Monthly Archives: January 2018

The nanny of former Uber engineer Anthony Levandowski claims he stole trade secrets from Tesla

Former Uber engineer Anthony Levandowski

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Former Uber engineer Anthony Levandowski
source
Otto

  • Former Uber engineer Anthony Levandowski paid someone inside Tesla to leak him information about the electric-car company’s effort to develop a battery-powered semi-truck, according to a new lawsuit.
  • The lawsuit was filed against Levandowski by his former nanny, who claims that Levandowski failed to pay her wages.
  • The suit is the latest allegation against Levandowski, who has also been accused of stealing trade secrets developed by Google and taking them with him to Uber.
  • Levandowski’s representative said the suit was “frivolous.”

Former Uber engineer Anthony Levandowski had a mole inside Tesla who was leaking him information about its effort to develop an electric-powered semi-truck, according to a new lawsuit, which was first reported by Wired.

In the suit, filed against Levandowski by his former nanny, Erika Wong, Wong claims to have overheard multiple conversations in which Levandowski supposedly mentioned the name “Pat Green.” Levandowski also frequently asked his sister about packages he expected to receive from Green, according to the suit.

In one such conversation, which Levandowski had with his business partner, Randy Miller, Levandowski mentioned Green’s name in a exchange about Tesla’s electric trucking division, according to the lawsuit. In another conversation, Levandowski told his stepmother, who frequently played a role in his companies, to, “make sure that Pat Green gets paid,” according to the suit.

“Just arrange with Suzanna [Levandowski’s stepmother], dad, and Hazlett [another relative] to keep working with Pat Green,” Levandowski told his brother in a conversation last April, according to Wong’s suit. “I need updates on Tesla trucking, the non-lidar technology is crucial and Nvidia chips. We can make money on both.”

It’s unclear who exactly “Pat Green” is, Wired noted. However, there is a Patrick Green who works as a senior manufacturing equipment engineer at Tesla, Wired reported. Green did not respond to Wired’s requests for comments on the story.

In a statement to Wired, a representative for Levandowski described the suit as “frivolous.” “Levandowski is confident that the lawsuit will be dismissed by the courts,” the statement said.

Levandowski has been a central figure in a bombshell lawsuit Waymo, a self-driving car startup that’s a sister company of Google, filed against Uber in February. Levandowski helped start Google’s autonomous vehicle program, left to form a startup focused on autonomous trucks, then joined Uber. Waymo alleges in its own suit that Levandowski brought its trade secrets with him to Uber.

In her suit, Wong charges that Levandowski failed to pay her wages and violated numerous health and labor codes.

Read the full story over at Wired.

A password for the Hawaii emergency agency was hiding in a public photo, written on a Post-it note

  • A false alert warning of an inbound missile was broadcast in Hawaii on Saturday.
  • Since then, people have discovered that a photo taken in Hawaii’s Emergency Management Agency for a news article in July includes a sticky note with a password.
  • Hawaii says the alert was sent was because “an employee pushed the wrong button,” not because of a hack, but the photo has sparked criticism about the agency’s level of security.

On Saturday, people in Hawaii were awakened by a terrifying false alert about an inbound missile. Hawaii’s Emergency Management Agency has said a worker clicked the wrong item in a drop-down menu and sent it, and that its system was not hacked.

“It was a mistake made during a standard procedure at the changeover of a shift, and an employee pushed the wrong button,” Gov. David Ige said.

But an Associated Press photo from July that recently resurfaced on Twitter has raised questions about the agency’s cybersecurity practices.

In it, the agency’s operations officer poses in front of a battery of screens. Attached to one is a password written on a Post-it note.

Computer, enhance:

An agency spokesman told Hawaii News Now that the password is authentic, and had been used for an “internal application” that he believed was no longer being used.

While these computers are unrelated to the system that sent the false missile alert, the photo raises questions about the approach to information security at the agency. (On the other screen, another note reminds the user to “SIGN OUT.”)

Writing down passwords isn’t a strict security no-no. Some experts say that keeping a hard copy of a password in your wallet is defensible – if you can keep the piece of paper secure. But a note on a monitor is not secure, especially if it’s for computer systems dedicated to keeping people safe.

