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Filecoin Looks to Mid-2019 for Blockchain Storage Network Launch

Filecoin is planning to officially launch its blockchain-based data storage network sometime near the middle of next year.

In a first-and-second quarter update posted on Tuesday, the Filecoin team unveiled an in-progress roadmap stretching into 2019 and beyond, with milestones including this week’s release of demos for the go-filecoin protocol implementation, a plan to make the GitHub repositories for the implementation public, and, most notably, the launch of the Filecoin mainnet after an initial test phase.

On the plan to open up the repositories, the Filecoin team encouraged developers to take part in the process once it begins.

“This will be a major point of involvement for the community at large, and we strongly encourage the participation of developers interested in developing Filecoin or in building applications on it,” the blog post stated.

The test network launch is planned for between the last quarter of this year and the first quarter of 2019, though an exact date has yet to be published. The mainnet launch is expected sometime in the second or third quarter of next year, according to the post.

That being said, the team noted that any dates may be subject to change and referred to the roadmap as an “optimistic timeline,” explaining that while they “hate giving dates that may … slip,” the developers hated “keeping [the] community in the dark even more.”

The post added:

“The pros: a much clearer and transparent planning approach, easier coordination across the community, and excitement as milestones get closer. The cons: timelines will certainly have to change – some things may come sooner or later than initially anticipated.”

Filecoin raised more than $200 million from investors in one of 2017’s more notable initial coin offerings (ICOs). The initiative is also backed by venture capital heavyweights like Sequoia Capital, Andreessen Horowitz and Union Square Ventures, as previously reported.

Storage boxes image via Shutterstock

The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.

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Blockchain Startup Protocol Labs Launches $5M Research Grant Program

Blockchain developer Protocol Labs has launched a multi-million dollar research grant program.

The startup, which is behind projects such as Filecoin, IPFS and Coinlist, on Tuesday announced a Request for Proposals (RFP) program that will see an initial $5 million put towards research efforts. Successful bids will receive grants between $5,000 and $200,000, the company said in a statement on its blog.

Protocol Labs explained:

“The first RFPs solicit improvements to components used in Filecoin and a breakthrough that may dramatically simplify consensus protocol including Filecoin’s. Future RFPs will fund problems across our whole stack of protocols, from Multiformats to Filecoin, and we also welcome open problems and suggestions for work we may be interested in funding.”

The firm listed a number of projects on its Github page for developers to look into as a starting point. However, “Due to the open-ended nature of these problems, it’s worth noting that we may end up choosing more than one proposal per open problem,” it stated.

Research applications will be judged on the quality of the proposed research and relevant experience of the individual or team. Completed solutions are not eligible to apply, states the post.

Solutions must be open source, and therefore accessible to the broader developer community.

To support the effort, the company further announced it is hosting meetups and other events to help facilitate discussion around the technical problems that need solving to improve the space. Further, if the scheme proves successful, Protocol Labs hopes to expand the program in future.

Miniatures and coins image via Shutterstock

The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.

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Managing Enormous Risk: Bitcoin and Altcoin Investment Strategies

While some have made millions investing in digital currencies, others would call it degenerate gambling. If you’re reading this, then you know how exciting and unpredictable the crypto world is. Fortunes are built and demolished in seconds, new and exciting technology pops up every day, and controversy rules the land. It’s pretty much the Wild West of finance.

The unprecedented growth of cryptocurrencies has attracted investors from all walks of life, many of whom have been enticed by the staggering returns made by early investors. If this sounds like you, then keep reading. Unfortunately, we’re not going to teach you how to get rich in a few days; in fact, we’re going to try and deter you from that objective.

Not that we don’t want you to be super-rich, don’t get us wrong. But we prefer to have more grounded goals and we want you to do the same. Investment is a tricky game and the patient person usually wins. Avoiding “fear of missing out” (FOMO) is essential, especially in crypto, where disinformation, fake news and drama are commonplace.

So what exactly is the point of this article, you may wonder? Well, today, we want to give new players in the cryptosphere some ideas on how they can begin to navigate the tricky world of investment. We feel this is important due to the growing amount of scams and low quality projects out there.

