Tag Archives: Technology

Airbnb and the so-called sharing economy is hollowing out our cities | Gaby Hinsliff

The plight of Barcelona shows the damage Airbnb can do, exacerbating urban inequality and freezing out young locals, says Guardian columnist Gaby Hinsliff

The banner hung from a third-floor balcony, unfurling itself almost all the way down to the cobbles of the square. Barcelona no est en venda, it read, inlarge hand-painted letters: the city is not for sale. It wasnt the first such slogan wed seen in only an hour or so strolling around the narrow, winding streets of Barcelonas beautiful old quarter last week, and naturally our curiosity was piqued. Something to do with gentrification, or developers maybe? Well, partly. But, disconcertingly, it turned out to have quite alot to dowith people like us, and possibly you too.

Or to be more precise, with the multibillion-pound global phenomenon that is Airbnb. As it happens, Im boringly old school enough to have stayed in a hotel this time, but the airport bus was full of young families chattering about picking up their flat keys via the site that is famous for letting people rent their houses out to strangers. And Barcelona is far from the only place in which Airbnb is accused of turning summer sour.

Amsterdam is heavily restricting short-term lets by residents after street protests against the swamping ofthe city by tourists last year. Its the same story from Paris to Berlin, Venice to Lisbon. Even in Cornwall, atthe height of this summers heatwave, tourist chiefs took the unusual step of asking holidaymakers to avoid some popular beaches after coastal roads became gridlocked, leaving locals struggling to get on with their daily lives. People in Cornwall are more than used to being overrun in August, but lately something seems to be upsetting the eternally delicate balance between grockle and local, and chief suspect seems to be an unplanned, somewhat unpredictable explosion in Airbnb lets on top of the longstanding hotel and holiday cottage trade.

At least in the West Country things tend to calm down in September. Barcelona is a city-break destination practically all year round, which means its struggling with more than just a surfeit of drunken stag parties and queues outside tapas bars. Landlords have realised they can make more money out of short lets to well-off Airbnb users than from renting to conventional tenants who live and work in the city year round, so when contracts come up for renewal its not uncommon to find the rent suddenly shooting up to levels that young Spaniards cant pay. Once theyre forced out of the neighbourhood, the empty flat promptly disappears into whats still sometimes euphemistically known as the sharing economy, although what happens next sounds like the antithesis of sharing. Those lucky enough to own a desirable property get steadily luckier, by pimping it out to the highest bidders. Meanwhile, those who dont have such an asset become ever less likely to get one, as property prices are pushed up across the city. Thus does inequality harden, and resentment deepen, while the failure of mainstream parties to solve the problem drives the young and frustrated ever closer to the political fringes.

The young woman in a Barcelona barbers shop who matter-of-factly explained what the slogans were about, while running her scissors over my husband, had long ago given up on buying in the city where she grew up. But now shes not even sure how long shell be able to rent. The tourists dilemma has always been that descending on idyllic places tends to ruin them for people who live there, but whats unusual in this case isthat the effects run so deep.

So much for the earnestly hippyish vibe of the original Airbnb model, which was supposed to be all about creating a cosy-sounding global community by linking up adventurous strangers in search of more authentic, home-from-home travel experiences. And so much, too, for the idea of democratising the travel industry by letting the little guy make a buck on the side. In some tourist hotspots Airbnb is now morphing from an amateur operation into a slick professional one, with landlords amassing multiple properties just as they once did with buy-to-let, and using agencies to manage their burgeoning empires.

The romantic, if sometimes risky, fantasy of swapping lives with a local for a few nights and seeing the city through their eyes is being replaced with a more corporate, impersonal experience. Sign here for the keys; check out promptly in time for the next guest to arrive. Too bad that what could have been a young couples starter flat is now just another asset to be sweated, and one that probably stands empty half the time.

