Month: January 2019

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Valverde cuts into Contador’s Vuelta lead

Poland’s Przemyslaw Niemiec has won the 15th stage of the Vuelta a Espana as Alejandro Valverde cut fellow Spaniard Alberto Contador’s overall lead.

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Niemiec was part of an early breakaway group on Sunday and held on for his first Grand Tour stage victory in a time of 4hr 11min 09sec over the 152.2km ride from Oviedo to Lagos de Covadonga.

Valverde finished second, five seconds ahead of fourth-placed Contador, but cut the two-time Vuelta winner’s lead by 11 seconds thanks to the bonuses on offer for the top three in every stage to move within 31 seconds of the lead.

Britain’s Chris Froome lost seven seconds on Contador and is now tied with Joaquim Rodriguez in third, 1min 20sec back.

“It is an incredibly happy day for me,” said Lampre Merida rider Niemiec.

“In the morning meeting we had thought about resting for tomorrow’s stage, but once I was in the breakaway I saw we had quite an advantage and everyone was working together to get to the end.”

Indeed, the five-strong breakaway group had taken advantage of the relatively flat first 100km to open up an advantage of over 10 minutes at one stage.

However, after a category two climb up the Puerto del Torno they began to split on the gruelling 12.2km hors category climb towards the finish.

Niemiec was accompanied by Australian Cameron Meyer, who finished the stage in 16th place, for much of the climb before breaking clear and had just enough to finish five seconds ahead of Valverde and third-placed Rodriguez.

The Spanish trio of Contador, Valverde and Rodriguez repeatedly attacked to try to distance Froome on the final climb, but Contador lamented not making more of a dent in the Sky man’s bid for a first Vuelta victory.

“It was perhaps a bit of shame to not open up the distance more on Froome because with a rider of that quality you always have to try and have as much of a gap as possible,” he said.

“I think Froome is the strongest rival I have come across in my whole career. Maybe in this tour he is finding it a bit harder, but given the quality he has you always have to have the maximum respect and never count him out.

“At the same time I had to be aware of the attacks from Rodriguez and Valverde and in the end I am happy it is another day down and one less to go.”

Valverde was also pleased to have reclaimed some of the 22 seconds he lost on Saturday’s 14th stage.

“Today I wanted to be a bit more conservative and save something for the last push, which went well.”

With just six stages remaining before the champion is crowned in Santiago de Compostela in a week’s time, one of just three remaining mountain finishes comes in Monday’s 160.5km ride from San Martin del Rey Aurelio to La Farrapona.


26/01/2019 0

Lewandowski hits four against debutants Gibraltar

Lewandowski, Poland’s captain, quickly hit two and Lukasz Szukala headed in the fifth.

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In the final stages the unforgiving Bayern Munich striker slotted in two more.

Gibraltar’s rocky enclave has a population of just under 30,000 and their Victoria Stadium fails to meet UEFA standards.

The game was therefore played at the Algarve stadium in Portugal, where the Gibraltar fans that made the trip were in full voice for their national anthem and did their best to rally the players.

There was a positive mood from the Gibraltar camp ahead of the game, encouraged by their first victory over Malta in June and they did not ever give up.

The small British overseas territory that borders the southern part of Spain only became a UEFA member in May 2013, and played a first friendly match against Slovakia the following November, which they drew 0-0.

Spain were against Gibraltar’s membership due to a dispute over sovereignty and Gibraltar were kept away from the reigning European champions in the group stages for political reasons.

Playing in a largely empty stadium on Sunday, they came under immediate pressure from Poland, and goalkeeper Jordan Perez was kept busy, notably by a Kamil Glik header from a corner.

The Poles soon took the lead through Grosicki, whoseshot took a slight deflection off David Artell.

Poland continued to have the greater possession and carried a height advantage at set-plays but midway through the first half Gibraltar caused concern at the other end with a run from Brian Perez, who screwed his shot wide of the post from 20 yards.

After the break Poland turned their dominance into goals as Grosicki came inside Joseph Chipolina and Artell before coolly finishing.

Then Lewandowski struck twice in three minutes as he stooped to head in a Jakub Wawrzyniak cross and then slotted clinically into the corner. Next Szukala powered a header into the net from Mateusz Klich’s inswinging free-kick.

