US Investigates Deaths in Hyundai-Kia Cars When Air Bags Failed

Air bags in some Hyundai and Kia cars failed to inflate in crashes and four people are dead. Now the U.S. government’s road safety agency wants to know why.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says it’s investigating problems that affect an estimated 425,000 cars made by the Korean automakers. The agency also is looking into whether the same problem could happen in vehicles made by other companies.

In documents posted on its website Saturday , the safety agency says the probe covers 2011 Hyundai Sonata midsize cars and 2012 and 2013 Kia Forte compacts. The agency says it has reports of six front-end crashes with significant damage to the cars. Four people died and six were injured.

Electrical circuits 

The problem has been traced to electrical circuit shorts in air bag control computers made by parts supplier ZF-TRW. NHTSA now wants to know if other automakers used the same computer.

On Feb. 27, Hyundai recalled nearly 155,000 Sonatas because of air bag failures, which the company blamed on the short circuits.Hyundai’s sister automaker Kia, which sells similar vehicles, has yet to issue a recall.

In a statement Saturday, Kia said that it has not confirmed any air bag non-deployments in its 2002-2013 Kia Forte models arising from “the potential chip issue.” The company said it will work with NHTSA investigators.

“Kia will act promptly to conduct a safety recall, if it determines that a recall would be appropriate,” the company said.

But a consumer complaint cited in NHTSA’s investigation documents said Kia was informed of a crash near Oakland in which air bags failed to deploy and a passenger was killed.

In October 2015, the complainant told NHTSA that a 2012 Forte was involved in a serious front-end crash that occurred in July 2013. A passenger was killed and the driver was injured. According to the complaint, Kia was notified, the air bag computer was tested and it was “found not to be working.”

Kia spokesman James Bell said he could not comment beyond the company’s statement.

Hyundai recall

In addition, no deaths or injuries were disclosed in Hyundai’s recall documents, which were posted by NHTSA in early March.

Hyundai spokesman Jim Trainor says the problem occurred in rare high-speed head-on collisions that were offset from the center of the vehicles. “It’s very unusual to have that kind of collision,” he said Saturday.

Dealers will consider offering loaner cars to owners until the problem can be repaired, he said. “We certainly would do everything we can to help our customers,” Trainor said.

Hyundai said in a statement that the air bag control circuitry was damaged in three crashes and a fourth crash is under investigation.

ZF-TRW said in a statement that it is prevented by confidentiality agreements from identifying other automakers that bought its air bag control computers. The company said it is working with customers and supports the NHTSA investigation.

According to NHTSA, Hyundai investigated and found the problem was “electrical overstress” in the computers. The company didn’t have a fix developed at the time but said it was investigating the problem with ZF-TRW. Hyundai does not yet have a fix for the problem but said it expects the Sonata recall to start April 20. The problem also can stop the seat belts from tightening before a crash.

In the documents, NHTSA said it understands that the Kia Fortes under investigation use similar air bag control computers made by ZF-TRW. The agency noted a 2016 recall involving more than 1.4 million Fiat Chrysler cars and SUVs that had a similar problem causing the air bags not to deploy. Agency documents show those vehicles had air bag computers made by ZF-TRW.



Women ‘Weed Warriors’ Leading the Way in US Pot Revolution

The pot revolution is alive and well in the state of Colorado where recreational cannabis has been legal since 2014. While the full impact of legal marijuana in Colorado has yet to be determined, what is clear is that cannabis has become a giant moneymaker for the state. And as Paula Vargas reports from Denver, women entrepreneurs — weed warriors, as some have called them — are leading the way.



Lawmakers Say Britain Should Consider Longer EU Exit Process if Needed

Britain should consider a limited extension to its exit process from the European Union if needed to ensure details of its future relationship with the

bloc are agreed, a committee of lawmakers said in a report.

Prime Minister Theresa May formally notified the EU of Britain’s intention to leave by triggering Article 50 of the membership treaty on March 29, 2017, setting the clock ticking on a two-year exit process.

Britain has said it wants to have the basis of a trade deal set out with the EU by October, but the Exiting the EU Committee said in a report published Sunday that deadline would be tight.

“In the short time that remains, it is difficult to see how it will be possible to negotiate a full, bespoke trade and market access agreement, along with a range of other agreements, including on foreign affairs and defense cooperation,” the committee said.

“If substantial aspects of the future partnership remain to be agreed in October, the government should seek a limited extension to the Article 50 time to ensure that a political declaration on the future partnership that is sufficiently detailed and comprehensive can be concluded.”

The report also said it should be possible to prolong, if necessary, the length of any post-Brexit transition that’s agreed upon by Britain and the EU.

Britain has said it is confident it can reach a deal on the transition period at an EU summit this month. It expects the transition to last around two years after its departure date, although the European Union has said it should be shorter,

ending on Dec. 31, 2020.

The Exiting the EU committee, made up of lawmakers from all the main political parties, also called on the government to present a detailed plan on how a “frictionless” border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland would work.

The Irish border is a key sticking point in negotiations between the U.K. and the EU, as Britain has said it wants to leave the customs union but does not want a “hard” land border with customs checks.



