More carmakers caught in headlights of VW engine-rigging scandal

More carmakers caught in headlights of VW engine-rigging scandal
Volkswagen has admitted it installed illegal software into 11 million 2.0 liter and 3.0 liter diesel engines worldwide (AFP Photo/Josh Edelson)

Volkswagen emissions scandal

Missing MH370 likely to have disintegrated mid-flight: experts

Missing MH370 likely to have disintegrated mid-flight: experts
A Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 commercial jet.

QZ8501 (AirAsia)

Leaders see horror of French Alps crash as probe gathers pace

"The Recalibration of Awareness – Apr 20/21, 2012 (Kryon channeled by Lee Carroll) (Subjects: Old Energy, Recalibration Lectures, God / Creator, Religions/Spiritual systems (Catholic Church, Priests/Nun’s, Worship, John Paul Pope, Women in the Church otherwise church will go, Current Pope won’t do it), Middle East, Jews, Governments will change (Internet, Media, Democracies, Dictators, North Korea, Nations voted at once), Integrity (Businesses, Tobacco Companies, Bankers/ Financial Institutes, Pharmaceutical company to collapse), Illuminati (Started in Greece, with Shipping, Financial markets, Stock markets, Pharmaceutical money (fund to build Africa, to develop)), Shift of Human Consciousness, (Old) Souls, Women, Masters to/already come back, Global Unity.... etc.) - (Text version)

… The Shift in Human Nature

You're starting to see integrity change. Awareness recalibrates integrity, and the Human Being who would sit there and take advantage of another Human Being in an old energy would never do it in a new energy. The reason? It will become intuitive, so this is a shift in Human Nature as well, for in the past you have assumed that people take advantage of people first and integrity comes later. That's just ordinary Human nature.

In the past, Human nature expressed within governments worked like this: If you were stronger than the other one, you simply conquered them. If you were strong, it was an invitation to conquer. If you were weak, it was an invitation to be conquered. No one even thought about it. It was the way of things. The bigger you could have your armies, the better they would do when you sent them out to conquer. That's not how you think today. Did you notice?

Any country that thinks this way today will not survive, for humanity has discovered that the world goes far better by putting things together instead of tearing them apart. The new energy puts the weak and strong together in ways that make sense and that have integrity. Take a look at what happened to some of the businesses in this great land (USA). Up to 30 years ago, when you started realizing some of them didn't have integrity, you eliminated them. What happened to the tobacco companies when you realized they were knowingly addicting your children? Today, they still sell their products to less-aware countries, but that will also change.

What did you do a few years ago when you realized that your bankers were actually selling you homes that they knew you couldn't pay for later? They were walking away, smiling greedily, not thinking about the heartbreak that was to follow when a life's dream would be lost. Dear American, you are in a recession. However, this is like when you prune a tree and cut back the branches. When the tree grows back, you've got control and the branches will grow bigger and stronger than they were before, without the greed factor. Then, if you don't like the way it grows back, you'll prune it again! I tell you this because awareness is now in control of big money. It's right before your eyes, what you're doing. But fear often rules. …

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

VW suspends chief lobbyist over emission tests on monkeys

Yahoo – AFP, Frank ZELLER, January 30, 2018

Outrage mounts over VW's use of monkeys and humans in experiments to study
the effects of diesel exhaust fumes (AFP Photo/PATRICK PLEUL)

Berlin (AFP) - Germany's scandal-hit auto giant Volkswagen on Tuesday suspended its chief lobbyist Thomas Steg as outrage mounted over monkey and human experiments to study the effects of diesel exhaust fumes.

CEO Matthias Mueller said VW had "taken first consequences" from the tests on monkeys and put on leave Steg, the general representative for external relations and government affairs, who had "taken full responsibility".

The New York Times reported last week that US researchers in 2014 locked 10 monkeys into airtight chambers and made them breathe in diesel exhaust from a VW Beetle while the animals were watching TV cartoons.

Separately, it emerged that a research group funded by VW, Mercedes-Benz parent Daimler and BMW had ordered a study in Germany measuring the effects of inhaling nitrogen dioxide on 25 human volunteers.

