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Castro’s ashes laid to rest in private

FIDEL Castro’s ashes have been interred in a private ceremony after Cuban officials made a last-minute cancellation to broadcast the events.
Posted: December 4, 2016, 2:28 pm

Trump blasts Baldwin’s latest dig

ALEC Baldwin has ridiculed Donald Trump’s Twitter use on Saturday Night Live, prompting the President-elect to slam him on Twitter.
Posted: December 4, 2016, 2:13 pm

After Pablo: Meet the new brand of scary drug lord

IT’S been 23 years, so who has claimed Pablo Escobar’s crown? This is who has taken over the notorious Colombian drug overlord’s trade.
Posted: December 4, 2016, 2:05 pm

Inside Mosul’s heart of darkness

EVERYTHING is black in the heart of darkness. Children’s skin, livestock and the claustrophobic sky all covered in soot from fires that keep burning.
Posted: December 4, 2016, 1:51 pm

‘Last throw of the dice’ for Maddie

POLICE get more money to probe a new lead in the Madeleine McCann case, but admit this is their last chance of finding her.
Posted: December 4, 2016, 1:45 pm

Mayor, journalists killed at restaurant

THREE women, including a Finnish politician and two journalists, have been shot dead by a sniper while they ate outside at a restaurant.
Posted: December 4, 2016, 1:32 pm

Rave organiser branded ‘insensitive’

THE man believed to have organised a warehouse party where a fire killed up to 40 people has been slammed online as insensitive.
Posted: December 4, 2016, 12:49 pm

‘Rave cave’ trapped revellers

A DENSE clutter of bric-a-brac along with a staircase made of timber packing pallets doomed up to 30 revellers at a California rave party.
Posted: December 4, 2016, 2:18 am

What it was like taking down Pablo

PABLO Escobar trafficked bulks of cocaine into the US and now the man who took him down reveals his biggest fear when hunting the drug kingpin.
Posted: December 4, 2016, 1:25 am

Killers who made bizarre court decision

KILLERS don’t think like the rest of us, but these men did something after the fact that betrays all traditional logic.
Posted: December 4, 2016, 12:09 am

French town told park's Virgin Mary statue must go

A French town is told to remove its park's Virgin Mary statue as it breaks national secularism rules.
Posted: December 3, 2016, 9:36 pm

Oakland fire: Dozens feared dead in club night blaze

Police say they are preparing for as many as 40 deaths after a fire breaks out at a rave in Oakland.
Posted: December 3, 2016, 9:02 pm

Sutter: Here's the good news about climate change

If you're concerned about climate change, you're likely in full panic mode right now.
Posted: December 3, 2016, 7:49 pm

Iraq disputes number killed in battle against ISIS

Iraq's military has disputed UN figures indicating that nearly 2,000 Iraqi troops were killed across the country in November, saying the number was "not accurate and much exaggerated."
Posted: December 3, 2016, 7:47 pm

Aleppo siege: Syria rebels lose 50% of territory

Syrian government troops control 50% of territory in east Aleppo, a military spokesman tells the BBC.
Posted: December 3, 2016, 6:59 pm

Chapecoense plane crash: Fans attend football team memorial

Tears and pain as the bodies of Brazil's plane crash victims arrive at Chapecoense stadium for a service.
Posted: December 3, 2016, 6:58 pm

Chapecoense plane crash: Fans unite for stadium memorial

Thousands attend a service in Brazil's Chapecoense stadium to honour players killed in a plane crash.
Posted: December 3, 2016, 6:34 pm

Bowe Bergdahl appeals to Obama for pardon

US soldier Bowe Bergdahl, who deserted his unit in Afghanistan, asks President Obama for a pardon.
Posted: December 3, 2016, 6:27 pm

China lodges complaint over Trump-Taiwan call

China's foreign ministry said Saturday it has lodged a complaint with the United States over a controversial phone call between President-elect Donald Trump and Taiwan's President that has overturned decades of diplomatic protocol.
Posted: December 3, 2016, 6:18 pm

Fidel Castro's ashes make their final journey across Cuba

Cubans have been lining the streets from Havana to Santiago as Castro's ashes make their final journey.
Posted: December 3, 2016, 4:10 pm

Brexit leader: I'll do 'whatever I can' to make US, UK closer

One of the most prominent supporters of the Brexit movement Nigel Farage said Saturday he wants to use his close connection to President-elect Donald Trump to improve the relationship between the United State and the United Kingdom.
Posted: December 3, 2016, 3:52 pm

Report: Gaps between disabled and general population expanding in Israel - Jerusalem Post Israel News

Jerusalem Post Israel News

Report: Gaps between disabled and general population expanding in Israel
Jerusalem Post Israel News
A study ranks Israel's cities in terms of their accessibility and care for disabled residents and visitors. Nazareth . (photo credit:Wikimedia Commons). Share on Facebook Share on Twitter. There was a decline in the rate of employment among the ...
Celebrating International Day of Persons with DisabilitiesThe White House (blog)
Statement by Minister Qualtrough on International Day of Persons with DisabilitiesEdmonton Journal
The future is accessible: The International Day of Persons with DisabilitiesThe Globe and Mail
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Posted: December 3, 2016, 3:34 pm

Russia sees Trump as conduit for eased sanctions - CTV News

CTV News

Russia sees Trump as conduit for eased sanctions
CTV News
WASHINGTON -- Russia's government denies that it tampered in the U.S. election or even took sides. But now that the results are in, members of President Vladimir Putin's United Russia party aren't holding back. "It turns out that United Russia won the ...
Another View: Russia's meddling goes deeper than hackingPress Herald
Russia's Putin warns artists against offending believersNew Jersey Herald
'Fixers-in-chief': Trump and PutinCharleston Post Courier
Daily Astorian -The Independent -Sputnik International -Big News
all 32 news articles »
Posted: December 3, 2016, 3:21 pm

MH370 relatives campaigning for answers on missing flight

Relatives of those who died on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 travel to Madagascar to lobby for the search for debris to be expanded.
Posted: December 3, 2016, 3:16 pm

Thai activist arrested for sharing king's profile on Facebook

A Thai activist is arrested under a royal defamation law for sharing a profile of the new king.
Posted: December 3, 2016, 3:14 pm

Can Trump send American citizens to Guantanamo Bay?

If President-elect Donald Trump decides to make good on his campaign pledge to "load up" the prison camp in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, with new domestic terror suspects caught in the US -- including American citizens -- legal experts say he is asking for an unprecedented constitutional showdown.
Posted: December 3, 2016, 3:01 pm

Show of force

Concern is growing over the rising power of Iraqi Shia militias in the battle for Mosul, Orla Guerin says.
Posted: December 3, 2016, 2:32 pm

Fidel Castro clung to socialism, mentored new leftists - Business Mirror

Business Mirror

Fidel Castro clung to socialism, mentored new leftists
Business Mirror
In Photo: People sit outside a restaurant as they wait for the motorcade transporting the remains of Cuban leader Fidel Castro in Havana, Cuba, early Wednesday morning. Castro's ashes have begun a four-day journey across Cuba from Havana to their final ...
Fidel and ReligionDissident Voice
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Hurriyet Daily News -Bismarck Tribune
all 66 news articles »
Posted: December 3, 2016, 2:30 pm

Instagram's biggest moments of 2016

A Pope and a pop star ruled Instagram this year, but they weren't the only popular figures on the social media platform. Olympic icons, caffeinated hashtags, an Oscar-winning actor and smiley-face emojis also were crowd-pleasers. Here's what else we learned cruising through Instagram's 2016 list of the most popular hashtags, emojis, celebrities and moments:
Posted: December 3, 2016, 2:15 pm

Trump-Taiwan call: China lodges protest

China lodges a protest with the US over Donald Trump's phone call with the Taiwanese president.
Posted: December 3, 2016, 2:08 pm

Football Leaks: Ronaldo and Mourinho accused of tax avoidance

Cristiano Ronaldo and Jose Mourinho were part of a tax-avoidance scheme, a huge document leak alleges.
Posted: December 3, 2016, 2:01 pm

Trump breaks forty-year policy, speaks with Taiwan president - The Globe and Mail

The Globe and Mail

Trump breaks forty-year policy, speaks with Taiwan president
The Globe and Mail
First, the experts expect, China will try to persuade Donald Trump to stand down on Taiwan. It will marshal American business leaders to its side. Then it will threaten. And if that fails, it will sweep into action, pulling its ambassador from the U.S ...
Taiwan Call Gives China a Clue on What to Expect From Donald TrumpNew York Times
Trump speaks directly with Taiwan's leader, irking China680 News
China Protests Taiwan President's 'Petty' Call to Donald TrumpNewsweek
USA TODAY -Daily Mail -Slate Magazine (blog) -Bloomberg
all 465 news articles »
Posted: December 3, 2016, 1:12 pm

Austria: Presidential rerun could see far-right nationalist win

Austrians go to the polls Sunday to pick a president, with a choice between left-wing Alexander Van der Bellen and anti-immigration candidate Norbert Hofer of the far-right Freedom Party.
Posted: December 3, 2016, 1:07 pm

