Posts Tagged ‘Germany

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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22
Jun
10

U.K. police probing alleged Google privacy breach

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U.K. police probing alleged Google privacy breach

U.K. Police Investigating Alleged Google Privacy Breach Through Public Wi-Fi Networks

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

••• Britain has become the latest country to open an investigation into whether Google violated communication and privacy laws by mistakenly gathering data over public Wi-Fi networks.

London’s Metropolitan Police says it is looking into complaints that the search engine’s ‘Street View’ project picked up people’s online activities through unprotected networks.

It says it is determining what offences, if any, were committed.

Privacy International, a London-based privacy watchdog that filed the case with police, says it had received complaints from members of the public who feared their personal data could be at risk.

The French independent privacy watchdog CNIL said last week that Google, following a complaint, had handed over personal data sucked up by its technicians.

The attorney general of the U.S. state of Connecticut is also looking into whether Google broke the law.

Attorney General Richard Blumenthal announced on Monday that his office will lead a multi-state probe of “Google’s deeply disturbing invasion of personal privacy.”

“Street View cannot mean Complete View – invading home and business computer networks and vacuuming up personal information and communications,” Blumenthal said.

Similar probes have begun in Germany, Australia and New Zealand, where police are investigating Google and some of the internet giant’s employees for collecting private information while they photographed streets for the Google Maps website.
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22
Jun
10

U.S. States step up ante against Google over wireless data

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U.S. States step up ante against Google over wireless data

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

••• The attorney general of a U.S. state is looking into whether Google broke the law by capturing people’s personal data from wireless networks.

Attorney General Richard Blumenthal announced on Monday that his office will lead a multistate probe of “Google’s deeply disturbing invasion of personal privacy,” which has drawn ire and scrutiny in an array of countries.

“Street View cannot mean Complete View – invading home and business computer networks and vacuuming up personal information and communications,” Blumenthal said.

Similar probes have begun in U.K., Germany, Australia and New Zealand, where police are investigating Google and some of the internet giant’s employees for collecting private information while they photographed streets for the Google Maps website.

Blumenthal said people had a right to know what information Google gleaned, how it was done and why.

He also wanted the internet giant to detail what safeguards are in place to fix the situation.

“While we hope Google will continue to cooperate, its response so far raises as many questions as it answers,” Blumenthal said.

“Our investigation will consider whether laws may have been broken and whether changes to state and federal statutes may be necessary.”

Blumenthal has asked Google to explain how and when it learned its Street View bicycles and cars were capturing data from unencrypted wireless networks and why they recorded the quality of wireless networks they passed.
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21
Jun
10

Obama discusses economic recovery with German, Spanish leaders

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Obama discusses economic recovery with German, Spanish leaders

Monday, June 21, 2010

U.S. President Barack Obama on Monday called German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero on economy, said the White House.

Obama discussed separately with the two European leaders on “the importance of continuing to take resolute steps to foster a durable recovery and to strengthen financial regulation,” White House spokesman Bill Burton told reporters.

The three leaders are scheduled to meet in the G20 summit next week in Canada.

In his call with Zapatero, Obama thanked Zapatero for “excellent cooperation during the Spanish E.U. presidency, particularly progress on counterterrorism and addressing the threat posted by Iran,” said Burton.
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• Source(s): The White House
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07
Jun
10

Pop singer Pink’s tour bus catches fire during Germany tour

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Pop singer Pink’s tour bus catches fire during Germany tour
Funhouse Summer Carnival Tour

Monday, June 7, 2010

••• A tour bus being used by P!nk caught fire on its way from Munich to Berlin, but police said there were no injuries.

The pop star was not on the bus at the time.

Bavarian police said a particle filter in the exhaust system caught fire at about 05:00 am on Monday due to a technical defect. They said the driver reacted quickly and got the bus to the side of the highway and put the fire out with an extinguisher before authorities arrived at the scene.

Eight musicians were on board the bus.

The band played a concert in Munich on Saturday and was on its way to Berlin for a show Tuesday night. The musicians were able to continue on their journey on a replacement bus.
P!nksPage.com, & YouTube
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01
Jun
10

Apple shifts two million iPads in less than two months

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Apple shifts two million iPads in less than two months

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Sales of the Apple iPad have passed two million since its launch almost two months ago.

The Cupertino, California, company began selling the iPad last Friday in Asia, Australia and Europe. The iPad was released in the United States on April 3.

The company does not publicly break out sales figures by region, according to Natalie Harrison, an Apple spokeswoman.

The company previously had said it sold one million iPads in the United States just 28 days after its launch. As a result of the strong demand at home, Apple had pushed back the start date of its international sales.
The iPad can be used to send emails, draw pictures and play games. It can also be used as an electronic reader. The basic model costs $499 in the United States, not including extras.

This past weekend, Apple began selling iPads in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.
Prices for the cheapest, WiFi-only version range from $499 in the United States to the equivalent of $620 in Britain for the entry-level 16 GB model. Canada ($520), Japan ($536) and Australia ($533) rounded out the price basement countries.

At the top end, an iPad 64 GB model with WiFi and 3G connectivity cost $829 in the United States against $1,010 in Britain and $980 in Germany, France and Italy.

