World News

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World News

How Americans responded to Nigel Farage

Outgoing UKIP leader Nigel Farage addressed supporters of US presidential candidate Donald Trump at a campaign rally in Mississippi.
Posted: August 25, 2016, 6:03 am

Italy earthquake: Death toll reaches 247 amid rescue efforts

The death toll in the Italian earthquake rises to 247 as rescuers continue efforts to find survivors in the rubble of Amatrice and nearby small towns.
Posted: August 25, 2016, 5:59 am

Pokemon Go-playing driver kills woman in Japan

A driver playing Pokemon Go while behind the wheel in Japan is arrested after hitting two women, killing one of them, say police.
Posted: August 25, 2016, 5:24 am

Ghostbusters star target of cyber-attack

Intimate images of Ghostbusters star Leslie Jones and racist photos appear on her website after it was targeted in a cyber-attack.
Posted: August 25, 2016, 5:13 am

Mexico's drug cartels after El Chapo

As Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman awaits extradition to the United States, he leaves behind what appears to be a new landscape for Mexico's drug cartels.
Posted: August 25, 2016, 4:43 am

Dozens dead in Italy; rescuers in a race against time

In the Italian village of Saletta, a tiny settlement of about 20 people, residents used their bare hands to ferret through the rubble of a two-story home in a desperate search for neighbors.
Posted: August 25, 2016, 4:34 am

Self-driving taxi trial kicks off in Singapore

As the industry races to make driverless cars viable, a small fleet of computer-driven taxis are taking passengers in Singapore.
Posted: August 25, 2016, 4:33 am

Maldives president faces 'removal plot', BBC learns

The president of the Maldives, Abdulla Yameen, faces an impending challenge to his increasingly shaky rule in the island nation, sources tell the BBC.
Posted: August 25, 2016, 4:32 am

India aims to ban $1bn surrogacy industry

The Indian government unveils a draft law which would ban commercial surrogacy, in an attempt to regulate the industry.
Posted: August 25, 2016, 4:15 am

University blast injures 21 students

At least five people were taken to Emergency Hospital in Kabul, Afghanistan, after an attack Wednesday night on the American University campus there, the hospital said in a tweet.
Posted: August 25, 2016, 3:21 am

Colombia and Farc rebels sign historic peace agreement

Colombia's government and the Farc rebel group sign a historic peace agreement after nearly four years of negotiations.
Posted: August 25, 2016, 3:19 am

Kabul raid: Seven students among 13 dead in university attack

Thirteen people including seven students died in an attack by gunmen on the American University in the Afghan capital Kabul, police say.
Posted: August 25, 2016, 3:05 am

Islamic State group recruiter Hamdi Alqudsi 'loves Australia'

A Sydney man who helped seven young men travel from Australia to Syria to fight with Islamic State breaks down in tears and tells a court he is "not a terrorist".
Posted: August 25, 2016, 1:29 am

Colombia and rebel group reach peace deal

Negotiators seeking to end the five-decades-old bloody insurgency in Colombia, one of the world's longest-running conflicts, said Wednesday in Havana that they had reached a final peace deal.
Posted: August 25, 2016, 1:16 am

Italy earthquake leaves 159 dead; rescuers racing against time - CNN


Italy earthquake leaves 159 dead; rescuers racing against time
Are you in Italy? Are you affected by the earthquake? If it's safe for you to do so, WhatsApp us on +44 7435 939 154 to share your photos, experiences and video. Please tag #CNNiReport in your message. Saletta, Italy (CNN) In the small Italian towns ...
Rescue workers try to keep the faith as night falls in quake-ravaged
Italy rescuers toil through night seeking quake survivors as death toll hits
Toronto Italians worry for homeland after quakeToronto Sun -Washington Post -BBC News
all 1,485 news articles »
Posted: August 25, 2016, 1:04 am

'Yes to peace': Colombia, FARC rebels reach historic deal to end 5-decade war -

'Yes to peace': Colombia, FARC rebels reach historic deal to end 5-decade war
Colombia's government and the country's biggest rebel group reached a deal Wednesday evening for ending a half-century of hostilities in what has been one of the world's longest-running armed conflicts. The government's accord with the Revolutionary ...
Farc peace deal: Colombian government and rebels sign accord to end warThe Guardian
Colombia reaches historic pact with rebelsUSA TODAY
Colombia and Farc rebels sign historic peace agreementBBC News
Business Insider -Reuters -Miami Herald -Washington Post
all 128 news articles »
Posted: August 25, 2016, 1:02 am

