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. …

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Germany gives green light to bicycle highways

Yahoo – AFP, Pauline Houede,  December 29, 2015

Fans hail the smooth new velo routes as the answer to urban traffic jams and air
pollution, and a way to safely get nine-to-fivers outdoors (AFP Photo/Patrik Stollarz)

Berlin (AFP) - It's every cyclist's dream: no red lights, no trucks, just a clear, smooth lane to zoom down with the wind in your face. Welcome to Germany's first bicycle Autobahn.

Fans hail the smooth new velo routes as the answer to urban traffic jams and air pollution, and a way to safely get nine-to-fivers outdoors.

As a glimpse of a greener urban transport future, Germany has just opened the first five-kilometre (three-mile) stretch of a bicycle highway that is set to span over 100 kilometres.

It will connect 10 western cities including Duisburg, Bochum and Hamm and four universities, running largely along disused railroad tracks in the crumbling Ruhr industrial region.

Almost two million people live within two kilometres of the route and will be able to use sections for their daily commutes, said Martin Toennes of regional development group RVR.

A cyclist enjoys the first five-kilometre (three-mile) stretch of a bicycle highway 
in Mulheim an der Ruhr, which will connect 10 western cities including Duisburg,
Bochum and Hamm and four universities (AFP Photo/Patrik Stollarz)

Aided by booming demand for electric bikes, which take the sting out of uphill sections, the new track should take 50,000 cars off the roads every day, an RVR study predicts.

The idea, pioneered in the Netherlands and Denmark, is gaining traction elsewhere in Germany too.

The banking centre of Frankfurt is planning a 30-kilometre path south to Darmstadt, the Bavarian capital of Munich is plotting a 15-kilometre route into its northern suburbs, and Nuremberg has launched a feasibility study into a track linking it with four cities.

In the capital Berlin, the city administration in early December gave the green light to a feasibility study on connecting the city centre with the leafy southwestern suburb of Zehlendorf.

Rapid track

The new velo routes are a luxury upgrade from the ageing single-lane bike paths common in many German cities, where tree roots below can create irregular speed bumps and a mellow cycling lane can suddenly end or, more alarmingly, merge into a bus lane.

The new velo routes are a luxury upgrade from the ageing single-lane bike
paths common in many German cities (AFP Photo/Patrik Stollarz)

The new type of bike routes are around four metres (13 feet) wide, have overtaking lanes and usually cross roads via overpasses and underpasses. The paths are lit and cleared of snow in winter.

Like most infrastructure projects, the bicycle Autobahn is facing headwinds, however, especially when it comes to financing.

In Germany, the situation is complicated because while the federal government generally builds and maintains motor-, rail- and waterways, cycling infrastructure is the responsibility of local authorities.

For the Ruhr region's initial five-kilometre rapid track, the cost was shared, with the European Union funding half, North Rhine-Westphalia state coughing up 30 percent, and the RVR investing 20 percent.

Toennes said talks are ongoing to rustle up 180 million euros ($196 million) for the entire 100-kilometre route, with the state government, run by centre-left Social Democrats and the Greens party, planning legislation to take the burden off municipalities.

The German Bicycle Club ADFC argues that, since about 10 percent of trips in 
the country are now done by bicycle, cycling infrastructure should get at least
10 percent of federal transport funding (AFP Photo/Patrik Stollarz)

"Without (state) support, the project would have no chance," said Toennes, pointing to the financial difficulties many local governments would have in paying for maintenance, lighting and snow clearance.

In Berlin, a heavily indebted city-state, the conservative CDU party has proposed a private financing model based in part on advertising along the route.

"The bike highways are new in Germany," said Birgit Kastrup, in charge of the Munich project. "We must find a new concept for funding them."

The German Bicycle Club ADFC argues that, since about 10 percent of trips in the country are now done by bicycle, cycling infrastructure should get at least 10 percent of federal transport funding.

"Building highways in cities is a life-threatening recipe from the 1960s," said its manager Burkhard Stork. "No one wants more cars in cities."

