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Chase Bank Limits Cash Withdrawals, Bans International... Before you read this report, remember to sign up to for 100% free stock alerts Chase Bank has moved to limit cash withdrawals while banning business customers from sending...

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Richemont chairman Johann Rupert to take 'grey gap... Billionaire 62-year-old to take 12 months off from Cartier and Montblanc luxury goods groupRichemont's chairman and founder Johann Rupert is to take a year off from September, leaving management of the...

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Cambodia: aftermath of fatal shoe factory collapse... Workers clear rubble following the collapse of a shoe factory in Kampong Speu, Cambodia, on Thursday

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Spate of recent shock departures by 50-something CEOs While the rising financial rewards of running a modern multinational have been well publicised, executive recruiters say the pressures of the job have also been ratcheted upOn approaching his 60th birthday...

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UK Uncut loses legal challenge over Goldman Sachs tax... While judge agreed the deal was 'not a glorious episode in the history of the Revenue', he ruled it was not unlawfulCampaign group UK Uncut Legal Action has lost its high court challenge over the legality...

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Virgin Trains franchise loss gets mixed reaction

Category : Business

Some describe the change as ‘saddest times’ for rail travel since the 1970s, while others are thrilled to get direct mainline services

The news of the loss of Virgin Trains’ west coast franchise has been greeted with a mixed response from commuters and rail groups, their viewpoint tempered by where they live.

Darren Parkin, a journalist from Warwickshire, described it as “one of the saddest times” for rail travel since the 1970s. But commuters in Blackpool and Shrewsbury, Shropshire, who will get direct mainline rail services, are thrilled.

Parkin, who spent almost two years commuting on Virgin’s west coast line between the Midlands and Chester, said: “Almost every journey you undertook, you could see how much Virgin were putting into that service. I very rarely felt let down. The only downside was not being able to travel further afield than the routes that they had – I would jump in the car for the eastern journeys because it wasn’t Virgin. Someone, somewhere, is making a massive mistake.

“Perhaps it has something to do with HS2 – which Virgin have opposed and countered with pledges to improve stations and services.”

The passenger director at Passenger Focus, David Sidebottom, said it is too early to say what the likely impact will be, but value for money should remain a priority. “For the passengers making their way from London to Manchester or Glasgow, the important thing is not the name on the side of the train, but the experience of the journey, the availability of staff when you need them and, of course, value for money,” he said.

He said that with another above-inflation fare rise on the horizon, now, more than ever, passengers will be looking for value, especially in terms of getting a seat and being on time.

But rail passengers in Shrewsbury are delighted at the direct link for rail services. “We’re very pleased,” said Roger Goodhew of the Shrewsbury to Aberystwyth Rail Passenger Association. “There have been two previous attempts at a through service, the first of which was Virgin themselves at the turn of the century – that didn’t work out.”

“We had a second open access company, Wrexham and Shropshire, and that ran a popular service which was hampered by monopoly rights that Virgin have enjoyed. We have links with Birmingham already. But it’s a long journey to London, because we have to change and it takes over four hours.”

He said a direct service should make a big difference. “It will make possible things in London in one day because at the moment we have to leave very early and get back very late. It’s not an easy journey.”

In the popular northern seaside resort of Blackpool, Sarah Bellamy, a nursery owner, who used to regularly commute by train to London, said: “I think it’s great news. The service from Preston to London has become more congested and more expensive over the last 10 years. The ticket pricing system is complex and not very transparent and. Only main routes benefit from low fares, such as Manchester and Birmingham to London.”

She says she has friends who can’t come to visit as they work full-time and tickets at peak times are more expensive than flights. “The announcement of direct services to Blackpool is also great news. This will reduce journey times and make it more convenient for people wishing to visit Blackpool and make it more accessible to visitors from the south. It’s a long journey if you have to change at Preston will all your luggage [as rail travellers currently have to do] and is bound to put some people off.”

Meanwhile, Virgin train drivers are not looking forward to the change. One driver said with Virgin they were treated like pilots but were likely to be treated “like coach drivers” under the new franchise.

Passengers boarding FirstGroup’s First Great Western trains at Paddington were broadly positive about the service – despite the franchise being the subject of 237 complaints to Passenger Focus in 2011 and achieved a satisfaction rate of just 82% in the watchdog’s spring survey.

Tom Pothecary, 22, from Carmarthen, who regularly uses First Great Western to get to and from Wales, said it was “good and reliable” on the whole, and “definitely better” than the Arriva service he used at the other end of the journey. One weekly commuter from Cheltenham said the service “used to be dreadful” but had improved.

