From The World Socialist website:
The scandal at Volkswagen (VW) over the manipulation of emissions readings from its autos in the US has plunged the firm into a major crisis. The company, which along with Toyota is the world’s largest auto producer, faces the threat of up to $18 billion in fines, along with massive costs related to the recall of almost half a million vehicles and huge compensation claims. The US Justice Department has launched a criminal investigation and a congressional committee has announced plans for a hearing on the scandal.
VW has already acknowledged that accusations by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are valid. It has admitted that it deliberately deceived American customers and government authorities.
“Let’s be clear: our company was dishonest,” said VW’s American head Michael Horn at the unveiling of the new Passat model in New York. “We totally screwed up.”
In a calculated manner, VW broke the law in order to manipulate emissions readings. In diesel models sold in the US, the company installed specially developed software to enable the vehicles to determine when they were being tested and automatically switch to a mode that reduced the emission of pollutants. After the test, the cars automatically switched back to the normal mode, increasing their release of poisonous oxides between 10- and 40-fold.
VW used the low emissions test rates as a selling point for the US market, where diesel cars comprise just one percent of total sales, a far lower percentage than in Europe. Many US buyers decided to purchase a diesel car from VW or Audi because, in contrast to hybrid vehicles from Asian producers, which have low emission rates but are cumbersome, the German models were considered both environmentally friendly and sporty.
The ultimate scale of the scandal is not yet known. The suspicion is that VW manipulated emissions figures not only in the US, but also in other markets. Germany, Switzerland, France and South Korea have all announced investigations into diesel vehicle manipulation. Read the rest of this entry »
Clearly, there’s a lot more to be said, from a leftist point of view, about the closure of a defence manufacturing facility. But for now, here’s the GMB’s reaction (from today’s Portsmouth News):
- by Sam Bannister
Union will ‘oppose each and every job loss’ in Portsmouth
The closure of Portsmouth’s shipbuilding yard is a ‘betrayal to the workers and the nation,’ the GMB union has said.
It comes amid the huge political and industrial row which has erupted today over news shipbuilding is to stop in the city.
Gary Cook, the GMB regional organiser with responsibility for shipbuilding, said: ‘GMB will oppose each and every job loss in Portsmouth.
‘The contempt shown to the workers by BAE and the Tory coalition by leaking stories to the media before the affected employees were informed is nothing short of a stab in the back and a national disgrace.
‘Shipbuilding has taken place on the south coast for hundreds of years and the GMB is not prepared to sit idly by and watch design innovation and highly skilled workers thrown on the industrial scrap heap.
‘If the government wants their second aircraft carrier, a large proportion of which still sits in the build facility at Portsmouth, they’re going to need to talk to us about how we preserve jobs and protect the livelihoods of hundreds of people.’
All shipbuilding will stop in the second half of next year, the defence firm announced this morning, with some of the remaining work on the second of its Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers, due to be carried out in Portsmouth, moving to Glasgow.
Workers were told this morning.
‘If closure of the shipbuilding facility is allowed to go ahead it will have a devastating effect, not only on the local economy but on many hundreds of hardworking employees and their families,’ added Gary Cook.
‘The company embarked upon a massive apprentice and graduate recruitment programme during the destroyer and carrier orders.
‘Young people entered into training because they were told that shipbuilding in Portsmouth had a long term future, now all of this would appear to have counted for nothing and the government are prepared to export shipbuilding jobs to Scotland in their pursuit of retaining the union on a devolution vote.
‘We in Portsmouth are the victims of the squalid, underhand political game.
‘GMB are calling for all politicians regardless of persuasion to do everything in their power, and more, to fight for the retention of a shipbuilding capacity in England.
‘This is nothing short of a betrayal to the workers and the nation.’
My old Ford Focus served me well for about ten years, and if I’m honest I have to say I gave it quite a thrashing one way and the other. A couple of weeks ago it finally expired with much juddering, wheezing and agonized whining. Something called the cam belt, so I’m told. It buggers up your valves: nasty. And expensive. It would have cost more to repair than the car was worth.
Happily (or so I thought), just at that moment my employer was offering a 2007 Mondeo diesel estate for sale at what seemed a very reasonable price, so I snapped it up. Just one week after buying it, the bloody thing has broken down and I had to be towed home in ignominy late on Thursday night . It’s something called the EGR valve and it’ll cost me over £200 to put right.
Bessie Smith, back in 1925, seems to have had similar troubles with an old vehicle: “You Been a Good Ole Wagon … but You Done Broke Down” she sang, presumably about a much loved but knackered Model T. Why this automotive song should be illustrated by a female backside (albeit shapely), I’ve absolutely no idea:
Yes, I know the London “tube” / Underground is stressful, should be free and is a paradise for gropers (especially during rush-hour), but still: it’s a wonder, isn’t it? And the first such underground system of its kind, anywhere.
It also has a tradition of employing a well-unionised , political and militant staff.
So let’s celebrate the 150th birthday of ‘The Tube’ with this recently restored 1928 Brit film, ‘Underground‘: