Posts Tagged ‘Car

12
Aug
10

Recovery still distant as GM turns a corner

NEWS
Recovery still distant as GM turns a corner
General Motors profits move past $1 billion

Thursday, August 12, 2010

••• General Motors said on Thursday its profits hit $1.3 billion in the second quarter, as the car company prepared to break free of U.S. government ownership by relisting on the stock exchange.

‘I am pleased with our progress on achieving our business objectives,’ said chief financial officer Chris Liddell, announcing the second consecutive quarter of growth.

The company erased a loss of $13 billion in the same period last year, as sales and revenues increased.

The firm saw stronger sales in North America in the quarter, even as sales in Europe floundered and market share around the world sank.

GM captured 15.4 percent of the U.S. market for cars versus 17.5 percent in the second quarter of last year, but elsewhere faired poorly.

GM’s executives have said that a public offering will come soon, a process that will help the U.S. government unwind its majority stake in the firm.

The U.S. Treasury Department still owns 61 percent of GM, which received $50 billion of U.S. government financing for its bankruptcy restructuring that led to mass layoffs, plant closures and billions of dollars in debt wiped out.

GM’s drive for an IPO will be boosted by news that the firm’s revenues swelled to $33 billion in the second quarter, a third more than the same period last year.

GM as well as its U.S. competitors Ford and Chrysler were hard hit by the recession which struck the United States in December 2007, caused by a home mortgage meltdown.

Of the so-called Detroit Three car makers, Ford was the only one to avoid bankruptcy, managing to stay afloat thanks to massive loans it had obtained prior to the credit crunch and because it moved more quickly to revitalise its product portfolio.
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11
Aug
10

Google Street View throws light on web privacy

NEWS
Google Street View throws light on web privacy

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Google’s online map feature has become a flash point for people worried about the erosion of privacy in the Internet Age.

Street View images at Google Maps sparked controversy from the outset of the project three years ago.

Google dispatched cars and tricycles rigged with cameras and satellite positioning gear to take pictures of what one might see on streets around the world and synched the images to its free online mapping service.

Some people complained that faces could be recognised in pictures, raising the potential that people caught in compromising situations, perhaps stepping out of an adult video store, would have such moments memorialised online.

Others expressed fears that numbers from licence plates could be used to figure out who parks or lives on certain streets.

People were soon accusing Street View vehicles of straying onto private roads or yards to snap pictures in violation of the California-based internet giant’s policies.

Google adapted to ameliorate concerns. It began blurring faces and car licence plate numbers in images.

This year the Street View controversy rocketed to a new level with the revelation by Google that electronics in its picture-taking vehicles captured data from wireless internet systems not secured by passwords.

Google basically had access to unencrypted email, video downloads, web browsing or other digital information passing through wireless routers in homes or businesses as its Street View vans went by, said John Verdi, senior counsel at the Electronic Privacy Information Centre.

Google has apologised repeatedly for what it called an accidental data grab, but authorities in more than a dozen countries are investigating whether the company broke privacy laws.

South Korean police on Tuesday searched the offices of Google Korea as part of its probe, an officer said.

Police seized computer hard discs and other material. After analysing the material they plan to summon the company’s staff for questioning.

Efforts by governments to get the Street View data threaten to multiply damage to people’s privacy even if Google is true to its word that it has done nothing with the information.

‘Simply handing over the data to governments can be a very bad idea,’ said Electronic Frontier Foundation international rights director Katitza Rodriguez.

‘In some cases, the remedy can be worse than the disease.’

Countries could use the pretext of investigating Street View to mine Google data in ways that ‘might create risky situations for human rights activists, dissidents, or bloggers fighting for their rights,’ she added.

Silicon Valley analyst Rob Enderle theorised that Google might have intended to map locations of open wireless ‘hot spots’ as a potential service to users.

‘Telling people where they can get on the internet for free while they are out and about sounds to me like a typical Google thing to do,’ Enderle said. ‘It wouldn’t surprise me.’

Identity thieves might view a roster of open wireless zones the way burglars might look at a list of homes left unlocked, according to the analyst.

Google said it would allow Germans to block out their homes on Street View ahead of its launch in the country this year but privacy watchdogs were still not happy.

‘Google Street View is a great tool, for instance, for tourists to scope out the location that he or she wants to visit,’ Rodriguez said.

‘However, Google’s technology is too invasive, and goes too far. We expect some degree of anonymity while we are walking on the streets.’
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06
Aug
10

Accused NYC subway plotter pleads not guilty

NEWS
Accused NYC subway plotter pleads not guilty
New Charges Leveled Against NYC Man With Ties To Zazi, Others in Alleged Terror Plot.

Friday, August 6, 2010

••• One of the men accused in an alleged al-Qaeda bomb plot against New York’s subway system has pleaded not guilty.