Young ISIS recruit: I was blinded by love

His friends know him as "Mo." And he is the most unlikely ISIS recruit you will ever meet.
Posted: December 3, 2016, 12:29 pm

Inside the mind of 'Mad Dog' Mattis

In picking General Jim Mattis, President-elect Donald Trump said Thursday night that he has found his "General George Patton." Yet that label may not really capture what makes Mattis a distinctive choice. Mattis has been sharply critical of President Barack Obama's policies on Iran, and Obama's capping of troop numbers and campaign end-dates in theaters of war such as Afghanistan and Iraq. Mattis also appears to be a skeptic of the Obama-era policy of putting women into combat roles.
Posted: December 3, 2016, 12:15 pm

China mine explosion: 17 reportedly killed

Seventeen people were killed and others were trapped in an explosion at a mine in northern China's Inner Mongolia autonomous region Saturday, the Chinese state-run news agency Xinhua reported, citing local authorities.
Posted: December 3, 2016, 12:03 pm

Why Trump's defence secretary pick should 'scare the daylights' out of the US's enemies -

Why Trump's defence secretary pick should 'scare the daylights' out of the US's enemies
Donald Trump's pick for defence secretary is a hard-charging former marine general nicknamed Mad Dog who, despite his rank, regularly rode convoys into combat during the Iraq invasion. James Mattis, former commander of U.S. Central Command, also has ...
Meet the 'Mad Dog' Donald Trump wants to lead the PentagonCNN International
This may have been legendary Marine Corps General Mattis' one mistake in battleYahoo News
Trump's choice to lead the Pentagon, retired Gen. James Mattis, is illegalToronto Star
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all 979 news articles »
Posted: December 3, 2016, 11:51 am

Why is there an International Day of Persons with Disabilities?

Broadcaster Mik Scarlet gives a potted history of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities.
Posted: December 3, 2016, 10:30 am

MH370 relatives go to Madagascar in search of debris

Relatives of those who died on flight MH370 travel to Madagascar, seeking a wider search for debris.
Posted: December 3, 2016, 9:54 am

Blame Castro for Cuba's poverty, but the US blockade didn't help either - Business Insider

Business Insider

Blame Castro for Cuba's poverty, but the US blockade didn't help either
Business Insider
Alongside his depiction as a “brutal dictator”, negative reflections on Fidel Castro since his death on November 25 have focused on his “mismanagement” of the Cuban economy and the consequent “extremes of poverty” suffered by ordinary Cubans.
NYT Now|'I'm Not Celebrating the Death of a Human Being'New York Times
How should we memorialize Castro? By freeing Cuba.Washington Post
Fidel Castro Spread Death and BrutalityNewsmax

all 615 news articles »
Posted: December 3, 2016, 7:58 am

Chapecoense's fallen heroes return home to Brazil

The tragic fairy tale came to an end Friday, as members of the Cinderella soccer team killed in the crash of LaMia Flight 2933 returned home to Brazil.
Posted: December 3, 2016, 5:36 am

US must not overlook North Korea threat

North Korea's 32-year-old leader is often mocked online, on TV shows and in movies, but it is believed Kim Jong Un could have 50 to 100 nuclear weapons by 2020 -- a reality that should give a chill to anyone tempted to dismiss Kim as anything less than serious. Recognizing the threat, this week the UN Security Council voted unanimously to introduce new sanctions, stating that North Korea should abandon its nuclear weapons program.
Posted: December 3, 2016, 4:09 am

The tech enabling a man with quadriplegia to drive

The semi-autonomous Corvette has been modified to enable Sam Schmidt to drive on public roads.
Posted: December 3, 2016, 3:03 am

Austrian election in 60 seconds

Bethany Bell explains why Austria is facing a Christmas presidential election - its second of the year.
Posted: December 3, 2016, 2:23 am

China hopes Trump call with Taiwan leader won't damage ties


China's foreign minister said Saturday he hopes Beijing's relations with the U.S. would not be "interfered with or damaged" after president-elect Donald Trump broke with decades-long diplomatic tradition and spoke directly with Taiwan's leader.

Posted: December 3, 2016, 2:17 am

21 Chinese miners die after 4 days trapped


China's state-run Xinhua News Agency says 21 miners who were trapped for four days after an explosion have been confirmed dead. One is missing.

