Chrysler Expands Takata Air Bag Recall To Entire Nation

DETROIT (AP) — After resisting for several weeks, Chrysler is bowing to government demands to expand a recall of driver’s side air bag inflators across the entire nation.

The company says in a statement Friday that it will recall nearly 2.9 million older cars and trucks across the U.S., as demanded by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The recall includes Chrysler’s most popular model, the Ram pickup, from the 2004 through 2007 model years.

The vehicles have driver’s air bags equipped with inflators made by Japan’s Takata Corp. The inflators can explode with too much force and spew shrapnel at drivers and passengers.

The recall previously was limited to Hawaii, Florida, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

The government demanded that five automakers expand recalls. BMW is now the lone holdout.

EFF: Feds can’t get around Fourth Amendment via automated data capture

OAKLAND, Calif.—A federal judge spent over four hours on Friday questioning lawyers from the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and from the Department of Justice in an ongoing digital surveillance-related lawsuit that has dragged on for more than six years.

During the hearing, US District Judge Jeffrey White heard arguments from both sides in his attempt to wrestle with the plaintiffs’ July 2014 motion for partial summary judgment. He went back and forth between the two sides, hearing answers to his list of 12 questions that were published earlier this week in a court filing.

That July 2014 motion asks the court to find that the government is “violating the Fourth Amendment by their ongoing seizures and searches of plaintiffs’ Internet communications.” The motion specifically doesn’t deal with allegations of past government wrongdoing, nor other issues in the broader case.

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Sony Pictures: How Not to Handle a Crisis

The hacking scandal that has plagued Sony Pictures since the day before Thanksgiving has gotten out of control. Most are blaming the hackers and an organization calling itself the GOP, or Guardians of Peace. If that name is not a dead giveaway that this group is the big bad wolf in sheep’s clothing, I don’t know what is. Of course, hackers initiated the problem, and the GOP and others have exacerbated it, but all organizations have to deal with evil forces from time to time that are out of their control. The real problem is the way Sony Pictures executives have handled this crisis.

Reacting from a position of weakness

Rather than formulate a plan that gives its stakeholders the feeling that the company has the situation under control, Sony Pictures executives have acted like deer paralyzed by the headlights of an oncoming vehicle. They have ducked out of meetings early, avoided the media spotlight, and looked scared in just about every situation where the media has caught them. This insecure reaction has already prompted class action lawsuits from current and former employees.

The initial statements from executives appear to be focused on protecting themselves and showing concern for making disparaging remarks about President Obama and A-list talent in emails. Apologies are a necessary first step in proper crisis management protocols, but the priority order of apologies should be (1) the viewing public, (2) employees, and then (3) the President and Hollywood talent. The President and A-list stars will likely get over the disparaging remarks since they are public figures subjected to similar, or even worse, comments every day. They also know that, in Hollywood, sniping and backbiting goes with the territory. Many are just as guilty of sharing similar emails about Hollywood executives.

Limiting the scope

Once the proper apologies are forthcoming, executives should follow the next step of crisis management protocols – limit the scope of the problem. Nobody has been seriously injured, and hacking of private data has happened before to customers and employees of Target, Home Depot, Neiman Marcus and many other organizations. In those cases, there were costs and problems to be sure, but workable solutions were found to satisfy most that were involved.

More insecurity and fear has widened the scope

Rather than limit the scope and put the problem in perspective, Sony Pictures executives widened the scope and fanned the flames of fear and insecurity by cancelling the release of the movie The Interview that is at the epicenter of this media storm. How will this decision not encourage and embolden hackers and terrorists? Perhaps Rob Lowe said it best

Sony canceling The Interview is like when Europe gave in to Hitler.

Even more amazing, executives and attorneys begged and cajoled the media to not publish any more of the hacked documents. Are they serious? Rather than have the desired effect, this is likely to encourage the media, its constituents, and hackers to look for more tantalizing information that has not been revealed. Why? It is part of nature. When an animal senses fear and weakness, it attacks. Brains are wired this way for protection.

Use the situation as an opportunity

Rather than act like victims, Sony executives would be better served if they used the enormous publicity generated by the media coverage to promote this film. That would exhibit confidence and strength rather than fear and weakness. Showing fear to hackers and terrorists is only going to embolden them to do more of the same. The best Sony Pictures can do at this point is to turn this negative event that is out of their control into a positive outcome they can control.

Develop a good plan that incorporates a workable solution

To mitigate the damage and restore confidence, Sony Pictures executives need to develop a plan so this is unlikely to reoccur. While this is easier said than done, IT solutions are available to thwart hackers. Crisis management protocols exist to protect images and minimize damage. If Sony Pictures executives do not have these skills, they should seek advice from experts that do. I wish them well since I would like to see their movies, and it is in the interest of all of us to not allow terrorists to control our lives. If they do, the good guys will lose, and that does not make for a very satisfying movie.

Harper’s All-in Approach to Carbon Puts Our Economy in Danger

I filled up my car yesterday for fewer than $40. The last time it cost me so little was in 2008. In November, I was shelling out well over 60 bucks every time I pulled up to the pumps, and in the summer, even more. Canadians, especially Ontarians, are becoming accustomed to the volatility of fossil fuel markets. One month, your gas bill is astronomical; the next month, a steal. Contributing to the uncertainty in the market is the Harper Government’s failure to regulate our oil and gas industry and its inability to do what it needs to do in order to get Canadian resources to market.

For someone with a Master’s Degree in Economics, Mr. Harper seems to ignore one of the most important rules of investing: hedge your bets. Harper’s all-in bet on the carbon economy means that when the price of oil goes for a tumble, so does our economy and with it, our petrodollar. CIBC’s recent estimates show low oil prices could negatively impact our 2014 GDP by about $13 billion. Our economy shed just shy of 50,000 jobs in November alone. If this is what recovery looks like to the Harper Government, we should be seeking a second opinion.

The current conditions are unsustainable and Canadians get it. In the absence of government action, individuals, other levels of government, and private firms are doing what Mr. Harper refuses to do: investing in renewables, lowering energy costs for their families and pricing carbon. Senior economists are arguing that pricing carbon is a way to take the volatility out of oil and gas pricing (see: “Cost-cutting fever grips oil sands players as economics called into question,” and “Why Stephen Harper should love carbon taxes”).

Recently, the balance tipped: there are now more Canadians employed in green power generation than working in the non-renewable energy sector. This happened without any support from the Harper Government who has given targeted funding to many other industries including fossil fuel, aerospace and the automobile industry, but little or nothing to green energy. Green energy is creating jobs. This is an extraordinary opportunity for the Federal Government to play a key role in a booming industry, but it is an opportunity being missed because Conservatives like to pick their favourites and meddle in the private market. The green economy is booming in spite of Mr. Harper and we are slowly becoming better off for it.

With green technology becoming affordable, wind and solar farms are popping up across the country. In Ontario, where I spend most of my time, Cambridge, Prince Edward County, Durham Region, Arnprior, Sault Ste. Marie, and Sarnia have all become major centres for photovoltaic (solar) power generation.
Ontario’s major investment in green energy and its brisk jog away from coal cannot be ignored. Coal was cheap on our electricity bills but expensive in our hospitals. We were paying dearly for the health effects of its use. Ontario recognized this and made the shift to green energy. Toronto hasn’t had a smog day in over two years and I think the residents of our largest city are thankful for that; I know I am. Breathing isn’t an optional exercise.

Environmental Defence has made an effort to compare apples to apples. “(N)ew gas generation costs between $85-$296 per Megawatt hour (MWh) and new nuclear generation costs between $87-$143/MWh, while wind energy costs $115/MWh.” Even if Ontario had replaced coal with nuclear power, the cost would have been about the same or more. There are no free rides in energy generation.

It’s easy to blame the new kid on the block for all of our problems, but it certainly isn’t renewable energy causing Canada’s energy pricing woes. Over time, as technology becomes more efficient and our storage capacity expands, our energy costs will dwindle.

In Copenhagen, Canada committed to reducing GHG emissions by 17 per cent below 2005 levels by 2020. There is no chance that we are going to make this target. If we come anywhere close, we will have individual Canadians and governments like Ontario, British Columbia, Alberta and Quebec to thank for it, all of whom have priced carbon, one way or another, in spite of Mr. Harper.

Everyone understands that we can’t keep burning fossil fuels at an ever-increasing rate and expect that our environment will not suffer for it. Canadians are concerned about the future and the Harper Government is writing itself out of history.

ALSO ON HUFFPOST:

Hovensa refinery deal rejected over contract breach doubts

HOUSTON, Dec 19 (Reuters) – The U.S. Virgin Islands’ legislature turned down an agreement on Friday that would lead to the reopening of the 350,000 barrel-per-day Hovensa refinery, after its counsel…

Sean Penn Says Pulling ‘The Interview’ Gives ISIS ‘A Commanding Invitation’

Sean Penn has joined George Clooney, Judd Apatow, Aaron Sorkin and Barack Obama in blasting Sony for its decision to pull “The Interview” from release. In a letter sent to Mother Jones, Penn noted that Sony’s move — which happened after the company reportedly put the fate of “The Interview” in the hands of theater owners, who decided against running the film — had given ISIS “a commanding invitation.”

“I believe ISIS will accept the invitation,” Penn wrote. “Pandora’s box is officially open.”

As with Clooney and Apatow, Penn noted that Sony’s decision set a disturbing precedent:

The damage we do to ourselves typically outweighs the harm caused by outside threats or actions. Then by caving to the outside threat, we make our nightmares real. The decision to pull ‘The Interview’ is historic. It’s a case of putting short term interests ahead of the long term. If we don’t get the world on board to see that this is a game changer, if this hacking doesn’t frighten the Chinese and the Russians, we’re in for a very different world, a very different country, community, and a very different culture.

Late Friday, Sony released a statement defending itself against claims that it had made a misstep in its handling of “The Interview.”

Sony Pictures Entertainment is and always has been strongly committed to the First Amendment. For more than three weeks, despite brutal intrusions into our company and our employees’ personal lives, we maintained our focus on one goal: getting the film The Interview released. Free expression should never be suppressed by threats and extortion.

The decision not to move forward with the December 25 theatrical release of The Interview was made as a result of the majority of the nation’s theater owners choosing not to screen the film. This was their decision.

Let us be clear – the only decision that we have made with respect to release of the film was not to release it on Christmas Day in theaters, after the theater owners declined to show it. Without theaters, we could not release it in the theaters on Christmas Day. We had no choice.

After that decision, we immediately began actively surveying alternatives to enable us to release the movie on a different platform. It is still our hope that anyone who wants to see this movie will get the opportunity to do so.

Read Penn’s letter over at Mother Jones.

Weekend Roundup: New Code War Is Not Funny

It took an insolent Hollywood comedy mocking the surreal character of North Korea’s Kim Jong Un to awaken us to the dangers of a new code war, a war in which geopolitical and geo-cultural battles will be duked out in cyberspace. As Alec Ross, America’s top digital diplomat when Hillary Clinton was secretary of state, writes this week in The WorldPost, “the weaponization of code is the most significant development in warfare since the weaponization of fissile material.”

Other battles are also shaping up to determine the contours of our digital future. Lu Wei, China’s Internet czar, makes his case for sovereign rule over cyberspace. Amy Chang examines how the Chinese campaign for “Internet sovereignty” will rupture the World Wide Web.

This week’s Forgotten Fact notes the threat by North Korea’s culture and film minister to “obliterate” American and Japanese movie studios that make fun of North Korea, and recalls other bizarre threats by that country in the past.

In a WorldPost editorial, we argue that China’s one-party political system can only remain effective if it allows open expression “as an avenue of self-correction.” From yet another angle, Enrique Dans writes from Madrid about “the sorry tale” of Google News shutting down its Spanish edition instead of agreeing to demands of newspapers to pay for links to content.

WorldPost partners at Singularity University list the “8 Most Game-Changing Innovations of 2014.” We also publish this week “The World’s Most Influential Thinkers of 2014” in conjunction with the Gottlieb Duttweiler Institute in Zurich.

Writing from Mexico City, Mexico’s former foreign minister, Jorge Castañeda, argues that falling oil prices have hit Venezuela’s ability to subsidize Cuba, thus forcing its opening to the U.S. Falling oil prices combined with sanctions imposed by the West on Russia over Ukraine have sent the ruble reeling downward, undercutting Vladimir Putin’s strongman posture. Writing from Moscow, Ivan Sukhov chronicles the unraveling of Russia’s social system. Russian economist Sergei Guriev writes that even Russians are fleeing the ruble.

The look-the-other-way tolerance of jihadis in Pakistan has backfired badly, former Pakistani ambassador to the U.S., Husain Haqqani, writes in the wake of the Taliban massacre of schoolchildren in Peshawar this week. Writing from Karachi, Beena Sarwar also argues that Pakistan must discard its “good Taliban, bad Taliban” distinction. Bina Shah writes that, with everything from a surge of rapes in India to the kidnapping of schoolgirls by Boko Haram in Nigeria, women have been “the ultimate battleground” in 2014. U.N. envoy and former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown writes from Kinshasa that unaffordable school fees are stymying education in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Writing from Amman in the aftermath of the Peshawar school attack, Jordan’s Queen Rania laments the spread of extremists who have “hijacked” Islam and calls for her fellow followers of the faith to condemn them. Writing from Nairobi, jurist George Kegoro writes that Al Shabaab in Kenya, like the Islamic State in the Middle East, is seeking to establish a “caliphate” through terror against non-Muslims.

Writing from Beijing, Dragonomics Managing Director Arthur Kroeber says the West must get rid of its illusions about China becoming democratic. President Xi, he observes, heads a strong, not fragile, party-ruled state that is here to stay. Former Hong Kong Governor and Oxford Chancellor Chris Patten hopes the West can get over its “obsession” with recent failures and stand up to “illiberal” states like Russia and China. Cheng Li and Lucy Xu explain why the Obama Administration is reluctant to embrace Xi’s idea of a “new type of great power relations” that implies equality between China and America. WorldPost China Correspondent Matt Sheehan looks at the daily life of a Muslim migrant family trying to make it in Beijing.

Writing from New Delhi, Pawan Khera notes the significance of the just concluded U.N. Summit in Lima, Peru on climate change where, for the first time, developing countries have agreed to take on the burden of carbon reductions just as the rich nations have in past agreements. Writing from Berlin, parliamentarian Phillip Missfelder calls for applying the principle of sustainability to Germany’s foreign as well as environmental policy.

Finally, to get a handle on the scale of the despair, WorldPost’s Middle East correspondent in Istanbul, Sophia Jones, reports on a new video produced by the U.N.’s Refugee Agency that asks what would happen if Manhattan’s 1.5 million people — which equals the number of child refugees from the Syrian war — disappeared. She also reports on a triumph of music amid the misery by telling the story of a child prodigy pianist and Syrian refugee, Tambi Asaad Cimuk, who is headed to Carnegie Hall.