We’re not saying that the strategies we discuss are foolproof or even profitable. They are not based on any mathematical formula nor were they devised by any experienced investment professional. These are simple ideas that are popular among entrants and old school digital currency investors alike.

It’s important to note that this article is not to be taken as investment advice and that you should always remember the golden rule of investment: Never invest more than what you can afford to lose.

Diversify and play it safe

This is a simple one. If your portfolio only has one coin on it, you’re doing it wrong. Now, we know some people will say Bitcoin is the only cryptocurrency you should own, but at this point  it’s safe to say that this is an absurd statement founded on feelings and ideals, rather than actual facts.

Bitcoin is thriving because it is the first and most popular cryptocurrency out there. It has the first mover advantage and it is also backed by an extensive network of miners who keep it safe. In terms of technology or features, however, Bitcoin falls short of its peers. We’re not saying you shouldn’t have Bitcoin, but you should also acknowledge other cryptocurrencies out there.

It may be a good idea to play it safe, however, and to “bet” on the most popular coins only, such as the top 10 by market capitalization. At present, those are: Bitcoin, Ethereum, Ripple, Bitcoin Cash, Litecoin, Dash, NEM, NEO, BitConnect and Monero.

Bet on the idea, not the project

The world of Blockchain technology has evolved to a point where currency is just one of the many functions a cryptocurrency can have. There are smart contract platforms like Ethereum, NEO and Qtum, there are decentralized storage networks like Storj, Sia Coin and Filecoin and there are decentralized exchange platforms like Waves, Bitshares and others.

Our suggestion is, instead of buying one cryptocurrency in each category, you should spread your investment throughout multiple options inside each category. This will allow you to reduce the risk of investing in one single currency. In the world of crypto, a technical difficulty or even a grievance within one of the teams can lead to an rapid crash in the price, regardless of how promising the project and tech are. Just look at what happened with Tezos.

Hedging

Again, diversification is the name of the game. If you’re in crypto, then you are probably aware of how risky it all is. The cryptocurrency movement could end in days if some major security flaw was discovered or if all governments decided to ban them. The same can happen if some new and improved alternative to Blockchain technology comes along. These are, of course, worse case scenarios that are unlikely but possible nonetheless.

So, if you’re not one to have all your eggs in the same basket, you may want to extend your investment strategy to instruments outside of crypto. Precious metals, stocks, and other traditional investment vehicles may be a great addition to your portfolio and will allow you to reduce the risk you would take by investing in cryptocurrencies only.

Some companies, for example, manage cryptocurrency investment funds that combine cryptocurrency investments with investments in other sectors, like real estate. We talked to Kirill Bensonoff, CEO and founder of Caviar, about the importance of heeding your investment in the cryptocurrency space with traditional instruments.

He stated:

“We found a couple of major issues with crypto-asset investing, namely, it’s difficult and time consuming, and all assets are highly correlated. There is no ‘safety’ asset that also produces an income. We also see a movement towards having crypto be backed by traditional assets, such as gold, real estate and others, and we are addressing this head on.”

Liquidity, liquidity, liquidity

This is something that many new players forget about. You may find yourself investing in a cryptocurrency, having it increase in value several times over, only to realise that you can’t really sell it. If you try to sell large amounts at once, you’ll crash the price. Why? Because there is no liquidity. If a coin has no trading volume, significant price swings are bound to happen.

You can play it safe and avoid low volume coins all together but if you don’t want to, the least you can do is to know the risk you’re taking. CryptoCompare has a portfolio tool that allows you to analyse several risk factors in your portfolio, including volatility, exposure and, of course, liquidity. Their tool allows you to get an estimate of how long it would take to sell a certain coin based on the current volume. We asked Charles Hayter, CEO of CryptoCompare, why this tool is important for entrant users. He stated:

“We want to make it easy for users to track how well they’re doing. Crypto is risky in the extreme and we want to help people understand where these risks lie and how to quantify them.”