Posted: December 3, 2016, 2:17 am

Too close to call

Two candidates in Austria's presidential election held their final campaign events before the vote.
Posted: December 3, 2016, 1:36 am

Pirates arrrrrrrre going to reshape Iceland

Oh, not those kinds of pirates. Darn it.
Posted: December 3, 2016, 1:34 am

Experts: U.S. should train 100,000 hackers

Posted: December 3, 2016, 1:07 am

Palace in ruins

The palace of a Ugandan king and he has been charged with murder - why?
Posted: December 3, 2016, 1:05 am

Driver-less trucks will be trialed in the UK as platooning

Driver-less trucks will be trialed in the UK as platooning

Driver-less trucks will be trialed in the UK as platooning

The government is expected to confirm that so called, ‘driverless’ trucks will be trialed in the UK.  Generally met with shock and condemnation, what is actually being proposed?

The correct term for the proposed system to be trialled is not ‘driverless trucks’, but ‘platooning’. This is where a series of vehicles use technology to enable drivers to move more closely to each other in convoy than would be safe if he or she were not using them. The UK government has agreed to a limited trial of platooning on a stretch of the M6 in Cumbria, a portion of UK motorway that is relatively quiet with larger sections between junctions.

There is clearly plenty of concern from road safety campaigners and industry bodies concerned for the long term future of lorry driver jobs.

The RAC’s chief engineer, David Bizley said, “One of the main questions is really whether lorry platoons are appropriate for our motorway network, which is why the choice of the M6 in Cumbria for the trials is a good one because the junctions are few and far between and the traffic density is low compared with most stretches of motorway. So while this is a potentially welcome extension to the driverless technology we are seeing trialled in cars, it’s not clear yet whether it is something that would work in practice on the UK’s motorway network.”


Platooning is nothing new – research into these systems started back in 2009 with EU funding – with the SARTRE (Safe Road Trains for the Environment) project. The project tested combinations of cars, coaches and trucks and resulted in some significant fuel savings across the board between ten and twenty percent.

The first public road test took place back in 2012 in Spain involving three cars and a truck with a gap of 18 feet between each vehicle at a speed of 85 km/h, covering some 200 kilometres.

Since this time, platooning has been trialled in Sweden, Germany and in the United States. Road Haulage Association chief executive Richard Burnett commented: “At the outset, it is important to note that these trucks will not be ‘driverless’. Each cab will be manned. As far as we are concerned, this is an issue where the devil lies in the detail.”

Fuel Saving not Driver Saving

There has been plenty of scaremongering in the press that this will be the end of the long-distance lorry driver as we know it.   The platooning system very much needs the driver to be in control, he needs to be able to join and exit the system to continue the journey and deliver the load.  Platooning saves Fuel

The most likely outcome of the test is a significant improvement in fuel consumption or not only vehicles following in the platoon, but also of the lead vehicle.  Additionally, traffic flow should be smoother when sufficient numbers of vehicles are included.

Tests by Scania have shown that convoy driving using truck “platoons” can reduce fuel consumption by up to 12%.  This could mean a fuel saving per vehicle of some 4,000 litres annually.  This would be able to power a typical family car some 35,000 miles.

“On the test track we’ve driven with a distance of about 10 metres between the vehicles, and we were able to achieve a 12% fuel saving for the trailing vehicle,” says Magnus Adolfson, Scania’s Manager for Intelligent Transport Systems. “If you want to get as close as a couple of metres, then you need several automatic systems that also take control of the steering from the driver during the time that the vehicle is in the truck platoon. That’s also something we’re focusing our research on.”

How Does it Work?

The platooning system uses a combination of existing technologies that have been tweaked to make the system as safe and effective as possible.

Sophisticated Cruise Control

Effectively, the system uses an improved ‘advanced adaptive cruise control’ (ACC), a system that we have enjoyed using on cars for many years now.  Rather than setting a desired speed, the driver selects a desired distance from the vehicle in front which is maintained through the use of radar and cameras.

Driver Aids – Autonomous Braking

Legislation that came into force as recently as November 2015 compels all new trucks over 8 tonnes GVW to be fitted with ‘Autonomous Emergency Braking’ systems – AEB for short.  This means that the driver is taken out of the equation if an accident is likely.

These systems have been fitted to trucks (as an option) for a number of years.  They have clearly proven themselves so effective in stopping the vehicle that they have made their way into legislation.

So we have been able to automatically keep our distance from the moving truck in front and automatically come to an emergency stop for some years.  So what’s new?

Steering by Wire

Volvo Truck (well) controlled by a small hamster

Truck steering systems have become more sophisticated with steering columns becoming a thing of the past with ‘drive by wire’ control. These systems have been wonderfully demonstrated by Volvo Trucks in a series of YouTube videos – one involving a hamster steering a truck by running around a wheel attached to the steering wheel and the second showing a small girl controlling a 32 tonne truck using a remote controller.