The scandal follows VW's admission in 2015 that it had manipulated 11 million diesel cars worldwide, equipping them with cheating software to make them seem less polluting than they were.

Mueller on Monday labelled the animal testing "wrong ... unethical and repulsive", reported Spiegel Online.

And Steg had vowed in the top-selling Bild daily that "what happened should never have happened, I regret it very much".

VW's image has been tarnished by the emissions cheating scandal (AFP Photo/
JOHN MACDOUGALL)

He admitted that he had been informed in advance of the US monkey experiment but insisted he prevented a plan to carry these tests out on humans.

The German government has called a special meeting with the affected car companies to ask them to explain themselves.

In Brussels, European Commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas said the EU was "shocked" and took note of Berlin's vow to investigate the matter, adding that "we hope that they will".

Greenpeace slammed "a fraudulent auto industry and an idle German government" behind the scandal and called Steg a "scapegoat". The NGO said nitrogen dioxide emitted by diesel vehicles led to 10,000 premature deaths in Germany each year.

The EU Commission has summoned Germany and eight other EU countries to explain how they plan to lower toxic emissions to meet the bloc's air quality standards if they want to avoid action before the European Court of Justice.

Chancellor Angela Merkel has strongly condemned the latest controversy to engulf the nation's powerful auto industry.

"These tests on monkeys or even humans are in no way ethically justified," said Merkel's spokesman Steffen Seibert on Monday.

"The indignation felt by many people is completely understandable."

No harm?

All three German carmakers have scrambled to distance themselves from the research body in question -- the now defunct European Research Group on Environment and Health in the Transport Sector (EUGT) -- and promised to launch internal investigations.

CEO Matthias Mueller labelled the testing "wrong ... unethical and repulsive"
 (AFP Photo/Tobias SCHWARZ)

Mueller said that "we are in the process of scrutinising the work of the EUGT, which was dissolved in 2017, and drawing all the necessary conclusions from it.

"Mr. Steg has declared he was taking full responsibility. I respect that," he said.

Steg had, in his comments to Bild, also addressed the German tests conducted in an institute in Aachen in 2013 and 2014, stressing that the volunteers had been exposed to "much lower levels than those found in many workplaces" and that no-one suffered any harm.

Although it was the EUGT that commissioned both tests, the organisation itself was financed by the trio of car giants hoping its research would defend diesel's green reputation.

The car companies decided in late 2016 to dissolve the EUGT, which shut its doors last year.

Amid the controversy, Berlin's Tageszeitung daily said that "while these experiments are doubtless scandalous, the bigger scandal is the experiment the car industry has been conducting on the wider population for decades".

"While the monkeys and human volunteers only had to inhale exhaust fumes for a few hours, people with the misfortune to walk along arterial roads have been breathing in levels of nitrogen oxide far higher than EU limits for years."

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

German carmakers under fire for tests on humans, monkeys

Yahoo – AFP, Michelle FITZPATRICK, 29 January 2018

Volkswagen is back under a diesel cloud following reports it helped finance tests
of car exhaust fumes that used monkeys and humans

German carmakers came under fire Monday following revelations they helped finance experiments that saw humans and monkeys exposed to diesel fumes that have been linked to asthma, lung diseases and heart attacks.

The disclosures sparked widespread outrage, led by Chancellor Angela Merkel who strongly condemned the latest controversy to engulf the nation's powerful but scandal-tainted auto industry.

"These tests on monkeys or even humans are in no way ethically justified," said Merkel's spokesman Steffen Seibert.

"The indignation felt by many people is completely understandable."

Earlier Monday the Sueddeutsche and Stuttgarter Zeitung dailies reported that a research group funded by Volkswagen, Daimler and BMW had ordered a study in Germany measuring the effects of inhaling nitrogen oxide gases on 25 healthy human beings.

The revelation came just days after the New York Times wrote that the same organisation carried out tests on monkeys in the United States in 2014.

According to the NYT article, the researchers locked 10 monkeys into airtight chambers and made them breathe in diesel exhausts from a VW Beetle while watching cartoons.

