‘On Like Donkey Kong’: How a Dubious Super PAC Boosted a Questionable Penny Stock

first_imgSign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York By Robert Faturechi and Derek Willis, ProPublicaA little more than a year ago, Hillary Clinton’s imminent entry into the race for the Democratic presidential nomination was setting off political and financial ripples around the country. One of the most unlikely was a spike in the stock price of an obscure Las Vegas company that once built tables for beer pong.The company, CrossClick Media, had been issuing press releases for months, saying it had won a contract to run call centers and other services for a super PAC called Voters for Hillary. Getting hired by the PAC was “a milestone” for CrossClick and would lead to growing revenue “predicated largely on Ms. Clinton becoming a Presidential candidate and the Company pursuing other clients for our services,” the firm’s chief executive had declared in December 2014.Excited posts about CrossClick’s bright future started filling Internet message boards popular with investors in so-called penny stocks, which, like CrossClick, trade for less than five dollars per share.“Soon the 1st lady announces her candidacy and it’s on like Donkey Kong,” read a comment posted March 28, 2015, on a site called InvestorsHub. “Hope you have some shares :)”Days after Clinton announced, a person with the same user name wrote, “We are in the midst of our biggest gain day yet. You’re close to changing your life, so hang tight! XCLK is the new hot riser!”CrossClick’s stock (listed as XCLK on the over-the-counter market) was indeed rising. By May 6 it had shot up about twelve-fold from where it had been hovering. Tens of millions of shares traded hands on some days, meaning anyone who sold at the peak could have made tens of thousands of dollars in profits.It appeared to be a big success. But a closer look at the company and the PAC suggests a different story. Operating in lightly regulated areas of Wall Street and politics, the two entities were closely entwined and their finances weren’t what they seemed.CrossClick’s shares have sunk back to being nearly worthless, and one of its executives recently described it as insolvent in court records. Meantime, federal campaign reports indicate that Voters for Hillary has spent no money supporting Clinton, or any other candidate for that matter. The great majority of the approximately $500,000 it raised before Clinton announced came in the form of loans, not donations, most of it from registered Republicans. A review of the PAC’s finances shows it flouted federal campaign finance rules and that some of its lenders or their spouses have faced allegations of securities fraud.The links between the company and the PAC show up in financial and political filings. The woman who effectively controls CrossClick is married to the head of the PAC. The PAC’s treasurer is the managing member of a firm that had been another major CrossClick shareholder of the company.It’s unknown who, if anyone, sold CrossClick’s stock at a profit during the spike in its price. Such trades are generally not public unless made by a senior officer or someone with 10 percent of all shares. CrossClick’s latest disclosures contain no such notice. The company has made no filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission since November, and its last annual report covered the period ending in December 2014. Kurt Kramarenko, the CEO, didn’t respond to messages left at numbers associated with him.Milton Ault III, the chairman of the board for the PAC, said in an interview that the political group wasn’t set up for the purpose of boosting CrossClick’s stock. Ault said he helped establish the PAC — created in 2014 as the Foundation for a Greater America — because he wanted to expand access to health care and help get Clinton elected. He acknowledged the PAC failed to effectively spend money in support of the former Secretary of State’s campaign.Ault said the PAC hired CrossClick to assist a company that was developing call centers to back Democrats.“I know the people who run it and I wanted to see them successful,” Ault said. “What’s wrong with that?”As a super PAC, Voters for Hillary came under less-stringent federal regulations than other types of political committees. The Supreme Court’s landmark 2010 Citizens United decision paved the way for such groups, which must disclose their donors but, unlike candidates and regular PACs, can accept contributions of unlimited amounts.Similarly, penny stocks are highly speculative investments that don’t have the same disclosure requirements of larger companies traded on major stock exchanges. In some instances, U.S. officials have accused brokers and others of taking steps to artificially boost penny-stock prices, then selling out and leaving fellow investors holding the bag when share prices plummet, a gambit known as pump-and-dump.Christine Parlour, a business school professor for the University of California at Berkeley, who reviewed the CrossClick filings at ProPublica’s request, said the company’s activities are “really, really, really dubious.” She said CrossClick has “absolutely no revenue and no business plan. They’re shuffling paper around.”Sam Antar, who became a Manhattan-based securities fraud expert after being convicted in the 1990s in connection with a stock market scheme, said the strategy was novel.