Crowds
Along with other Spanish cities, Barcelona has moved to limit the Airbnb effect, with licensing schemes and curbs on new rentals in the old town. Photograph: Alamy

And if its uncomfortable knowing that your cheap getaway comes at such a hidden cost, guilt seems unlikely to put many travellers off. After all, pangs of conscience about climate change didnt stop millions of us taking cheap no-frills flights back in the days when it was easyJet that was disrupting the holiday market. But this is about more than what individuals choose to do with their summers. Its about how modern markets function, and what happens when governments either wont intervene or cant quite work out how to do so quickly enough. Along with other Spanish cities, Barcelona has moved to limit the Airbnb effect with licensing schemes and curbs on new rentals in the old town. But if weve learned anything from the Ubers and the Amazons and the Facebooks, its that by the time the unwanted human consequences of digital disruption become obvious, much of the damage is often already done.

What really struck the Barcelona hairdresser, however, was that when she travelled she heard similar stories. Cities all over the globe seem to be eating themselves, squeezing out the young and the skint and the creative, who are all too often the people who made them achingly hip in the first place. It manifests itself differently in different places, of course: London had a housing affordability crisis before Airbnb was even invented. Soaring prices from Berlin toVancouver to Sydney have been blamed on everything from cheap borrowing and foreign speculation to changing demographics and government failure to build enough social housing, none of which are remotely the fault of second-home owners turning aquick profit.

But the common thread is a sense that, for whatever reason, markets are not delivering for the young in apost-crash world; that digital disruption only makes things more unpredictable; and that years of politicians earnestly promising to do something about it have come to pitifully little. All of which is a statement of the bleeding obvious now, a truth so universally accepted that its almost completely lost its power to shock until seen from a slightly fresh perspective. But then thats the thing about travel. Sometimes you go halfway round the world only to notice what was under your nose all along.

Gaby Hinsliff is a Guardian columnist

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/aug/31/airbnb-sharing-economy-cities-barcelona-inequality-locals

China Threatens to Hold Apple Hostage

To gain advantage in the intensifying trade war with the United States, China threatened on Tuesday to retaliate against Apple Inc with an incredible public statement.

China is by far the most important overseas market for the U.S.-based Apple, leaving it exposed if Chinese people make it a target of anger and nationalist sentiment, Peoples Daily stated in an article titled Strong Sales of U.S. Brands Including Apple Give China Bargaining Chips in Trade Row.

The article, reprinted from a sister newspaper, went on: China doesnt want to close its doors to Apple despite the trade conflict, but if the U.S. company wants to earn good money in China, it needs to share its development dividends with the Chinese people.

The article in the Communist Partysand therefore, Chinasmost authoritative publication added one more implied threat: It is impractical and unreasonable to kick the company out of China, but if Apple wants to continue raking in enormous profits from the Chinese markets amid trade tensions, the company needs to do more to share the economic cake with local Chinese people.

In a country filled with customers crazy for Apple products, the only way the American brand would become a target of ire is if the political leadership was determined to make it so, as Beijing has done with other foreign businesses. Chinese officials have organized protests against a host of Japanese companies and, more recently, Lotte Group, the South Korean retail and tourism conglomerate.

The Communist Party has also gone after Apple before. In March 2013, for instance, Chinese officials took a series of actions, suggesting they were seeking to undermine the brand.

Apples long-term future in the Peoples Republic was in grave doubt long before President Trump challenged the U.S.-China trade status quo, Alan Tonelson, a Washington, D.C.-based trade expert, told The Daily Beast. Beijings economic game plan has always called for kicking out or marginalizing foreign companies as soon as Chinese entities could adequately create their own products and services. With several Chinese smartphone producers nearing full global competitiveness, Beijing had already been undermining the company.

But while official campaigning against Apple by Chinese ruler Xi Jinping had worked in the past, there has been a remarkable lack of patriotic sentiment this time expressed against either the United States or Apple.

