US Compensation for VW Drivers to Increase by 50%

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last few weeks, you should know about the latest emissions scandal regarding the Diesel Volkswagen (VW) engined cars; our previous coverage can be found here and here. This has been met with huge uproar and the VW Group started to offer affected owners a $2,000 trade-in credit against the cars/ vans that had the emission cheating software installed.

In the US, on top of that $2,000 trade-in credit, affected drivers are also going to be eligible for up to $1,000 in gift cards and dealership credit and additional complimentary 24hr Roadside Assistance for up to three (3) years. It’s not fully clear whether UK drivers will be receiving the same treatment, The Telegraph has reported owners seek professional legal advice.

This has negatively impacted the resale of the motors and owners are likely to see an increase in road TAX, fuel consumption and possibly even voided warranties if the update hasn’t been applied to the vehicle. However, VW representatives want to reassure its customers that the cars are safe to drive whether or not they have the new software applied or not. Want to know if your car has the cheating software installed? US readers can visit this website and UK/ EU readers can visit this website.

Revolutionary New Smartphone Sensor to Detect Pollution Levels

People could soon be using their smartphones to detect air pollution, thanks to a potentially life-saving breakthrough sensor by researchers at RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia.

Apparently experts at the university have developed the first low-cost and reliable method of detecting nitrogen dioxide the type of air pollutant that has been linked to more than seven million deaths worldwide each year, according to the World Health Organization. Research has uncovered that the gas could increase the risk of respiratory disorders in children with the elderly being most at risk. The Projects leader Professor Kourosh Kalantar-zadeh, from RMIT’s Centre for Advanced Electronics and Sensors, said the negative impact of nitrogen dioxide could be prevented by access to personalised, highly selective, sensitive and reliable monitoring systems that could detect harmful levels of the gas early. Kalantar-zadeh stated the following

“The revolutionary method we’ve developed is a great start to creating a handheld, low-cost and personalised NO2 sensor that can even be incorporated into smartphones, not only would it improve the quality of millions of people’s lives, but it would also help avoid illness caused by nitrogen dioxide poisoning and potentially even death.”

The main contributors of nitrogen dioxide are the burning of fossil fuels, particularly in coal-fired power stations and diesel engines such as those highlighted in the recent emissions scandal, which can impact on the health of people in urban areas. The professor goes on to state:

“A lack of public access to effective monitoring tools is a major roadblock to mitigating the harmful effects of this gas but current sensing systems are either very expensive or have serious difficulty distinguishing it from other gases, the method we have developed is not only more cost-effective, it also works better than the sensors currently used to detect this dangerous gas.”

The sensor operates by physically absorbing nitrogen dioxide gas molecules onto flakes of tin disulphide, not only would this be a great solution for smartphones but apparently it can outperform any other nitrogen dioxide sensing solutions on the market! To create these sensors the researchers transformed tin disulphide into flakes just a few atoms thick. The large surface area of these flakes has a high affinity to nitrogen dioxide molecules that allows its highly selective absorption.

WikiLeaks Julian Assange Fears he will be “Assassinated”

Let’s for a minute contemplate the appearance of Julian Assange, he looks as if he is attempting to apply for this year’s role of Santa at a shopping centre. He might be slowly losing his marbles considering a few of his comments concerning his stay at the Ecuadorian embassy during an interview with The Times Magazine.

Can I source this link? Noooo, why? Behind a paywall, oh where else can I find a summary, I know, the many sources on the internet of course. Anyway, Julian Assange fears he will be assassinated if he steps onto either a balcony or out the door of the embassy. This is technically possible, although he might need to move further away from the building than that for it to look less obvious. Now for the weird, the following comments are his views on being “droned”

I’m a white guy,” Mr Assange said. “Unless I convert to Islam it’s not that likely that I’ll be droned, but we have seen things creeping towards that.”

I am just going to let that sink in for a sec, he also describes receiving bomb and death threats and he has also not been able to have any fresh air or sunlight for 3 years. His situation could be resolved in the next 2 years by which point his hotel stay at the embassy will be nearer five years.

