#Spaceishard, civil forfeiture and the weekly roundup in tech and retail

News and commentaries

One of the best things about Twitter is that you get instant access to breaking news and random posts. This was very apparent during SpaceX’ heartbreaking Falcon 9 mishap (don’t call it an explosion) when SpaceX CEO Elon Musk gave a live update on the event via his Twitter account. Incidentally, it was Musk’s 44th birthday. Once again, we are reminded that space is hard and SpaceX success has been such that we are now starting to take that truth for granted. So, let’s not forget and as futurist David Brin said: “Let’s all offer a ‘hang in there’ encouragement to the folks at SpaceX.”

On another note, a random Twitter post caught my attention. Earlier this week, the TSA posted a photo of a passenger’s cash-filled luggage on Twitter. Even though there is nothing illegal about transporting large amounts of cash (except on international borders), and in fact, the passenger was not charged with any crime, authorities can still seize that cash under suspicion of illegal activity. And this is where I found out about civil forfeiture where the United States can literally charge inanimate objects with a crime (such as Unites States v. $124,700 in US currency), and consider that object guilty until proven innocent. In most cases, the owners of the seized property just let the case go instead of pursuing it. And in case, you were thinking as I did that it is limited to large amounts of money, you’re wrong. Further search found this great clip from John Oliver about Civil Forfeiture:

Here are this week’s most relevant news in tech and retail and have a Happy (and safe) Fourth of July:

In tech:

  1. Space: SpaceX Falcon 9 disintegrated 139 seconds after Sunday’s liftoff,  cause is still unknown; NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft captures images of mysterious spots on Pluto’s equator
  2. PayPal to buy online money transfer company Xoom for $890M in all cash deal, acquisition expected to complete in Q4 2015
  3. Ridesharing: Singapore’s GrabTaxi raises over $200M; Two of France Uber execs are on trial after last week’s riots over UberPOP (a service separate from Uber and UberX where drivers are not required to have a taxi license), company suspends UberPOP to await September decision
  4. Reddit’s most popular pages in lockdown in protest over the firing of AMA moderator, Victoria Taylor
  5. Tesla announces global second quarter Model S delivery totals at 11,507; total first half of 2015 sales at 21,537 cars

In retail:

  1. Donna Karan steps down as Chief Designer for Donna Karan International, will remain in advisory role
  2. Puma sells Tretorn, an athletic footwear label, to Authentic Brands, owner of Juicy Couture and Frederick’s of Hollywood
  3. Whole Foods admits to overcharging customers for a variety of prepared foods in New York City
  4. Report finds Walmart misusing “Made in U.S.A.” label for products made elsewhere
  5. Amazon overs Prime Now, its one-hour delivery, on over 10,000 items to Prime subscribers in London
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