Annual Energy Conference Showcases New Technologies

At this week’s three-day Energy Innovation Summit, organized annually by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency, or ARPA-e for short, experts, entrepreneurs, investors and government officials shared ideas, research results and experiences about challenges facing the generation, transformation, distribution and storage of all forms of energy. VOA’s George Putic gives an overview.



Facebook Cuts Ties with Cambridge Analytica Over Data Privacy

Facebook Inc. on Friday said it was suspending political data analytics firm Cambridge Analytica, which worked for President Donald Trump’s 2016 election campaign, after finding data privacy policies had been violated.

Facebook said in a statement that it suspended Cambridge Analytica and its parent group Strategic Communication Laboratories (SCL) after receiving reports that they did not delete information about Facebook users that had been inappropriately shared.

Cambridge Analytica was not immediately available for comment. Facebook did not mention the Trump campaign or any political campaigns in its statement, attributed to company Deputy General Counsel Paul Grewal.

“We will take legal action if necessary to hold them responsible and accountable for any unlawful behavior,” Facebook said, adding that it was continuing to investigate the claims.

Cruz, Trump campaigns

Cambridge Analytica worked for the failed presidential campaign of U.S. Senator Ted Cruz and then for the presidential campaign of Donald Trump. On its website, it says it “provided the Donald J. Trump for President campaign with the expertise and insights that helped win the White House.”

Brad Parscale, who ran Trump’s digital ad operation in 2016 and is his 2020 campaign manager, declined to comment Friday.

In past interviews with Reuters, Parscale has said that Cambridge Analytica played a minor role as a contractor in the 2016 Trump campaign, and that the campaign used voter data from a Republican-affiliated organization rather than Cambridge Analytica.

Facebook’s Grewal said the company was taking the unusual step of announcing the suspension “given the public prominence” of Cambridge Analytica and its parent organization.

No ads, administering pages

The suspension means Cambridge Analytica and SCL cannot buy ads on the world’s largest social media network or administer pages belonging to clients, Andrew Bosworth, a Facebook vice president, said in a Twitter post.

Trump’s campaign hired Cambridge Analytica in June 2016 and paid it more than $6.2 million, according to Federal Election Commission records.

Cambridge Analytica says it uses “behavioral microtargeting,” or combining analysis of people’s personalities with demographics, to predict and influence mass behavior. It says it has data on 220 million Americans, two-thirds of the U.S. population.

It has worked on other campaigns in the United States and other countries, and it is funded by Robert Mercer, a prominent supporter of politically conservative groups. Facebook in its statement described a rocky relationship with Cambridge Analytica and two individuals going back to 2015.

Professor’s app

That year, Facebook said, it learned that University of Cambridge professor Aleksandr Kogan lied to the company and violated its policies by sharing data that he acquired with a so-called “research app” that used Facebook’s login system.

Kogan was not immediately available for comment.

The app was downloaded by about 270,000 people. Facebook said that Kogan gained access to profile and other information “in a legitimate way” but “he did not subsequently abide by our rules” when he passed the data to SCL/Cambridge Analytica and Christopher Wylie of Eunoia Technologies.

Eunoia did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Facebook said it cut ties to Kogan’s app when it learned of the violation in 2015, and asked for certification from Kogan and all parties he had given data to that the information had been destroyed.

Although all certified that they had destroyed the data, Facebook said that it received reports in the past several days that “not all data was deleted,” prompting the suspension announced Friday.



Steve Jobs Pre-Apple Job Application Fetches $174,000 at Auction

A one-page job application filled out by Steve Jobs more than four decades ago that reflected the Apple founder’s technology aspirations sold for $174,000 at a U.S. auction, more than three times its presale estimate.

An Internet entrepreneur from England was the winning bidder, Boston-based auction house RR Auction said on Friday, but the buyer wished to remain anonymous.

The application dated 1973, complete with spelling and punctuation errors, had been expected to fetch about $50,000.

The sale price reached on Thursday was $174,757, the auction house said.

The form lists his name as “Steven jobs” and address as “reed college,” the Portland, Oregon, college he attended briefly. Next to “Phone:” he wrote “none.”

Under a section titled “Special Abilities,” Jobs wrote “tech or design engineer. digital.—f rom Bay near Hewitt-Packard,” a reference to pioneering California technology company Hewlett-Packard and the San Francisco Bay area.

The document does not state what position or company the application was intended for. Jobs and friend Steve Wozniak founded Apple about three years later.

RR Auction said the high price reflected the continuing influence of Jobs, who died of cancer in 2011 at the age of 56.

“There are many collectors who have earned disposable income over the last few decades using Apple technology, and we expect similarly strong results on related material in the future,”

Bobby Livingston, executive vice president at RR Auction, said in a statement.

Other highlights from the online auction included an Apple Mac OS X technical manual signed by Jobs in 2001 that sold for $41,806 and a rare signed newspaper clipping from 2008 featuring an image of Jobs speaking at the Apple Developers Conference that sold for $26,950.