The predatory Lewandowski did not let a Gibraltar side, now in disarray at the back, off the hook. He sprinted clear of Chipolina for his hat-trick and was on target again in injury time to complete the rout.

(writing by Tim Hanlon in Barcelona; Editing by Steve Tongue)


26/01/2019 0

Albania pile the misery on sorry Portugal

The defeat, Portugal’s first at home in a competitive international since they lost to Denmark six years ago, was the last thing Portugal coach Paulo Bento needed after clinging to his job despite his side’s dismal World Cup display, when they went out in the group stage.

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Portugal, missing Cristiano Ronaldo over fitness concerns for the Group I match, were again lacklustre in attack, suggesting they lack any sort of alternative to the Real Madrid forward.

Albania, who have never qualified for a major tournament, defended with five across the back line and another four in front of that. It was certainly not sophisticated but it was too much for Portugal’s unimaginative midfield and attack to break down.

Albania scored from their only shot on target in the 52nd minute when Odise Roshi crossed from the near the corner flag into the centre of the penalty area.

Balaj, running away from the goal, met it with a first-time shot on the turn, the 23-year-old Slavia Prague forward hooking it brilliantly past a bemused Rui Patricio from near the penalty spot.

Albania retreated even further after the goal and the rest of the game was played almost entirely in their half of the field.

Portugal began to look more dangerous and Nani was just wide with a 25-metre effort, then Ricardo Horta rattled the crossbar with another effort from just outside the area.

Albania goalkeeper Etrit Berisha also played his part as he saved a dangerous effort from Fabio Coentrao and tipped Andre Gomes’ shot over the bar in the dying minutes.

The last few minutes were played to a deafening chorus of jeers from the 23,000 crowd at Aveiro’s Municipal stadium who also waved white handkerchiefs.

“These are natural reactions,” Bento told RTP television. “We know the public was not satisfied. We have to respect people’s reactions and carry on our way.

“It didn’t go well for us in terms of the result,” added the beleaguered coach.

“In the first half, we had chances to take lead and we had the game completely under control…in the second half, we started well but conceded a goal from the only chance that our opponents created.”

“There are no easy games, whether it’s Albania or any other team” added midfielder Joao Moutinho.

“We have to do better, there can’t be any more excuses.”

(Writing by Brian Homewood in Berne; editingby Justin Palmer)


26/01/2019 0

Mueller double helps Germany edge past Scotland 2-1

Mueller, who also struck the post in stoppage time when Scotland had Charlie Mulgrew sent off for a second booking, scored with a header in the 18th minute of a first half in which the hosts crafted chances galore.

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Speedy Ikechi Anya stunned the hosts with a superb finish in the 66th minute but Mueller restored Germany’s fragile lead with a scruffy effort four minutes later following a corner.

The result puts Germany on three points in Group D along with Poland who thrashed newcomers Gibralter and Ireland who snatched victory in Georgia.

“I am satisfied with the three points,” coach Joachim Loew told reporters. “It was clear the Scots had nothing to lose. I knew it would be tough after the World Cup, and we were also missing a lot of players.”

“My players tried to do things up front but we made mistakes at the back, especially in the second half. We lost a bit of control of the game. It was also a matter of fitness.”

For Scotland, unbeaten in their previous six games, it was bitter to leave empty-handed after playing with plenty of endeavour, especially in the second half when they had Germany flustered at times.

“I thought we would get a point and I actually thought we would win it at one stage,” said manager Gordon Strachan.

“I feel disappointed for the people who came to watch us, and the players as well. To have put in that kind of work, going out there against really physical players, they stood up to it.”

FIRST GAME

In their first competitive game since the July 13 World Cup final in Brazil, Germany, missing more than half a dozen players including Bastian Schweinsteiger and Mesut Ozil, got their first real chance when Mueller met a cross but headed wastefully wide in the eighth minute.

Germany showed defensive weaknesses, as they had done in their 4-2 loss to Argentina in a friendly on Wednesday, with Barry Bannan going close for the visitors.

The hosts, who had Mario Goetze deployed as a striker instead of Mario Gomez, broke the deadlock when Mueller’s arcing header from a Sebastian Rudy volley beat keeper David Marshall.

The goal settled German nerves as they tightened their grip on the game with more than 70 percent possession in the first half to keep the Scots firmly on the back foot.

