Imagine finding, at one table, the worst killer crooks you ever heard of: Jack the Ripper, Al Capone, Bonnie and Clyde, the Serial Killer, maybe the pirate Blackbeard, surely a cold-blooded terrorist or two. The very worst! No matter what bootleg Scotch, yo-ho-ho rum or speakeasy gin they’d offer, the Normal Citizen would want to get out — fast!Lower the curtain, change the scene. The atmosphere in the government building in Berlin on Aug. 2 is fully different, not a bit of similarity. Those present, most in tailored apparel, sit in soft leather chairs and sip aromatic drinks from fine glassware. Who are they? Germany’s power people!Their subject matter, not nearly so pleasant as the furnishings, was set in motion by Volkswagen, or rather the innards of its diesel-driven vehicles. It was vital enough; not only is VW the world’s biggest auto producer, this industry is most powerful in a country whose economic success depends on its reputation: strong, efficient German products, always safe and respectable! Like the furnishings and those meeting in this safe and respectable meeting room.What had occurred? As the Financial Times of London reported: “Up to 11 million vehicles worldwide were fitted with the ‘defeat devices’ to reduce nitrogen oxide emissions — only when they were tested.” (Jan. 11) It has since turned out that VW was not alone in this planful cheating. So were its rivals, Daimler-Benz, which produces Mercedes, and BMW as well as some suppliers.But who can distrust such illustrious names? How many dreams they recall, fulfilled or unfulfilled! Happily mated since 1926, Daimler and Benz have always appealed to aristocratic tastes with their beautiful Mercedes. Other wealthy customers preferred distinctive BMW cars. In terms of quantity, Volkswagen autos sold best but, depending on the size of wallets or portfolios, many turned to other brands in the Volkswagen stable — the elegant Porsche, long connected by marriage and money, or to Audi, SEAT, Škoda, Bentley, Bugatti, Lamborghini or Ducati, all acquired branches of the VW empire.Only a few like me, blessed with long lives but burdened with long memories, have few gleaming dreams but rather bitter recollections on hearing those names. I know, for example, about the major owners of BMW, the Quandt family. Like daughter Susanne Klatten with a fortune of $22.5 billion — the richest person in Germany and probably, after Angela Merkel, the most influential. Her younger brother Stephan Quandt has only about $20 billion. Father Quandt, a major sponsor of the Nazi movement, provided the Wehrmacht with a substantial share of its weapons, making his fortune with thousands of concentration camp slaves, many so starved they ate material used to fill the batteries for military vehicles.Klatten herself is guilty of no such crimes, and can probably drive a car and a very good bargain but not a lathe or machine drill. But her pressure against cuts in air poisoning has been considerable, and so have been her company’s contributions to political parties deciding on such issues.Daimler-Benz owner backed Hitler, used slave laborNor can I forget that during the Nazi era Daimler-Benz was owned by Friedrich Flick, a major financial backer of Hitler and a major profiteer of his war, when 40,000 to 60,000 hungry slave laborers contributed to his immense wealth, over 10,000 with their lives. Mildly sentenced after 1945 but pardoned in 1950, he became the richest, most powerful industrialist of them all.His son and heir was not known for any better morals; in the giant “Flick Affair” in 1983 it was found that the family had cheated the nation of almost a billion in taxes and bribed every key minister or politician to cover it up. Daimler-Benz, always close to the top, indicated its moral improvement by defying the United Nations boycott and selling military vehicles to the apartheid government in South Africa.Volkswagen was born with a scandal. Founded by Hitler to provide German workers with a car — the “beetle” — it collected their money every month in advance but then switched to weapons-making before it had delivered one of them. Only after 16 years of post-war litigation did the cheated — and surviving — workers get a small rebate for the lost money. VW also made a giant fortune by using 40,000 war prisoners, kidnapped workers from conquered areas and concentration camp prisoners.But those crimes all belong to the past; their perpetrators are long gone, replaced by new men.