Absolutely Nothing Is Safe Anymore
Hi there, thanks for joining us. We appreciate you taking the time, especially if you’re in one of the many places across the country that is having to deal with temperatures near or below zero. Looks like we’ll get a brief warm up over the weekend, then it’s right back down to freezer town for next week. Santa’s going to need his long johns for that sleigh ride of his.
Once again, there is more news than we have time to cover this morning. As we’re putting this together, ambulances attempting to leave Aleppo are being fired upon making that bad situation all that much worse1. And NBC News is claiming Russian president Vladimir Putin personally directed the hacking and release of DNC emails2. If you’re not feeling safe, you’re not alone. It’s scary out there.
The Yahoo Hack Was One Of The Largest Ever
If you had a Yahoo account of any kind prior to 2013, chances are your information was among the data stolen in a 2013 hack that law enforcement now says includes over a billion accounts3. Stop and think about that for a moment. A billion accounts is almost triple the size of the US population. If you have a Yahoo, Flikr, or Tumblr account, you likely received an email this morning altering you to the breach and instructing you to change your passwords and watch for any suspicious activities, especially in email.
Fortunately, the company does not believe any credit card information was stolen. Yahoo says that all payment information is stored on a separate system that was not part of the hack. Still, this news comes at a critical time for the company as they are desperately trying to complete a sale to Verizon. Yahoo has been a sinking ship for quite some time now and the fear is that this most recent news, even though the hack occurred three years ago, could lower the price Verizon is willing to pay. The deal is currently at $4.8 billion, but this could cause Verizon to either lower the price or walk away completely.
At the same time, the size of this hack is only fueling a feeling that no one is safe from cyber attack4. With the revelation earlier this week that both the RNC and DNC systems were compromised, the Yahoo hack is further confirmation that no one is immune, there is no site, no data, that is completely safe from attack.
Am I the only one feeling their anxiety going up a little bit?
We’re anxious about the economy, too
The numbers are out for November and it’s not looking as though Black Friday worked too well this year. US retail sales barely eeked out the tiniest amount of growth last month, well below what was expected and industrial production took its biggest drop in eight months5. While economists generally consider the US economy to be moving forward, this is a strong warning sign for retailers that shoppers are being a little more cautious with their money going into the new year. Growth in November, even with all the sales, was only one-tenth of one percent, compared to 3.5 percent growth in November of last year.
At the same time, the Federal Reserved raised interest rates .25 percent and indicated that they would likely continue raising key lending rates at least three times in 20176. A fair portion of that decision was the upward movement of inflation and an assumption that wages and industrial production are likely to go up next year. The Fed is feeling good about the economy.
However, many consumers are not feeling so good about what they’re seeing in their wallet. Higher interest rates are not going to help at this particular moment. We’ll have to see how this shakes out.
As if retailers didn’t have enough to worry about …
Amazon has made its first successful drone delivery in England7. The company released news yesterday of a delivery that occurred on December 7. The drone left a warehouse in Cambridge carrying a package of popcorn and an Amazon Fire TV stick and deposited them 13 minutes later on the doorstep of a recipient, one of two apparently, who volunteered to be part of the test program.
Amazon has been talking about drone delivery all year and the video they released yesterday has to be chilling for traditional retailers who are already having difficulty getting people inside their stores. The news can’t be terribly good for parcel delivery companies such as UPS and FedEx, either, as Amazon and other online sites have contributed heavily to a dramatic increase in their business over the past few years.
There are some limitations for drone delivery, at least for now. Packages have to weigh less than five pounds and can only be delivered during the day when the weather is clear. Still, as Amazon aims for 30 minutes or less for delivery times, this is a huge step forward. There’s no word yet on when drone delivery might take off in the US, but be very sure that it’s coming. This is the world changing around us, folks.
Planned Parenthood Funding is saved … for now
The Department of Health and Human Services added a new regulation yesterday that reinforces the law prohibiting states who receive federal funding for women’s health programs from discriminating against Planned Parenthood8. This is great news for the non-profit that has been so heavily attacked by Republicans on both the state and federal level. The rule doesn’t name the organization specifically, of course. The new rule says that states cannot discriminate against “qualified organizations” in distributing funds. Still, there’s little question that Planned Parenthood was who the administration had in mind.
This doesn’t mean the battle is over, though. The incoming administration could easily revoke the rule under the Congressional Review Act, which the president-elect has said he will use heavily to undo many of President Obama’s last-minute actions. The war against women’s health goes on and, quite honestly, I don’t see the matter being completely settled any time soon.
And finally …
Facebook is telling Business Insider that it wants to bankroll its own video programming, including scripted, unscripted, and sports entertainment9. As if network and cable television didn’t already have enough competition from streaming services such as Netflix and Hulu, Facebook is saying they have the cash to start funding original programming. We could actually start seeing the results as early as next year.
Facebook has already been investing heavily in video. Have you noticed the increase in media companies and celebrities using live video on the site? That would be because Facebook is paying those media companies and celebrities to use the live streaming feature. Facebook is making billions off all those ads you see and they’re not afraid to dump some of that cash into original content that will appear under the video tab on the mobile app.
Do you ever get the feeling that Facebook won’t be happy until they have your attention 24-hours a day? One has to wonder when they’ll develop a way for us all to work through the social media app. It’s all a bit scary.
We’re out of time so I’m leaving it at that for today. If you want to check our sources, which we verify, you’ll find the links in the highlighted numbers you see through the page. Remember, you can’t trust just anyone. Always verify your sources before sharing. And don’t forget to subscribe to our posts. Please. Thank you for dropping by! Stay warm and we’ll see you tomorrow.