“I have never seen anything like that,” Antar said. “I’ve never seen a super PAC used to promote a penny stock.”Billions of SharesCrossClick first sold stock to the public in 2010 under its then-name of Southern Products Inc. It segued from beer-pong tables to other sectors, including consumer electronics, before announcing its deal to provide Voters for Hillary with call center services in late 2014.The company had about 170 million shares outstanding in mid-2014, trading at a price as low as a hundredth of a cent. The number of outstanding shares grew as the political season began, increasing to 2.6 billion by the end of April 2015.Records show the PAC paid the company close to $73,000 in all. But they also show that in the months after Clinton announced her candidacy CrossClick paid roughly the same amount back to the PAC.Asked by ProPublica to review the filings, Antar, the securities fraud expert, said they were “disturbing to say the least.” He added, “You don’t pay someone to pay you back. It’s what we call a round-trip transaction.”The controlling shareholder of CrossClick is Carson City, Nevada-based Mckea Holdings, according to CrossClick’s filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The managing member of Mckea Holdings is Kristine Ault, wife of the PAC’s chair, Milton Ault.Ault said his wife’s company didn’t sell any of its shares in CrossClick and that the Aults lost money on their investment in the company.Another major shareholder of the company had been Finiks Capital LLC, a Newport Beach, California-based firm whose managing member is James Hodgins, an SEC filing shows. Hodgins’ LinkedIn page also describes him as a general partner of Mckea Holdings.Finiks and Hodgins also had multiple ties to Voters for Hillary. Hodgins was listed in FEC filings as the super PAC’s treasurer. Finiks provided $6,500 in seed money to the PAC. Then, before Clinton formally entered the race, the PAC loaned Hodgins’ firm $242,000 to be invested in small-cap equities, the PAC told the FEC. No rules prevent a PAC from making such a loan.Most of the money was loaned in November 2014, but the group did not disclose the loans to the FEC during the reporting period in which they occurred, as required by law. Instead, they were disclosed months later, in an amended report filed soon after Clinton announced and CrossClick’s stock was showing signs of life. The PAC has not filed required financial disclosure forms since July 2015, so it’s not known if those loans have been paid back.The loans that Voters for Hillary gave to Finiks represented more than a third of the money the PAC had collected.Hodgins could not be reached for comment.One of the principal lenders to Voters for Hillary was Judson Church, a New Jersey investor who gave $250,000 to “provide liquidity during pre announce for Hillary,” according to FEC filings. A public records database shows Church has registered before as a Republican. He could not be reached for comment.Another loan, for $200,000, came from Mary Coons, who is identified in FEC records as a student and housewife in Hartford. A public records database also lists her as a registered Republican. Her husband is William Coons III, a stockbroker who the SEC once described as playing an integral role in a market manipulation scheme in which a stock was pumped up with false publicity, then sold to the public for inflated prices.Ault confirmed that William Coons is Mary Coons’ husband, and pointed out that the SEC case against William Coons was dropped. Executives at the company involved settled with the government without admitting wrongdoing in 2007.In 2009, allegations that William Coons made material misrepresentations to a client led to a $925,000 settlement. More recently, he was temporarily suspended by the self-regulating body for securities brokers over allegations that he sold $2 million in promissory notes after overstating the financial health of their issuer, records show. Neither Coons could be reached for comment.Another lender was Kyleen Cane, a Nevada attorney who provided $10,700, paying for one of the PAC’s early expenses directly on her credit card. Cane was charged in a federal indictment unsealed in Brooklyn, N.Y., last year relating to allegations that she was involved in a $300 million pump-and-dump scheme that left elderly investors with worthless shares. Federal authorities have alleged that the defendants in the case, which is ongoing, concealed their ownership interests, released false press releases and issued misleading SEC filings.Cane declined to comment through her attorney, who said his client denied the allegations in the indictment.‘I Have People I Call’Candidates sometimes lend money to their own political committees, but super PACs are typically funded by big contributions from wealthy donors who don’t expect the money back. A ProPublica analysis of FEC filings found that no other super PAC has received more in loans or has relied on loans for such a large percentage of its revenue. Only five PACs active during the 2016 cycle have received six figures in loans, and Voters for Hillary is the only one to already begin repaying them. It’s also rare for super PACs to make loans.Ault said the PAC’s lenders were either Clinton backers, or simply looking to profit from the interest rates the committee agreed to, which were as high as 18 percent. “I’ve been on Wall Street for a long time. If I want to raise money, I have people I call and they know people,” he said.In 2012, Ault faced allegations that he made transactions in customer accounts without the customers’ consent or knowledge. The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, the independent self-regulating body for securities brokers, fined him $75,000, suspended him for two years from associating with members of the organization and ordered him to pay more than $300,000 in restitution to investors.Gary Gottlieb, a CrossClick executive, said Ault’s wife’s company became a controlling shareholder in October 2014, at which time Ault, who had been consulting for the company, pitched the idea of entering into a major deal with the PAC. He said the press releases touting the contract were not intended to boost the stock.