If Xi is in fact diminished, Apple, among other companies, will be safer. Xi is thought to be behind the plan to launch precision strikes on U.S. businesses, in other words, holding them as hostages.

Why? For one thing, there is a sizable group of elite Chinese who happen to agree with Trump or at least with the actions of his administration. People I have spoken with in China universally acknowledge the U.S. is justified in launching the trade war, Charles Burton of Brock University told me Thursday. On just-completed travel from one end of China to the otherShanghai, Kunming, and Linyithe noted Canadian China-watcher heard people say that American charges of unfair trade practices and coercive or illegal acquisition of U.S. technology are fully valid.

Burton noticed something else, also suggested by others in recent days. There is, he told me, a general consensus that Mr. Xi has brought shame on China by his dishonorable trade policies, which violate the core teachings of Confucian tradition upholding honesty and openness in all dealings as the mark of the cultured and upright government official.

Not all observers have put this observation in the context of ancient philosophical thought, but there is, around China, an evident unease at flagrant intellectual property theft, especially now that Trump has made what looks like an uncompromising stand on the issue.

At the beginning of this year, there was a general consensus in Beijing that Xi could manage Trump, that the Americans China, China, China rhetoric was merely campaign-trail blather. This view at first looked to be correct, given Trumps effusive words for Xi at and following the Mar-a-Lago summit last April.

Until recently, it looked like Trump was following in the footsteps of Presidents Clinton, Bush, and Obama, who all talked tough on China as they sought office and then defaulted to decades-old engagement policy once entering the White House.

Thats changed. Academic Yang Qijing of Beijings Renmin University has since become a star in the Chinese capital because he did not dismiss Trumps trade rhetoric, and Xi Jinping is now under relentless attack for provoking the once-sleeping Americans.

Communist Party bigwigs are at this moment thought to be at their semi-secret annual retreat at Beidaihe, where the new conventional wisdom is that Party elders will chop Chinas once-absolute supremo down to size.

If Xi is in fact diminished, Apple, among other companies, will be safer. Xi is thought to be behind the plan to launch precision strikes on U.S. businesses, in other words, holding them as hostages.

And that brings us back to Apple. CNBCs Jim Cramer thinks Beijing will leave the company alone because attacking it would be playing with fire. Cramer, therefore, predicts Chinese officials will target some other companies first.

But if Beijing goes after any American companies, it would more likely be an historic mistake that would warn others to stay away from China. As The New York Times reported Wednesday, trade friction is already forcing multinationals to think of moving supply chains away from China. Xis retaliation could get them to do more than think about it.

Thats what many in Beijing have been worried about. After especially pugnacious comments from Xi late last June, the South China Morning Post quoted officials saying that targeting U.S. firms in China has never been on the cards.

Therefore, Tuesdays extortionist demand by Peoples Daily looks like it will wound Xi Jinping and his China more than the United States and its iconic company.

Read more: https://www.thedailybeast.com/china-threatens-to-hold-apple-hostage

Tesla Marks the Latest High-Profile Bet for Saudi Wealth Fund

Saudi Arabia’s purchase of a stake of about $2 billion in Tesla Inc. is only the latest high-profile investment by its sovereign wealth fund since 2016.

The Public Investment Fund built up a less-than 5 percent stake in the electric carmaker in recent months, according to a person familiar with the matter, just as Elon Musk considers taking the company private. PIF’s move comes as it seeks to turn into a $2 trillion powerhouse and help diversify Saudi Arabia’s oil-dependent economy. Here’s a selection of PIF’s recent investments and holdings:

Uber Technologies Inc.

PIF invested $3.5 billion in U.S. ride-share company Uber Technologies Inc. in June 2016. PIF Managing Director Yasir Al-Rumayyan took a board seat at the San Francisco-based company after the deal, which valued Uber at $62.5 billion. At the time it was the biggest infusion of cash into Uber from a single investor.