‘New’ owners poison the airAnd their morals? Month for month more facts came out: VW was forced to retreat step for step, already agreeing to pay huge damages in the USA for its trick use of equipment which showed the permissible and advertised level of emissions during inspection, but switched to high-gear air poisoning as soon as it rolled away. Then it was discovered that this was the practice in nearly all diesel-fueled vehicles in Europe, not only VW and Porsche but their competitors, Daimler-Benz and BMW, in the same way. And then it was found that they were all in it together, not only with nitrogen oxides but in general planning and pricing, agreed upon in strictly forbidden cartel meetings and agreements — known familiarly as cahoots!Things still moved slowly. Then a lower court judge in Stuttgart ruled that Diesel vehicles which did not conform with legal emission limits could be barred from inner cities; health came first. This was earnest; if Stuttgart could do it, might not Munich, Hamburg or Berlin? Who would then buy banned vehicles?Something had to be done, so the “Diesel Forum” was called, with the transportation minister, the environment minister, the big corporation companies involved, the heads of some German states, a few organizational representatives — but none of those hit by asthma, cancer or other victims.But this was at best a sticky field. How tough could they get? The minister president of Bavaria, a major player in the Christian party union with Angela Merkel, is hardly unaware of the huge BMW corporation in his state. The head of Baden-Wurttemberg is a Green — the only Green Party member in such a job — and his party should be especially alarmed about emissions. But his presidential palace is within yodeling distance of the main factories of both Daimler-Benz (with Mercedes) and Porsche, the main props of his economy — and he conspicuously uses a state-owned Mercedes!As for VW itself, 20 percent of it is owned by the state of Lower Saxony, whose government has thus far been in the hands of the Social Democrats — with a few Greens. How stern can they all get? Elections, due in eight weeks, are always expensive!Protest at ‘Fort NOx’For the corporations, the environment minister can be a bit difficult, but not the more important transportation minister, Alexander Dobrindt. A far-right politician from Bavaria, Dobrindt has made a name for himself in three matters; his sharp opposition to same-sex marriage, even sharper opposition to the LINKE (Left) Party, which he thinks must be carefully watched, or better yet, forbidden, and his listing by Greenpeace as one of 33 auto industry lobbyists. A few years ago he held his protective hand over corporations that produce illegal carbon dioxide emissions; now it’s nitrogen oxide from diesels.At issue at the forum was how best to lower the poisonous emissions. Making necessary changes to about 5 million vehicles’ hardware would be extremely expensive, up to 1,500 euro ($1,766) apiece, a heavy charge. Changing only the software at 100 euros ($118) per vehicle would be far, far preferable! It would not nearly bring poison levels down to safe levels, but would cut less of the 10 million euro and more annual incomes of the carmakers — a small price for years of purposely, secretly deceiving testers, purchasers, laws, society and above all human beings, especially children, who as a result die earlier, not by walking the plank or falling in a hail of bullets, but in debilitating illness and earlier death.Some people protested, lowering a big banner from the roof of the Transportation Ministry, with a pun on the nitrogen oxide formula (NO), calling it “Fort NOx.” The unamused response was to move the forum to the less accessible Interior Ministry. Need one inquire which decision was reached? After all, money doesn’t grow on trees — nor much else either if such people continue to have their way. The obvious escape was labeled “a compromise”!Was my opening comparison with notorious bad-man killers too harsh? Perhaps. After all, as Shakespeare’s Mark Antony once said about the killers of Julius Caesar: “So are they all, all honorable men!”The author, who left the U.S. Armed Forces during the war in Korea and fled to the German Democratic Republic, still lives in Berlin where he publishes the Berlin Bulletin. This is Berlin Bulletin No. 131, Aug. 4. Workers World publishes it with his permission.FacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thisFacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare this
Office space can influence productivityOn 4 May 2004 in Personnel Today Related posts:No related photos. Few people appreciate the importance of office space in improvingproductivity. But in a time of rapid organisational and technological change,HR’s potential to influence workspace design gives it a great opportunity toparticipate in business strategy. Frank Duffy, co-founder of international design consultancy DEGW, said HRhad the chance to work with IT, finance and corporate real estate to raiseproductivity through bricks and mortar. “The office says more about how you feel about your employees thananything else. This offers HR access to corporate strategy because it wouldhave to do it in corporation with others, specifically IT,” Duffy said. To make effective changes to office space, HR must communicate acrossdepartments to begin measuring efficiency, effectiveness and expression – themessages you wish to convey to through your office, he said. Previous Article Next Article Comments are closed.