Adis Medunjanin, 26, entered the plea on Friday at an arraignment in federal court in Brooklyn, New York, the U.S. attorney’s office said.
The main suspect in the alleged 2009 conspiracy, Najibullah Zazi, pleaded guilty earlier this year.

Last month U.S. prosecutors said al-Qaeda leaders helped set up the plot as part of a Pakistan-based campaign against U.S. and British cities.

According to new charges, Zazi, Medunjanin and Zarein Ahmedzay, who has also pleaded guilty, were recruited by al-Qaeda member Adnan El Shukrijumah.

He was described as being one of three leaders of al-Qaeda’s external operations program.
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08
Jul
10

Toyota Recalling 138,874 Lexus Vehicles

NEWS
Toyota Recalling 138,874 Lexus Vehicles

Thursday, July 8, 2010

••• Toyota Motor Corp on Tuesday filed a recall of 138,874 luxury Lexus vehicles sold in the United States to fix faulty engines in the latest quality problem to afflict the world’s No. 1 automaker. The move follows a recall of over 90,000 Lexus and other vehicles in Japan over the same problem, which was filed with the Japanese transport ministry on Monday.

The Japanese automaker said flaws in valve springs, a crucial engine component, could make the vehicle stall while in motion. Toyota confirmed in a statement it plans to file paperwork with the government on the recall next week.

The recall affects certain GS, IS and LS vehicles from the 2006-2008 model years powered by 4.6 and 5.0 liter V8 engines and 3.5 liter V6 engines. No accidents or injuries have been reported. Vehicles from the 2009 and 2010 model years are not affected.

Toyota had announced in Japan that it would recall 270,000 Lexus vehicles around the world to address the engine stalling problems. The global recall affects seven luxury Lexus sedan models as well as the popular Crown sedan, sold primarily in Japan. Of the 270,000 recalled cars, some 180,000 were sold overseas, including the United States, and 90,000 in Japan.

The company has received about 200 complaints in Japan but no accidents were reported there or abroad, said Toyota spokesman Hideaki Homma. Some drivers told Toyota that engines made a strange noise.

The automaker was already scrambling to repair its reputation after 8.5 million vehicles were recalled beginning in October because of problems with sticking accelerator pedals and other issues. Toyota was slapped with a record $16.4 million fine in the United States for acting too slowly to recall vehicles with defects.

Japan’s major daily Asahi said Friday the latest recall of 270,000 vehicles could cost Toyota around $227 million. Toyota could not confirm the report, which gave no sources.

Subject to the recall in the United States, filed with the Department of Transportation, are 2006-2008 Lexus models, including the top-of-the-line LS460 sedan, IS350, GS460, GS450h and the LS600hL models. Toyota plans to recall 270,000 vehicles worldwide due to the defective engine valve springs.

Toyota said owners will be notified of the recall by mail and dealers will repair the engine’s valve springs at no charge. The company said owners can continue to drive their vehicles. If they notice vibration, unusual engine sounds or rough idling, they should bring the car to a dealer for service.

Lexus general manager Mark Templin told dealers in an e-mail that “we understand the frustration and embarrassment these recalls cause and appreciate your reassuring Lexus owners that there is nothing more important to us than their safety, satisfaction with our products and confidence in you and the brand.”

Toyota dealers have repaired millions of vehicles following the massive global recalls, but the automaker still faces more than 200 lawsuits tied to accidents, the lower resale value of Toyota vehicles, and the drop in the company’s stock.

Toyota said last week it will recall 17,000 Lexus luxury hybrids after testing showed that fuel can spill during a rear-end crash.

U.S. regulators were working with scientists from NASA to investigate what caused some of Toyota’s vehicles to suddenly accelerate. That review is expected to be completed by late August.

Officials were also investigating whether Toyota waited nearly a year in 2005 to recall trucks and SUVs in the U.S. with defective steering rods, a case that could lead to additional fines.

Customers who have any questions or concerns should contact their local Lexus dealer or Lexus Customer Satisfaction at 1-800-25LEXUS or 1-800-255-3987 or at www.lexus.com/recall.
• Customers who have any further questions are asked to visit www.lexus.ca or contact Lexus Canada at 1-800-265-3987.
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• Source(s): Toyota Motor Corporation
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25
Jun
10

Toyota recalls Lexus HS250h hybrid for fuel spills

NEWS
Toyota recalls Lexus HS250h hybrid for fuel spills

Friday, June 25, 2010

••• Toyota said on Friday it will recall 17,000 Lexus luxury hybrids after testing showed that fuel can spill during a rear end crash.