Virgin Group

The fund announced plans in October 2017 to invest about $1 billion in Virgin Group’s space companies, Virgin Galactic, The Spaceship Co. and Virgin Orbit. PIF also holds an option to invest an additional $480 million in Virgin’s space services. Saudi Arabia plans to support the ventures’ plans for human spaceflight and launching satellites into orbit and may cooperate with Virgin to create a space-centric entertainment industry in the country.

Blackstone funds

PIF agreed to commit $20 billion in May 2017 to an infrastructure investment fund with Blackstone Group LP, the world’s biggest private-equity manager. Blackstone plans to raise the same amount from other investors and with leverage, the New York-based asset manager expects to have more than $100 billion in purchasing power for infrastructure projects, primarily in the U.S.

SoftBank

Saudi Arabia and SoftBank Group Corp. announced the first close of an almost $100 billion technology fund, the largest ever, in May 2017 secured from backers led by PIF and the Japanese company. PIF didn’t disclose the size of its investment, but Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said he might invest up to $45 billion in the fund over five years. Apple Inc., Qualcomm Inc., Foxconn Technology Group and Sharp Corp. also put in capital.

Separately, PIF also owns stakes in some of Saudi Arabia’s biggest companies on behalf of the government:

Saudi Basic Industries Corp., owns 70%

Holds 70 percent of Saudi Basic Industries Corp., the world’s second-biggest chemicals maker by market value. It is now seeking to sell the 70 percent stake to oil company Saudi Aramco.

Saudi Telecom Co., owns 70%

Owns 70 percent of Saudi Telecom Co., the country’s biggest phone services provider. The company competes in the local market with a unit of U.A.E.’s Etisalat and Kuwait’s Zain.

National Commercial Bank, owns 44%

Holds 44.3 percent of National Commercial Bank, the country’s biggest lender.

Saudi Arabian Mining Co., owns 65%

Holds 65.4 percent of Saudi Arabian Mining Co., or Maaden, which has interests in low-grade bauxite, phosphate, aluminum and industrial minerals.

Samba Financial Group, owns 23%

Holds a 22.9 percent stake in Samba Financial Group, the country’s third-biggest bank. Citigroup Inc. sold its stake in Samba in 2004.

    Read more: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-08-08/tesla-marks-the-latest-high-profile-bet-for-saudi-wealth-fund

    Deutsche Bank Cuts Costs Again. Not Even Fruit Bowls Are Safe

    The list of perks at Deutsche Bank AG is shrinking fast.

    Investment bankers at Germany’s largest lender have been told to travel coach class on trains; fewer are able to attend conferences and some former employees said severance pay was less generous than previous handouts. Even small treats like the daily fruit bowls are disappearing.

    The frugal ethos described by half a dozen people with knowledge of the company’s policies reflects Chief Executive Officer Christian Sewing’s focus on saving after a series of botched turnaround efforts. The appointment of a new chief operating officer, Frank Kuhnke, as a direct report to Sewing is a signal that the CEO wants to have better control over processes and expenses. Kuhnke’s efficient yet blunt tactics have earned him the moniker ‘Frank the Tank,’ one person said.

    Sewing has been warning senior managers at the investment bank that if they can’t show they’re able to control expenses, he won’t trust them to be able to grow revenue either. Managers are being given fixed budgets that they must not exceed under any circumstances, said the people, asking not to be identified in discussing internal information.

    While a large part of the bank’s savings will come from a plan to lay off at least 7,000 people, Sewing is scrutinizing non-compensation expenses to change a culture where budget overruns were often seen as trivial, the people said. That’s especially true of the securities unit.

    ‘Negative Surprises’

    Sewing’s predecessor, John Cryan, had previously targeted more costly incentives like a NetJets account for top executives, but expenses still spiked in the fourth quarter of last year as the bank set aside hundreds of millions of euros for bonuses to stem defections. Cryan, who once said that he didn’t understand how “additional excess riches” drive people, later had to abandon a cost target, a decision widely seen as accelerating his ouster in April of this year.

    “Deutsche Bank has a history of negative surprises on costs in the fourth quarter, including last year,” Sewing said on an analyst call in late July. “That pattern ends in 2018.”

    A spokesman for Deutsche Bank declined to comment on the cost saving measures.

    Read more about Cryan’s efforts to cut costs here.

    Travel expenses are one focus of the cost cuts that are now being implemented. Investment bankers in London were scolded last year by the then-regional head of the unit, Alasdair Warren, for their profligate travel spending, one person said. The unit is also reviewing expenses for legal and compliance matters after comparing itself to other banks and finding it’s doing much worse.

    Internal processes have long been a focus of cost cuts at the lender, but the bank has struggled to simplify them. It said this month that internal reviews show its anti-money laundering processes remain too complex and there was a “need to improve in terms of internal processes.” Last year, the Federal Reserve designated the bank’s U.S. business as troubled and this year it failed the bank in its annual stress tests on qualitative grounds, citing “widespread and critical deficiencies” in its internal controls.

    ‘Frank the Tank’

    Kuhnke, the new COO, is taking a fresh look at processes and has already implemented projects — for example getting so-called know-your-customer documentation — that other managers previously failed to carry out. Deutsche Bank is also aiming to accelerate cost savings from the merger of its two German retail units, and it’s focusing on eliminating duplication in back-office functions and computer systems at its German headquarters.

    The bank has also been closing its office in Houston and shrinking the office in Chicago. Previous plans by DWS, the bank’s asset management business, to move to a new Frankfurt office were abandoned amid a stronger focus on costs.

    Cutting compensation expenses, however, won’t be easy. The CEO has promised shareholders that Deutsche Bank’s headcount will fall “well below” 90,000 by the end of next year and he would actually like to get the figure below 87,000, according to two people briefed on his thinking. But an agreement with labor unions prevents Deutsche Bank from firing domestic employees against their will until mid-2021.

    Bonus cuts won’t be easy either. The bank has signaled it won’t be skimpy on pay, at least not for its top performers. Compensation expenses in the investment bank actually rose in the second quarter despite a lower headcount as the bank continued to set aside money for future bonus payments.

    Deutsche Bank’s costs “remain stubbornly high as the group has to make up for a lack of investment in previous years, and German cost reduction is limited by union agreements,” Amit Goel, an analyst at Barclays Plc, wrote in a note.

      Read more: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-08-09/deutsche-bank-cuts-costs-again-not-even-fruit-bowls-are-safe

      First Marijuana-Based Medicine Is Approved for Sale in U.S.

      The first-ever medical treatment derived from a marijuana plant will hit the U.S. market in a few months after regulators on Monday gave the epilepsy treatment the green light.

      The Food and Drug Administration approved GW Pharmaceuticals Plc’s Epidiolex to treat two rare forms of childhood epilepsy, according to a statement from the agency. The liquid is made from a compound in the marijuana plant called cannabidiol, a different chemical from tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, which gets users high.

      GW Pharmaceuticals’ Epidiolex medication.

      Photographer: Kathy Young/AP

      Epilepsy patients and doctors have long had interest in marijuana’s therapeutic potential. The approval marks the first time patients will have access in the U.S. to a cannabis-derived drug that has undergone a safety and efficacy review by the FDA.

      “The same principles around any prescription medication can now be applied to cannabis-based medications,” GW Pharma Chief Executive Officer Justin Gover said in an interview before the FDA’s decision. “That underlies the whole value of this. We now remove ourselves from being a special case and now meet the standard criteria for prescription medications.”

      FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb issued a separate statement stressing the importance of proper research on medical uses of marijuana and cautioning other companies that might try to push their pot treatments.

      “This is an important medical advance,” Gottlieb said of Epidiolex. “But it’s also important to note that this is not an approval of marijuana or all of its components.”

