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. …

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Audi boss arrested in diesel probe

Yahoo – AFP, June 18, 2018

Stadler's arrest is the most high-profile yet in the dieselgate crisis (AFP Photo/
CHRISTOF STACHE)

Frankfurt am Main (AFP) - Audi chief executive Rupert Stadler has been arrested in connection with parent company Volkswagen's "dieselgate" emissions cheating scandal, German prosecutors said Monday.

The dramatic development comes a week after Munich prosecutors raided Stadler's home after charging him with fraud and the falsification of documents that allowed diesel vehicles equipped with cheating software to be sold to European customers.

Prosecutors said the arrest was justified because of the "risk of concealment of evidence".

Audi confirmed the arrest to AFP, declining to give further details.

"For Mr Stadler, the presumption of innocence continues to apply," a spokesman said in a statement.

Stadler's arrest is the most high-profile yet in the dieselgate crisis, which started when the Volkswagen group admitted in 2015 to equipping some 11 million diesels worldwide with "defeat devices" designed to dupe pollution tests.

VW's luxury subsidiary Audi has long faced suspicions that its engineers developed the software used in the scam.

Audi's former head of engine development was taken into custody in September 2017.

German authorities earlier this month ordered the recall of some 60,000 Audi A6 and A7 cars across Europe to remove illegal emissions control software, using a different technique however than the one at the heart of dieselgate.

Former VW chief executive Martin Winterkorn stepped down soon after the scandal broke in September 2015, while successor Matthias Mueller was hastily replaced earlier this year.

Both are suspected of knowing earlier than they have so far admitted about the cheating, meaning they may have failed in their duty to inform investors in the car giant about the financial risks.

US prosecutors also indicted Winterkorn last month, saying he knew of the company's emissions cheating as early as May 2014 but decided to continue.

Present boss Herbert Diess has been accused of knowing about diesel cheating before it became public -- an allegation rejected by the firm last month.

The scandal has so far cost the VW group more than 25 billion euros ($29 billion) in buybacks, fines and compensation, and the company remains mired in legal woes at home and abroad.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Dutch may soon pay workers using pedal-power

Yahoo – AFP, 15 June 2018

The Netherlands has tens-of-thousands of dedicated bicycle paths criss-crossing
its flat polders and canals

Dutch employees using pedal power to get to work may soon be reimbursed for their efforts, as the Netherlands look at ways to fight ever-growing congestion on its busy roads and highways.

"Let's get out of our cars and onto our bikes," Dutch deputy infrastructure minister Stientje van Veldhoven said this week, as she announced new measures to push even more citizens from four wheels to two.

"I want to stimulate cycling with the aim of getting 200,000 extra people out of their cars to cycle three billion kilometres more on their bicycles," she said in a press release.

One innovative idea is to compensate employees for cycling to work, with Van Veldhoven proposing a reimbursement of 19 cents ($0.22) per kilometre cycled from home and back.

Van Veldhoven is to discuss the proposal and other ways of promoting bicycle use through fiscal rewards such as subsidies to buy bicycles "with major national employers and small and medium enterprises," her ministry said in a statement.

Bicycle-mad Netherlands already counts more than 22 million cycles in a 
country of 17 million

Bicycle-mad Netherlands already counts more than 22 million cycles in a country of 17 million, according to the umbrella BOVAG federation of Dutch transport dealerships.

The country also has tens of thousands of dedicated bicycle paths criss-crossing its flat polders and canals.

"Bicycles play an important role when it comes to reachability, quality of life and health," Van Veldhoven said.

"It reduces traffic jams and gives people forced to use cars more space," she said.

More than half of people's daily trips in the Netherlands are less than 7.5 kilometres and more than half live less than 15 kilometres from work.

"With the development of the electric bicycle, this distance can easily be covered," the ministry added, saying that some 100 million euros have been budgeted to increase bicycle roads and bicycle parking space.