The Japanese automaker said tests conducted for the National Traffic Highway Safety Administration found that fuel leaked during a rear impact crash at 50 miles per hour on a 2010 HS250h sedan. The test, conducted by a NHTSA contractor, showed that fuel spilled as the vehicle spun around after impact. (NHTSA CAMPAIGN ID Number: 10V285000)

Toyota’s own testing has not shown any spillage, but a spokesman said the company plans to issue a voluntary recall as it continues to try to replicate the government’s results. It is notifying dealers to stop selling the car.

Toyota, the world’s largest automaker, has attempted to rebound from a series of recalls tied to reports of unintended acceleration and other defects. The U.S. administration penalized Toyota with a record $16.4 million fine for acting too slowly on the recalls.

Dealers have repaired millions of vehicles, but the auto giant faces more than 200 lawsuits connected to accidents and the lower resale value of vehicles.

Earlier this week, Toyota Motor Corp president Akio Toyoda, the grandson of the automaker’s founder, apologized to shareholders for the trouble caused by the recalls. He said the company was doing its best to improve quality control.

Toyota said it has not identified a fix for the reported problems of fuel spillage.

Detailed information about this recall is available through Lexus Customer Satisfaction at 1-800-25 LEXUS or 1-800-255-3987 or at www.lexus.com/recall.
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22
Jun
10

Times Square car bomber details his chilling plot

NEWS
Times Square car bomber details his chilling plot

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

••• Admitted terrorist Faisal Shahzad was so eager to tell how he plotted to kill Americans in Times Square, he went to court with a prepared statement.

U.S. District Judge Miriam Cedarbaum refused to hear him read it on Monday, instead challenging the Pakistan-born American citizen to just say “what happened.”

In an unapologetic, matter-of-fact courtroom colloquy that followed, Shahzad offered chilling details about how he trained with the Pakistani Taliban to build bombs, then returned to the US to launch an attack that would avenge attacks on Muslims by U.S. forces overseas.

“One has to understand where I’m coming from,’ he said in an unusual departure from tightly scripted guilty pleas, with his defence lawyer and prosecutors sitting in silence in federal court in Manhattan. ‘I consider myself … a Muslim soldier.”

Shahzad, 30, admitted leaving a sport utility vehicle rigged with a homemade bomb in bustling Times Squares on a warm night on May 1.

The bomb failed to go off, and the Bridgeport, Connecticut, resident was arrested trying to leave the country on a Dubai-bound flight two days later.

Authorities say following his capture, Shahzad voluntarily started talking about the botched bombing right away – a pattern that continued in open court, where he agreed to plead guilty to 10 terrorism and weapons counts without the benefit of a plea deal and with certainty he’d face life in prison.

“I want to plead guilty, and I’m going to plead guilty 100 times over,” he said.

Until U.S. forces leave Muslim territory, he added, “we will be attacking U.S.”

Sentencing was set for October 5, and prosecutors say that at least one of the counts to which Shahzad pleaded guilty carries a mandatory life term. With no parole in the federal system, that means he would die behind bars.
Widely circulated snapshots of Shahzad – a U.S.-trained financial analyst and married father of two – show him with a neatly trimmed beard, all smiles and looking carefree behind sunglasses driving a car, or standing next to his American wife. When led into court on Monday, he had on a white skull cap and prisoner’s uniform, his beard shaggy and his demeanor full of pride and absent of remorse.

Shahzad traced his plot to a 2009 trip to Pakistan that began only three months after he received his U.S. citizenship.

While staying with his parents, he ventured into the lawless Waziristan region in December with “a couple of friends … to join the (Pakistani) Taliban.” He didn’t describe the friends any further.

But an intelligence official in Pakistan told The Associated Press that CIA investigators have been given access to two Pakistani men who helped Shahzad reach Mir Ali town in North Waziristan, as well as to three other suspects being held by Pakistani authorities.

The official insisted on anonymity because Pakistan’s intelligence agency does not allow its operatives to be identified.

Shahzad said he sought and received five days’ training in explosives before returning to the United States in February to pursue a one-man scheme to bring death and destruction to New York with funding from the militant group.

The indictment said he received $5,000 in cash on February 25 from an unnamed coconspirator in Pakistan and $7,000 more on April 10, sent at the coconspirator’s direction.

Authorities say the bomb malfunctioned, emitting smoke that attracted the attention of an alert street vendor, who notified police, setting in motion a rapid evacuation of several city blocks.

The judge kept up a steady back-and-forth with Shahzad, questioning how it was possible he pulled off the near-bombing solo.

“You built the bomb all by yourself?” she asked.

“Yes. … Nobody helped me,” he replied.

She also pressed him on how he could target U.S. civilians if his goal was to retaliate against U.S. forces, asking of the potential in Times Square that night, “Did you look around to see who they were?”

“Well, the people select the government,” Shahzad said. “We consider them all the same. The drones, when they hit …”

Cedarbaum interrupted again: “Including the children?”