Marshall did well to parry a Marco Reus shot as Germany upped the pressure.

Reus, outstanding throughout, suffered more bad luck after his injury a day before the World Cup departure that saw him miss the tournament, when he limped off the pitch.

“It does not seem to be that bad but we still need to wait for the medical checks,” said Loew.

Anya did cause repeated problems for an error-prone German defence, puncturing it with darting runs down the left.

Scotland, unbeaten in their previous six games, almost levelled soon after the restart when Steven Naismith jinked into the area but saw his shot scrape Neuer’s post.

Germany did not heed the warning, however, and when Anya burst clear on to a through pass in the 66th minute he showed great composure to place a low shot past Neuer.

Scotland’s joy was short-lived when they failed to clear the ball from a corner kick and Mueller pounced to send the ball into the top of the net from close range to the relief of the home crowd in the Dortmund arena.

“They had not lost in six games but we did it well,” said Mueller. “We missed the chances to score more goals after our lead and then it became tight.

“Luckily my third header in the game went in.”

(Reporting by Karolos Grohmann; editing by Martyn herman)


26/01/2019 0

James Ashby alleges Christopher Pyne offered him lawyer, job

Former political staffer James Ashby says he was allegedly offered a job and told he would get a lawyer by coalition minister Christopher Pyne when he came forward with sexual harassment allegations against former Speaker Peter Slipper.

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Mr Ashby says he met twice, secretly, with Liberal MP Wyatt Roy to seek advice about a series of text messages and alleged incidents of sexual harassment directed towards him by Mr Slipper in 2012.

Mr Roy told Mr Ashby a lawyer would be paid for within 24 hours to help him take a complaint against Mr Slipper.

He said he later went to confirm this with then opposition frontbencher Mr Pyne.

“He said a lawyer would be paid for as promised and I would have a job in state Liberal National politics or federal, if I chose to come back,” Mr Ashby told the Nine Network.

“He did say to me I may never want to come back to Canberra, that I may choose to take up a job in state politics instead.

“As we exited he said ‘if you discuss or tell anyone we had this discussion I will be forced to call you a pathological liar.’ “

Mr Ashby also said in the interview it was later made clear to him there was no offer of financial assistance.

“It was made very clear to me there would be no jobs, no lawyer, no preferential treatment, nothing,” he said.

In 2012, while still a Liberal Party frontbencher, Mr Pyne confirmed he met with Mr Ashby, but said he was not informed of the pending court action.

In a statement Mr Pyne moved to distance himself from the matter, claiming he nor any other member of the government are in no way involved.

“All these matters have been aired over and over again for the last three years,” Mr Pyne said.

“Mr Slipper has been found guilty of fraud against the taxpayer.

“Mr Ashby settled a sexual harassment case with the Commonwealth.

“I had no specific knowledge of the allegations made by Mr Ashby and the first I knew that he was suing Mr Slipper was when I read it in the newspapers.

“This is a dispute between two individuals – not a dispute that includes me or any other member of the government.”

Mr Slipper resigned as parliamentary Speaker in October 2012.


26/01/2019 0

People who shrug and share lies on Facebook are the problem

A friend on Facebook uncritically shared a piece of crazy the other day.

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But here’s the thing: This friend is a normal. He’s not one of those once-rational legacy friends from high school who litter your feed with nonsense. He’s a photojournalist and a fine one, a fine citizen, and a fine man.

And on Facebook he shared a mind-alteringly unmoored conspiracy video about the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, adding: “Not saying yes or no . . . but this is interesting!”

It was not interesting. What he shared was a video, from a conservative, crazy website called TellMeNow南宁桑拿网,, titled, “VIDEO PROOF Showing No Planes Hit The WTC On 9/11.”

I thought, what on earth can this video show that gets over the bar with sufficient clearance that my normal friend would share it?

I watched the video. It’s 2:18 long, and it makes basically one claim: that a video of the second plane crashing into the World Trade Center’s south tower shows the plane passing a building that, says the narrator, is “clearly behind the south tower.” Yet the plane’s wing disappears behind the building. According to the person who made the video, this is indisputable evidence of a “layering CGI glitch” (note the technical language), and thus the whole thing is obviously a hoax, something, something government control, media conspiracy, blah blah blah.