“I really never have and didn’t much care for the stock price,” he said. “It really didn’t play for the most part into how we ran the business. We were interested in generating revenue…We were a real company, we wanted to expand.”He could not explain why his company paid money back to the PAC after Clinton announced, as reported in FEC filings.The FEC has come under fire for what some critics call its weak oversight of super PACs. In this case, the FEC fined Voters for Hillary $9,800 for one of its blown deadlines, but public filings reveal no action for other missed filings, omissions and oddities. The FEC caught the initially unreported loans to Finiks and demanded an explanation, but the PAC never responded and FEC records show no follow up so far.Another potential problem for the group is that it does fundraising under the name Voters for Hillary. Super PACs cannot coordinate with candidates’ campaigns; speaking generally, Judith Ingram, a spokeswoman for the FEC, said independent political committees are barred from using candidates’ names, except under a few special conditions.None of those conditions apply to Voters for Hillary. Brian Fallon, a spokesman for the Hillary Clinton campaign, didn’t respond to a request for comment on the PAC.There’s no sign the movements of CrossClick’s stock have drawn regulators’ attention. Kevin Callahan, a spokesman for the SEC, which has filed lawsuits in pump and dump cases, declined to comment on CrossClick.One stockholder, KBM Worldwide, has filed a lawsuit alleging the company manipulated its share price. According to SEC filings, KBM, a Great Neck, N.Y., firm that invests in small public companies traded over-the-counter, essentially lent CrossClick money in exchange for shares. In its lawsuit, KBM claims CrossClick manipulated its stock price to avoid repaying the loan. Ault called the lawsuit baseless.Other investors have gone to CrossClick’s Facebook page or investor message boards to complain about the company.“Thank you for the tax write off of 2015,” wrote one, presumably referring to his lost investment. “Enjoy our cash!!!”Gottlieb, the CrossClick executive, said he had no idea who might have profited by selling the company’s stock last year following publicity about its deal with the PAC.“It’s the marketplace, dude,” he said.ProPublica is a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative newsroom. Sign up for their newsletter.last_img read more

Winston Crisp is no stranger to the job

first_imgWinston Crisp previously served as vice chancellor for student affairs at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. ( Andrea Diaz | Daily Trojan) “I don’t know anybody who can be truly successful by themselves, not in this world,” Crisp said. “And I think people who need to tell you that they are solely responsible for their success and the whole, ‘I pulled myself up by my bootstraps,’ I don’t subscribe to that. I think nobody gets anywhere without help.” As he settles into his role at USC, Crisp said he will likely deal with the same issues that face many college students: mental health, safety and relationship struggles. He’ll continue to meet with students, faculty and staff across campus to learn about the specific issues he can address at USC.  HEALTH AND SAFETY AT THE FOREFRONT While she felt other UNC administrators struggled to listen to students, 2019 graduate Sarah Lundgren said Crisp seemed sincere in his efforts to help students feel heard. After student government leaders voted in 2017 to split into separate bodies representing undergraduate and graduate students, Crisp stepped in to help facilitate the change.  But mental health became a focus of Crisp’s career over the past two decades. When he started his career in student affairs at the UNC School of Law, Crisp and his department worked with a student who had significant mental health challenges and saw him start to improve. Then in 1995, the student, Wendell Williamson, went off of his medication and shot two people: a student and a fellow Chapel Hill resident. Williamson was later found not guilty by way of insanity. “For a lot of people, when you come to college for the first time in your life, you’re surrounded by people who are all pretty much just as smart as you are,” Crisp said. “And then you start looking around at what they’re doing … And I had this panic that I’m doing it wrong.” In 2018, Crisp created a Mental Health Task Force at UNC that released a report the year following his retirement recommending nearly 60 changes related to Chapel Hill’s wellness and climate; identification, treatment and ongoing support and academic policies.  Another mentor, the dean of UNC School of Law, told Crisp he should consider pursuing education just as he was finishing up his law degree with plans to join the military. She contacted Crisp’s father as well as the colonel to stop him. After the statue was uprooted, Crisp texted, “Whew. What a mess. Won’t be texting. You be very careful with text and email also. Call if you need.” “What it really did is in a tangible way affirm to people that he was sincere and authentic in saying that he cares about the well-being of our students,” Sauls said. Lundgren, who worked as the digital managing editor for The Daily Tar Heel her senior year, said the administration seemed reactionary and closed off after the Silent Sam incident.  These two incidents helped define Crisp’s career and solidify his focus on campus wellness and safety. If community members don’t feel healthy and safe, he said they’ll never be able to focus on the academic and personal growth that mark the college experience. But once he stepped foot onto campus, Crisp said that he fell into assumptions about what college life would entail. He recalls thinking students were required to wear suits and ties to their classes. All of what he expected from the college environment stemmed from movies and books.  While he was in retirement after leaving UNC, Crisp told Folt he wanted to return to education and student affairs. In the coming months, Folt accepted her position at USC, former Vice President for Student Affairs Ainsley Carry announced his resignation and Crisp applied for and accepted the job. As part of Folt’s plan to create a more student-led presidency, she included Crisp in her cabinet along with other key administrators, like the heads of finance and human resources, who will help advise her decisions.  “I spent a lot of time learning about grief and learning about how to move forward and learning about how to move populations forward,” Crisp said. “And I never expected to have that happen, and I never would have dreamed in a million years that it would happen.” “I felt like sometimes that I showed up like a month after everybody,” Crisp said. “Because … everyone had the whole college thing down, and their parents had been there. They had been shopping . . . and I’m looking at people’s residence hall rooms, and I showed up with one military footlocker and a military duffel bag because that’s all I owned.” The turning point in Crisp’s education came from the relationships he developed with various mentors. At first, he hated one of his professors, who gave him C’s and told him she was grading him based on what he was capable of doing and didn’t do. In other words, Crisp said she was calling him lazy and that he was doing “just enough to break the curve.” But looking back, Crisp said she was one of his greatest influences because she refused to let him settle for anything less. Crisp’s family ingrained in him a deep respect for education, and he said he always knew he would go to college. His grandfather told him about generations of his family who had worked hard so that he could get an education, and Crisp’s parents made sure he maintained straight A’s before he stepped on a sports field as a student-athlete.  Crisp was also appointed the              co-chair of the Chancellor’s Task Force on UNC History in 2015. Folt created the task force to reckon with the school’s past, both in terms of its contributions to society and its relation to issues of race, class and privilege.  “I am not the kind that comes in and just immediately starts,” Crisp said. “This is a great place with wonderful people so far, who all have a desire to see the place rise and to be better and to treat folks, and I’m trying to figure out how to best apply myself and my talents to make that better. And it’s going to take a little bit of time to learn.” The Daily Tar Heel reported on texts and emails obtained by WRAL, a local publication, revealing Crisp’s position on the statue’s controversy before it was taken down. In the texts, UNC Chief of Staff for Student Affairs Christi Hurt texted Crisp, “You think they’re gonna take that thing down?” to which Crisp responded, “One can hope.”  Jonathan Sauls, who worked in student affairs with Crisp at UNC for 14 years, said Crisp often gave out his phone number to the thousands of families in each incoming class when welcoming new students and parents to Chapel Hill. Sauls said that at a graduation ceremony last December, Folt commented on Crisp giving his number to so many families, and one mother stood up and yelled back, “Yep, still have your card, still have your number.” Sauls said that even years after graduating, students would check in with Crisp on their visits back to campus.  Crisp said he has tried to be consistent in his values over the course of his career, and his values always began with the health and safety of the students. center_img Crisp often met with student organizations and leaders to discuss issues on campus, but Sauls said Crisp also made time to talk with and mentor students to give career advice or help students dealing with barriers to education — even inviting them into the office after the workday had ended.  Crisp’s college experience was marked by the fear that he was not supposed to be there — a sentiment he compared to imposter syndrome — and that he was going to be thrown out of school if he did anything wrong.  At 2 a.m. on his first night of college, then-freshman Winston Crisp jerked awake to the sound of the fire alarm blaring. He sprang from his bed, scrambling to gather his thoughts as he rushed out of his dorm. After all, where he grew up, the fire alarm always signaled an emergency. For others, Folt said the phrase “student-centered” may seem like a buzzword, but at UNC, she watched Crisp put that term into action through his efforts to get to know students and parents and work on efforts to cultivate a better campus and community. It soon became clear which path Crisp would choose after taking his first biology class. When his class did frog dissections, he hid behind his lab partner and peered over her every so often as she cut through the cadaver. He immediately scratched med school off the list and set his sights on becoming an attorney. But as he got older, Crisp said he was not sure how much of that dream was his and how much of it was his family’s — another aspect of being a first-generation student, he said. And with that mentorship, Crisp changed his plans entirely, beginning his career as an educator at UNC.  When it came time to apply to college, he wasn’t sure how his family would afford the expense, but Johnson C. Smith University, a small HBCU in Charlotte, N.C. — a place he said was where “folks who didn’t necessarily have access could gain access” — and later the UNC School of Law offered him the scholarship money he needed. “When your entire family is pointed toward achieving something, how do you separate your own desires from [theirs]?” Crisp said. “But I had another desire, and I had another love that I was discovering. And that was education.” “When you have so much angst and anxiety and anger and fear … that it’s taken up the kind of time and energy and effort, and it becomes the central defining character of a place, then that place is not … discovering knowledge, educating and teaching people,” Crisp said. “My attitude was, ‘This [statue] is detrimental.’” “My philosophy is very simple, and you will get tired of me saying it: Every single student that comes to this University without regard to what adjective goes in front of the name is supposed to get the same shot at figuring this out,” Crisp said. “And if you aren’t healthy, if you’re not safe, if you don’t feel welcome, if you don’t feel like you have access to the same room, then that stuff is not going to happen.” According to Crisp, Silent Sam, an 8-foot commemorative statue of a Confederate soldier that marked the entrance of the UNC campus for more than a century, created a health and safety issue among students. The statue sparked decades of protests, but with the support of conservative alumni and state legislators, Silent Sam stood standing until August 2018, when it was toppled by protestors. In January, Folt, who was then the UNC chancellor, removed the remnants of the statue before announcing her official departure from the university. But with his college experience came insight that Crisp said he has carried to all the communities he’s served. After 26 years working in various student affairs positions at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Crisp followed President Carol Folt to USC as vice president for student affairs, officially beginning his position Aug. 16. Since then, Crisp said he has been meeting with various members of the University community and listening to their concerns. “People were laughing at me, and I’ll never forget,” Crisp said. “I mean, it seems like a really dumb thing, but the notion that people just ignored stuff like that routinely . . . so I was always taking stuff seriously.” “I’m not saying that that was Winston Crisp, but more so UNC administration in general,” she said. “I wouldn’t necessarily call that his mistake, but I would say in the administration he was part of, that was definitely the most notable problem.”  “I thought she was just completely derailing my life because I had a plan,” Crisp said. “I had a plan, and I was ready for my plan. … [But] the colonel told me at one point, ‘If you don’t take that job, I’m going to rescind your commission offer because you’re too young and stupid to understand what a gift you’re being handed.’” LOOKING BACK ON UNC As he exited his dorm, Crisp realized that he was the only resident outside. There he found the residence hall director, who told him the incident was only a fire drill.  The shooting shocked the UNC community and the nation, and at first Crisp wondered if he had failed or allowed the incident to happen. As lawsuits and trials followed, Crisp said he watched conversations on mental health unfold at more universities and saw a change in how colleges and health centers approached their relationships with students. When a gunman opened fire at Virginia Tech in 2007, leaving 32 people dead, presidents and vice presidents from ACC schools met to see how they could help the school move forward. Because Crisp had dealt with trauma on a campus before, he was sent to VT to help faculty and staff recover and rebuild as they prepared for an incoming class of students.  “His contributions were to create a loving presence,” Folt said. “Even when there were things [students] didn’t like, they would have turned to him and say he was really important for us.” TURNING TO EDUCATION Growing up, Crisp thought there were only two career paths he could follow to be successful: medicine and law. “I also don’t think I’m going to be reinventing any wheels,” Crisp said. “I think there’s probably good work, and good people, from students all the way up who are already engaged in all of these things. My job is to figure out how can I integrate with that and facilitate and help and figure that out, and it’ll take a while to do that.”last_img read more