      GW Pharma’s American depositary receipts fell less than 1 percent to $149.85 at 1:03 p.m. in New York. They had gained 15 percent this year through Friday’s close.

      GW Pharma has to wait to sell Epidiolex until the Drug Enforcement Administration decides what restrictions to place on the drug to ensure that it reaches only the patients for whom it is intended. The DEA, which classifies marijuana as an illegal drug, is required to make that determination in 90 days, Gover said. FDA staff said at an April meeting on the drug with outside advisers that cannibidiol, known as CBD, “does not appear to have abuse potential.”

      Severe Forms

      Epidiolex is approved to treat Lennox-Gastaut and Dravet syndromes in patients age 2 or older. Both are considered severe forms of epilepsy that begin in childhood. They’re resistant to many existing treatments, and as many as 20 percent of children with Dravet syndrome die before reaching adulthood, according to the National Institutes of Health.

      GW Pharma will make Epidiolex in the U.K., where the company is based, Gover said, and export the finished product to the U.S. As of last week, the company hadn’t determined the price but was in preliminary talks with insurance companies to make them aware Epidiolex is coming, he said.

      While Epidiolex is the first approved medicine that comes from a pot plant, the FDA has allowed the use a few drugs made from synthetic cannabinoids, including Insys Therapeutics Inc.’s Syndros for loss of appetite in people with AIDS and nausea caused by chemotherapy. Insys is developing a cannabidiol oral solution for a severe type of epileptic seizure known as infantile spasms, and childhood epilepsy defined by staring spells where the child isn’t aware or responsive.

      (Updates with FDA commissioner comments in fifth paragraph.)

        Read more: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-06-25/first-marijuana-based-medicine-wins-approval-for-sale-in-u-s

        When It Comes to Tipping, Millennials Are Cheapest

        U.S. millennials are quick to whip out their wallets for pricey avocado toast and craft beer. But when it comes to rewarding the waiters and bartenders who serve them, those wallets often stay closed.

        Ten percent of millennials don’t tip at all when dining out compared with only three percent among the older generations, according to a study released Monday by CreditCards.com, an online credit card marketplace.

        And those millennials who do tip at restaurants tend to leave a median gratuity of 15 percent, less than the overall average. Gen-Xers, baby boomers and the oldest Americans, the so-called Silent Generation, are more generous, leaving between 18 and 20 percent.

        “It was interesting to see that millennials are the worst tippers—because the typical restaurant worker a millennial,” CreditCards.com senior industry analyst Matt Schulz said in an interview. “It’s self-defeating.”

        The study was conducted for CreditCards.com by market-research firm GfK, which gathered data last month from 1,000 Americans aged 18 and older. Millennials were defined as between the ages of 18 and 37.

        Beyond those poor waiters, taxi drivers and baristas fared even worse with their millennial customers. Apparently even the suggestion that a tip is expected puts some of these young people off. Eighteen percent of millennials surveyed said they typically decline to leave any amount when presented with pre-entered tipping options—say if they’re in a taxi or taking a Lyft or Uber.

        Why are these American youth, many of whom work in tip-reliant industries, so cheap? The answer may be economic. “Millennials’ financial struggles are a big reason they tip less,” Schulz said.

        But other data point to a more cynical explanation. Millennials do tend to spend more of their disposable income eating out, according to 2017 data from Merrill Lynch. After all, that tip can pay for dessert.

        But twenty and thirty-somethings aren’t the only skinflint demographic. Men, southerners, westerners, parents with young children, lower earners and the less educated said they tip less in restaurants than the overall median of 18 percent, according to the study.

        Who, then, leaves the largest tips?

        The study found people who are college educated, over the age of 65, from the Northeast and Midwest, and women all reported leaving a median of 20 percent—an above average tip.

          Read more: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-06-18/when-it-comes-to-tipping-millennials-are-cheapest

          Ambien maker responds to Roseanne Barr: ‘Racism is not a known side effect’

          After the comedian partly blamed her controversial tweets on taking the sedative, drug-maker Sanofi released a statement

          The drug manufacturer Sanofi has clarified that one of its most popular medications, the sedative Ambien, does not cause racism. Sanofi tweeted: While all pharmaceutical treatments have side effects, racism is not a known side effect of any Sanofi medication.

          The companys statement came after Roseanne Barr partly blamed the drug for the series of racist tweets which led to her ABC sitcom being cancelled.

          Sanofi US (@SanofiUS)

          People of all races, religions and nationalities work at Sanofi every day to improve the lives of people around the world. While all pharmaceutical treatments have side effects, racism is not a known side effect of any Sanofi medication.

          May 30, 2018

          Early on Wednesday, a day after ABC cancelled her show, Barr tweeted: It was 2 in the morning and I was ambien tweeting it was memorial day too i went 2 far & do not want it defended it was egregious Indefensible. I made a mistake I wish I hadnt but…dont defend it please.

          The medication guide that comes with every bottle of Ambien lists potential activities that may occur under the influence of the drug. It does not mention Twitter outbursts, but does warn of a wide variety of other possible side effects: You may get up out of bed while not being fully awake and do an activity that you do not know you are doing. The next morning, you may not remember that you did anything during the night reported activities include: driving a car (sleep-driving), making and eating food, talking on the phone, having sex.

          In a separate tweet, Barr said she was not giving excuses for what I did but that she had previously cracked eggs on the wall at 2am after taking the drug.

          Replying to the radio host David Pakman, who had mocked her Ambien tweet, Barr also wrote: I have had odd ambien experiences on tweeting late at night-like many other ppl do. I BLAME MYSELF OK? its just an explanation not an excuse, Ok, bully?

          Barrs tweet led to Ambien quickly becoming a meme on social media. Many people suggested that other heinous acts in history were the result of taking the drug.

          Jason O. Gilbert (@gilbertjasono)

          (Chanting)
          WE! JUST! TOOK! AMBIEN! pic.twitter.com/esu3IMj8gu

          May 30, 2018

          Barr did not say whether her decade-long history of racially charged tweets and promotion of conspiracy theories also occurred under the influence of Ambien.

          Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/culture/2018/may/30/roseanne-ambien-racism-tweet-side-effect-response-sanofi

          Electric Buses Are Hurting the Oil Industry

          • About 279,000 barrels a day of fuel won’t be needed this year
          • China adds a London-sized electric bus fleet every five weeks

          Electric buses were seen as a joke at an industry conference in Belgium seven years ago when the Chinese manufacturer BYD Co. showed an early model.

          “Everyone was laughing at BYD for making a toy,” recalled Isbrand Ho, the Shenzhen-based company’s managing director in Europe. “And look now. Everyone has one.”

          Suddenly, buses with battery-powered motors are a serious matter with the potential to revolutionize city transport—and add to the forces reshaping the energy industry. With China leading the way, making the traditional smog-belching diesel behemoth run on electricity is starting to eat away at fossil fuel demand.

          The numbers are staggering. China had about 99 percent of the 385,000 electric buses on the roads worldwide in 2017, accounting for 17 percent of the country’s entire fleet. Every five weeks, Chinese cities add 9,500 of the zero-emissions transporters—the equivalent of London’s entire working fleet, according Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

          All this is starting to make an observable reduction in fuel demand. And because they consume 30 times more fuel than average sized cars, their impact on energy use so far has become much greater than the passenger sedans produced by companies from Tesla Inc. to Toyota Motor Corp.

          Keeping It in the Ground

          Cumulative global fuel displacement by e-buses and passenger EVs

          Source: Bloomberg New Energy Finance

          For every 1,000 battery-powered buses on the road, about 500 barrels a day of diesel fuel will be displaced from the market, according to BNEF calculations. This year, the volume of fuel not needed may rise 37 percent to 279,000 barrels a day because of electric transport including cars and light trucks, about as much oil as Greece consumes, according to BNEF. Buses account for about 233,000 barrels of that total.

