Former West Germany Chancellor Helmut Schmidt dies

(CNN)Helmut Schmidt — who was West Germany’s chancellor from 1974 to 1982 — has died in his hometown of Hamburg, staffers in two of his offices said Tuesday.

Employees at Schmidt’s office in Germany’s parliament and his personal office both told CNN that he had died.

He was 96.

Schmidt was West Germany’s second Social Democrat chancellor until his government was brought down by a coalition split. He remained politically active after leaving office, including following the reunification of West and East Germany in 1990.

He had a heart attack and underwent an emergency bypass operation in 2002, when he was 83.

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    Longtime New Orleans Saint proprietor Tom Benson succumbs at age 90

    Tom Benson, a New Orleans native who owned his hometown Saints for more than three decades and supervised their rise from lovable losers to Super Bowl champs, died Thursday at a local hospital. He was 90.

    Benson, who also owned the NBA’s New Orleans Pelicans, had been hospitalized with the flu on Feb. 16, according to a statement from the teams.

    A successful auto dealer, Benson bought the Saints in 1985 when it seemed the club would be sold to out-of-state interests and perhaps moved out of Louisiana. He paid $70 million for the team, which is now worth more than$ 1 billion.

    Benson’s business acumen helped turn the Saints from a perennial also-ran nicknamed the “Aints” into a challenger — and ultimately, the 2009 NFL championship. Yet his ownership also was less flatteringly marked by the 2012 bounty scandal and by rumors Benson did not want to bring the team back to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina devastated the city in 2005.

    NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell described Benson as “a generous and caring philanthropist” and “a true leader among NFL owners.” Former President George H.W. Bush mourned him as “a brilliant businessman” with “a genuine passion for his city and his state.”

    “To us, he genuinely was ‘Mr. New Orleans’ and we have no doubt Tom Benson is dancing in heaven tonight, ” Bush said in a statement.

    Benson’s death comes on the heels of an acrimonious household divide that has caused some doubts about the future of his clubs. Benson attained it known in January 2015 that he wants his third wife, Gayle, to inherit complete control of the Saints and Pelicans, but Benson’s disowned daughter, Renee, and her two children, Rita and Ryan LeBlanc — who had long been in line to take over his businesses — have vowed to prove their patriarch was manipulated against them while in a mentally enfeebled state. The estranged heirs, who still inherited millions of dollars from irrevocable trusts set up before the family split, sued after their ouster from household business to have Benson proclaimed mentally incompetent to operate his own affairs and have a receiver other than Gayle Benson appointed to oversee them. The heirs lost that case, but still could contest the will.

    In the meantime, the clubs will be run by Gayle Benson — who married Tom Benson in 2004 — and a trusted circle of executives installed by her husband, including Dennis Lauscha, the president of business operations for both clubs, and Mickey Loomis, an executive vice president supervising football and basketball operations, and also serving as general manager for the Saints.

    With his heavy New Orleans accent and parasol dances along the sideline after victories, Benson cut quite the figure among NFL owners when he first joined the league.

    His jovial game-day persona turned hardheaded, however, when it came to business matters. In 2001, he negotiated an unprecedented $187 million in concessions and state subsidies to keep his team playing in the Louisiana Superdome through 2010 — a deal Benson said was necessary to succeed in small-market New Orleans. That rental was followed by another unusual arranging in which the country stopped paying direct subsidies to Benson, but committed to relocate numerous state offices in a Katrina-damaged office high-rise next to the Superdome — at above-market rents — if Benson rehabilitated the building, which is now called Benson Tower.

    Until recent years, fans often questioned whether Benson’s desire for profit outweighed his loyalty to his native city. With the Superdome and much of the city wrecked by Katrina, the Saints temporarily relocated to San Antonio, where Benson had many business holdings.

    When officials there said they were talking to Benson about what it would take to keep the team, Katrina-weary residents in New Orleans reacted angrily. Graffiti reading, “Warning, Tom Benson inside, ” was scrawled on numerous foul-smelling, disposed refrigerators that lined sidewalks around the city.

