Top Uber executive resigns after sexual harassment allegation at Google surfaces

Amit Singhal

Finally, some evidence that Uber is taking sexual harassment allegations seriously.

Amit Singhal, formerly Uber’s senior vice president of engineering, has resigned after reports surfaced of him leaving his previous job at Google due to sexual harassment allegations, Recode reported Monday. CEO Travis Kalanick asked for Singhal’s resignation Monday morning.

The news comes just a week after Susan Fowler Rigetti brought attention to Uber problems with a toxic work culture and sexism in the workplace with a blog post on her personal experience. Kalanick said he would conduct a thorough investigation of the matter with Attorney General Eric Holder and Uber board member Arianna Huffington.

But apparently this latest development is not due to that team and can be chalked up as another failure by Kalanick and his executive team. Uber executives were informed of the situation after Recode‘s Kara Swisher informed them of the matter.

“Sources at Uber said that the company did extensive background checks of Singhal and that it did not uncover any hint of the circumstances of his departure from Google. Singhal disputed the allegation to Google execs at the time,” Swisher wrote.

The absence of that knowledge by Uber is quite unfathomable. Swisher spoke to multiple sources and had internal notes read to her that provided evidence of an alleged encounter between Singhal and a female employee.

To be sure, Google HR was not contractually obligated to tell Uber HR of Singhal’s full reason for departure. No charges were made. The female employee who filed the complaint did not want to go public, according to Recode.

Singhal had spoken with former Google HR head Laszlo Bock and Google CEO Sundar Pichai on the claims in late 2015, Swisher wrote. He resigned from Google in early 2016.

“It has been an incredible journey, and I am starting the next phaseof my journeyfocused on giving back through the Singhal Foundation” Singhal wrote on his blog.

According to anonymous sources speaking with Swisher, Google was prepared to fire Singhal prior to his resignation.

Singhal denied the allegations in an email to Swisher.

Harassment is unacceptable in any setting. I certainly want everyone to know that I do not condone and have not committed such behavior, he wrote. In my 20-year career, Ive never been accused of anything like this before and the decision to leave Google was my own.

Uber declined to comment. Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

This post was updated with clarification on why Uber would not know about these allegations and with a statement for Singhal.

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Britain hosted its very own Oscars… for kebabs

And the award goes to…
Image:  Lukas Gojda/shutterstock

The world watched the Oscars with bated breath on Sunday night, but another awards ceremony was also taking place with something of a more culinary focus.

Britain hosted its very own equivalent of the Oscars the British Kebab Awards. Nice.

With 1.3 million kebabs sold every day across Britain, it’s safe to say the much-loved kebab is an institution in the UK.

Seventeen kebab shops from across the UK won awards in categories ranging from Best Kebab Van to Best Fine Dining Restaurant. The winner of the kebab van award went to Atalay Kebab Van in Thame, Oxfordshire, while Veyso’s in Hertford won the award for best Fine Dining Restaurant. Pizza King Kebab House in Edmonton was named best takeaway in London.

BBC Radio 1 DJs Chris Stark and Scott Mills hosted the event, which was attended by politicians including Andrew Percy MP, Barry Gardiner MP, and Simon Danczuk MP.

True to British form, people flocked to Twitter to express their enthusiasm for the Kebab Awards, and their lack thereof for the Oscars.

Some people didn’t mince words.

Many hailed the Kebab Awards the British equivalent to the Oscars.

Many were amused by the timing of the awards ceremony, which was undoubtedly a baller move on the part of the Kebab Awards.

In fact, the Kebab Awards were such a big deal in the UK they were reportedly trending above the Oscars on Twitter for a period.

Who needs the Oscars when you can have kebabs?

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22-Year-Old Gives Homeless Beggar His Breakfast, 2 Years Later Its His Full-Time Job

Teddy Fitzgibbons was just going about his morning as usual, possibly slightly groggy from an early start.

He was eating abreakfast sandwich on his way to work in New York City when he got a request that made him turn on his heels. A homeless man asked him if he would kindly give him the second half of his egg sandwich.

Teddy did something that not every 22-year-old would do in his position. He gave the man his breakfast, but that wasn’t the end of it. The interaction stuck with him, and he couldn’t get it out of his mind. He knew that he had the opportunity to make a difference, he just needed to figureout how.

