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School board members defends health insurance benefit – Fairbanks Daily News

FAIRBANKS — The Fairbanks region has only one local legislative entity offering health insurance to its elected officials — the school board.

Other local legislative bodies long ago eliminated health insurance compensation for their members, many of whom work day jobs and serve part-time in public office. However, the school board has maintained its health insurance benefit. 

Most members of the Fairbanks school board said they collect health insurance benefits from the school district in exchange for their public service. 

The cost to the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District to provide school board members with health benefits is $65,653 for the current fiscal year, according to the district’s chief financial officer. 

Other large school districts in Alaska also offer health insurance benefits to school board members. Members of school boards in Anchorage, the Matanuska-Susitna Borough and the Kenai Peninsula Borough are offered health benefits, according to officials with those districts. 

Juneau school board members do not receive health insurance, according to Kristin Bartlett, chief of staff at the Juneau School District.

Timi Tullis, director of board development and field services for the Association of Alaska School Boards, said board compensation is a local control decision and that it varies from district to district.

There was a time when health insurance was widely offered to local leaders in the Fairbanks North Star Borough. 

Members of the Fairbanks City Council did away with their health benefits in the late 1980s, according to City Councilman Jerry Cleworth, a long-time city leader. He said the council voted to eliminate council member health coverage as a cost-cutting measure.

Members of the Borough Assembly were allowed heath insurance as a benefit until a narrow vote in 2003 ended the practice, with proponents arguing that it is inappropriate to provide health insurance for part-time public service.

Members of the North Pole City Council also do not get health insurance from the city. Jeff Jacobson, former North Pole mayor and councilman, said in an email that he does not recall health insurance ever being offered to council members.

So why do Fairbanks school board members get health insurance? 

The News-Miner contacted school board members to ask why they should receive health care benefits. Their answers varied.

Tim Doran, a new member of the school board, said he declined the health insurance because he has other coverage but that he thinks it’s a valuable benefit that helps attract candidates to run for school board.

“It broadens the pool, especially people who might be more economically challenged,” he said. “You want a broad spectrum of people to run and be part of municipal government. There are some people who would find it very difficult to do for economic reasons.”

Board member Wendy Dominique said she accepted the health care benefit from the school district for herself and her husband but that her primary health care coverage is through her job on Fort Wainwright.

Dominique pointed out that compensation of local leaders varies from institution to institution. The school board stipend of $400 a month is substantially less than the Borough Assembly stipend of $900 a month, she said. 

“We do just as many hours as they do,” she said. 

Heidi Haas, president of the school board, did not disclose whether she accepts the health care benefit. 

“I can’t speak to why the other bodies compensate their members differently but believe that each body has the right to make that decision, as is the same across the state,” Haas said in an email. “Some school boards in the state offer retirement and some pay nearly $40,000 a year for board service, so there doesn’t appear to be a standard.”

Sean Rice, another Fairbanks school board member, said he rarely uses the coverage provided by the district. He said he has other health insurance that is his primary coverage. 

“I just did a bunch of signing,” Rice said. “They didn’t give me the offer to decline.” 

Board member Thomas Bartels said he didn’t know that the school district offered health insurance to its board members until after he was elected. He accepted coverage for himself and his family, he said.

“This is something that has been a part of the policy since probably 30-35 years ago,” he said. “I don’t have an answer as to why … Every institution is allowed to make their own judgment as to what they feel and deem necessary.”

Allyson Lambert said she accepted health insurance coverage for herself and her family. She also did not know the history of how health insurance became a benefit for serving on the school board.

Board member Sharon McConnell could not be reached for comment.  

Contact staff writer Amanda Bohman at 459-7587. Follow her on Twitter: @FDNMborough.

Apple VP Greg Joswiak defends iPhone X notch as one of the company’s most impressive pieces of tech

While I personally find the iPhone X notch almost unnoticeable much of the time, and cute when it’s visible, others have been more critical. There have been complaints that it’s asymmetrical and un-Apple-like in its design, and even that it ‘ruins’ the display.

