Posts Tagged ‘Germany’
It’s predicted that by the year 2050 there will be 9.3 billion people on Earth and 6.4 billion of them will be living in cities. There could also be four times as many cars on the roads as today, leading to an incredible degree of urban congestion and gridlock. That’s the impetus behind Ford and technology partner Schaeffler’s eWheelDrive electric research car, that moves the motor to the wheel hubs.
Demonstrated last Friday at Lommel, Belgium, the eWheelDrive is under development by Ford and project leader Schaeffler, a German automotive component manufacturer and supplier. The aim of the project is to investigate the potential for smaller, more agile cars better suited to crowded urban environments.
The eWheelDrive doesn’t look very revolutionary. It’s based on that most conventional of cars, the Ford Fiesta, but the real secret isn’t under the bonnet because there’s nothing there except the battery. Instead, the engine has given way to two electric motors mounted in the hubs of the rear wheels along with the braking and cooling systems.
This setup also isn’t entirely new, but what is new is the fact that the eWheelDrive is not intended to make it more sporty or just greener, but as a way of developing car technologies for increasingly crowded city streets. The design frees up space under the bonnet that is normally occupied by a conventional engine or a central electric motor, opening the door for smaller, more agile cars that are more able to negotiate the warrens of London or Hong Kong…
The aim of the project will be to increase the integration of in-wheel motors in a car, as well as studying vehicle dynamics control, braking, stability and the ”fun-to-drive” factor. The goal will be to solve problems caused by heavier wheels, improve brakes, reduce noise and vibration, improve the suspension, and ensure that the motors deliver enough torque.
Poisonally, I have little concern about power-to-weight ratios. The project cars should be miniature bullet trains. Vehicles with electric drive motors as part of the wheel assembly aren’t new; but, almost never have they been used with wheels sprung and suspended for automotive use. The ratio of sprung-to-unsprung weight can make for comfort and handling problems.
Electricity is still my favorite long-term power source. Hopefully, before I get too old to enjoy driving there will be vehicles I can afford for everyday use on my old geezer budget.
The mystery of how arsenic levels in beer sold in Germany could be higher than in the water or other ingredients used to brew the beer has been solved, scientists announced…at the 245th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society…
Mehmet Coelhan…and colleagues said the discovery could be of importance for breweries and other food processors elsewhere that use the same filtering technology implicated in the elevated arsenic levels in some German beers. Coelhan’s team at the Technische Universität in Munich set out to solve that riddle after testing 140 samples of beers sold in Germany as part of a monitoring program. The monitoring checked levels of heavy metals like arsenic and lead, as well as natural toxins that can contaminate grain used in brewing beer, pesticides and other undesirable substances.
Coelhan explained that the World Health Organization uses 10 micrograms per liter of arsenic in drinking water as a limit. However, some beers contained higher arsenic levels. “When arsenic level in beer is higher than in the water used during brewing, this excess arsenic must come from other sources,” Coelhan noted. “That was a mystery to us. As a consequence, we analyzed all materials, including the malt and the hops used during brewing for the presence of arsenic…”
They concluded that the arsenic was released into the beer from a filtering material called kieselguhr, or diatomaceous earth, used to remove yeast, hops and other particles and give the beer a crystal clear appearance. Diatomaceous earth consists of fossilized remains of diatoms, a type of hard-shelled algae that lived millions of years ago. It finds wide use in filtering beer, wine and is an ingredient in other products….
Coelhan pointed out that beers produced in at least six other countries had higher arsenic amounts than German beers, according to a report published four years ago. He said that breweries, wineries and other food processors that use kieselguhr should be aware that the substance can release arsenic. Substitutes for kieselguhr are available, he noted, and simple measures like washing kieselguhr with water can remove the arsenic before use.
Now, can we rely on the German brewing industry’s marketing folks to pay sufficient attention to this finding? Make certain the breweries of Germany’s “purest beer in the world” live up to that standard and change procedures, prevent the arsenic from leaching into the brew? Or will they need a nudge or two?
One of the stars of the show – at a previous performance
An entire troupe of performing fleas has fallen victim to freezing temperatures currently gripping Germany. Flea circus director Robert Birk says he was shocked to find all of his 300 fleas dead inside their transport box last Wednesday.
