Venezuela postpones bank note ban after chaos and cash shortages

Sudden pulling of 100-bolivar note from circulation leads to vast lines at banks, looting, protests and at least one death

Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro on Saturday suspended the elimination of the countrys largest denomination bill, which had sparked cash shortages and nationwide unrest, saying the measure would be postponed until early January.

The surprise pulling of the 100-bolivar note from circulation this week before new larger bills were available led to vast lines at banks, looting at scores of shops, anti-government protests and at least one death. Maduro, speaking from the presidential palace, blamed a sabotage campaign by enemies abroad for the delayed arrival of three planes carrying the new 500, 2,000 and 20,000 bolivar notes.

One plane, contracted and paid for by Venezuela, was told in flight to change direction and go to another country, he said, without specifying who had given the orders. Theres another which was not given flyover permission.

The 100-bolivar bills, officially out of use since Thursday and worth just 4 US cents at the black market currency rate, can now be used until 2 January, Maduro said. Many Venezuelans had found themselves without the means to pay for food, gasoline or Christmas preparations in a country already reeling from a profound economic crisis.

About 40% of Venezuelans do not have bank accounts, and so cannot use electronic transactions as an alternative to cash. Adding to the chaos, Venezuela has the worlds highest rate of inflation, meaning large bags of cash must be carried around to pay for basic items.

In the southern mining town of El Callao, a 14-year-old boy was shot dead during looting on Friday, authorities confirmed. An opposition legislator reported three fatalities.

The Democratic Unity opposition coalition said the socialist leader should resign for incompetence and for inflicting yet more suffering on Venezuelans. We have a government utterly stupid and destructive in economic management, whose only goal is to keep power at whatever price, said opposition leader Julio Borges.

Maduro had justified the 100-bolivar notes elimination as a way of strangling mafia and smugglers on the frontier with Colombia. He has also closed border crossings with Colombia and Brazil until 2 January. Earlier on Saturday, about 400 people in western Tachira state jumped fences and defied security personnel to surge into Colombia in search of food and medicines, which are scarce in Venezuela, witnesses said.

In southern Bolivar state, people broke into dozens of shops and warehouses in various towns, witnesses and business leaders said. Authorities declared a curfew in Ciudad Bolivar and the state governor said 135 people had been arrested. Security forces fired teargas in Venezuelas largest second city, Maracaibo, to stop looters, witnesses said. Some protesters burned 100-bolivar bills.

Addressing thousands of supporters at a rally in Caracas, Maduro blamed the opposition for stirring violence. The 54-year-old successor to Hugo Chavez, whose popularity has plunged during three years of recession, says domestic political foes supported by the US are sabotaging the economy to undermine his government.

Critics say it is time for Maduro to go after 18 years of socialist policies have wrecked the economy. But authorities have blocked an opposition push for a referendum to remove him before the next presidential election due in late 2018.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/dec/18/venezuela-postpones-bank-note-ban-after-chaos-and-cash-shortages

Trump feud is the best thing that happened to Vanity Fair this year

Image: vanity fair

Donald Trump declared Vanity Fair‘s subscriptions were “Way down,” and so, they went way up.

The Cond Nast magazine reported its subscriptions increased 100-fold Thursday compared to the average number sold. That bump was the “highest number of subscriptions sold in a single day ever” for the publisher, a spokesperson told Folio.

It all apparently stemmed from a tweet Thursday morning directed at the magazine and its editor Graydon Carter, a longtime Trump nemesis.

First, let me note the falsity in Trump’s tweet. Vanity Fair‘s numbers are not “way down.” According to Folio, Vanity Fair experienced a 2 percent increase in revenue from the year prior. Digital revenues, which make up 18 percent of the overall revenue, are up 74 percent.

The reason Trump decided to spend his morning sharing thoughts on the state of the media industry, and specifically Vanity Fair, is unclear. But it likely has something to do with Vanity Fair’s scathing review of one of the president-elect’s restaurants titled “Trump Grill Could Be The Worst Restaurant In America.” Ouch.