Room to grow

Remember what we just told you about liquidity? Well, this strategy is somewhat contradictory, but it’s important to note that not all of these strategies are compatible with one another. Also, some involve more risk than others, and this one is risky. So, what do we mean with “room to grow”?

Small market cap cryptocurrencies have more growth potential than the ones at the top. Of course, other factors will determine if the price will rise or not but the idea is that, if you invest in cryptocurrencies before they are big, you may get to see your investment grow several times over.

Now, before you go to the nearest exchange and start stacking up on useless meme coins, have a think about what you want to buy. Then, perform your due diligence, check the roadmap, check the team, read the whitepaper, learn about the technology. Do everything in your power to ensure that your investment is justified. This will also make it easier for you to stick to your strategy, knowing that you are invested in something you believe in.

Technical analysis

Yes, chart wizardry. To be honest, I have no idea how it works and I admire anyone that does. All those numbers and lines give me headaches. Nevertheless, if you have it in you, learning T.A. can do wonders for your investment strategy even if you only touch the surface! We asked Jonathan Hobbs, CFA and author of the Stop Saving Start Investing: Ten Simple Rules for Effectively Investing in Funds investment book how technical analysis can be useful even for a newbie investor. He stated:

“Any good investment strategy needs rules. Technical Analysis (or “TA”) uses rules to look for price and volume patterns in charts to try and predict what’s going to happen next. It helps investors choose when to buy or sell. One example of TA is the Simple Moving Average (or “SMA”). The 50-day SMA, for instance, is the average price over the last 50 days, which changes or ‘moves’ each day. When an investment starts trading above its SMA, this is could be a bullish sign. Since TA can also protect the downside, it’s a good risk management tool for volatile investments like cryptocurrencies.”

Proof of Stake interest

A lot of people would love to invest in cryptocurrency mining, but at this point, you either go big or go home. Mining has become an industrialized practice reserved only for those with large financial backing, high tech equipment and access to low energy prices. Although there are several alternatives to traditional mining, Proof of Stake is the most relevant one for the subject at hand.

To put it simply, Proof of Stake allows users to “mine” coins without mining equipment. In this system, the amount of coins a user holds will determine how many coins he mines. Although most PoS cryptocurrencies will require you to leave your wallet running, some implementations of PoS like Waves and Lisk allow you to earn interest by leasing or delegating your stake.

Do note that you shouldn’t go out and buy every PoS coin out there. You should, however, check your holdings for these types of coins and, if you have them, mine them! In the worst case scenario, you’ll need to leave the wallet running which can be done with any laptop or even a Raspberry Pi device.

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Is Blockchain Technology Really the Answer to Decentralized Storage?

The Blockchain has become much more than a simple piece of technology. It has become a symbol for freedom, transparency and fairness. With this being said, it’s no wonder we see projects leveraging Blockchain tech as a “one-size-fits-all” tool to solve all sorts of problems, many of which could not be further from the original purpose of the Blockchain.

Nowadays, the words “Blockchain technology” are thrown around alot and sometimes the use of the technology itself is unnecessary. Tim Swanson, Director of Market Research at R3CEV has even coined the term “chain washing” to describe companies/startups that are using or trying to use Blockchain technology in certain areas when in fact, they could be using more advanced technology for the purpose at hand.

This becomes especially evident when it comes to file and data storage. Although the Bitcoin Blockchain is basically a decentralized database for transactions, accounts and balances, keeping that information on a decentralized ledger is already proving to be a challenge due to capacity issues. Nevertheless, several projects and companies insist on looking at Blockchain-based solutions for storage and, while there are clear cases of misguided enthusiasm when it comes to the use of Blockchain technology, there are some projects out there that are worth taking a look at.

Blockchain Technology as an Incentive Layer

When it comes to a mutualistic relation between Decentralized Ledger Technology (DLT) and data storage, the most common use case for the Blockchain is as an incentive layer. This means that data isn’t stored on the Blockchain itself, but the network at hand is able to leverage the Blockchain as a ledger for automatic payments and/or for value exchange, enabling users to pay for storage or access to files.

