How Rules Fuel Populist Anger in Rural America

One Democrat attempts to flip the script by speaking out against government red tape.

#agriculture-and-farming, #catfish, #chesapeake-bay, #democratic-party, #elections-house-of-representatives, #fish-farming, #fishing-commercial, #government-accountability-office, #harris-andrew-p, #law-and-legislation, #maryland, #montgomery-county-md, #regulation-and-deregulation-of-industry, #republican-party, #rural-areas, #seafood

These Homeowners Decided to Rent Again

Some homeowners looked at rising home prices and decided to get out while the going was still good. Now they’re renters again.

#content-type-service, #east-coast-us, #maryland, #miller-samuel-inc, #miller-jonathan-j, #new-jersey, #real-estate-and-housing-residential, #renting-and-leasing-real-estate

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

Finding Traces of Harriet Tubman on Maryland’s Eastern Shore

A historian marks the 200th birthday of a fearless conductor of the Underground Railroad with a visit to her birthplace, only to learn how climate change is washing away memories of “the ultimate outdoors woman.”

#black-people, #civil-war-us-1861-65, #content-type-personal-profile, #maryland, #national-parks-monuments-and-seashores, #slavery-historical, #travel-and-vacations, #tubman-harriet, #underground-railroad-19th-century

3 Killed in Shooting at Maryland Manufacturing Plant

The suspect fled and was caught after exchanging gunfire with a Maryland State Police trooper, the authorities said. Both were injured.

#maryland, #mass-shootings, #murders-attempted-murders-and-homicides, #smithsburg-md

Armed Man Is Arrested Near Home of Justice Kavanaugh

The man, Nicholas John Roske, told the authorities that he traveled from California to kill a Supreme Court justice, according to court documents. He was charged with attempted murder.

#abortion, #kavanaugh-brett-m, #maryland, #montgomery-county-md, #supreme-court-us, #threats-and-threatening-messages

Chris Van Hollen, Democratic Senator, Suffers ‘Minor Stroke’

Chris Van Hollen, a Democrat, said in a statement that there were “no long-term effects or damage,” but that he would be under observation for a few days.

#chris-van-hollen, #democratic-party, #maryland, #senate, #stroke, #united-states-politics-and-government

Signs of an Animal Virus Discovered in Man Who Received a Pig’s Heart

The patient showed no sign of rejecting the genetically modified organ, but suffered numerous complications.

#cytomegalovirus, #genetic-engineering, #maryland, #pigs, #surgery-and-surgeons, #transplants, #university-of-maryland, #your-feed-science

After Five Weeks, Container Ship Is Freed in the Chesapeake

A year after the Ever Given became lodged in the Suez Canal, the Ever Forward, operated by the same company, ran aground in the Chesapeake Bay in March. It was finally dislodged on Sunday.

#baltimore-md, #canals, #chesapeake-bay, #maryland, #ships-and-shipping, #united-states-coast-guard

Maryland Lawmakers Expand Abortion Access, Overriding Governor’s Veto

The new law allows trained medical professionals other than physicians to perform abortions and requires insurance providers to cover more costs.

#abortion, #guttmacher-institute, #hogan-lawrence-j, #law-and-legislation, #maryland, #planned-parenthood-federation-of-america, #state-legislatures

Gov. Larry Hogan Approves New Maryland Congressional Map

Drawn by Democrats and approved by a Republican governor, the new map will most likely result in a similar delegation to the state’s current one.

#hogan-lawrence-j, #maryland, #redistricting-and-reapportionment, #united-states-politics-and-government

With Gas Prices at Record Highs, States Look at Cutting Taxes to Ease Strain

Actions by Maryland, Georgia and Connecticut could be followed by other states soon.

#american-automobile-assn, #california, #connecticut, #gasoline-tax-us, #georgia, #hogan-lawrence-j, #inflation-economics, #kemp-brian-p, #lamont-ned, #maryland, #oil-petroleum-and-gasoline, #russian-invasion-of-ukraine-2022, #sales-and-excise-taxes, #tax-foundation, #taxation

Maryland Judge Throws Out Democrats’ Congressional Redistricting Map

The ruling, in which the judge said Democrats had drawn an “extreme gerrymander,” was the first time this redistricting cycle that the party’s maps had been rejected in court.

#decisions-and-verdicts, #democratic-party, #elections-house-of-representatives, #maryland, #redistricting-and-reapportionment, #united-states-politics-and-government

Officers Said They Hoped Black Lives Matter Protesters Would Die, Suit Says

Mark Miles, a Black officer with the Maryland-National Capital Park Police, says in a lawsuit that his white supervisor and other officers made hateful comments in a work-related text chain.

#black-lives-matter-movement, #black-people, #discrimination, #george-floyd-protests-2020, #maryland, #montgomery-county-md, #police, #police-brutality-misconduct-and-shootings, #race-and-ethnicity, #suits-and-litigation-civil

Armed Intruder Prompts Lockdown at Joint Base Andrews as Vice President Lands

Vice President Kamala Harris, the second gentleman and four Cabinet members had just landed at the base when two people drove through a security checkpoint, the authorities said.