Vanity Fair also covered Trump’s meeting with tech leaders this week and described the president-elect as a “dim orange Sun King.”

The restaurant review has received almost 1 million unique views since Trump’s tweet. Other articles on Trump within Vanity Fair’s The Hive drew more than 330,000 unique visitors, andthe magazine’s official Twitter account gained almost 10,000 new followers.

Following Trump’s tweet, Vanity Fair used it as an opportunity to pitch for subscribers. The company sent this tweet Thursday:

And changed the banner of their website’s front page to read “THE ‘WAY DOWN, BIG TROUBLE, DEAD!’ MAGAZINE TRUMP DOESN’T WANT YOU TO READ.” Now the website has a banner that reads: “THE MAGAZINE TRUMP DOESN’T WANT YOU TO READ. SUBSCRIBE NOW!”

BONUS: Trump praises tech leaders

Read more: http://mashable.com/2016/12/16/vanity-fair-trump-subscriptions/

‘I will apply to be a citizen of India’, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick takes jibe at Ola’s Bhavish Aggarwal

Image: AP

Uber CEO and co-founder Travis Kalanick may have 99 problems to worry about, but his local competitors controversial proposal to gain foothold in the market isnt one of them.

Taking a jibe at Olas Bhavish Aggarwals recent remarks that the Indian government should favour local companies, Kalanick says if people have an issue with his US citizenship, he would love to become an Indian.

“If it is about whether I am personally Indian, I will apply to be a citizen of India if this’s what gets us over the hump,” Kalanick joked with NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant at a press meet Thursday. Phasing out of the joke, Kalanick reminded, “We were always local from the beginning – but when we went to India and China we just had to take it to the next level.”

Last week, Flipkart co-founder Sachin Bansal and Ola CEO and co-founder Bhavish Aggarwal said the Indian government should make changes to its policies to protect and favour homegrown companies.

It’s much easier for non-Indian companies to raise capital because they have profitable markets elsewhere, Aggarwal said at Carnegie India Global Technology Summit last week. You might call it capital dumping, predatory pricing or anti-WTO but its a very unfair playing field for Indian startups.

Image: Manish singh/mashable india

The remarks by Aggarwal stirred a debate among VCs and people alike, with some questioning whether Ola is an Indian company after all as it has raised a lot of money from foreign companies. Using calculated words, Kalanick also pointed that out.

Our competitors have also raised enormous amount of capital, we have operations globally and we bring capital for our global operations,” he said.

“At the end of the day both companies have taken so much investments that vast majority of my company as well as vast majority of Ola is foreign now.”

At the end of the day both companies have taken so much investments that vast majority of Uber as well as Ola is foreign now.

The global ride-hailing company Uber doesn’t have as big of a presence as its local rival Ola does in India. Uber is currently serving in 29 Indian cities, while Ola is present in 102. In the aftermath of selling its China business to Didi Chuxing, Uber has grown more interested in India and sees the country as its next big market.

On a week-long trip in India, Kalanick has been visiting different cities to meet government officials and have a close look at how India’s transportation system works. Earlier this week, Kalanick announced bike-sharing service UberMOTO availability in Hyderabad.

In a wide-range chat with Kant and media last evening, Kalanick, whose company is yet to turn a profit in India said they see the company making money in the long run. “We see the path to profitability in India and we feel pretty good about that,” he said.

Earlier this week, Kalanick said his company’s operations in India also creates hundreds of thousands of driver opportunities and jobs.

Jokes aside, it won’t be unprecedented for a CEO to apply for Indian citizenship as a business move. AirAsia’s Group CEO Tony Fernandes received his Overseas Citizen of India status earlier this year, which is equivalent of being a Non Resident Indian. AirAsia had commenced its India operations in 2014.

Read more: http://mashable.com/2016/12/15/travis-kalanic-uber-ceo-indian-citizenship/

Google employees used their ‘20% time’ to make Google Maps wheelchair-friendly

Image: Mashable Composite; Google Maps

Google Maps just made life a little easier for wheelchair users looking for accessible locations.

