharp focus the great American artist’s contemporary relevance.

#art, #bahama-islands, #black-people, #caribbean-area, #content-type-personal-profile, #homer-winslow, #maine, #metropolitan-museum-of-art

Dog-Sledding in Southern Maine’s Winter Wonderland

Traversing a frozen lake with a team of dogs is an escapist dream in the winter wonderland of Southern Maine. Just remember the brake — and no Instagram selfies.

#arctic-regions, #camps-and-camping, #dog-sledding, #dogs, #london-jack, #maine, #travel-and-vacations, #white-mountains-nh

New York Deer Infected With Omicron, Study Finds

White-tailed deer on Staten Island have become the first wild animals with documented Omicron infections. The coronavirus has now been found in deer in 15 states.

#animals, #antibodies, #arkansas, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #coronavirus-delta-variant, #coronavirus-omicron-variant, #deer, #illinois, #iowa, #kansas, #maine, #massachusetts, #minnesota, #new-jersey, #new-york-city, #north-carolina, #ohio, #oklahoma, #parks-and-recreation-department-nyc, #pennsylvania, #research, #staten-island-nyc, #tennessee, #veterinary-medicine, #virginia, #your-feed-animals, #your-feed-health, #your-feed-science

Groundhogs Emerge From the Scientific Shadows

New research aims to shed light on the social habits of the popular, but often misunderstood, animal.

#animal-behavior, #gardens-and-gardening, #groundhogs, #maine, #research, #united-states, #university-of-southern-maine, #your-feed-animals, #your-feed-science

Organic Milk Farmers in Northeast Under Pressure as Processors Look West

Organic milk has been a lifeline for small farms in Maine and other New England states. Now those farms are facing trouble as milk processors look to huge dairies in Western states.

#agriculture-and-farming, #agriculture-department, #augusta-me, #cattle, #colorado, #dairy-products, #lactalis-group, #maine, #milk, #new-england-states-us, #new-hampshire, #northeastern-states-us, #organic-foods-and-products, #organic-valley-cooperative, #stonyfield-farm, #university-of-maine, #vilsack-tom

Do We Have the Supreme Court We Deserve?

It has become a willing participant in a war for the soul of the country.

#abortion, #alito-samuel-a-jr, #arizona, #barrett-amy-coney, #breyer-stephen-g, #conservatism-us-politics, #gorsuch-neil-m, #kavanaugh-brett-m, #kennedy-anthony-m, #maine, #mississippi, #oconnor-sandra-day, #private-and-sectarian-schools, #reagan-ronald-wilson, #republican-party, #roberts-john-g-jr, #senate, #souter-david-h, #stevens-john-paul, #supreme-court-us, #texas, #thomas-clarence, #trump-donald-j, #voting-rights-act-1965

Trump Weaponized the Supreme Court

The three justices appointed by Trump are doing exactly what they were sent to the court to do.

#abortion, #admissions-standards, #affirmative-action, #alito-samuel-a-jr, #american-federation-of-state-county-and-municipal-employees, #appointments-and-executive-changes, #barrett-amy-coney, #colleges-and-universities, #constitution-us, #firearms, #first-amendment-us-constitution, #freedom-of-religion, #freedom-of-speech-and-expression, #ginsburg-ruth-bader, #gun-control, #harvard-university, #jackson-womens-health-organization, #kagan-elena, #kavanaugh-brett-m, #maine, #mcconnell-mitch, #mississippi, #national-rifle-assn, #new-york-state, #new-york-state-rifle-and-pistol-assn, #private-and-sectarian-schools, #rehnquist-william-h, #religion-state-relations, #roberts-john-g-jr, #second-amendment-us-constitution, #senate, #suits-and-litigation-civil, #supreme-court-us, #texas, #united-states, #united-states-politics-and-government

Supreme Court Seems Wary of Ban on State Aid to Religious Schools

The case, concerning a tuition program in Maine, seemed likely to extend a winning streak at the court for parents seeking public funds for religious education.

#christians-and-christianity, #constitution-us, #discrimination, #education-k-12, #freedom-of-religion, #maine, #private-and-sectarian-schools, #rural-areas, #supreme-court-us, #united-states-politics-and-government

The Secret to This Glazed Holiday Ham? Root Beer.

The sarsaparilla flavor lends the meat a woodsy mintiness, which sings when it’s paired with aromatics like bay leaves and shallots.

#atlanta-ga, #cooking-and-cookbooks, #ham, #maine, #root-beer

Should States Be Allowed to Spend Public Money on Religious Educations?

The Supreme Court is about to consider that question.

#black-people, #children-and-childhood, #discrimination, #education, #education-k-12, #freedom-of-religion, #maine, #private-and-sectarian-schools, #reading-and-writing-skills-education, #slavery-historical, #southern-states-us, #supreme-court-us

Man Who Planted Razor Blades in Pizza Dough Gets 5 Years in Prison

No one was reported injured, but prosecutors say that the recall prompted by Nicholas Mitchell’s tampering resulted in nearly $230,000 in losses to a Maine-based supermarket chain.

#compensation-for-damages-law, #maine, #new-hampshire, #nicholas-mitchell, #pizza, #recalls-and-bans-of-products, #sentences-criminal, #supermarkets-and-grocery-stores

The Woman on the Bridge

Police and prosecutors spent five years chasing a domestic violence case. Would it be enough?