Julian Assange is controversial yet has, through Wikileaks, been able to expose many a scandal which has included Surveillance and also disgraceful military practices. His situation depends on your viewpoint, many spectators have formed a conclusion that he does indeed have a target on his head, but it’s difficult to quantify his situation, after all, where will he be in 5 years.  Let’s hope he re-enters the world otherwise officials will start charging him per night for his room.

Thank you huffingtonpost for providing us with this information.

Uber CEO Could Face Up To Two Years in Jail in South Korea

Despite never actually being arrested in South Korea, the CEO and founder of the taxi app service could face up to two years in jail in the country.

Essentially, Uber is considered highly illegal in South Korea, thanks to the incredible amount of regulation in the way of becoming a licensed taxi operator. Taxi drivers themselves need to pay an accumulative 70 million won (around $63,477) just to become a registered driver.

South Korean prosecutors have indicted Travis Kalanick without him actually being arrested or appearing in court, with him facing the jail time or a 20 million won (around $18,121) fine. If he has the option of taking the fine, I think we all know which one he’ll go for.

Bizarrely, Uber continues to operate in Seoul, the South Korean capital. It’s even more bizarre when you consider that the authorities in Seoul have essentially placed a bounty on the heads of Uber drivers, offering 1 million won (about $910) to any citizen who has evidence of the service operating. They even have a “dedicated squad” that is “clamping down on Uber drivers”.

Uber has faced a tricky legal path since its inception, with intense opposition from governments and taxi drivers alike. So far, it’s seemed pretty invincible – they give off the impression that they’re above the law. It’ll be interesting to see how this latest story pans out though.

Source: The Verge

 

 

Uber Banned in Delhi Following Alleged Rape by Driver

The Delhi transport department has banned the popular ride sharing service following allegations of rape by an Uber driver. The male driver allegedly raped a 25-year-old female passenger on Friday.

Shiv Kumar Yadav was previously arrested for rape in 2011, but charges were dropped following a settlement between him and the alleged victim.

The news comes as a significant blow for Uber in India, a country where the ride sharing app has been growing quickly. India’s economic status combined with the easy business opportunities and subsequent cheap fairs that Uber can deliver, makes the service ideal for the country. The loss of the service in Delhi will bo doubt hamper that growth.

A statement from Uber’s CEO, delivered before the ban, made suggestions that Uber’s plans for background checks were to be more comprehensive than those already delivered by the Indian government in their own “commercial transportation licensing programs”.

“We will work with the government to establish clear background checks currently absent in their commercial transportation licensing programs. We will also partner closely with the groups who are leading the way on women’s safety here in New Delhi and around the country and invest in technology advances to help make New Delhi a safer city for women.” – Travis Kalanick

Uber has had a pretty rough time recently, with allegations of spying, supposed plans to “dig up dirt” on journalists and opposition from governments and the transportation industry.

Source: Gizmodo

‘God View’ and Other Uber Scandals This Week

This week has been a bad week for Uber, the car sharing service.

First, Uber executive Emil Michael, caused a stir when he suggested paying “professional journalists” $1 million to dig up dirt on other journalists who were saying bad things about the company. Nicole Campbell wrote for the Huffington Post about how she was at a dinner with Emil when she heard his suggestion.

“Emil flippantly said he could hire professional journalists for $1 million to get the expertise to make sure that they could respond when negative articles come out.”

If things couldn’t get any worse, a new story revealed that Uber executives have access to a secret ‘God View’ that allows them to track individual cars and even users of the app. A BuzzFeed reporter said that during a visit to Uber’s offices, she was told that she’d been tracked before her arrival.

“Early this November, one of the reporters of this story, Johana Bhuiyan, arrived to Uber’s New York headquarters in Long Island City for an interview with Josh Mohrer, the general manager of Uber New York. Stepping out of her vehicle — an Uber car — she found Mohrer waiting for her. “There you are,” he said, holding his iPhone and gesturing at it. “I was tracking you.”

The news has led to some suggesting a boycott of the service, while others are questioning the overly hubris or big-headed nature of Uber and its executives.

Source: Huffington Post, BuzzFeed