People with disabilities and those who use mobility aids can now click on various storefronts and other public places within the mobile app, and it will say whether the locations have accessible entrances. The information is listed under the “Amenities” section for each business.

A group of Google employees used their “20 percent time” to create the feature. The company allows employees to use 20 percent of their time (one day per week) to work on projects unrelated to their main jobs and several major products, like Gmail and Google News, began through the program. Many employees don’t use the perk, however, because they can’t find the time.

“Accessibility at Google is a big deal.”

But Rio Akasaka, a product manager for Google Drive who worked on the new feature, said he uses his 20 percent time to work on expanding accessibility features for Google products.

“Accessibility at Google is a big deal,” Akasaka said in an interview with Business Insider. “But it’s often facilitated by whether or not there’s a legal requirement, or some sort of requirement we need to adhere to.”

As a result, other startups such as Accomable and Access Earth have tried to fill in the gaps over the years by specifically catering to users with disabilities. Google Maps finally seems to be catching up.

Image: Google Maps

Image: Google Maps

Akasaka and about 10 others during the past year have worked on new accessibility features at the company. Google Maps sources the new accessibility information about locations from its Local Guides community, members of which answer questions about the places they visit.

Google added questions related to accessibility to the Local Guides questionnaire earlier this year. According to BI, Google now has enough information to confidently list the results. The feature isn’t available yet for all locations.

Nearly one in eight people in the U.S. reported living with a mobility-related disability last year, according to the CDC. The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) requires all public and commercial properties, like restaurants and hotels, built after 1992 to be accessible. But for older buildings and architecture, especially in cities, retrofitting and modifications can be more difficult to implement. And around the world, accessibility laws vary widely by country.

The fact that Google Maps is now showing wheelchair accessibility information may seem like a small addition. But for people with disabilities, the extra information can go a long way.

[H/T Business Insider]

Read more: http://mashable.com/2016/12/16/google-maps-wheelchair-accessible-locations/

‘League of Legends’ streaming rights sold to company owned by MLB and Disney

Image: riot games

The rising popularity (and profitability) of esports is getting hard to ignore, so now more major companies are going in big.

League of Legends developer Riot Games has sold its streaming rights to BAMTech, a digital media company created by Major League Baseball and recently partially acquired by Disney with a $1 billion minority stake. BAMTech has reportedly agreed to pay Riot at least $300 million through 2023 for exclusive streaming and monetization rights to League of Legends competitions, according to The Wall Street Journal.

League of Legends tournaments have primarily been streamed on Riot’s Twitch and YouTube channels, as well as being licensed to private tournament organizers like ESL. BAMTech will now be in charge of all professional League streams, broadcasting and distributing Riot’s own professional seasons to third-party tournaments.

This doesn’t necessarily mean League will be leaving Twitch, the most popular streaming service for esports and effectively the home of esports viewership. BAMTech can still distribute to that and other platforms.

These other platforms were touched upon in Riot’s announcement of the deal, which teases vague plans for 2017 using BAMTech’s “best-in-class technology to create additional possibilities and opportunities for fans to access, and connect with, League of Legends.”

This could mean a separate streaming service dedicated solely to League of Legends in the form of a website or an app

This could mean a separate streaming service dedicated solely to League of Legends in the form of a website or an app, something no other major esport has.

The world of esports has been steadily growing over the past 20 years, and this past year has seen some of its biggest growth in the business sector, estimated to be worth almost $900 million by SuperData Research. With massive global audiences tuning into competitive gaming competitions (including 43 million unique viewers for the League of Legends 2016 Worlds finals), more and more major names in traditional sports have been dipping their toes into esports, including three-time NBA champion Rick Fox founding the Echo Fox franchise with teams in multiple esports, current NBA player Jonas Jerebko purchasing existing franchise Renegades and the Philadelphia 76ers acquiring massive franchise Team Dignitas.