North Korea leader says missile test was 'greatest success': KCNA - Daily Mail

Daily Mail

North Korea leader says missile test was 'greatest success': KCNA
Daily Mail
North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un has declared a recent submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) test the "greatest success", Pyongyang's state media said on Thursday. The results of Wednesday's launch proved the North had joined the "front rank of ...
North Korea's Kim Praises Submarine Launch Test as a SuccessNew York Times

all 971 news articles »
Posted: August 25, 2016, 12:29 am

Pneumatic octopus is a first for soft robotics

Engineers in the US have built a self-contained, entirely soft robot - in the shape of a 7cm octopus.
Posted: August 25, 2016, 12:27 am

Militants attack American University in Afghanistan -

Militants attack American University in Afghanistan
Afghan security forces rush to respond to a complex Taliban attack on the campus of the American University in the Afghan capital Kabul on Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2016. University President Mark English told The Associated Press that security forces had ...
American University in Kabul attack: 1 killed, 21 hurtCNN
Afghan forces kill two gunmen to end American University attackReuters
Gunmen Attack American University of Afghanistan in
Fox News -Los Angeles Times -BBC News
all 282 news articles »
Posted: August 24, 2016, 11:57 pm

Crying game

Japanese companies are paying for employees to attend "crying workshops".
Posted: August 24, 2016, 11:52 pm

Mayor: 'The town is no more'

It's a haunting reminder of the exact moment an earthquake reduced the historic town of Amatrice to rubble.
Posted: August 24, 2016, 11:41 pm

Ghost town

The largest town that Boko Haram ever controlled still lies in ruins, frozen in time nearly 18 months after Nigeria's military recaptured it, writes the BBC's Martin Patience.
Posted: August 24, 2016, 11:34 pm

Austrian tragedy

A year after 71 people suffocated in the back of an airless lorry on its way to Austria, Bethany Bell and Nick Thorpe retrace the journey and ask what went wrong.
Posted: August 24, 2016, 11:32 pm

No laughing matter

Pedro Almodovar on why his 20th film is his most serious yet.
Posted: August 24, 2016, 11:22 pm

Campaigning firms

A look at the growing number of businesses who are trying to make a positive difference to society by speaking out on societal or political issues, and their reasons for doing so.
Posted: August 24, 2016, 11:16 pm

Lights, camera, tsunami

A slick music video in which a US invasion force is destroyed by a patriotic tsunami has upset Iranian conservatives.
Posted: August 24, 2016, 11:15 pm

UN inquiry blames Syrian government for gas attacks, likely sanctions fight looms - The Globe and Mail

The Globe and Mail

UN inquiry blames Syrian government for gas attacks, likely sanctions fight looms
The Globe and Mail
Syrian government troops were responsible for two toxic gas attacks and Islamic State militants used sulfur mustard gas, a joint investigation by the United Nations and the global chemical weapons watchdog found on Wednesday, according to a ...
Report: Syria and Islamic State blamed for chemical attacksBrandon Sun
Report blames Syria and Daesh for chlorine attacks, French diplomat saysToronto Star
US, Allies Vow To Hold Syria Accountable For Chemical AttacksRadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty
Foreign Policy (blog) -Bloomberg -Politico -Anadolu Agency
all 59 news articles »
Posted: August 24, 2016, 11:14 pm

Sleep your way to the top

Successful bosses often boast of how little they sleep, but is sleeping more better for your career?
Posted: August 24, 2016, 11:07 pm

Tornadoes tear down buildings and cut power in Indiana

At least two tornadoes strike the US state of Indiana, damaging buildings, destroying a Starbucks cafe and cutting power to thousands.
Posted: August 24, 2016, 10:49 pm

Earthquake causes houses to crash down hillside in Italy village

In Pescara del Tronto, all the houses have collapsed so that the village no longer exists. Damian Grammaticas reports.
Posted: August 24, 2016, 10:43 pm

Pulled from the wreckage of her convent in Amatrice

At least 120 people have been killed after a powerful earthquake struck central Italy in the early hours of Wednesday.
Posted: August 24, 2016, 10:31 pm

The Wednesday news briefing: An at-a-glance survey of some top stories -

The Wednesday news briefing: An at-a-glance survey of some top stories
Highlights from the news file for Wednesday, Aug. 24. ___. EARTHQUAKE IN ITALY REDUCES TOWNS TO RUBBLE: Rescue crews using bulldozers and their bare hands raced to dig out survivors from a strong earthquake that reduced three central Italian ...
Myanmar earthquake kills four, destroys ancient Buddhist pagodasThe Globe and Mail
News Wrap: Strong earthquake strikes Myanmar; militants bomb Afghan universityPBS NewsHour
Why shallow earthquakes like the one in Italy tend to cause more damage than deep onesBusiness Insider
New York Daily News -International Business Times -Daily Mail -Los Angeles Times
all 243 news articles »
Posted: August 24, 2016, 10:22 pm

'It's a madhouse': 2 tornadoes wreak havoc in central Indiana


At least two tornadoes struck cities in central Indiana on Wednesday, cutting off power to thousands of people, damaging homes and toppling a Starbucks.

