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BMW, Daimler and Volkswagen Face Collusion Investigation in Europe

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Germany’s biggest carmakers were already facing public criticism after an emissions cheating scandal at Volkswagen. Now, they are under formal investigation.

The European Commission opened an inquiry on Tuesday into possible collusion among BMW, Daimler and Volkswagen to prevent the development of clean emissions technology. The investigation adds to a series of problems for the German auto industry, the country’s biggest employer and exporter, which is grappling with the consequences of Volkswagen’s diesel deception, as well as a long-term shift toward electric vehicles and the threat of auto tariffs from the United States.

The announcement by the commission, the European Union’s executive arm, comes nearly a year after officials searched the German automakers’ offices as part of an initial inquiry into possible price fixing. The commission said on Tuesday that it had information indicating that the companies had participated in meetings where they discussed technology to limit harmful emissions. The investigation will try to establish whether the automakers sought to limit the development or rollout of systems to reduce harmful nitrogen oxide emissions from diesel cars or filters to reduce emissions from gasoline engine cars.

“These technologies aim at making passenger cars less damaging to the environment,” Margrethe Vestager, the European Union’s competition commissioner, said in a statement. “If proven, this collusion may have denied consumers the opportunity to buy less-polluting cars, despite the technology being available to the manufacturers.”
The commission said it had no information indicating that the companies had coordinated over the use of illegal defeat devices in regulatory testing. German carmakers meet routinely to discuss technical standards for components, but these discussions might be deemed illegal if they agree to limit competition in certain areas.

In its statement, the commission named the three major carmakers, as well as the Volkswagen luxury units Audi and Porsche, as part of the inquiry. All three companies said they would not be commenting on the case, but were cooperating with investigators.

The companies — the commission referred to them as the “circle of five” — have spent decades promoting diesel engines, and are still struggling with the fallout of the emissions scandal in which some 11 million Volkswagen vehicles worldwide were fitted with illegal software that could detect when the cars were undergoing emissions tests.

As a result, sales of diesel cars across Europe have been falling, while sales of electric cars are growing sharply, a trend that German carmakers have been slow to capitalize on. BMW, Daimler and Volkswagen could also suffer if President Trump follows through on a threat to impose hefty tariffs on European cars imported into the United States.

Volkswagen, which has admitted to the cheating, in particular has not made sufficient progress in repairing the shortcomings in company culture that led to the scandal, according to a recent report by a lawyer appointed to monitor the company’s behavior.

This year, Munich prosecutors arrested Rupert Stadler, the head of Audi, and federal prosecutors in the United States indicted Martin Winterkorn, the former chief executive of Volkswagen, on charges that included conspiracy to defraud the government. Mr. Winterkorn has denied the charges.

The industry also has to deal with an increasingly tough regulatory environment as opposition to diesel engines grows: The German city of Hamburg banned older diesel cars from high-traffic areas because of health concerns, and other European cities are considering similar measures.

“The automotive industry was once a jewel in Europe’s industrial crown,” said Greg Archer, the clean-vehicles director at the advocacy group Transport and Environment, “but its global reputation is now deeply tarnished and cannot be trusted anymore.”

Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/18/business/germany-volkswagen-bmw-daimler-eu.html

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Couple arrested in fatal 2016 attack on Long Island woman

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A former New York City correction officer and his 21-year-old girlfriend have been charged in the fatal beating of the woman’s mother on Long Island.

Nassau County police say 27-year-old Ralph Keppler and 21-year-old Francesca Kiel, both of Lynbrook, were arrested Sunday on murder charges.

Police say the victim, 56-year-old Theresa Kiel, was brutally attacked and struck in the face with a metal barbell at her apartment in Long Beach in December of 2016. She lost and eye and remained in a vegetative state until she died this Saturday.
Prosecutors had alleged the motive to be a business dispute.

Keppler had been charged back in January with attempted murder and assault and was out on bail. His lawyer says he’s innocent.

Information on Francesca Kiel’s lawyer wasn’t immediately available. Both Defendants were scheduled to be arraigned on Monday in First District Court in Hempstead.

Source: http://www.fox5ny.com/news/couple-arrested-in-2016-attack

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Woman Beaten in Subway Station by Man Yelling Racially Charged Words: Family, Police

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A woman was punched and stabbed when she got off the subway in Brooklyn by a man yelling racially charged words, her family and police said.

The victim, 57-year-old Ann Marie Washington, was hospitalized Sunday after having surgery for a collapsed lung due to the stabbing, her family told NBC 4 New York.

Washington, a mother of two, was on her way home from work Friday evening and had just stepped off the subway at the Church Avenue stop in Brooklyn when she was attacked, advocates said.

The man, who was white, punched her in the mouth and stabbed her in the chest while calling her a “black b—-,” advocates said. Washington, who is black, is a native of Trinidad.
The attacker fled on a Q train, police said. The victim said he appeared to be in his early 30s, about 5-feet, 3-inches tall, and wearing grey and black sweatpants and a black hooded sweatshirt.

Police didn’t initially call the attack a hate crime, leading to outrage from neighborhood advocates who held a news conference Sunday.

“If this was a white resident, a new gentrifier to this neighborhood, there would be swarms of cops here,” said Imani Henry of Equality for Flatbush. “But when it is a black person who is attacked by a white racist, there isn’t anything.”
Afterward, the NYPD said its Hate Crimes Taskforce would look into it. Police said they didn’t have all the details at the time the crime was reported.

Washington didn’t realize she had been stabbed until she got home, advocates said. Even then, she thought she had been scratched in the chest until she woke up the next morning, said Kenzia Bernard Nau, a witness and a neighborhood advocate.

Advocates said witnesses shot video and there should be surveillance video of the suspect, but police haven’t released it.
“The fact that the video isn’t out right now, this is completely insane,” Bernard Nau said. “This is going to keep happening.”

Source: https://www.nbcnewyork.com/news/local/Woman-Beaten-in-Subway-Station-by-Man-Yelling-Racially-Charged-Words-Family-500238922.html

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It’s back: NYC’s rare Mandarin duck makes grand return to Central Park

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The Mandarin duck that has caused crowds of people from around the world to flock to Central Park has made its grand return after a brief disappearance.

The duck, native to Asia, was first spotted in the Central Park Pond at 60th Street and 5th Avenue on Oct. 10. Tourists and New Yorkers alike couldn’t resist the urge to see the bird for themselves and headed to the park in search of the rare bird.

After making appearances at multiple bodies of water in the area, some cried “fowl play” when the bird seemed to suddenly disappear earlier this week.

The NYC Parks Department released the following statement:

“While we are not tracking the Mandarin duck, we’ve noted that he’s appeared healthy and has regularly moved between water bodies in Central Park. We don’t know his exact location at this time. Almost all ducks migrate seasonally. While we’re happy to have had him visit our parks, it’s important to remember that at some point he may leave New York for warmer temperatures.”

As long as the duck doesn’t appear injured or in need of care, rangers will not make an attempt to capture it.

“While it’s exciting to spot such a rare bird in NYC’s backyard, like every other celebrity sighting, New Yorkers should know to give him space and not to disturb him,” Deputy Director of the Urban Park Rangers John McCoy said.

It remains a mystery how exactly the duck ended up in Central Park. There has been some speculation he may have formerly been a pet, but he has since effortlessly been adopted into the park’s urban flock.

By Thursday afternoon, social media was abuzz with the bird’s return to its home base in the park.

Source: https://abc7ny.com/pets-animals/its-back-mandarin-duck-makes-grand-return-to-central-park/4648131/

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