Volvo (badly) controlled remotely by 4-year old

Technology that steers trucks using electrical inputs is therefore mainstream and used on our roads every day.

Making it Work

Even if platooning can be made to work technically – safely and reliably – it is of no use unless a system is developed to ‘book a vehicle’ into the convoy.  Simply stumbling across a platoon and tagging along cannot be an option. RHA’s Richard Burnett agrees, “In addition to the concerns of the motorist, is platooning practical for the haulier? Does it make operational sense?” The truck makers are already looking at this. To develop a system to coordinate platoons, Sweden’s Scania is focusing on its COMPANION joint research project with KTH Royal Institute of Technology. The next stage of development involves coordinating truck convoys, thereby making the whole logistics system more efficient. Scania’s researchers are designing a system that allows transport managers to input the routes their vehicles will take, with the system then finding joint routes with other operators who can ‘platoon up’.

An additional issue is related to the length of these platoons and how it might affect other road users.  The maximum length of a tractor unit and trailer combination is currently 16.5 metres in the UK.  Add an extra ten metre gap between a platoon of ten vehicles and you get something that is more than a quarter of a kilometre long.  Would the average UK motorist be able to contend with this moving obstruction when turning off a motorway junction? We have all seen most drivers leaving it to the last minute to turn off after accelerating past slower traffic.  This may therefore lead to platooning in the centre lane or lane three.  Not a popular alternative with car drivers.

UK Leading The Way?

The Department for Transport claims that it would like the UK to ‘lead the way’ in testing platoons.  It is difficult to see this happening when all the manufacturers are based in Sweden, (Volvo, Scania), Germany, (Daimler, MAN), Italy, (Iveco) and France (Renault). However, eight new projects have recently been awarded £20 million in funding from the UK Government to research and develop enhanced communication between vehicles and roadside infrastructure or urban information systems, including new ‘talking car technologies’. Some of this has been awarded to a consortium looking at tyre pressures and safety concerns – an area ignored in the projects to date.

Is the UK a suitable test bed? Our road network is amongst the world’s most congested with the greatest number of junctions.  It is more likely that the UK would be used in the final instance as a ‘stress test’ rather than involved in the fundamental testing process.  It is unlikely that the R&D departments will be upping sticks from Sweden and Germany to spend time in Cumbria.


The UK has the reputation in Europe for being ‘Tail-End Charlie’ in accepting and promoting environmental improvements in commercial vehicle technology.  Germany and others were offering significant financial incentives for truck operators to become early adopters of Euro 6 technologies (and the emissions standards that came before them), whilst the UK government offered a few hundred pounds incentive to invest in new technology, the cost of which ran into the tens of thousands.

Consider also, the levels of support from the relevant governments.  Historically, the UK government has been less than supportive of the UK road haulage industry and we see no reason why this approach should suddenly change.  The level of support from the Netherlands is already far greater than the UK – they have also authorised the testing of platooning on their roads and are actively promoting the system with impressive glossy brochures.

During its Presidency of the European Union in 2016, the Netherlands will put together a European Truck Platooning Challenge. This will involve various brands of automated trucks driving in platoons. The Dutch Minister of Infrastructure and the Environment, Mrs. drs. M.H. Schultz van Haegen said, “The Netherlands now offers an international testing ground for innovative mobility. Applications for cars and trucks will be warmly welcomed.”

Time will tell if the UK truly gets behind this initiative or is simply paying lip service to a high-tech scheme that is bound to grab headlines.

What Next?

Daimler already have a truck that can actually drive itself.  Sven Ennerst, Head of Truck Product Engineering at Daimler is the man behind the Future Truck 2025 Mercedes-Benz program which takes platooning one step further.


In May last year, their Highway Pilot autonomous truck control system won approval for trials on public highways in a (Daimler) Freightliner truck in the US state of Nevada. Then in October 2015, the German state of Baden-Wurttemberg approved trials of Mercedes-Benz trucks with the Highway Pilot system on its autobahns.

Ennerst says, “We expect a change in the organisation of the freight forwarding industry. The driver will take over many of the traffic planner’s functions. He will become more of a transport manager than a driver, from our point of view.” “One thing is for sure – the Highway Pilot system is steering the vehicle by itself. It builds a picture around the truck, looking up to 250 metres ahead, so basically it can react and drive by itself.”

Ennerst is equally concerned about the fuel efficiency of the trucks, “We are fighting like hell for every tenth of one per cent in truck efficiency gains at present,” he says. “We expect a fuel economy improvement of up to five per cent with trucks like this, as a result of less acceleration and braking and less waiting in traffic.”

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