Shahzad answered: “Well, the drone hits in Afghanistan and Iraq, they don’t see children, they don’t see anybody. They kill women, children, they kill everybody. It’s a war, and in war, they kill people.

They’re killing all Muslims.”

Later, he added: “I am part of the answer to the U.S. terrorising the Muslim nations and the Muslim people. And, on behalf of that, I’m avenging the attack.

Living in the United States, Americans only care about their own people, but they don’t care about the people elsewhere in the world when they die.”
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• Source(s): Department of Justice
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22
Jun
10

Times Square bomb accused Faisal Shahzad pleads guilty

NEWS
Times Square bomb accused Faisal Shahzad pleads guilty

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

••• Pakistani-born American Faisal Shahzad pleaded guilty on Monday to the Times Square car bomb bid “100 times”, defiantly warning of more attacks on the United States until it leaves Muslim lands.

Reading out a combative statement in court, Shahzad portrayed himself as a Muslim warrior and showed no remorse as he pleaded guilty to all 10 charges, including attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction and terrorism.

“I want to plead guilty 100 times because unless the U.S. pulls out of Afghanistan and Iraq, until they stop drone strikes in Somalia, Pakistan, and Yemen, and stop attacking Muslim lands, we will attack the U.S. and be out to get them,” he said, speaking in perfect English.

Asked by judge Miriam Cedarbaum why he tried to kill innocent Americans, 30-year-old Shahzad, who wore a white Muslim skullcap during the 90-minute proceedings, was unrepentant.

“Listen, you are attacking children with your drones in Afghanistan,” he said. “I would not consider what I did was a crime. I’m aware it’s a violation of the United States laws, but I don’t care for the laws of the United States.”

Shahzad was pulled off a flight to Dubai on May 3, two days after he parked a car containing a rudimentary explosive device in New York’s Broadway entertainment district.

The attempted bombing on a busy Saturday night was foiled when street vendors spotted smoke emanating from the back of a Nissan Pathfinder and alerted the authorities.

A 53-hour manhunt ensued, ending with Shahzad’s arrest as his plane was about to taxi for take-off from John F Kennedy Airport to Dubai.

“Americans only care about their people but they don’t care about the people elsewhere in the world when they die.”
– Failed bomber Faisal Shahzad

U.S. attorney Preet Bharara said there was no plea agreement between Shahzad and the U.S. government.

Shahzad was assured and determined as he spoke in detail in court, describing eerily how he plotted the attack to cause maximum casualties and waited for a bomb to go off that never did.

“I walked to Grand Central station. I was waiting to hear a sound, but I did not hear any sound so I went home,” he said.

“I didn’t choose a specific building, but I chose the center of Times Square, and obviously, the time, 6.30 pm, and obviously, a Saturday, May 1st.”

Shahzad told the judge he had undergone bomb-making training during a 40-day stay with the Pakistani Taliban in Pakistan, between December 9 and January 25.

The five days of bomb-making training involved “the whole thing – how to make a bomb, how to detonate it,” he said.

On returning to the U.S., Shahzad said he planned the bombing alone and acted all by himself, telling the judge: “Nobody helped me.”‘
A 10-count indictment handed down on Thursday alleged that Shahzad received two payments totalling $12,000 from an unidentified co-conspirator in Pakistan.

He used the money to buy a semi-automatic nine millimetre Kel-Tec (Kel-Tec CNC Industries Inc.) rifle in March and the Nissan Pathfinder, for which he paid $1,300 cash in a supermarket parking lot on April 24, it alleged.

He then bought components for ‘improvised explosive and incendiary devices’, loaded them in the Pathfinder, and on May 1 drove the sport utility vehicle to Times Square, the complaint said.

Shahzad pleaded guilty to attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction, attempted act of terrorism transcending national boundaries, attempted use of a destructive device in a terrorist conspiracy and a string of other conspiracy, explosives and weapons related charges.

Shahzad has co-operated fully in custody, waiving Miranda rights that protect detainees from incriminating themselves, U.S. justice officials say.

“Faisal Shahzad plotted and launched an attack that could have led to serious loss of life, and today the American criminal justice system ensured that he will pay the price for his actions,” Attorney General Eric Holder said, reacting to the guilty plea.

The son of a respected Pakistani air force officer, Shahzad attended an elite Pakistan Air Force college before coming to the United States to study at the age of 18 and eventually becoming a naturalized American citizen.

The botched car bombing left residents, visitors and authorities in Times Square jittery, with several ‘suspicious packages’ that later turned out to be harmless sparking false alarms.

U.S. aviation officials also changed security regulations, shortening the amount of time for airlines to check updated “no-fly” lists, after Shahzad was able to board his flight despite having been added to the list.
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• Source(s): Department of Justice
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