The photo has already drawn some ridicule from those in the operational-security industry.

Here’s what the system that sent the false alert on Saturday looks like:

LeBron James was nearly posterized by Kevin Durant, but saved himself at the last moment

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NBA on TNT

  • The Golden State Warriors beat the Cleveland Cavaliers, 118-108, in Cleveland on Monday night.
  • Late in the first quarter, LeBron James may have made the smartest play of the game, as he quickly avoided becoming the losing end of a poster-worthy dunk by Kevin Durant.
  • James would get a bit of revenge on Durant however, with the help of a brilliant chase-down block later in the game.

The Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors added another heated chapter to their ongoing rivalry on Monday night.

The Warriors walked away with a fairly comfortable 118-108 victory. While there were great basketball plays on both sides of the ball, the smartest play on Monday may have actually been a concession by LeBron James. As the first quarter was beginning to wind down, Kevin Durant made a heads-up steal that started a fast break for the Warriors.

James was the only defender in place to possibly make a play, but when he saw Durant charge for the basket, James pulled away and gave him a free run at the rim, rather than taking the risk of ending up on the losing end of a poster.

It was a handy bit of quick cost-benefit analysis by one of the brightest minds in basketball.

But LeBron would not go the game without getting a bit of revenge for the play. In the second quarter, after Durant looked like he had him beat on a drive towards the basket, James recovered to come out of nowhere for the chase-down block, adding another trophy to his already can’t-miss gallery of defensive plays.

James and Durant would both finish the game with 32 points and the Warriors would get the win. Still, it was LeBron that seems to have gotten the last laugh – although by accidental hijinks more than anything else – as the Warriors locker room was reportedly without hot water as the team went to wash off after the game.

“Man, they got to do something in ‘The Q,'” Durant would say of the cold showers. “Somebody call Bron!”

How much should toddlers use smartphones, tablets, and other screens? This pocket guide could help.

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Shayanne Gal/Business Insider

  • Smartphones and tablets are irresistible to infants and toddlers, but many parents aren’t sure how to manage young kids’ screen time.
  • Business Insider published a larger feature based on the latest scientific research, evidence-based guidelines, and interviews with childhood development experts.
  • We’ve created a pocket guide of the story’s big takeaways for parents in a hurry.
  • This is an installment of Business Insider’s “Your Brain on Apps” series that investigates how addictive apps can influence behavior.

Months before my wife and I learned she was pregnant, I found myself sweating over screen time.

I knew kids could abuse interactive electronics, because I had as a kid – and prolifically so. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, I’d sneak downstairs at night, immerse myself in a popular mass-multiplayer online game, and lose countless hours of sleep.

But my habit back then was tethered to a clunky PC at home. Now kids can fit their digital obsessions in a pocket. Indeed, over the past decade in New York City, I’ve spotted growing numbers of toddlers and even infants vegging out on smartphones and tablets in strollers, on subways, during bus rides, and even over dinners at restaurants.

While I don’t think I turned out so bad, I was a tween and teenager at the time of my obsession. Prolific access to interactive technologies at the young ages seen today is unprecedented in history.

What are 21st-century parents to do – and not do – when it comes to screens?

To find out, I called up childhood development experts, read the latest scientific studies, and pored over evidence-based guidelines published by pediatric and other groups. My research resulted in a story about what we know (and don’t yet know) about parenting, toddlers, and technology.

We summed up the big takeaways for those in a hurry in this handy graphic:

pocket guide to screens and kids 5 years and younger

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Jenny Cheng/Business Insider

If you find our pocket guide useful, be sure to dig into our larger feature. There are a number of helpful resources linked within that story, too.

And don’t miss the rest of our “Your Brain on Apps” series, which explores how apps can influence behavior, plus what we can do to take back control.

How to feel less awful and get your body to adapt to Daylight Saving Time

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Mita Stock Images/Shutterstock

  • Daylight Saving Time started on Sunday, March 11 at 2:00 a.m.
  • That means this week will be a little rough: It’ll be hard to wake up, and there’ll be an increase in heart attacks and car crashes.
  • To make the switch a little easier, you can take advantage of what scientists have learned about circadian rhythms.
  • The key? Light.