Warriors Report: Damian Jones staying ‘positive’ through rehab

first_imgOAKLAND – The Warriors wrapped up practice Sunday afternoon in preparation for Monday’s matchup against the Timberwolves.Here’s everything you need to know from the session.Damian Jones speaks Jones spoke to the media for the first time since tearing his pectoral muscle last week and said he staying positive despite suffering a potentially season-ending injury.“I try and look at the positives on … (CLICK HERE, if you are unable to view this photo gallery on your mobile device.)last_img

Effort to halt WOTUS failed in the Senate

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest In early November, the Senate failed to pass S. 1140, the Federal Water Quality Protection Act, that would have halted the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Army Corps of Engineer’s Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule. The Senate voted 57-41, falling short of the necessary 60 votes to repeal WOTUS.A broad coalition of agricultural organizations strongly oppose WOTUS and supported S. 1140.“America’s farmers and ranchers care deeply about clean water, and we are committed to protecting it for future generations. But this rule is not based on science or law, does not clarify farmers’ responsibilities under the Clean Water Act and will not improve water quality,” said Chip Bowling, president of the National Corn Growers Association. “We supported S. 1140 because we believe the EPA, the Corps, farmers and other stakeholders must collaborate on a better rule we can all get behind. While that bill did not pass, we appreciate the Senate’s actions today, and we remain hopeful that cooperation and dialogue can win the day. We have been engaged with EPA from the beginning and our door remains open. Let’s work together on a better rule that will give farmers the certainty they need while protecting America’s water resources.”The bill sponsored by Sens. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., and Joe Donnelley, D-Ind. would have repealed the “Waters of the United States” (WOTUS) rule promulgated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. It also would give those agencies specific instructions and a deadline for rewriting the rule, which is supposed to clarify their authority under the Clean Water Act over various waters.That jurisdiction did include “navigable” waters and waters with a significant hydrologic connection to navigable waters, but the rule broadened that to include, among other water bodies, upstream waters and intermittent and ephemeral streams such as the kind farmers use for drainage and irrigation. It also encompasses lands adjacent to such waters.WOTUS took effect Aug. 28, but implementation of it recently was halted by a U.S. Court of Appeals until litigation over the rule is concluded. Opponents of S. 1140 are expected to filibuster the bill, so proponents will need 60 votes in favor of cutting off debate and moving to a vote on the legislation. If that “cloture” vote fails, the Senate is expected to take up a resolution of disapproval of the WOTUS rule.last_img read more

Solar Water Heating

first_imgBrattleboro, Vermont is fortunate to have a long history with solar water heating. When I moved to the area in 1980, the company Solar Applications had been installing solar hot water systems for five years, and a spin-off company, Solar Alternatives, was manufacturing quality flat-plate solar collectors—many of which are still in use in the area. While Solar Alternatives closed down in the 1980s with falling energy prices and the end of solar tax credits, Solar Applications, has continued to install and service solar water heating systems for more than thirty years.Frenchman Alain Ratteau, who founded Solar Applications in 1975, sold his company this year to Andy Cay, and it has been renamed Integrated Solar Applications. When interest in solar waned in the mid-80s, my friend Alain shifted most of his focus to oil or gas space heating (specializing in the more sophisticated systems), but I was always impressed that he maintained the company name Solar Applications and maintained a deep commitment to renewables. Alain works with the new company and is helping to establish it as a premier provider of not just solar water heating systems, but also solar space-heating, solar-electric, micro-hydro, wind, and biomass. Visit the company on Spring Tree Road (past the Marina Restaurant).Most solar water heating systems consist of one or more flat-plate collectors mounted on a roof or separate rack through which potable water or another heat-transfer fluid is pumped. This fluid circulates to a storage tank where the solar-heated fluid passes through a heat exchanger to heat water in the tank. With “closed-loop” systems, the heat-transfer fluid—usually a mix of water and nontoxic propylene glycol antifreeze—remains in the collector all the time. In other systems, referred to as “drainback systems,” plain water is used in the collector, and when the collector gets too cold, the water drains back into a small tank in the house.Other systems operate passively by “thermosiphoning” (the principle that heated water rises naturally). With this