WHO WE ARE

EDITORS: Nathan Gardels, Senior Advisor to the Berggruen Institute on Governance and the long-time editor of NPQ and the Global Viewpoint Network of the Los Angeles Times Syndicate/Tribune Media, is the Editor-in-Chief of The WorldPost. Farah Mohamed is the Managing Editor of The WorldPost. Kathleen Miles is the Senior Editor of the WorldPost. Alex Gardels is the Associate Editor of The WorldPost. Katie Nelson is the National Editor at the Huffington Post, overseeing The WorldPost and HuffPost’s editorial coverage. Eline Gordts is HuffPost’s Senior World Editor. Charlotte Alfred and Nick Robins-Early are Associate World Editors.

CORRESPONDENTS: Sophia Jones in Istanbul; Matt Sheehan in Beijing.

EDITORIAL BOARD: Nicolas Berggruen, Nathan Gardels, Arianna Huffington, Eric Schmidt (Google Inc.), Pierre Omidyar (First Look Media) Juan Luis Cebrian (El Pais/PRISA), Walter Isaacson (Aspen Institute/TIME-CNN), John Elkann (Corriere della Sera, La Stampa), Wadah Khanfar (Al Jazeera), Dileep Padgaonkar (Times of India) and Yoichi Funabashi (Asahi Shimbun).

CONTRIBUTING EDITORS: Moises Naim (former editor of Foreign Policy), Nayan Chanda (Yale/Global; Far Eastern Economic Review) and Katherine Keating (One-On-One). Sergio Munoz Bata and Parag Khanna are Contributing Editors-At-Large.

The Asia Society and its ChinaFile, edited by Orville Schell, is our primary partner on Asia coverage. Eric X. Li and the Chunqiu Institute/Fudan University in Shanghai and Guancha.cn also provide first person voices from China. We also draw on the content of China Digital Times. Seung-yoon Lee is The WorldPost link in South Korea.

Jared Cohen of Google Ideas provides regular commentary from young thinkers, leaders and activists around the globe. Bruce Mau provides regular columns from MassiveChangeNetwork.com on the “whole mind” way of thinking. Patrick Soon-Shiong is Contributing Editor for Health and Medicine.

ADVISORY COUNCIL: Members of the Berggruen Institute’s 21st Century Council and Council for the Future of Europe serve as the Advisory Council — as well as regular contributors — to the site. These include, Jacques Attali, Shaukat Aziz, Gordon Brown, Fernando Henrique Cardoso, Juan Luis Cebrian, Jack Dorsey, Mohamed El-Erian, Francis Fukuyama, Felipe Gonzalez, John Gray, Reid Hoffman, Fred Hu, Mo Ibrahim, Alexei Kudrin, Pascal Lamy, Kishore Mahbubani, Alain Minc, Dambisa Moyo, Laura Tyson, Elon Musk, Pierre Omidyar, Raghuram Rajan, Nouriel Roubini, Nicolas Sarkozy, Eric Schmidt, Gerhard Schroeder, Peter Schwartz, Amartya Sen, Jeff Skoll, Michael Spence, Joe Stiglitz, Larry Summers, Wu Jianmin, George Yeo, Fareed Zakaria, Ernesto Zedillo, Ahmed Zewail, and Zheng Bijian.

From the Europe group, these include: Marek Belka, Tony Blair, Jacques Delors, Niall Ferguson, Anthony Giddens, Otmar Issing, Mario Monti, Robert Mundell, Peter Sutherland and Guy Verhofstadt.

MISSION STATEMENT

The WorldPost is a global media bridge that seeks to connect the world and connect the dots. Gathering together top editors and first person contributors from all corners of the planet, we aspire to be the one publication where the whole world meets.

We not only deliver breaking news from the best sources with original reportage on the ground and user-generated content; we bring the best minds and most authoritative as well as fresh and new voices together to make sense of events from a global perspective looking around, not a national perspective looking out.

Staples says security breach may have affected 1.16 million cards

(Reuters) – Office-supply retailer Staples Inc said about 1.16 million payment cards might have been affected by the data breach announced in October.