Daylight Saving Time in the US took effect in the early morning hours of Sunday, March 11.

That means your alarm this morning probably felt even more invasive than normal.

But it’s more serious than that – Daylight Saving Time is literally killing us. On Monday, there will likely be a 24% spike in heart attacks and a short-term increase in car crashes, strokes, and potentially even suicides.

In a way, the negative trends associated with the clock-change are a large-scale illustration of how bad for us it can be to lose even an hour of sleep. (As the parent of a small child, this is especially distressing to me.)

There’s nothing you can do to fully compensate for the sudden change that’s being forced on us, but you can take advantage of what scientists have learned about body clocks to adapt as quickly as possible.

We all have a natural internal clock of sorts, our circadian rhythm. It’s what makes us feel tired when it’s time to sleep and wakes us up in the morning, provided we’re on a fairly regular schedule.

As a species, humans’ clocks have evolved to mostly match the 24-hour natural light/dark schedule. (Our internal clock is actually a little longer than 24 hours, but gets naturally re-synchronized by environmental cues.) Exposure to light or darkness generally causes our bodies to produce hormones, particularly melatonin, that tell us when we should be alert or asleep – though artificial lighting can wreak some havoc on that system. Most of us are drowsiest around 5 a.m.

Suddenly changing the clocks throws off our internal body clock. You won’t naturally suddenly feel tired an hour earlier at night. In the morning when the alarm rings, it’s still going to feel like you should be asleep.

But we can manipulate our internal clocks to some degree: the most effective strategy is to get exposed to light at the right time.

camping tent stars

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Shutterstock/solarsven

How to shift your internal clock for Daylight Saving Time

According to one study, the most effective way to reset your natural sleep schedule is to go camping. Even in the winter, there’s enough natural light to shift your internal rhythm.

But it’s probably too late for a last-minute camping trip (and it’s still very cold in much of the US). A less planning-intensive method is to take in some bright sunlight early in the morning for the next few days. It will also help to avoid light in the evening, making sure you are in a dark environment by bedtime.

“Full spectrum lighting is probably optimal in terms of the management of all these clockwork hormones that direct the complex physiology we have,” Richard Rosen, director of retina services at New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai, previously told Business Insider. Even wearing sunglasses when you are trying to get your body ready for bed might help.

Morning exercise may be beneficial too, according to some research, though the data on how effective it is at shifting circadian rhythms is not conclusive. (Late-evening exercise has been shown to push our natural bedtime cues a bit later, however.)

Those who really feel the pain of the spring-forward clock change could also follow the lead of Florida residents, who are pushing to move clocks forward then never switch them back.

Here’s the incomprehensible screen that led Hawaii to send a terrifying missile alert by mistake

A screenshot from a Twitter account showing a missile warning for Hawaii.

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A screenshot from a Twitter account showing a missile warning for Hawaii.
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Thomson Reuters

  • A photo of the poor user interface used by the operator who sent a terrifying alert to Hawaii residents on Saturday telling them about an inbound ballistic missile has been released.
  • The interface is unclear and features links to various kinds of alerts that look similar to one another.
  • The operator who made the error has been reassigned but not fired.
  • Hawaii’s governor and the Emergency Management Agency have expressed regret about the false alarm and said it would not happen again.

It looks like a poor user interface might be partly to blame for the false ballistic missile alert that caused widespread panic in Hawaii on Saturday.

A newly released photograph of the screen that emergency-alert operators use to issue statewide alarms shows a confusing interface that relies on technical language, unclear shorthand, and a variety of single-color links for everything from county amber alerts to statewide tsunami warnings that look incredibly similar to one another.

The photo of the interface was obtained by the Honolulu Civil Beat.

The screen that the operator who issued the false alarm would have seen.

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The screen that the operator who issued the false alarm would have seen.
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Screenshot via Twitter/@CivilBeat

The two links related to ballistic-missile bombardments – labeled PACOM (CDW) – STATE ONLY and DRILL – PACOM (CDW) – STATE ONLY – are not immediately identifiable within the system and are separated by a tsunami-related alert.