In this case, the advantages for using the Blockchain over any other technology are clear. These include faster settling times, lower transaction fees (which enable microtransactions), higher privacy and the ability for transparent and immutable record keeping. While the Blockchain isn’t being used for data storage, it is providing the foundation on which the decentralized network is built, allowing it to run with no central authority whatsoever.

There are several projects leveraging the Blockchain in such a way. Storj, one of the first and most successful decentralized storage networks on the cryptosphere, comes to mind. The project started out using a Bitcoin-based asset but later moved to an ERC20 token on the  Ethereum Blockchain. This token, the Storj Coin (SCJX), is used by clients to pay for storage and acts as an incentive for nodes that keep part of the client’s files. These files have been previously shredded, encrypted, and distributed to multiple nodes in order to ensure their safety and availability.

Another popular example is Filecoin, a project developed by Protocol Labs, the creators of the InterPlanetary File System (IPFS). In case you aren’t familiar with IPFS, it is an alternative p2p hypermedia protocol that allows files to be stored in a permanent and decentralized fashion. This provides historic versioning for files, removes duplicates and even allows users to save on bandwidth since files are downloaded from multiple computers and not from a single server.

While IPFS provides a basis for the storage of files, Protocol Labs took this one step further with the development of Filecoin which, according to the whitepaper, “works as an incentive layer on top of IPFS.” The system is different from the one used by Storj on many levels.

In Filecoin, miners are paid to store and retrieve files, while also receiving mining rewards from their “useful Proof of Work.” There is also no set price for file storage. Instead, users and miners place buy and sell orders in a decentralized storage exchange, making Filecoin a competitive marketplace in which prices can adapt to outside conditions.

While Filecoin and Storj focus on providing affordable cloud storage services, a project named Decent is currently working on a decentralized content sharing platform which allows users to upload and monetize/share their work (videos, music, ebooks, etc) without the need to rely on a centralized third party. Users can access content in a much more affordable way by skipping these intermediaries while the nodes that host the content are rewarded with fees. Much like Storj, the files stored by the nodes on the Decent network are shredded and encrypted.

Blockchain for storage? Is it possible?

Storing data on a Blockchain like Bitcoin would be doable, in theory. However, Bitcoin’s current blocksize limit only allows for 1MB of data to be stored every 10 minutes. Even if you remove that limit, nodes will eventually stop being able to maintain a copy of the Blockchain due to its size, resulting in a centralized and easily-disruptable network. Of course, the scalability problem hasn’t deterred developers from trying to use the Blockchain as a storage solution and a project called Archain may just have found a solution.

Archain is a cryptocurrency project that wants to address online censorship by creating a decentralized archive for the internet. To do so, Archain will leverage a new Blockchain-derivative data structure, the “blockweave” which according to the whitepaper, allows the network scale to an “arbitrary size.”

Once a user submits a page for archiving on the Archain system, it is stored on the blockweave with the fees paid by the user being allocated to the miner that finds the block at hand. Since the  Archain requires miners to store both the current block and a previous block that has been randomly picked from the blockweave, miners have an incentive to store as much as the data as they can without being forced to store the entire blockweave.

As such, Archain is able to ensure that content requested by users is always available without the need for it to be stored by every single node on the network. Archain is also able to address download speeds by incentivising users to propagate poorly-mirrored blocks.

Private Blockchains?

You cannot talk about chain washing for too long without talking about private Blockchains. The concept of a private Blockchain is, to a degree, paradoxical as there is really no use for a Blockchain if the network is closed. To put it simply: If a Blockchain network is not immutable, open or transparent, then a regular database will usually be far more efficient than a Blockchain.

Yet there is a little known project leveraging a private Blockchain in combination with the public Waves Blockchain to provide clients with the “best of two worlds.” We are talking about Sigwo Technologies LLC, a company that focuses on providing dApps and consulting services for legacy businesses that want to integrate Blockchain technology for data storage and disaster recovery.

Although Sigwo Technologies LLC provides a wide range of services, its use of the Jupiter Blockchain, the Mercury token and the Waves Platform caught my attention. Jupiter is a private Blockchain built specifically for encrypted information storage. Different networks are created for different companies, allowing authorized nodes to join in and download the data on the chain. So far, Jupiter is not much different from any other private Blockchain. What makes it stand out is how Jupiter is able to ensure transparency and immutability despite being a private Blockchain.