However, readers commenting on the Guardian website were less enthusiastic about their experiences of FirstGroup. “I used to commute using FirstGroup – dreadful,” said one. “I used the same route recently and there were some small improvements that have taken five years to put in place.” Another described First Great Western as “the worst commuter line I’ve ever had to endure“: “Not only is it the most expensive train line in Europe, it was never on time. I would sometimes have to stand from Bath to London Paddington and as prices were increased year on year we were promised a better service; but all we got was more apologies.”

All Eyes on Europe in Coming Week

Category : Business

With many of the major summer events out of the way, Europe will be the main driver of market action next week.

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Meet US’ Most Efficient Car: 118MPG

Category : Stocks

By Matt Cantor, Newser Staff

The 2013 Honda Fit EV is the most efficient car sold on these shores, according to the EPA — and it’s been awarded the highest fuel efficiency equivalency rating ever, at 118 MPGe. That figure beats Mitsubishi’s iMiEV, at 112 MPGe, as well as the Ford Focus Electric, which gets 105 MPGe, Wired reports.

For every 100 miles, the Fit uses just 29 kWh of electricity, which would run the average driver about $500 a year. …

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Carroll Shelby obituary

Category : Business

American racing driver and motor engineer who developed the classic Cobra sports car

Carroll Shelby, the colourful American racing driver and engineer who shared the winning Aston Martin with Britain’s Roy Salvadori in the 1959 Le Mans 24-hour sports car classic, and who later gave his name to the iconic Shelby American Cobra high-performance sports car, has died at the age of 89.

The genial Texan’s trademark was his distinctive striped, bib-style racing overalls, which gave him a swashbuckling, Casey Jones-like appearance throughout a distinguished racing career that included eight world championship grand prix outings driving a private Maserati 250F, and latterly for the ill-starred Aston Martin Formula One team.

Born in Leesburg, Texas, the son of the town’s postmaster, Shelby was a child when his family moved to Dallas. Despite being diagnosed with a slight heart murmur at the age of 10, he served as a flight instructor with the US air force during the second world war. He went on to work in the truck business, before turning his hand to chicken farming, unsuccessfully, in the late 1940s.

Meanwhile, Shelby had started to dabble in sports car racing, and by 1952 had gained a degree of recognition after some promising outings at the wheel of a Jaguar XK120, before switching to a fearsome, Cadillac-powered Allard the following year. In 1954, spurred on by the offer of a cup from Kleenex heir Jim Kimberly – one of the great US racing philanthropists of the time – for the best performance by an amateur driver, Shelby entered the Allard in the Buenos Aires 1,000km sports car race, co-driving with airline pilot Dale Duncan, who was a useful contact when it came to air freighting the car to Argentina.

This first competitive appearance outside the US for Shelby was memorable: he and Duncan finished 10th, despite a carburettor fire during a pit stop, which had to be extinguished by the simple expedient of Duncan urinating on the engine. More significantly, Aston Martin driver Peter Collins introduced Shelby to his team manager, John Wyer, who had been impressed with the Texan’s handling of the wild and woolly Allard. Shelby now had his foot in the door at Aston Martin, which would lead to a place in their works team – and that memorable victory at Le Mans five years later.

Like most of those who drove for Aston Martin in the 1950s, Shelby loved the team’s ambience, and he never seriously considered any of the fleeting, and possibly empty, offers to join Maserati or Ferrari. His Texan penchant for straight talking occasionally made David Brown, the Aston Martin company’s owner, wince: telling the boss one of his cars handled like “10 pounds of shit in a five-pound bag” was pretty strong stuff from a hired hand in the mid-1950s. Shelby recalled Brown’s reaction: “He got pissed off at that, turned round and walked away.”

Along with Salvadori, Shelby also took up the F1 Aston Martin DBR4s during the 1959 season. But these front-engined museum pieces were obsolete even before they raced for the first time, a new generation of mid-engined cars from Cooper dashing their hopes of success. At the start of 1960, Shelby suffered bad chest pains that alerted him to a now-serious heart condition. Despite attempting to control the situation by driving with nitroglycerin pills under his tongue, Shelby decided to retire from racing at the end of that year.

One of Shelby’s dreams had been the manufacture of a high-performance American sports car, so when he heard in 1961 that supplies of Bristol engines had dried up for the British AC company, he brokered a deal that saw AC switch to using a 4.7-litre Ford V8, and the famous Cobra was born. Ford backed Shelby’s efforts on the race track, and the Shelby Cobras were duly homologated as GT cars by the start of the 1963 international sports car racing calendar, when they were pitched against the Ferrari GTOs. In 1965, the Shelby Cobras won the FIA GT championship, wresting this prestigious title from their Ferrari opposition.