Two years later, at the age of 24, Teddy has his own business called Hearty Start. Hearty Start, its donors, and the delis that partner with the organization are responsible for feeding as many homeless men and women as they can every day.

Teddy hired recovering and former homeless folks to distribute the sandwiches across Manhattan’s streets. Munoz Price is the first formerly homeless employee that Hearty Start hired, and he absolutely loves his job.

Can you imagine what it must be like for Munoz to be able to pick himself up and help those that still need a boost? Homelessness is a huge problem in so many American cities, and every little gesture counts. With just $3 per sandwich, you can help tooby setting up a meal plan here, on the Hearty Start website.

You’ve got tosee these folks in action for yourself in the video fromRachael Raybelow. They are so inspiring!

Please SHARE with your family and friends on Facebook to spread the kindnessfar and wide!

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Girl Waits In Line For Baseball Players Autograph, But Runs Away When She Spots A Soldier

When seven-year-old Makenna Woodburn went to see a baseball spring training event, the Boston Red Sox, she expected to leave with a baseball signed by a professional athlete or two.

However, while she was waiting in line along with the rest of the baseball fans, she spotted someone else standing off to the side.

Makenna quickly decided that this other person was much more deserving of the appreciation, adoration, and recognition than the baseball players that everyone else was waiting in line for.

The person she spotted was Olyvia Russell. Olyvia is in her first year as a United States Army Reserve soldier, and she was wearing her full military uniform on this day in Florida.

Makenna didn’t care that she lost her spot in line when she walked up to Olyvia and handed her the baseball in her hand. Makenna, at her young age, knows that Olyvia is a hero for what she does for her country and the people living in it.

Olyvia was shocked when the young girl stepped up to her. She’s still in awe that this child would appreciate her service so very much. It felt weird to her at first, but you really do have to hear what she has to say about it for yourself.

What do you think about this touching interaction between a soldier and a very well-spoken young girl? I don’t know too many kids that would sacrifice their place in line to meet a star athlete if there were to spot a woman or a man in uniform, standing around and minding their own business, do you?

Please SHARE this lovely story with your family and friends on Facebook if you support the troops as whole-heartedly as Makenna!

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Free range eggs temporarily lose status after bird flu measures – BBC News

Millions of UK eggs will temporarily lose their free range status after hens were forced to spend weeks inside barns as part of emergency bird flu measures.

Since December, poultry has had to be kept indoors under government orders to prevent the spread of the disease.

Under European Union rules, if birds have been housed for more than 12 weeks they cannot be marketed as free range.

Farmers said the eggs would still look, taste and cost the same, despite the temporary re-labelling.

They pose no danger to consumers, but bird flu is highly contagious amongst poultry and can wipe out entire flocks.

It has been 12 weeks since governments in England, Scotland and Wales ordered poultry keepers to protect their birds from a highly-infectious strain of avian flu in Europe.

The emergency measures are now being scaled back, but many farmers are keeping their hens indoors for the birds’ protection.

‘Still free range’

To avoid confusion, the industry has decided to label free range egg cartons with stickers stating the contents were “laid by hens temporarily housed in barns for their welfare”.

They started appearing on shelves last week, but will be rolled out fully on Wednesday.

“The need to change labelling of free range egg packs after 12 weeks is an EU requirement,” said Mark Williams, chief executive of the British Egg Industry Council.

“However these are all still free range hens but some are temporarily housed to protect them from bird flu.”

Prices to stay the same

Image copyright Getty Images

By Emma Simpson, BBC business correspondent

After weeks of being kept indoors, farmers would love nothing better than to let their birds back outside.

But it’s a difficult balancing act. Get it wrong and a farmer could end up having his or her entire flock destroyed.

So the British Egg Industry Council (BEIC) has taken the unprecedented step of labelling all commercial boxes of free range eggs – whether hens are in or out – in order to create a level playing field for all farmers.

Farmers say the label is just a technicality in any case as the hens are still free range, just temporarily housed to protect them from bird flu.

They hope consumers will be supportive, given that prices, for now, are staying the same.

But it’s not an open-ended guarantee and they will all be hoping that things get back to normal by the end of April.

Mr Williams said: “Our research shows that consumers are supportive of farmers putting birds’ health first and 80% are happy to continue to pay the same price, or more, for eggs from free range flocks temporarily housed inside.”

There are four different types of eggs sold in the UK, all of which are stamped on the carton: organic, free range, barn-reared, and caged.

Hens laying free range eggs must have had unlimited daytime access to runs – fenced areas – with vegetation and at least four square metres of outside space per bird.

How are free range hens being treated indoors?

The UK has the largest free range flock in Europe – and farmers are trying hard to help the birds adapt to the new routine, according to BEIC.

Some are using footballs, plastic bottles and straw bales to stop the birds – which can normally peck whatever they want outside – from getting bored.

The hens also have continuous access to feed and water, and are already used to spending time inside because they go there at night, the BEIC points out.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said the majority of farmers in England could let birds outside provided they follow “strict disease prevention measures”.

“Producers in the higher risk areas could still market their eggs as free range, provided they use netting and meet other free range criteria,” a Defra spokesperson said.

However, farmers pointed out that the average flock would require eight football pitches worth of netting, making it impractical and costly.

The BEIC said “continuing outbreaks of avian influenza across the UK and Europe” meant egg producers and their veterinary advisers remained concerned about the risk.

The government is due to review the restrictions again at the end of April, when farmers hope the risk will be lower because many wild birds will have migrated.

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UK ‘must insulate 25 million homes’ – BBC News

Image copyright PA
Image caption The UK needs a radical overhaul of existing housing stock if it is to meet emissions targets

More than one home every minute will need to be refurbished in the UK between now and 2050, experts say.

A report to Parliament says 25 million existing homes will not meet the insulation standards required by mid-century.

The UK needs to cut carbon emissions by 80% by then – and a third of those emissions come from heating draughty buildings.

The government said it would devise policies as soon as possible.

But critics say ministers have been far too slow to impose a national programme of home renovation which would save on bills and improve people’s health, comfort and happiness. It would also create thousands of jobs.

Successive governments have been criticised for failing to tackle the UK’s poor housing stock – some of the worst in Europe.

Local authorities have limited cash to insulate council homes, and landlords and owner-occupiers have proved reluctant to invest large sums in disruptive improvements that will save on bills, but take many years to pay off.

The report from a group of leading construction firms – the Green Building Council – says four out of five homes that will be occupied in 2050 have already been built.

That means 25 million homes need refurbishing to the highest standards by 2050 – at a rate of 1.4 homes every minute.

Who pays?

The authors say this huge challenge also offers an unmissable opportunity under the government’s infrastructure agenda. The fiddly business of insulating roofs, walls and floors creates more jobs and has more benefits than any existing infrastructure priority, they maintain.

The question is how to pay. The government’s Green Deal scheme for owner-occupiers collapsed amid a welter of criticism that interest rates for insulation were too high, and that the insulation itself was too much hassle.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The UK has some of Europe’s cheapest energy prices but some of the highest bills because homes are poorly insulated

The government has failed to produce a replacement solution to stimulate necessary demand for refurbishments amongst owner-occupiers. The Treasury is reluctant to throw public money at improvements that will increase the sale value of private homes.

The report recommends:

  • Setting staged targets for refurbishing buildings
  • Reintroducing the “zero-carbon” standard for buildings from 2020
  • Recognising energy efficiency as a national infrastructure priority
  • Setting long-term trajectories for ratcheting up home energy standards
  • Obliging commercial buildings to display the amount of energy they use.

It says the construction industry needs certainty about what it is expected to deliver, and measurement to discover what is already being built. This should stimulate innovation, it says.

Julie Hirigoyen, head of the GBC, told BBC News there was a great prize to be grasped in upgrading building stock: “People will have warmer homes and lower bills; they will live longer, happier lives; we will be able to address climate change and carbon emissions.

“We will also be creating many thousands of jobs and exporting our best skills in innovation.

“Driving up demand for retro-fitting homes is essential for any policy to be a success – the Green Deal told us just offering financial incentives isn’t necessarily the only solution. We need to make it all easy, attractive and affordable.

“The good thing is that the business community is really starting to recognise the opportunity.”

New methods

Ms Hirigoyen called for support for innovation amongst builders. The GBC pointed to a firm, q-bot, which insulates people’s floors by sending robots to creep under people’s floorboards and spray them with foam.

The firm’s head, Mathew Holloway, told BBC News: “We have to find new ways of doing things. Normal refurbishment often means literally tearing a home apart.

“That means local authorities having to re-house tenants whilst it’s being done. With our robot, we can seal and insulate wooden floors without hardly touching the inside of the house.”

Image copyright PA
Image caption The UK has some of the highest heating bills in Europe because homes are so poorly insulated

Mr Holloway’s start-up business was funded by the EU and the business department BEIS, but industry experts complain that building insulation research has received a tiny fraction of the sums channelled into glamorous renewables.

In the last 25 years, governments have tended to shy away from the issue. The Labour government made a rule that people extending their properties should be obliged to insulate the rest of their home too.

However, the Coalition government dropped the clause after it was labelled a “conservatory tax” in the media, even though it was not a tax and did not refer to conservatories.

The government is currently focused on bringing down bills through fuel switching – but home energy expert Russell Smith said: “Switching saves on average 25 a year. That’s not much help to a person in fuel poverty. The solution is refurbishing homes, but it’s difficult, so politicians keep putting it on the back burner.”

Mr Smith is currently refurbishing Ruth Baber’s home in Wimbledon, south London. He says it has added 10% to the 250,000 total cost, which included major extensions, but will save 80% of energy bills and take about 20 years to recoup.

Ms Baber is downsizing into the house and said: “I’m worried about climate change and I look forward to being able to control the heat in my house better. I’ve done it [the insulation programme] for my grandchildren, for the future.”

The government’s task is to persuade another 25 million people to follow her lead.

Follow Roger on Twitter @rharrabin

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Delay Brexit if no trade deal reached, say business leaders – BBC News

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Brexit should delayed if no trade deal can be struck with the European Union by the end of the two-year negotiating process, business leaders have said.

The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) also wants businesses to continue to be allowed to recruit skilled and low-skilled EU workers after the UK leaves.

The business organisation is holding its annual conference on Tuesday.

Theresa May has said she will trigger Article 50 by the end of March which would start the process of leaving.

The BCC – which was in favour of the UK remaining in the EU – said completing a trade deal within the two years allowed by Article 50 would be the “ideal outcome”.

But it continued: “Should this prove impossible, we should seek an extension to the negotiating period to enable completion of both agreements concurrently.”

Business Secretary Greg Clark and shadow chancellor John McDonnell will be among those addressing the conference in London.

BCC director general Adam Marshall said: “Business communities across the UK want practical considerations, not ideology or politics, at the heart of the government’s approach to Brexit negotiations.

“What’s debated in Westminster often isn’t what matters for most businesses.

“Most firms care little about the exact process for triggering Article 50, but they care a lot about an unexpected VAT hit to their cash flow, sudden changes to regulation, the inability to recruit the right people for the job, or if their products are stopped by customs authorities at the border.”

Incompatible aims?

BBC business correspondent Jonty Bloom

It’s on immigration that the BCC is most likely to be disappointed.

It’s calling for its members to be able to recruit across the EU after Brexit with minimal bureaucracy, costs or barriers.

But it’s difficult to see how that is compatible with the government’s stated aim of bringing immigration down to tens of thousands a year.

Or how it could square with the prime minister’s recent declaration that Brexit must mean control of the number of people who come to Britain from Europe.

The BCC’s comments come after former Prime Minister Sir John Major warned that the chances of no agreement being reached within the time limit were “very high”.

In a speech, he warned that an “unreal and over-optimistic” vision of Brexit was being put forward.

Downing Street said the government was determined to make a success of Brexit.

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White House accused of blocking information on bank’s Trump-Russia links

New commerce secretary Wilbur Rosss response about possible links between Bank of Cyprus, Russian agents and Trump officials wasnt released to Senate

The White House has been accused of withholding information from Congress about whether Donald Trump or any of his campaign affiliates have ever received loans from a bank in Cyprus that is partly owned by a close ally of Russian president Vladimir Putin.

A group of Democratic senators have been waiting for two weeks for Wilbur Ross, a billionaire investor who has served as vice-chairman of the Bank of Cyprus since 2014, to answer a series of questions about possible links between the bank, Russian officials, and current and former Trump administration and campaign officials. Ross also received a second letter on Friday from Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey with more detailed questions about possible Russia links.