Once data is stored on Jupiter, the block hashes from the private Blockchain are stored permanently on the Waves Blockchain. This is done by adding the block hash to a Waves transaction. Since Waves transaction can be paid for with a custom token, the Mercury token is used which makes the process affordable.  

Since block hashes are stored on the Waves Blockchain, any change made to the private Blockchain will be publically detected. This happens because the hash from a certain block will always vary according to the information contained in the block. What we’re left with is a Blockchain in which large amounts of data can be stored by specialized nodes (unlike public Blockchains) while remaining publicly verifiable.

Conclusion

As we have seen, there are no shortage of projects that are using Blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies to make decentralized storage possible. However, it is also worth noting that DLT is still in its early stages and it is possible that other, more advanced technologies can replace it with respect to specific use cases. In other words, Blockchain may not be the answer for everything.

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Searching for Problems? James Altucher to Bitcoin Critics, You're Dead Wrong

Only invest in things that solve problems.

At least that’s a strategy James Altucher, the former hedge fund manager, business blogger and best-selling author, places at the center of his investment strategy. With that outlook, it might seem strange that he so bullishly invests in bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies – emerging technologies typically accused of being “solutions searching for a problem.”

But Altucher thinks that claim is nonsense.

In his eyes, cryptocurrency solves a host of problems caused by the fiat-based financial system – particularly, the fees and time it takes to send international payments.

Today, every international payment must pass through a network of local banks, central banks and international wire services, taking seven or eight hops to get to their destination, and with every hop involving fees, potential errors, threats to privacy and other security risks, Altucher said.

And these are the kinds of problems cryptocurrencies like bitcoin are solutions for. Even with banks and financial incumbents looking for ways to utilize private blockchain technologies, Altucher is a big believer in cryptocurrency’s potential to take over the roles of financial intermediaries like banks.

Because while technology may be shrinking the economic world, the current payment systems provided by banks are still stuck in the 20th century – a sentiment that continues to guide his bullish thesis on the space.

A clear worth

According to Altucher, multiple cryptocurrencies are needed to solve the multiple problems inherent in finance and commerce today.

While bitcoin could take the role of international payments from banks, he argues ethereum, and its native token, ether, are better suited to provide a cheap and easy way to escrow funds in the form of the platform’s more sophisticated self-executing smart contracts.

But, though, Altucher is extremely bullish on the future of cryptocurrency as a whole, he’s surprisingly bearish on the majority of cryptocurrencies now trading. In fact, he estimates that 880 of the 900 or so cryptocurrencies in circulation will ultimately prove worthless.

Altucher’s pessimism is entirely consistent with his thesis about problem solving. To him, most cryptocurrencies are not solving a clear problem. Although, he’s also open to taking the advice of experts and others that have done their homework.

As an example of both strategies at work, Altucher cites his recent investment in Filecoin, a distributed storage network that recently sold tokens to institutional investors.

Filecoin uses the contract management feature of ether and, according to Altucher, solves several key problems of centralized cloud storage companies — like Dropbox, Amazon and Google. Advocates of decentralized storage like Altucher believe decentralization will make storage more robust, permanent and available while decreasing the cost.

And that could be a huge payoff:

“Imagine the entire storage market suddenly becomes decentralized? That’s a huge $100 billion industry, potentially.”

Toward ‘data-ism’

Altucher sees cryptocurrency (or “data currencies” as he’d prefer to call them) as the next step forward in the long progression of the global financial system. Each step forward solved problems that the previous system didn’t fix.

For instance, gold solved many of the barter system’s problems by allowing people to price everything using the precious metal as a common currency. But, it’s neither safe nor practical to travel with sacks of gold bars, so paper currency replaced gold.

And then paper currency became “more electric,” Altucher said.

Banks can track how much money we have by using accounts tied to debit and credit card numbers, and by virtualizing money this way, business is even easier to transact than it was using paper currency.

