Category Archives for "Trajan’s Column"

The Sun : Sharm on you

Capture-TheSun-StoryPrivate Eye, a British satirical magazine, has a story which paints The Sun (the infamous UK tabloid) in an even worse light.

“NICK PARKER, chief foreign correspondent of the Sun, had shocking news on last Friday’s front page: “Security at Sharm el-Sheikh airport has been exposed as a shambles after guards let Brits jump queues for a £15 fee – without checking their luggage.”  Sharm el-Sheiikh is the airport from which the Russian Metrojet Flight 9268, flying from before it was brought down with a likely an explosive that was placed on board.

The Private Eye story is not that they published the article on bribing the guards it is WHEN they published it.

According to Private Eye they knew about it FIVE months ago but decided against going with the story for the reason that they didn’t want to be prosecuted for bribing foreign officials.

Nice. A bit of courage could have exposed this flaw before hand.

Feed the to the Lions.

Volkwagen : smoking guns


Roads-2-Roam was waiting for VW’s side of the scandal to make a call but some recent internal news leaks are very compelling against Volkswagen.

Two separate German ‘serious’ newspapers have identified sources that say VW knew about this many years ago but did nothing. They held out until they were busted recently.

Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung (What a name !) suggests that some VW technicians tried to blow the whistle in 2011.

The other newpaper, Bild am Sonntag, goes back even further with a letter from the supplier of the engine controller unit – Bosch – that warned VW back in 2007 not to use their software illegally.

Citing unidentified sources, Bild said Bosch had warned Volkswagen as early as 2007 that its software should only be used in company tests and not for normal driving.

Das Auto. Was ist passiert?

I’m afraid Volkswagen corporate management (Not sure we will feed the unrelated part of VW AG), it is time to feed you to the lions.

Now is the Winterkorn of our discontent

The front page of the Economist 23rd October edition

The front page of the Economist 23rd October edition

The repercussions of the Volkswagen emissions gets worse by the day. For those not following it:-

  • The CEO, Martin Winterkorn, has resigned just as he was about  to renew his contract for 2 years. He was known as “Mr Quality”. More executives are likely to resign or be fired. The big question remaining is who knew and who sanctioned it.
  • VW Stock market value has plummeted where it has lost 1/3rd of it value in just two days: ~$30B. Expect the stock to go much lower. You’d be foolish to buy with this amount of uncertainty.
  • VW has said that European diesel cars have same software to fool the test.  In terms of impact, Europe has around 11 million out there compared to 1/2 million in the US.
  • The talk remains about criminal charges. US Department of Justice, the EU and Germany prosecutors area all looking into it. Japan and India as also waking up.
  • As predicted,  law firms have started to file class actions lawsuites under the rational that the consumers were duped. Some are also using for the ’emotional distress’ angle. The used car value of Volkwagen diesel cars is a big unknown. Who would want them?
  • There is also likely going to a political fallout in Germany where it is being said that German Government knew about this back in July. VW, whose HQ is in Wolfsburg, are big political players in Germany due to the number of people they employ. The Volkwagon group that includes Porche and Skoda, were gunning for Toyota to be the biggest car manufacturer in the world.
  • The regulators themselves are also coming under scrutiny. Many are asking how they designed and blessed off on these tests and allow each car manufacturer to run the tests themselves. It took a presure group and University in West Virginia to identify this. Regulators (Federal, Californian/ EU) were oblivious.
  • The scandal is dragging BMW into the mess where it is also being reported that while it passed the ICCT test that busted VW, it’s cars are not as clean as their marketing is claiming.
  • Knock on  business effects are also being seen areas from the commodity price for platinum which is used as a catalytic converter to reduce emissions, to the weakening of the Euro.

While Volkswagen has set aside reserves for the US fine, the overall consequential damages may bankrupt them. Even if it doesn’t initially, the brand is trashed.  It looks as if we are seeing the death knoll of “Clean Diesel” for VW as well as other players.  Emissions standards are going to get tighter and performance will drop off. Thus even if they survive, the demand for the product may not be there as people paid a premium for their diesel cars.

There is no good news whatever way you look at it.

Whose Exhaustive research determined VW were blowing smoke?

Secret photographs show VW plans to pass new emissions target

Secret photographs show VW’s plans to pass new emissions target.