But in a speech on Monday night, just before the Senate voted to approve Rosss nomination as secretary of the commerce department, Senator Bill Nelson of Florida said the White House has chosen to sit on a written response by Ross to some of those questions even though Ross told the senator he was eager to release his response.

Nelson, the top Democrat on the Senate commerce committee, said in a speech on the Senate floor that other senators were troubled and frustrated by the White House move. Nelson said it had been verbally reiterated to him by Ross that the commerce department nominee was not aware of any loans or interactions between the Bank of Cyprus and the Trump campaign or Trump Organization.

Ross, a private equity investor who has said he would step down from the bank after his final confirmation, had also been asked to provide more details about his own relationship with previous and current Russian investors in the bank, including Viktor Vekselberg, a longtime ally of the Russian president, and Vladimir Strzhalkovsky, the former vice-chairman of Bank of Cyprus who is also a former KGB agent with a close relationship to Putin.

Ross also told Nelson that he had one meeting that lasted about an hour with a Russian investor in the bank in 2014, but no other details were provided.

I believe him in what he has told me, that it is true to his belief, Nelson said in a speech on the Senate floor. I want to say, at the same time, the White House and the way they have handled this matter is not doing Wilbur Ross any favors.

An attorney for Ross said he was not handling the matter and referred questions about the issue to the commerce department, which declined to respond .

The senators scrutiny of Rosss ties to Bank of Cyprus comes as the Trump administration faces several investigations, including by the FBI, into possible links between Trump campaign officials and Russia.

The first letter, sent on 16 February, was led by Senator Bill Nelson of Florida, the top Democrat on the Senate commerce committee, and was co-signed by Cory Booker of New Jersey, Ed Markey of Massachusetts, Tom Udall of New Mexico and Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin.

Details of the letter were first reported by McClatchy, the US news organisation.

Among other questions, the letter asked Ross if he was aware of any contacts between any individuals currently or formerly associated with the Bank of Cyprus and anyone affiliated with the Trump presidential campaign or the Trump Organization. It also asked whether Ross was aware of any loans made by the Bank of Cyprus to the Trump Organization, its directors or officers, or any affiliated individuals or entities.

A second letter sent by New Jersey senator Cory Booker said the list of Russian businessmen with ties to both Putin and the Bank of Cyprus was startling.

The American public deserve to know the full extent of your connections with Russia and your knowledge of any ties between the Trump administration, Trump campaign or Trump Organization and the Bank of Cyprus, Booker wrote. Americans must have confidence that high-level officials in the United States government are not influenced by, or beholden to, any foreign power.

Among Bookers list of 11 questions was a demand to know more about if and when Ross first learned about Strzhalkovskys ties to the KGB, and whether the former KGB official ever met Trump.

Booker also asked Ross whether he had any knowledge about the 2008 purchase of Trumps Palm Beach home by Dmitry Rybolovlev, a Russian billionaire and investor in Bank of Cyprus. The beach house was reportedly sold for $95m.

Rosss nomination to lead the commerce department has so far been relatively uncontroversial, in part because Ross is liked by Democrats and labour unions who credit the private equity investor with saving tens of thousand of jobs in the steel industry after buying up bankrupt steel companies in 2002.

But Rosss 2014 investment in the Bank of Cyprus has received little public attention amid the broader concerns in Washington over the Trump administrations potential ties to Russia.

During a nearly four-hour confirmation hearing in January before the Senate commerce committee, Ross was not asked any questions about his involvement in a 400m ($424m) investment in the bank in 2014, which gave Rosss investment group an 18% stake in the bank.

Ross recruited a high-profile banker with close ties to Russia, former Deutsche Bank chief executive Josef Ackermann, to serve as chairman of the bank. In a 2015 interview with the New York Times, Ackermann suggested his work for the Bank of Cyprus was an effort to give something back to the people.

In his letter, Booker asked Ross to explain why he had appointed Ackermann as chairman of the bank, noting that Deutsche Bank is the Trump Organizations largest creditor.

Rosss investment followed a controversial 2013 bailout of the bank at the height of the European debt crisis that was agreed by the EU, IMF and European Central Bank. At the time, the deal was scrutinised by German politicians who expressed concern that taxpayer funds were being used to bail out a money laundering haven used by Russian oligarchs. A German intelligence report cited by Der Spiegel at the time suggested that Russian deposits in Cyprus banks were worth between 8 to 35bn ($8.5 to $37bn).