The company said the device will be available in nine more countries in July and additional countries later this year.
• Source(s): Apple Inc.
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29
May
10

Apple’s iPad makes global debut

NEWS
Apple’s iPad makes global debut

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Thousands of die-hard Apple fans mobbed shops worldwide on Friday as the iPad, called a revolution in personal computing by some and limited and overhyped by others, began its global launch.

Long queues of customers snaked outside Apple shops in Australia and Japan hours before the opening and similar huddled masses turned out at stores in six European countries, including Britain and France.

The iPad – a flat, 9.7 inches black tablet – also went on sale in Canada as part of a global rollout that was pushed back by a month due to huge demand in the United States.

One million iPads were sold in 28 days in the United States after the product’s debut in early April despite mixed reviews from consumers.

The product is the latest from Apple, which dethroned software giant Microsoft this week as the largest U.S. technology company in terms of market value, to create a frenzy.

At Apple’s flagship store in Paris, set in the prestigious mall beneath the Louvre museum, 24-year-old engineer Audrey Sobgou beamed as she walked away with one of the prized tablets.

Sobgou travelled 127 miles from her hometown in Lille, northern France, and waited nearly two hours before stepping inside the busy Apple store.

‘I’m not a victim of hype,’ she insisted. ‘I know Apple products and it’s about the quality, the interface, how it’s designed and what it can do. With elegance and style.’

Hundreds of people queued outside the Paris Apple store hours before it opened.

In Britain, a few dozen enthusiasts waited outside the Apple store in central London at 3am to get their hands on the iPad when it opened five hours later.

Staff escorted the first group of customers one by one up to buy their iPad after they opened the doors, whooping, chanting and cheering.

‘I queued overnight for about 20 hours since midday yesterday but it was very, very worth it,’ Jake Lee, a 17-year-old student from Essex, told AFP, clutching his treasured iPad.

The iPad also went on sale in Germany, Italy, Spain and Switzerland and will be followed in July by a launch in Austria, Belgium, Ireland, Luxembourg and the Netherlands.

Alejandro Barras, manager of the Apple store in downtown Madrid, said his iPad stock sold out one hour after opening.

Apple aficionados in Zurich camped out overnight in front of the store to buy the tablet and download some of the 5000 available apps – the media applications that run on the device.

In Montreal, an 82-year-old man with a long white beard and a beret stood in line with about 100 people, some of whom arrived at the Apple store at 6am.

‘I’m not a fan of gadgets,’ Jean-Maurice Demers told AFP. ‘But I’m involved in several political committees and community groups and I’m tired of dragging around several kilograms of files.’

Prices in Japan and Australia for the basic 16GB iPad are comparable to US prices, although a significant markup by Apple in Britain and continental Europe has triggered grumbling.

In France, wi-fi models sell for between 499 and 699 euros ($613 and $860), with the 3G models going for between 599 and 799 euros ($736 and $982) .

The multi-functional device is tipped by some pundits to revitalise media and publishing, with many major newspapers and broadcasters launching applications.

As well as the five other European countries, Apple plans to bring the iPad to Hong Kong, Mexico, New Zealand and Singapore in July.

Apple has declined to reveal the number of pre-orders received for the iPad internationally, but Capital Markets analyst Mike Abramsky put it at around 600,000.

The iPad has officially gone on sale in Australia, with hundreds of tech lovers snapping up the touchscreen tablet device within minutes of it being released in Sydney.

Over 200 Apple fans braved the chilly Sydney weather overnight to be the first to get their hands on the new technology when the George Street store opened its doors at 08:00 am (AEST) on Friday.

Rahul Koduri, who had been in the line since 02:00 am (AEST) on Thursday, succeeded in his dream of being the first in Australia to purchase the iPad.

The 22-year-old Blacktown resident, who snapped up two iPads, was delighted.

‘It’s fantastic, it was so worth the wait,’ he said, holding up his two shiny iPad boxes.

‘One of these is for me, of course, and the other is for a family member.’

• Source(s): Apple Inc. and Independent Television News (ITN)
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27
May
10

Apple iPad makes international debut

NEWS
Apple iPad makes international debut

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Apple’s iPad finally goes on sale outside the United States this week after heavy U.S. demand for the multi-media gadget forced a one-month delay of its international release.

The touchscreen tablet device from the maker of the Macintosh computer, the iPod and the iPhone will be available on Friday in stores in Australia, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain and Switzerland.

The Cupertino, California-based Apple plans to bring the iPad to Austria, Belgium, Hong Kong, Ireland, Luxembourg, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand and Singapore in July.

The company co-founded by Steve Jobs had planned to begin selling the iPad internationally in late April but was forced to delay the global debut of the device because of what it said was ‘surprisingly strong U.S. demand.’

Apple said earlier this month that it sold one million iPads in the first 28 days it was available in the United States, less than half the time it took for the company to sell the same number of iPhones.

More than 5000 applications have been developed for the iPad, according to an Apple spokesman, in addition to the 200,000 programs already available for the iPhone or the iPod Touch, most of which run on the iPad.

A Wi-Fi version of the iPad, which allows users to watch video, listen to music, play games, surf the web or read electronic books, went on sale in the United States on April 3 for $499.

