The state has run out of the drug used in past executions. The drugs administered to killer and rapist Dennis McGuire had not been used in Ohio before. He was treated "far more humanely" than the woman he killed, her family said Thursday.
President Obama is expected to suggest reforms to the NSA surveillance program tomorrow. And considering that data collection is also the capital of the tech business today, it’s no surprise that the industry has been lobbying for change.
“The first thing, is stop the bulk collection not just of phone data but internet data,” said Brough Turner, the founder and CTO at netBlazr, an internet service provider in Watertown, Mass.
While a lot of attention has been paid to phone data, tech companies point out that the FISA Act also allows for the bulk collection of Internet data. Turner’s developing wireless products, and a few months ago he was shopping it around in Europe.
“I was in Germany in October, and it was pretty clear that American services are completely, suspicious and American products are somewhat suspicious,” Turner said. “That was three months ago. At this point, the situation is much more negative.”
Turner says that Obama can start putting some of these concerns at ease if he proposes a policy to protect the privacy of foreign internet users.
The NSA revelations are also calling into question the security of cloud computing, said Matt Simons, the director of social and economic justice at ThoughtWorks, which builds custom software for business around the world. He says moving software to the cloud has, in part, fueled this tech boom
But “people are seeking to build their own clouds, people are seeking to use clouds that are not storing their data inside the United States,” Simons said.
He added that the NSA revelations appear to be having a bigger impact on small and medium sized businesses. While there are few alternatives to Google, Facebook and Amazon, the global competition for smaller scale products is fierce.
One thing that’s hitting all tech companies is the news that the NSA has built back doors into security software, said Stephen Cobb, a researcher at ESET, a cyber-security firm that protects company servers.
“It really sent a shiver through the security community because we know if you weaken it for the intelligence community, than the bad guys will exploit it, too,” Cobb said.
Cobbs says before the Snowden revelations, the cyber-security industry shared information with the government. Now, that relationship has chilled.
Big box retailer Best Buy released some truly dismal holiday sales results today. Sales fell nearly 1 percent during the holiday shopping season. Sears and Costco saw disappointing sales too, and JC Penney announced it is closing 33 stores and eliminating 2,000 jobs.
A decade ago, big box stores were the titans of retail; small businesses were shutting their doors left and right because they couldn’t compete with the likes of Costco, Best Buy and Target on price and selection. Now the big boys are "struggling to find their customers," says Laura Kennedy, principle analyst at Kantar Retail. "I think Seth Meyers made a joke on Saturday Night Live that 'Toys R Us announced its stores would remain open for 87 straight hours leading up to Christmas... meanwhile, the Internet announced that it will be open all the time, always, forever.'"
E-commerce accounts for roughly 6 percent of the retail economy. That number is growing fast, but if retail titans like Best Buy go down the tubes, we could have a problem. "They do $45 billion in revenue, so it is a big deal," says Brian Yarbrough, a consumer analyst at Edward Jones. "Retailers realize they probably over-expanded and made the box too big over the years, and when they close, it’s not good for the economy."
The biggest issue? Jobs. Yarbrough points out big box stores employ thousands of people, from sales clerks to store managers. Still, he says, many of those jobs will migrate along with our shopping habits. "You might lose a few people in the stores, but a lot of these retailers are ramping up hiring around systems and software and distribution centers. And I think that there’s not a ton of job losses."
Adding to that, big box stores are becoming economic small potatoes. "They’re becoming less part of even the retail space," says Chris Christopher, a consumer economist at IHS Global Insight. "So they are becoming less important and they also are struggling. Just because a lot of consumers are sort of saying, ‘Hey, I don’t need that extra item.’"
Christopher points out the economy has improved, but the average household has about 8 percent less income than it did before the recession. That gives another edge to online retailers, which can charge less for items because they don’t have to pay for the big overhead of a big box store.
In his new book, former Defense Secretary Robert Gates jabs Sen. Harry Reid for urging Defense Department research on irritable bowel syndrome. But the illness has been a plague on many Gulf War veterans.