According to the head of Hawaii’s Emergency Management Agency, Vern Miyagi, the operator had to answer an “Are you sure?” prompt before releasing the alert.

The false alarm sent to every person in Hawaii on Saturday morning was triggered when an operator clicked the link to a real alert instead of the link to a emergency drill.

“A missile may impact on land or sea within minutes. This is not a drill,” the alert read.

It took operators 38 minutes to issue another alert telling people it was a false alarm, but the person realized he had made a grave mistake within minutes of issuing the alert. The newly added link to this “false alarm” feature is the BMD False Alarm button at the top of the interface photograph.

But despite the hugely consequential error, Miyagi said the operator would not be fired and will instead be reassigned.

“This guy feels bad, right. He’s not doing this on purpose – it was a mistake on his part and he feels terrible about it,” Miyagi told reporters.

Hawaii Gov. David Ige issued a formal apology following the weekend mishap, and vowed to never let such a scenario happen again.

“On Saturday, Hawai’i’s residents and visitors experienced an unfortunate situation that has never happened before and will never happen again – a false alert issued by the Hawai’i’ Emergency Management Agency that a ballistic missile was on its way to the Hawaiian Islands,” Ige’s statement read. “On behalf of the State of Hawai’i, I deeply apologize for this false alert that created stress, anxiety and fear of a crisis in our residents and guests.”

What you need to know on Wall Street today

Welcome to Finance Insider, Business Insider’s summary of the top stories of the past 24 hours. Sign up here to get the best of Business Insider delivered direct to your inbox.

Citigroup released fourth-quarter results Tuesday, beating the expectations of Wall Street analysts with adjusted earnings of $1.28 a share. Analysts were expecting the bank to report adjusted earnings – which don’t include short-term impacts of the new tax law – of $1.19 a share.

It’s expected to be a noisy quarter for bank earnings in general, thanks in part to the tax law, which has caused many banks to book losses on repatriated cash and deferred tax assets that declined in value. Overall, Citi lost $18.3 billion, or $7.15 a share, for the quarter.

That included a one-time, non-cash charge of $22 billion, or $8.43 a share, on account of the new tax law.

Elsewhere in finance news, Goldman Sachs’ vaunted commodities-trading team got butchered in 2017. Two of the biggest high-speed trading firms are joining forces in a deal that’s a “sign of the times.” And Apple, Amazon, and other tech titans could threaten big banks in one key area.

There’s a ton of markets and investing news, so let’s jump right in:

In crypto news, two blockchain ETFs are launching – but the SEC asked them to take blockchain out of their names. Messaging app Telegram is looking to raise $1.2 billion in an ICO to become the Mastercard “for the new decentralized economy.” The CEO of the oldest bitcoin exchange says all platforms are struggling with “the massive, massive amount of new users.” And just about every cryptocurrency is getting smoked.

Insider Inc. held its second-ever hackathon — these are some of the top ideas our tech teams came up with

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Business Insider, Jason Merriman

If you were given one week to build something new or innovative that would benefit people or your company, what would you create?

Here at Business Insider, our tech team was given that opportunity in our first-ever hack week in December 2016 – and it was such a success that we recently held “Hack Week 2: The Unhackening.”

As a way to kick off our hacking, we hold a team meeting to pitch ideas, review some suggestions for projects, and form teams. All participants are then given four days – Monday through Thursday – to work on their passion project, concluding with presentations on Friday.

Each participant/team is able to use technologies they prefer, which really allows for creativity and gives everyone a chance to stretch their legs and work on something cool they may not have had time for otherwise.

Our first hack week, held last December, was a fun experiment that culminated in the whole team gathering in our building’s auxiliary cafe for presentations. There was great energy in the room as the team shared their creations – like a lunch-ordering plugin for Slack, sentiment analysis of our story content, and even an interactive, customizable corn-hole game (an office favorite here.)

One of the award winning ideas, a webhook that shows editors who else is currently editing the same post, was released into production as a quick follow.

“Hack Week 2: The Unhackening” resulted in another batch of improvements, creative solutions and candidates for production-ready products. As is our (albeit new) tradition, voting was held for a variety of award titles. We spoke with a few of the winners to get a better look into their own processes and projects.


“Project Valkyrie”

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Gabrien Symons

Award: Most Collaborative Hacker: Zakir Tariverdiev

How did you come up with your idea?

An associate approached me awhile ago and suggested that editing the content of an article directly on the site would be more more efficient than using Viking, our content management system. I found the idea to be very interesting and we discussed possible benefits and drawbacks of this approach.

This idea had to be placed on the back-burner until there was a window of opportunity to work on its implementation. Hack week was a perfect time to revisit this concept. Implementing it as a browser extension felt like the right approach.

Since 92% of Business Insider’s editors use Chrome, I decided to go with that browser. The name Valkyrie was born because I wanted this app to be the counterpart of Viking CMS. It’s not a copy of Viking and is not really a CMS. It is a very efficient content-editing tool that allows editors to make and view changes right on Insider Inc. websites.

What was your favorite part of working on your project?

My favorite part was that I got to learn a technology I never worked with before. The Chrome extension API is a bit different from what I am used to working with.

My extension also needed to talk to the Malsgufa, the Viking back-end API service, and be able to perform such tasks as checking user permissions and updating content. This, in turn, made the extension significantly more complex than the examples normally found in online tutorials. So a lot of trial, error, and most importantly, learning occurred during its development process.

If you had one more day to work on your concept, is there something you might add, change or otherwise finesse?

There is always a place for improvement, but I accomplished everything that I planned for the presentation.

I have ideas on how to make the Valkyrie app better and possibly extend it to support landing pages and provide drag and drop functionality. None of that was planned for the presentation though, so overall I’m happy with how it worked out.

Is there anything you would recommend to other hack-week hackers out there?

To get the best learning experience, it’s best to tackle projects outside of your comfort zone. Try technologies or frameworks you always wanted to check out, but never had the time. Also, don’t get bogged down in implementation details when coming up with the concept as that can hinder your project development. Think outside of what you can do and aim to learn as much as possible during the project. You are pretty much guaranteed to be a better programmer after the project is over.


“What it would be like to have interactive graphs on our site”

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Bryan Fellerath

Award: The X-Factor Hacker: Bryan Fellerath

How did you come up with your idea?

I have been interested in building an interactive data visualization using D3 [a programming language for HTML5-based visual features] js for awhile.

I also saw that in the hack-week suggestions from editorial, someone wrote this impassioned entry:

“Everyone else says “in-browser image editing, custom cropping, and a much better image library search + experience.” So I will dream big: D3-powered charts. You host data on the site and it renders catchy and interactive data charts, quizzes, maps, etc. Very sticky content. I think a D3-powered story on the New York Times that predicted the region you’re from is still that outlet’s most popular online story of all-time(?). This capability would open up *amazing* story possibilities in a data-rich world in which readers crave strong visuals. It’d also make Business Insider more of a unique destination apart from our syndication partners, since readers would have to come to our site for them.”

That was enough to encourage me that it was worth it to pursue the goal of having an interactive graph display in a BI post.

What was your favorite part of working on your project?

My favorite part was working with D3 to build a useful data visualization graph. I was really happy to get the data from Andy Kiersz and it was really fun working on displaying the data to be visually engaging.

I also hadn’t really thought about interactives from a product perspective. It really only makes sense to use interactives in the right situations. There are a lot of things to think about, like how much time your audience has, and it’s always good to remember that simple bar and line graphs convey a lot of information already.

I liked that this project got me thinking about these things, doing some general research on the state of Interactive Data Visualizations in media today.

If you had one more day to work on your concept, is there something you might add, change or otherwise finesse?

I would add more of the data to my interactive graph! The product for hack week toggled between the overall data and one subset; I would make it toggle between all the subsets.

Is there anything you would recommend to other hack-week hackers out there?

Don’t be afraid to pursue an idea that sounds a little out there and might not perfectly fit in as a product after just a week or so of work. There is a lot I learned by working on this, like the value of data visualization overall and how it can fit in (or not fit in) to a particular scenario.

I feel like I have a better idea of what goes into implementing something like this and how it could be implemented better. It is a learning experience and it makes sense to choose something that you feel passionate about.


“Albino Alligator”

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Bryan Young

Award: Most Enthusiastic Hacker: Bryan Young

Albino Alligator was a study of engineers at BI. The purpose of the study was to better understand our culture, its opportunities and challenges, and how individuals related to it.

My goal was to determine what the common understanding of “BI culture” was by finding patterns across interviewees, and (hopefully) solidify and improve culture by making improvement recommendations based on those patterns. *takes breath*

How did you come up with your idea?

I facilitate a bi-weekly Lean Coffee session called “Process Improvements Office Hours” – its purpose is to understand, discuss, and recommend action items for some of our organizational challenges.

Those sessions are great, but a) it’s a small subset of the engineering team, b) the tone and subject of the meetings can be dictated by a thing that happened 10 minutes beforehand, leaving it almost suspiciously at the whims of whatever happens to be going on that day; and most importantly, c) many people don’t feel comfortable talking about such things in a group setting. Someone, I can’t remember who, recommended talking to everyone one-on-one and compiling the themes of those conversations in a report. Whoever that someone is came up with the idea. I liked it!

What was your favorite part of working on your project?

Seeing that there are cultural qualities that make some people very happy and others very unhappy. What do we do about these things? How do we determine which qualities to focus on?

Thinking about these sorts of issues helped me recognize my own biases and remember that perception is totally subjective.

If you had one more day to work on your concept, is there something you might add, change or otherwise finesse?

My interviews concluded by the end of the day on Thursday, so I had very little time to compile and interpret the data. If I had had more time or could do it again, I might have someone else compile and interpret the data separately and see if we came to the same conclusions.

Is there anything you would recommend to other hack-week hackers out there?

You don’t have to write a single line of code to validate a hypothesis.

Welcome to Inside Insider!

Hello! And welcome to the launch of the Business Insider engineering and product team blog, Inside Insider.

As many of you know, Business Insider has grown exponentially since we launched 10 years ago. Likewise, our group of in-house engineers has grown from a mere two teams to eight and counting.

Business Insider itself has expanded from a single website with a homegrown CMS to four sites, including our popular lifestyle publisher INSIDER, and 15 editions of Business Insider around the world. Our content reaches hundreds of millions of readers and viewers across platforms like Facebook, Google, Instagram, and Yahoo.

This purpose of the new Inside Insider blog is to share how we go about tackling the myriad of problems we face as a complex, matrixed organization – specifically, a digital publisher – that continues to grow in complexity.

Beyond revealing more about how we work, we hope our new blog can serve as a platform to spark engagement among the community of tech engineers, in any field. Our hope is that we can help inspire others with similar challenges, and start conversations about the amazing things that are happening – at breakneck speed – at the intersection technology and media, where we work.

Lastly, our mission is simple: to embrace the process of “getting better” every single day. And we hope this blog helps us in reaching that goal.

Our inaugural post is a behind-the-scenes of our most recent hackathon, an event that was fun but also yielded tangible results for the company.

Happy reading!

Watch a firefighter catch a child thrown from a burning building in Georgia

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Screenshot/DeKalb County Firefighter’s Association

A helmet camera captured a firefighter catching a five-year-old child who was thrown from a burning building in Georgia in early January.

The video shows Capt. Scott Stroup catch the child, who was thrown by the father from a ladder three stories up, as people screamed and embers rained down to the ground.

A number of other children were dropped from the building and caught by firefighters as well.

A four-year-old child was dropped from a balcony and caught by Capt. Jackie Peckrul, according to Inside Edition. Babies as young as one-month-old were also dropped and caught, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

“We were catching babies like a football – literally,” DeKalb County fire Capt. Eric Jackson told the Journal-Constitution. “There were adults that were on the balcony that were dropping their babies right into our arms. We had a couple firefighters catching babies, so it was just really incredible.”

The fire on January 3 in Decatur, Georgia injured 12 people, including 8 children, according to WSB-TV.

Watch the video from the Washington Post below: