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The danger of keyless cars: What you need to know



engine start stop

More than two dozen people have died from carbon monoxide poisoning after accidentally leaving their cars running in the garage, according to The New York Times. Dozens more suffered debilitating injuries.

Why is this happening?

It’s a mistake that’s made easier by modern keyless ignition systems, which allow drivers to start and shut off their vehicle with the press of a button. The car key — really just a key fob — can remain in a purse or pocket. But making it so easy turn on a vehicle also makes it easy to forget to turn it off.

This is especially true with quiet, hybrid cars. The engine might not be running when the car is first parked, but will come on later as the car’s batteries run down. Even many non-hybrid cars today have extremely quiet engines, the sound of which can be virtually undetectable when the car is parked.

What cars have this feature?

So-called keyless entry systems are a standard feature on many new cars and at least an option on even the least expensive economy models. It’s a convenience that’s on millions of cars today, and it’s appreciated by owners who no longer have to fumble with car keys.

With this feature, drivers can lock and unlock the car just by touching the door handles — without using the key fob at all. Once inside, drivers can start their vehicle the press of a button or, in some cases, the twist of a knob.

What can automakers do to prevent these accidents?

Automakers should make sure vehicles have audible alarms that can be heard outside of the car when a driver gets out of a running car, said Jake Fisher, head of auto testing for Consumer Reports. The magazine has called on all automakers to add features like this to prevent the problem.

Some automakers already do have audible notifications. Others, such as General Motors (GM), have designed their cars to automatically shut off after a certain period of time once the driver has left the vehicle. Still other automakers design vehicles to automatically turn off whenever the driver exits the vehicle with the key fob.

Are government regulators doing anything?

Regulations have been proposed, but never enacted, according to the New York Times and other reports. The challenge for automakers is to balance customer safety with convenience. There may be some times, for example, when a driver might want to let their car’s engine run when they’re not in the vehicle. For instance, they may want to leave the air conditioner on for a pet inside the car, or maybe they’re using headlights to illuminate what they’re doing.

What can I do to be safe?

The most important thing for drivers is to make very sure a car is turned off every time it’s parked.

It’s easy for people for get distracted by children or a phone call and leave the ignition on, said Robert Sinclair, a spokesman for AAA’s northeast regional office.

Specifically, he suggests that drivers get to know what a car’s gauge cluster looks like when the ignition is on and when it’s off. If the gauges are still lit up, the car is still probably on. Hybrid cars, in particular, will have a dashboard light indicating the car is turned on and ready to drive.

Finally, to prevent this and other tragic accidents, every home should have working carbon monoxide detectors. These detectors should not be placed in the garage, where they probably can’t be heard, but instead in a home’s living areas, said Lt. Athony Mancuso of the New York City Fire Department.

“When we do see a carbon monoxide death,” he said, “the people don’t have a carbon monoxide detector.”



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Dockless bike share pilot to begin in July





Sometimes it pays to wait. Two neighorhoods that never made it onto Citi Bike’s map will get first crack at the next generation of bike shares—the dockless bike—Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Thursday.

A total of 12 dockless bike-share operators will take part in the pilot, which is being run by the Department of Transportation. It will begin in July in the Rockaways in Queens and Coney Island in Brooklyn. (Rockaway Beach was the scene last year of a so called rogue operation by a company, Spin, that will be taking part in the pilot program.)

Later in the summer, the program will roll out to neighborhoods in two boroughs that have never seen bike-sharing: the Bronx, in the area around Fordham University, and Staten Island, on its North Shore.

Rides will cost from $1 to $2 for 30 minutes.

Dockless operations can be launched quickly, as they do not require the installation of parking stations.

The program will include pedal-assist e-bikes. The city is currently clarifying the legal status of the bikes.

There will be a total of 200 bikes in each of the four zones. The pilot program will be assessed in the fall.


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Embarrassment for The New York Times after failed hit piece needs four major corrections




new york times

The New York Times issued four different corrections to an antagonistic, failed hit piece on Foundation for Defense of Democracies CEO Mark Dubowitz, who once opposed President Barack Obama’s Iran nuclear pact.

The embarrassing article falsely claimed that Dubowitz “paid himself” nearly twice as much as his think-tank peers; that the FDD is linked to Israel’s Likud Party; and that a Republican donor with financial ties to the Emirates provided $2.7 million to fund an anti-Qatar conference.

None of those things are true.

The Times issued a lengthy correction explaining that a board of directors determined Dubowitz’s compensation, which is on par with other think-tank leaders; that the FDD is not directly involved with the Likud Party; and that donor Elliott Broidy gave $360,000 for the conference.

“What’s left after the corrections is a dispatch about a think-tank exec with no genuine public-policy power who originally opposed the Iran deal, thought he could convince Trump to mend it without ending it, and is now getting flak from fever-swamp leftists who didn’t like his original opposition,” Media Research Center contributing editor Tom Blumer wrote. “Why was this even a story in the first place?”
Blumer pointed out that, in addition to the four errors, it is hard to ignore the “hostility” that Times international diplomacy reporter Gardiner Harris apparently has toward Dubowitz and the FDD. The May 13 piece headlined, “He Was a Tireless Critic of the Iran Deal. Now He Insists He Wanted to Save It,” mentions Dubowitz “wears tailored French suits and keeps his curly hair just so.”
Blumer asked, “Who except an angry, jealous, agenda-driven reporter would care about ‘tailored French suits’ and ‘keeping his curly hair just so’?”

The FDD is a non-profit group that bills itself as a non-partisan group with a “mission to promote pluralism, defend democratic values and fight the ideologies that drive terrorism.” Dubowitz, the group’s leader, was a robust adversary of Obama’s Iran nuclear deal back in 2015 but tried to save portions of it before President Trump announced that the United States would pull out. Harris apparently isn’t a fan of Dubowitz’s evolving position, as he attacked the FDD leader with a plethora of misinformation.

MRC’s Blumer wrote that the piece is “uniquely embarrassing” because of the “sheer volume” of embarrassing gaffes in addition to “how easy it should have been for his editors to catch them.”

The entire correction states: “An article on Monday about Mark Dubowitz, the chief executive of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, and his perspective on nuclear negotiations with Iran referred imprecisely to Mr. Dubowitz’s salary as compared with those of leaders of other Washington think tanks. Mr. Dubowitz’s $560,221 compensation in 2016 was determined by the foundation’s board of directors and is commensurate with the average annual salary of other think-tank leaders in Washington in recent years. It is not nearly twice as much as the salaries of his counterparts. The article also inaccurately linked the foundation to Israel’s Likud party. While the think tank does align with some of Likud’s positions, it is not directly involved with the party. The article also referred imprecisely to the funding of conferences held by the foundation and the Hudson Institute. While Elliott Broidy provided $2.7 million in funds for consulting, marketing and other services, the foundation says it received only $360,000 from Mr. Broidy for one conference.”


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Family fears worst after cash-strapped cabbied goes missing




new york taxi

Family and friends are fearing the worst after a financially reeling cabbie left his car by the East River 10 days ago and has yet to be heard from since.

Yumain “Kenny” Chow, 56, was last seen on May 11 — and had been stressed about a $700,000 mortgage on his taxi medallion that he couldn’t pay off, say those close to him.

“He was very upset about the mortgage on his medallion and the mortgage on his house and not being able to provide for his family,” said his brother, Richard Chow.

Kenny Chow, who moved to the US from Burma when he was in his 20s, bought his medallion in 2011 when rates were at a record high and just before Uber and other rideshare app companies moved into the New York City market, his brother said.

The cabbie’s loan was through Melrose Credit Union, a company that is under federal receivership and has become known for its aggressive tactics against its borrowers.

At least four for-hire drivers have committed suicide in the past six months.

Cabbies blame the city for allowing app-based ride services such as Uber and Lyft to expand unchecked and gobble up traditional drivers’ customers — which has led to desperation among drivers.

“It’s such a sign of the times,” said New York Taxi Workers Alliance Executive Director Bhairavi Desai. “In years past, if a driver was missing, you’d fear murder or assault, now you fear suicide. There is such a dark cloud over them. Every day, drivers are struggling with poverty, and each day the future looks bleaker.”

Chow and his wife were in such dire financial straights that they couldn’t pay for their daughter to go to college and she had to return home, said friend and fellow cab driver Johnny Ho. And Chow’s wife was recently diagnosed with cancer.

His car was found on 86th Street and East End Avenue, which is just a block from the East River.

Cops confirmed that Chow’s family filed a missing-person report May 12 and that they found his vehicle but no sign of the cabbie.


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