#assaults, #decisions-and-verdicts, #domestic-violence, #federal-bureau-of-investigation, #maine, #police, #suicides-and-suicide-attempts

A Cross Country Skiing Trip Through Maine’s Wilderness

An effort to conserve the state’s 100 Mile Wilderness has created one of the best lodge-to-lodge cross-country ski routes in the United States.

#appalachian-mountain-club, #content-type-service, #cross-country-skiing, #maine, #mountains, #parks-and-other-recreation-areas, #snow-and-snowstorms, #travel-and-vacations

What Should We Do With Robert Smithson and Nancy Holt’s Island?

In the 1970s, the artists bought a rocky strip of land off the coast of Maine. Now, it’s a place for others to wrestle with their legacies.

#art, #holt-nancy-1938-2014, #holt-smithson-foundation, #maine, #smithson-robert, #t-winter-travel, #wills-and-estates

Sea Scallops Farmed in Maine Aren’t Just Sustainable. They’re Helping Their Habitat.

There are only a handful of these farms in the United States, most run by fishing families in Maine. But their number is growing.

#fish-farming, #fishing-commercial, #maine, #scallops

Are the Kids All Right? Ask the Camp Directors.

Summer camp in the middle of a pandemic has been a tech-free, joyous balm for some. For others, though, it’s a pit of anxiety.

#american-camp-assn, #anxiety-and-stress, #brooklyn-nyc, #camps-and-camping, #education-k-12, #maine, #new-hampshire, #parenting, #summer-season

This Week in Apps: In-app events hit the App Store, TikTok tries Stories, Apple reveals new child safety plan

Welcome back to This Week in Apps, the weekly TechCrunch series that recaps the latest in mobile OS news, mobile applications and the overall app economy.

The app industry continues to grow, with a record 218 billion downloads and $143 billion in global consumer spend in 2020. Consumers last year also spent 3.5 trillion minutes using apps on Android devices alone. And in the U.S., app usage surged ahead of the time spent watching live TV. Currently, the average American watches 3.7 hours of live TV per day, but now spends four hours per day on their mobile devices.

Apps aren’t just a way to pass idle hours — they’re also a big business. In 2019, mobile-first companies had a combined $544 billion valuation, 6.5x higher than those without a mobile focus. In 2020, investors poured $73 billion in capital into mobile companies — a figure that’s up 27% year-over-year.

This Week in Apps offers a way to keep up with this fast-moving industry in one place, with the latest from the world of apps, including news, updates, startup fundings, mergers and acquisitions, and suggestions about new apps and games to try, too.

Do you want This Week in Apps in your inbox every Saturday? Sign up here:

Top Stories

Apple to scan for CSAM imagery

Apple announced a major initiative to scan devices for CSAM imagery. The company on Thursday announced a new set of features, arriving later this year, that will detect child sexual abuse material (CSAM) in its cloud and report it to law enforcement. Companies like Dropbox, Google and Microsoft already scan for CSAM in their cloud services, but Apple had allowed users to encrypt their data before it reached iCloud. Now, Apple’s new technology, NeuralHash, will run on users’ devices, tatformso detect when a users upload known CSAM imagery — without having to first decrypt the images. It even can detect the imagery if it’s been cropped or edited in an attempt to avoid detection.

Meanwhile, on iPhone and iPad, the company will roll out protections to Messages app users that will filter images and alert children and parents if sexually explicit photos are sent to or from a child’s account. Children will not be shown the images but will instead see a grayed-out image instead. If they try to view the image anyway through the link, they’ll be shown interruptive screens that explain why the material may be harmful and are warned that their parents will be notified.

Some privacy advocates pushed back at the idea of such a system, believing it could expand to end-to-end encrypted photos, lead to false positives, or set the stage for more on-device government surveillance in the future. But many cryptology experts believe the system Apple developed provides a good balance between privacy and utility, and have offered their endorsement of the technology. In addition, Apple said reports are manually reviewed before being sent to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC).

The changes may also benefit iOS developers who deal in user photos and uploads, as predators will no longer store CSAM imagery on iOS devices in the first place, given the new risk of detection.

In-App Events appear on the App Store

Image Credits: Apple

Though not yet publicly available to all users, those testing the new iOS 15 mobile operating system got their first glimpse of a new App Store discovery feature this week: “in-app events.” First announced at this year’s WWDC, the feature will allow developers and Apple editors alike to showcase directly on the App Store upcoming events taking place inside apps.

The events can appear on the App Store homepage, on the app’s product pages or can be discovered through personalized recommendations and search. In some cases, editors will curate events to feature on the App Store. But developers will also be provided tools to submit their own in-app events. TikTok’s “Summer Camp” for creators was one of the first in-app events to be featured, where it received a top spot on the iPadOS 15 App Store.

Weekly News

Platforms: Apple

Apple expands support for student IDs on iPhone and Apple Watch ahead of the fall semester. Tens of thousands more U.S. and Canadian colleges will now support mobile student IDs in the Apple Wallet app, including Auburn University, Northern Arizona University, University of Maine, New Mexico State University and others.

Apple was accused of promoting scam apps in the App Store’s featured section. The company’s failure to properly police its store is one thing, but to curate an editorial list that actually includes the scams is quite another. One of the games rounded up under “Slime Relaxations,” an already iffy category to say the least, was a subscription-based slime simulator that locked users into a $13 AUD per week subscription for its slime simulator. One of the apps on the curated list didn’t even function, implying that Apple’s editors hadn’t even tested the apps they recommend.

