Posts tagged with "BBC"

Boeing whistleblower John Barnett found dead

March 13, 2024

A former Boeing employee known for raising concerns about the firm’s aircraft production standards has been found dead, reports the BBC.

John Barnett had worked for Boeing for 32 years, until his retirement in 2017 for health reasons. In the days before his death, he had been giving evidence in a whistleblower lawsuit against the company. From 2010, he worked as a quality manager at the North Charleston, South Carolina, plant making the 787 Dreamliner, a state-of-the-art airliner used mainly on long-haul routes.

Boeing said it was saddened to hear of Barnett’s passing. The Charleston County Coroner’s Office confirmed his death to the BBC on Monday, March 11. It said the 62-year-old had died from a “self-inflicted” wound on Saturday, March 9, and police were investigating.

In 2019, Barnett told the BBC that under-pressure workers had been deliberately fitting sub-standard parts to aircraft on the production line. He also said he had uncovered serious problems with oxygen systems, which could mean one in four breathing masks would not work in an emergency.

He said soon after starting work in South Carolina he had become concerned that the push to get new aircraft built meant the assembly process was rushed and safety was compromised, something the company denied.

He later told the BBC that workers had failed to follow procedures intended to track components through the factory, allowing defective components to go missing. He said in some cases, sub-standard parts had even been removed from scrap bins and fitted to planes that were being built to prevent delays on the production line.

He also claimed that tests on emergency oxygen systems due to be fitted to the 787 showed a failure rate of 25%, meaning that one in four could fail to

Above, John Barnett was a former quality control manager at Boeing. (Photo source: BBC)

deploy in a real-life emergency.

Barnett said he had alerted managers to his concerns, but no action had been taken.

Boeing denied his assertions. However, a 2017 review by the US regulator, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), did uphold some of Mr Barnett’s concerns: It established that the location of at least 53 “non-conforming” parts in the factory was unknown, and that they were considered lost. Boeing was ordered to take remedial action.

On the oxygen cylinders issue, the company said that in 2017 it had “identified some oxygen bottles received from the supplier that were not deploying properly”. But it denied that any of them were actually fitted on aircraft.

After retiring, he embarked on a long-running legal action against the company. He accused Boeing of denigrating his character and hampering his career because of the issues he pointed out—charges rejected by Boeing.

At the time of his death, Mr Barnett had been in Charleston for legal interviews linked to that case. Last week, he gave a formal deposition in which he was questioned by Boeing’s lawyers, before being cross-examined by his own counsel.

He had been due to undergo further questioning on Saturday. When he did not appear, enquiries were made at his hotel. He was subsequently found dead in his truck in the hotel car park.

Speaking to the BBC, his lawyer described his death as “tragic.”

Research contact: @BBC

Amazon caught selling bathroom spy cam disguised as clothes hook

December 13, 2023

Here’s a nightmare: You’re about to take a shower when you discover that the plastic clothes hook on the wall contains a tiny camera recording your every move, reports Futurism.

That’s exactly what happened to a foreign exchange student—a minor at the time —when she was about to bathe inside a West Virginia home, according to the BBC. And though Amazon is now facing a lawsuit over the chilling incident; these hidden cameras are still being sold on its website, such as this one for $42.99.

The student from Brazil alleges in her lawsuit against Amazon that she had discovered the spy camera in a bathroom designated for her use in 2022. She was staying at the home of a man who apparently bought the camera to record her undressing.

The student points out in her lawsuit that there have been numerous articles in the past warning about the danger of these disguised cameras—one takes the form of a USB charger and another as a smoke detector—over the years, but Amazon has persisted in allowing their sale.

Amazon tried to have the case dismissed, but the legal complaint is going forward.

British privacy activist Gina Martin told the BBC that these type of cameras in disguise are often used to prey on unsuspecting women and girls.

“Retailers do need to be doing more,” she said. “They need to be stamping out hidden cameras, because there are very few instances in which hiding the fact that you’re filming someone is applicable or acceptable.”

Besides these disguised cameras—often marketed as nanny cams—other miniaturized devices, such as tracking tags and other Internet of Things tech, have been used to harass people.

It’s a brave new world. While technology has made it easier to find misplaced keys or luggage, it also has facilitated stalking, control, and abuse.

Research contact: @futurism

Irish town seeks ‘buzz kill’ after mysterious sound keeps residents up at night

November 17, 2023

A bizarre humming sound has seized a small town in Northern Ireland, perplexing residents who say it’s keeping them up at night. The mysterious buzzing has continued for weeks in Omagh, a town of 20,000 people 50 miles west of Belfast, with authorities unable to say what’s causing it or where it’s coming from, reports the New York Post.

Local Councillor Stephen Donnelly said the plaguing sound may seem trivial—but it has become a serious concern for some residents. “What we need to do is establish the facts and get to the bottom of this and then take action to resolve this,” Donnelly recently told the BBC.

“I appreciate that when a story like this is kind of draped in mystery and intrigue that it can very easily become a subject of trivialization; but certainly from people I have spoken to … they are very concerned about the ability that they have to make sure they get a good night’s sleep,” he added.

“It may well be that it’s seasonal or weather-related but these things often don’t turn out to be simple and it may be a multitude of sources.”

Donnelly said he was contacted by a group of residents in one area of Omagh in late October, but the phenomenon had since spread to other parts of the town.

Residents “usually characterize it as a persistent buzz or hum” that was distinct from more common noise such as traffic, he said.

One man described the sound as “like a vibrating noise, real loud at night, about 12 or 1 every night”, telling the BBC it had woken him up at night.

The Fermanagh and Omagh District Council has launched an investigation into the humming, but it has so far been unable to trace its source. With the investigation so far fruitless, the council says it’s getting ready to call in audio experts.

The situation is reminiscent of the 1970s “Bristol hum,” during which hundreds of people in the U.K. city of Bristol reported a strange buzzing noise. After falling silent for decades, the low-level Bristol hum returned in 2016 before dissipating once more.

The phenomenon, known widely as “The Hum”, has been reported across the globe for the past five decades, including in Australia.

Several theories exist as to where the strange noise comes from, ranging from tinnitus to factory noise to conspiracy theories.

Research contact: @nypost

Burger King faces legal claim over size of the Whopper

August 31, 2023

Burger King is facing a lawsuit that alleges it makes its Whopper burger appear larger on its menus than it is in reality, a U.S. judge has ruled, reports the BBC.

The lawsuit accuses the fast food giant of misleading customers by showing the burger with a meatier patty and ingredients that “overflow over the bun”.

“The plaintiffs’ claims are false,” Burger King told the BBC.

Rivals McDonald’s and Wendy’s are facing a similar lawsuit in the United States.

The class action lawsuit against Burger King alleges that the Whopper was made to look 35% larger, with more than double the amount of meat compared to what was actually served to customers.

Burger King had earlier argued that it was not required to deliver burgers that look “exactly like the picture.”

In the ruling, U.S. District Judge Roy Altman for the Sothern District of Florida said it should be left to jurors to “tell us what reasonable people think”. However, he dismissed claims that Burger King misled customers with its television and online advertisements.

“The flame-grilled beef patties portrayed in our advertising are the same patties used in the millions of Whopper sandwiches we serve to guests nationwide,” a Burger King spokesperson said in a statement after the ruling.

Lawyer Anthony Russo, who represents the plaintiffs, did not immediately respond to a BBC request for comment.

The Burger King website describes the Whopper as “the burger to rule them all,” which contains a “real meaty” beef patty, and other ingredients.

Other fast food chains have recently faced legal challenges over claims of false advertising. Earlier this year, Taco Bell was sued in the United States for selling pizzas and wraps that allegedly contained half the filling that was advertised.