Indonesia's Muslim women hail female-only motorbike taxis

Yahoo – AFP, Olivia Rondonuwu, December 30, 2015

Several motorbike taxi services with women drivers entered the Indonesian
 market in 2015 after years of growing piety in the country (AFP Photo/Bay Ismoyo)

Female motorbike taxi drivers in headscarves zig-zag through heavy traffic in the Indonesian capital Jakarta, the latest two-wheeled transport service for women making a dent in the male-dominated world of ride-hailing apps in the Muslim nation.

A flurry of new motorbike taxi options have in the past year appeared in the metropolis of 10 million, led by popular service Go-Jek, giving Indonesia's growing middle class a greater choice of transport to get through some of the world's worst traffic jams.

The services -- many inspired by ride-sharing app Uber and accessible on smartphones -- are a challenge to traditional motorbike taxis in Indonesia, known as "ojeks", which are ubiquitous but have drawn criticism with their dishevelled, dangerous drivers and unpredictable pricing.

Several services with women drivers entered the market in 2015 after years of growing piety in Indonesia, which has the world's biggest Muslim population, and amid heightened safety concerns following reports of attacks on women by male motorbike taxi drivers.

They are in part designed with religious sensitivities in mind, as an increasing number of Muslim women wear headscarves and follow strict interpretations of Islam that forbid close contact with the opposite sex, except between married couples.

"The need for transportation for women is huge, especially in big cities where rates of crime and sexual harassment are very high," Evilita Adriani, co-founder of motorbike taxi company Ojek Syari, told AFP.

Only Muslim drivers

Popularly known by its nickname "Ojesy", it is the service that aims most clearly at devout female passengers, requiring its drivers to be Muslim women wearing headscarves and loose-fitting clothes.

Ojesy drivers can currently only be hailed by a phone call or through mobile messaging service WhatsApp, but the service is also developing an app that was being tested out this month.

The service, which began in Indonesia's second-biggest city Surabaya in March before expanding across the main island of Java, only accepts female passengers or children.

"I feel more comfortable sharing a ride with a fellow Muslim woman," said Nurlaila, a Surabaya housewife who goes by one name.

She uses the service to take her children to school -- a common practice in the country where whole families often travel squashed together on a motorbike.

"Thank God for Ojesy."

The company says business is booming -- after starting in March with Adriani as its only driver, it now has 350 drivers.

Other motorbike taxi companies vying for a stake in the female market include app-based service LadyJek, whose drivers dress in pink jackets and helmets, and Sister-Ojek, a start-up that began operations earlier this year with capital of just $100.

Indonesia stands out for the number of motorbike taxi services aimed at women that it boasts, with female drivers relatively rare in many developing nations where the mode of transport is popular.

But they do exist in some other countries, including in Liberia where a group of female drivers, sick of being robbed, took to the wheel, reportedly donning pink helmets and jackets and calling themselves "The Pink Panthers".

The trend for motorbike taxi-hailing services started in earnest last year with Go-Jek in Jakarta, a general service for anyone wishing to order a motorbike ride, which was quickly followed by others such as GrabBike and Blu-jek.

Tough security measures

The women-only services are slightly more expensive than others, but insist they have better security measures.

Calls have been growing for heightened security after reports of women being stalked and harassed by male motorbike taxi drivers, while the rape of a young woman in India by an Uber driver last year also added to safety concerns about ride-hailing services.

LadyJek drivers can activate a loud alarm if they are attacked or feel threatened, while Ojesy and Sister-Ojek only operate between sunrise and sunset.

However the services are unlikely to overtake major competitors like Go-Jek as many women in Indonesia, where the majority practise a moderate form of Islam, have few qualms about taking a motorbike taxi driven by a man.

The services also try to make themselves attractive to drivers, with Ojesy allowing Muslim housewives and university students to work part-time.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

SpaceX rocket landing opens 'new door' to space travel

Yahoo – AFP, Kerry Sheridan, December 22, 2015

This 9-minute time exposure shows the launch, re-entry, and landing burns
 of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, which successfully landed in an upright position
on December 21, 2015 at Cape Canaveral in Florida (AFP Photo)

Miami (AFP) - SpaceX successfully landed its powerful Falcon 9 rocket for the first time, a major milestone in the drive to cut costs and waste by making rockets as reusable as airplanes.