          “This segment is approaching the tipping point,” said Colin McKerracher, head of advanced transport at the London-based research unit of Bloomberg LP. “City governments all over the world are being taken to task over poor urban air quality. This pressure isn’t going away, and electric bus sales are positioned to benefit.”

          China is ahead on electrifying its fleet because it has the world’s worst pollution problem. With a growing urban population and galloping energy demand, the nation’s legendary smogs were responsible for 1.6 million extra deaths in 2015, according to non-profit Berkeley Earth.

          Putting It Back

          Global fuel demand displaced by e-buses

          Source: Bloomberg New Energy Finance

          A decade ago, Shenzhen was a typical example of a booming Chinese city that had given little thought to the environment. Its smog became so notorious that the government picked it for a pilot program for energy conservation and zero emissions vehicles in 2009. Two years later, the first electric buses rolled off BYD’s production line there. And in December, all of Shenzhen’s 16,359 buses were electric.

          BYD had 13 percent of China’s electric bus market in 2016 and put 14,000 of the vehicles on the streets of Shenzhen alone. It’s built 35,000 so far and has capacity to build as many as 15,000 a year, Ho said.

          A worker charges an electric bus in Shenzhen.
          Photographer: Qilai Shen/Bloomberg

          BYD estimates its buses have logged 17 billion kilometers (10 billion miles) and saved 6.8 billion liters (1.8 billion gallons) of fuel since they started ferrying passengers around the world’s busiest cities. That, according to Ho, adds up to 18 million tons of carbon dioxide pollution avoided, which is about as much as 3.8 million cars produce in each year.

          “The first fleet of pure electric buses provided by BYD started operation in Shenzhen in 2011,” Ho said by phone. “Now, almost 10 years later, in other cities the air quality has worsened while—compared with those cities—Shenzhen’s is much better.”

          Driving the Revolution

          China electric bus sales

          Source: Bloomberg New Energy Finance

          Other cities are taking notice. Paris, London, Mexico City and Los Angeles are among 13 authorities that have committed to only buying zero emissions transport by 2025.

          London is slowly transforming its fleet. Currently four routes in the city center serviced by single-decker units are being shifted to electricity. There are plans to make significant investments to the clean its public transport networks, including retrofitting 5,000 old diesel buses in a program to ensure all buses are emission-free by 2037.

          A BYD Co. double-decker electric bus at the EV Trend Korea exhibition in Seoul on April 12.
          Photographer: SeongJoon Cho/Bloomberg

          Transport for London, responsible for the city’s transport system, declined to comment for this article because of rules around engaging with the media ahead of May local government elections.

          Those goals will have an impact on fuel consumption. London’s network draws about 1.5 million barrels a year of fuel. If the entire fleet goes electric, that may displace 430 barrels a day of diesel for each 1,000 buses going electric, reducing U.K. diesel consumption by about 0.7 percent, according to BNEF.

          Ramping Up

          Top-10 European electric bus fleets, 2017

          Across the U.K. there were 344 electric and plug-in hybrid buses in 2017, and BYD hopes to be picked to supply more. It has partnered with a Scottish bus-maker to provide the batteries for 11 new electric buses that hit the city’s roads in March.

          Falkirk-based manufacturer Alexander Dennis Ltd. began making electric buses in 2016 and has quickly become the European market leader with more than 170 vehicles operating in the U.K. alone.

          More work is on the horizon, with London’s transport authority planning a tender to electrify its iconic double-decker buses, Ho said.

          “The tech is ready,” Ho said. “We are ready, we have our plants in China, and Alexander Dennis in Scotland is geared up for TfL. Once we’re given the word, we are ready to go.”

          (Corrects fifth paragraph to clarify total attributable to buses. )

          Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-04-23/electric-buses-are-hurting-the-oil-industry