Tax changes hit the App Store. Apple announced tax and price changes for apps and IAPs in South Africa, the U.K. and all territories using the Euro currency, all of which will see decreases. Increases will occur in Georgia and Tajikistan, due to new tax changes. Proceeds on the App Store in Italy will be increased to reflect a change to the Digital Services Tax effective rate.

Game Center changes, too. Apple said that on August 4, a new certificate for server-based Game Center verification will be available via the publicKeyUrl.


Robinhood stock jumped more than 24% to $46.80 on Tuesday after initially falling 8% on its first day of trading last week, after which it had continued to trade below its opening price of $38.

Square’s Cash app nearly doubled its gross profit to $546 million in Q2, but also reported a $45 million impairment loss on its bitcoin holdings.

Coinbase’s app now lets you buy your cryptocurrency using Apple Pay. The company previously made its Coinbase Card compatible with Apple Pay in June.


An anonymous app called Sendit, which relies on Snap Kit to function, is climbing the charts of the U.S. App Store after Snap suspended similar apps, YOLO and LMK. Snap was sued by the parent of child who was bullied through those apps, which led to his suicide. Sendit also allows for anonymity, and reviews compare it to YOLO. But some reviews also complained about bullying. This isn’t the first time Snap has been involved in a lawsuit related to a young person’s death related to its app. The company was also sued for its irresponsible “speed filter” that critics said encouraged unsafe driving. Three young men died using the filter, which captured them doing 123 mph.

TikTok is testing Stories. As Twitter’s own Stories integrations, Fleets, shuts down, TikTok confirmed it’s testing its own Stories product. The TikTok Stories appear in a left-hand sidebar and allow users to post ephemeral images or video that disappear in 24 hours. Users can also comment on Stories, which are public to their mutual friends and the creator. Stories on TikTok may make more sense than they did on Twitter, as TikTok is already known as a creative platform and it gives the app a more familiar place to integrate its effects toolset and, eventually, advertisements.

Facebook has again re-arranged its privacy settings. The company continually moves around where its privacy features are located, ostensibly to make them easier to find. But users then have to re-learn where to go to find the tools they need, after they had finally memorized the location. This time, the settings have been grouped into six top-level categories, but “privacy” settings have been unbundled from one location to be scattered among the other categories.

A VICE report details ban-as-a-service operations that allow anyone to harass or censor online creators on Instagram. Assuming you can find it, one operation charged $60 per ban, the listing says.

TikTok merged personal accounts with creator accounts. The change means now all non-business accounts on TikTok will have access to the creator tools under Settings, including Analytics, Creator Portal, Promote and Q&A. TikTok shared the news directly with subscribers of its TikTok Creators newsletter in August, and all users will get a push notification alerting them to the change, the company told us.

Discord now lets users customize their profile on its apps. The company added new features to its iOS and Android apps that let you add a description, links and emojis and select a profile color. Paid subscribers can also choose an image or GIF as their banner.

Twitter Spaces added a co-hosting option that allows up to two co-hosts to be added to the live audio chat rooms. Now Spaces can have one main host, two co-hosts and up to 10 speakers. Co-hosts have all the moderation abilities as hosts, but can’t add or remove others as co-hosts.


Tencent reopened new user sign-ups for its WeChat messaging app, after having suspended registrations last week for unspecified “technical upgrades.” The company, like many other Chinese tech giants, had to address new regulations from Beijing impacting the tech industry. New rules address how companies handle user data collection and storage, antitrust behavior and other checks on capitalist “excess.” The gaming industry is now worried it’s next to be impacted, with regulations that would restrict gaming for minors to fight addiction.

WhatsApp is adding a new feature that will allow users to send photos and videos that disappear after a single viewing. The Snapchat-inspired feature, however, doesn’t alert you if the other person takes a screenshot — as Snap’s app does. So it may not be ideal for sharing your most sensitive content.

Telegram’s update expands group video calls to support up to 1,000 viewers. It also announced video messages can be recorded in higher quality and can be expanded, regular videos can be watched at 0.5 or 2x speed, screen sharing with sound is available for all video calls, including 1-on-1 calls, and more.

Streaming & Entertainment

American Airlines added free access to TikTok aboard its Viasat-equipped aircraft. Passengers will be able to watch the app’s videos for up to 30 minutes for free and can even download the app if it’s not already installed. After the free time, they can opt to pay for Wi-Fi to keep watching. Considering how easy it is to fall into multi-hour TikTok viewing sessions without knowing it, the addition of the addictive app could make long plane rides feel shorter. Or at least less painful.

Chinese TikTok rival Kuaishou saw stocks fall by more than 15% in Hong Kong, the most since its February IPO. The company is another victim of an ongoing market selloff triggered by increasing investor uncertainty related to China’s recent crackdown on tech companies. Beijing’s campaign to rein in tech has also impacted Tencent, Alibaba, Jack Ma’s Ant Group, food delivery company Meituan and ride-hailing company Didi. Also related, Kuaishou shut down its controversial app Zynn, which had been paying users to watch its short-form videos, including those stolen from other apps.

Twitch overtook YouTube in consumer spending per user in April 2021, and now sees $6.20 per download as of June compared with YouTube’s $5.60, Sensor Tower found.

Image Credits: Sensor Tower

Spotify confirmed tests of a new ad-supported tier called Spotify Plus, which is only $0.99 per month and offers unlimited skips (like free users get on the desktop) and the ability to play the songs you want, instead of only being forced to use shuffle mode.

The company also noted in a forum posting that it’s no longer working on AirPlay2 support, due to “audio driver compatibility” issues.

Mark Cuban-backed audio app Fireside asked its users to invest in the company via an email sent to creators which didn’t share deal terms. The app has yet to launch.

YouTube kicks off its $100 million Shorts Fund aimed at taking on TikTok by providing creators with cash incentives for top videos. Creators will get bonuses of $100 to $10,000 based on their videos’ performance.


Match Group announced during its Q2 earnings it plans to add to several of the company’s brands over the next 12 to 24 months audio and video chat, including group live video, and other livestreaming technologies. The developments will be powered by innovations from Hyperconnect, the social networking company that this year became Match’s biggest acquisition to date when it bought the Korean app maker for a sizable $1.73 billion. Since then, Match was spotted testing group live video on Tinder, but says that particular product is not launching in the near-term. At least two brands will see Hyperconnect-powered integrations in 2021.


The Photo & Video category on U.S. app stores saw strong growth in the first half of the year, a Sensor Tower report found. Consumer spend among the top 100 apps grew 34% YoY to $457 million in Q2 2021, with the majority of the revenue (83%) taking place on iOS.

Image Credits: Sensor Tower


Epic Games revealed the host of its in-app Rift Tour event is Ariana Grande, in the event that runs August 6-8.

Pokémon GO influencers threatened to boycott the game after Niantic removed the COVID safety measures that had allowed people to more easily play while social distancing. Niantic’s move seemed ill-timed, given the Delta variant is causing a new wave of COVID cases globally.

Health & Fitness

Apple kicked out an app called Unjected from the App Store. The new social app billed itself as a community for the unvaccinated, allowing like-minded users to connect for dating and friendships. Apple said the app violated its policies for COVID-19 content.

Google Pay expanded support for vaccine cards. In Australia, Google’s payments app now allows users to add their COVID-19 digital certification to their device for easy access. The option is available through Google’s newly updated Passes API which lets government agencies distribute digital versions of vaccine cards.

COVID Tech Connect, a U.S. nonprofit initially dedicated to collecting devices like phones and tablets for COVID ICU patients, has now launched its own app. The app, TeleHome, is a device-agnostic, HIPAA-compliant way for patients to place a video call for free at a time when the Delta variant is again filling ICU wards, this time with the unvaccinated — a condition that sometimes overlaps with being low-income. Some among the working poor have been hesitant to get the shot because they can’t miss a day of work, and are worried about side effects. Which is why the Biden administration offered a tax credit to SMBs who offered paid time off to staff to get vaccinated and recover.

Popular journaling app Day One, which was recently acquired by owner Automattic, rolled out a new “Concealed Journals” feature that lets users hide content from others’ viewing. By tapping the eye icon, the content can be easily concealed on a journal by journal basis, which can be useful for those who write to their journal in public, like coffee shops or public transportation.


Recently IPO’d language learning app Duolingo is developing a math app for kids. The company says it’s still “very early” in the development process, but will announce more details at its annual conference, Duocon, later this month.

Educational publisher Pearson launched an app that offers U.S. students access to its 1,500 titles for a monthly subscription of $14.99. the Pearson+ mobile app (ack, another +), also offers the option of paying $9.99 per month for access to a single textbook for a minimum of four months.

News & Reading

Quora jumps into the subscription economy. Still not profitable from ads alone, Quora announced two new products that allow its expert creators to monetize their content on its service. With Quora+ ($5/mo or $50/yr), subscribers can pay for any content that a creator paywalls. Creators can choose to enable a adaptive paywall that will use an algorithm to determine when to show the paywall. Another product, Spaces, lets creators write paywalled publications on Quora, similar to Substack. But only a 5% cut goes to Quora, instead of 10% on Substack.


Google Maps on iOS added a new live location-sharing feature for iMessage users, allowing them to more easily show your ETA with friends and even how much battery life you have left. The feature competes with iMessage’s built-in location-sharing feature, and offers location sharing of 1 hour up to 3 days. The app also gained a dark mode.

Security & Privacy

Controversial crime app Citizen launched a $20 per month “Protect” service that includes live agent support (who can refer calls to 911 if need be). The agents can gather your precise location, alert your designated emergency contacts, help you navigate to a safe location and monitor the situation until you feel safe. The system of live agent support is similar to in-car or in-home security and safety systems, like those from ADT or OnStar, but works with users out in the real world. The controversial part, however, is the company behind the product: Citizen has been making headlines for launching private security fleets outside law enforcement, and recently offered a reward in a manhunt for an innocent person based on unsubstantiated tips.

Funding and M&A

? Square announced its acquisition of the “buy now, pay later” giant AfterPay in a $29 billion deal that values the Australian firm at more than 30% higher than the stock’s last closing price of AUS$96.66. AfterPay has served over 16 million customers and nearly 100,000 merchants globally, to date, and comes at a time when the BNPL space is heating up. Apple has also gotten into the market recently with an Affirm partnership in Canada.

? Gaming giant Zynga acquired Chinese game developer StarLark, the team behind the mobile golf game Golf Rival, from Betta Games for $525 million in both cash and stock. Golf Rival is the second-largest mobile golf game behind Playdemic’s Golf Clash, and EA is in the process of buying that studio for $1.4 billion.

?  U.K.-based Humanity raised an additional $2.5 million for its app that claims to help slow down aging, bringing the total raise to date to $5 million. Backers include Calm’s co-founders, MyFitness Pal’s co-founder and others in the health space. The app works by benchmarking health advice against real-world data, to help users put better health practices into action.