Its engines burning bright orange against the dark night sky, the Falcon 9 made a graceful arc back to Earth and touched down upright at Cape Canaveral, Florida, minutes after launching a payload of satellites to orbit, video images showed.

"The Falcon has landed," a commentator said above the screams and cheers of people gathered at SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, California.

SpaceX, headed by Internet tycoon Elon Musk, is striving to revolutionize the rocket industry, which currently loses many millions of dollars in jettisoned machinery and sophisticated rocket components after each launch.

"I still can't quite believe it," Musk said in a teleconference after the landing.

"I think this is a revolutionary moment. No one has ever brought an orbital class booster back intact."

Previous attempts to land the Falcon 9's first stage on a floating ocean platform have failed -- with the rocket either colliding with the autonomous drone ship or tipping over.

But this time, video images on SpaceX's live webcast showed the tall, white portion of the rocket -- known as the first stage -- appearing to settle down firmly and stick the landing.

The rocket reached a height of 125 miles (200 kilometers) before heading back to Earth and touching down at a former US Air Force rocket and missile testing range that was last used in 1978.

Video images were cut off within seconds of the landing, and the SpaceX live webcast returned to its commentators, who described the successful deployment of the rocket's payload of 11 satellites for ORBCOMM, a global communications company.

The US space agency NASA applauded the feat.

"Congratulations @SpaceX on your successful vertical landing of the first stage back on Earth!" NASA said in a tweet.

SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket pictured on December 16, 2015 (AFP Photo)

High stakes

The stakes were high for SpaceX, which has a $1.6 billion contract with NASA to supply the astronauts living at the International Space Station over numerous back-and-forth trips with its Dragon cargo ship.

Just six months ago, a devastating explosion -- caused by a faulty strut -- destroyed the Falcon 9 about two minutes after launch, along with hundreds of millions of dollars in cargo and equipment bound for the ISS.

The company fixed that problem and also made the newest version of the Falcon 9 about 30 percent more powerful than previous iterations, Musk said.

Adding to the competitive nature of the commercial space industry, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos's rocket company Blue Origin announced last month it had successfully landed its New Shepard rocket after a suborbital flight.

"Congrats @SpaceX on landing Falcon's suborbital booster stage. Welcome to the club," Bezos said on Twitter Monday night.

Analysts have pointed out that although New Shepard was first, that SpaceX's feat would be harder to accomplish because the Falcon 9 flies higher in altitude.

"Because SpaceX's vehicle was designed to place a constellation of satellites in orbit, the Falcon 9's first stage flew at significantly greater speeds and more than double the altitude of what New Shepherd reached last month," the Commercial Spaceflight Federation said in a statement.

It called the landing an "incredible achievement" in an industry that is seeking to drive down costs and make spaceflight cheaper and more accessible to tourists and adventurers.

Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield added his congratulations.

"That was a hard landing to stick. Opens a brand new door to space travel. I look forward to the details," he wrote on Twitter.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Regular flights to resume between US and Cuba: State Department

Yahoo – AFP, December 17, 2015

The United States announced Thursday the resumption of regular
flights to and from Cuba (AFP Photo)

Washington (AFP) - The United States and Cuba announced Thursday plans to resume flights between the two countries, erasing another vestige of what had been strained ties rooted in the Cold War.

The latest progress as the countries work to build on their restoration of full diplomatic relations this summer was made public a year to the day after Barack Obama and Raul Castro first said they would bury the hatchet.

In a short statement, the US State Department said that on Wednesday Washington and Havana had reached "a bilateral arrangement to establish scheduled air services between the two countries."

An old American car passes by the
 US Embassy in Havana on December 17,
 2015 (AFP Photo/Yamil Lage)
But this does not mean American tourists can now start flocking to communist-run Cuba to lie on beaches, sip rum and fire up cigars.

Such travel is still illegal, as the trade embargo that the Americans slapped on Cuba in 1960 after Fidel Castro came to power in a communist revolution remains in effect.

In a statement marking the anniversary of the start of the reconciliation, Obama renewed his call for the Republican-controlled Congress to lift the embargo, which he termed the "legacy of a failed policy."

Republicans are wary of rewarding Cuba until it improves its human rights record.

Until now only charter flights were allowed. Current US law also allowed for special permits to visit Cuba, and the criteria for getting one of these have been looser since January.

The charter flights will continue under the new agreement, and scheduled flights for non-tourist purposes will also start, according to the US statement.

Although the ban on tourist travel remains in force, the new accord will "facilitate an increase in authorized travel, enhance traveler choices, and promote people-to-people links between the two countries."

It added: "a stronger civil aviation relationship will facilitate growth in authorized travel between our two countries."

The Cuban Embassy in Washington said the two countries had reached preliminary agreement on a memorandum of understanding for the establishment of regular flights.

Its adoption by the two governments will be confirmed in the next few days, the embassy added.

Airlines eager to fly

Under the new arrangement airlines in the two countries can now strike deals in such areas as code-sharing and aircraft leasing, the embassy said.

Ever since the historic thaw began a year ago US airlines have been eager to start flying to Cuba and tap its potential as a new market.

Tourists visit the Old Havana, on December 16, 2015 (AFP Photo/Yamil Lage)

These include American Airlines, which runs 22 weekly charter flights to Cuba from New York and Newark, New Jersey.

JetBlue and United, which also fly charters to Cuba from those two cities, are also chomping at the bit to begin all-out service to the island.

The United States and Cuba formally restored diplomatic relations in July and re-opened embassies in each other's capitals.

Obama said he had made the decision because he had concluded that 50 years of trying to encourage democratic and economic change in Cuba by isolating it had simply failed. It is better to engage Cuba and work with it, he said.

The countries are now attempting the arduous task of achieving fully normal relations, like those of any other countries without a historic bone to pick.

As part of that process the countries set up commissions to address specific issues and accords have been reached in such areas as migration, mail service and cooperation on science and the fight against drug trafficking.

But in April Raul Castro said full normalization would take time.

Cuba wants the embargo lifted, payment of damages for what it calls lost revenue as a result of that embargo, and talks on recovering the land which it leases to the United States and that houses a US naval base and the Guantanamo Bay prison for terror suspects.

Washington for its part is seeking damages for property that Cuba seized from US companies and citizens in the early 1960s, and also wants to see democratic and free-market reforms on the island.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

AirAsia final report blames crew, computer fault for crash

Indonesia's National Transport Safety committee has released the details of its investigation into the downing of AirAsia Flight QZ8501. The tragedy was the result of computer and human error, it said.

Deutsche Welle, 1 Dec 2015


The final report on the crash of an AirAsia flight that killed 162 people last year blamed the disaster on a combination of a technical fault and subsequent crew action. The findings were released on Tuesday after a nearly 12-month investigation into the tragedy.

The initial problem was a cracked soldering joint on part of the aircraft's computer system - specifically the Rudder Travel Limited system - which controls the rudder's movement. According to the report, this had caused a series of malfunctions - 23 times in the year leading up to the December 28, 2014, crash and four times during the last flight of the Airbus A320 airplane.

"Subsequent flight crew action resulted in inability to control the aircraft ... causing the aircraft to depart from the normal flight envelope and enter a prolonged stall condition that was beyond the capability of the flight crew to recover," said a statement from Indonesia's National Transport Safety committee.

After the fourth warning signal about the malfunction, the pilots of Flight QZ8501 flipped the circuit breakers on part of the plane's control panel in an attempt to reset the system. Instead, this caused the autopilot to switch off and the aircraft started to roll.

The report also stated that information from the flight data recorders did not enable investigators to determine what role the stormy weather that day played in the downing of the flight.

Flight QZ8501 had taken off from Surabaya, Indonesia, and was bound for Singapore. It crashed less than halfway into the two-hour flight. The disaster helped highlight the problematic traffic volume of flights in Southeast Asia, as air travel in the region increases in affordability and popularity.

es/tj (AFP, dpa, Reuters)