Thursday, April 15, 2010

Where Are All The Black Techies?

by Sherri L. Smith
April 14, 201052 Comments and 36 Reactions
Sigh, the title of this article saddens and annoys like being forced to watch “Jersey Shore”, “For the Love of Ray-J”, and any show involving Tiffany “New York” Patterson in one sitting. Ugh! The answer is we’re right here. We’re busy at work making the next whoozit or whatzat that’s destined to turn the world on its collective ear. We’re out and about adopting the latest new tech trends and sending our thoughts via the latest social networking tool. Or if they’re like me, they’re working for a publication they believe in and are putting the spotlight on their fellow black techies.

So why does the question continue to be asked? Why do African-American tech-heads continue to be placed in the same category unicorns, leprechauns, and perpetual motion machines — the stuff of legends? Or better yet, why is the new school of black techies, slept on harder than a posturepedic mattress? What we’re good enough to buy all the smartphones, video games, servers, and routers but we’re not good enough to create them? With that said, let’s march in the usual sorry set of excuses.

There aren’t any influential people of color in tech. Really? What about John Pasmore, the CEO of How about Promise Phelon, CEO of UpMo? And check out Deanna Sutton, Founder and CEO of the Sutton Media Group. Speaking of founders, check out Oo Nwoye, Founder of interactive business card service One Page who just wrote an interesting blog post on OoTheNigerian asking “Are there renowned internet startups with black founders?” To which I answer with an emphatic yes.

Blacks aren’t that interested in tech. I know there aren’t that there aren’t that many of us in Silicon Valley, but does that mean we’re a bunch of Luddites? African Americans are some of the biggest consumers in the country spending billions and it stands to reason that some of that money is going towards gadgets and other forms of tech. As the government continues to work towards closing the digital divide, maybe more of us will catch the tech bug like Ashton and Ryan Clark, the entrepreneurial twins who started their first business at 13. With groups like 100 Black Men of Silicon Valley mentoring the next generation, mainstream stream media will have no choice but to recognize us instead of giving us the V.I.P. guestlist snub a la the Vanity Fair “Young Hollywood” issue.

Thankfully we don’t need the Mashables of the world to get black tech news. Thanks to Angela Benton and Markus Robinson we have Black Web 2.0, where we’re dedicated to giving black techies the props they deserve. Stay tuned as we continue to bring you the latest and greatest in African Americans in tech.

Ex-National Security Agency Official Indicted on Charges of Leaking Info to Reporter

WASHINGTON — An ex-high ranking National Security Agency official has been charged with allegedly leaking classified information to a national newspaper in 2006 and 2007, the Justice Department announced Thursday.

Authorities indicted Thomas A. Drake, 52, who headed an office in the NSA’s signals intelligence and engineering directorates at Fort Meade between 2001 and 2005, on charges that he served as a source for a number of articles — some which contained classified information.

The indictment does not name the reporter, but The Washington Post reported that it was Siobhan Gorman, a prize-winning intelligence correspondent for the Baltimore Sun at the time, and subsequently at the Wall Street Journal. The articles were critical of the NSA.

According to the Justice Department press release, Drake took a number of steps to accommodate the reporter including:

Exchanging hundreds of e-mails with and meeting with the reporter;
Researching stories for the reporter to write in the future by e-mailing unwitting NSA employees and accessing classified and unclassified documents on classified NSA networks;

Copying and pasting classified and unclassified information from NSA documents into untitled word processing documents which, when printed, had the classification markings removed;

Printing both classified and unclassified documents, bringing them to his home, and retaining them there without authority;

Scanning and emailing electronic copies of classified and unclassified documents to the reporter from his home computer; and
Reviewing, commenting on, and editing drafts of the reporter’s articles.

The press release went on to say:

“The indictment alleges that in approximately November 2005, a former congressional staffer asked Drake to speak with a reporter. Between November 2005 and February 2006, according to the indictment, Drake signed up for a free account and then paid for a premium account with an e-mail service that enabled its users to exchange secure e-mails without disclosing the sender or recipient’s identity.”

“Using an alias, Drake allegedly then contacted the reporter and volunteered to disclose information about the NSA. The indictment alleges that Drake directed the reporter to create the reporter’s own secure e-mail account.”

“After the reporter created such an account, Drake also allegedly required the reporter to agree to certain conditions, including never revealing Drake’s identity; attributing information gathered from Drake to a “senior intelligence official”; never using Drake as a single source for information; never telling Drake who the reporter’s other sources were; and not commenting on what people, to whom Drake recommended the reporter speak, said to the reporter.”

Sixers Fire Head Coach Eddie Jordan

Eddie Jordan was relieved today as head coach of the Philadelphia 76′ers after one season. The team was 27-55 and never found a measure of consistency. In the presser, GM Ed Stefanski said the decision to hire Jordan was the “wrong one.” When asked about the Princeton system Jordan employs, Stefanski’s words were “obviously it didn’t work”. He was asked about a replacement and his response was “the search is wide open” and that the there is “no time line” to find a new coach. He said it wasn’t a matter of “playing hard” but a matter of “executing”. Stefanski also mentioned that “no one is safe” and team would explore all options regarding trades. Regarding personnel. “We’re very encouraged in our point guard. We think we found a gem in Jrue Holiday.” “I’m just going to work hard as possible and don’t think it will take much to get back on track.”

US court orders expulsion of Afghan imam

NEW YORK — An Afghanistan-born imam who admitted he lied to the FBI over an aborted terror plot against the New York subway system was freed Thursday but ordered to leave the country within three months, a court official said.

Ahmad Wais Afzali, 39, appeared in Brooklyn federal court where a judge determined that he had already spent enough time in prison after his arrest in September.

"He was sentenced to time served and ordered to self-deport within 90 days," court spokesman Robert Nardoza told AFP.

The imam pleaded guilty in March to making false statements to Federal Bureau of Investigation agents investigating Najibullah Zazi, an Afghan immigrant who has since confessed to conspiring to bomb New York.

According to prosecutors, Afzali telephoned Zazi to warn him that he was being watched. Zazi subsequently abandoned the bomb plot and returned from New York to his home in Colorado.

Afzali, a permanent resident working as an imam at a New York mosque but not a US citizen, made a plea agreement which saw him face a reduced prison sentence of up to six months.

He remained free on bail ahead of the sentencing, but told reporters in March that "I just signed my death sentence" after the plea deal because he was diabetic and that abroad he would not be able to get proper treatment.

Bomb-plotter Zazi pleaded guilty to three charges: conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction, conspiracy to commit murder in a foreign country and providing material support to the Al-Qaeda Islamist network.

He faces life in prison for the first two charges and 15 years for the third. However, his plea appeared to be part of a bargain in which he could receive more lenient punishment in return for cooperating with investigators.

Sentencing is set for June 25.

US carriers cancel Europe flights due to ash

ATLANTA, April 15 (Reuters) - US airlines canceled half their trans-Atlantic service on Thursday because of a gigantic ash cloud spewing from a volcano in Iceland that has closed airports in northern Europe, industry officials said.