By 1970, Shelby was diversifying into other businesses outside motor racing, but in 1982 Chrysler boss Lee Iaccoca, an old friend, offered him the opportunity to serve as a performance consultant to the automotive giant, bringing him back into the motor racing orbit.

He is survived by his wife, Cleo, his two sons, Patrick and Michael, his daughter, Sharon, and his sister, Anne.

Carroll Shelby, racing driver and engineer, born 11 January 1923; died 10 May 2012.

Letter: Greed and the rotten Apple syndrome

Category : Business

The reason that Apple does not produce its expensive toys in the US (Bad Apple?, G2, 24 April) is not because the late Steve Jobs and the current CEO were necessarily extremely greedy but because corporate shareholders demand that they maximise profits for investors. Indeed, company law both here and in the US places an implied demand on directors to do so. Add to that the global deregulation and free-trade agenda driven by the corporate giants over the last 30 years and we have a situation where hundreds of millions of people work in factories and on plantations in conditions little better than those endured by slaves in centuries gone by.

The enormous profits generated by the transnational companies from their exploitative activities – such as the $11.6bn made by Apple over the last 12 months – and the consequent glut of capital inevitably lead to speculation in commodities, complex financial transactions and private-equity asset-stripping in the search for still more profits until the bubble bursts and the whole edifice collapses, with disastrous results for the vast majority of the world’s population.

Until such time as the economy is put at the service of the people, and not the other way round, the cycle of boom and bust will continue. For this to happen the profit motive would have to cease to be the sole driver of economic activity and the means of production be democratised to benefit the majority rather than just the obscenely remunerated bosses. However, with governments in thrall to big business and wedded to an unsustainable economic model of infinite growth, the rotten Apple syndrome will be with us for the foreseeable future.
Bert Schouwenburg
International officer, GMB

Two School Bus Accidents Prompt Look Into Commercial Driver Safety

Category : World News

Two accidents by the same Tennessee bus driver prompt a look at the commercial driver safety regulations.

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New plan aims to end fuel dispute

Category : World News

A new set of proposals is drawn up after talks in the fuel tanker driver dispute, with the Unite union given nearly a month to consult on them.

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Give a minicab man a few column inches and he’ll take a whole bus lane

Category : Business

The chairman of London-based minicab firm Addison Lee has used the company’s in-cab magazine to launch a series of eye-catching polemics

Are you a regular reader of the “Chairman’s Column”? I can heartily recommend it. You may not even have heard of it. It’s the short opinion piece near the front of the quarterly in-cab magazine Add Lib, which you’ll find in all cars affiliated to Addison Lee plc, a large London-based minicab firm. It’s written by the chairman of the company, John Griffin. If you live outside London or don’t use minicabs, I’m happy to report that it’s available online via the company’s website.

I just love the fact of it. Add Lib is not a political publication. It’s a bit of fluff to read in the car while the driver slavishly follows the satnav through gridlock – it’s a glossy compilation of retail opportunities. So when, a couple of pages in, you stumble across a short but highly politically opinionated article by the bloke who runs the company, it’s something of a surprise. Yet it refuses to explain itself. There it is, among the reprinted press releases about new bars and shoe shops and the photos of models and celebrities: the words “Chairman’s Column” with a picture of John Griffin, looking grumpy in glasses and a suit, and then a piquant taste of his views. As if it’s long been part of the duties of someone running a minicab firm to write a regular column about topical issues. As if, like the Queen’s Christmas broadcast, it was a regrettable and unavoidable duty which it would be churlish of him not to fulfil. As if chairman and column went together like best man and speech or auctioneer and gavel.

He’s broached a wide range of subjects over the years. London politics: “During the last mayoral election it seemed that the real issue was getting rid of Ken and his Trotsky agenda.” The war on drugs: “We need to start asking the question as to what visible means of support these dealers can point to which has led them to such good circumstances. If they fail to offer a satisfactory explanation, then we must assume that their expensive items are from the proceeds of criminal activity.” Even phone hacking: “It does not come as a surprise to me that any journalist worth his salt would take advantage of this opportunity.”

Eye-catching stuff, I’m sure you’ll agree: Ken Livingstone’s stewardship of London through eight years of an insane financial services boom was in fact a communist regime. The solution to the drugs problem is to arrest young people who look incongruously wealthy. Phone hacking was just a creditable sign of initiative. It’s not hugely unusual that he holds these views – just that he’s so desperate for a context in which to express them. Thank God he doesn’t drive a cab.