Volkswagen apologised for the animal testing at the weekend, saying the group "distances itself clearly from all forms of animal abuse".

Special meeting

The German government has called a special meeting with the affected car companies to ask them to explain themselves, said acting transport minister Christian Schmidt.

"This has once again damaged trust in the auto industry," he said.

It was VW's admission in 2015 that it had manipulated 11 million diesel cars with cheating software to make them seems less polluting than they were that brought close scrutiny to the industry, which had long touted diesels as better for the environment than gasoline-powered engines.

All three German carmakers scrambled to distance themselves from the research body in question -- the now defunct European Research Group on Environment and Health in the Transport Sector (EUGT) -- and promised to launch internal investigations.

"We are appalled by the extent of the studies and their implementation," a Daimler spokesman told AFP.

"The BMW Group did not participate in the mentioned studies," the luxury carmaker said in a statement, while VW said the EUGT was set up to be an "independent" research body.

Although it was the EUGT that commissioned both tests, the organisation itself was financed by the trio of car giants hoping its research would defend diesel's green reputation -- and the valuable tax breaks that go with it.

The car companies decided in late 2016 to dissolve the EUGT, which shut its doors last year.

'No significant effects'

The tests involving 25 human volunteers were carried out at a university hospital in the German city of Aachen in 2013 and 2014.

As part of the study, the participants were exposed for several hours to different levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) -- the most toxic form of nitrogen oxide and commonly found in diesel exhausts.

The researchers detected "no significant effects", according to a summary of the study.

But Thomas Kraus, the head of the relevant department at the university hospital in Aachen, told German media the findings were limited as they weren't representative of the wider population and didn't take into account general air pollution.

The institute separately released a statement stressing the study had been approved by the university hospital's ethics commission and was not linked to any diesel emissions testing.

The study was about improving "workplace safety" for people like truck drivers, mechanics or welders, it said, adding that the levels of NO2 inhaled by the test subjects were "well below those found in many workplaces in Germany".

The World Health Organization says on its website there is "growing evidence" that nitrogen dioxide exposure "can increase symptoms of bronchitis and asthma, as well as lead to respiratory infections and reduced lung function and growth."

Exposure is "linked to premature mortality... from cardiovascular and respiratory diseases," it states.

'Absurd'

The premier of Lower Saxony, whose state is home to VW's Wolfsburg headquarters and is one of the group's biggest shareholders, echoed Berlin's repudiation of the tests.

The experiments are "absurd and disgusting" said Stephan Weil, whose state holds two seats on VW's supervisory board.

He reminded the VW group that it "must meet all ethical requirements".

The latest scandal "will have a lasting impact on the public's trust in the auto industry," predicted analyst Ferdinand Dudenhoeffer of the Center for Automotive Research.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Turkish passenger plane skids off runway onto seaside cliff

Yahoo – AFP, 14 January 2018

The Pegasus Airlines flight had taken off smoothly from the capital Ankara bound
for Trabzon, where the accident occurred as the plane was landing late Saturday

A plane with 168 people aboard skidded off a runway onto a seaside cliff after landing at an airport in northern Turkey at the weekend, but no one was injured in what one passenger called a "miracle".

The Pegasus Airlines flight had taken off smoothly from the capital Ankara bound for Trabzon, where the accident occurred as the plane was landing late Saturday.

Dramatic images from CNN Turk broadcaster showed the plane lying on the cliffside, its nose just metres (feet) from the waters of the Black Sea and its wheels stuck in mud.

"There was panic, people shouting, screaming," one of the passengers, Fatma Gordu, told state-run Anadolu news agency.

"When they told us to leave from the rear exit, everyone tried to push ahead of everyone else. It was a terrible situation."

She said they could smell fuel and feared that a fire would break out. "That is why we were scared," she said, adding that there were pregnant women and children on board.

Passenger Yuksel Gordu said it was a "miracle" they were saved. "We could have burned, it could have exploded, we could have fallen into the sea... Every time I think about it, I feel I might go crazy," she said.

Images from the Dogan news agency showed smoke emanating from the trapped plane and an engine that appeared to have fallen into the water.

According to the agency, the plane was 25 metres (80 feet) away from the sea.

Pegasus Airlines confirmed in a statement Sunday there were no injuries among the 162 passengers, two pilots and four flight attendants.

Pegasus Airlines confirmed in a statement Sunday there were no injuries 
among the 162 passengers, two pilots and four flight attendants

The cause of the incident was unknown but an investigation is under way, the Trabzon governor's office said. A crisis centre for the incident was set up at the airport.

"The plane will be removed while all measures have been taken for other work and procedures. These will be carried out step-by-step," Trabzon governor Yucel Yavuz told Anadolu.

He added that a small number of people asked to go to hospital but did not give further detail.

The Trabzon public prosecutor has launched a separate criminal probe. Dogan agency said the prosecutor would seek statements from the six crew onboard.

The airport was temporarily shut before reopening early Sunday, while an operation to remove the plane continued.

Professor Atakan Aksoy from Karadeniz Technical University's civil engineering department said that the construction of a second runway needed to be "accelerated".

"These kinds of accidents can happen due to the narrow ground surface in the northern part of the airport and because it is near a cliff," he told Dogan agency.

Friday, January 12, 2018

First women-only car showroom opens in Saudi

Yahoo – AFP, January 11, 2018

A Saudi woman drives her car along a street in the Saudi coastal city of Jeddah,
on September 27, 2017 (AFP Photo/REEM BAESHEN)

Jeddah (Saudi Arabia) (AFP) - A Saudi private company on Thursday opened the first car showroom for women only just five months before a decision allowing females to drive takes effect.

The showroom was opened in a shopping mall in the western Red Sea port city of Jeddah to allow women the freedom to choose their own cars before they hit the road.

In a historic decision late last year, King Salman gave Saudi women the right to drive, abolishing an almost three-decade ban based on religious reasons.

The showroom offers a wide selection of vehicles from various makes and is staffed by women only.

It also provides women with solutions to finance their purchase provided by leading banks and financial companies.

The company plans to open more automobiles showrooms for women in the oil-rich kingdom.


Thursday, January 11, 2018

Dutch prepare to bring in new EU rules on airline passenger information

DutchNews, January 10, 2018


Justice minister Ferdinand Grapperhaus has submitted a draft law to parliament which will require airlines to hand over all their information about passengers to the military police. 

The information will go to a new police unit for analysis with the aim of tracking down terrorists and major criminals, the minister said. The new law stems from the European Passenger Name Record directive, which is now being incorporated into Dutch law. 

Grapperhaus expects the legislation to complete its passage through parliament before the summer. 

Information about passengers – including details about baggage, payments and addresses – will be kept for five years. It can also be shared with other countries, Europol and the regular Dutch police force.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Bucking trend, Hyundai bets on hydrogen fuel cell for new car

Yahoo – AFP, January 9, 2018

Hyundai vice chairman Eui Sun Chung (R) and Aurora Innovation founder Chris
Urmson present the Nexo, a hydrogen fuel-cell powered vehicle, at the International
Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas (AFP Photo/Rob Lever)

Hyundai unveiled Monday a hydrogen fuel-cell powered vehicle aimed at showcasing its newest technologies, bucking the all-electric trend of most rival automakers.

The South Korean manufacturer used the 201 Consumer Electronics Show to debut its Nexo, a sport utility vehicle that uses voice commands, artificial intelligence and can be transformed into an autonomous car.

"We call this the next future utility vehicles," said Hyundai vice president Ki-Sang Lee.

Hyundai said it plans to sell the Nexo in California later this year, in a bet on hydrogen even as many rivals turn to battery power.

The company said it resolved a number of issues in developing the Nexo, including starts in extreme cold weather and extending the range to nearly 600 kilometers (375 miles).

While a handful of companies have showcased fuel cell technology, obstacles include the lack of hydrogen stations and a low ratio of energy efficiency in producing fuel.

"We all understand that technological challenges and innovations are a never-ending process that will continue until we realize a mobile society of maximum convenience, zero accidents and no emissions," vice chairman Woong-chul Yang.

To promote its efforts in self-driving technology, Hyundai has formed a partnership with Silicon Valley startup Aurora Innovation, headed by former Google car executive Chris Urmson, who appeared at the media event.

Indian airline fires pilots over mid-air row

Yahoo – AFP, 9 January 2018

Indian airline fires pilots over mid-air row

Mumbai (AFP) - An Indian airline said Tuesday it had fired two pilots after reports they fought and both briefly left the cockpit unmanned during a New Year's Day flight from London to Mumbai.

Jet Airways took the step after investigating allegations that a male pilot slapped his female colleague during a heated argument when the plane was mid-air carrying 324 passengers.

The quarrel reportedly led the female pilot to leave the cockpit in tears and she had to be persuaded to go back in by cabin crew.

At one point the male pilot also left the cockpit, leaving the controls briefly unattended, according to local media reports.

"Consequent to the review of the events... Jet Airways has terminated services of both the cockpit crew with immediate effect," Jet said in a statement.

The two pilots were grounded last week over the altercation, which Jet had described as a "misunderstanding" that was "quickly resolved amicably".

The flight departed London around 1000 GMT on Monday and arrived in India's financial capital on schedule around nine hours later at midnight local time.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Europe casts a wary eye on China's Silk Road plans

Yahoo – AFP, Jacques KLOPP, January 7, 2018

Is the New Silk Road simply a path to prosperity or a Chinese power grab
in disguise? (AFP Photo/NIKLAS HALLE'N)

Paris (AFP) - Depending on who you ask in Europe, China's colossal East-West infrastructure programme is either an opportunity or a threat -- and when French President Emmanuel Macron visits next week, Beijing will be watching to see how keen he is to jump on board.

Since China launched the New Silk Road plan in 2013, the hugely ambitious initiative to connect Asia and Europe by road, rail and sea has elicited both enormous interest and considerable anxiety.

"It's the most important issue in international relations for the years to come, and will be the most important point during Emmanuel Macron's visit," said Barthelemy Courmont, a China expert at French think-tank Iris.

The $1 trillion project is billed as a modern revival of the ancient Silk Road that once carried fabric, spices, and a wealth of other goods in both directions.

Known in China as "One Belt One Road", the plans would see gleaming new road and rail networks built through Central Asia and beyond, and new maritime routes stretching through the Indian Ocean and Red Sea.

Beijing would develop roads, ports and rail lines through 65 countries representing an estimate 60 percent of the world's population and a third of its economic output.

Like traders on the old silk road, modern Chinese companies expect to profit 
handsomely from the $1-trillion revival of the route (AFP Photo/STR)

Macron, who heads to China for a three-day state visit on Sunday, will notably be accompanied by some 50 company chiefs keen to do business with the Asian powerhouse.

So far France has been cautious on the Silk Road plan, but Courmont said Chinese leaders were "waiting for a clear position" from Macron at a time when they view the young leader as an "engine" for growth in Europe.

"If Macron takes a decision on how to tackle the Chinese initiative, all of Europe will follow," Courmont predicted.

But, as Courmont acknowledges, Europe is divided on what to make of China's ambitions.

The continent could potentially benefit handsomely from increased trade over the coming decades, but in some corners there is suspicion that it masks an attempted Beijing influence grab.

"They are notably asking themselves about the geopolitical consequences of this project in the long-term," Alice Ekman, who covers China at the French Institute of International Relations, said of France and Germany.

Win-win?

In Central and Eastern Europe the programme has been met with altogether more enthusiasm, given the huge infrastructure investment that China could bring to the poorer end of the continent.

"Some consider the awakening of China and Asia as a threat," Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban told a summit in Budapest in November which gathered China with 16 Central and Eastern European countries.

Beijing plans to develop roads, ports and rail lines through 65 countries representing
an estimate 60 percent of the world's population (AFP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)

"For us, it's a huge opportunity," he said, with Beijing using the summit to announce three billion euros of investment in projects including a Belgrade-Budapest railway line.

Bogdan Goralczyk, director of the Centre for Europe at the University of Warsaw, noted there were divisions even within eastern Europe, with Poland hesitant due to its right-wing government's "strong anti-communist stance".

Others to the west have made little effort to hide their concern.

Former Danish premier Anders Fogh Rasmussen fretted in a column for Germany's Zeit newspaper that "Europe will wake up only when it's too late, and when swathes of central and eastern Europe's infrastructure are dependent on China."

The former NATO chief noted that Greece -- a major recipient of Chinese largesse -- had in June blocked an EU declaration condemning Chinese rights abuses.

It came just months after Athens' Piraeus port, one of the biggest in the world, passed under Chinese control.

Germany, Europe's biggest economy, is favourable to Chinese investment, but has reservations.

"If we do not develop a strategy in the face of China, it will succeed in dividing Europe," Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel warned in August.

France is meanwhile seeking to "rebalance" relations with China during Macron's trip, according to his office -- eyeing a trade deficit of 30 billion euros, its biggest with any partner.

"Our Chinese partners would prefer a win-win situation. Why not? On the condition that it's not the same party that wins twice," French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said Thursday.

"It is not France's intention to block China," he said.

"But we should establish a partnership based on reciprocity when it comes to the opening of markets."

burs-jk/kjl/jh/kaf


Sunday, December 31, 2017

MH17 may have been shot down ‘by mistake’, investigator tells NRC

DutchNews, December 30, 2017

A fragment of the BUK missile. Picture: JIT 

There is an ‘extremely large amount of material’ which suggests flight MH17 was shot down over eastern Ukraine by accident, the leader of the team investigating the incident has told the NRC

Fred Westerbeke, who heads the international team which is carrying out the criminal investigation into the attack, says it is still too early to draw conclusions but that a number of questions must be asked. 

In particular, the team wants to know why the Malaysia Airways plane was shot down rather than one from the ‘enemy’ Ukraine airforce. ‘It is really important for us to know this,’ he said.

‘Why was the BUK used to bring down a passenger airline rather than a jet fighter or an Antonov from Ukraine,’ he said. ‘What was the aim?’ 

All 298 people on board flight MH17 were killed when it was struck by a missile on July 17, 2014, and crashed into fields in eastern Ukraine. Two-thirds of the passengers on the flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur were Dutch. 

The JIT’s preliminary investigations concluded last year that the plane was shot down from Ukrainian farmland by a BUK missile ‘controlled by pro-Russian fighters’. That conclusion has been disputed by Russia, which claims that Ukrainian fighters were responsible.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Uber suffers new blow as EU court rules it's a taxi service

Yahoo – AFP, Alex PIGMAN, Danny KEMP, December 20, 2017

Spanish taxi drivers have staged protests, complaining that Uber flouts local
regulations (AFP Photo/GABRIEL BOUYS)

Brussels (AFP) - The EU's top court ruled on Wednesday that Uber is an ordinary transportation company instead of an app and should be regulated as such, in a decision that is being closely watched around the world.

Hailed by the plaintiffs -- a Spanish taxi association -- as "a social victory", the case is yet another thorn in the side for US-based Uber, which has drawn the fury of taxi drivers and officials for flouting local regulations.

It also comes the same week as one of its drivers admitted to the attempted rape and murder of a British embassy worker coming home from a night out in Beirut, Lebanon.

"The service provided by Uber connecting individuals with non-professional drivers is covered by services in the field of transport," said the Luxembourg-based European Court of Justice.

"Member states can therefore regulate the conditions for providing that service."

Uber, the biggest name in the growing gig economy, claims it is a mere service provider, connecting consumers with drivers in more than 600 cities.

Uber has run into huge opposition from taxi companies and other competitors who say this allows it to dodge costly regulations such as training and licensing requirements for drivers and vehicles.

The case was brought by a taxi drivers' association in the Spanish city of Barcelona, where belief runs high that Uber is a taxi company that should be subject to rules governing such vehicles.

"This will truly represent a social victory, and the whole of society will benefit from this," Ivan Esma, spokesman for the Elite Taxi association, told reporters, adding that "the road will be long" for the ruling to be enforced.

Ruling 'won't change things'

Uber said the ruling would make little difference in practice.

"This ruling will not change things in most EU countries where we already operate under transportation law," an Uber spokesperson said in an emailed statement.

"However, millions of Europeans are still prevented from using apps like ours."

In a dense legal judgement, the ECJ said that Uber was a service that connects "by means of a smartphone application and for remuneration non-professional drivers using their own vehicle with persons who wish to make urban journeys."

That means it is "inherently linked to a transport service and, accordingly, must be classified as a 'service in the field of transport' within the meaning of EU law."

The EU court's senior adviser had said in a legal opinion in May that Uber was indeed a transport company.

Uber has had a rough ride in Spain, where a judge ruled in 2014 that its UberPop service risked breaking the law, leading to the Barcelona submission to the ECJ.

Early last year, it decided to only operate a limited a version of its UberX service in Spain which uses licensed, professional drivers instead of the amateurs who had previously worked via the UberPop application.

Uber has already had problems with the law in several European countries, particularly France where the company was forced to overhaul its business model.

The French transport minister, Elisabeth Borne, said the ruling "reinforces the government's determination" to regulate the sector "in favor of both the safety of customers, the working conditions of drivers and fair competition between the players."

In November a labour court in London, where the company is threatened with losing its license, said it had to pay the drivers a minimum wage and give them paid leave.

Uber does not employ drivers or own vehicles, but instead relies on private contractors with their own cars, allowing them to run their own businesses.

Licensed taxi drivers meanwhile often have to undergo hundreds of hours of training, and they accuse Uber of endangering their jobs by using cheaper drivers who rely only on a GPS to get around.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Delta orders 100 Airbus planes in blow to Boeing

Yahoo – AFP, John BIERS, 14 December 2017

Delta orders 100 Airbus planes in blow to Boeing

Delta Air Lines (NYSE: DAL - news) announced Thursday that it has ordered 100 Airbus planes with an option to buy 100 more, in a blow to Airbus' American rival Boeing (NYSE: BA - news) .

Delta said it was buying the A321neo aircraft to renew its narrow-body fleet, which have 197 seats and are used for domestic or short international flights.

The Airbus order comes amid public friction between Delta and US giant Boeing over a trade dispute involving a separate Delta deal to buy planes from Canadian company Bombardier (Toronto: BBD-A.TO - news) .

Airbus deliveries to Delta will begin in 2020 and go through 2023 under the order, worth an estimated $12.7 billion based on the aircraft catalogue price.

Delta said in an investor presentation that the new planes would result in 40 percent fuel savings compared with the jet they are replacing.

"This is the right transaction at the right time for our customers, our employees and our shareholders," Delta CEO Ed Bastian said in a statement.

US built planes

Airbus in 2015 opened a manufacturing plant in Mobile, Alabama to build single-aisle planes with an eye towards competing more aggressively in the US market.

Toulouse, France-based Airbus highlighted its growing connection to the US in the announcement, saying most of the new planes would be delivered from Mobile.

"This purchase furthers our commitment to US aviation -- a commitment that has never been stronger," said John Leahy, chief operating officer for customers at Airbus Commercial Aircraft.

"Today, there is more US content in Airbus aircraft than from any other country, with more than 40 percent of our aircraft-related procurement coming from the United States."

Delta also announced that it picked United Technologies' Pratt & Whitney as the engine provider, and for engine maintenance. Delta also selected Pratt engines for the Bombardier order, which is at the heart of the Boeing trade dispute,

Boeing has argued Delta's planes were underpriced due to illegal Canadian government subsidies to Bombardier.

"Delta remains a valued customer, and we'll continue exploring ways to best meet their needs in the future," a Boeing spokesman said.

"We competed with a strong but disciplined offer in the Delta campaign. While Delta has chosen to go with Airbus and Bombardier in recent single aisle campaigns, we are proud of the 737 MAX family's superior value and performance."

Canada-based Bombardier in October unveiled a production alliance with Airbus that granted the European company a stake in the Bombardier C-Series program. Delta has said it will not pay for any punitive tariffs sought by the US government in response to Boeing complaints.

Boeing's actions in the trade dispute has done "significant has done significant damage to its relationship with Delta for sure," said Jim Corridore, an analyst at CFRA Research.

"Obviously today's news is a direct blowback to Boeing's protectionist stance in getting the US government to add those taxes to the Bombardier jets."

Corridore noted that Boeing also lost a major deal with the Canadian government, which dropped a deal to buy F-18 fighters from the US company following the trade dispute.

Boeing's stance "makes no sense" and has "cost them two major deals," he said, adding that Boeing's outlook is otherwise bright because of strong demand in both commercial airplane and defense businesses.

Decoy bikes with GPS trackers lead to sharp drop in bike theft, expert say

DutchNews, December 14, 2017

Photo: Depositphotos.com

The use of decoy bikes fitted with police GPS tracking systems has reduced bike theft by up to 50% in the places where they are being used, economist Ben Vollaard told Thursday’s Telegraaf

The paper says Vollaard’s research at Tilburg University shows that ‘professional criminals’ are more likely to disappear when the special bikes are being used. 

Vollaard looked at 14 places where the decoy bikes were placed, including Dordrecht and Gorinchem. In total, the decoy bikes were used 1,612 times last year and 1,220 arrests were made as a result, the paper said. 

Police currently have a pool of 300 bikes at their disposal, of which around 70 are electric bikes. All are new bikes from popular brands such as Gazelle or Batavus. 

By the beginning of October this year, police had received 61,063 reports of stolen bikes, down more than 13,000 on the 2016 total. 

‘I know that everyone says no-one bothers to report a stolen bike but these are the only figures we have to base policy on,’ said Mogjan Yavari of Centrum Fietsendiefstal, which unites police, insurers and manufacturers.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

London's iconic black cabs go electric

Yahoo – AFP,  December 5, 2017

London's iconic black cabs go electric

London's first electric-powered black cabs hit the streets on Tuesday, the British capital's iconic taxis getting a facelift for the modern age that should help cut pollution in the city.

The new-look cabs will meet the strict new emissions regulations required for all new London taxis from 2018.

They are replacing the old diesel cabs, with more than 9,000 electric taxis -- around half the current fleet size -- expected to be plying for trade by 2021.

"The vehicle is totally new from the ground up and it's a much better experience both for the cabbie and the passengers," Chris Gubbey, chief executive of the London Electric Vehicle Company, told AFP.

"The ride and handling is much better and it's very quiet.

"It's marrying all of the cutting edge technology with vast experience of what it takes to make a good taxi."

The renamed London Taxi Company has been making London's black cabs for almost 70 years in Coventry, central England.

The manufacturer was rescued from administration in 2013 by Chinese automaker Geely.

The new cabs retain much of the familiar shape, but are marginally bigger, allowing a sixth passenger inside.

The taxis have been brought up to date with wifi, USB chargers, a plug socket and a contactless payment card reader in the back.

The new, transparent roof allows passengers to take in the cityscape above them.

Smooth and silent

"The ride quality is unbelievable. Customers are going to love it. It's so smooth and quiet," said Peter Powell, 61, a London cab driver of 22 years, who been road testing the new taxis for the past two months.

But he admitted that "a lot of old guys don't like the change" with some concerned about a dearth of charging points.

The new TX eCity taxi costs £55,000 ($73,800, 62,400 euros), compared to £45,000 for the last diesel TX4s.

However, manufacturers estimate cabbies could save £100 a week in fuel costs.

While Powell and a few other drivers have been road-testing the new taxi in London, it has also been put through its paces in the extreme conditions of the Arctic and Arizona.

London taxi drivers average 120 miles (195 kilometres) per day, including their commute to and from work.

The new taxi can do 80 miles on electric power, and has a range-extender petrol engine that runs a generator, meaning it can cover up to 377 miles, always on electric power.

It is different from many hybrid vehicles currently on the road in that the petrol engine does not drive the wheels directly.

The new taxi produces about 10 percent of the carbon dioxide emitted by the TX4 and its nitrous oxide emissions are close to zero.

They can repower in 35 minutes at rapid charging stations.