Click HERE if you’re unable to view the gallery on your mobile device. Join us for live news and analysis Sunday at 5:30 p.m. as the Warriors look to avenge a loss to the Clippers during a rematch at Oracle Arena.The Warriors (22-11) and the Clippers (19-13) will both be playing the second halves of back-to-backs when the Pacific Division rivals square off for the first time since L.A. scored a 121-116 overtime victory over Golden State on Nov. 12.Kevin Durant scored 29 points and …
SAN JOSE — Sharks forward Evander Kane and most of his teammates are fully aware of where they sit in the NHL and Pacific Division standings as they get set to begin the unofficial second half of the season Saturday night against the Arizona Coyotes.Defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic, though, said he hasn’t kept as close an eye.“I did not know we were six points out of first place,” Vlasic said Thursday. “So we have plenty of time to catch whoever is in front of us.”For complete Sharks coveragef …
19 June 2012 South African Trade and Industry Deputy Minister Elizabeth Thabethe arrived in the Democratic Republic of the Congo town of Lubumbashi on Tuesday for the second leg of an Investment and Trade Initiative (ITI) that began in Kinshasa last week. The ITI is part of the Department of Trade and Industry’s export and investment promotion strategy, that focuses on targeted high-growth markets, with the objective of creating investment and export opportunities for South African companies and promoting South Africa as a trade and investment destination. “We are looking forward to fruitful engagements between the Congolese and the South African government and business leaders during the three days of our stay in Lubumbashi,” said Thabethe, who is accompanied by more than 60 South African businesspeople on the two-legged visit. Thabethe said the first leg of the visit was a great success. “The huge number of businesspeople who attended the seminar and exhibition last Thursday showed there is a greater hunger and enthusiasm from the Congolese businesspeople to do business with South Africa.” Thabethe hoped that business people in Lubumbashi, which has been described as the commercial capital of the DRC, would come in their numbers to discuss possible deals and joint ventures with their South African counterparts. Thabethe was due to deliver a keynote address at a business seminar hosted by the department at the Grand Karavia Hotel on Tuesday, before opening an exhibition of South African products and services. The exhibition was due to be followed by business-to-business meetings. On Wednesday, Thabethe is expected to address a gala dinner where top South African artists, Kwela Tebza and Ringo, will entertain guests, before returning home on Thursday. Source: BuaNews
2 February 2015Promising young girl coders from Khayelitsha met the Twitter vice-president for engineering, Nandini Ramani, to discuss how to pitch a business idea and how to use social media to grow their success.Ramani was among a group of 40 of the top women in technology from around the world at the gathering, which took place on 29 January at the Bandwidth Barn. The women, from TechWomen, are in South Africa to meet the country’s leaders in information and communications technology and discuss women’s roles in the sector.TechWomen is a mentorship programme that supports female leaders in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (Stem). “The idea is to bridge connections and encourage women and girls to pursue careers in Stem,” said TechWomen representative Kelsi Ward.About 60 girls and women joined the meeting, where the TechWomen shared their experiences of working in some of the biggest and most innovative companies in the world.The young coders were from GirlHype, an organisation that aims to empower young women and girls with digital and media education skills. The Bandwidth Barn tests incubation models that work best in a community environment and that support the local community’s needs.The visitors included professionals from Symantec, Juniper Networks and Twitter.Ramani spoke about programming and opportunities for women in technology. “I’m here to learn and share some of my own experiences,” she said. “I grew up in India where there are a lot of obstacles for women and I still persevered. I fully believe technology is as important as good clean water and housing.”The visitors showed the girls how to put together a motherboard. They also discussed programming languages and how to turn technology into a business.Successful TechWomen outreach programmes also took place in Johannesburg and Pretoria, and the women met a team from Silicon Cape. “Cape Town is similar to Silicon Valley with the amount of start-ups it has,” said TechWomen mentor Diane Manning.TechWomen, a US initiative launched by former secretary of state Hillary Clinton in 2011, empowers, connects, and supports the next generation of female leaders in Stem from Africa, Central Asia, and the Middle East. It provides them with the access and opportunity they need to advance their careers, pursue their dreams, and inspire women and girls in their communities.It works through mentorship and exchange and exposes girls to female role models in Stem. Stem skills, the group says, are widely needed across a variety of trade and professional occupations. “Students who choose a Stem-related major can expect to enter a market where the number of jobs is projected to grow twice as fast as jobs in other fields over the next five years, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.”In addition, women in Stem jobs earn 33% more than those in non-Stem occupations and experience a smaller wage gap relative to men. Stem careers also offer women the opportunity to engage in some of the most exciting realms of discovery and technological innovation. Increasing opportunities for women in these fields is an important step towards realising greater economic success and equality for women across the board.SAinfo reporter