Last year, a man in New York proposed a class-action lawsuit against McDonald’s and Wendy’s, in which he accused the two companies of unfair and deceptive trade practices. The lawsuit alleged that McDonald’s and Wendy’s burgers in marketing materials were at least 15% larger than they were in real life.

In the UK, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) looked into a complaint regarding an ad for one of Burger King’s chicken burgers in 2010, which was upheld.

“In that case, the burger was not as plump and did not have as much filling as in the ad and so we banned it,” Donna Castle from the ASA told the BBC.

“Consumers should be able to trust the ads they see and hear. Ads should not be materially misleading, should not be ambiguous, and should not exaggerate or leave out any important information,” she added.

Research contact: @BBC

Russia seizes control of Danone and Carlsberg operations

July 18, 2023

The Kremlin has taken control of the in-country subsidiaries of yogurt maker Danone and beer company Carlsberg, reports the BBC.

The units have been put in “temporary management” of the state, under a new order signed by Russian President Vladimir Putin. Moscow introduced rules earlier this year allowing it to seize the assets of firms from “unfriendly” countries. This came after many companies halted business in Russia following its invasion of Ukraine.

Danone and Carlsberg were in the process of selling their Russian operations.

Sunday’s order places the shares of Danone Russia and the Carlsberg-owned Baltika Breweries under the control of Russian property agency Rosimushchestvo.

France-based Danone, which started the process to sell its Russian business last October, said it was “currently investigating the situation”.

The firm added that it was “preparing to take all necessary measures to protect its rights as shareholder of Danone Russia, and the continuity of the operations of the business”.

Carlsberg said it had not received “any official information from the Russian authorities regarding the presidential decree of the consequences for Baltika Breweries”.

The Danish brewer also said it had completed an “extensive process” to separate the Russian unit from the rest of the company. Last month, the company signed an agreement to sell Baltika Breweries but had not yet completed the deal.

“Following the presidential decree, the prospects for this sales process are now highly uncertain,” it added.

In April, Putin signed an order allowing Russia to take temporary control of foreign assets, in response to actions by the United States and other countries that Russia said were “unfriendly and contrary to international law”.

Also in April, it was announced that the Russian units of two energy companies – Germany’s Uniper and Fortum of Finland, had been brought under state control.

Danone’s Russia operation is the country’s largest dairy company, with around 8,000 employees. It was estimated that the sale of the business would result in a €1bn (US$1.1bn; £860m) hit for Danone.

Meanwhile, Carlsberg subsidiary Baltika produces some of the most recognizable beer brands in Russia, with 8,400 employees across eight plants, according to Carlsberg’s website.

Research contact: @BBC

South Koreans become younger under new age-counting law

July 5, 2023

South Koreans have become a year or two younger as a new law aligns the nation’s two traditional age-counting methods with international standards, reports the BBC.

The law scraps a traditional system that deemed South Koreans one year old at birth—counting time in the womb.

Another counted everyone as aging by a year every first day of January, instead of on their birthdays.

The switch to age-counting based on birth date took effect on Wednesday, June 30.

President Yoon Suk Yeol pushed strongly for the change when he ran for office last year. The traditional age-counting methods created “unnecessary social and economic costs,” he said. For instance, disputes have arisen over insurance payouts and determining eligibility for government assistance programs.

Previously, the most widely used calculation method in Korea was the centuries-old “Korean age” system, in which a person turns one at birth and gains a year on January 1. This means that a baby born on December 31 would be two years old the next day.

A separate “counting age” system, that was also traditionally used in the country, considers a person zero at birth and adds a year on 1 January. This means that, for example, as of June 28, a person born on 29 June 2003 is 19 under the international system, 20 under the “counting age” system and 21 under the “Korean age” system.

Lawmakers voted to scrap the traditional counting methods last December.

Despite the move, many existing statutes that count a person’s age based on the “counting age” calendar year system will remain. For example, South Koreans can buy cigarettes and alcohol from the year—not the day—they turn 19.

