Archive for the ‘Germany’ Category

Dieselgate: VW & Bosch

November 21, 2015

Dieselgate: VW & Bosch
11 million Volkswagen diesel cars have emissions-test-cheating software that allows them to produce lower emissions when tested by regulators and higher-performance dirty exhaust while they’re actually on the road. Volkswagen engineers were certainly involved in this scam, but the Wolfsburg firm may not be the only one snared in the Dieselgate probe. VW electronic equipment and software is built by Robert Bosch GmbH, and Reuters is reporting that the U.S. Department of Justice is investigating the Bosch involvement:

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Dieselgate: Volkswagen or Bosch?

October 7, 2015

11 million Volkswagen diesel cars, 500,000 of them in the USA, have emissions-test-cheating software that allows them to produce lower emissions when tested by regulators and higher-performance dirty exhaust while they’re actually on the road. Now that WV has been caught, EPA is acting accordingly. Volkswagen engineers were certainly involved, but the Wolfsburg firm may not be the only one snared in Dieselgate. Most VW electronic equipment and software is built by Robert Bosch GmbH:

“It isn’t clear whether Bosch provided Volkswagen with the software at the heart of the scandal, or whether any of the Bosch-built components interacted with the software.

‘How these components are calibrated and integrated into complete vehicle systems is the responsibility of each auto maker,’ the Stuttgart-based company said.

Still, questions over how the software worked and who was responsible for installing it have spilled over to include Bosch.

German newspapers have reported that Bosch told Volkswagen in a 2007 letter that the use of Bosch-made software to manipulate car emissions was illegal. Volkswagen declined to comment Friday on the reports.”

— “Bosch Could Get Drawn Into Volkswagen Emissions Litigation,” Robert Wall, Wall Street Journal

So if Bosch knew VW was hacking their software, why didn’t they tell the authorities? Worse: Did Bosch tell the German government, which took no action other than suppressing the information?

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Germany: Wurst Crime Ever

July 20, 2014

Germany: Wurst Crime Ever

Germany’s anti-trust agency (Bundeskartellamt) has fined 21 sausage manufacturers and 33 individuals $460 million for illegal price-fixing over two decades.  Gott im Himmel!

The ring is alleged to have met in Hamburg’s luxurious Hotel Atlantic. Wonder what they ate?

Sausages are central to the German identity, second only to beer. In related German crime news, thieves in the city of Krefeld broke into a warehouse and stole 300,000 liters (80,000 gallons) of beer. Ten truckloads. Worth $3 million. Right before Germany’s big World Cup celebration party.

More:

“German sausage makers in meaty fine over price-fixing,” BBC News

“Bundeskartellamt imposes fines on sausage manufacturers,” press release

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Technology Shields German Government from Spies

July 17, 2014

Technology Shields German Government frrom Spies

“German politicians are considering a return to using manual typewriters for sensitive documents in the wake of the US surveillance scandal.

The head of the Bundestag’s parliamentary inquiry into NSA activity in Germany said in an interview with the Morgenmagazin TV programme that he and his colleagues were seriously thinking of ditching email completely.”

More:

“Germany ‘may revert to typewriters’ to counter hi-tech espionage,” Philip Oltermann, The Guardian

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Cow Farts

February 8, 2014

Cow Farts

Have you heard that story of how methane from the flatulence of 90 German cows caused their dairy barn to explode? It’s probably bullcrap.

“While it’s true that cows can produce 250 to 500 liters of methane per day — mostly through burps that vent their fermenting cud — it’s unlikely that flatulence alone concentrated to the point of being flammable. The more likely suspect behind the methane, says a second report from Humnfelder Zeitung, is the common slurry farmers make from cow manure and urine for fertilizer applications. The soupy mixture puts out high levels of methane that can concentrate more easily than farts and burps, which tend to dissipate much more quickly in a ventilated dairy barn, just as it would in a car with a cracked window.

 ‘The cow itself has little to do with the risk of a methane explosion. This is only a danger when dealing with manure,’ said Dr. Hubery Beier, executive director of the local farmer’s association for Rasdorf.”

— “Media Laps Up Bunk Story on Exploding German Cow Farts,” Sam Brasch, Modern Farmer

Related:

“The Taxonomy of Cow Farts,” Christopher Taylor, Catalogue of Organisms

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Image by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

Comments are welcome if they are on-topic, substantive, concise, and not boring or obscene. Comments may be edited for clarity and length.

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Kristallnacht

November 9, 2013

Kristallnacht

On November 9, 1938 Germany and Austria saw their worst pogrom in centuries. Streets were littered with glass shards from the shattered windows of stores with Jewish owners on what became called Kristallnacht, the night of crystal.  Synagogues were burned, Jewish shops and homes ransacked, a thousand German Jews beaten and killed, 30,000 rounded up and sent to isolation centers. The nations of the world did what most German Christians did: Nothing. Today Germans marked the 75th anniversary of Kristallnacht.

More:

“Kristallnacht still casts a long shadow on Europe,” Abraham Cooper, Washington Post blog

“Kristallnacht,” America and the Holocaust, PBS

“Bearing Witness To Nazis’ Life-Shattering Kristallnacht,” Esme Nicholson, NPR

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The Great Niederaula Nutella Heist

April 9, 2013

The Great Niederaula Nutella Heist

Police in the German town of Niederaula reported the theft of 5 tons of Nutella over the weekend. The artery-clogging spread, valued at 27 million calories, was stolen from a truck. Two weeks ago thieves in the same town helped themselves to a truckload of coffee worth US $39,000. Police spokesman Manfred Knoch agreed that local lowlifes might be planning a mighty big breakfast.

More:

“Thieves In Germany Make Away With Five Metric Tons of Nutella,” Neetzan Zimmerman, Gawker

“What Do You Do With Five Metric Tons of Stolen Nutella?” Justin Peters, Slate

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Image (“Still Life with Pewter Jug and Nutella, after Cezanne”) by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

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Camover

February 1, 2013

Camover

Berlin has seen a rise in the use of police surveillance video, Closed Circuit TV (CCTV). And Berlin being Berlin, not everyone is happy about this, thinking it an invasion of privacy. One response has been the game of “Camover,” in which teams of young activists compete for points by creatively trashing surveillance cameras. The team with the most points by February 19th wins. That’s when the Europäischer Polizeikongress (European Police Congress) meets in Berlin.

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Neo-Nazi Kitties Held Hostage

February 19, 2012

Neo-Nazi Kitties Held Hostage

Today In International Cat News: An animal shelter in Zwickau, Germany is demanding more than $1,300 for care of two kitty cats owned by an alleged neo-nazi serial murderer. The felines in question, Heidi and Lily, belong to Beate Zschäpe, a member of the Nationalsozialistischer Untergrund, a neo-nazi terror cell suspected of a series of racially motivated murders with as many as 10 victims.

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Woman Wins World Air Guitar Championship

September 1, 2011

Woman Wins World Air Guitar Championship

26-year-old Aline Westphal from Hildesheim in Lower Saxony has won the 2011 Air Guitar World Championship in the annual competition in Oulu, Finland. The young German, also known as die Nichte des Teufels (“The Devil’s Niece”), is not just another pretty face. A university drama student, she’s writing a dissertation on “Air Guitar.”

Ms. Westphal is the first woman to win the world air guitar title in the global competition’s 16 year history. Rock on, Aline.

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