? YELA, a Cameo-like app for the Middle East and South Asia, raised $2 million led by U.S. investors that include Tinder co-founder Justin Mateen and Sean Rad, general partner of RAD Fund. The app is focusing on signing celebrities in the regions it serves, where smartphone penetration is high and over 6% of the population is under 35.

? London-based health and wellness app maker Palta raised a $100 million Series B led by VNV Global. The company’s products include Flo.Health, Simple Fasting, Zing Fitness Coach and others, which reach a combined 2.4 million active, paid subscribers. The funds will be used to create more mobile subscription products.

? Emoji database and Wikipedia-like site Emojipedia was acquired by Zedge, the makers of a phone personalization app offering wallpapers, ringtones and more to 35 million MAUs. Deal terms weren’t disclosed. Emojipedia says the deal provides it with more stability and the opportunity for future growth. For Zedge, the deal provides?….um, a popular web resource it thinks it can better monetize, we suspect.

? Mental health app Revery raised $2 million led by Sequoia Capital India’s Surge program for its app that combines cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia with mobile gaming concepts. The company will focus on other mental health issues in the future.

? London-based Nigerian-operating fintech startup Kuda raised a $55 million Series B, valuing its mobile-first challenger bank at $500 million. The inside round was co-led by Valar Ventures and Target Global.

? Vietnamese payments provider VNLife raised $250 million in a round led by U.S.-based General Atlantic and Dragoneer Investment Group. PayPal Ventures and others also participated. The round values the business at over $1 billion.


Mastodon for iPhone

Fans of decentralized social media efforts now have a new app. The nonprofit behind the open source decentralized social network Mastodon released an official iPhone app, aimed at making the network more accessible to newcomers. The app allows you to find and follow people and topics; post text, images, GIFs, polls, and videos; and get notified of new replies and reblogs, much like Twitter.


@_666eveITS SO COOL FRFR do u guys want a tutorial? #fypシ #醒图 #醒图app♬ original sound – Ian Asher

TikTok users are teaching each other how to switch over to the Chinese App Store in order to get ahold of the Xingtu app for iOS. (An Android version is also available.) The app offers advanced editing tools that let users edit their face and body, like FaceTune, apply makeup, add filters and more. While image-editing apps can be controversial for how they can impact body acceptance, Xingtu offers a variety of artistic filters which is what’s primarily driving the demand. It’s interesting to see the lengths people will go to just to get a few new filters for their photos — perhaps making a case for Instagram to finally update its Post filters instead of pretending no one cares about their static photos anymore.


Facebook still dominating top charts, but not the No. 1 spot:  

Not cool, Apple: 

This user acquisition strategy: 

Maybe Stories don’t work everywhere: 

#adt, #afterpay, #alibaba, #android, #ant-group, #api, #app-maker, #app-store, #apple, #apps, #australia, #automattic, #beijing, #biden-administration, #canada, #china, #cloud-services, #coinbase, #coinbase-card, #computing, #day-one, #dragoneer-investment-group, #driver, #dropbox, #duolingo, #emojipedia, #eta, #facebook, #fintech-startup, #food-delivery, #game-center, #game-developer, #general-atlantic, #general-partner, #georgia, #gif, #google, #hyperconnect, #instagram, #ios, #ios-devices, #ipad, #iphone, #italy, #itunes, #jam-fund, #justin-mateen, #kuaishou, #kuda, #law-enforcement, #london, #ma, #maine, #meituan, #microsoft, #middle-east, #mobile, #mobile-app, #mobile-applications, #mobile-devices, #online-creators, #onstar, #operating-system, #palta, #playdemic, #quora, #sean-rad, #sensor-tower, #sequoia-capital, #smartphone, #snap, #snapchat, #social-network, #social-networking, #software, #south-africa, #south-asia, #spotify, #stories, #target-global, #tc, #this-week-in-apps, #tiktok, #twitch, #united-kingdom, #united-states, #valar-ventures, #viasat, #vnv-global, #wi-fi, #wordpress-com, #zedge, #zynga

A Silicon Valley VC firm with $1.8B in assets was hit by ransomware

Advanced Technology Ventures, a Silicon Valley venture capital firm with more than $1.8 billion in assets under its management, was hit by a ransomware attack in July that saw cybercriminals steal personal information on the company’s private investors, or limited partners (LPs).

In a letter to the Maine attorney general’s office, ATV said it became aware of the attack on July 9 after its servers storing financial information had been encrypted by ransomware. By July 26, the ATV learned that data had been stolen from the servers before the files were encrypted, a common “double extortion” tactic used by ransomware groups, which then threaten to publish the files online if the ransom to decrypt the files is not paid.

The letter said ATV believes the names, email addresses, phone numbers and Social Security numbers of the individual investors in ATV’s funds were stolen in the attack. Some 300 individuals were affected by the incident, including one person in Maine, according to a listing on the Maine attorney general’s data breach notification portal.

Venture capital firms often do not disclose all of their LPs — the investors who have thrown millions into an investment vehicle — to the public. A number of pre-approved names may be included in an announcement, but overall, a company’s private investors try to stay that way: private. The reasons vary, but it comes down to secrecy and a degree of competitive advantage: The firm may not want competitors to know who is backing them, and an investor may not want others to know where their money is going. This particular attack likely stole key information on a hush-hush part of how venture money works.