The video was originally posted May 27. When last I checked, it had more than 2.5 million hits.

When something is stupid beyond imagination, I know what to do: Walk away. Yet I couldn’t let it go. For one thing, my friend’s Facebook post was filling up with annoyed responses from his many other normal friends, and I kept thinking: How many hours have been wasted today by usually productive people who could have otherwise been . . . watching cat videos or something? I get that freedom of speech means you can publish and share any addled, paranoid rant, but 2.5 million hits is 2.5 million wastes of 2:18. That’s 5 million minutes. That’s closing in on 100,000 hours that people spent watching this hooey.

This is the front line against viciousness and madness and anti-science and anti-reason.

I finally figured out why the pure wrongness of this particular waste of time wouldn’t let me go: Not that it was crazy, but that it was so easily proved wrong. Global warming? That involves big data, statistics and debates about weather versus climate, and there’s plenty of room for genuinely well-meaning people to fall into error. Evolution? Even most people who claim to understand it can’t clearly explain it, and you can forgive a certain amount of confusion.

But this? This was making a very specific claim: The airplane magically disappeared behind a building that was behind the tower when we know the airplane was in front of the tower. This was a disprovable claim.

It took me about 10 minutes. The most obvious way for a plane’s wing to “disappear” behind a building would be for the building to be not behind the plane, as the narrator claims, but in front of it. A glance at Google Maps showed blocks’ worth of buildings south of where the tower stood. The video shows a distinctive archway atop a foreground building, with the building in question sporting three easily identifiable vertical elements at its apex. I opened Google Earth and, in the time it took me to zoom down to lower Manhattan and look at the first block north of Battery Park, there it was: that distinctive arch atop the building and, behind it in the same block, the unmistakable vertical elements of the building behind which the wing “disappeared.”

That is, it disappeared exactly the way you disappear when you step behind a tree: The building came between the camera and the airplane. The building is a good six blocks south of the tower-in front of it, not behind it. The single supposed fact on which the video based its 2 million-hit paranoid parade was provably wrong, in minutes. A dope was wrong on the Internet, and I proved it. Whoopee, big deal.

Except it kind of is a big deal. For one thing, it demonstrates that all this quackery we waste so much time on is not stupid — it’s wicked.

The person who made this video is either incredibly ignorant about basic, school-kid geography and geometry or he didn’t care that his claim was false. He was just stirring up trouble by telling lies. I later found the original video from which the snippet was sliced. Most of the video makes it impossible to believe the buildings in question are behind the south tower as he claims. He was wicked — pure and simple.

This isn’t free speech — this is slander, making vicious claims about media and government that are demonstrably false. It’s a form of sabotage — a piece like this injures community, productivity and trust. It’s unpatriotic, even seditious. But even that isn’t the main problem. We all know there are people out there, simultaneously stupid and wicked, who tell lies to further vicious agendas.

The main problem is that people like my friend give a genial shrug and forward things like this. If that one sensible person had not shared the video, I’d probably be blissfully unaware of it. There’d be a hundred or so fewer hits on its page, and I and a few others would have gotten a little more work done.

My point is straightforward but urgent: This is the front line against viciousness and madness and anti-science and anti-reason. When people post slanderous, malevolent lies, if you forward them without censure, then you are abetting slanderous, malevolent lies. Forget that line on so many people’s Twitter page about retweets not constituting endorsement. Sorry, wrong. If you share something on any social medium, you’re saying, overtly, that you approve of it being shared. That you think it’s worth people’s time. That its point is either valid or worthy of consideration.

We need to adopt a new ethic. The entire point of the Internet is that anything can be put out there, without research or editing or fact-checking. That means every one of us is responsible for fact-checking our feeds, and crying foul when we see a foul. You share it, you stand behind it. Seeing something vaguely worth wondering about (if you don’t think about it too hard), then pressing share, is a losing strategy. You’re not allowed to turn off your judgment, even for a second. You’re not allowed to shrug and say, “Who knows?” and let someone else worry about it. That’s how we got into this mess.

So think — and above all check — before you share. If it’s a lie, by perpetuating it you claim at least a portion of the responsibility. Think about it. We don’t have 2 million hits a week to spare.

Huler has written six books of nonfiction; his most recent is “On the Grid.” He contributes to Plugged In at Scientific American.

(c) 2014, Slate.