But Apple VP Greg Joswiak has defended it as one of the company’s most impressive technical achievements …


c69e9_screen-shot-2017-03-30-at-14-48-26 Apple VP Greg Joswiak defends iPhone X notch as one of the company's most impressive pieces of tech

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Quoted in Tom’s Guide, Joswiak said that the focus should be on everything it achieves.

With all of those components, this is one of the most densely packed technology areas I think we’ve ever done. It’s one of the most sophisticated pieces of technology we’ve ever done in such an incredibly small space.

Apple did, he said, take its usual approach to new technology – not trying to be first to market, but aiming to offer the best possible implementation. And while he may not have called out Samsung by name, it was obvious who he had in mind with one comment.

It doesn’t matter if you’re first to a general idea, it’s about being first to making it fantastic, and that’s what we try to do. Whether it’s the chip team working with our hardware team or our software team with our human interface team — it is one team here. No one else can match that […]

We had a line of sight on how to do real facial recognition, in a way never done before. It would be really hard to do, but we just didn’t want to do it the way others had, which could literally be spoofed with a picture.

Tom’s Guide picked the iPhone X as the overall winner in its 2017 Innovation Awards.

The iPhone X isn’t the first phone to integrate technologies like OLED or facial recognition — it simply executes those features better than the competition. At the same time, the processor inside the iPhone X is miles ahead of anything from the Android camp.

There are three advancements — the Super Retina Display, Face ID and the A11 Bionic chip — that combine to make Apple’s flagship the most innovative product of the year.

Face ID did hit one glitch, with the release of iOS 11.2, some owners reporting a message that the iPhone X was unable to activate the feature. Fortunately, a simple reboot fixed it.

Read the rest of this page »

Nadine Dorries defends approach to cyber-security after admitting sharing computer passwords with staff

Conservative MP Nadine Dorries has been forced to defend her approach to cyber-security after she revealed she routinely shares her login passwords with all her staff, including interns.

The backbencher took to Twitter to defend her colleague Damien Green, who has been accused of having pornography on his Commons computer. 

She said a retired police officer’s claim that Mr Green must have been responsible for material found on his machine, was “utterly preposterous”. 

“My staff log onto my computer on my desk with my login everyday. Including interns on exchange programmes,” she said. 

She faced a backlash from Twitter users, with users accusing her of being “cavalier” or “careless”, and one asking: “Does anyone know who’s supposed to be in charge of data security for the UK Parliament? Because they have some explaining to do.”

Data protection officer Carl Gottlieb told Sky News: “Sharing access to confidential systems should always be minimised, especially in Government where security and audit trails are paramount. MPs and the civil service have a track record of lax practices around sharing passwords and this needs to change.

”MPs, like many senior managers, have team around them that act as a bubble of trust. Interns are trusted to handle their email and social media accounts on a daily basis.”

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The Mid Bedfordshire MP hit back, saying that she does not have access to sensitive government documents because she is not a minister. 

She said: “I’m a backbench MP with four staff working on two computers. I don’t get top secret emails from government.”

A Cabinet Office Inquiry is examining the claims from two retired detectives that a vast quantity of “extreme” pornography was found on Mr Green’s parliamentary computer in 2008. 

Mr Green, who as first secretary of state is effectively Theresa May’s deputy, has also been accused of behaving inappropriately towards a young Conservative activist, Kate Maltby, which he denies.

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China defends state control over internet at technology forum

China defends state control over internet at technology forum

Microsoft defends Windows 10 against ASLR criticism – Naked …

Is it a bug or a feature? It’s one of the oldest debates in software.

Earlier this month the OS world was treated to the latest instalment, this time focusing on the way Microsoft implemented a low-level security protection called Address Space Layout Randomization (ASLR) in Windows 8 and 10.

On one side of the argument is Will Dormann, an engineer with Carnegie Mellon University’s CERT Coordination Center (CERT/CC), the body tasked by the US Department of Homeland Security with handing out important security advice.

His opening salvo was a tweet on 16 November in which he described the way Windows implements ASLR as “essentially making it worthless.”

