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FILE PHOTO: German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz attends a media briefing during his visit to Beijing, China, January 17, 2019. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
BERLIN (Reuters) – German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz plans to extend tax incentives for electric company cars, he told a newspaper on Saturday, the government’s latest attempt to boost demand for clean vehicles.
Germany is trying to increase electric car sales in the wake of a diesel emissions cheating scandal that has engulfed its auto industry in the last three years.
“Half of all cars sold in Germany are company cars,” Scholz told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung.
“So I have decided that we will not end tax support for electric cars and plug-in hybrid company cars in 2021 but extend them maybe over the whole decade,” he said, adding that would help improve air quality and meet climate goals.
He added, however, that the rules for plug-in hybrids would be tightened, so that only cars that can travel on electric power further than they do today would be eligible.
Since January, drivers of electric company cars which they also use for private journeys pay less tax than they would for a vehicle with a combustion engine.
Government subsidy schemes have helped boost sales but even with rising demand, electric cars made up only 1 percent of new car registrations last year, according to the KBA motor vehicle authority.
The government has acknowledged it will miss its target of having 1 million electric vehicles on the road by 2020 by two years.
Reporting by Madeline Chambers; Editing by Gareth Jones
(Reuters) – More than a year of work to bring Amazon.com Inc’s headquarters and tens of thousands of jobs to New York City ended on Thursday with a couple of phone calls.
A delivery person pushes a cart full of Amazon boxes in New York City, U.S., February 14, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
Jay Carney, the company’s top policy executive, told New York Governor Andrew Cuomo that the world’s biggest online retailer would not go ahead with plans to invest $2.5 billion to build a second head office in the New York City borough of Queens.
Carney, a former press secretary for President Barack Obama, told New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio the same shortly after.
Abruptly scuttling its Big Apple plans blindsided Amazon’s allies and opponents alike. The company said the decision came together only in the last 48 hours, made by its senior leadership team and Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s founder, chief executive and the richest person in the world.
Yet by some measures the decision was months in the making, as community opposition signaled to the company that it was not entirely welcome.
Seattle-based Amazon captivated elected officials across North America in September 2017 when it announced it would create more than 50,000 jobs in a second headquarters dubbed HQ2. Cities and states vied desperately for the economic stimulus, with New Jersey offering $7 billion in potential credits and the mayor of an Atlanta suburb promising to make Bezos mayor for life of a new city called “Amazon.”
A backlash began in earnest when Amazon announced two winners to split the offices last November: Arlington, Virginia, and New York’s Long Island City neighborhood, with New York offering incentives worth $1.53 billion to Amazon. The company could apply for $900 million more, too.
New York State Senator Michael Gianaris and City Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer said that day that it was “unfathomable that we would sign a $3 billion check” to one of the world’s most valuable companies considering the city’s crumbling subways and overcrowded schools.
City Council meetings in December and January showed Amazon executives who showed up the stern opposition they could expect from some elected officials and labor organizers.
Protesters interrupted the meetings. A television report showed people unfurling signs saying, “Amazon delivers lies,” and “Amazon fuels ICE deportations” – a reference to the company’s cooperation with the U.S. Department in charge of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
Amazon felt that a small number of local and state officials had no desire to collaborate on a path forward, the company later said, despite what it said was strong popular support for its project.
RELATIVELY PAINLESS EXIT
Tension ratcheted up earlier this month, when Gianaris was nominated to a state panel set to vote in 2020 on whether to approve the financial terms for Amazon.
Days later, Amazon executives weighed the pros and cons of whether to follow through with its New York headquarters, two people briefed on talks inside the company said. Concerned that Amazon could be in limbo for more than a year ahead of the state panel’s vote, the growing consensus within the company was that it did not make sense to move ahead in the face of persistent opposition with a headquarters in New York City, where it already has 5,000 employees.
Amazon had no binding legal contracts to acquire or lease the land for the project. It could exit with relatively little pain, the people said.
