While making the case for striking Syria, the secretary of state also tried to reassure Americans and U.S. allies that the effort won't draw the nation into another war. His choice of words is getting attention.
To “encrypt” is the act of concealing data by converting it into code. And as we learned last week, much of the “encryption” technology companies use to make our information safe online might not be that safe after all.
According to documents leaked by Edward Snowden, the National Security Agency has used supercomputers to crack the codes or worked with tech companies to find a way around them to decode encrypted data. Well today, Google announced it’s fighting back and beefing up its encryption.
Most of the data we give Google -- in emails and searches -- that’s encrypted. But eventually, all that information ends up on Google’s servers. And when they pass the data back and forth, it’s not encrypted.
Google’s said it’s going to start encrypting that data, said Matt Blaze, a cyber-security professor at the University of Pennsylvania.
“And essentially what that does is makes it more difficult for the NSA to make any sense of communications that it intercepts without Google’s cooperation,” said Blaze.
And Blaze says that it’s not just the National Security Agency. We’ve known for a that countries like China and Russia are trying to get a hold of our data too. He thinks companies like Microsoft and Amazon are making similar updates too.
Looked at one way, today’s announcement is a PR offensive, said Matthew Green is a cyber-security professor at Johns Hopkins University.
“They’re announcing this today to make sure that people know that this is important to them,” Green said.
By “people,” Green’s talking about companies that store their data and do their computing on Google’s servers. By one account, cloud services rang up about $18 billion in worldwide sales last year.
But cybersecurity experts say, the effectiveness of Google’s new safeguards will probably be short lived, said Dan Kaminsky, a cybersecurity expert.
“You know the honest truth is it is an arms race, the other side has all the cards,” Kaminsky said.
Still, Kaminsky says if Google wants to compete for business abroad, it’s got to show the world that it’s doing everything it can to keep its data private
President Obama is doing his best to be must-see TV. Tonight, he’ll make his case for an attack on Syria in interviews with six different news anchors. And tomorrow, the president will address the nation during primetime.
For a White House steeped in new-media outlets online, that’s certainly a lot of old-media time. But it's time well spent, says Bill Carroll, vice president of Katz Television Group.
"The best way to reach the largest number of people is by going on television," he says.
Nightly news viewership is smaller than it once was, but ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox still get a combined five million viewers a night.
And that time doesn’t come cheap. As a candidate, Obama would have had to pay as much as $100,000 a minute for an ad during those shows. That means tonight’s six interviews could be worth millions of dollars.
Carroll expects more people will tune in to the news to see the president, something that will please advertisers as much as the White House.
"It’s a very direct way of making your point in as intimate a setting as you can and still reach everyone that you’re trying to reach," Carroll says.
A one-on-one interview is a clever tactic, says political consultant Hank Sheinkopf.
"The advantage of going on these news programs before giving a speech is to soften up the battlefield," he says.
Tonight, Obama can be relaxed and down to earth. In his White House speech tomorrow, he is likely to appear forceful and presidential.
Obama’s reach will be broader than viewers who watch him live, predicts Kenneth Rogoff, a professor of public policy and economics at Harvard. He says the broadcasts will reach older viewers, while younger Americans will go online to watch highlights.
"Young people today look at YouTube videos way ahead of New York Times articles, I’m afraid, so it’s the medium where you get the most impact, especially with the younger audience," he says.
Obama’s not the only leader turning to TV to gain public support. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad will also appear tonight on CBS and PBS.
It's getting harder and harder to find a company that'll give you health insurance once you're retired. Both IBM and Time Warner have just announced they're going to end health coverage for retirees under their plans. Instead, they will give retirees an annual check to shop for their own insurance on a private health-insurance exchange.
The key word there is "private." This is not Obamacare. These are private health insurance exchanges for retirees -- kind of like giant insurance brokers.
If you're a retiree from one of these companies, says Paul Fronstin with the Employment Benefit Research Institute, there are upsides. You'll have a bigger choice of plans. You can pick the plan that's right for you. Of course, just how much choice you'll have depends on how generous your company's contribution is.
IBM and Time Warner aren't the first to dump in-house health care, in favor of private exchanges. Fronstin says, "I would expect more employers doing this with retiree health benefits."
"Many firms are looking for ways to disentangle themselves from retiree health benefits and costs," says Tricia Neuman, with the Kaiser Family Foundation.
Most large companies don't offer any retiree coverage. Twenty years ago, about two-thirds did.
Moving retiree health insurance to private exchanges, is also one less thing for a company to worry about. "It could be that they are just trying to distance themselves from managing their health benefits," says Neuman.
After all, that's not the business they're in.
The Oneida Nation wants the Washington Redskins to change their name and mascot - and they're hoping sports fans will help sway team owners. Host Michel Martin talks with Oneida Nation representative Ray Halbritter.
Many people saw the Arab Spring as a sign of hope for youth in the area. But unemployment numbers there reflect the opposite. Host Michel Martin speaks with The Wall Street Journal economics reporter Sudeep Reddy and Shadi Hamid, director of research at the Brookings Doha Center, about the economic realities of the post-Arab Spring world.
The one thing Apple has going for it in China is cachet. And that’s why Tom Doctoroff, Asia Pacific CEO of ad agency JWT thinks offering an inexpensive iPhone to the Chinese is a very bad idea.
"One of the golden rules of marketing in China is that anything displayed in public can command a huge price premium," says Doctoroff. "And the reason for that is status is a primary driver here, much, much more so than in the West. So when you offer an inexpensive iPhone, it immediately signals that this isn’t so elite anymore."
Buzz for the iPhone has been wearing off here. A report from global analyst Canalys shows that in the last quarter, the iPhone fell from fifth to seventh most popular smartphone in China. It was overtaken by the Chinese firm Xiaomi, which just released a new affordable phone that’s generating a lot of hype.
Charlie Custer, who edits the blog Tech in Asia says Apple won’t be able to compete with a new slew of Chinese phone makers like Xiaomi on price.
"Even the cheap iPhone is going to come in above what the Xiaomi costs," says Custer. "So then it’s not a luxury phone, but it’s not as inexpensive as this really nice inexpensive phone. So who exactly is going to buy it? I’m not sure."
The answer may come this week. Apple’s been in talks with China Mobile to help sell the iPhone. It's the world's largest telecom company, with 745 million subscribers. If that deal comes through, then iPhones -- inexpensive or not -- will suddenly have a market more than twice the size of the one at home in the U.S.
Researchers argue that through social media and on-the-ground research, a detailed portrait of the Syrian rebels has emerged. This goes against the conventional wisdom, which holds that little is known about the rebel factions.
Two large investors — Ares Management LLC and the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board — have reached a deal to purchase Neiman Marcus, Inc., for $6 billion, the companies said Monday. The two buyers will hold equal shares of Neiman, which is based in Dallas.