#buttigieg-pete-1982, #cardona-miguel-a-1975, #emhoff-douglas-c, #fudge-marcia-l, #fugitives, #harris-kamala-d, #joint-base-andrews-md, #maryland, #prince-georges-county-md, #regan-michael-s-1976

An Invasive Insect Threatens Delmarva Westlands

The emerald ash border threatens ash trees that anchor a unique world on the Delmarva Peninsula.

#biodiversity, #carbon-capture-and-sequestration, #chesapeake-bay, #conservation-of-resources, #endangered-and-extinct-species, #forests-and-forestry, #maryland, #mid-atlantic-states-us, #nature-conservancy, #rivers, #trees-and-shrubs, #university-of-maryland, #wetlands

3 Firefighters Die After Being Trapped in Blaze at Vacant Baltimore Rowhouse

Part of the building collapsed as they battled the fire. Another firefighter was in critical condition and fighting for his life, officials said.

#baltimore-md, #deaths-fatalities, #fires-and-firefighters, #hogan-lawrence-j, #maryland

Patient in Groundbreaking Pig Heart Transplant Has a Criminal Record

David Bennett Sr. was involved in a serious assault nearly 35 years ago, court records show.

#assaults, #genetic-engineering, #maryland, #murders-attempted-murders-and-homicides, #transplants, #university-of-maryland-medical-center, #your-feed-science

Patient in Groundbreaking Heart Transplant Has a Criminal Record

David Bennett Sr. was involved in a serious assault nearly 35 years ago, court records show.

#assaults, #genetic-engineering, #maryland, #murders-attempted-murders-and-homicides, #transplants, #university-of-maryland-medical-center, #your-feed-science

I-95 Near Washington, D.C., Is Closed After Deadly Snowstorm

Drivers reported being stranded for hours as part of the interstate, one of the country’s busiest travel corridors, was shut down after accidents involving several tractor-trailers.

#interstate-95, #maryland, #national-weather-service, #new-jersey, #north-carolina, #power-failures-and-blackouts, #roads-and-traffic, #snow-and-snowstorms, #tennessee, #traffic-accidents-and-safety, #virginia, #washington-dc, #weather

Winter Storm Knocks Out Power Across Southeast

Hundreds of thousands were without electricity on Monday, and federal government offices in the Washington, D.C., area were closed because of the storm.

#appalachian-region, #delaware, #georgia, #maryland, #national-weather-service, #new-jersey, #north-carolina, #roads-and-traffic, #snow-and-snowstorms, #tennessee, #virginia, #washington-dc, #weather

Maryland’s Wayward Zebras Have Been Captured After Nearly Four Months

The two zebras had escaped with another, which was later found dead, from a suburban farm, delighting residents and evading attempts to capture them, the authorities said.

#agriculture-and-farming, #animal-abuse-rights-and-welfare, #fugitives, #maryland, #prince-georges-county-md, #upper-marlboro-md, #zebras

Going Deep Into Oyster Country

From coastal Virginia to New York and New Orleans, a writer delves into the history and lore surrounding the shellfish, with a focus on the role African Americans have played over the years.

#black-people, #chincoteague-island-va, #maryland, #new-orleans-la, #new-york-city, #oysters, #travel-and-vacations

Search for Abducted Children Leads to Traffic Stop, Gunshots and 4 Dead

Law enforcement authorities in two states had been pursuing a former Baltimore County police officer and a female accomplice, who they said kidnapped the officer’s children.

#baltimore-md, #baltimore-county-md, #fugitives, #hogan-lawrence-j, #kidnapping-and-hostages, #maryland, #pennsylvania, #robberies-and-thefts, #york-pa

Maryland Mayor Is Charged in ‘Revenge Porn’ Case

Andrew Bradshaw, the mayor of Cambridge, on the state’s Eastern Shore, posted nude photos of a former partner on Reddit, along with degrading comments and racial slurs, prosecutors said.

#bradshaw-andrew, #computers-and-the-internet, #cyberharassment, #maryland, #pornography, #reddit-inc, #sex-crimes, #sexual-harassment

High Tidal Surges Bring Floods to the Mid-Atlantic Region

The impact was not as severe as forecasters had feared in some places, though flood warnings and advisories remained in effect on Saturday.

#alexandria-va, #annapolis-md, #baltimore-md, #buckley-gavin, #chesapeake-bay, #coastal-areas, #delaware-river, #floods, #interstate-95, #maryland, #mid-atlantic-states-us, #national-oceanic-and-atmospheric-administration, #national-weather-service, #potomac-river, #water, #weather, #wind

Slow-Moving Storm to Bring Heavy Flooding to Mid-Atlantic

A National Weather Service forecaster warned that heavy rain during high tides could lead to “astronomical surges” of ocean water.

#delaware-river, #floods, #maryland, #new-jersey, #pennsylvania, #rain, #weather

Why Medical Bills Can Be Lower in Maryland

The state’s unique health system controls what hospitals can charge for services.

#health-insurance-and-managed-care, #hospitals, #johns-hopkins-hospital-baltimore-md, #maryland, #prices-fares-fees-and-rates

Bye, Maryland? Lawmakers in 3 Counties Float a Plan to Secede From the State.

The proposal to join West Virginia seems destined to go nowhere. But it has tapped into deep-seated feelings of alienation in western Maryland, a mountainous panhandle wedged against the Mason-Dixon line.

#biden-joseph-r-jr, #hogan-lawrence-j, #justice-james-c-ii, #maryland, #politics-and-government, #secession-and-independence-movements, #state-legislatures, #states-us, #west-virginia

Owner of Maryland’s Runaway Zebras Is Charged With Animal Cruelty

Jerry Lee Holly, 76, was charged a month after one of the wayward zebras was found dead in an illegal snare trap in Upper Marlboro, Md.

#agriculture-and-farming, #agriculture-department, #animal-abuse-rights-and-welfare, #animals, #humane-society-of-the-united-states, #maryland, #prince-georges-county-md, #upper-marlboro-md, #workplace-hazards-and-violations, #zebras

Washington Metro Pulls Most Train Cars From Service After Derailment

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority idled 748 Metro cars on Monday after one train derailed at least three times on Oct. 12, officials said.

#maryland, #national-transportation-safety-board, #railroad-accidents-and-safety, #subways, #transit-systems, #united-states, #virginia, #washington-dc, #washington-metropolitan-area-transit-authority

Wayward Zebra Found Dead in Illegal Snare Trap in Maryland

The state’s Natural Resources Police said they did not know who had set the illegal trap on private property in Upper Marlboro, about 20 miles southeast of Washington.

#agriculture-and-farming, #agriculture-department, #maryland, #upper-marlboro-md, #wildlife-trade-and-poaching, #zebras

Maryland Couple Accused of Selling Submarine Secrets Appear in Court

Jonathan and Diana Toebbe face life in prison if convicted on the charges. Prosecutors, saying they are flight risks, are seeking to keep them in detention.

#espionage-and-intelligence-services, #martinsburg-w-va, #maryland, #toebbe-diana, #toebbe-jonathan

Educator’s Black Lives Matter Email Upends Her District

A Black superintendent’s email to parents after the killing of George Floyd engulfed a small, predominantly white Maryland community in a yearlong firestorm.

#black-lives-matter-movement, #black-people, #education-k-12, #george-floyd-protests-2020, #maryland, #queen-annes-county-maryland, #race-and-ethnicity

First Came Friendship for an Activist and a Single Father of Five

Kassie Edwards and Michael Ruxsaksriskul both had childhood trauma. When they met at an AIDS awareness event in Washington, neither was interested in the other romantically.

#maryland, #weddings-and-engagements

Rezilion raises $30M help security operations teams with tools to automate their busywork

Security operations teams face a daunting task these days, fending off malicious hackers and their increasingly sophisticated approaches to cracking into networks. That also represents a gap in the market: building tools to help those security teams do their jobs. Today, an Israeli startup called Rezilion that is doing just that — building automation tools for DevSecOps, the area of IT that addresses the needs of security teams and the technical work that they need to do in their jobs — is announcing $30 million in funding.

Guggenheim Investments is leading the round with JVP and Kindred Capital also contributing. Rezilion said that unnamed executives from Google, Microsoft, CrowdStrike, IBM, Cisco, PayPal, JP Morgan Chase, Nasdaq, eBay, Symantec, RedHat, RSA and Tenable are also in the round. Previously, the company had raised $8 million.

Rezilion’s funding is coming on the back of strong initial growth for the startup in its first two years of operations.

Its customer base is made up of some of the world’s biggest companies, including two of the “Fortune 10” (the top 10 of the Fortune 500). CEO Liran Tancman, who co-founded Rezilion with CTO Shlomi Boutnaru, said that one of those two is one of the world’s biggest software companies, and the other is a major connected device vendor, but he declined to say which. (For the record, the top 10 includes Amazon, Apple, Alphabet/Google, Walmart and CVS.)

Tancman and Boutnaru had previously co-founded another security startup, CyActive, which was acquired by PayPal in 2015; the pair worked there together until leaving to start Rezilion.

There are a lot of tools out in the market now to help automate different aspects of developer and security operations. Rezilion focuses on a specific part of DevSecOps: large businesses have over the years put in place a lot of processes that they need to follow to try to triage and make the most thorough efforts possible to detect security threats. Today, that might involve inspecting every single suspicious piece of activity to determine what the implications might be.

The problem is that with the volume of information coming in, taking the time to inspect and understand each piece of suspicious activity can put enormous strain on an organization: it’s time-consuming, and as it turns out, not the best use of that time because of the signal to noise ratio involved. Typically, each vulnerability can take 6-9 hours to properly investigate, Tancman said. “But usually about 70-80% of them are not exploitable,” meaning they may be bad for some, but not for this particular organization and the code it’s using today. That represents a very inefficient use of the security team’s time and energy.

“Eight of out ten patches tend to be a waste of time,” Tancman said of the approach that is typically made today. He believes that as its AI continues to grow and its knowledge and solution becomes more sophisticated, “it might soon be 9 out of 10.”

Rezilion has built a taxonomy and an AI-based system that essentially does that inspection work as a human would do: it spots any new, or suspicious, code, figures out what it is trying to do, and runs it against a company’s existing code and systems to see how and if it might actually be a threat to it or create further problems down the line. If it’s all good, it essentially whitelists the code. If not, it flags it to the team.

The stickiness of the product has come out of how Tancman and Boutnaru understand large enterprises, especially those heavy with technology stacks, operate these days in what has become a very challenging environment for cybersecurity teams.

“They are using us to accelerate their delivery processes while staying safe,” Tancman said. “They have strict compliance departments and have to adhere to certain standards,” in terms of the protocols they take around security work, he added. “They want to leverage DevOps to release that.”

He said Rezilion has generally won over customers in large part for simply understanding that culture and process and helping them work better within that: “Companies become users of our product because we showed them that, at a fraction of the effort, they can be more secure.” This has special resonance in the world of tech, although financial services, and other verticals that essentially leverage technology as a significant foundation for how they operate, are also among the startup’s user base.

Down the line, Rezilion plans to add remediation and mitigation into the mix to further extend what it can do with its automation tools, which is part of where the funding will be going, too, Boutnaru said. But he doesn’t believe it will ever replace the human in the equation altogether.

“It will just focus them on the places where you need more human thinking,” he said. “We’re just removing the need for tedious work.”

In that grand tradition of enterprise automation, then, it will be interesting to watch which other automation-centric platforms might make a move into security alongside the other automation they are building. For now, Rezilion is forging out an interesting enough area for itself to get investors interested.

“Rezilion’s product suite is a game changer for security teams,” said Rusty Parks, senior MD of Guggenheim Investments, in a statement. “It creates a win-win, allowing companies to speed innovative products and features to market while enhancing their security posture. We believe Rezilion has created a truly compelling value proposition for security teams, one that greatly increases return on time while thoroughly protecting one’s core infrastructure.”

#agile-software-development, #alphabet, #amazon, #apple, #articles, #artificial-intelligence, #automation, #ceo, #cisco, #computer-security, #crowdstrike, #cto, #cyactive, #devops, #ebay, #energy, #entrepreneurship, #europe, #financial-services, #funding, #google, #ibm, #jp-morgan-chase, #kindred-capital, #maryland, #microsoft, #paypal, #security, #software, #software-development, #startup-company, #symantec, #technology

Fractory raises $9M to rethink the manufacturing supply chain for metalworks

The manufacturing industry took a hard hit from the Covid-19 pandemic, but there are signs of how it is slowly starting to come back into shape — helped in part by new efforts to make factories more responsive to the fluctuations in demand that come with the ups and downs of grappling with the shifting economy, virus outbreaks and more. Today, a businesses that is positioning itself as part of that new guard of flexible custom manufacturing — a startup called Fractory — is announcing a Series A of $9 million (€7.7 million) that underscores the trend.

The funding is being led by OTB Ventures, a leading European investor focussed on early growth, post-product, high-tech start-ups, with existing investors Trind VenturesSuperhero CapitalUnited Angels VCStartup Wise Guys and Verve Ventures also participating.

Founded in Estonia but now based in Manchester, England — historically a strong hub for manufacturing in the country, and close to Fractory’s customers — Fractory has built a platform to make it easier for those that need to get custom metalwork to upload and order it, and for factories to pick up new customers and jobs based on those requests.

Fractory’s Series A will be used to continue expanding its technology, and to bring more partners into its ecosystem.

To date, the company has worked with more than 24,000 customers and hundreds of manufacturers and metal companies, and altogether it has helped crank out more than 2.5 million metal parts.

To be clear, Fractory isn’t a manufacturer itself, nor does it have no plans to get involved in that part of the process. Rather, it is in the business of enterprise software, with a marketplace for those who are able to carry out manufacturing jobs — currently in the area of metalwork — to engage with companies that need metal parts made for them, using intelligent tools to identify what needs to be made and connecting that potential job to the specialist manufacturers that can make it.

The challenge that Fractory is solving is not unlike that faced in a lot of industries that have variable supply and demand, a lot of fragmentation, and generally an inefficient way of sourcing work.

As Martin Vares, Fractory’s founder and MD, described it to me, companies who need metal parts made might have one factory they regularly work with. But if there are any circumstances that might mean that this factory cannot carry out a job, then the customer needs to shop around and find others to do it instead. This can be a time-consuming, and costly process.

“It’s a very fragmented market and there are so many ways to manufacture products, and the connection between those two is complicated,” he said. “In the past, if you wanted to outsource something, it would mean multiple emails to multiple places. But you can’t go to 30 different suppliers like that individually. We make it into a one-stop shop.”

On the other side, factories are always looking for better ways to fill out their roster of work so there is little downtime — factories want to avoid having people paid to work with no work coming in, or machinery that is not being used.

“The average uptime capacity is 50%,” Vares said of the metalwork plants on Fractory’s platform (and in the industry in general). “We have a lot more machines out there than are being used. We really want to solve the issue of leftover capacity and make the market function better and reduce waste. We want to make their factories more efficient and thus sustainable.”