Three in four South Koreans were in favor of the standardization, according to a poll by local firm Hankook Research in January 2022.

Some, like Jeongsuk Woo, hope the change will help break down Korea’s hierarchical culture: “There is a subconscious layer of ageism in people’s behavior. This is evident even in the complex language system based on age …. I hope the abolition of ‘Korean age’ system and the adaptation of the international standard get rid of old relics of the past,” said the 28-year-old content creator.

Another resident, Hyun Jeong Byun, said: “I love it, because now I’m two years younger. My birthday is in December, so I always felt like this Korean age system is making me socially older than what I actually am. Now that Korea is following the global standard, I no longer have to explain my ‘Korean age’ when I go abroad.”

The 31-year-old doctor said South Korea’s medical sector has already been adopting the international age system.

The traditional age-counting methods were also used by other East Asian countries, but most have dropped it. Japan adopted the international standard in 1950, while North Korea followed suit in the 1980s.

Research contact: @BBC

White Post Farm appeals for names for baby armadillo

July 4, 2023

A U.K.-based ‘visitor farm’—similar to an American ‘petting zoo’— has put out an appeal for help in naming a seven-week-old baby armadillo, born on May 12, reports the BBC.

The tiny female armadillo is the first exotic mammal the team at White Post Farm in Farnsfield, Nottinghamshire, has reared since obtaining a zoo license in 2020.

Two six-banded armadillos arrived at the farm in 2021 and have became one of its most popular attractions.

Head of Exotics Martin Vernon said the arrival of their baby was a “great achievement, “ noting that “Successfully breeding armadillos is very difficult so this is fantastic news.”

Since posting about the newcomer on Facebook, the farm says families have visited especially to see the armadillos.

Vernon added,  “The little one was born on 12 May; but it was really important we kept it under wraps whilst we carefully monitored the first weeks of her life. Matilda, who is mum, is doing so well and looking after her baby brilliantly.

“We’ve actually had quite a few families that have come in especially to see it after last night’s Facebook post.”

Of the baby’s personality, he says, “It is quite shy but getting braver all the time.”

Visitors and supporters of the farm have been invited to suggest names for the new arrival on the attraction’s Facebook page.

Research contact: @BBC

Katy Perry vs. Katie Perry: Singer loses trademark battle

April 30, 2023

Singer Katy Perry has lost a trademark battle with an Australian fashion designer called Katie Perry, reports the BBC.

Katie Taylor, who sells clothes under her birth name Katie Perry, sued the pop star, saying her merchandise infringed a trademark she owned. On Friday, a judge agreed that clothing sold for Katy’s 2014 Australian tour did breach Katie’s trademark.

“This is a tale of two women, two teenage dreams and one name,” Justice Brigitte Markovic wrote in her ruling.The judge said the “Teenage Dream” singer, born Katheryn Hudson, used the Katy Perry name in “good faith” and does not owe any personal compensation to the designer.

However, the star’s company, Kitty Purry, must pay damages, which will be decided next month.

The designer started selling clothes using the brand name Katie Perry in 2007, and registered it as a trademark in Australia the following year.

The singer, who scored her first hits in 2008, was ruled to have infringed the trademark by promoting a jacket advertising her album Roar, “Cozy Little Christmas” hoodies, T-shirts, sweatpants, and scarves, on social media.

However, the judge rejected further claims relating to sales in certain stores and websites, and merchandise for a 2018 tour.

Justice Markovic dismissed a bid by the pop star to cancel the Katie Perry trademark.

The designer described the outcome as a victory in a “David and Goliath” case.

“Not only have I fought [for] myself, but I fought for small businesses in this country, many of them started by women, who can find themselves up against overseas entities who have much more financial power than we do,” she wrote on her website.

Research contact: @BBC

Twitter changes its name to X Corp., an entity incorporated in Nevada

April 14, 2023

Twitter has told the courts that it has a new company name in a new state: X Corp.—an entity incorporated in Nevada instead of Twitter’s previous domicile in Delaware, reports The Wall Street Journal.