    During that season of uncertainty, the mounting stress on Benson was obvious. He argued with a heckling Saints fan after a game hosted by LSU’s Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge, then lunged at a television crew that filmed the altercation.

    But when he brought the Saints back to a still-reeling New Orleans in early 2006 — or was forced to by the league, which would not allow Benson to abandon the Big Easy — the region’s fans rewarded him with more than a decade of consecutive sellouts.

    Only months after the Saints came back to New Orleans, Benson was greeted like a conquering hero at a team-sponsored fan event when the club drafted USC star Reggie Bush.

    The Saints became a source of inspiration during the course of its tough early days of post-Katrina rebuilding. In storybook style, they improved from 3-13 in 2005 to 10-6 under new coach-and-four Sean Payton, then advanced to the franchise’s first NFC championship game.

    The Saints remained competitive under Payton and with Drew Brees at quarterback. In 2009, a dynamic offense carried them to a 13 -3 record. They beat Minnesota in overtime at the Superdome for the conference title, then defeated Indianapolis in the Super Bowl.

    Benson’s franchise was embarrassed two years after that victory when the NFL uncovered a bounty system in which Saints players earned improper, off-the-books money bonuses for hits that hurt or sidelined opponents. Payton wound up serving an unprecedented full-season suspension in 2012 and the Saints were fined $500,000 — even though Benson had ordered general manager Mickey Loomis to shut down the bounty program when the owner was say of it.

    One of four children, Benson grew up in the hard-scrabble Ninth Ward of New Orleans.

    In 1945, Benson served in the U.S. Navy aboard the USS South Dakota. Then he analyzed business and accounting at Loyola University in New Orleans, went to work as a bookkeeper for Cathey Chevrolet Co ., and was sent to San Antonio as a 29 -year-old in 1956 to manage a Chevrolet dealership as a junior partner. Six years later, he took full control of the company and established his own dealership.

    He built his fortune in the vehicle business. He also constructed a banking empire, Benson Financial World.

    But his passion later in life was the Saints. He maintained an office at the training facility and was frequently watched there and at training camp in a golf cart watching practices.

    Benson depicted laughters with his Benson Boogie — and with his malaprops. When Jim Mora quit as coach-and-four halfway through the 1996 season, Benson sent out applications used by his dealerships to coaches around the league. They asked, among other things, if the applicant was willing to work on weekends and was willing to travel.

    Still, many fans respected Benson because he was the first Saints owner to field a winning squad. New Orleans joined the NFL as an expansion team in 1967, but failed to finish above. 500 in any of its first 20 seasons.

    Upon buying the team, Benson hired Jim Finks as general manager. Finks hired Mora, and two years later the Saints ran 12 -3 for their first win record and first playoff appearance.

    The Saints sank back into decline after Finks died in 1994. Even the 1997 hiring of Mike Ditka as coach-and-four didn’t assist. His three-year tenure is recollected most for trading away an entire year of draft pickings for running back Ricky Williams.

    The Saints ultimately returned to the playoffs after Benson replaced Ditka with Jim Haslett in 2000.

    A supporter of the NFL’s expansion that brought franchises to Charlotte and Jacksonville, Benson also founded the Arena League’s New Orleans VooDoo. He folded the club after the 2008 season because he did not agree with the arena league’s plans to bring in new investors and give them partial control over all teams. Benson was not involved in the VooDoo’s brief return to New Orleans in 2010.

    When the NBA took over the financially troubled New Orleans Hornets in late 2010 and spent more than a year trying to find a suitable, permanent owned, Benson ultimately stepped in and bought the club , now called the Pelicans, for $338 million. The estimated value of the Pelicans now surpasses $ 1 billion.