A more expensive model featuring both Wi-Fi and 3G cellular connectivity appeared on U.S. store shelves on April 30 for $829.

Capital Markets analyst Mike Abramsky estimated that Apple is selling over 200,000 iPads a week — more than its estimated Macintosh sales of 110,000 a week and its estimated iPhone 3GS sales of 246,000 a week.

Apple has declined to reveal the number of pre-orders received for the iPad internationally but Abramsky put it at around 600,000.

The U.S. sales figures indicate the iPad is a hit but success did not appear guaranteed when Apple’s Jobs unveiled the device at a high-profile media event in San Francisco in January.

‘There were plenty of questions before the iPad launch and quite a mixed reaction to it when it was released,’ said Gartner analyst Charles Smulders.

Critics derided it as a ‘big iPhone’ without a phone or a camera and bemoaned its inability to play Adobe’s popular Flash video software.

But the iPad appears to have won over the public with a hip advertising campaign and curious consumers can be seen lining up daily to play with tethered models of the device on display at Apple stores around the country.

‘Aside from the design, a key to its success has been getting the product into the hands of consumers,’ Smulders said.

‘With a new category of product like this it is difficult to understand its value unless you try it.

‘Apple has done a great job seeding the market.’

Ben Reitzes of Barclays Capital said he sees potential for the iPad beyond the consumer market.

‘Even corporations are piloting the device at a pace that surprises us,’ Reitzes said. ‘At the very least we believe the device can tap into the corporate market as a ‘log in’ device that accesses the network.

‘Many of our clients are increasingly using, or intend to use, the device as a reader for research as well,’ he said.

With success comes competition and imitation.

U.S. computer giant Dell plans to begin selling its own tablet computer, the “Streak,” which has a five-inch (12.5 cm) screen compared with the iPad’s 9.7 inches (24.6 cm), in Britain in June and in the United States later in the summer.

And another U.S. computer giant, Hewlett-Packard, recently announced plans to acquire struggling U.S. mobile phone maker Palm and is expected to use its WebOS operating system to develop a tablet computer of its own.
• Source(s): Apple Inc.

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17
May
10

No-fly zone lifted from North West airports

NEWS
No-fly zone lifted from North West airports

Monday, May 17, 2010

Earth

••• Planes will be allowed to fly through volcanic ash under new measures announced today by the U.K.’s Civil Aviation Authority.

The announcement of a new Time Limited Zone (TLZ) was made after all UK airspace was reopened yesterday evening.

The CAA said the TLZ – introduced from midday today (local time) – would allow flights for a limited time at higher ash densities than are currently allowed.

To operate in the new zone, airlines need to present the CAA with a safety case that includes the agreement of their aircraft and engine manufacturers.

The CAA said this meant that in future some areas of UK airspace that would have previously had to close would be able to remain open.

CAA chief executive Andrew Haines said: “I’m pleased that the huge efforts we’re all making across aviation to keep flying safe while minimising the disruption from the volcano have resulted in further progress.”

The measures follow heavy criticism of the no-fly zones from airline industry chiefs.

British Airways chief executive Willie Walsh said blanket bans on flying were “a gross over-reaction to a very minor risk”.

And Virgin boss Sir Richard Branson described the situation as “beyond a joke”.

The announcement came after the U.K.’s National Air Traffic Service confirmed that British airspace was to reopen from 02:00 pm EDT time on Monday until 08:00 pm EDT.

A no-fly zone would remain over parts of the North Sea, affecting some helicopter flights.

The majority of U.K. airports reopened today with only a few – including some in the Shetland Isles – still closed.

Heathrow and Gatwick were among the airports that had closed late on Sunday (local time) when the volcanic ash cloud moved south.
• Source(s): Sky News / British Sky Broadcasting Ltd. (BSkyB) / News Corp.
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17
May
10

Ash cloud restrictions lifted

NEWS
Ash cloud restrictions lifted

Monday, May 17, 2010

Earth

••• Three of Europe’s busiest airports reopened on Monday afternoon after a dense volcanic ash cloud from Iceland dissipated and a no-fly zone was lifted. Up to 1000 flights in Europe were affected by the closures.

Flights were landing and taking off from London’s Heathrow and Gatwick airports and Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport, but all three warned travellers it would take time for airlines to clear the backlog of delayed flights and to contact their airlines before going to the airport.

Eurocontrol, the continent’s air traffic control agency, said 28,000 flights were expected on Monday in Europe, about 1000 less than normal, mainly due to the disruptions in Britain and the Netherlands.

Icelandic civil protection official Agust Gunnar Gylfason said the ash cloud was travelling to the north, forcing airports in Keflavik and Reykjavik to close. He said seismic activity at the volcano was unchanged.

All British, Scottish and Irish airspace was open at least until early on Tuesday, but airspace over the North Sea was still restricted, affecting some helicopter operations.

British Airways chief executive Willie Walsh – facing a fresh wave of strikes by cabin crews on Tuesday – called the latest airspace closures ‘a gross overreaction to a very minor risk’.

‘I am very concerned that we have decisions on opening and closing of airports based on a theoretical model,’ he said.

‘There was no evidence of ash in the skies over London today yet Heathrow was closed.’

