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Europe insists Volkswagen meet emission-scandal obligations
by Daniel J. Graeber
Washington (UPI) Sep 7, 2017

Uber acknowledges FBI probe into software tool
San Francisco (AFP) Sept 8, 2017 - Uber acknowledged Friday it was the subject of a federal investigation into a software tool it used in the past aimed at interfering with competing ride-sharing operators.

An Uber spokesman told AFP that "we are cooperating with the investigation" after a Wall Street Journal report on the probe, while noting that the tool is no longer being used by Uber.

The report said the FBI and New York law enforcement officials were investigating use of the "Hell" software program which could track drivers for the rival ride-sharing group Lyft.

The US daily said "Hell" allowed Uber to create fake Lyft accounts and to trick the rival system into believing prospective customers were seeking rides in various locations around a city

It added that it also gleaned data on drivers who worked for both companies, to enable Uber to offer incentives to leave Lyft.

The report is the latest in a series of woes for Uber, which replaced its top executive last month as part of an effort to clean up a workplace culture marked by cut-throat competition, sexism and unfair competition with rivals.

Uber noted that a civil lawsuit filed by a Lyft driver over the "Hell" program had been dismissed by a federal court.

The European Commission said it was insisting the automotive group Volkswagen meet its obligations to consumers regarding an emissions-cheating scandal.

Consumer authorities from the European Union and the European Commission sent a letter to Volkswagen calling on the company to "swiftly" repair the vehicles associated with an emissions scandal. Volkswagen last year agreed to repair all the vehicles impacted by the issue by autumn 2017 and EU commissioners said the group has one month to confirm its upholding its commitments.

"When there are pan-European problems like this, only by acting together can consumer authorities ensure that EU consumer law is respected everywhere in the union," Vera Jourova, a commissioner in charge of consumer issues, said in a statement. "With today's joint position, EU consumers can be sure that both consumer authorities in member states and the European Commission are on their side and that any half measures will not be accepted."

Volkswagen had no public comment on the European demands. The German automotive group has addressed many of the U.S. issues tied to an admission of cheating emissions tests in 2015, but has so far fallen well short of its expectations in the European market.

The joint action by European authorities still leaves much of the formal action in the hands of member states.

In a sales update, the automotive company said total vehicles deliveries in North America for the first seven months of the year were up 48.7 percent from the same period last year. Western European deliveries were up 4.3 percent and Eastern European deliveries improved by 17.6 percent from the same seven-month period in 2016.

Last month, the European Commission invited member states to examine emission issues after Volkswagen in 2015 was found to have used software to get around some pollution standards. In response, the commission introduced stricter and more accurate tests for nitrogen oxides and particulate emissions, many of which are responsible for smog and acid rain.

The transportation sector accounts for more than half of the energy-related emissions of carbon dioxide, a potent greenhouse gas.

Post-Harvey Houston faces a car crunch
New York (AFP) Sept 6, 2017
As Houston residents contend with flooded homes and lost belongings in the upheaval left in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, many face another urgent priority: getting a new car. Having a vehicle is a necessity in the sprawling Texas metropolis with few public transportation options. But as many as a half million cars were washed away or irreparably deluged after the storm dumped a year's w ... read more

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