    Tom Benson and his first wife, Shirley, had three children, two of whom preceded their parent in demise. He also had several step children from his matrimony to his second spouse, Grace, who died in 2003. In addition to his wife, estranged daughter and her two children, Tom Benson is survived by grandchild Dawn Jones, the daughter of Tom Benson’s late son, Robert.

    The Associated Press contributed to this report .

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    Tesla to expose a pickup truck within two years, and final Model 3 design in July

    Tesla plans to show off an electric pickup truck sometime within the next two years, the companys CEO Elon Musk said on Twitter today. The pickup was taunted originally when Musk exposed the second part of his master plan for Tesla, which began with selling expensive vehicles like the Roadster and Model S, and eventually leads to producing a wide range of more affordable vehicles at scale.

    The truck was previously described as a new kind of pickup by Musk, though hes alluded to the concept even prior to that. Teslas desire to create a pickup stimulates sense given the success of the category in the companys home country, and its likely schemed alongside an upcoming lower cost compact SUV, sometimes referred to the Model Y.

    Musk also taunted a forthcoming semi truck proclamation, defined for September, and a convertible version of the Roadster coming in the next iteration of Teslas first vehicle, which is a high priced vehicle targeted at luxury buyers.

    Theres also good news for those working clients still hoping to receive their Model 3 pre-orders relatively soon: The final expose of the production version of the Model 3 is coming in July, Musk told, which would fit with reports of multiple prototypes on the street around Tesla HQ, and its expected shipping timeline, which should see the first divisions go out to clients by the end of this year.

    Musk has said that by offering the Model 3, along with the Model S and Model X premium vehicles, it should be able to offer a future compact SUV and a pickup to cover most of the available consumer market. For lower cost segments, he believes that group transportation options, including a forthcoming shuttle bus vehicle for multi-passenger transit, is the better route to go vs. lower coast customer cars.

    Lead image is a Model P concept by Tesla Motors Club user McHoffa .


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    Canadian PM Trudeau apologizes for ‘physical contact’ with lawmaker | Fox News

    May 18, 2016: This photo from video provided by the Canadian House of Commons shows Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau,near Opposition whip Gordon Brown in the House of Commons in Ottawa, Ontario. (House of Commons via The Canadian Press via AP)

    Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau apologized “unreservedly” for making physical contact with a female opposition member of Parliament who said Trudeau elbowed her in the chest as he waded through a group of opposition lawmakers.

    Opposition lawmaker Ruth Ellen Brosseau said she had to leave the House of Commons chamber Wednesday.

    “I was elbowed in the chest by the prime minister and then I had to leave. It was very overwhelming,” she said. “I missed the vote because of this.”

    Footage from the House of Commons television feed shows Trudeau wading into a clutch of lawmakers and pulling one through the crowd in order to get the vote started. As Trudeau turns around to pull the lawmaker through, Brosseau can be seen grimacing in pain.

    Trudeau, a boxer and former bar bouncer, later stood up in Parliament and said it wasn’t his intention to hurt anyone as he attempted to escort the lawmaker. Trudeau said he thought the man was being impeded as he walked up the aisle of the chamber and wanted to help him in attempt to speed up the vote.

    “I admit that I came in physical contact with a number of members as I extended my arm, including someone behind me whom I did not see. I certainly did not intend to offend or impact on anyone,” Trudeau said. “I apologize for that unreservedly and I look for opportunities to make amends.”

    Opposition New Democrat lawmaker Peter Julian called it a “pretty violent push” and said he had never seen such behavior in his 12 years in Parliament. “Physical force in this House is never permitted,” he said. Opposition Conservative Andrew Scheer said he was sitting across from Trudeau and said it was clear he lost his temper.

    “He was motivated by anger and lost his temper,” said Scheer, who added it was “very unstatesmanlike.”

    Opposition New Democrat leader Thomas Mulcair later screamed at Trudeau “What kind of man elbows a woman!?” in the chamber before Trudeau’s cabinet bench cleared and intervened to make sure things didn’t escalate. The kerfuffle comes as a possible blow to Trudeau’s image as a modern, feminist leader.