Aviation officials have defended the decision to impose the no-fly zone, saying airline representatives and engine manufacturers last week had agreed to find a way to ensure planes could fly safely in the volcanic ash.

Britain’s transportation minister, Philip Hammond, said aircraft manufacturers were examining evidence to see ‘what inspection regimes they can put in place that would allow safe flying through a somewhat higher threshold of ash.

‘If we can do that, the likelihood of volcanic ash disrupting flights will obviously diminish,’ he said.

Germany sent up two test flights on Sunday to measure the ash cloud, but there was no word yet on the results of those tests. Still, Germany said on Monday the latest ash cloud should not affect its airports.

‘At this time, the concentration of ash above German air space is so low that there are no reductions in air traffic,’ German Air Traffic Controllers said.

Ash can clog jet engines. The April 14 eruption at Iceland’s Eyjafjallajokul volcano forced most countries in northern Europe to shut their airspace between April 15-20, grounding more than 100,000 flights and an estimated 10 million travellers worldwide. The shutdown cost airlines more than $2 billion.

Last week, the European air safety agency proposed drastically narrowing the continent’s no-fly zone because of volcanic ash to one similar to that used in the U.S. The proposal still must be approved.

Eurostar added four extra trains on Monday – an additional 3500 seats – between London and Paris to help travellers cope.

Eyjafjallajokul (pronounced ay-yah-FYAH-lah-yer-kuhl) erupted in April for the first time in nearly two centuries. During its last eruption, starting in 1821, its emissions rumbled on for two years.
» Millions watch Iceland volcano online – Mila ehf – Lífæð samskipta
» Check your flight information here: American, Delta, United, Continental, Ryanair, Aer Lingus, Aer Arann, easyJet, Flybe, British Airways, Lufthansa, Air France, KLM, Alitalia, Iberia, TAP, Qantas, JAT
• Source(s): EUROCONTROL, Met Office (U.K.), Irish Aviation Authority (IAA), British Department of Transport (DfT), German Aerospace Center (DLR) and ITN
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16
May
10

U.K. and Ireland shut some airspace due to ash cloud

NEWS
U.K. and Ireland shut some airspace due to ash cloud

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Earth

••• Several British and Irish airports have closed as the ash cloud returned, drifting south and east following fresh eruptions from the Icelandic volcano.

Manchester Airport in northwest England and Dublin Airport, among the 20 busiest in Europe, were among those affected by the cloud on Sunday, with the ash levels deemed too dangerous to fly through.

Manchester – Britain’s busiest airport outside London, where airports were so far unaffected – was among a host of northern British airports to shut from 08:00 am EDT to 02:00 pm EDT (12:00 pm GMT to 06:00 pm GMT), including all those in Northern Ireland.

Dublin, Ireland’s main airport, was to close from 02:00 pm EDT until at least 04:00 am EDT (06:00 pm GMT until at least 08:00 am GMT) on Monday.

Europe’s skies were closed for up to a week last month following the eruption of Iceland’s Eyjafjoell volcano, in the biggest shutdown of the continent’s airspace since World War II.
The volcanic ash, which can cause serious damage to jet engines, has continued to cause disruption on a smaller scale in certain parts of Europe.

A vulcanologist from the University of Iceland said Eyjafjoell activity had worsened in recent days.

‘There is slightly increased activity for the past two days, there has been some ash fall around the glacier,’ said Bjoern Oddsson, who was travelling to the volcano to assess the new situation.

‘The column (of smoke) has increased and rises up to eight kilometres,’ he told AFP, as opposed to six kilometres in previous days.

As for the effect on European flights triggered by the rise in activity, that ‘all depends on the winds’, said the geologist from the Institute of Earth Sciences at the University of Iceland.

Travelling southwards towards the Atlantic Ocean, it should turn towards inner Iceland on Tuesday, according to weather forecasts.

In Britain, the other airports shut from 08:00 am EDT to 02:00 pm EDT as the no-fly zone extended southwards and eastwards were regional air hubs such as East Midlands, Liverpool, Leeds-Bradford, Doncaster and Humberside.

Some Scottish airports, including their fourth busiest, Prestwick, shut down, while all Northern Ireland airports closed for the period. Isle of Man airport also shut.

National Air Traffic Services, which manages British airspace, said the no-fly zone had moved east and south for the six-hour period, and it would issue further updates as necessary.

Britain’s Department of Transport had warned on Saturday British airspace was likely to face partial closures from Sunday until Tuesday due to the volcanic ash cloud.

London airports, including Europe’s busiest air hub, Heathrow, could be affected, it said.

Eurostar, which runs high-speed rail services linking London with Paris and Brussels via the Channel tunnel, said it was laying on extra trains to meet an expected surge in demand.

‘We’ve planned four extra trains on Monday,’ a spokeswoman told AFP. ‘Two between London and Paris and two between Paris and London. It’s because the trains are already very busy and have very little capacity left.’

In the Republic of Ireland, Cork and Shannon remain open until further notice, while Ireland West (Knock), Donegal and Sligo airports remain closed until at least 07:00 am EDT (11:00 am GMT) on Monday.

Kerry is open until further notice, Galway is closed until at least 04:00 am EDT (08:00 am GMT) on Monday and Waterford is to close from 06:00 pm EDT (10:00 pm) until at least 04:00 am EDT (08:00 am GMT) on Monday.

North Atlantic overflights through Irish-controlled airspace remain unaffected.

In Scandinavia, the skies were open over Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden and should remain so until at least Monday night.

There were no restrictions on German flights. Ash pollution should remain weak until at least Tuesday.
» Millions watch Iceland volcano online – Mila ehf – Lífæð samskipta
» Check your flight information here: American, Delta, United, Continental, Ryanair, Aer Lingus, Aer Arann, easyJet, Flybe, British Airways, Lufthansa, Air France, KLM, Alitalia, Iberia, TAP, Qantas, JAT
» Important information – British Airways Industrial Action, travel to / from Thailand and Volcanic Flight Disruptions
• Source(s): EUROCONTROL, Met Office (U.K.), Irish Aviation Authority (IAA), British Department of Transport (DfT), Agence France-Presse (AFP) and Sky News (BSkyB)
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16
May
10

Volcanic ash cloud shuts parts of E.U. airspace

NEWS
Volcanic ash cloud shuts parts of E.U. airspace
Sunday, May 16, 2010

Earth

••• Volcanic ash from Iceland could disrupt air travel in both Britain and Germany in the next few days, officials say.

The British Department of Transport said on Saturday there’s a risk that parts of British airspace could be closed beginning on Sunday and those problems could continue until Tuesday. The predictions are based on the continuing eruption of Iceland’s Eyjafjallajokul volcano and current wind and weather conditions.

It said different parts of British airspace – including England’s southeast, home to Europe’s busiest airport at Heathrow as well as Gatwick, Stansted and other top airports – could close at different times through the next few days.

In Germany, air traffic control spokesman Axel Raab told The Associated Press that German air travel could face possible disruptions starting on Monday, but cautioned that indicators are still ‘very, very vague’.

Germany will send up a test flight on Sunday to measure the ash concentration, German Aerospace Center spokesman Andreas Schuetz said – a measure welcomed by Lufthansa, Germany’s largest airline, which last month criticised air traffic authorities for their lack of ash testing.

Any decision on German air space closures will be made after examining Sunday’s weather forecasts at an emergency meeting with meteorologists, Raab said.

In Iceland, civil protection official Agust Gunnar Gylfason said the intensity of the Eyjafjallajokul eruption has not changed but wind conditions have.

‘The winds in the vicinity of the volcano are not quite as forceful as they have been, so the ash plume is higher closer to the volcano,’ he said. ‘The weather patterns are the predominant factor in deciding where the ash goes.’

The Met Office, Britain’s weather forecaster, said on Saturday the wind is expected to change direction on Tuesday, which would lower the risk of travel disruptions.

Transport Secretary Philip Hammond said five-day forecasts are now being published to give airlines and travellers ‘the best possible information. However, he said the situation ‘remains fluid and these forecasts are always liable to change’.
British airport operator BAA said on its website on Saturday that all of its facilities are open, but the ash cloud ‘continues to cause occasional problems’. It said it will have a clearer idea of how the ash could affect southern England over the next 24 hours.

Airlines, including Lufthansa and British Airways, have criticised past air space closures as an overreaction by regulators.

The controversy over how to handle the flight disruptions led to the resignation of a top Lufthansa executive, news weekly Der Spiegel reported on Saturday.

Stefanie Stotz, a spokeswoman for Lufthansa, confirmed that chief security pilot Juergen Steinberg is leaving ‘by mutual agreement’ on August 1. He had criticised Lufthansa’s leadership for operating flights under visual flight rules while German airspace was still officially closed because of the ash cloud.

Steinberg represents about 4000 pilots and advises Lufthansa’s board on security issues.

In Rome, Italy’s civil aviation agency fined Ryanair about three million euros ($3.81 million) for failing to help 178 passengers stranded last month when flights were cancelled due to the volcanic ash cloud. The ENAC agency said those Ryanair passengers didn’t receive mandatory assistance such as food, drink and lodgings during the April 15-22 flight shutdown across much of Europe.

Ryanair said the company hadn’t been informed of the fine.
» Millions watch Iceland volcano online – Mila ehf – Lífæð samskipta
» Check your flight information here: American, Delta, United, Continental, Ryanair, Aer Lingus, Aer Arann, easyJet, Flybe, British Airways, Lufthansa, Air France, KLM, Alitalia, Iberia, TAP, Qantas, JAT
» Important information – British Airways Industrial Action, travel to / from Thailand and Volcanic Flight Disruptions
• Source(s): EUROCONTROL, Met Office (U.K.), Irish Aviation Authority (IAA), British Department of Transport (DfT), German Aerospace Center (DLR) and ITN
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15
May
10

Google Data Admission Angers Europe

NEWS
Google Data Admission Angers Europe

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Germany’s Consumer Affairs Minister Ilse Aigner has sharply criticized Google for inadvertently collecting personal data.

“According to the information available to us so far, Google has for years penetrated private networks, apparently illegally,” Aigner said in a statement on Saturday.

The “alarming incident” showed that Google still lacks understanding for the need for privacy, according to the statement.

Privacy breach

Google’s fleet of Street View cars, photographing streets for its online map program, has been collecting more data than previously thought. After reviewing a system in the cars that recorded names and addresses of wireless networks detected along the routes, Google revealed that a programming error had led to small amounts of personal data to be collected from unsecured Wi-Fi networks.

“It’s now clear that we have been mistakenly collecting samples of payload data from open Wi-Fi networks,” Google’s head of engineering Alan Eustace said in a blog posting.

The blog post did not specify what kinds of personal data had been collected but indicated it could be things such as email and web browsing history. However, since the data had been collected by moving vehicles, only fragments of information were recorded. Google regretted its mistake and would look for a way to destroy the personal data.

“Maintaining people’s trust is crucial to everything we do, and in this case we fell short,” said Eustace in the blog post.

Google reviewed its data collection methods in response to an inquiry from the Data Protection Authority in Hamburg.

The Google Street View service allows users to “walk” along panoramic street views in many countries, using images recorded by specially-outfitted cars. The fleet of cars around the world has been halted for the time being as Google attempts to fix the glitch.

The Street View project is controversial in Germany due to privacy concerns.
• Source(s): Deutsche Presse-Agentur (dpa) and Google Inc.
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13
May
10

Airports Reopen After Volcanic Ash Cloud Air Disruption

NEWS
Airports Reopen After Volcanic Ash Cloud Air Disruption
Thursday, May 13, 2010

Earth••• Restrictions on flights to and from airports in Spain, Portugal and Morocco were lifted following days of disruption caused by volcanic ash cloud.

In Spain, all airports resumed normal operations, with Valencia, the last to see restrictions lifted, reopening from 06:00 am GMT (02:00 am EDT), said the Spanish air traffic control organisation Aena.

A ban on flights was also lifted at all Portuguese airports on Wednesday, said Portugal’s NAV air traffic authority.

‘There is no more disruption,’ said a statement issued by the authority.
However, flights from Tunisia to Morocco and some European destinations were disrupted, although Tunisia’s transport ministry said that flights had only been delayed and none cancelled.

‘There has been some disruption since Tuesday to flights leaving Tunisian airports destined for Spain, Portugal and Italy because of the ash cloud from the volcanic eruption,’ the ministry said.

In Morocco, the main airports, in particular Casablanca and Rabat, reopened at 06:00 am GMT (02:00 am EDT) on Wednesday after overnight restrictions.

Algerian officials said the ash had reached as far as the east of the capital Algiers but that air traffic remained normal so far.

The ash from Iceland’s Eyjafjoell volcano, which began erupting on April 14, last month caused the biggest aerial shutdown in Europe since World War II.

Volcanologists in Iceland said the latest ash cloud problems, which first forced closures of Spanish airports from last Saturday, were caused by ash left over from previous weeks which can travel around in the atmosphere due to winds.
• Source(s): EUROCONTROL, Met Office (U.K.) and Irish Aviation Authority (IAA)
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10
May
10

Airports operate normally as ash clears over Europe

NEWS
Airports operate normally as ash clears over Europe
Monday, May 10, 2010

Earth••• Flights across Europe were operating normally Monday after a plume of volcanic ash that disrupted air traffic and forced some airports to close over the weekend dispersed, aviation officials said.

But delays on trans-Atlantic flights were expected because another band in mid-ocean was still blocking the air routes between Europe and North America, the European air traffic agency Eurocontrol said.

“While most of these flights are oprating, many are having to make significant re-routings to avoid the area of ash cloud coverage, resulting in delays,” according to a statement from the agency.

The ash cloud from a fresh eruption of the Icelandic Eyjafjallajokull volcano reached west and northwest Romania and is expected to cover most part of the country by Tuesday afternoon, said the authorities on Monday.

Citing the latest forecast of the London Volcanic Ash Advisory, Romania’s Environment Ministry said the cloud will cover most of the country by 03:00 am EEST (08:00 pm EDT on Monday, May 10) on Tuesday.

According to the National Meteorology Administration, the volcano ash cloud over Romania’s territory is not causing pollution, during the coming 24 hours.

Romania will not close its airspace Monday, said Civil Aviation Department chief Catalin Radu, adding that the night evolution of the cloud does not affect airline traffic.

The Eyjafjallajokull volcano began erupting last month, causing air travel chaos across Europe for about a week as many countries closed their airspace, due to lack of visibility and the danger the ashes pose to aircraft.

Ireland will re-open its airports on Monday after the latest aerial shutdown due to volcanic ash from Iceland that is still causing travel disruptions around Europe after nearly a month.

Donegal, Sligo, Ireland West (Knock), Galway and Kerry on the west coast will re-open at 06:00 am IST (02:00 am EDT), said the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA).

They were closed progressively on Sunday due to the threat to plane engines from an ash cloud hovering over the Atlantic.

‘The past number of days has seen the growth of a large cloud of high ash concentration off the west coast of Ireland, and this has caused difficulty for some transatlantic operations,’ said the IAA in a statement.

Restrictions were also lifted late on Sunday in Scottish airspace – they had been imposed over some northern areas – with the exception of the island of Barra in the Outer Hebrides.