ATV said it notified the FBI about the attack. A spokesperson for the FBI did not immediately comment when reached by TechCrunch. ATV’s managing director Mike Carusi did not respond to questions sent by TechCrunch on Monday.

The venture capital firm, based in Menlo Park, California with offices in Boston, was founded in 1979 and invests largely in technology, communications, software and services, and healthcare technology. The company was an early investor in many of the startups from the last decade, like software library Fandango, Host Analytics (now Planfun) and Apptegic (now Evergage). Its more recent investments include Tripwire, which was later sold to cybersecurity company Belden for $710 million; Cedexis, a network traffic monitoring startup acquired by Cisco in 2018; and Actifo, which was sold to Google in 2020.

Natasha Mascarenhas contributed reporting. Send tips securely over Signal and WhatsApp to +1 646-755-8849. You can also send TechCrunch files or documents using our SecureDrop.

#attorney-general, #atv, #boston, #california, #cedexis, #cisco, #cybercrime, #encryption, #fandango, #federal-bureau-of-investigation, #google, #healthcare-technology, #maine, #private-equity, #ransomware, #securedrop, #security, #signal, #software, #spokesperson, #venture-capital

Maine Will Make Companies Pay for Recycling. Here’s How It Works.

The law aims to take the cost burden of recycling away from taxpayers. One environmental advocate said the change could be “transformative.”

#containers-and-packaging, #environment, #global-warming, #greenhouse-gas-emissions, #maine, #mills-janet-t-1947, #oregon, #plastics, #pollution, #recycling-of-waste-materials, #waste-materials-and-disposal

Maine’s facial recognition law shows bipartisan support for protecting privacy

Maine has joined a growing number of cities, counties and states that are rejecting dangerously biased surveillance technologies like facial recognition.

The new law, which is the strongest statewide facial recognition law in the country, not only received broad, bipartisan support, but it passed unanimously in both chambers of the state legislature. Lawmakers and advocates spanning the political spectrum — from the progressive lawmaker who sponsored the bill to the Republican members who voted it out of committee, from the ACLU of Maine to state law enforcement agencies — came together to secure this major victory for Mainers and anyone who cares about their right to privacy.

Maine is just the latest success story in the nationwide movement to ban or tightly regulate the use of facial recognition technology, an effort led by grassroots activists and organizations like the ACLU. From the Pine Tree State to the Golden State, national efforts to regulate facial recognition demonstrate a broad recognition that we can’t let technology determine the boundaries of our freedoms in the digital 21st century.

Facial recognition technology poses a profound threat to civil rights and civil liberties. Without democratic oversight, governments can use the technology as a tool for dragnet surveillance, threatening our freedoms of speech and association, due process rights, and right to be left alone. Democracy itself is at stake if this technology remains unregulated.

Facial recognition technology poses a profound threat to civil rights and civil liberties.

We know the burdens of facial recognition are not borne equally, as Black and brown communities — especially Muslim and immigrant communities — are already targets of discriminatory government surveillance. Making matters worse, face surveillance algorithms tend to have more difficulty accurately analyzing the faces of darker-skinned people, women, the elderly and children. Simply put: The technology is dangerous when it works — and when it doesn’t.

But not all approaches to regulating this technology are created equal. Maine is among the first in the nation to pass comprehensive statewide regulations. Washington was the first, passing a weak law in the face of strong opposition from civil rights, community and religious liberty organizations. The law passed in large part because of strong backing from Washington-based megacorporation Microsoft. Washington’s facial recognition law would still allow tech companies to sell their technology, worth millions of dollars, to every conceivable government agency.

In contrast, Maine’s law strikes a different path, putting the interests of ordinary Mainers above the profit motives of private companies.

Maine’s new law prohibits the use of facial recognition technology in most areas of government, including in public schools and for surveillance purposes. It creates carefully carved out exceptions for law enforcement to use facial recognition, creating standards for its use and avoiding the potential for abuse we’ve seen in other parts of the country. Importantly, it prohibits the use of facial recognition technology to conduct surveillance of people as they go about their business in Maine, attending political meetings and protests, visiting friends and family, and seeking out healthcare.

In Maine, law enforcement must now — among other limitations — meet a probable cause standard before making a facial recognition request, and they cannot use a facial recognition match as the sole basis to arrest or search someone. Nor can local police departments buy, possess or use their own facial recognition software, ensuring shady technologies like Clearview AI will not be used by Maine’s government officials behind closed doors, as has happened in other states.

Maine’s law and others like it are crucial to preventing communities from being harmed by new, untested surveillance technologies like facial recognition. But we need a federal approach, not only a piecemeal local approach, to effectively protect Americans’ privacy from facial surveillance. That’s why it’s crucial for Americans to support the Facial Recognition and Biometric Technology Moratorium Act, a bill introduced by members of both houses of Congress last month.

The ACLU supports this federal legislation that would protect all people in the United States from invasive surveillance. We urge all Americans to ask their members of Congress to join the movement to halt facial recognition technology and support it, too.

#artificial-intelligence, #biometrics, #clearview-ai, #column, #facial-recognition, #facial-recognition-software, #government, #law-enforcement, #maine, #opinion, #privacy, #surveillance-technologies, #tc

Katharine Hepburn, Henry Fonda and Me

The call of loons, and of mortality.