    Tempers have been running high as the government pushes through a motion to limit debate on its euthanasia legislation.

    Interim opposition Conservative leader Rona Ambrose called the prime minister’s behavior shocking and embarrassing and said Trudeau’s clear intent was to intimidate lawmakers physically and his actions resulted in Brosseau being shoved into a desk. “He should be ashamed,” Ambrose said in a statement.

    Opposition Conservative lawmaker Jason Kenney tweeted that if previous Prime Minister Stephen Harper had ever physically bullied members of Parliament like Trudeau, there would be immediate and widespread demands for his resignation.

    “No sane person watching that video could come to any conclusion but that it was an accident. Stupid of him to be over there, but come on,” political commentator Andrew Coyne tweeted.

    Green party Leader Elizabeth May, whose seat in the House of Commons, gave her a ringside seat for the encounter and subsequent arguments, called for calm at one point and suggested that the New Democrat lawmakers may have been milling about on the floor in order to delay the vote.

    “It was most unwise of the prime minister to attempt to move along the vote,” May said. “But the second contact with my friend (Brosseau), which is certainly the one that was the most emotional for the member involved, was clearly, from my perspective … unintentional.”

    She added: “He had not seen her behind him. That is the truth. Now you can like it or not like it.”

    The Speaker concluded that Brosseau’s privileges as a Member Parliament had been breached, which means the encounter will be examined by an all-party committee.

    Physical contact between lawmakers is rare in legislatures in Canada but the incident reminded Canadians of the time when late former Toronto Mayor Rob Ford barreled over a 63-year-old female city councilor while rushing to the defense of his brother, Councilor Doug Ford, who was insulting spectators in the council chamber.

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    Firebird Trans Am doppelganger is a Dodge Demon destroyer

    This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Pontiac Firebird, so some of you must be totally bummed that you cant buy a new one anymore. The thing is, you can.

    Sort of.

    Tallahassee-based Trans Am Worldwide has been converting fifth-generation Chevrolet Camaro SSs into Firebird Trans Am tributes for the past couple of years, and now its applied its magic to the latest sixth-generation muscle car, doing for mustache-era muscle car fans suffering from malaise what General Motors cant anymore.

    Company co-founder Tod Warmack says they stepped things up this time around with carbon fiber bodywork designed to capture the essence of the original on the new platform. Retro gauges, custom upholstery, snowflake wheels, a shaker hood and a screaming chicken graphics package help enhance the transformation, while T-tops are available. (If you dont order them, you really have failed.)

    The standard car — Warmack calls it The Outlaw — comes with a Magnuson-supercharged version of the Camaros LT1 6.2-liter V8 that pumps out 602 hp, but you can upgrade it to a bored-out naturally-aspirated 455 cubic-inch monster with ceramic headers they’re working on that will have at least 750 hp.

    Theres also a limited edition 455 Trans Am Super Duty with a set of 15-inch Brembo brakes and a supercharger strapped to the big motor that helps coax it to send a Dodge Challenger SRT Demon-besting 1000 hp and 1046 lb-ft of torque through either a six-speed manual or eight-speed automatic transmission.

    The engine is a collaborative effort between Magnuson and an unnamed NASCAR engine builder, according to Warmack, and the block is pretty much the only original part left. The Super Duty also gets a lowered suspension, stiffer anti-roll bars and meaty-looking 10-spoke wheels.

    Prices for the cars range from around $85,000 to $150,000, and only 50 of the Super Duty models will be built. That may not be enough to meet demand. Last year, the company offered a run of 77 Bandit Trans Ams celebrating the film Smokey and The Bandit and sold every one of them for over six figures each.


    Gary Gastelu is’s Automotive Editor. You can follow him on Twitter @garygastelu and @foxcarreport

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    Deterioration in iPhone marketings leads to first revenue decline in 13 years for Apple

    Apple shares fell on Tuesday afternoon after the company reported a nearly 13% fall in quarterly sales, the first time revenue at the worlds most valuable publicly traded company has declined in 13 years.