The Fractory approach involves customers — today those customers are typically in construction, or other heavy machinery industries like ship building, aerospace and automotive — uploading CAD files specifying what they need made. These then get sent out to a network of manufacturers to bid for and take on as jobs — a little like a freelance marketplace, but for manufacturing jobs. About 30% of those jobs are then fully automated, while the other 70% might include some involvement from Fractory to help advise customers on their approach, including in the quoting of the work, manufacturing, delivery and more. The plan is to build in more technology to improve the proportion that can be automated, Vares said. That would include further investment in RPA, but also computer vision to better understand what a customer is looking to do, and how best to execute it.

Currently Fractory’s platform can help fill orders for laser cutting and metal folding services, including work like CNC machining, and it’s next looking at industrial additive 3D printing. It will also be looking at other materials like stonework and chip making.

Manufacturing is one of those industries that has in some ways been very slow to modernize, which in a way is not a huge surprise: equipment is heavy and expensive, and generally the maxim of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” applies in this world. That’s why companies that are building more intelligent software to at least run that legacy equipment more efficiently are finding some footing. Xometry, a bigger company out of the U.S. that also has built a bridge between manufacturers and companies that need things custom made, went public earlier this year and now has a market cap of over $3 billion. Others in the same space include Hubs (which is now part of Protolabs) and Qimtek, among others.

One selling point that Fractory has been pushing is that it generally aims to keep manufacturing local to the customer to reduce the logistics component of the work to reduce carbon emissions, although as the company grows it will be interesting to see how and if it adheres to that commitment.

In the meantime, investors believe that Fractory’s approach and fast growth are strong signs that it’s here to stay and make an impact in the industry.

“Fractory has created an enterprise software platform like no other in the manufacturing setting. Its rapid customer adoption is clear demonstrable feedback of the value that Fractory brings to manufacturing supply chains with technology to automate and digitise an ecosystem poised for innovation,” said Marcin Hejka in a statement. “We have invested in a great product and a talented group of software engineers, committed to developing a product and continuing with their formidable track record of rapid international growth

#3d-printing, #aerospace, #articles, #business, #cad, #economy, #emerging-technologies, #enterprise, #entrepreneurship, #estonia, #europe, #fractory, #funding, #hardware, #industrial-design, #laser, #manchester, #manufacturing, #maryland, #metal, #outsourcing, #series-a, #startup-company, #startup-wise-guys, #tc, #telecommuting, #united-angels-vc, #united-kingdom, #united-states, #xometry

Philadelphia Highway Flooded After Ida Moves Through

Tornadoes touched down in Maryland and in the Philadelphia suburbs. Rain-swollen rivers were still rising. Many were without power.

#floods, #hurricane-ida-2021, #maryland, #pennsylvania, #philadelphia-pa

Please stop adding more lanes to busy highways—it doesn’t help

The intersection of Interstates 10 and 610 in Houston, Texas, during evening rush hour.

Enlarge / The intersection of Interstates 10 and 610 in Houston, Texas, during evening rush hour. (credit: Getty Images)

You often hear people say that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. I bring this up because of an interesting—if infuriating—thread I read this morning about Texas’ plan to widen I-35 as it cuts through the heart of Austin.

Unsurprisingly, the state wants to build more lanes, which it thinks will ease congestion. At some points, this could leave I-35 as much as 20 lanes wide; this will require bulldozing dozens of businesses along the way. An alternative that would have buried 12 lanes of the highway in two levels of underground tunnels was apparently considered too costly.

But it would be wrong to single out this 8-mile proposal as an outlier. In Houston, the state plans to widen I-45 despite plenty of opposition, including from the Federal Highway Administration. And you don’t have to look far to see other state governments wanting to build new roads to reduce congestion.

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#atlanta, #austin, #cars, #chicago, #department-of-transportation, #georgia, #highway-planning, #houston, #i-270, #i-35, #i-45, #i-495, #illinois, #induced-demand, #maryland, #texas, #traffic

Amazon will pay you $10 in credit for your palm print biometrics

How much is your palm print worth? If you ask Amazon, it’s about $10 in promotional credit if you enroll your palm prints in its checkout-free stores and link it to your Amazon account.

Last year, Amazon introduced its new biometric palm print scanners, Amazon One, so customers can pay for goods in some stores by waving their palm prints over one of these scanners. By February, the company expanded its palm scanners to other Amazon grocery, book and 4-star stores across Seattle.

Amazon has since expanded its biometric scanning technology to its stores across the U.S., including New York, New Jersey, Maryland, and Texas.

The retail and cloud giant says its palm scanning hardware “captures the minute characteristics of your palm — both surface-area details like lines and ridges as well as subcutaneous features such as vein patterns — to create your palm signature,” which is then stored in the cloud and used to confirm your identity when you’re in one of its stores.

Amazon’s latest promotion: $10 promotional credit in exchange for your palm print. (Image: Amazon)

What’s Amazon doing with this data exactly? Your palm print on its own might not do much — though Amazon says it uses an unspecified “subset” of anonymous palm data to improve the technology. But by linking it to your Amazon account, Amazon can use the data it collects, like shopping history, to target ads, offers, and recommendations to you over time.

Amazon also says it stores palm data indefinitely, unless you choose to delete the data once there are no outstanding transactions left, or if you don’t use the feature for two years.

While the idea of contactlessly scanning your palm print to pay for goods during a pandemic might seem like a novel idea, it’s one to be met with caution and skepticism given Amazon’s past efforts in developing biometric technology. Amazon’s controversial facial recognition technology, which it historically sold to police and law enforcement, was the subject of lawsuits that allege the company violated state laws that bar the use of personal biometric data without permission.

“The dystopian future of science fiction is now. It’s horrifying that Amazon is asking people to sell their bodies, but it’s even worse that people are doing it for such a low price,” said Albert Fox Cahn, the executive director of the New York-based Surveillance Technology Oversight Project, in an email to TechCrunch.

“Biometric data is one of the only ways that companies and governments can track us permanently. You can change your name, you can change your Social Security number, but you can’t change your palm print. The more we normalize these tactics, the harder they will be coming to escape. If we don’t try to line in the sand here, I am very fearful what our future will look like,” said Cahn.

When reached, an Amazon spokesperson declined to comment.

#amazon, #amazon-music, #biometrics, #computing, #law-enforcement, #maryland, #new-jersey, #new-york, #palm, #privacy, #retail, #seattle, #security, #technology, #texas, #united-states

Four States Start Inquiries Into Recurring Donation Tactics of Both Parties

Letters to WinRed and ActBlue, which process online campaign donations for Republicans and Democrats respectively, ask for documents related to their use of prechecked boxes.

#actblue, #attorneys-general, #campaign-finance, #connecticut, #democratic-party, #ellison-keith, #james-letitia, #maryland, #minnesota, #new-york-state, #prechecked-boxes, #republican-party, #suits-and-litigation-civil, #united-states-politics-and-government, #winred

Emergent BioSolutions Faces Investor Revolt Over Botched Vaccines

In the latest shareholder lawsuit, a pension fund accused executives at Emergent BioSolutions of insider trading. The company, under investigation by Congress, has halted manufacturing of Covid-19 vaccines at its Baltimore factory at regulators’ request.

#baltimore-md, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #drugs-pharmaceuticals, #el-hibri-fuad, #emergent-biosolutions-inc, #factories-and-manufacturing, #johnsonjohnson, #maryland, #securities-and-commodities-violations, #shareholder-rights-and-activism, #stocks-and-bonds, #suits-and-litigation-civil, #vaccination-and-immunization

Biotech Company That Botched Vaccines Faces Investor Revolt

In the latest shareholder lawsuit, a pension fund accused executives at Emergent BioSolutions of insider trading. The company, under investigation by Congress, has halted manufacturing of Covid-19 vaccines at its Baltimore factory at regulators’ request.

#baltimore-md, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #drugs-pharmaceuticals, #el-hibri-fuad, #emergent-biosolutions-inc, #factories-and-manufacturing, #johnsonjohnson, #maryland, #securities-and-commodities-violations, #shareholder-rights-and-activism, #stocks-and-bonds, #suits-and-litigation-civil, #vaccination-and-immunization

Earthquake of 2.6 Magnitude Rattles Woodlawn, Md.

No damage or injuries were reported after the earthquake, which was detected on Friday afternoon near Woodlawn, in Baltimore County, Md.

#baltimore-md, #baltimore-county-md, #earthquakes, #maryland, #united-states-geological-survey, #woodlawn-md

College Baseball Pitcher, Sang Ho Baek, Dies After Tommy John Surgery

Sang Ho Baek, 20, “had been battling injuries throughout the season,” a teammate said, and underwent Tommy John surgery, a relatively common procedure for pitchers.

#baek-sang-ho-2001-21, #baseball, #deaths-obituaries, #george-mason-university, #interscholastic-athletics, #john-tommy, #maryland, #salisbury-md, #sports-injuries, #surgery-and-surgeons

Vaccine Maker Earned Record Profits but Delivered Disappointment in Return

Emergent BioSolutions was awarded a $628 million federal contract with no competitive bidding. Top executives received big bonuses while factories mostly sat idle and tens of millions of Covid-19 doses were thrown away.

#astrazeneca-plc, #baltimore-md, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #emergent-biosolutions-inc, #food-and-drug-administration, #gaithersburg-md, #government-contracts-and-procurement, #health-and-human-services-department, #johnsonjohnson, #kadlec-robert-p, #maryland, #michigan, #rockville-md, #trump-donald-j, #vaccination-and-immunization

Maryland and Montana are restricting police access to DNA databases

Maryland and Montana have become the first U.S. states to pass laws that make it tougher for law enforcement to access DNA databases.

The new laws, which aim to safeguard the genetic privacy of millions of Americans, focus on consumer DNA databases, such as 23andMe, Ancestry, GEDmatch and FamilyTreeDNA, all of which let people upload their genetic information and use it to connect with distant relatives and trace their family tree. While popular — 23andMe has more than three million users, and GEDmatch more than one million — many are unaware that some of these platforms share genetic data with third parties, from the pharmaceutical industry and scientists to law enforcement agencies.

When used by law enforcement through a technique known as forensic genetic genealogy searching (FGGS), officers can upload DNA evidence found at a crime scene to make connections on possible suspects, the most famous example being the identification of the Golden State Killer in 2018. This saw investigators upload a DNA sample taken at the time of a 1980 murder linked to the serial killer into GEDmatch and subsequently identify distant relatives of the suspect — a critical breakthrough that led to the arrest of Joseph James DeAngelo.

While law enforcement agencies have seen success in using consumer DNA databases to aid with criminal investigations, privacy advocates have long warned of the dangers of these platforms. Not only can these DNA profiles help trace distant ancestors, but the vast troves of genetic data they hold can divulge a person’s propensity for various diseases, predict addiction and drug response, and even be used by companies to create images of what they think a person looks like.

Ancestry and 23andMe have kept their genetic databases closed to law enforcement without a warrant, GEDmatch (which was acquired by a crime scene DNA company in December 2019) and FamilyTreeDNA have previously shared their database with investigators. 

To ensure the genetic privacy of the accused and their relatives, Maryland will, starting October 1, require law enforcement to get a judge’s sign-off before using genetic genealogy, and will limit its use to serious crimes like murder, kidnapping, and human trafficking. It also says that investigators can only use databases that explicitly tell users that their information could be used to investigate crimes. 

In Montana, where the new rules are somewhat narrower, law enforcement would need a warrant before using a DNA database unless the users waived their rights to privacy.

The laws “demonstrate that people across the political spectrum find law enforcement use of consumer genetic data chilling, concerning and privacy-invasive,” said Natalie Ram, a law professor at the University of Maryland. “I hope to see more states embrace robust regulation of this law enforcement technique in the future.”

The introduction of these laws has also been roundly welcomed by privacy advocates, including the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Jennifer Lynch, surveillance litigation director at the EFF, described the restrictions as a “step in the right direction,” but called for more states — and the federal government — to crack down further on FGGS.

“Our genetic data is too sensitive and important to leave it up to the whims of private companies to protect it and the unbridled discretion of law enforcement to search it,” Lynch said.

“Companies like GEDmatch and FamilyTreeDNA have allowed and even encouraged law enforcement searches. Because of this, law enforcement officers are increasingly accessing these databases in criminal investigations across the country.”

A spokesperson for 23andMe told TechCrunch: “We fully support legislation that provides consumers with stronger privacy protections. In fact we are working on legislation in a number of states to increase consumer genetic privacy protections. Customer privacy and transparency are core principles that guide 23andMe’s approach to responding to legal requests and maintaining customer trust. We closely scrutinize all law enforcement and regulatory requests and we will only comply with court orders, subpoenas, search warrants or other requests that we determine are legally valid. To date we have not released any customer information to law enforcement.”

GEDmatch and FamilyTreeDNA, both of which opt users into law enforcement searches by default, told the New York Times that they have no plans to change their existing policies around user consent in response to the new regulation. 

Ancestry did not immediately comment.

Read more:

#23andme, #ancestry, #dna, #electronic-frontier-foundation, #federal-government, #gedmatch, #genetics, #health, #judge, #law-enforcement, #maryland, #montana, #privacy, #security, #the-new-york-times, #united-states

Two New Laws Restrict Police Use of DNA Search Method

Maryland and Montana have passed the nation’s first laws limiting forensic genealogy, the method that found the Golden State Killer.

#dna-deoxyribonucleic-acid, #forensic-science, #genealogy, #genetics-and-heredity, #law-and-legislation, #maryland, #montana, #privacy, #your-feed-science

Ohio’s 53% vaccination surge tied to $1M lottery; NY and MD announce lotteries

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan stands next to a person dressed as a lottery ball during a press conference on May 20 announcing the state's VaxCash promotion.

Enlarge / Maryland Governor Larry Hogan stands next to a person dressed as a lottery ball during a press conference on May 20 announcing the state’s VaxCash promotion. (credit: Patrick Siebert)

The governors of New York and Maryland on Thursday each announced big cash lotteries to entice their residents to get vaccinated against COVID-19. The announcements came as westward-neighbor Ohio celebrated the success of its “Vax-a-Million” lottery campaign, which helped boost week-to-week vaccination numbers 53 percent.

The lotteries appear to be part of a growing trend of states and officials offering cash prizes or other incentives to combat slumping vaccination rates. The country’s seven-day average for daily vaccinations has dropped to around 1.8 million, down from a peak of nearly 3.4 million in mid-April.

In a White House COVID-19 press briefing Friday, Senior White House Advisor Andy Slavitt said that, based on the data the administration has seen, the lotteries “appear to be working.”

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#covid-19, #incentives, #infectious-disease, #lottery, #maryland, #new-york, #ohio, #pandemic, #public-health, #science, #vaccination

More funding flows into Pipe, as buzzy fintech raises $250M at a $2B valuation

At the end of March, TechCrunch reported that buzzy startup Pipe — which aims to be the “Nasdaq for revenue” — had raised $150 million in a round of funding that values the fintech at $2 billion.

Well, that deal has closed and in the end, Miami-based Pipe confirms that it has actually raised $250 million at a $2 billion valuation in a round that was “massively oversubscribed,” according to co-founder and co-CEO Harry Hurst.

“We had originally allocated $150 million for the round, but capped it at $250 million although we could have raised significantly more,” he told TechCrunch.