Ouch.

In case anyone was in doubt, this was followed by an official vulnerability alert describing the claimed failings in detail. The summary being:

Windows 8 and later fail to properly randomize every application if system-wide mandatory ASLR is enabled via EMET [Enhanced Mitigation Experience Toolkit] or Windows Defender Exploit Guard [WDEG].

Stung, within days Microsoft put out a refutation stating that “ASLR is working as intended.”

That’s a significant difference of opinion, so who is right?

Let’s skip to the paradox of a punchline: they both might be, albeit within different frames of reference.

The theory behind ASLR (also used in different forms by Linux, Android, iOS and macOS) is to randomise the memory locations where executable programs and DLLs run in order to deter memory attacks such as buffer overflows.

The gist is that attackers can’t assume they know the memory location for a targeted processes because Windows could have put it anywhere.

Except, according to Dormann, it doesn’t work properly:

Both EMET and Windows Defender Exploit Guard enable system-wide ASLR without also enabling system-wide bottom-up ASLR … The result of this is that such programs will be relocated, but to the same address every time across reboots and even across different systems.

Microsoft asserts that this is by design and is intended to allow older software not compiled to support ASLR to remain compatible:

ASLR is working as intended and the configuration issue described by CERT/CC only affects applications where the EXE does not already opt-in to ASLR.

That “opt-in” is the /DYNAMICBASE flag which software can use to indicate to Windows that it’s compatible with ASLR (and the operating system can infer that if the flag is missing the software may not work correctly under ASLR).

Windows can treat applications that don’t “opt-in” in a number of different ways. It can leave them to determine their own memory location, move them to a different but non-random location (the behaviour observed by Dormann) or move them to a random location using a setting called mandatory ASLR and bottom-up randomization.

The CERT advisory also notes a problem in the way Windows Defender Exploit Guard implements mandatory ASLR and bottom-up randomization, a point Microsoft concedes:

CERT/CC did identify an issue with the configuration interface of Windows Defender Exploit Guard (WDEG) that currently prevents system-wide enablement of bottom-up randomization. The WDEG team is actively investigating this and will address the issue accordingly.

On the Windows 10 Fall Creators update, the issue can be mitigated manually by setting a registry value.

Neutrals might at this point be wondering what all the fuss is about: ASLR works most of the time as advertised, and the few occasions when it doesn’t won’t apply to many users.

If you like, Microsoft thought it was pragmatically ensuring compatibility (a feature) which Dormann interprets as an area of potential weakness (the bug).

It’s not the first time Dormann has taken a pop at Windows’ security: a year ago, his beef was Microsoft’s plans to drop EMET, now replaced in Windows 10 by WDEG.

Or perhaps the real issue is what users are supposed to make of a back and forth now so technically specialised that even some experts can’t keep up with its finer points.

OS security has been getting more complex with every passing year. It shouldn’t surprise us that the same is happening to arguments about whether these new layers inside Windows and its rivals are up to the job.


Microsoft defends Windows 10 against ASLR criticism

Is it a bug or a feature? It’s one of the oldest debates in software.

Earlier this month the OS world was treated to the latest instalment, this time focusing on the way Microsoft implemented a low-level security protection called Address Space Layout Randomization (ASLR) in Windows 8 and 10.

On one side of the argument is Will Dormann, an engineer with Carnegie Mellon University’s CERT Coordination Center (CERT/CC), the body tasked by the US Department of Homeland Security with handing out important security advice.

His opening salvo was a tweet on 16 November in which he described the way Windows implements ASLR as “essentially making it worthless.”

Ouch.

In case anyone was in doubt, this was followed by an official vulnerability alert describing the claimed failings in detail. The summary being:

Windows 8 and later fail to properly randomize every application if system-wide mandatory ASLR is enabled via EMET [Enhanced Mitigation Experience Toolkit] or Windows Defender Exploit Guard [WDEG].

Stung, within days Microsoft put out a refutation stating that “ASLR is working as intended.”

That’s a significant difference of opinion, so who is right?