  • This article was amended on 27 February 2017 to correct a misspelling of the word Cyprus, which was written as Cypress in a letter from senators

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Fox News’ Swedish ‘security advisor’ appears to be a complete random

A trans-Atlantic wave of puzzlement is rippling across Sweden for the second time in a week, after a prominent Fox News program featured a “Swedish defense and national security advisor” who’s unknown to the country’s military and foreign-affairs officials.

Swedes, and some Americans, have been wondering about representations of the Nordic nation in the U.S. since President Donald Trump invoked “what’s happening last night in Sweden” while alluding to past terror attacks in Europe during a rally Feb. 18. There hadn’t been any major incident in Sweden the previous night.

Then, Fox News commentator Bill O’Reilly convened an on-air face-off Thursday over Swedish immigration and crime between a Swedish newspaper reporter and a man identified on screen and verbally as a “Swedish defense and national security advisor,” Nils Bildt.

Bildt linked immigration to social problems in Sweden, lamented what he described as Swedish liberal close-mindedness about the downsides of welcoming newcomers and said: “We are unable in Sweden to socially integrate these people,” arguing that politicians lacked a systematic plan to do so.

But if viewers might have taken the “advisor” for a government insider, the Swedish Defense Ministry and Foreign Office told the newspaper Dagens Nyheter they knew nothing of him. Calls to Swedish officials Saturday weren’t immediately returned.

Bildt is a founding member of a corporate geopolitical strategy and security consulting business with offices in Washington, Brussels and Tokyo, according its website. His bio speaks to expertise on defense and national security issues, saying his experience includes serving as a naval officer, working for a Japanese official and writing books on issues ranging from investment and political climates to security issues in working in hostile environments.

But security experts in Sweden said he wasn’t a familiar figure in their ranks in that country.

“He is in not in any way a known quantity in Sweden and has never been part of the Swedish debate,” Swedish Defence University leadership professor Robert Egnell said by email to The Associated Press on Saturday. He and Bildt also known then as Nils Tolling were in a master’s degree program in war studies together at King’s College London in 2002-2003, and Bildt moved to Japan soon after, he said.

Johan Wiktorin, a fellow at the Royal Swedish Academy of War Sciences, also tweeted that the guest was “not known in our circles as an expert. Not on National Security anyway.”

The executive producer of “The O’Reilly Factor” said Bildt was recommended by people the show’s booker consulted while making numerous inquiries about potential guests.

“After pre-interviewing him and reviewing his bio, we agreed that he would make a good guest for the topic that evening,” executive producer David Tabacoff said in a statement.

In any case, Twitter didn’t take long to make a mockery of Fox News’ mystery expert.

The network said O’Reilly was expected to address the subject further on Monday’s show.

Bildt didn’t respond Saturday to email inquiries; a person who answered the phone at his company agreed to relay one. He told Dagens Nyheter on Friday that he was a U.S.-based independent analyst, and Fox News had chosen its description of him.

“Sorry for any confusion caused, but needless to say I think that is not really the issue. The issue is Swedish refusal to discuss their social problems and issues,” he added in a statement to the news website Mediaite, explaining his profession as being an independent political adviser.

Trump’s initial remark about “last night in Sweden” stirred a burst of social media mockery, while Trump explained on Twitter that he was referring to a Fox News piece on immigration and Sweden that he’d seen the night before.

Trump and his supporters, though, saw vindication when a riot broke out Monday after police arrested a drug suspect in a predominantly immigrant suburb of Stockholm. Cars were set on fire and shops looted, but no one was injured.

Trump took to Twitter again Monday to declare that large-scale immigration in Sweden was “NOT!” working out well, upsetting many Swedes.

Mashable contributed reporting.

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DJI’s new enterprise-class drone ain’t pretty, but it sure is powerful

Stare into the drone eyes.
Image: lance ulanoff/mashable

Drones are becoming big business. Now theyre on the precipice of becoming part of business big and small.

DJI a company that has built drones for entry-level fliers (the Mavic Pro), prosumers (the Phantom line) and photo and cinematography professionals (Inspire) is hoping to ignite the drone-in-business revolution with its first business-class drone, the M200.