His latest piece is a real humdinger. Perhaps appropriately for an authority figure among drivers, it’s a diatribe against cyclists. His sympathy lies with the motorist who might quite understandably fail to spot “a granny wobbling to avoid a pothole or a rain drain” and thus find themselves “guilty of failing to anticipate that this was somebody on her maiden voyage into the abyss”. He bemoans cyclists’ lack of training, insurance, impact bars, air bags and road tax liability, and ends: “It is time for us to say to cyclists ‘You want to join our gang, get trained and pay up’.” (His punctuation, not mine.)

This is classic Griffin. A more oleaginous arguer might have conjured up an unsympathetic cyclist: a cocky shades-wearing courier, weaving between cars while listening to his iPod, or a self-promoting politician surrounded by obliging paps and tailed by his ministerial car. But not Griffin – he’s happy to go straight for the granny: the stupid, myopic, shaky old biddy, wobbling around the road in the way of minicabs, who doesn’t even have the goodness to look where she’s going, get a driving licence or buy a fully taxed Lamborghini. The thought that she, and cyclists in general, probably don’t want to join his “gang” simply doesn’t occur to him.

This guy is a major talent. I’ve often wondered when he’d break through. Well, it happened last week when Griffin wrote a letter to all 3,500 Addison Lee drivers exhorting them to use London’s bus lanes. They’re reserved for buses and black cabs so this is illegal. But Griffin doesn’t see it that way: “The current bus lane legislation is anti-competitive and unfairly discriminates against the millions of passengers that use Addison Lee.”

At last he’s found a big enough fan to throw shit at. Amid consternation from cyclists’ groups, taxi drivers and Transport for London, it emerged that Addison Lee has donated £250,000 to the Conservative party and Griffin has personally lobbied former transport secretary Philip Hammond. Meanwhile several government departments are continuing to patronise Addison Lee.

I can understand why. It’s a very reliable service for anyone visiting the capital. Using a smartphone, you can effectively hail an Addison Lee car in minutes, and some of the drivers even know their way round London. The others are often as amenable to following a passenger’s directions as those being barked out by their in-car machines. It’s a bit expensive but not terribly expensive which, in London, is the closest you get to the sensation of a bargain.

Griffin’s suggestion that his drivers have a right to the same privileges as proper cabbies who’ve done “the Knowledge” is, of course, offensive. But that’s exactly what he means it to be. He must be one of those men who can only unwind by winding people up. I’d say that he wasn’t a very nice fellow if I thought he was even momentarily concerned with coming across as one. But he can’t be stupid enough not to know how his pronouncements will make him seem.

Like Michael O’Leary’s strategy with Ryanair, this could be very effective. We don’t need to like the guy who runs the minicab firm we use – just to feel that the company is well run and will get us from A to B as quickly as possible. Griffin’s attempt to appropriate the bus lanes makes us think exactly that.

It’s ridiculous to claim that bus lane rules discriminate against “the millions of passengers that use Addison Lee”, as if they didn’t have every right to get on a bus. It’s not an argument that holds up for a second. Except if, in that second, you’re late, sitting in a minicab in stationary traffic, and enviously eying the empty bus lane to your left. In those moments of towering selfishness, Griffin’s arguments have real eloquence.

ChipMOS Technologies ([[IMOS]] +5.9%) outperforms following a Digitimes column suggesting the company will see its Q2 sales rise due to strong smartphone demand, which is boosting sales of the LCD driver chips packaged and tested by ChipMOS, which is…

Category : Stocks, World News

ChipMOS Technologies (IMOS +5.9%) outperforms following a Digitimes column suggesting the company will see its Q2 sales rise due to strong smartphone demand, which is boosting sales of the LCD driver chips packaged and tested by ChipMOS, which is now up 178% YTD, previously forecast it would see 10% revenue growth in 2012, following a difficult 2H11. Post your comment!

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Lab Deal Adds Life to Corning’s Glass House

Category : Business

NEW YORK (TheStreet) – Corning, the world’s largest supplier of glass for flat-panel television sets, is continuing to diversify into the life sciences business, buying the majority of Becton Dickinson’s laboratory products unit, called Discovery Labware, for $730 million in cash. Corning is banking on growth in its life sciences division as a way to drive overall revenue to $10 billion over the next few years.

The diversification by way of deal-making couldn’t come at a better time for Corning as pressures in the glutted LCD market intensify. A drop in demand for flatscreen TVs, a core earnings driver for Corning, resulted in electronics giant Sony announcing a record loss on Tuesday. Also on Tuesday, LCD TV maker Sharp increased its annual loss forecast to $4.67 billion.

In 2011, profits at Corning’s display technologies unit fell over 20% to $2.3 billion, driving overall profits down by roughly the same amount, even as revenue increased to a record $7.9 billion.

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