In a follow on to “He who smelt it, dealt it“, we found out a bit more on who it was that grassed up Volkswagon cheating in their emission testing on Diesal cars. It was an organization called “ICCT: The International Council of Clean Transportation”. From their website, the mission  statement is:

The International Council on Clean Transportation is an independent nonprofit organization founded to provide first-rate, unbiased research and technical and scientific analysis to environmental regulators. Our mission is to improve the environmental performance and energy efficiency of road, marine, and air transportation, in order to benefit public health and mitigate climate change.

Bloomberg explains the background to how ICCT busted ’em. Continue reading..

He who smelt it, dealt it.

An old German road sign that indicated “Verkehrsverbot bei Smog” (No traffic allowed in smog conditions).

Volkswagen appears to be in big trouble where it is being reported that they have installed ECU software on their diesel cars which apply full pollution controls only when they are running emissions testing. When actually running in real life, they are bypassed. The result is a car that has much more efficient gas mileage but at the expense of nitrogen oxide emissions which are up to x40 than ‘legal’ limits.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is calling them out for cheating and are referring to this a ‘defeat device’. The State of California is also piling on. If you look at comments on New York Times, a bastion of liberalism, many drivers of VW Diesel are very upset and while they are thankful for the per mileage improvement, they are aghast that their green image is more dirty grey. Continue reading..

Faultly convictions due to GM ignition failure get overturned

Zachary Stevens’ 2007 Saturn after crashing head-on into a pickup truck. Source: Josh Davis Law Firm via Bloomberg

Imagine you are driving when your car unexpectedly goes out of control and the resulting wreck kills people. You say the car became unresponsive where power steering and the brakes do not work. While crashing, the airbags fail to deploy.

The police do not believe you and you get charged and convicted of manslaughter. You even spend time in prison.

That is what happened to a few people where some were teenagers. While they survived the accident, their lives were in many cases ruined.  Continue reading..

HailItalia airline: Another hail damaged jet has emergency landing

Alitalia plane after getting hail damage : Photo ShaneBEgan

I thought that the smashed up Delta flight 1899 due to hail the size of baseballs, was an anomaly. See Hail to the Chief.

I was therefore, surprised to see the picture of an Alitalia plane on it’s way from Rome to Milan that had to make an emergency landing in Naples. It looked very similar – crushed nose cone.

Not surprisingly some of the passengers decided to take the bus after their experience.

T5 outage causes checked bag outrage

It’s there somewhere. Photograph: Martin Argles for the Guardian

Right on cue for the peak August vacation time, poor old British Airways passengers are again experiencing baggage problems at Terminal 5 due to a power outage.

While the passengers will make the flights, their luggage will not.

A similar event had happened a week ago and just over a year ago an IT problem shut down the same terminal where people lost their luggage for over a week.  (see BAGGAGE EXCESSES : PROBLEMS WITH BAGGAGE SYSTEM AT HEATHROW’S TERMINAL 5). 

You know what they say: Once is unlucky; twice is careless; three times is a pattern.

Way to go T5. It is time to develop plan B. 

Land of Gyro says Oh No to Euro

The result is in and the Greek people voted 61% No or ‘Oxi’. If you think understanding the result is difficult, look at the question:

Should the agreement plan submitted by the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund to the Eurogroup of 25 June 2015, and comprised of two parts which make up their joint proposal, be accepted?

The term “Oxi” has historical reference in Greece where they actually have “Oxi day” on October 28th. It commemorates the formal response Greek Prime minister Metaxis gave to Mussolini who demanded military access back in 1941.  So “Oxi” itself has nationalistic implications.

Either way, whatver the Greek people had voted it was going to be a Hobson’s choice in this referendum: a slow financial death by strangulation or slow financial death by drowning.

The news outlets has been covering this for a number of years but bottom line is Greece is unable to pay off it’s prior loans nor function as a country without access to more loans. A real life Greek tragedy, Greece (with the help of the Goldman Sachs) fiddled the books to join the Euro but after a nice boom with access to low interest rates, it found it could not keep up with the other commitments that joining the Euro entailed. Hosting a mega party of it’s own,  the 2004 Olympics, certainly didn’t help which cost €9B Euro which did not include infrastructure upgrades.

What do you mean we have to pay it back?

Continue reading..