approach, more common in warmer climates, potable water in the collector naturally circulates into a storage tank located above the collector.A fairly recent option with some solar water heaters is a solar-electric (photovoltaic) panel to power the circulation pump. In this case, the PV panel serves as both the pump’s energy source and the controller. When the sun is shining and the PV panel is generating electricity, the pump operates and water is heated; when there isn’t enough sunlight to power the circulator pump, the solar water heater shuts down—it’s a simple control system.No matter what type of solar water heating system is used, in our climate it is generally used as a “preheater” for a conventional water heater—which can be either a storage-type water heater or an on-demand (tankless) water heater. The standard water heater, which could be electric or gas-fired, boosts the water temperature as needed.Don’t expect a solar water heater to provide all your hot water. A well-designed and properly sized system in our climate may provide all of the summertime hot water, but it is likely to provide less than half of what you need during the winter months. Some homeowners combine solar water heating with a heat exchanger in a wood stove—so that they’re heating their water primarily with renewable energy sources year-round.To maximize the percent of hot water your family can obtain from the sun, it’s important to conserve hot water use: install low-flow showerheads and faucet aerators; insulate your hot-water pipes; buy a top-efficiency dishwasher and only wash full loads; and consider washing clothes in cold water.Installers of solar hot water systems in the area include Integrated Solar Applications in Brattleboro (257-7493), Gary MacArthur in Marlboro (257-7026), John Kondos of Home-Efficiency Resources in Spofford (603-363-4505), Green Energy Options in Keene (603-358-3444), and the Greenfield Solar Store (413-772-3122). Somewhat farther afield are groSolar in White River Junction (802-374-4494, www.grosolar.com) and Solar Works, Inc. in Montpelier (800-339-7804, www.solarworksinc.com).last_img read more

Smith, Griffin help Pistons beat Hawks to end 3-game skid

first_imgBrace for potentially devastating typhoon approaching PH – NDRRMC Hawks: Atlanta missed 20 of its first 22 3-pointers. . Taurean Prince has started all 59 of Atlanta’s games, but the other four starters — Dedmon, John Collins, Tyler Dorsey and Malcolm Delaney — had 29 starts combined before Wednesday.Pistons: Detroit is now 5-3 with Griffin in the lineup. . Drummond led the Pistons in rebounds for the 19th straight game.GRIFFIN GETS COMFORTABLEGriffin felt it was his best offensive performance since joining the Pistons, despite going 4 for 10 from the floor and missing his only three shots from inside the 3-point line.“We had a good flow going, and that was a big reason we jumped out to that big lead,” he said. “It is definitely getting easier to recognize what we’re doing in the offensive sets.”UP NEXTHawks: Host the Indiana Pacers on Feb. 23 after an eight-day All-Star break.Pistons: Host the Boston Celtics on Feb. 23 after an eight-day All-Star break. “I’ve only had two shootarounds with the team, so I’ve been trying to memorize the video playbook they gave me,” White said. “I’ve worked as hard as I’ve ever worked over the last three days, just to get ready for the minute or two I thought I might play.”The Hawks, who beat the Pistons 118-115 on Sunday, were missing three key players, including leading scorers Dennis Schroder (lower back) and Kent Bazemore (rest). Former Piston Ersan Ilyasova (shoulder) also sat out.“It is pretty obvious that this was a night that didn’t look like it was going to go well for us as a group,” Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer said. “It looked like they were going to pull away on us, but it is a credit to the character of these guys that they fought back and made it a game.”Detroit led by 12 points at the half, then started the third quarter with its second 17-2 run of the game. That put the Pistons ahead by 25, and the margin was 30 before the Hawks finally broke 40 points with 5:20 left in the third.Detroit still led 82-61 at quarter’s end, but Van Gundy called a timeout after the Hawks cut the margin to 89-74 with 6:58 to play. Atlanta got the lead to single figures, 94-86, with 2:58 left, forcing another timeout. The Pistons fouled two 3-point shots in the final minute along with allowing a three-point play, much to Van Gundy’s disgust.That made it 100-96 with 10 seconds to play, but Smith hit two free throws to clinch the game.“That was an embarrassing fourth quarter,” Van Gundy said. “We played well for about 35 minutes, but we didn’t bring anything after that.”The undermanned Hawks got off to a quick lead, but Detroit finished the first quarter on a 17-2 run to lead 22-14. The offenses continued to struggle in the second, with the Pistons outscoring Atlanta 23-19 to take a 45-33 lead at the half.“I thought we were playing decent basketball, but we just couldn’t get a shot to go in the basket in the first half,” Budenholzer said.Detroit shot 38 percent in the half, led by 12 points from Smith, and held Atlanta to 33.3 percent. Dewayne Dedmon led the Hawks with eight points and seven rebounds in the half, but didn’t have a basket or a rebound in 11 second-half minutes.TIP-INS Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. Slow and steady hope for near-extinct Bangladesh tortoises LATEST STORIES MOST READ NEXT BLOCK ASIA 2.0 introduces GURUS AWARDS to recognize and reward industry influencers Sports venues to be ready in time for SEA Games PLAY LIST 00:59Sports venues to be ready in time for SEA Games01:27Filipino athletes get grand send-off ahead of SEA Games00:50Trending Articles01:29Police teams find crossbows, bows in HK university01:35Panelo suggests discounted SEA Games tickets for students02:49Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games01:44Philippines marks anniversary of massacre with calls for justice01:19Fire erupts in Barangay Tatalon in Quezon City AFP official booed out of forum Read Nextcenter_img Detroit led by 30 points midway through the third quarter, but was outscored 59-35 in the final 17 minutes as Atlanta got as close as four before the Pistons held on for a 104-98 victory on Wednesday night in their final game before the All-Star break.“We gave our bench a 30-point lead, and they didn’t even try at either end of the floor,” he said. “We should have been able to shut down our starters, but we had to bring them back, and they didn’t bring anything either.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSWATCH: Drones light up sky in final leg of SEA Games torch runSPORTSLillard, Anthony lead Blazers over ThunderSPORTSMalditas save PH from shutout“We left 15 minutes early for the break, but I’ll take the win and move on.”Blake Griffin narrowly missed his first triple-double with the Pistons, finishing with 13 points, 12 rebounds and nine assists, but agreed with his coach that the end of the game wasn’t acceptable. Atlanta Hawks forward Mike Muscala (31) and Detroit Pistons forward Blake Griffin (23) battle for a rebound in the second half of an NBA basketball game in Detroit, Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018. Detroit won 104-98. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)DETROIT — Ending a three-game losing streak wasn’t enough to make Stan Van Gundy happy.Not after the Pistons made it much harder than necessary.ADVERTISEMENT Typhoon Kammuri accelerates, gains strength en route to PH 2 ‘newbie’ drug pushers fall in Lucena sting Globe Business launches leading cloud-enabled and hardware-agnostic conferencing platform in PH John Lloyd Cruz a dashing guest at Vhong Navarro’s wedding “We moved the ball and we played great defense to build the lead to 30,” he said. “But there’s no excuse for the way we played defense for the rest of the game. We were still OK on offense, but we missed a lot of open shots.”Van Gundy thought his team’s poor shooting — 26.3 percent in the fourth quarter — cost Griffin his milestone.“He probably should have had 14 or 15 assists, but we kept missing wide-open looks and layups,” Van Gundy said. “He was doing a great job of passing.”Ish Smith had 22 points and nine assists, while Andre Drummond added 13 points and 15 rebounds. Detroit had seven players in double figures.Andrew White III had 15 points for the Hawks in his NBA debut, while John Collins had 11 points and 10 rebounds.ADVERTISEMENT PBA greenlights Jericho Cruz trade to TNT View commentslast_img read more

Liner Shipping among More Consolidated Sectors

first_imgzoom Although the container shipping sector saw a huge amount of consolidation in 2016 driven by the persistent pressure in the industry, the sector is still not that consolidated, according to Clarksons Research.On the basis of start 2017, this fairly fragmented shipping industry counted 88,892 ships in the world fleet, which were spread across 24,267 owners. That works out at less than 4 vessels per owner, although 145 owners with more than 50 ships accounted for almost 12,000 of the vessels. “The liner shipping business however is one of the more consolidated parts of shipping, as well as being home to some of the industry’s larger corporates,” Clarksons Research said.At the start of the year, the 5,154 containerships in the fleet were owned by 622 owner groups, about 8 ships per owner, but were operated by 326 carriers, about 16 ships per operator. Each of the top 8 operators deployed more than 100 ships.But despite the less fragmented nature of the sector, recent market conditions have led to another round of consolidation in the box business.The three largest operators at the start of 2017 were European Maersk Line, with 647 vessels deployed, followed by MSC with 453, and CMA-CGM with 454 ships. Of the remaining carriers in the top 20 all but three were based in Asia or the Middle East.However, out of the 20 largest carriers back in late 2014, four are now gone. CSAV was acquired by Hapag-Lloyd, NOL/APL by CMA-CGM and the two major Chinese lines merged. And of course in late summer 2016, the financial collapse of Hanjin Shipping marked the sector’s biggest casualty in 30 years.Against this backdrop, the latest wave of box sector consolidation is actually part of a long-term trend, Clarksons informed. The coming year is set to see Hapag-Lloyd complete its merger with UASC, and Maersk Line’s planned acquisition of Hamburg-Sud is also awaiting necessary approvals. The second half of last year also saw the three major Japanese operators declare their intention to merge containership operations in a joint venture due to be established this year and start operations in 2018.The ‘scenario’ based on these changes would see the top 10’s share at 79%, nearly twice as much as 20 years ago.last_img read more