This transition, according to Altucher, has profoundly philosophical roots, and won’t end until all transactions and currencies become totally data driven.

Referencing the work of writer Yuval Noah Harari, Altucher believes we’re in the process of moving from theism, via humanism, to “data-ism.”

That might be a lot of mystical “isms” for an investor to swallow, but Altucher makes the philosophy a lot more practical with a metaphor: If you got sick in the old days, you prayed to god to fix your health problems; then you went to a doctor to fix your illness; and now you go to data to fix your health.

“You get an MRI. You get an EEG. The data figures out what your illness is,” he said, continuing:

“If you look at every industry it all boils down to that same trend.”

And, according to Altucher, that trend is very much alive with currency today, where we’re moving from “In God We Trust” to the more data-driven “In Cryptography We Trust.”

Disclosure: CoinDesk is a subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which has an ownership stake in Protocol Labs and invested in the Filecoin pre-sale

Portrait photo via James Altucher

The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is an independent media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. Interested in offering your expertise or insights to our reporting? Contact us at [email protected].

Disclaimer: This article should not be taken as, and is not intended to provide, investment advice. Please conduct your own thorough research before investing in any cryptocurrency.

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Filecoin ICO Breaks Record: The Long Awaited Offering Pays Off

Including only accredited investors, the much anticipated ICO Filecoin has ended on Thursday Sep 8 – breaching the last set record for offerings gathered in token crowdsale with $275 million.

Filcoin’s target is to benefit hard drive storage spaces and not used data centers to form a decentralized storage network. While users “offer” more space to the network, it will be returned as tokens that can be traded with other cryptocurrencies and so on. While on the other hand, if you need space you can buy tokens to trade them with extra decentralized space. As reported, it will be very much cheaper than the price of cloud storage.

While for starters, $52 millions were already gathered on venture capital firms since Aug 10 on private sale. As the offering began, the token price was at around $1 which started to surge proportionally with investors stepping in which in a couple of hours had raised around $190 million.

With the continuation on Sep 7 and so on, $205 million were raised which together with the private presale of $52 million concluded to a record breaker of $257 million.

The funding levels of Initial coin offering everyday are closing-in to the $2 billion mark which is becoming an easy target for cyber criminals to rocket their attacks. On a recent research made on cyber security and criminals, around 10% of all ICO funds are stolen.


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$257 Million: Filecoin Breaks All-Time Record for ICO Funding

Blockchain data storage network Filecoin has officially completed its initial coin offering (ICO), raising more than $257 million over a month of activity.

Filecoin’s ICO, which began on August 10, quickly garnered millions in investment via CoinList, a joint project between Filecoin developer Protocol Labs and startup investment platform AngelList. That launch day was notable both for the large influx of purchases of Simple Agreements for Future Tokens, or SAFTs (effectively claims on tokens once the Filecoin network goes live), as well as the technology issues that quickly sprouted as accredited investors swamped the CoinList website.

Today, the ICO ended with approximately $205.8 million raised, a figure that adds to the $52 million collected in a presale that included Sequoia Capital, Andreessen Horowitz and Union Square Ventures, among others.

Combined, that total represents the largest completed ICO figure to date, surpassing the $232 million raised by Tezos earlier this summer in a sale that catered to retail investors as well.

The dizzying first day eventually gave way to slowing investment activity, though purchases over the several-week period ultimately pushed Filecoin’s take above $200 million. Social media posts suggests that the past three days saw that figure rise by roughly $3 million.

Filecoin aims to provide a decentralized network for digital storage through which users can effectively rent out their spare capacity. In return, those users receive filecoins as payment.

The completed raise puts September on the path of being one of the busiest months for ICOs, according to data from CoinDesk’s ICO Tracker. To date, July 2017 saw the most sales volume, recording more than $500 million.

The second quarter of this year as a whole saw a record-breaking level of activity, with approximately $797 million raised through the funding model during that period, according to the latest State of Blockchain report.

Image via Shutterstock

The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is an independent media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. Have breaking news or a story tip to send to our journalists? Contact us at [email protected].