#elderly, #fonda-henry, #maine, #on-golden-pond-movie

Driving the States of Maine

Taking U.S. 1 the length of Maine reveals the shifting nature of the state’s character, from lobster shacks and antiques stores to vast forests and a lost French colony.

#maine, #national-parks-monuments-and-seashores, #parks-and-other-recreation-areas, #road-trips, #travel-and-vacations, #u-s-route-1

Outbreak of Poisonous Browntail Moth Caterpillars Plagues Maine

The caterpillars, known as browntail moths, have tiny hairs that can cause skin rashes and even breathing issues for some people.

#browntail-moths, #butterflies-and-moths, #cape-cod-mass, #caterpillars, #invasive-species, #maine, #poisoning-and-poisons, #waterville-me

Something Weird on the Beach Was Staining Their Feet. But What?

Dozens of people in Maine and New Hampshire complained that the sand had turned the soles of their feet black. Now the mystery is solved.

#beaches, #flies, #maine, #new-hampshire

6 U.S. Destinations for a Remote-Working Vacation

As workers prepare to return to the office in coming months, here are six towns and cities to consider squeezing in a working vacation or two.

#airbnb, #arizona, #auburn-ny, #brunswick-me, #california, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #diamond-head-oahu-hawaii, #finger-lakes-region-ny, #food, #hawaii, #historic-buildings-and-sites, #ithaca-ny, #kansas, #maine, #names-geographical, #petaluma-calif, #quarantine-life-and-culture, #restaurants, #rivers, #shawnee-kan, #sonoma-county-calif, #sonoran-desert, #telecommuting, #topeka-kan, #travel-and-vacations, #tucson-ariz, #watkins-glen-ny, #wines

The Hunt for Clarity About van Gogh’s Last Days Leads to Maine

Experts are examining a watercolor found in an antiques shop that may be a rare work by Edmund Walpole Brooke, who painted with van Gogh during his final months.

#arles-france, #art, #japan, #maine, #osaka-university, #tsukasa-kodera, #van-gogh-vincent

2 Maine Students Win National Awards for Cursive Writing

Although cursive handwriting “is a dying field,” as one teacher said, it has made a comeback in some schools, including one in Maine where two students won awards this month.

#contests-and-prizes, #handwriting, #maine, #reading-and-writing-skills-education, #trubek-anne-r-1966

College Accounts at Birth: State Efforts Raise New Hopes

Creating and seeding accounts for every newborn is found to have an impact on aspirations as well as savings.

#529-savings-plans, #children-and-childhood, #colleges-and-universities, #education, #harold-alfond-foundation, #income-inequality, #maine, #oklahoma, #parenting, #savings, #seed-for-oklahoma-kids

Arcadia steps in to Texas’ startup energy market with the acquisition of Real Simple Energy

On the third greatest television show of all time (sorry Rolling Stone), one of Texas’ most famous fictional football players once said, “When all the scared rats are leaving a sinking market, that’s when a real entrepreneur steps in — a true visionary.”

If that’s the case, then the startup renewable energy retail reseller Arcadia may be a true visionary. Even as energy startups servicing customers throughout the great state of Texas are forced to throw in the towel, the Washington-based, consumer-focused renewable energy power provider (based on renewable energy certificates purchased on the open market), is making an acquisition to enter the Texas market.

The company is buying Real Simple Energy, which not only marks the company’s availability in all 50 states, but gives Real Simple Energy customers access to both wind and solar power generating projects. The company said it  will leverage Real Simple Energy’s platform and expertise to secure the best rates for members, monitor for better savings, and provide a smarter yet simpler energy experience.

“Recent events in the Texas market prove that customers shouldn’t be exposed to wholesale or variable rates, and want an energy advocate to protect them,” said Kiran Bhatraju, CEO and Founder of Arcadia. “Both Arcadia and Real Simple Energy recognize the challenges Texas homeowners and renters have historically faced in the energy buying process, and we remain committed to removing these confusing barriers.”

Texans have consistently paid more for power than consumers that buy their energy from regulated market participants thanks to the state’s disastrously deregulated power markets. The combined companies are pitching fixed rate contracts to Texas consumers that won’t be vulnerable to bill spikes, but will offer average savings above the flat rates regulated utilities offer.

“The deregulated energy industry, especially in Texas, has underserved customers and as a result, most customers overpay for electricity and receive poor customer service. Using technology, we are helping customers realize the promise of deregulation and always get the best fixed rates available,” said Trent Crow, CEO of Real Simple Energy, in a statement. “As industry veterans, joining forces with Arcadia will allow us to get better deals for customers and enhance our customer experience.  We manage 100% of the energy experience and become a customer’s independent agent and advocate so they never have to worry about their electricity bill again.”

The deal is Arcadia’s first acquisition and follows the company’s launch of a community solar program all the way across the country in the great state of Maine.

#ceo, #electricity, #energy, #energy-industry, #entrepreneur, #fundings-exits, #maine, #renewable-energy, #startups, #tc, #texas, #washington

When There’s No Heat: ‘You Need Wood, You Get Wood’

Community wood banks, like food banks, help people in need. Climate change is shaping their role.

#environment, #food-banks-and-pantries, #forests-and-forestry, #global-warming, #greenhouse-gas-emissions, #heating, #maine, #new-england-states-us, #unemployment, #volunteers-and-community-service, #weather, #winter-season, #wood-and-wood-products

The Art and Education of Owling

To search for an owl is to dance with nature in real time.

#birds, #maine, #owls

Instagram Showcases ‘Cheap Old Houses’

Instagram and fans of painstaking renovations have given new life to homes with some history, especially if they’re affordable.