Ireland has faced several fresh shutdowns in recent days. On Thursday airports were closed before being re-opened just three hours later.
• Source(s): EUROCONTROL, Met Office (U.K.) and Irish Aviation Authority(IAA)
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09
May
10

Volcanic ash cloud returns, disrupting European flights

NEWS
Volcanic ash cloud returns, disrupting European flights
Sunday, May 9, 2010

Earth••• A cloud of volcanic ash from Iceland has continued to move over parts of Europe and the North Atlantic.

About 900 flights to and from airports in Ireland, Portugal, Spain, Italy, and Germany were canceled on Sunday as a result of the cloud, announced European airspace controller Eurocontrol.

Hundreds of flights at airports from Lisbon to Munich have been cancelled and some European airspace has been closed because of a volcanic ash cloud from Iceland that caused air travel chaos last month.

All flights to the city of Porto in northern Portugal and the Azores were suspended on Sunday, with normal operations expected to resume by 06:00 am GMT (02:00 am EDT) on Monday, airport officials there said.

In all more than 200 flights were grounded in Portugal, including 71 at Lisbon’s airport, where Pope Benedict XVI is due to arrive on Tuesday for a four-day visit to the country.

The Vatican said the pontiff’s trip was still on schedule despite the air traffic disruptions.

‘At the present time, we expect no change to the program’ of the Pope’s visit, Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi told AFP.

The volcanic ash cloud’s unwelcome return affected air travel across much of southern Europe, especially in France and Italy, and extended into Austria and Germany.

The airspace around the southern German city of Munich was closed at 01:00 pm GMT (09;00 am EDT), cancelling flights there and at other airports, including Stuttgart, authorities said.

‘Due to the high level of contamination from volcanic ash, there have been no flights taking off or landing at Munich airport,’ said the air safety agency, DFS. The measures will be in force ‘until further notice’.

Neighbouring Austria has partly closed its airspace until the early hours of Monday, hampering traffic at airports in Vienna, Innsbruck, Linz and Salzburg, the air authority Austro Control said.

The coordinator of air traffic control across Europe said it expected about 24,500 flights to take place on Sunday, about 500 less than the average for this time of year.

Eurocontrol said: ‘Transatlantic flights continue to be affected by the ash cloud,’ with many suffering delays as they skirt the edges of the volcanic plume.

Authorities reopened Italy’s skies in the north to air traffic at 02:00 pm GMT on Sunday (10:00 am EDT on Monday) after shutting down its airspace earlier for about six hours as the ash cloud hovered over the peninsula, cancelling nearly 300 flights at Milan airports.

On Croatia’s Adriatic coast the ash cloud forced officials to close airports at Split and Zadar at 12:00 pm GMT (08:00 am EDT).

In France, the airspace remained open on Sunday but at least 70 flights bound for southern Europe were grounded at airports in Paris, Lyon, and Nice, the nearest international airport to Cannes, which is to host its flagship international film festival in three days.

The French weather service said the volcanic ash cloud could drift over southern France by Monday morning and could affect Europe’s skies for several months.

Iceland’s Eyjafjoell volcano erupted on April 14 and caused travel chaos worldwide, with airspace closed over many European nations for a week in mid-April over fears the ash would damage aircraft engines with fatal results.

It was the biggest aerial shutdown in Europe since World War II, with more than 100,000 flights cancelled affecting about eight million passengers. The airline industry said it lost about 2.5 billion euros ($3.18 billion).

The volcano began fresh and intensive ash eruptions overnight on Thursday and closed Ireland’s airspace for a time, and was again affecting the island nation on Sunday.

Irish airports at Donegal, Sligo and Ireland West (Knock) on the western coast face restrictions from 02:00 pm GMT (10:00 am EDT) on Sunday while Galway will be disrupted from 03:00 pm GMT (11:00 am EDT) and Kerry from 09:00 pm GMT (05:00 pm EDT), authorities said.

Meanwhile, Spanish air traffic was returning to normal, with most of the 19 airports in northern Spain that were closed on Saturday reopening about 02:00 pm GMT (10:00 am EDT), air control authority Aena said.
• Source(s): EUROCONTROL, Met Office (U.K.), Agence France-Presse (AFP) and Icelandic Met Office
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27
Apr
10

Ford Recalling 33,000 Vehicles Over Front Seat Defects

NEWS
Ford Recalling 33,000 Vehicles Over Front Seat Defects

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

••• Ford is recalling 33,256 cars to make their front seats comply with federal safety standards, according to a notice on the U.S. transportation department’s Office of Defects Investigation website.

Models affected include the 2010 Fusion (above), Explorer, Explorer SportTrac and Mercury Mountaineer and Milan vehicles made between Dec. 15, 2009, and Feb. 3, 2010, and equipped with manual front-seat recliners.

According to the safety agency, “The recliner gear plate teeth may be out of dimension specification, which could result in limited pawl to gear plate tooth engagement.”

“In the event of a crash,” the department said, “the seatback and head restraint may move rearward, increasing the risk of injury.”

A Ford spokesman told the Associated Press that no accidents or injuries have been reported due to the issue.

Dealers are expected to begin remedying the issue for free on or before April 30. If you own one of these cars and want additional information, Ford has a help line set up at 866-436-7332.