On the media side of things, esports caught Turner’s eye and it created ELeague, which has run professional competitive tournaments in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and Overwatch, broadcasting every match on Twitch and select matches on TBS.

League of Legends itself has had some struggles turning a profit on League of Legends as an esport. In September, Riot co-founder Brandon Beck told Polygon that despite League‘s popularity and Riot investing millions into the game as an esport, it still wasn’t profitable.

By taking more control of League‘s streaming rights and getting assistance from BAMTech with advertising and sponsorships, the company may be able to turn a profit with this deal. According to The Wall Street Journal, BAMTech’s profits over the $300 million investment line will be shared between the companies.

Read more: http://mashable.com/2016/12/16/league-of-legends-streaming-mlb/

Pinterest falls short of its goal for female tech hires

Image: associated press/Julian Stratenschulte/picture-alliance/dpa

Pinterest has fallen short of its own goal to hire more women in tech roles, despite modest overall progress towards a more diverse workforce in the past year.

The social scrapbooking site released a yearly update on employee demographics in a blog post Friday.

In it, the company stacked the diversity of its hires over the past year against ambitious target stats it had set for itself.

Pinterest said it managed to boost the portion of women in its tech departments from 21 percent to 26 percent a marked improvement from the year before, when the number remained stagnant.

But the rate at which it hired women engineers 22 percent of all successful candidates undershot the 30-percent mark the company had hoped to reach.

Chief Executive Ben Silbermann claimed in the post that the discrepancy was in part due to a focus on placing women in senior positions, for which the hiring process tends to take longer.

The same goal for the next year was lowered to 25 percent to reflect that shortcoming.

“We still aspire to 30%but realize its likely going to take more than 12 months to get there,” Silbermann wrote.

The company had more success in other categories. The rate of new hires among underrepresented ethnicities exceeded the 8 percent goal for engineering roles by a percentage point and matched the 12-percent target for non-tech jobs.

While the company brought on a few new top leaders of minority descent this year, its senior slate remains 70 percent white and 22 percent Asian without a single black employee.

Pinterest’s workforce as a whole also remains predominantly white 49 percent of total employees and Asian 41 percent. The company did however manage to double its small fractions of black and Hispanic employees from 1 to 2 percent and 2 to 4 percent respectively.

The company credits the improvement in large part to a new executive hiring policy modeled after the “Rooney Rule” an NFL mandate that requires that at least one minority candidate be interviewed for every head coaching position. Silbermann says the policy will be expanded to more parts of the company in the upcoming year.

Activism and critical media attention around the scarcity of women and minorities among tech workers has forced Silicon Valley businesses to be more forthcoming about disclosing hiring practices and diversity within their ranks in recent years.

Pinterest has been seen as a leader in this arena since one of its engineers, Tracy Chou, publicly posted an employee spreadsheet and called on other tech companies to do the same in 2013.

It is also one of the few major companies to publicly divulge internal goals.

While much progress has been made towards transparency in this regard among tech companies, improvement in the actual numbers has been much slower. The vast majority of these regular reports tend to show minimal steps forward at best.

Many of these companies are already dragging their feet in releasing year-end stats. The Wall Street Journal reported last week that Twitter, Pinterest and Salesforce had all delayed their planned announcements some even until the new year.

Read more: http://mashable.com/2016/12/16/pinterest-diversity-goals-results/

Young Lady Tells Colorist Her Scalp Is Burning. 8 Months Later, Shes Permanently Bald

It’s always worth checking out a business’ reputation before handing them your money Becca Peet from Hampshire in the U.K. knows this much better than most.

Like many women, Peet liked to have her hair done at the salon, often trying out new colors and styles. And with so much variety to choose from these days, even for your armpits, it’s no wonder that she wanted to experiment a little.

In Peet’s case, she wanted to lighten her naturally brunette hair with some highlights for her 21st birthday. That’s where things got out of control.

She scheduled an appointment at a salon near her home. This international chain of salons typically has positive reviews and feedback, but on this day, Peet got unlucky.