The circus immediately scrambled to find a new batch so it could fulfill its engagements at an open-air fair in the town of Mechernich-Kommern in western Germany. Michael Faber, who organizes the fair, told The Associated Press that an insect expert at a nearby university was able to train 50 fleas to in time for the first show last Sunday…
Faber says he hopes they’ll “get through this without any more fatalities.”
Birk said it was the first time his circus had lost all of its fleas to the cold in one go.
Oh, the humanity!
Galatasaray supporters in a subdued moment after their team’s victory
A section of Galatasaray fans unsuccessfully attempted to dig a tunnel into Schalke’s Veltins Arena ahead of their Champions League last-16 clash on Tuesday.
Undeterred by a full house and tickets on the black market being traded at prices of up to €1,000, the group of desperate supporters tried to burrow their bare hands through frozen ground under a perimeter fence.
Horst Heldt, sporting director of the Royal Blues, confirmed the bizarre incident prior to kick-off, telling reporters: “Yes, that’s right. Some supporters have tried to dig a tunnel with their bare hands.”
A 1-1 draw was played out at the Turk Telecom Arena three weeks ago, but Umut Bulut’s late winner handed Galatasaray a 3-2 second-leg victory and progression into the quarter-finals of Europe’s elite club tournament.
No further comment was made about arrests or at least filling the hole back in!
Defence Secretary Philip Hammond: “The return of the troops from Germany marks the end of an era”
Four Army bases are to close as part of a shake-up to accommodate thousands of troops returning from Germany…Claro Barracks in North Yorkshire, Howe in Kent, Craigiehall in Edinburgh and Cawdor in Pembrokeshire will be shut…Parts of Edinburgh’s Redford barracks, Forthside in Stirling and Copthorne in Shropshire will also close.
Returning forces will be stationed around seven sites, including Salisbury Plain, Edinburgh and Leuchars, Catterick and Colchester…The other sites are Aldershot, Stafford and the East Midlands.
There has been a British army presence in Germany for nearly 70 years.
Defence Secretary Philip Hammond said the return of troops from Germany marked the end of an era, and thanked the German government and people for their “material and moral” support…
He said the changes overall would save £240m a year in running costs as soldiers are moved into “clusters” in key locations, and the re-organisation bill would be £1.8bn. A one time charge.
Around £1bn of the funding will go towards 1,900 new houses for service families and accommodation for 7,800 single soldiers. Another £800m will be spent on infrastructure and refurbishment of bases…
Under the 2010 strategic defence review, the government announced it wanted to withdraw all 20,000 troops in Germany, plus their families, by 2020.
Since then, about 4,000 troops have already moved back to the UK…
The pull-out has been accelerated because there were bigger cuts to the Army than originally planned, saving money which then could be used for relocation.
The government says the changes will provide savings and efficiencies for the Army, and certainty for personnel and their families.
The savings for the United States to do something similar would be greater. Our troops are scattered around the whole planet – requiring not only greater annual transport costs but similarly greater costs to supply them with essentials.
Given that we have more than 700 bases in over 170 countries, the savings realized from bringing those troops home – put them to work doing something constructive like rebuilding infrastructure – would be even more dramatic than the British program. Of course, they’re actually going ahead and doing it – while the White House and Congress manage to avoid even discussion of the idea.
Amazon has reportedly ended its relationship with a German security company that was accused of having far-right links and mistreating foreign workers at the U.S. firm’s distribution centers.
Hensel European Security Services’s (HESS) methods were the subject of a documentary last week by the German TV channel ARD, which used secret filming to establish how the firm harassed and intimidated foreign workers and also how some of its military-style employees appeared to have far-right allegiances.
The firm itself has strongly denied such links – it noted in a statement that it itself employs many immigrants — but the documentary quickly attracted the attention of Chancellor Angela Merkel and other leading politicians. HESS’s case has almost certainly not been helped by the fact that the acronym it uses was also the name of Hitler’s deputy…
The documentary alleged that HESS regularly searched temporary staff members’ accommodation and even frisked them after breakfast, to check that they did not steal rolls. On Friday, Amazon said it was looking into the claims, but early on Monday the U.S. company said it had parted ways with HESS:
“Amazon has secured that the criticized security service is not used any longer, effective immediately. As a responsible employer of approximately 8,000 salaried logistics employees, Amazon has zero-tolerance for discrimination and intimidation and expects the same from every company we work with.”