Peyton Manning’s Denver Broncos and Richard Sherman’s Seattle Seahawks were the NFL’s best all season, so it’s fitting that they’ll meet in the Super Bowl.Nobody scored as many points or gained as many yards as the Broncos.Nobody allowed as few points or gave up as few yards as the Seahawks.And nobody won as many games as those clubs, either.What a way to finish the season. When the AFC champion Broncos (15-3) play the NFC champion Seahawks (15-3) on Feb. 2 at what could be a chilly MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., it will be the first Super Bowl since 1991 pitting the league’s highest-scoring team in the regular season against the team that was scored on the least, according to STATS.It’s also only the second time in the last 20 Super Bowls that the No. 1 seed in each conference reached theNFL championship game.“It will be a great matchup,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. “I think it’s an extraordinary opportunity to go against a guy that set all the records in the history of the game.”That, of course, would be Manning, the 37-year-old quarterback who is the only four-time NFL MVP — and no one would be surprised if No. 5 arrives the night before the Super Bowl. He established marks by throwing for 55 touchdowns and 5,477 yards, helping Denver lead the league with 37.9 points and 457.3 yards per game.Manning is an inescapable pitchman, too, seen Sunday after Sunday during TV commercials. Hey, there he was selling cars during breaks in the broadcast of the NFC title game. Expect even more face time now.Manning’s oft-told tale, certain to be repeated a million times in the coming days, includes his comeback from a series of surgical procedures to his neck, attempts to cure problems that led him to sit out the entire 2011 season. That also led the Indianapolis Colts to send him packing despite two Super Bowl appearances with that club, including a title in 2007.“It’s certainly well-documented what my journey the past 2½ years has been,” said Manning, who could become the first starting QB to lead two franchises to titles, “but this team’s overcome a lot of obstacles this year.”None more serious, perhaps, than coach John Fox’s absence for about a month because of a heart operation. Other issues included the fax faux pas that precipitated the departure of pass rusher Elvis Dumervil, star linebacker Von Miller’s drug-testing suspension and season-ending knee injury, and the losses of a handful of other starters on defense.“Being in my 16th season, going to my third Super Bowl — I know how hard it is to get there,” Manning said.He threw for 400 yards and two touchdowns in a 26-16 victory over Tom Brady and the New England Patriots in the AFC championship game. Manning’s offense scored on six consecutive possessions, accounted for more than 500 yards, had zero turnovers and zero sacks.Ol’ No. 18’s opposite number in two weeks, Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson, provides a real contrast as he seeks his — and the Seahawks’ — first Super Bowl trophy.Wilson is six inches shorter, 12 years younger, a skilled scrambler in only his second pro season after slipping to the third round of the draft; he’s a guy who had to transfer colleges to get playing time and thought about pursuing a baseball career instead.“Any time you get to the Super Bowl,” Wilson said after Seattle beat the San Francisco 49ers 23-17, “it’s a special time.”Other members of the Seahawks getting the chance to introduce themselves to a wide audience include rugged running back Marshawn Lynch — fans tossed packs of his favorite candy, Skittles, onto the field after a 40-yard TD run in the third quarter — and Carroll, a rah-rah sort who was a title-winning college coach at Southern California.And maybe, just maybe, some of Manning’s less-heralded defensive teammates — the ones who clamped down on New England’s running game and limited Brady much of the afternoon — will get their chance to shine, too.Seattle’s defense, led by Sherman, allowed an average of 14.4 points and 273.6 yards, and topped the NFL in takeaways.The Seahawks forced three turnovers in the fourth quarter alone, including a victory-sealing interception by Malcolm Smith after Sherman stretched his left hand to tip Colin Kaepernick’s pass away from receiver Michael Crabtree in the end zone.“I’m the best corner in the game,” said Sherman, an All-Pro. “When you try me with a sorry receiver like Crabtree, that’s the result you’re going to get.”Seattle’s only other trip to the big game ended with a loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2006. Denver will be playing in its seventh Super Bowl and eying a third title, to go with those from 1998 and 1999, when current executive John Elway was the QB.In addition to Elway, Manning can match his younger brother Eli with a second Super Bowl crown. Eli, a spectator in Denver, won two trophies with the New York Giants, whose stadium hosts this year’s Super Bowl, the first to be played outdoors at a cold-weather site.(Howard Fendrich, AP Pro Football Writer)TweetPinShare0 Shares