Company officials also concluded Amazon could shift the jobs that would have been created in New York to other corporate centers it has across the United States, from the San Francisco Bay Area to Boston. Reopening talks with former HQ2 contestants did not make sense, the people said.
Gianaris blamed Amazon for the reversal.
“Amazon never showed willingness to look seriously at the concerns that were raised,” he said.
Still, up to the moment of the announcement, there were signs that the parties could work together.
One union leader said he and other labor organizers met on Wednesday with Cuomo and four Amazon officials, including Brian Huseman, its vice president of public policy.
“We had such a productive meeting yesterday. Everyone left happy,” said Stuart Appelbaum, head of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union.
The group is trying to organize workers at an Amazon facility in Staten Island, another New York City borough, despite the company’s past opposition to unionization.
“It was a complete surprise that they would say they look forward to working with us, and we talked about next steps, and then they call it all off the next morning,” said Appelbaum.
Reporting by Jeffrey Dastin in San Francisco, David Shepardson and Nandita Bose in Washington and Daniel Trotta in New York; Editing by Greg Mitchell and Bill Rigby
I travel about 75,000 miles a year for business, yet I can’t remember the last time I stayed in a hotel. That may surprise many business travelers, but to me, it’s a relief. I suffered through years of expensive boutiquesor cookie cutter chains, uncomfortable mattresses and terrible breakfasts. Finally I gave up on hotels altogether, and I’ve never looked back.
For several years now, Airbnb has been the secret weaponto my business travel success. There’s an amazing variety of locations, types of lodging, and hosts. I’ve found wonderful places and fascinating people I never would have if I’d stayed in hotels.
1. Feels More Like Home
One of the biggest complaints about business travel is that you don’t have your stuff. It may sound silly, but the stuff and the people are what turns a house into a home. And if you can’t have the people while you’re traveling, at least you can have things more like your own stuff at home. Hotels can be so sterile – or worse yet, unsterile!
2. Cheaper than Hotels
I’ve saved a ton of moneyusing Airbnb instead of hotels. This is especially true for me because I’m willing to stay in a privatebedroom in a shared unit. Even if I weren’t into sharing, Airbnb-ing a fully private unit is often a huge savings over even a modest hotel. Don’t forget to consider a whole house rental for group business travel. It may be closer quarters with your colleagues than you’re used to, but think of it as bonding time. Everyone could still get their own bedroom, and you can save using group transportation and food options.
3. Healthier Eating
In the last 2 years, I’ve lost – and successfully kept off– 54 pounds. One of the benefits of Airbnb is that many units provide a fully functional kitchen, often including staples like salt, pepper, and olive oil. All I had to do was take a quick trip to the grocery store. Then instead of eating bad take out or overindulging at a restaurant, I could cook exactly what I wanted at exactly the calorie count I could afford. No more temptation for midnight room service. It saves calories and money – and you can multiply the savings by making your own lunch, too.
4. Often More Convenient
Business travel can be unpredictable, and often doesn’t leave flexibility for changingdates. So what can you do if you have to go visit a client at the same time as the World Taxidermy & Fish Carving Championships, and every hotel room in Springfield, Illinois, is booked? Airbnb to the rescue. Just like hotels, Airbnb prices go up with demand, but I’ve never had a problemfinding an Airbnb that worked. Sometimes the Airbnb is considerably more convenient to where I need to spend time. I also often save money on parking by avoiding expensive hotel garages.
5. Opens Opportunities – and Eyes
One of the most fun and powerful reasons to use Airbnb is the amazing experience it can provide. While others are isolated in boring hotelsfilled with other businesspeople, you’ll be living among the local people. The hosts can share a great deal about the local way of life, which may be helpful in dealing with your client. The fellow guests, if you have them, often have wonderful stories to tell. For this and all the above reasons, Airbnb makes travel easier and more accessible, which means you can experience even more of this world!
FILE PHOTO: A Tesla logo is seen at a groundbreaking ceremony of Tesla Shanghai Gigafactory in Shanghai, China January 7, 2019. REUTERS/Aly Song/File Photo
(Reuters) – Elon Musk’s Tesla Inc on Wednesday launched a safety feature called “sentry mode” for its electric cars, as it attempts to make its vehicles more attractive to buyers.
The feature will be compatible with U.S. Model 3 vehicles, followed by Model S and Model X vehicles that were manufactured after August 2017, the electric carmaker said.
When enabled, the “sentry mode” monitors the environment around an unattended car and uses the vehicle’s external cameras to detect potential threats, according to Tesla’s blog here
A minimal threat will be detected if anyone leans on the car, triggering a message on the touchscreen and warning that its cameras are recording.
For a more severe threat, like someone breaking a window, the mode activates the car alarm, increases the brightness of the center display, plays loud music and alerts owners on their Tesla mobile app.
The United States had 773,139 motor vehicles stolen in 2017 – the highest since 2009, according to data from the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation. here
Last week, Tesla lowered the price of its Model 3 sedan for the second time this year to make its cars more affordable for U.S. buyers. The Palo Alto, California-based company has been cutting costs as it looks to turn in profit this year.
Reporting by Sanjana Shivdas in Bengaluru, Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips
The traditional narrative for entrepreneurs is a step-by-step process that generally looks something like this:
Get a degree
Get a job
Build a network
Save some “seed capital”
Start your business
The assumption is that you’ll be ready to launch your startup in your 30s or 40s. Or maybe your 50s because, well…, kids.
Now, I don’t want to burst any happy bubbles for those of you who are already treading the traditional pathway, but that traditional narrative no longer makes much sense because over the past two decades, big corporations, big academia, and big corporatist government have rigged the business world so that the longer you wait to start your own company, the less likely you are to be successful.
Because of this, young entrepreneurs (Millennials and Gen-Zers) should launch their startups immediately rather than waiting until they’ve got a degree and some experience. Here’s why:
1. College has become increasingly irrelevant.
If you already know you’re going to be an entrepreneurs, college is a waste of time. Business colleges are so out of touch that very few teach sales skills–the most important business skill for any entrepreneur. B-schools are also notorious repositories of wannabee entrepreneurs spouting clouds of fluffy biz-blab. Furthermore, colleges are always a decade behind the real world in technical skills and technology. Example: almost all computer animation college programs lack even a single class on real-time animation, the most important new technology in that industry.
2. College has become absurdly expensive.
How many thousands of times have you read about recent college graduates who can’t get a decent job in their field but are nonetheless saddled with tens of thousands of dollars in student debt? By contrast, how many times have you heard successful entrepreneurs say: “wow, I’m sure glad I graduated from college…”? Like never, right? Look, if you’re going to spend yourself $50,000 into debt, do you want to end up with a useless, but largely symbolic degree? Or do you want to own a business that cost $50,000 to start?
3. College doesn’t impress recruiters anyway.
Let’s suppose you want to start your own business but you’re banking on your college degree as a backup plan… as in “I’ll give this startup my best shot but if I fail I can get use my degree to get a job.” Well, IMHO, if you’re thinking that way, you’re setting yourself up to fail as an entrepreneur, but whatever. Let’s suppose it’s a reasonable plan. Hate to tell you, but recruiters are far more impressed by an effort to start your own company than whatever cookie-cutter degree you managed to eke out of the college system. Even fancy Ivy League degrees don’t have much cachet any longer.
4. Employers hire contractors not employees.
According to a recent study conducted by Allison & Taylor Reference Checking, “the current growth of freelancing is estimated to be three times faster than that of the traditional workforce, with approximately 47% of working millennials now working in some freelance capacity. At the current growth rate, the majority of the U.S. workforce will freelance by 2027.” Freelance positions lack benefits and pay less, thus making it more difficult to put aside the money you’ll need to start your business. Can you spell “dead end street,” boys and girls?
5. Employers legally limit your options.
You may think you’re gaining valuable experience and contacts that you can use to launch your own business, but chances are that your employee agreement or “work for hire” agreement vastly limits your ability to use whatever you’ve learned. You might launch your business and find yourself at the short end of a lawsuit, from a company that can afford an entire staff of lawyers to make sure you’re properly crushed.
6. Resumes don’t impress investors.
Investors don’t give a rodent’s posterior about your college experience. They also don’t value your work experience much more than that, unless what you were doing was directly relevant to building and running the company you’re envisioning. Investors want people who’ve successfully started their own businesses or, at the very least, somebody who’s gained the valuable experience of starting a business that didn’t pan out.
7. Exuberance is a limited resource.
You may think all those long hours and hard work working for somebody else is preparing you for the long hours and hard work you’ll need to make your startup successful. But you’d think wrong. Their plan is to burn through your youthful energy and enthusiasm until you’re an empty husk. Even if you keep your spirits up and your body in tip-top shape while they try to suck you dry, as you get older, you will INEVITABLY find it more difficult to summon extra oomph. Far better to expend your youthful exuberance making your own business a success, rather than lining someone else’s pockets, right?.
As Amazon faces political obstacles in building a huge office in New York City, cities that were once candidates for the campus are courting the tech giant once again.
Cities including Miami, Chicago, and Newark, NJ have all recently talked to Amazon, brushing off their earlier rejections in hopes of landing thousands of jobs. Then Denver and Dallas said they never stopped speaking with Amazon.
Since announcing plans to build a new “second headquarters” in New York City three months ago, Amazon has encountered intense blowback. New York politicians are balking at a plan to hand over huge financial incentives to one of the biggest companies in the world while local residents complain about the impact of thousands of new workers on an already expensive and crowded neighborhood.
The opposition has Amazon second-guessing its move into the city, according to media reports, opening the door to former candidates to dust off their old proposals.
Last year, Amazon last year received 238 bids for the new headquarters, which originally was planned for one city. Candidate cities made big offers—like Maryland’s $8.5 billion incentive package—in hopes of landing the giant.
After going through the proposals, Amazon released a list of 20 finalists, which included Atlanta, Austin, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles, Miami, and Columbus, OH—though very few of these cities publicly disclosed the incentives attached to their bids.
Ultimately, Amazon decided to change course and name two winning cities, but with only 25,000 job each. In addition to New York City, the company chose Crystal City, VA.
And while many losing cities were disappointed about being passed over, a few now are taking advantage of the tension in New York for a second chance with Amazon.
Illinois governor J.B. Pritzker, who previously helped pitch Chicago, immediately jumped on the phone with Amazon.
“Governor Pritzker reached out to Amazon to make a full-throated pitch to attract these good-paying jobs to Illinois and assure them that they would have a strong partner in the governor’s office,” Jordan Abudayyeh, spokeswoman for the governor’s office, told Fortune in a statement.
Meanwhile, Newark, NJ contacted Amazon to let the company know the city and state still have incentive packages, approved before the city was rejected, waiting for Amazon. Officials hope the news will show Amazon that it can move in without any risk of second guessing.
Miami-Dade’s mayor Carlos Giménez told the Miami Herald that he’s ready to restart talks about bringing the Amazon to Miami or other South Florida sites that were included in an earlier joint bid. The mayor of Magic City, Fla., said he planned to reach out to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos to pitch him directly, according to the Herald.
A representative of the Dallas Regional Chamber said during a panel that that organization “never hung up the phone with Amazon,” according to media reports. The chamber declined to comment on whether Dallas planned to approach the company directly.
But Dallas mayoral candidate Jason Villalba was vocal about the matter on Twitter, saying, “Dallas can win this bid!” Undoubtedly, he also was using the issue as a way to highlight his experience in economic development to voters.