    As of publication time, shares were down more than 7% without appearing to hit bottom. Revenue was predicted by Apple itself to fall between $50 bn and $53 bn it came in on the low aim of that range, with a final tally of $50.6 bn, a 13% drop.

    Apple said the deterioration would continue, predicting revenue between $41 bn and $43 bn for the June quarter.

    The company had advised investors to brace for impact. The iPhone accounts for nearly two-thirds of Apples revenue and the company sold 16% fewer iPhones than it had during the same period in 2015, and stimulated 18% less fund from them. The total tally for the device was $32.9 bn from 51.2 m telephones sold; the year previous Apple brought in $40.3 bn from 61.2 m phones.

    Apple’s revenue by product

    Despite the pause in our growth, our results reflect excellent executing by our team despite strong macroeconomic headwinds in most of the world, told Tim Cook, Apples CEO.

    Much of the falloff was attributable to the struggling Chinese economy. The nations consumer technology sector is in flux, as is the yuan. Still the second-largest marketplace in the world for Apple products behind the US, the Chinese segment of Apples dismal report decreased over more than a quarter of its value. The business made $18.4 bn in China in the second quarter of 2015; in the previous three months it induced $12.5 bn.

    Annette Zimmerman, research director at tech research and advisory company Gartner, wrote last month that the problem was not Apples alone, pointing out that the entry cost of a smartphone in the developing world was still a obstacle, even among very inexpensive devices.

    Vendors were not able to reduce the price of a good enough to use smartphone lower than $50, Gartner wrote.

    Apple CEO Tim Cook spoke of strong macroeconomic headwinds but still said the future is bright. Photograph: Justin Sullivan/ Getty Images

    Earnings were released around 4.25 pm ET, when Apple shares hovered around $104 a share. Half an hour afterward, the stock cost had declined 7.8% to under $97 and falling.

    Despite the sales reduction and warning about its growth, Cook said the future of Apple is very bright and promised that the company has some amazing inventions in the pipeline. One of those new products should be the iPhone 7 which, based on rumors from Apples supply chain, could have a new various kinds of headphone port, be dust-proof and waterproof, and may even have a wholly redesigned home button.

    It is the first time Apples sales have fallen since 2003. Back then, the iPhone didnt exist. Apple was still selling Power Mac computers and had sold only 600,000 iPods. It was the year iTunes was launched, which revolutionized the music business.

    The iPhone came out in 2007, followed by the iPad, and both were constantly updated with new, much-anticipated iterations which sold in their hundreds of millions around the world, sending the companys sales to ever higher levels.

    A year ago Apple sold $58 bn of gadgets or nearly $650 m a day in the first three months of the year. Two-thirds of that revenue received from iPhones and sales were powered by the new iPhone 6.

    Apples chief financial officer Luca Maestri said it was difficult for the company to match marketings it achieved with the launching of the new larger version. The iPhone 6 is an anomaly, and so it creates a very difficult comparing for us, he said.

    Questions are being asked about whether 2015 will turn out to have been the year of peak iPhone.

    Some analysts believe the sales reverse is because of the soaraway success of the iPhone 6 and its bigger stablemate, the 6 Plus.

    With screens measuring 4.7 and 5.5 inches, the two phones, launched in September 2014, were the largest the company had ever released. The 6 Plus was Apples first foray into the world of so-called phablets: hybrid devices, smaller than a tablet but larger than a conventional smartphone, which had proved particularly popular in Asian markets.

    They were a huge success, with the two models selling 4m in their first 24 hours. Last September Apple pushed the bar even higher, with the launch of the iPhone 6S. But maintaining up the pace of marketings was always going to be a big ask.

    The phenomenally successful iPhone 6: will 2015 have been the year of peak iPhone? Photograph: Michaela Rehle/ Reuters

    Cook devoted the the first clues of a downturn back in January. He blamed the phenomenal success of the initial iPhone 6, which has been so popular it sold out, forcing some customers to delay their purchases. That artificially boosted sales in the next quarter, inducing it harder to keep on breaking records.

    Morningstar analyst Brian Colello, however, reckons the latest iPhone simply isnt very exciting. Fewer customers had incentive to trade up for the latest iPhone this year if they bought an iPhone 6 simply over a year ago.

    Apple has been the master of invention, but real invention is now proving tough. The Apple watch, its first new product without co-founder Steve Jobs at the helm, has been underwhelming. Apple wont release sales figures for the device, instead lumping it together with the Apple TV, iPod and accessories. Combined, that entire category is less than a tenth the size of the iPhone.

    Analyst John Kirk, of Techpinions, said: Those impatient for Apple to reinvent the world on an annual basis simply ignore current realities that iteration on existing tech products is the norm and significant change is the rare exception.

    But Apple does have big projects under way. Its likely the worst-kept secret in Silicon Valley that the company is working on an electric car, poaching technologists from Tesla and scouting for test locatings in California. And its also been hiring technologists and filing patents that also indicate its working on a virtual reality device of some sort.

    In the meantime it is still piling up cash. It now has a money mountain of $233 bn, more than all the foreign currency reserves across the world and more than the Czech Republic, Peru and New Zealand induce in gross domestic product( GDP) a year.

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    2016 Jaguar XF Test Drive

    Jaguars have always been many things.

    Sexy. Sophisticated. Swift.

    But economy cars?

    Well, lets just say times have changed.

    OK, so the 2016 Jaguar XF isnt exactly a steal. But, at $52,895, its less expensive than any comparable European sedan, as well as the Cadillac CTS. And this isnt some ancient model that Jaguar is trying to squeeze a couple of extra years out of. Its the first all-new XF since Ford sold the company in 2009, and its a very modern machine.

    The XF is largely constructed from aluminum, and at just 3,770 pounds it isnt just the lightest car in the luxury midsize sport sedan class, it tips the scales more like a compact. Its standard engine is a supercharged 3.0-liter V6 thats good for 340 hp and 30 mpg on the highway, a combination that cant be beat unless you get the top-of-the-line XF S, like my test car, which delivers 380 hp with the same fuel economy. Magic.

    Read more: Auto’s Favorite Five Vehicles and Trucks of 2015

    2015 is shaping up to be a record year for car sales in the United States, and with the bumper crop of great vehicles out there, its easy to see why. But some will always be better than others, and out of the 150 or so cars I drove this year, here are my Favorite Five.

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    China’s first homegrown aircraft carrier heads out for sea trial

    (CNN)China’s first domestically built aircraft carrier began sea trials on Sunday, a historic step in the country’s mission to build a navy capable of rivaling the world’s leading maritime powers.

    The 50,000-tonne ship will become the country’s second aircraft carrier, and the first to be entirely built and designed inside of China, when it joins the navy sometime before 2020.
    The carrier’s maiden sea trial follows a speech given by Chinese President Xi Jinping on April 12, in which he announced plans to build a “world-class” navy under the banner of the Chinese Communist Party.
    China’s first carrier, the Liaoning, a retrofitted Soviet-era vessel bought from the Ukraine, was hailed as the fulfillment of a “70-year dream” of the Chinese nation when it launched to much celebration in 2012.
    But experts said while the new aircraft carrier will dramatically boost China’s military power in the Asia region, its technology was still outdated and lagged far behind the world’s naval superpower, the United States.
    “This is, in and of itself, not designed to be some frontal challenge to US power in the Asia Pacific, because it simply isn’t in the class of America’s aircraft carriers,” Sam Roggeveen, senior fellow at Sydney’s Lowy Institute, told CNN.