23/01/2019 0

Madeleine hunt finds no new clues

British police investigating the disappearance of Madeleine McCann have found no evidence relating to her during searches of three areas of land close to where she went missing in Portugal, but “more activity has been agreed”.

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Officers have spent eight days investigating areas of interest in the Algarve resort of Praia da Luz, with Scotland Yard confirming on Wednesday night that more will be carried out “shortly”.

Further requests are also being compiled and will be submitted to the Portuguese authorities.

It follows unconfirmed reports last week that Scotland Yard has been granted permission to question three suspects about the case.

After police declined to comment about the recent activity in the resort, the statement from Scotland Yard said there was “still a substantial amount of work yet to be completed in the coming weeks and months.

“This recent work is part of ensuring that all lines of inquiry are progressed in a systematic manner and covers just the one hypothesis that she was killed and buried locally,” the statement said.

“This is the same as would be done in the UK for a murder or high-risk missing person inquiry.”

It described the deployment to Portugal over the past couple of weeks as the “largest ever undertaken by UK police overseas in a case of this type”, with a total of 59,922 square metres of land searched, including all utilities, drainage channels and derelict buildings.

Police said the decision to search the horseshoe-shaped piece of scrubland close to the Ocean Club resort where Madeleine went missing aged three in May 2007, along with the two other sites investigated on Wednesday, was a specific result of their investigation work to date.

The three areas were identified as places to be surveyed after 41 ground anomalies were identified by both aerial survey and ground analysis.

British officers, accompanied by their Portuguese counterparts, spent seven days carrying out a methodical search of the first site last week.

Specialist teams including forensics officers, sniffer dogs and officers using ground-penetrating radar equipment were used on the large site, with the two areas searched on Wednesday being smaller and on the outskirts of the town.

As police prepared to search the two areas on Wednesday, graffiti slurring the McCann family and describing British police as “stupid” was scrawled on a nearby wall overnight.

A spokesman for the McCanns said they declined to comment on the graffiti, which was written in large red letters in Portuguese.

Madeleine went missing from her holiday apartment on May 3, 2007 as her parents Kate and Gerry dined at a nearby tapas restaurant with friends.


23/01/2019 0

Black Caps wrap up Windies win

Offspinner Mark Craig’s dream debut continued as New Zealand wrapped up a 186-run win in the first Test against the West Indies at Sabina Park in Kingston.

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Set 403 for the victory, the West Indies crumbled to 216 all out late on the fourth day, tailender Shane Shillingford restoring some respectability with an unbeaten 53 as he put on 82 for the last wicket with Sulieman Benn.

Craig picked up 4-91 in the first innings as the West Indies were bowled out for 262 chasing New Zealand’s 7-508 declared, then backed up with 4-97 in a sterling second innings effort.

It was the best performance on debut by a New Zealand bowler, bettering Paul Wiseman’s 7-143 in 1998 against Sri Lanka in Colombo.

It was also just the second Test win for New Zealand in the West Indies, the first coming in 2002 with a 204-run win in Bridgetown, Barbados.

The Black Caps had earlier struggled in their second innings, resuming day four at 2-14 and losing early wickets as nightwatchman Ish Sodhi and Ross Taylor fell in successive balls without adding to the overnight total.

Opener Tom Latham, playing in his second Test, top-scored with 73 as New Zealand limped to 8-156 before captain Brendon McCullum declared.

Seamer Tim Southee, who was devastating with 4-19 in the first innings, set the Black Caps up when he removed key openers Kieran Powell and Chris Gayle just before tea.

Craig claimed the next three wickets after play resumed, beginning with Kirk Edwards who looped a bat-pad catch to Jimmy Neesham at leg gully for 14.

Dwayne Bravo departed for 12 when he clipped a thick outside edge to keeper BJ Watling early in the 18th over, then Marlon Samuels went for his second duck to a spectacular diving catch from Latham at short leg.

The West Indies continued to lose wickets regularly, Craig picking up his fourth when he dismissed Kemar Roach late in the 36th over to leave the home team 7-115.

Legspinner Sodhi, who collected the key wicket of Shivnarine Chanderpaul for 24, finished with figures of 3-42 and New Zealand all but wrapped up the match when he removed Jerome Taylor for 18 to leave the West Indies 9-134.