The Netherlands has tens-of-thousands of dedicated bicycle paths criss-crossing its flat polders and canals

Bicycle-mad Netherlands already counts more than 22 million cycles in a country of 17 million
Dutch King Willem-Alexander on a bicycle at the opening
of theInternational Bicycle Congress 'Velo-City 2017'

Thursday, June 14, 2018

VW says will pay 1 bn euro German fine over emissions cheating

Yahoo – AFP, June 13, 2018

Another billion down the drain over dieselgate (AFP Photo/HAROLD CUNNINGHAM)

Berlin (AFP) - Auto giant Volkswagen said Wednesday it would pay a one billion euro ($1.2 billion) fine imposed by German prosecutors for diesel emissions cheating.

"The Braunschweig public prosecutor issues an administrative order against Volkswagen AG in the context of the diesel crisis and imposes a fine of EUR1 billion on Volkswagen AG", the company said in a statement.

The German car giant said it had "accepted the fine" and would not lodge an appeal.

"Volkswagen AG, by doing so, admits its responsibility for the diesel crisis and considers this as a further major step towards the latter being overcome."

The prosecutors said the penalty was "one of the highest fines ever imposed on a company in Germany" and stressed that it was unrelated to civil cases seeking compensation or ongoing criminal investigations against the people involved.

The mammoth carmaker admitted in 2015 to fitting 11 million vehicles worldwide with "defeat devices" -- software designed to trick regulators into thinking cars met emissions standards.

In fact, output of harmful fine particulates and nitrogen oxides (NOx), which can cause respiratory and heart diseases, was far higher than legally permitted.

VW's admission had so far cost it more than 25 billion euros in buybacks, fines and compensation, and the company remains mired in legal woes at home and abroad.

VW's chief executive at the time of the diesel scandal Martin Winterkorn stepped down soon after the news broke, while successor Matthias Mueller was hastily replaced earlier this year.

Both are suspected of knowing earlier than they have so far admitted about the cheating, meaning they failed in their duty to inform investors in the car giant about the financial risks.

US prosecutors also indicted Winterkorn last month saying he knew of the company's emissions cheating as early as May 2014 but decided to continue.

The "dieselgate" saga has cast a pall over Germany's vaunted car industry, with suspicions of emissions manipulation since spreading to other companies.

Luxury carmaker BMW and Mercedes-owned Daimler have both had their offices raided by investigators searching for evidence of possible cheating.

In the spiralling scandal, Germany ordered Monday the recall of some 774,000 Daimler vehicles across Europe, citing illegal defeat devices.

VW said in its statement that prosecutors had found that "monitoring duties had been breached ... in the context of vehicle tests".

This had led to 10.7 million cars "being advertised, sold to customers and placed on the market with an impermissible software function" in the US, Canada and worldwide between mid-2007 and 2015, the company said.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Germany orders recall of 774,000 Daimler cars in Europe over emissions

Yahoo – AFP, June 11, 2018

It's Daimler's turn to be in the spotlight over alleged emissions cheating
(AFP Photo/Andrew CABALLERO-REYNOLDS)

Frankfurt am Main (AFP) - Germany ordered Monday the recall of some 774,000 vehicles from Mercedes-Benz maker Daimler across Europe, citing illegal "defeat devices" designed to conceal high levels of harmful emissions from regulators' tests.

"The federal government will order an immediate official recall because of illegal defeat devices," Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer said in a statement.

The move mostly affects Vito vans and diesel-powered versions of GLC 4x4s and C-class sedans, Scheuer added.

Daimler boss Dieter Zetsche was summoned Monday for crunch talks with Scheuer over emissions irregularities in the firm's vehicles.

"Daimler says the applications in the motor control software the federal government has found fault with will be removed at the greatest possible speed and in cooperative transparency with the authorities," Scheuer said.

So-called defeat devices were at the heart of Volkswagen's "dieselgate" scandal, in which the world's largest carmaker admitted in September 2015 to installing them in 11 million vehicles worldwide.

Vehicles kept to legal emissions limits for harmful substances like nitrogen oxides during lab tests, only to exceed them as much as 40 times in on-road driving.

The scandal has so far cost the world's largest carmaker over 25 billion euros ($29.5 billion) in fines, buybacks and compensation, and senior executives are under investigation over their roles in the cheating.

Other German carmakers have also been forced to recall vehicles to fix manipulated software, although none has so far admitted to mass cheating as Volkswagen did.

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Zwolle to get ‘world’s first’ plastic bike path as trials start in September

DutchNews, June 8, 2018

Artists impression: KWS

Zwolle is to get what it says is the world’s first plastic cycle path – a 30 metre long stretch of ‘road’ made of recycled plastic which will be used to test if the technology is suitable to be rolled out in more places. 

The Zwolle bike path will be open to cyclists in September and a second stretch of track will be opened elsewhere in Overijssel province later in the year, civil engineering group KWS said in a website statement

The plastic road concept was launched by KWS in 2015 and since 2016, the company has further developed the project with plastic pipe maker Wavin and the Total oil and gas group. 

The two pilots will consist of 30 meter long bicycle paths made of hollow prefabricated elements so that water drainage and pipes can be inserted. Their exact location still has to be decided. 

‘These pilots mark an important step towards the developing process and success of the plastic road,’ KWS said. 

‘The objective is to create a road with a smaller ecological footprint than traditional road systems. When the elements reach their end of life expectancy they can be recycled again, contributing to a circular economy and cleaner environment,’ the company said.

Related Article:


Thursday, June 7, 2018

Court clears the way for Rotterdam to ban old petrol and diesel cars

DutchNews, June 6, 2018

Traffic is a major source of inner city pollution. Photo: Depositphotos.com

The highest Dutch administrative court has cleared the way for Rotterdam to ban old diesel and petrol cars from the city centre. 

The outgoing administration had announced plans to ban diesel-powered cars built before 2001 and petrol cars from before July 1992 but were successfully challenged in court by motorists. 

Now the Council of State has found in favour of the city and it will be up to the new, six-party council executive to decide when to implement the ban. 

Meanwhile, motoring organisation ANWB on Wednesday called on the cabinet to draw up rules for city environmental zones, saying motorists are becoming lost in a jungle of bans and restrictions. 

Amsterdam and Utrecht have already banned cars from their city centres and Nijmegen, Leiden, Arnhem and Maastricht are among the other cities where environmental zones could be on the cards. 

Minister

Junior transport minister Stientje van Veldhoven had said earlier she would draw up a set of regulations before the summer, but that deadline may now not be met, the AD reported.

‘I want clarity for both motorists and local authorities,’ the minister told the paper. ‘And it has always been my intention to come up with specific agreements before the summer. These agreements will also cover specific cases, such as invalid cars.’ 

In Amsterdam there is mounting irritation at the spread of Cantas and other mini vehicles, which were originally meant for people with disabilities. They are now proving popular with youngsters because they are not subject to parking restrictions.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

First Saudi women get First Saudi women get driving licences

Yahoo – AFP, June 4, 2018

A Saudi woman test-drives a car during an automotive exhibition for women in
the capital Riyadh on May 13, 2018 (AFP Photo/FAYEZ NURELDINE)

Riyadh (AFP) - Saudi Arabia on Monday began issuing its first driving licences to women in decades, state media reported.

"The first group of women today received their Saudi driving licences," the official Saudi Press Agency said.

"The general directorate of traffic started replacing international driving licences recognised in the kingdom with Saudi licences," it added.

The move comes as Saudi Arabia, the only country in the world where women are not allowed drive, prepares to lift its decades-long ban on female drivers on June 24.

SPA said authorities started swapping international licences for Saudi ones in multiple locations across the kingdom, with women applicants made to undergo a "practical test".

It did not specify the number of licences issued.

The move is part of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's far-reaching liberalisation drive as he seeks to modernise the conservative petro-state.

The self-styled reformer, who recently undertook a global tour aimed at reshaping his kingdom's austere image, has sought to break with long-held restrictions on women and the mixing of the genders.

But casting a shadow on the reforms, Saudi Arabia last week said it detained 17 people for "undermining" the kingdom's security, in what campaigners have dubbed a sweeping crackdown against activists.

Rights groups have identified many of the detainees as women campaigners for the right to drive and to end the conservative Islamic country's male guardianship system.

Authorities said eight of the detainees had been "temporarily released" until their investigation is completed.

Nine suspects, including four women, remain in custody after they "confessed" to a slew of charges such as suspicious contact with "hostile" organisations and recruiting people in sensitive government positions, according to SPA.

Authorities accused the detainees of "coordinated activity undermining the security and stability of the kingdom".

Previous reports in state-backed media branded some of the detainees traitors and "agents of embassies".

Campaigners have dismissed the reports as a "smear" campaign. The crackdown has also sparked a torrent of global criticism.


Thursday, May 31, 2018

Sales of e-bikes take off, as do internet bike sales, says ABN Amro

DutchNews, May 30, 2018


Dutch consumers are buying more e-bikes and increasingly fewer traditional bikes, according to a study published on Wednesday by ABN Amro

Sales of e-bikes soared by 75% over the past seven years and one-third of all new bicycles are now powered by a battery,  the study said. Sales of traditional bikes, meanwhile, have fallen back 37% since 2010. 

ABN Amro is forecasting bike sales 3% higher in 2018. 

More bikes are also being sold online. In 2013, fewer than one in 10 bikes was bought online but that has now risen to over 25%. 

The total Dutch bike fleet is probably over 22.7 million by now – 1.3 bikes for every man, woman and child in the country –  roads lobby group Bovag said recently. 

‘We can’t give exact numbers because bikes don’t have number plates and are not registered centrally,’ a spokesman said.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

MH370 search to end next week: Malaysian minister

Yahoo – AFP, Patrick Lee, May 23, 2018

Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 disappeared in March 2014 with 239 people onboard
while en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing (AFP Photo/Manan VATSYAYANA)

Kuala Lumpur (AFP) - The search for flight MH370 will end next week, Malaysia's transport minister said Wednesday, more than four years after the plane disappeared and triggered one of the world's greatest aviation mysteries.

The Malaysia Airlines jet vanished in March 2014 with 239 people -- mostly from China -- on board, en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.

No sign of the jet was found in a 120,000 square kilometre (46,000 square mile) sea search zone and the Australian-led hunt, the largest in aviation history, was suspended in January last year.

After pressure from family members, the former Malaysian government struck a deal with US exploration firm Ocean Infinity to restart the search in January on the condition it would only be paid if the Boeing 777 or its black boxes were found.

The firm stood to make up to $70 million if successful but did not find any sign of the jet despite scouring the seabed with some of the world's most hi-tech search equipment.

Malaysia's Transport Minister Anthony Loke, part of the new government that came to power following May 9 elections, said the hunt was officially meant to finish in April but had been extended, and would come an end next week.

"The search will continue until May 29," he told reporters.

Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad had said earlier that the contract with Ocean Infinity was being reviewed, as his administration seeks to cut costs after accusing the allegedly corrupt former regime of leaving the public finances in bad shape.

Grace Nathan, a Malaysian lawyer whose mother Anne Daisy was on the plane, said the news was not a surprise but said the government should leave the "no find, no fee" offer on the table in case a company wants to take on the search in future.

Relatives of passengers of MH370 urged the Malaysian government to undertake 
a "comprehensive review" of all matters related to the plane's disappearance 
(AFP Photo/Manan VATSYAYANA)

"We can't tell (the government) what to do but for me and the families... finding the plane is important for many reasons," she told AFP.

'Comprehensive review'

In a letter to the new administration released before the end of the search was announced, Voice370 -- a group representing families of those on the plane whose members include Nathan -- urged the government to undertake a "comprehensive review" of all matters related to the plane's disappearance.

It also called for "an investigation into any possible falsification and/or elimination of records related to MH370".

The new hunt was in an area of about 25,000 square kilometres in the southern Indian Ocean, north of the former search area.

The ship conducting the hunt, Seabed Constructor, was a Norwegian research vessel carrying 65 crew, including two members of the Malaysian navy as the government's representatives.

It used eight autonomous drones, equipped with sonars and cameras, that scoured the waters for wreckage and can operate in depths up to 6,000 metres (20,000 feet).

Only three confirmed fragments of MH370 have been found, all of them on western Indian Ocean shores, including a two-metre wing part known as a flaperon.

The jet's disappearance stands as one of the most enduring aviation mysteries of all time and has spawned a host of theories, with some blaming a hijacking or even a terror plot.

Mahathir himself revived one of the many conspiracy theories in March when he suggested the plane could have been taken over remotely to foil a hijacking.

Earlier this week, Australian investigators defended their findings that the plane was out of control when it plunged into the ocean, after a theory that a rogue pilot deliberately ditched the jet was revived in a book by a Canadian air crash investigator.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

China says to cut auto import tariffs on July 1

France24 – AFP, 22 May 2018

The tariffs cut comes after China earlier this year also announced plans
to liberalise foreign ownership limits in the auto sector

China will cut tariffs on most imported cars to 15 percent from July 1, the finance ministry said on Tuesday following a thaw in trade tensions with the United States.

The planned reduction in import duties from 25 percent is a boon for international automakers but may come short of fulfilling US President Donald Trump's expectations of matching US tariffs of 2.5 percent.

The announcement came days after Vice Premier Liu He and US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin led negotiations in Washington that ended with an agreement to pull back from the brink of a trade war.

President Xi Jinping said in April that China would "considerably lower" tariffs on cars by the end of the year as part of a range of measures seen as an olive branch to Trump with the two countries embroiled in the trade spat.

The cut to 15 percent will likely be welcomed by automakers selling cars in China, with Toyota importing its Lexus brand and American giant Ford shipping in most of its Lincolns.

Earlier this year, China also announced plans to liberalise foreign ownership limits in the sector, which had forced most foreign carmakers into joint ventures with China's state-owned companies.

China currently restricts foreign auto firms to a maximum 50 percent ownership of joint ventures with local companies.

But the changes will end shareholding limits for new energy vehicle firms as soon as this year, followed by commercial vehicles in 2020 and passenger cars in 2022.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Women motorcyclists ditch the side saddle in Pakistan

Yahoo – AFP, May 14, 2018

It is not uncommon to see women on motorcycles in Pakistan -- but usually they are
perched in the dangerous side saddle position behind a male driver (AFP Photo/ARIF ALI)


Perched proudly on their brand new pink motorcycles, the recruits take to the road, the latest batch of women to demolish boundaries set for them by men in Pakistan.

It is not uncommon to see women on motorcycles in Pakistan -- but usually they are sat in the dangerous side-saddle position behind a male driver and, often, several other passengers.

A woman straddling a bike to drive it herself is another thing entirely, an image that is still taboo in many parts of the deeply conservative Muslim country, where gender discrimination is routine.

But as part of a wave of women's empowerment movements, the government of Punjab province is running "Women on Wheels", a campaign that has trained scores of women to ride motorbikes in the last two years while raising awareness of gender-based violence and street harassment.

On Sunday the latest batch of dozens of new riders set out to challenge perceptions 
in Lahore (AFP Photo/ARIF ALI)

The importance of the issue is underscored by recent studies showing that some 75 percent of Pakistani women do not participate in the labour market, mainly due to a lack of transport.

"The aim is to basically empower women for their mobility because economic independence and economic empowerment depends on mobility," Salman Sufi, director general of the Punjab strategic reforms unit, said.

"So we are giving 3,000 bikes, we have trained over 3,500 girls in all of Punjab and this is going to go on until we reach a target of around 10,000 plus."

On Sunday the latest batch of dozens of new riders set out to challenge perceptions in Lahore.

"We're becoming... independent," rider Nageena Waseem said, adding that their new skills will allow them to do "everything which we want. Otherwise we were dependent on another person."

Activist Nighat Dad said the women were "reclaiming these spaces", adding that it was a "big big win for women today".

"Today is a good day for us," agreed another rider, Tallat Shaheen. "The purpose (is) to bring these girls together... (so) that they be independent and can feel confident and can go and work alongside men."


Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Air France shares down nearly 13 percent after CEO quits

Yahoo – AFP, 7 May 2018

Heavy turbulence for Air France, including on the stock market

Air France shares went into a tailspin on the Paris stock exchange on Monday after the resignation of the strike-hit company's CEO.

Air France-KLM boss Jean-Marc Janaillac announced his resignation Friday after staff at the carrier's French operations rejected a pay deal aimed at ending months of walkouts.

Janaillac, who had been in the post for under two years and staked his future at the company on staff accepting the deal, deplored their decision as a "huge waste".

In early bourse business Air France stock was down nearly 13 percent at 7.08 euros.

Staff and management at the carrier have been locked in a dispute over pay since February.

Intermittent strikes in recent weeks have prompted the cancellation of a quarter of flights on average.

Unionised staff are set to walk out for the 14th day on Monday as they press for a 5.1-percent salary increase this year as the company recovers from years of losses and restructuring.

France's economy minister on Sunday warned that the survival of Air France was now in the balance.

"I call on everyone to be responsible: crew, ground staff, and pilots who are asking for unjustified pay hikes," Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire told the BFM news channel.

"Be responsible. The survival of Air France is in the balance," he added.

He warned that the state, which owns 14.3 percent of the group, would not serve as a backstop.

"Air France will disappear if it does not make the necessary efforts to be competitive," he warned.

Heavy turbulence for Air France, including on the stock market.

Sunday, May 6, 2018

US scolds China over 'Orwellian' airline demands

Yahoo – AFP, May 5, 2018

As of May 5, the website of American Airlines listed Taiwan, Hong Kong and
Macau as entities separate from China (AFP Photo/Daniel SLIM)

Washington (AFP) - The United States on Saturday scolded China for attempting to impose "political correctness" on American carriers by asking them to classify Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau as Chinese territories.

A sternly worded White House statement excoriated Beijing for the demands, which it termed "Orwellian nonsense."

"President Donald J. Trump ran against political correctness in the United States," it said. "He will stand up for Americans resisting efforts by the Chinese Communist Party to impose Chinese political correctness on American companies and citizens."

The statement added that the Chinese Civil Aviation Administration sent a notice to 36 foreign air carriers, including a number of American carriers, on April 25, asking them to comply with Beijing's standards.

As of Saturday, the website of American Airlines listed Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau as entities separate from China. Rivals United Airlines and Delta listed Taiwan separately but not Hong Kong or Macau.

Taiwan has been self-ruled since splitting from the mainland after a 1949 civil war, maintaining its own government, military and independent foreign policy.

But Beijing has refused to recognize the island, viewing it as part of its territory awaiting reunification with the mainland -- by force, if necessary.

The US has maintained a delicate diplomatic balance since 1979, recognizing Beijing's sovereignty as part of its "One China" policy, while remaining Taiwan's most powerful unofficial ally and main supplier of arms.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong, a British colony until 1997, and Macau, a Portuguese colony until 1999, are now "special administrative regions" of China.

The move came after the US and China held high-stakes trade talks in Beijing aimed at forestalling a looming conflict between the world's two largest economies.

In January, Australia's Qantas Airways changed its website classification of Taiwan and Hong Kong from separate countries to Chinese territories, blaming its earlier approach on an "oversight."

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Nut rage sister faces fruit juice questions in S. Korea

Yahoo – AFP, Park Chan-kyong, 1 May 2018

The daughters of Korean Air chairman Cho Yang-ho have both resigned from
their company posts following separate controversies

The stony-faced daughter of a Korean billionaire, whose older sister was brought low by the "nut rage" scandal, apologised Tuesday as she reported to police for questioning over allegations she sprayed a business associate in the face with fruit juice.

"I'm really sorry for causing concern," Cho Hyun-min repeatedly told a crowd of journalists outside the Gangseo police station in Seoul, without admitting to any specific actions.

Cho, who police said is accused of using violence and obstructing business, is the daughter of Hanjin Group chairman Cho Yang-ho.

Hanjin is among the country's 15 biggest business groups, owner of flag carrier Korean Air, logistics and transport firms, and with interests in information technology and hotels.

It used to own Hanjin Shipping, once one of the world's biggest shipping firms, which was declared bankrupt last year.

The younger daughter's police interrogation is only the controlling family's latest brush with the law, with a series of scandals making them some of the country's most notorious super-wealthy.

South Korea's economy -- the world's 11th-largest -- is dominated by a series of giant business conglomerates known as chaebols.

In the past, the chaebols contributed to the country's fast economic growth, but as the founders' sons and grandsons took over they expanded into every corner of business, and now stand accused of suffocating smaller companies and hampering innovation.

They have long had murky ties with political authorities -- Samsung scion Lee Jae-yong was jailed last year for his role in the corruption scandal that brought down president Park Geun-hye, although most of his convictions were quashed on appeal.

Many chaebol families retain only a small ownership stake in their companies, but maintain control through complex webs of cross-shareholdings between subsidiaries, and rapid promotions for family members -- some of whose antics have battered the firms' images.

"The Cho family is one of the most vilified chaebol families, with multiple family members implicated in alleged bad behaviour," Chung Sun-sup of online information service chaebol.com told AFP.

Cho Hyun-Ah (C) made global headlines in 2014 for forcing two flight attendants to 
kneel and beg for forgiveness after she was served macadamia nuts in a bag rather
 than a bowl

'Family misdeeds'

In the most infamous incident, the chairman's elder daughter Cho Hyun-ah made global headlines in 2014 for forcing two flight attendants to kneel and beg for forgiveness after she was served macadamia nuts in a bag rather than a bowl.

She ordered the Seoul-bound flight back to the gate so one of them could be ejected in an incident quickly dubbed "nut rage".

Since the accusations against her sister emerged, hundreds of Korean Air personnel have joined an online chat room to allege Cho family misdeeds against employees and domestic staff.

Police said last week they were investigating allegations that the sisters' mother Lee Myung-hee had herself abused employees verbally and physically.

Korean Air said the company had no comment.

The family are also accused of using Korean Air planes to smuggle luxury goods into the country to avoid import duties.

Chairman Cho Yang-ho -- who last year faced accusations of embezzling company funds, although prosecutors rejected a request for his arrest -- last month apologised for the "immature" behaviour of his daughters, both of whom resigned from their executive posts.

The row could yet impact Korean Air itself, and other conglomerates.

Thousands of petitioners went to the presidential Blue House homepage, urging the government to ban the airline from using "Korean" in its name and to expel Cho Hyun-min, who was born in the US and is an American citizen.

Under South Korean immigration law, foreigners found to have disturbed social order or harmed public safety can be ordered to leave the country.

Former lawmaker Park Won-suk said the Cho family controversies would serve as a "catalyst" for a reform drive.

President Moon Jae-in was elected last year partly on promises to reform the chaebols -- a pledge various politicians have made many times before.

There has been little action so far, but Chung noted that the justice ministry last week introduced a bill to grant minority shareholders a greater voice in appointing board members.

The move was "apparently in sync with mounting public demand for chaebol reform triggered by the Cho case", he said.


Thursday, April 26, 2018

For the first time, more cyclists are killed on the Dutch roads than people in cars

DutchNews, April 25, 2018

Photo: Depositphotos.com

The number of cyclists killed on the Dutch roads has outstripped the number of people killed in cars for the first time, the national statistics office CBS said on Wednesday. 

In total, 613 people were killed in traffic accidents last year, a drop of 16 on 2016. Of them, 206 of them were cyclists, a rise of 17 and the highest figure in 10 years, the CBS said. 

In addition, 201 people were killed in cars, 82 died in motorbike or moped accidents, 58 pedestrians were killed and 25 people died while using mobility scooters, the CBS said. 

While the number of people killed in car accidents has declined steadily, deaths among cyclists has been virtually unchanged for years. 

The over-65s account for two-thirds of deaths among cyclists, and e-bikes were involved in one in four bike accidents. 

Road safety body Veilig Verkeer Nederland said in a reaction it is important that road users are aware of their own physical limitations. ‘Being in traffic is a question of taking each other into account, and that is not difficult to do,’ spokesman Rob Stomphorst said. 

Transport minister Cora van Nieuwenhuizen said she would do ‘all’ she could to reverse the trend.