    Bigger and better

    China’s second aircraft carrier will be “modernized” compared to its first, experts said, with a design that’s bigger and heavier to allow it to carry more planes.
    The basic design for the new aircraft carrier is clearly modeled heavily on the Liaoning, including the signature ski-jump inclination at the front from which aircraft lift off.
    The ship, which is roughly 315 meters (1,033 ft) in length and 75 meters (246 ft) wide, uses conventional rather than nuclear propulsion, and is believed to displace 50,000 tonnes, according to reports in state media.
    Speaking to CNN, RAND Corporation senior international defense research analyst Timothy Heath described the design as generally easier to build and to operate aircraft from.
    But expert analysis of pictures and satellite images of the new China-built vessel reveals it has been altered in subtle ways, possibly allowing it to accommodate up to eight additional aircraft.
    By comparison, the Liaoning is thought to currently carry around 30 warplanes, including fixed wing aircraft and helicopters.

    According to Peter Layton, visiting fellow at the Griffith Asia Institute, the Liaoning was intended to act as more of a training vessel, whereas the new ship is likely to be deployed in combat missions, positioning China alongside a select number of countries with global naval capabilities, including Russia, France, the United States, and the United Kingdom.
    As of this year, the United States Navy fields 11 nuclear-powered aircraft carriers, more than any other nation in the world.
    The US ships feature “catapult” technology, in which a gear attached to a steam-powered piston or an electromagnetic rail gets aircraft up to flight speed as they leave the deck.
    Aircraft launched by catapults can get airborne and with greater quantities of fuel and ammunition, giving them an advantage over Chinese planes, which rely on their own power when lifting off from the Liaoning’s ski-jump.

    Still more sea trials needed

    Once an aircraft carrier passes its sea trials, that doesn’t mean it’s ready for combat. Although the type 001A has successfullyleft the ship yard,plenty of problems can, and most likely will, arise.
    In late 2017, the United Kingdom’s new aircraft carrier, the HMS Queen Elizabeth, embarrassingly sprung a leak during sea trials and needed repairs.
    In the United States, the USS Gerald R Ford, the US Navy’s newest carrier and the most expensive warship ever built at $13 billion, has a host of problems.
    The Ford was commissioned into the fleet in July 2017, however, a January 2018 report from the Pentagon’s Operational Test and Evaluation Office says the 100,000-ton warship is plagued with troubles in critical systems, including its catapults that launch planes, the arresting gear which catches them upon landing, and its radar.

    Those deficiencies “make the ship more vulnerable to attack, or create limitations during routine operations,” the report said.
    Other problems are more mundane, but show just how many things have to be ironed out in a new warship: The test office report says the Ford is expected to be short of spaces for its crew to sleep.

    Future of the Chinese navy

    China may still be a long way from presenting a global challenge to the US Navy, but as a regional power its military program is moving fast.
    With a military budget in 2018 of $175 billion dollars, up 8% on the year before, the Chinese military is pushing ahead rapidly with its modernization drive.
    Between 2010 and 2017, the Chinese Navy increased its complement of ships from 210 to 320, Boston College professor of political science Robert Ross told CNN, including another 18 in 2016 alone.
    By comparison, the active US fleet currently sits at approximately 272 ships, he said.
    Meanwhile, the PLA has begun work on its third aircraft carrier, according to the South China Morning Post, which is rumored to employ a more advanced launch system different from the ski-jump.
    “The US Navy and the capability for the US Navy will still be superior to the Chinese Navy in 10 years, but the size of the Chinese fleet will be larger and they’ll have closed the gap in technology and training,” Ross said.
    China has made no secret of its desire to build a modern, “blue-water” navy which could operate around the world.
    “If you look at China’s acquisitions of facilities in the Indian Ocean and in Eastern Africa, they’re quickly developing the capability to maintain a naval presence in distant waters,” Ross said.
    Still, the main focus of the PLA Navy in the near future is expected to be dominating the waters around the Chinese mainland, including the South China Sea.
    China is fortifying islands in the region with facilities that could host military aircraft, creating what some experts have called “unsinkable aircraft carriers.”
    Last week, US intelligence assessed that there is a high probability the Chinese military had deployed anti-ship and anti-aircraft missiles to three artificial islands there during recent military drills.
    Compared to the rest of the Asia region, Ross said, only Japan can currently equal the Chinese navy and even then they probably only had about five years before they too would be surpassed.