Shillingford produced a spectacular late flurry, belting five sixes and three fours in his 29-ball innings before he slashed at a wide delivery from Kane Williamson with three balls remaining and Watling held a smart catch.


23/01/2019 0

SA lawyer jailed over client theft

A lawyer who stole more than a quarter of a million dollars from a 100-year-old client has been jailed and ordered to pay compensation to a Catholic organisation.

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Peter David Kerin, 52, was found guilty in the South Australian Supreme Court of two counts of theft.

In jailing him for at least one year and nine months, Justice Malcolm Blue said one count related to $200,000 belonging to Mary Eileen Fahey.

“Miss Fahey was 100 years old at the time you committed the offence and you acted under an enduring power of attorney which Miss Fahey had granted to you and your father in 1985,” the judge said.

In October 2007, Kerin transferred the funds to a company account of which he was the chief operating officer, but they were lost over a month’s trading in derivatives.

The second count related to $85,000 belonging to Ms Fahey’s estate, following her death in November 2007.

“Ellen Cahill was one of the co-executors of Miss Fahey’s will and was Miss Fahey’s friend for over 60 years,” the judge said.

“In her victim impact statements she referred to the fact that Miss Fahey left the bulk of her estate to the Legion of Mary to acquire headquarters for its operations in South Australia, and that this will not now be possible.

“She referred to the devastation that Miss Fahey would have felt if she had been aware of what has happened.”

Following his conviction in April, Kerin paid $31,460 to the Legion of Mary.

The judge ordered him to pay the organisation the rest of the $285,000.

Kerin’s name was struck off the roll of practitioners in late 2006, after admitting matters including acting without the instructions of a client and against her interest.

The judge set a maximum term of three years and six months, and refused to suspend the sentence.

“… the offences were serious, involving a loss to the Legion of Mary of a very substantial amount of money and a fundamental abuse of trust,” he said.


23/01/2019 0

European taxis cause chaos in app protest

Taxi drivers have brought parts of London, Paris and other European cities to a standstill as they protested against new private cab apps such as Uber which have shaken up the industry.

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Thousands of London’s iconic black cabs, many of them beeping their horns, filled the roads around Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar Square and the Houses of Parliament to the exclusion of any other vehicles.

In Paris, hundreds of drivers blocked the French capital’s airports and staged a “go-slow” during the morning rush hour, while protests were also staged in Madrid, Barcelona, Berlin, Rome and Milan.

Long-running complaints about competition from private hire and unlicensed taxis have been crystallised by the new challenge posed by smartphone-dependent car services.

California-based company Uber is the main target of the drivers’ ire, thanks to an increasingly popular app that is now used in 128 cities in 37 different countries.

Uber allows customers to order and pay for a car using their phone, with geo-locating technology connecting them to the nearest taxi driver.

Unlike other private hire cabs – those that must be pre-booked – Uber drivers use the app to fix the fare, rather than it being calculated by a central operator.

Critics say this amounts to a meter, such as those used by traditional London taxis, and say that Uber cars should therefore be subject to the same tough regulation.

“We’re governed by a set of rules and they don’t seem to apply to Uber,” said Glenn Chapman, a 46-year-old driver parked in a long line of cabs outside Downing Street.

But the irony of the protest is that it has provided widespread publicity for the app, and Uber has taken advantage by offering discounts during the strike.

Among those joining the protest were would-be drivers on mopeds who are learning The Knowledge, a detailed study of London street routes that every cabbie must complete.

“The Knowledge took me two and a half years. But then all of a sudden anyone can jump in a cab and do our job,” Chapman told AFP.

The Licensed Taxi Driver Association (LTDA), which predicted 10,000 cabs would join the protest, has lodged a legal challenge against the capital’s Transport for London (TfL) authority to protest against Uber.

TfL Chief Operating Office Garrett Emmerson urged the cabs to wait for the outcome of the High Court case, saying the demonstration was a “pointless disruption”.

The London protest was joined by drivers across Europe, where the focus on Uber has reignited long-running disputes about the introduction of private hire cab services.

Critics say they are not subject to the same requirements about training, insurance and criminal checks as the taxis that are licensed to pick up customers in the street.

As such, they are able to undercut official taxis – a policy that has seen Uber fall foul of fares set by New York City’s taxi commission.


23/01/2019 0