There are organizations established solely for the purpose of providing accurate information on working conditions abroad for American firms entering the global arena. Amazon isn’t a beginner at international distribution nor are they unaware of the standards required – or not required – in other nations.
Someone didn’t do their homework.
The only American politicians who consider this a high priority
Germany’s upper house of Parliament, the Bundesrat, voted Friday to criminalize for the first time “using an animal for personal sexual activities” and to punish offenders with fines of as much as $34,000. It was the final legislative hurdle for a bill the lower house passed in December.
The vote follows months of debate that pitted zoophiles against animal rights and protection advocates. Sexual mores seemed not to play a paramount role.
The ban, which carries only a misdemeanor charge, is an amendment to the country’s animal protection law, multifaceted legislation that, among other things, regulates animal testing and the sale of animals and prohibits animal abuse, including “using an animal for personal sexual activities or making them available to third parties for sexual activities and thereby forcing them to behave in ways that are inappropriate to their species.”
Zoophiles argue that their relationships with their pets, or “partners” as they prefer, are entirely mutual. Michael Kiok, a director of the advocacy group Zoophilic Engagement for Tolerance and Enlightenment, who now finds himself the de facto face of zoophilia in Germany, says animals are perfectly capable of expressing whether or not they desire sex.
Animal-rights groups have criticized men like Mr. Kiok, saying they put defenseless creatures in harm’s way.
The assorted and sundry tweaks of human sexuality never cease to amaze. Many of them are mirrored in other chordate species – and I doubt they get as excited, worried, philosophical or otherwise emotionally upset over discussion – or the acts themselves as do humans.
If something painful or too uncomfortable happens – well, you might get bit, I imagine.
Of course, outside of Texas sheepherders, I can’t imagine the question coming up in American politics. It’s that sophistication thingie, again.
Germany’s gold is on the move. For the first time since official gold transactions became more transparent, the Bundesbank has given notice that a significant portion of its holdings will be transferred home from France and the United States. Ostensibly, this is just a matter of monetary housekeeping. But why now?
One possibility is that German policymakers believe that we are approaching an every-country-for-itself scenario – and only gold guarded by one’s own police is worth anything.
But this is more than far-fetched. The world in which financial trust breaks down completely between Germany and France or Germany and the US is one in which we have much bigger problems than where a country’s gold is located. International trade would collapse, and major global companies would struggle to sell their products. Having more gold at home, rather than in the vaults of the New York Fed, would be neither here nor there in such a situation…
Perhaps German central bankers sense a longer-term shift in international preferences away from the dollar and want to be ready in some fashion. This is plausible in terms of a future decline in the dollar’s importance as a reserve asset and safe haven. Reserve holdings of dollar assets (primarily by central banks) were worth around 2% of US GDP in 1948 and about the same in 1968. Today, such holdings are at least 15% of US GDP – with some estimates as high as 30%…
But moving Germany’s gold is hardly helpful in this regard. What would help is to turn the euro around – in the sense of convincing investors that the common currency has a bright future, because it is underpinned by a stronger monetary, fiscal, financial, and political union. When seen in this light, the physical location of gold is purely a distraction…
…Moving gold does nothing to keep inflation under control or change the behavior of central banks. The link between currencies and gold was irrevocably broken in 1971, when US President Richard Nixon decided to suspend the convertibility of dollars into gold for central banks. We have lived in a purely fiat money system ever since – meaning that our money’s value is not backed by gold or any other physical item…
German politicians would thus seem to be suffering from some serious delusions about the importance of gold and the effects of shifting its location. But they are right to worry about the ECB’s policies: Providing unconditional credit to eurozone governments is unlikely to make these governments more careful…
The German fascination with gold is a red herring. Its fear of wayward monetary policy is not.
Regular readers of this blog are aware of my dedication to Project Syndicate. I owe no loyalty to any unifying credo at the site. I’m not certain you could describe one – other than a predilection for modern and up-to-date economic analysis and thought.
I’m drawn back most often by the quality of writing and understanding of economics. Many of these Doctors of the science of economics [whatever that might mean] are individuals whose opinions frankly serve as fodder for discussion around a portion of our extended family. Whether the provocation be political, philosophical or directly concerned with economics – these functions served by a nation’s commerce within and without borders illuminate the bedrock foundations of how our society progresses.