As we previously reported, Baltimore, Maryland-based Greenspring Associates led the round, which included participation from new investors Morgan Stanley’s Counterpoint Global, CreditEase FinTech Investment Fund, Horizon Capital, 3L and Japan’s SBI Investment. Existing backers such as Next47, Marc Benioff, Alexis Ohanian’s Seven Seven Six, MaC  Ventures and Republic also put money in the latest financing.

The investment comes about 2 ½ months after Pipe raised $50 million in “strategic equity funding” from a slew of high-profile investors such as Siemens’ Next47 and Jim Pallotta’s Raptor Group, Shopify, Slack, HubSpot, Okta and Social Capital’s Chamath Palihapitiya. With this latest round, Pipe has now raised about $316 million in total capital. The new funding was raised at “a significant step up in valuation” from the company’s last raise.

As a journalist who first covered Pipe when they raised $6 million in seed funding back in late February 2020, it’s been fascinating to watch the company’s rise. In fact, Pipe claims that its ability to achieve a $2 billion valuation in just under a year since its public launch in June of last year makes it the fastest fintech to reach this valuation in history. While I can’t substantiate that claim, I can say that its growth has indeed been swift and impressive.

Hurst, Josh Mangel and Zain Allarakhia founded Pipe in September 2019 with the mission of giving SaaS companies a way to get their revenue upfront, by pairing them with investors on a marketplace that pays a discounted rate for the annual value of those contracts. (Pipe describes its buy-side participants as “a vetted group of financial institutions and banks.”)

The goal of the platform is to offer companies with recurring revenue streams access to capital so they don’t dilute their ownership by accepting external capital or get forced to take out loans.

More than 4,000 companies have signed up on the Pipe trading platform since its public launch in June 2020, with just over 1,000 of those signing up since its March raise, according to Hurst. Tradable annual recurring revenue (ARR) on the Pipe platform is in excess of $1 billion and trending toward $2 billion, with tens of millions of dollars currently being traded every month. When I last talked to the company in March, it had reported tens of millions of dollars traded in all of the first quarter.

“Growth has been insane,” Hurst told TechCrunch. “This speaks to why we managed to raise at such a high valuation and attract so much investor interest.”

Image Credits: Pipe

Over time, Pipe’s platform has evolved to offer non-dilutive capital to non-SaaS companies as well. In fact, 25% of its customers are currently non-SaaS, according to Hurst — a number he expects to climb to over 50% by year’s end.

Examples of the types of businesses now using Pipe’s platform include property management companies, direct-to-consumer companies with subscription products, insurance brokerages, online pharmacies and even sports/entertainment-related organizations, Hurst said. Even VC firms are users.

“Any business with very predictable revenue streams is ripe for trading on our platform,” Hurst emphasizes. “We have unlocked the largest untapped asset class in the world.”

He emphasizes that what Pipe is offering is not debt or a loan.

“Other companies in this space are dealing in loans and they’re actually raising debt and giving companies money — like reselling debt,” Hurst said. “This is what differentiates us so massively.”

Pipe’s platform assesses a customer’s key metrics by integrating with its accounting, payment processing and banking systems. It then instantly rates the performance of the business and qualifies them for a trading limit. Trading limits currently range from $50,000 for smaller early-stage and bootstrapped companies to over $100 million for late-stage and publicly traded companies, although there is no cap on how large a trading limit can be.
Pipe has no cost of capital. Institutional investors compete against each other for deals on its platform. In return, Pipe charges both parties on each side of the transaction a fixed trading fee of up to 1%, depending on the volume.

The startup has been operating with a lean and mean strategy and has a current headcount of 34. Pipe plans to use its latest capital in part to double that number by year’s end.

“We haven’t actually spent a penny of our prior financing,” Hurst told TechCrunch. “But we’re seeing huge demand for the product globally, and across so many different verticals, so we’re going to use this capital to not only secure the future of business obviously but to continue to invest into growing all of these different verticals and kick off our global expansion.”

Image Credits: Pipe co-founder and co-CEO Harry Hurst / Pipe

Ashton Newhall, managing general partner of Greenspring Associates, described Pipe as “one of the fastest-growing companies” his firm has seen.

The startup, he added, is “addressing a very large TAM (total addressable market) with the potential to fundamentally shift the financial services landscape.”

In particular, Greenspring was drawn to Pipe’s alternative financing model.

“While there are many companies that service specific niches with traditional lending products, Pipe isn’t a lender,” Newhall told TechCrunch. “Rather, it’s a trading platform and does not actually raise any money to give to customers. Instead, Pipe connects customers directly with institutional investors to get the best possible pricing to trade their actual contracts in lieu of taking a loan.”

#alexis-ohanian, #baltimore, #chamath-palihapitiya, #creditease-fintech-investment-fund, #economy, #finance, #financial-technology, #fintech, #funding, #fundings-exits, #greenspring-associates, #hubspot, #japan, #mac-ventures, #marc-benioff, #maryland, #miami, #okta, #pipe, #raptor-group, #recent-funding, #saas, #sbi-investment, #shopify, #siemens, #social-capital, #startup, #startups, #venture-capital