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27
Apr
10

NHTSA Announces Recall on 2010 Porsche Panamera

NEWS
NHTSA Announces Recall on 2010 Porsche Panamera

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

••• Porsche is recalling models of its new Panamera four-door sports car due to an issue that can cause the front seat belts to not work, according to a notice by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The recall affects 3,176 Panamera S, 4S and Turbo sedans, all from model-year 2010.

According to NHTSA, “If the front seats are adjusted towards an extreme position, resulting in unfavorable tolerance of the mating components, it is possible that the function of the locking mechanism of the seat belt mount can no longer be guaranteed. The seat belt mount could detach from the anchoring system when the seat belt is fastened or opened.”

In the event of a crash, the seat belts “may not provide adequate protection for the seat occupant,” the notice said.


To remedy the situation, Porsche dealers will for free install an additional locking device in both front seats. Porsche has not said when owners would start to receive notice with further instructions, but if you own one of these cars and are concerned, you can call the German automaker’s hot line at 800-545-8039.

» See The NHTSA Porxche Panamera Recall Notice

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21
Apr
10

Airlines edge slowly back to ‘business as usual’

NEWS
Airlines edge slowly back to ‘business as usual’

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Earth

Europe’s airspace reopened for business as Iceland’s volcano lost its fury Wednesday, leaving passengers scrambling to get home and recriminations flying over the $US1.7 billion cost of the crisis.

Three-quarters of flights scheduled in Europe were on track to fly, said the body coordinating air traffic across the continent, a week after a volcanic eruption in Iceland caused the worst disruption to aviation since World War II.

While experts in Iceland said the Eyjafjjoell volcano had lost most of its intensity, airline bosses were frantically adding up the cost of the crisis which their umbrella body said had cost $US400 million a day at its peak.

All of Europe’s main air hubs were up and running on Wednesday and the Europe-wide coordinating body Eurocontrol said it expected some 21,000 flights to take place in European airspace, against a typical 28,000.

In Europe’s far north, Helsinki in Finland and airspace over the remote Scottish isles of Orkney and Shetland were temporarily reclosed due to still unsafe ash levels.

But Iceland’s other Nordic neighbours Norway, Denmark and Sweden lifted the last of their flight restrictions in a sign the worst of the threat had faded.

Millions had their travel plans affected since governments closed their airspace last Thursday and IATA, the body representing the global airline industry, put the overall cost at $US1.7 billion.

European governments ‘must take their responsibility’ and help the carriers, said IATA chief Giovanni Bisignani.

British Airways chief executive Willie Walsh had branded the ban unnecessary, with the disruption heaping more misery on an airline reeling from a recent strike.

Flights were finally cleared for landing at London’s Heathrow airport on Tuesday night, but BA flew around two dozen long-haul planes back to Britain even before the no-fly zone was lifted.

Some were initially turned away and forced to land at other airports but there were scenes of jubilation on other planes when pilots announced they had been cleared to land at Heathrow, Europe’s busiest airport.

British opposition leader David Cameron – who is challenging Labour leader Gordon Brown for the premiership next month – called for a public inquiry into the ‘muddle and confusion’ in the government’s handling of the crisis.

British Airways said they were hoping to operate all longhaul flights from Heathrow and Gatwick as normal Wednesday.

Wolfgang Mayrhuber, the head of Lufthansa, said his firm expected to operate around 500 flights, a third of its normal service.

Dutch airline KLM expected to resume all inter-continental flights to and from Amsterdam’s Schiphol, and about 70 percent of flights in Europe.

All long-haul passenger services from Paris’ main international hub Charles de Gaulle were operating as scheduled, airport officials said, while Air France said it had flown 40,000 stranded people back home since Tuesday.

Emirates said it was trying to operate as many flights as possible but added that ‘passengers are asked to be patient’.

There was light at the end of the tunnel for Europeans stuck in Asia with airlines such Air China announcing all its Europe flights would be departing.

But Frances Tuke, a spokeswoman for the British travel organisation Abta, warned passengers against getting their hopes up.

‘I know for example that some of our tour operators have decided to cancel their programs going out of the UK in order that they can try to reposition their aircraft and crew,’ she said. ‘It’s a huge logistical operation.’

Passengers trying to catch a flight at Heathrow were still in the dark about when their ordeal would end.

‘It has been impossible to know when our flights would leave so we have been stuck waiting and wondering,’ said Veronique David, 42-year-old French nurse, huddled in a green fleece blanket given to people who spent the night there.

She was hoping to get back to Paris after being stranded in San Francisco since last Thursday with a group that was shunted from hotel to hotel and spent one night wandering around the airport.

‘It has certainly been an unforgettable holiday,’ she said.

In Iceland, the civil protection agency said the volcano had lost nearly 80 per cent of its intensity.

‘Explosive activity has diminished. Ash production has gone down. It’s really insignificant right now,’ said Pall Einarsson, a seismologist from Iceland’s Institute of Earth Sciences.

Einarsson however said the volcano had ‘not gone to sleep’ and that it was impossible to predict when it would stop erupting.

As recriminations flew, a vulcanologist advising the United Nations said European authorities had no choice but to close their airspace for lack of hard facts about aircraft behaviour in volcanic ash.

Closure to air traffic ‘was the only measure that could be taken,’ said Henry Gaudru, president of the European Vulcanological Society.
» Millions watch Iceland volcano online
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