Posted: August 24, 2016, 10:09 pm

Protests over huge N Dakota oil pipeline

Dozens of protesters gather in Washington DC to express their fears about a huge oil pipeline which will cross four states in the US Midwest.
Posted: August 24, 2016, 9:53 pm

Face transplant patient: 'Now I have hope'

Patrick Hardison, the volunteer fireman who underwent the world's most extensive face transplant, on his new-found hope.
Posted: August 24, 2016, 9:33 pm

Syria, ISIS engaged in toxic gas attacks, UN investigation finds


Syrian government troops were responsible for two toxic gas attacks and Islamic State militants used sulfur mustard gas, a joint investigation by the United Nations and the global chemical weapons watchdog found on Wednesday, according to a confidential report seen by Reuters.

Posted: August 24, 2016, 9:29 pm

Desmond Tutu hospitalized

Archbishop Desmond Tutu admitted himself to a Cape Town hospital on Wednesday "for treatment to a recurring infection," according to a statement from his family.
Posted: August 24, 2016, 9:20 pm

How to help the victims

A 6.2-magnitude earthquake hit Italy early Wednesday. Rescuers are still searching for victims, and relief groups are mobilizing.
Posted: August 24, 2016, 9:00 pm

Canadian man, 81, dead of apparent stabbing in Dominican Republic

John Verne Ward

A police spokesman in the Dominican Republic says an elderly Canadian man has been killed at his home in a resort town along the Caribbean coast.

Posted: August 24, 2016, 8:53 pm

Leslie Jones website hacked and taken offline

Leslie Jones

Leslie Jones has once again fallen victim to online abuse, with her website hacked to reveal personal information and explicit photos purportedly of the actress and comedian.

Posted: August 24, 2016, 8:33 pm

Good old days

A survey by Pew Research found that supporters of Trump and Clinton have very different opinions about America's past.
Posted: August 24, 2016, 8:26 pm

Crew member tiff delays flight

A disagreement between two crew members baffled a plane full of easyJet passengers and caused the entire flight to be delayed for more than an hour. You may now unfasten your seatbelts, the level of petty has reached 30,000 feet.
Posted: August 24, 2016, 8:13 pm

Ukraine Pres.: Putin wants all of my country

On the day of his country's 25th anniversary of independence from the Soviet Union, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko is warning that Russian President Vladimir Putin wants "the whole Ukraine" to be part of the "Russian Empire."
Posted: August 24, 2016, 8:12 pm

5 cities nearly obliterated by disasters

When Mayor Sergio Pirozzi looked over the ruins of his historic Italian town on Wednesday, his assessment was heartbreaking.
Posted: August 24, 2016, 7:45 pm

Biden assurance may ease tensions with Turkey — to a point

Turkey US

U.S. Vice-President Joe Biden visited the Turkish capital Wednesday to "stand shoulder to shoulder" with Turkey. It was the highest-level visit of a Western official since the failed attempt to overthrow the government on July 15.

Posted: August 24, 2016, 7:39 pm

Volatile mix in Syria war puts new strain on US strategy - CTV News

CTV News

Volatile mix in Syria war puts new strain on US strategy
CTV News
WASHINGTON -- The U.S. military picture in Syria is getting more chaotic and complicated by the day, putting new strains on the Obama administration's strategy of partnering with a hodgepodge of local fighters against the Islamic State group without ...
Turkey's Military Plunges Into Syria, Enabling Rebels to Capture ISIS StrongholdNew York Times
Italian town destroyed in quake was preparing food
Turkey Is Finally Bombing Syria, But It's Not Hitting Who the US WantsForeign Policy (blog)
PBS NewsHour -Business Insider -Hurriyet Daily News -Bloomberg
all 891 news articles »
Posted: August 24, 2016, 7:29 pm

Turkey tanks surge into Syria to take on ISIS

Turkish tanks entered northern Syria on Wednesday to help Syrian rebels clear ISIS from a border town, Turkish state media reported -- a move that follows recent attacks that the republic blames on terror groups.
Posted: August 24, 2016, 7:12 pm

EpiPen price furor heats up in U.S.

EpiPen epinephrine auto-injector

The 400 per cent spike in the price of live-saving EpiPen devices for those with severe allergies in the U.S. sparked outrage among American doctors and politicians.

Posted: August 24, 2016, 6:39 pm

Seismologist: Italy's earthquake is no surprise

The news of another strong and deadly earthquake in Italy on Wednesday morning sadly comes as no surprise to seismologists.
Posted: August 24, 2016, 5:48 pm

Burkini ban: Police force woman to remove top

Armed police officers forced a woman at a Nice beach to remove some of her clothing as part of the French city's controversial ban on the burkini.
Posted: August 24, 2016, 5:38 pm

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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