“When I was having the coloring done, my head suddenly felt like it was touching a hot pan that just kept betting hotter and hotter,” Peet recalled. “The foils were steaming and I said that it was burning and asked the girl.”

But the girl didn’t stop, even when asked. “She said, ‘No, it’s fine,’” Peet said.

Eventually, the foils were removed and the bleach rinsed from her hair. Peet said that her scalp had become numb by this time, thoughthe pain came back with the heat from the blow dryer. At that point, she again asked that the procedure stop.

Eventually, the complaints got her an apology from the management and her payment fee waived.

But little did Peet know that her nightmare was just beginning.

[H/T: Daily Mail]

Caters

Today, nursery worker Becca Peet is 24. However, she’s still living with the results of a horrifically botched highlight procedure from three years ago, when a serious chemical burn to her scalp left a permanent bald spot.

Click to reveal the image of her injury below. Be warned, it’s a little graphic.

CLICK TO REVEAL

Caters

It started with a severe burning sensation while the highlights were being applied.

Peet complained, but was assured by the salon worker that everything was “fine.”

She ended up getting comped for the highlights, but that was just the beginning.

“In the weeks afterwards, I was in constant pain from my scalp and severe headaches,” she said.

Caters

And the burn was refusing to heal.

“My hair started sticking to the pus and scabs that were forming on my scalp due to infection, and moving my face or changing my facial expression moved my scalp and worsened the pain,” Peet said.

She was also losing sleep from the pain, having to apply burn cream and dealing with the unpleasant smell of the infected wound.

This went on for some eight months.

Caters

Eventually, she had to seek medical attention when the infection started causing her hair to fall out.

As a result of the removal of the infected tissue, though, she was left with a hairless patch right in the middle of her head.

Due to the scars from the burns and the surgery, this area will never grow hair again.

Caters

Three years later, the bald patch still digs at Peet’s self esteem.

“If I go outside and it is windy, I worry that the wind will blow the hair across and expose the bald patch,” she says. “I still feel tearful sometimes.”

Caters

She’s learned to style her hair to cover it, and honestly, you’d never guess parts were missing. Peet looks great, but the events still haunt her.

“It has been absolutely horrendous and after it happened, I wasn’t just in pain, I was tearful all the time and very self-conscious about how I looked because of the bald patch and scar on my scalp,” she said.

Caters

Peet sued the salonfor the damages, and her lawyers claimed that the burns were due to a trainee staff member mixing the highlight solution improperly.

They also alleged that the staff had been negligent in realizing the severity of the situation. Peet was awarded an undisclosed amount in damages.

This story is unusual, but it shows what kind of real and lasting damage can happen when the proper attention isn’t paid.

If you’re ever somewhere like a salon or spa and feel that a treatment isn’t going right, or if something is causing pain, speak up and stop things to prevent any potential damage to your body.

AndSHAREthis warning with anyone who gets routine styling to keep them safe!

Read more: http://www.littlethings.com/highlights-result-in-bald-spot/

UK fishing industry ‘will need EU market access’ post Brexit – BBC News

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The House of Lords report says that it fears the UK fishing industry might be marginalised in Brexit negotiations

The UK fishing industry will need continued access to EU markets if it is to thrive after Brexit, a House of Lords report has warned.

It also warns that Britain may have to allow EU-registered boats to fish in UK waters as part of an overall deal.

Fishing regions around the UK voted heavily in favour of leaving the EU during the referendum campaign.

The Lords review says these communities are at risk of being marginalised in the wider Brexit negotiations.

Regain control

The EU’s Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), with its quotas and principle of equal access to commercial fishing grounds for boats from all member states, has often been characterised by the industry as a disaster for Britain.

This dislike helped mobilise many in the industry to campaign for a leave vote in the referendum last June.

Many in the fishing community argue that Brexit now offers the industry the chance to regain control over UK waters and become a leading fish-exporting nation, like Norway.

However, the House of Lords European Union Committee has released a report that looks at the risks and opportunities for the UK industry.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Many in the UK fishing industry strongly supported the leave vote in the referendum

Since UK fishing only produces a half of one percent of GDP and employs just 12,000 fishers, the Lords say that industry might be a low priority for the government but it “must not be marginalised in the wider Brexit negotiations”.

What complicates the picture is the fact the most commercial fish stocks are in waters that are shared between the UK and other EU coastal states. The vast majority of UK fish are exported, mainly to the EU while a significant proportion of the fish that British consumers eat is imported, often from EU states.

“A successful industry,” the report says, “therefore needs continued market access.”

However, that access may come at a price.

“Brexit will involve many trade-offs,” said Lord Teverson who chairs the Lords EU Energy and Environment sub-committee.

“It may very well be that EU member states demand more access to UK waters than some fishers would want in return for our continued rights to sell fish to the European market with zero tariffs.”

The report also points to the fact that many elements of the CFP should be retained post-Brexit and the UK should ensure that total allowable catches and quotas should continue to be based on scientific advice. The UK will also continue to be under international obligations to co-operate with neighbouring states.

One area of concern, according to the report, may well be that if Britain leaves the EU, the CFP framework which treats the UK as one entity will fall away “raising the potential of four different fisheries management regimes” in England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland.

However, many in the fishing industry still argue that Brexit will bring more opportunities than threats.

Just this week, the EU announced agreement on new quotas under the CFP – many analysts say that it marked an advance for the UK with significant increases in allowable catches for plaice, haddock and prawns.

Responding to the new quotas, representatives from the industry said they believed this augurs well for the future of British fishing outside the EU.

“With Brexit now looming, fishermen can look to the future with real optimism as we are on the cusp of an exciting new era as a coastal state with full control of our 200-mile exclusive economic zone,” Bertie Armstrong, chief executive of the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation said in a statement.

“This will give us the opportunity for fairer shares in catching opportunity and better fit-for-purpose sustainable fisheries management, which will benefit our coastal communities.”

Follow Matt on Twitter and on Facebook

Read more: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-38345826

Your last-minute Christmas shopping tips – BBC News

Image copyright Thinkstock

With less than a week until Christmas many of us will be panic-buying presents in time for the big day. Here are some tips on how to take the stress – and strain on your bank balance – out of last-minute Christmas shopping.

Find more consumer stories and ideas on our Pinterest board


Christmas Eve haul

Image copyright Katie Burton
Image caption Katie Burton, who runs her own personalised gift business, works up to 18 hours a day at this time of year

Katie Burton, from Telford, runs her own business, Maisie Moo gifts, and the run-up to Christmas is the busiest time of year for her.

“Often I can be working 16 to 18 hours a day, seven days a week, so finding time for anything other than eating and sleeping is very hard,” she said.

“Every year I tell myself I’ll finish my Christmas shopping by mid-November ahead of the rush but inevitably things are left to the last minute.

“With a week to go I always manage it. It just takes some planning.

“Keep a list in a notepad or on your phone so every time you think of an idea for someone you can jot it down.

“I get some online shopping done whenever I get a moment, like on a lunch break – click and collect is very handy.

“By Christmas Eve I’ve normally got a list of well thought out gifts I need to purchase.

“I often find shops have already started discounting things and my Christmas shopping trip is a bit of a smash-and-grab, racing round to get everything.”


Crafty solutions

Media captionNatalie Oakley makes festive gifts for friends and family, which means she never has to worry about giving them the same present as someone else

Natalie Oakley, from Sedgley in the West Midlands, manages to stay away from the shops by making gifts at home. She shares her tips on her blog Lady Like Momma.

“There’s nothing more warming to the soul than knowing someone will be receiving a gift that you have poured your heart, soul and time into,” said Ms Oakley.

“Making your own gifts is a great way to save money as you can usually recreate gifts seen in stores at a much lesser cost.

“You can also relax knowing your gift is unique and your friends and family will not receive one quite like it.