The company unveiled its new M200 line of enterprise-class drones at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain on Sunday. However, DJI gave Mashable a tabletop preview of the drone weeks earlier at its offices in Manhattan.

When we saw the drone, it was still in development (by the time you read this, itll be flight-ready and examining a cell tower in Barcelona). Even so, it was clear that the M200 is a departure from DJIs consumer and pro-sumer drones. Yes, its built around parts similar to what youd find in the Inspire 2. However, this drone wont win any design awards. Its big, rougher around the edges and only partially foldable (you can remove the legs and bend the rotor arms in), none of which is a problem for a drone designed to serve businesses as opposed to consumers.

DJI’s M210 RTK business drone

Image: lance ulanoff/mashbale

We designed and built this based on customer feedback, DJI Communication Director Adam Lisberg said.

Drones are already in business, but not integrated into the workflow. Usually, someone in the office, company or department realizes a drone might be good for a task and then the resident drone hobbyist offers to pitch in and does, for instance, a flyover project inspection.

Lisberg told me that, with M200, DJI hopes to help businesses make drones part of the workflow. Theyre also hoping that businesses can get serious about turning certain tasks over to drones for the sake of efficiency and safety. Cell-tower inspection, for instance, is incredibly time-consuming for people: Inspectors must climb all the way up a tower just to look at the antennas and wiring and to find out if birds are building nests among the cells. The job is also dangerous. A drone like the M200 and its siblings, the M210 and the M210 RTK (pictured), can do the same inspection in a matter of minutes while the pilot stays safely on the ground.

The M200 drone remote.

Image: lance ulanoff/mashable

Three choices of cameras. One is a thermal imager.

Image: lance ulanoff/mashable

The M200 drones add several features that will appeal to DJIs business customers in addition to the expected features like proximity sensors on the front, bottom and even the top of the drone and support for all DJI Go apps intelligent features, including Spotlight (lock camera on subject), Point of Interest (circle the subject), Tripod (safe navigation in somewhat enclosed environments) and ActiveTrack (follow and keep person in frame).

First of all, there is some weather proofing. The M200 can handle light rain and snow, but probably not a driving rain storm. Even so, when the M200 makes it to a rescue mission, it won’t be grounded at the first sign of rain.

The M210 adds a second gimbal so pilots can have dual cameras. For example, building inspectors might want a telephoto lens next to a thermal imaging one (so they could see visible structural issues and hidden ones like heat leakage). On the ground, the drone pilot can have both cameras on screen, with one in a picture-in-picture view. Theres also a first-person view camera if you want the pilot to operate the drone while someone else manages the feeds from the other two cameras.

The M210 will also be DJIs first drone with an upward-facing camera, which should come in handy for examining the underside of bridges. It is, though, a separate device that you place on top of the drones main section. Doing so blocks the drones internal GPS, which is why the top-side camera comes with its own GPS add-on.

The RTK model also adds a pair of white dome sensors that, according to DJI, will provide centimeter-level positioning accuracy.

Because DJI expects these drones to operate in sometimes complex environments where rescue planes, helicopters and even water-dropping airplanes are operating, the drones are equipped with ADS-B (Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast) receivers that will pick up any chatter between standard aircraft and alert the drone pilot to, basically, get the heck out of there.

These dome sensors give the M210 RTK drone an insane level of positioning accuracy.

Image: lance ulanoff/mashable

The drone has a range of about 4.2 miles and can fly, with the systems optional and more powerful 174 Wh battery, up to 38 minutes.

The M200 series will also be compatible with DJIs software development kit, which Lisberg believes is a crucial component for business application. Drones are the next application that will generate terabytes of data, he said. Having software that can keep track of and analyze incoming data is crucial for businesses, and groups trying to ensure that theyre using their drones efficiently.

In a search and rescue, for example, you want to know where the drone has searched and where it has not. More importantly, you want to integrate the drones search activities and findings with other systems on the ground and in the air; all things that might be possible via development with the DJI SDK.

The M200 can be configured with a series of different Zenmuse cameras, including the 20 MP Zenmuse X4S, the 20 MP, Micro Four-Thirds Zenmuse X5S, and the Zenmuse XT, a thermal-imaging camera powered by Flir.

Pricing and availability for the DJI M200 has not been set, but it will most certainly cost thousands of dollars.

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