#connecticut, #hgtv, #historic-buildings-and-sites, #home-repairs-and-improvements, #maine, #massachusetts, #quarantine-life-and-culture, #real-estate-and-housing-residential, #social-media

Revisiting the Unseen Corners of the World

During a year with limited travel possibilities, our World Through a Lens series offered Times readers a weekly escape. Here are some of the highlights.

#ecuador, #forests-and-forestry, #georgia, #great-britain, #islands, #karbala-iraq, #maine, #national-parks-monuments-and-seashores, #nuns, #photography, #quebec-province-canada, #road-trips, #rural-areas, #safaris, #sea-lions, #travel-and-vacations

Time Won’t Let Me Wait That Long

An encounter at a clock-repair shop offered a lesson about life in 2020.

#conundrum-book, #maine, #watches-and-clocks

Nor’easter Knocks Out Power to More Than 200,000 in New England

More than 110,000 customers in Maine alone lost electricity after a nor’easter brought high winds and heavy snow.

#connecticut, #maine, #massachusetts, #new-england-states-us, #new-hampshire, #noreaster, #power-failures-and-blackouts, #snow-and-snowstorms, #weather, #wind

The Democrats Went All Out Against Susan Collins. Rural Maine Grimaced.

The $180 million Senate contest, a political scientist said, “was like being a local in Woodstock in 1969: When it first started, it was exciting and fun, but by the end, it was muddy and dirty.”

#collins-susan-m, #elections-senate, #gideon-sara-1971, #maine, #political-advertising

26 Americans on Their Hopes for the Next Four Years

We asked voters about their hopes for the next four years — regardless of the occupant in the White House.

#atlanta-ga, #biden-joseph-r-jr, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #maine, #omaha-neb, #politics-and-government, #presidential-election-of-2020, #texas, #trump-donald-j, #united-states, #voting-and-voters

Portland, Maine passes referendum banning facial surveillance

As we’re currently shifting through all of the national and local votes from last night’s elections, here’s a small but important victory for privacy advocates out of Portland, Maine . Per the Bangor Daily News, the city passed “Referendum Question B,” designed to curb government and police use of facial recognition technology.

According to the initiative:

An Act to Ban Facial Surveillance by Public Officials in Portland will ban the city of Portland and its departments and officials from using or authorizing the use of any facial surveillance software on any groups or member of the public, and provides a right to members of the public to sue if facial surveillance data is illegally gathered and/or used.

It’s one of four progressive measures that passed last night in the city. Other successful measures include a $15/hour minimum wage and a cap on rent increases. It also joins other recent local ordinances. Other cities to pass similar legislation include San Francisco, Boston and the other Portland, which offered a pretty sweeping ban back in September.

Meanwhile, earlier this week, an arrest was made in Washington, DC using facial recognition. The individual was reportedly identified using an image found on Twitter.

#2020-election, #apps, #facial-recognition, #maine, #portland, #privacy

What $1.25 Million Buys You in Maine, Texas and New York

A waterfront retreat on 76 acres in mid-coast Maine, a custom-designed home in Houston and an 1871 house by McKim Mead & White in Piermont.

#houston-tex, #maine, #orland-maine, #piermont-ny, #real-estate-and-housing-residential

Voting System in Maine Threatens Collins in Final Days of Close Senate Race

The state’s new ranked-choice system could prove dangerous for Senator Susan Collins, who is running for a fifth term against Sara Gideon, a Democrat.

#collins-susan-m, #elections-senate, #gideon-sara-1971, #maine, #savage-lisa, #united-states-politics-and-government, #voting-and-voters

Woman Who Mailed Threat to Susan Collins Gets 30 Months in Prison

Suzanne Muscara, 38, sent a threatening letter to the senator’s home in 2018 after becoming upset with her vote to confirm Brett Kavanaugh as a Supreme Court justice, the authorities said.

#collins-susan-m, #hazardous-and-toxic-substances, #kavanaugh-brett-m, #maine, #muscara-suzanne, #postal-service-us, #senate, #sentences-criminal, #supreme-court-us, #threats-and-threatening-messages, #united-states-politics-and-government

Susan Collins Hasn’t Changed Much, but Maine Has

Democrats are angry with her. Republicans see her as disloyal to the president. Her old-fashioned politics? “I don’t know if people respond as well to that anymore,” said her G.O.P. predecessor in the Senate.

#collins-susan-m, #conservatism-us-politics, #elections-senate, #gideon-sara-1971, #maine, #presidential-election-of-2020, #republican-party, #trump-donald-j, #united-states-politics-and-government

It’s Not Easy Being an Optimist in Maine

We have late-spring storms and high-stakes Senate races. But we also have lobster and Patty Griffin.

#collins-susan-m, #elections-senate, #gideon-sara-1971, #maine, #presidential-election-of-2020, #united-states-politics-and-government

Leaf Peeping Is Not Canceled: 6 Drives and Hikes to Try This Fall

From the Berkshires to the Rockies, the vibrant colors of fall are popping, and nothing, not even a pandemic, can stop them. Six writers in six states reveal their favorite drives and hikes.

#appalachian-region, #autumn-season, #berkshires-mass, #cuyahoga-valley-national-park-ohio, #denver-colo, #maine, #nashville-tenn, #parks-and-other-recreation-areas, #road-trips, #travel-and-vacations, #trees-and-shrubs, #west-virginia