Similarly, The Dallas Morning News took the opportunity to write an op-ed titled, “Dear Amazon, New York doesn’t want you; Dallas does.” Mind you, the Morning News’ former headquarters is one of the potential sites for Amazon’s headquarters that Dallas listed in its proposal—a financial consideration that the News failed to mention.
Video has become an increasingly crucial tool for law enforcement, whether it comes from security cameras, police-worn body cameras, a bystander’s smartphone, or another source. But a combination of “deepfake” video manipulation technology and security issues that plague so many connected devices has made it difficult to confirm the integrity of that footage. A new project suggests the answer lies in cryptographic authentication.
Called Amber Authenticate, the tool is meant to run in the background on a device as it captures video. At regular, user-determined intervals, the platform generates “hashes”—cryptographically scrambled representations of the data—that then get indelibly recorded on a public blockchain. If you run that same snippet of video footage through the algorithm again, the hashes will be different if anything has changed in the file’s audio or video data—tipping you off to possible manipulation.
Users need to set the interval to balance system constraints on devices with what a camera may be filming. Creating hashes every 30 seconds on a police body camera might allow quick and subtle, but still potentially impactful, manipulations to slip through. Setting the interval to every second on a small business’ surveillance camera might be overkill.
“There’s a systemic risk with police body cameras across many manufacturers and models,” says Amber CEO Shamir Allibhai. “What we’re worried about is that, when you couple that with deep fakes, you can not only add or delete evidence but what happens when you can manipulate it? Once it’s entered into evidence it’s really hard to say what’s a fake. Detection is always one step behind. With this approach it’s binary: Either the hash matches or it doesn’t, and it’s all publicly verifiable.”
A tool like Amber has obvious appeal for human rights activists, free speech advocates, and law enforcement watchdogs wary of potential abuse coverups, but governments also have an interest in video integrity tools. Allibhai is presenting Amber Authenticate to Department of Defense and Department of Homeland Security representatives at a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency showcase on Monday. And DHS has already shown an interest in similar solutions like one from the blockchain-based data validity company Factom, which is also working on a video authentication tool.
Amber Authenticate is built on the popular open-source blockchain platform Ethereum, and includes a web platform that makes it easy to visually understand which parts of a video clip have hashes that match the originals stored on the blockchain and which, if any, don’t. A green frame around the footage as it plays indicates a match, while a red frame takes its place for any portion with a mismatched hash. Below the video player, Amber also shows a detailed “audit trail” that lists when a file was originally created, uploaded, hashed, and submitted to the blockchain.
The idea is for the manufacturers of products like CCTVs and body cams to license Amber Authenticate and run it on their devices. Amber research consultant Josh Mitchell, who found software vulnerabilities in five models of mainstream body cameras last August, has been able to demonstrate that Authenticate is compatible with at least some of those brands.
“I’ve been taking the technology and putting it on a body camera, because there’s no authentication mechanism right now on any of the cameras,” Mitchell says. “The fact that there’s nothing protecting that evidence from a malicious party is worrying, and manufacturers don’t seem very motivated to do anything. So if we have a provable, demonstrable prototype we can show that there are ways to ensure that all parties have faith in the video and how it was captured.”
Amber’s Allibhai, who is self-funding the project, says that Authenticate plans to be totally transparent and open to vetting by outside experts.
Whether’s its Amber Authenticate or another solution, an integrity and authentication tool for video—particularly police body cameras—can’t come soon enough, according to Jay Stanley, a senior policy analyst at the American Civil Liberties Union. “Technologists are going to have to validate the security of Amber as with any authentication technique,” he says. “But I hope that Amber or a similar product becomes standard. Like body cameras themselves, video authentication can help create community confidence in evidence about what’s taken place, and can give everybody confidence that things are on the up and up in what can be very harrowing and difficult incidents.”
Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek.
Anyone can have a bad day.
How bad, though, does it have to be to justify what appears to have happened on an American Airlines flight from Long Beach to Phoenix last weekend?
The story is told by one of the passengers, who presented a detailed account on the FlyerTalk forums.
It all began, he says, with a First Class passenger asking for an Irish coffee while the plane was still on the ground.
At first, it seemed as if the Flight Attendant — the flight was operated by Mesa Airlines under the American Eagle banner — would oblige. Then she came back and said she couldn’t, after all.
When asked why — apparently politely — things began to take a detour.
Said the onlooking passenger:
She came unglued. Voice raised, ‘Because the FAA won’t let us serve hot beverages on the ground. Are you going to have a problem with that?’ Politely he responded, ‘No, Are you having a good day?’ She responded with something along the lines of, ‘I have to get everyone boarded, and you aren’t my priority. You are holding up boarding. Do you think I’m being combative or simply trying to do my assigned job?’
I fear, should this story be accurately told, that many would think there’s a touch of combativeness going on here.
Next, it seems, the passenger kept trying to be conciliatory while the Flight Attendant reached a new altitude of anger.
Until, the onlooking passenger says, the Flight Attendant declared:
If you don’t settle down, I’ll have you taken care of. I’m going to speak to the captain now.
Ah, that sweet moment when a Flight Attendant becomes law enforcement.
Soon, the infamous line emerged:
Are you going to cause problems? if you are, I’ll have the captain come back and take care of you.
This would be care in the not-so-caring sense.
You’ll be stunned into choosing boats for your next vacation when I tell you that the onlooker’s wife tried to intervene.
It didn’t go well.
The captain arrived and asked for things to be “taken outside.” Which, at least in the bars I occasionally visit, means fisticuffs.
Ultimately, it seems that no one was removed from the flight, though the Flight Attendant kept her distance and even allegedly turned her name tag over, so that her name wouldn’t be noted.
When you’re working in customer service, some days can be hard. You’re simply not in the mood and you have to work. Personally, I find it hard to be pleasant on such days.
But when your job is in the public eye, when you’re supposed to be offering hospitality and when the issue is a mere Irish coffee, perhaps it’s best to walk away for a moment, take several breaths and realize that expressing your frustration isn’t likely to help.
Perhaps even get someone else to look after the customer, if you feel you might suffer an exploding gasket.
Of course, it could be that the passenger had a difficult look in his eye. So many minute things occur when humans try to communicate with each other.
The onlooker says he’s now filed a complaint with American Airlines.
I contacted American to ask for its view and will update, should I receive a reply.
In a recent regulatory filing, (amzn) Amazon added “transportation and logistics services” to the already long list of industries and services it views as competition. While Amazon relies on shipping partners, like USPS, UPS, and FedEx to help make deliveries, the disclosure signals that Amazon is getting serious about making its mark with its own delivery service.
“The worldwide marketplace in which we compete is evolving rapidly and intensely competitive, and we face a broad array of competitors from many different industry sectors around the world,” Amazon said in the annual filing.
Amazon’s shipping costs were $9 billion, according to its most recent earnings report. That’s a 23% increase from the previous quarter, but shows just how much customers value Amazon Prime’s free shipping options. Amazon has already taken some steps to build a delivery infrastructure to supplement its partners. The company leased a fleet of airplanes to carry cargo, has delivery vans, and has been piloting a “Shipping With Amazon” program, which entails drivers picking up packages from third party sellers and delivering them.
There has also long been speculation about whether Amazon, one of the world’s most valuable companies, might consider a surprise acquisition of a transportation and logistics competitor. UPS CEO David Abney said last month that while Amazon is a customer, he also sees the company as a competitor.
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has always been fascinated with finding ways to revolutionize delivery. He shared his vision for drone delivery in 2013. Bezos predicted it would be a reality by the end of 2018, however the program has hit regulatory snags in the United States. Amazon made its first commercial drone delivery in Cambridge, England in December 2016. They’re also deploying delivery robots. Last month, Amazon unveiled its new Scout delivery robot, which is making test deliveries in a neighborhood in Snohomish County, Wash.
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