Ever since the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School last December, business has been good for manufacturers of firearms and ammo, though somebody forgot to tell investors, as shares in companies like Sturm Ruger, Smith and Wesson and others are starting to level off. Sales are up drastically, as there were 44 percent more background checks conducted during the first quarter than in the same period a year earlier. Though not all background checks end in a gun purchase, the upswing suggests high demand in response to political rhetoric about gun control legislation. Gun stocks have risen as, well, though not at the same pace. Sturm Ruger has been the best performer among major gun makers, with shares gaining 10 percent so far this year, while Smith & Wesson stock has improved about 3 percent.
Subaru announced on Thursday it is recalling more than 630,000 vehicles over an issue with the electrical system that can cause fires. The company said that it may only need to conduct repairs on about 54,000 of the vehicles involved in the recall, but it is notifying owners of 633,842 vehicles in which the problem may be present. According to a statement from the National Highway Safety Transportation Administration, the issue is with a faulty puddle lamp where moisture may cause an electrical short and lead to a fire. Subaru says there have not been any reports of injury or accident as a result of the problem, though there have been a handful of owners reporting that the short did occur. Described as “less than 10” by a Subaru spokesman, the incidents of shorting produced smoke but no fire.
A second person was declared dead as a result of a ravenous fire that destroyed 347 homes in a Colorado Springs neighborhood on Tuesday, making it the most destructive wildfire in the state's history. As firefighters had succeeded in pushing the fire back into the mountains, President Obama visited the city, stopping in to see some of the 32,500 evacuees across El Paso County and taking a tour of the Mountain Shadows neighborhood, where numerous homes were consumed by flames, leaving nothing but gray rubble surrounded by seared, black lawns. Obama then stopped in to visit with some firefighters before Air Force One departed from Peterson Air Force Base.
Police in Monument, Colorado arrested a pair of alleged burglars on Thursday afternoon, who were trying to break into a home in an evacuation zone for the Waldo Canyon wildfire, which destroyed 346 homes on Tuesday and Wednesday. 38 year-old Belinda Yates and 36 year-old Shane Garrett were arrested and charged with charges including second degree burglary and theft. The two were also reportedly in possession of methamphetamine and a weapon, and will be charged for them accordingly.
For the last six days, residents of Colorado Springs, Colorado have watched in horror as a wildfire started about ten miles to the northwest and then eventually made its way into the city, burning more homes than any wildfire in the state's history. Dubbed the Waldo Canyon Fire, after the canyon in which it began, the now 16,000-acre wildfire has destroyed at least 346 homes, most of those going up in flames on Tuesday, when thunderstorms generated wind gusts of up to 65 miles per hour, driving flames down the side of the mountains west of the city at alarming speed.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced on Tuesday it is expanding a probe into a potential fire hazard in Toyota vehicles to include some 1.4 million cars and SUVs sold in the US. Toyota had previously issued a recall over the problem, which has so far been linked to 161 fires and nine separate injuries. According to a statement from the NHTSA, the problem involves the window switches on the driver's side door, which can overheat and spark a fire.
Microsoft announced on Friday it is making the do-not-track option default on the next version of its Internet Explorer Web browser, IE 10, making it the world's first to protect users' identities without those users taking any action. Other leading browsers, such as Google's Chrome and Mozilla's Firefox, just like previous versions of IE, offered the do-not-track option but users had to go into the browser's settings and click a box to opt-in. The move was seen by some tech insiders as a response to President Obama's recent comments suggesting browsers offer a simple, easily located do-not-track button, rather than a more difficult to find box deep in the settings menu.
Barnes & Noble announced on Tuesday it has developed a cheaper version of its Nook tablet PC to compete with Amazon's Kindle Fire tablet. Just like the Fire, the new Nook will be priced at $199, cutting the storage capacity from the original Nook tablet from 16GB to 8GB. The device comes with a 7-inch screen optimized for online content such as e-books and streaming video and web browsing. The company also announced it was reducing the price of its Nook Color e-reader to $169.
Daily deals provider Groupon continued its recent string of acquisitions Thursday by purchasing an exciting, Silicon Valley startup before the company even launched. The company is Campfire Labs, and like other recent Groupon acquisitions, was picked up to increase Groupon's pool of talent. The company was founded by former Google engineer Sakina Arsiwala and her husband, a social search technology expert previously employed by Yahoo. The acquisition was done quietly, without an official announcement coming from either company.
Working conditions and worker safety at Chinese factories is in the news again after an accident over the weekend at a plant in Shanghai left 23 people in the hospital with burns and another 34 with more minor injuries. Owned by Riteng Computer Accessory Company, the factory produces, among other things, back panels for Apple's iPad 2. According to local media reports, an explosion occurred Saturday afternoon at the plant, injuring dozens of workers.