While the social-media platform on users’ phones and computers still bears the name Twitter, “Twitter Inc. has been merged into X Corp. and no longer exists,” according to a legal filing last week informing a Florida federal court of the change in a case where Twitter is a party. X Corp. is a privately held company incorporated in Nevada, Twitter’s lawyers said.

The company’s principal place of business remains San Francisco, where Twitter is based, according to the filing. X Corp. has a parent company named X Holdings  Corp., the filing shows, according to the Journal. The company also recorded the merger in Delaware filings.

 The changes drew attention in recent days, as the documents circulated online and media outlets including Slate wrote about them. The information in the filings prompted online speculation that it was part of a grand vision about which owner Elon Musk has tweeted, which is using his acquisition of Twitter to help create “X, the everything app.”

Twitter responded with an auto-reply poop emoji to an email inquiry from The Wall Street Journal about the reason for the change.

On Tuesday, April 11, amid retweets from Musk about SpaceX, his rocket company, and Twitter’s legacy blue check marks, the billionaire tweeted an “X” without any other context or details. Musk’s history with the letter goes way back: His former online banking startup, X.com, later became PayPal after a merger with another firm. Musk often refers to one of his children as X.

The billionaire also has other business ventures in Nevada. Tesla, the electric-vehicle maker of which he is also chief executive, operates a plant near Reno; The Boring Co., Musk’s tunneling company, has a project in Las Vegas.

In an interview with the BBC late Tuesday, Musk said about the name change: “My goal is to create X the everything app,” and reiterated that “Twitter is an accelerant.”

Some corporate-law specialists say they still have some questions about the company’s structure. Another entity called Twitter was recently registered in Nevada, with Musk as its president, according to a filing, and some observers said it wasn’t exactly clear how that entity related to X Corp. One law professor said it could be an entity that Musk could use for Twitter if he wanted at some future point—or a way to keep anyone else from trying to use the name.

Moving the company to Nevada from Delaware has broader business implications, according to corporate-law specialists.

Nevada has for years tried to present itself as an alternative to Delaware for companies looking for a home, said Benjamin Edwards, a law professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. But Delaware remains more popular, he said, for reasons including the reputation of its Court of Chancery and that many business lawyers and investors tend to be familiar with Delaware law.

Compared with Delaware, Nevada’s laws grant more discretion and protection to a company’s management and officers, said Zohar Goshen, a professor of transactional law at Columbia Law School. Twitter is now “a private company controlled by one person so they can make that move,” he said. For public companies, Goshen said, “It’s not going to be that simple for them to switch to a place where shareholders enjoy less protection.”

“There are a few often-cited reasons why companies might move out of Delaware to Nevada,” said Lauren Pringle, editor in chief of the Chancery Daily, a legal industry publication. They include Nevada’s greater limits on personal liability for directors and officers of a corporation, and limited liability for a breach of duty, she said.

Ann Lipton, a law professor at Tulane University, said moving to Nevada means the company can be sued in that state going forward, instead of in Delaware. But any litigation already under way in Delaware likely won’t move to Nevada, she said.

Musk, who has previously shown a willingness to take legal battles to trial rather than settling, has had a mixed record in Delaware’s Court of Chancery. He faced a monthslong fight in the court over his effort to abandon his $44 billion deal to acquire Twitter. He said Tuesday that he agreed to the deal last year because he thought the judge would eventually force him to do so.

Musk also won a major victory last year when a different Delaware judge ruled the Tesla chief executive didn’t act unlawfully in the electric-vehicle maker’s takeover of SolarCity.

“Moving to Nevada is a way of saying, ‘You won’t see me around here no more,’” Edwards said. If Musk disagrees with the way the Chancery Court has decided his cases, Edwards said, “He can communicate that to them by exiting the jurisdiction. There’s nothing compelling him to play ball in Delaware court.”

Research contact: @WSJ