“Crafting is also a great way to unwind and ‘take a moment’ during this hectic time of year.

“So take an hour, put on some Christmas tunes and get your glitter and glue gun ready and start crafting your way to gorgeous Christmas gifts.”


Bargain hunt

Image copyright Claire Barber PR
Image caption Ashleigh Swan buys gifts throughout the year to avoid a mad rush at Christmas

Ashleigh Swan, from Walkergate, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, was made redundant three years ago. The mother of three set up www.ashleighmoneysaver.co.uk to help other families save money.

Her Christmas shopping technique could help avoid panic-buying next year.

“I try not pay full price for gifts, ever. One way to do this is to start buying gifts in the January sales, then keep this going throughout the year during sale events,” she said.

“Buying presents throughout the year is easier to do for adults rather than children.

“This is because children’s toys go in and out of style, so you don’t know what children will want later in the year.

“A way to get around this is to buy toys that will always be popular. Board games, action figures and dolls are good ideas.

“Some of the best bargains I have ever had include 90 worth of clothes from a high street store for 14.

“I bought 50 boxes of well known chocolates for 2p each – they were perfect for gifts throughout the year, I obviously kept a box or two for myself too!

“I got 75% off many gift sets including Soap & Glory, Jack Wills, Nivea, No7, Estee Lauder and many more.

“I bought these in January sales and put them away for the following Christmas. It saved me tons of money and meant I didn’t have to go Christmas shopping later in the year.”

This story was inspired by questions sent in by readers of Christmas Markets: Will Brexit have any effect?

Read more: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-38182127

Uber Escalates War With Regulators Over Self-Driving Cars

SAN FRANCISCO Uber’s self-driving cars will continue to ply the streets of San Francisco despite growing threats of legal action by state officials if the company refuses to obtain proper permits. 

Uber plans to defy the California Department of Motor Vehicles demand that it seek autonomous vehicle permits, because company executive Anthony Levandowski said Friday that the cars are not truly driverless and therefore not subject to the regulations. 

“It’s hard to understand why the DMV would seek to require self-driving Ubers to get permits when it accepts that Tesla’s autopilot technology does not need them,” Levandowski said on a conference call with reporters. “We asked for clarification as to specifically what is different about our tech from the DMV, but have not received it.’

The state attorney general’s office responded with its own threat against the tech giant on Friday, saying the office will intervene if Uber fails to obey the regulations.

“If Uber cannot advise the undersigned that it will immediately remove its self-driving vehicles from California roadways, until it obtains the appropriate permit, as 20 other companies have done, the Attorney General will seek injunctive and other appropriate relief,” wrote Miguel Neri and Fiel Tigno, both supervising deputy attorneys general, in a letter to Levandowski.

A small fleet of Volvo SUVs and Ford Fusions using a form of autopilot began transporting passengers around the city on Wednesday, but there was always a human in the driver’s seat able to retake control, the company has said. 

The ride-hailing service’s latest feature got off to a rocky start as another motorist recorded one of the Volvos speeding through a red light. Uber said the car was under human control at the time and that driver has been suspended

The DMV sent a threatening letter the same day to Uber warning the company that it was not in compliance. 

“If Uber does not confirm immediately that it will stop its launch and seek a testing permit, DMV will initiate legal action,” the DMV’s letter to Uber reportedly said. 

Uber compared its auto-driving technology to what’s found in Tesla’s luxury cars — yet Tesla is one of 20 automakers and other companies who have acquired permits from the DMV to experiment with driverless features. 

Mayor Ed Lee on Thursday also ordered Uber to remove its self-driving cars. 

As it has rapidly expanded, Uber has been unafraid to clash with city officials, such as New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, and other regulators who have tried forcing the company to accept standards similar to those imposed on taxi and limousine operators. 

Uber first introduced self-driving vehicles to customers in Pittsburgh in September. 

Read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/uber-escalates-war-with-regulators-over-self-driving-cars_us_58548397e4b0b3ddfd8d0040