Let’s skip to the paradox of a punchline: they both might be, albeit within different frames of reference.

The theory behind ASLR (also used in different forms by Linux, Android, iOS and macOS) is to randomise the memory locations where executable programs and DLLs run in order to deter memory attacks such as buffer overflows.

The gist is that attackers can’t assume they know the memory location for a targeted processes because Windows could have put it anywhere.

Except, according to Dormann, it doesn’t work properly:

Both EMET and Windows Defender Exploit Guard enable system-wide ASLR without also enabling system-wide bottom-up ASLR … The result of this is that such programs will be relocated, but to the same address every time across reboots and even across different systems.

Microsoft asserts that this is by design and is intended to allow older software not compiled to support ASLR to remain compatible:

ASLR is working as intended and the configuration issue described by CERT/CC only affects applications where the EXE does not already opt-in to ASLR.

That “opt-in” is the /DYNAMICBASE flag which software can use to indicate to Windows that it’s compatible with ASLR (and the operating system can infer that if the flag is missing the software may not work correctly under ASLR).

Windows can treat applications that don’t “opt-in” in a number of different ways. It can leave them to determine their own memory location, move them to a different but non-random location (the behaviour observed by Dormann) or move them to a random location using a setting called mandatory ASLR and bottom-up randomization.

The CERT advisory also notes a problem in the way Windows Defender Exploit Guard implements mandatory ASLR and bottom-up randomization, a point Microsoft concedes:

CERT/CC did identify an issue with the configuration interface of Windows Defender Exploit Guard (WDEG) that currently prevents system-wide enablement of bottom-up randomization. The WDEG team is actively investigating this and will address the issue accordingly.

On the Windows 10 Fall Creators update, the issue can be mitigated manually by setting a registry value.

Neutrals might at this point be wondering what all the fuss is about: ASLR works most of the time as advertised, and the few occasions when it doesn’t won’t apply to many users.

If you like, Microsoft thought it was pragmatically ensuring compatibility (a feature) which Dormann interprets as an area of potential weakness (the bug).

It’s not the first time Dormann has taken a pop at Windows’ security: a year ago, his beef was Microsoft’s plans to drop EMET, now replaced in Windows 10 by WDEG.

Or perhaps the real issue is what users are supposed to make of a back and forth now so technically specialised that even some experts can’t keep up with its finer points.

OS security has been getting more complex with every passing year. It shouldn’t surprise us that the same is happening to arguments about whether these new layers inside Windows and its rivals are up to the job.


‘Stranger Things’ Barb defends Finn Wolfhard with a few, very real tweets

Justice for Barb was so 2016—now, it’s all about justice from Barb.

Stranger Things actress Shannon Purser (who played Season 1’s Barb, the breakout character with a cult-like following) came to the defense of co-star Finn Wolfhard on Saturday afternoon after fans of Wolfhard circulated a video of themselves waiting outside the 14-year-old’s hotel. 

Wolfhard did not stop to say hi to the Stranger Things stans when he entered and exited the hotel, which resulted in them tweeting about how he was “heartless.” Purser jumped straight to his defense in a Twitter thread, rationalizing his actions by sharing her own experiences and delivering some piping hot knowledge to his fans. 

“Okay, no,” she started. “No actor is under any obligation to stop for anyone. Finn is an incredibly kind human. But he’s human and needs breaks too.” 

“I experience this on a significantly smaller scale, obviously, but I’ve had people waiting for me in hotel lobbies, at my airport gate, etc.,” she tweeted, explaining that as an adult, she “can’t imagine being inundated with all this attention at his age.”

“They give you their art. They love their fans,” she continued. “Don’t take advantage of that. And if you can’t handle them needing space, stay away.”

Preach, Barb!

330f9_https%253A%252F%252Fblueprint-api-production.s3.amazonaws.com%252Fuploads%252Fcard%252Fimage%252F641649%252F41b31932-b4fc-4f05-8a26-d8902fc5b111 'Stranger Things' Barb defends Finn Wolfhard with a few, very real tweets

Image: GIPHY

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