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    California Sees Clean-Car Partner in China as Trump Quits Paris

    With President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris climate pact, the leader of the U.S. country with the strictest clean-car rules is turning toward Beijing in his longtime mission to stem automotive pollution.

    California Governor Jerry Brown departs Friday for China, where he’ll exhort the world’s most populous country and largest auto marketplace to take environmental cues from Sacramento , not the U.S. capital. Brown — an anti-smog crusader since a previous word as governor starting in 1975 — is now 79 with less than two years left to serve. His gambit in China could create an environmental legacy beyond what he could hope to accomplish in California itself.

    ” There’s so much propaganda and outright climate denial in Washington ,” Brown, a Democrat who attempted operates at the U.S. presidency in three different decades, said in an interview last week. The trip to China is a way” to forge agreements that will counteract the misguided Republican efforts in Washington .”

    Trump’s decision to dump the Paris accord, announced Thursday at the White House, is” an insane move ,” Brown said on a conference call shortly afterward.” California will resist .”

    In China, Brown will spread the gospel of California’s auto policies, including a nation regulation involving an increase in annual sale of zero-emission vehicles powered by batteries or hydrogen. The Chinese government is weighing a similar requirement for automakers vying in the world’s largest vehicle market.

    Standards Review

    It’s a different story in Washington, where the Trump administration is revisiting stringent vehicle greenhouse gas and gasoline mileage the criteria for 2022 -2 025 following pleas from the auto industry. The rules, enacted by Trump predecessor Barack Obama, would boost the fuel economy of new automobiles and light trucks to an average of about 50.8 miles per gallon by 2025, up from 30.3 mpg this year.

    The pullout from the Paris accord, which Trump called a” massive redistribution of United States wealth ,” won’t have a direct effect on the reexamination of the automotive standards. The decision leaves the tailpipe and ga economy regulations as the lone Obama-era climate initiative that remains largely intact and creates a leadership void that China seems ready to fill.

    ” China has been working very hard to try and replace the U.S. as the world leader in a number of areas ,” said Yunshi Wang, director of the China Center for Energy and Transportation. Trump’s abandonment of the Paris accord, Wang told,” is plainly a big opportunity from the Chinese perspective .”

    Chinese Rules

    Under rules that could be implemented next year, a manufacturer selling 100,000 autoes and trucks in China would need to sell about 2,500 battery-powered vehicles with a 200 -mile range, said Wang, whose center is at the University of California Davis. The alternatives would include buying credits from challengers or heavy penalties, as in the California rules that China is use as a model, he told. California is also helping China develop a cap-and-trade system to limit carbon dioxide emissions emissions from heavy industry and other sectors of the economy.

    Zero-emission vehicles could help China with its national-security interest in reducing petroleum importations, Wang told. In addition, Chinese automakers now consider ZEVs as a chance to finally export large numbers of cars and trucks.

    ” It is good industrial logic to develop products in and for the largest market ,” said Bill Russo, managing director of Gao Feng Advisory Co. and a former head of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV‘s Chrysler division in China.” The U.S. move, together with China’s push, will serve to set China in the position to lead the commercialization of new energy vehicle technologies .”

    Some automakers are pressing the governmental forces for more time to meet the specific objectives, Wang said. But they also appreciate California’s involvement, since it provides a legal template that they themselves helped developed through long years of legal sparring with the state’s Air Resources Board. Mary Nichols, the board’s chairperson, is scheduled to join Brown on the weeklong trip.

    Plug-In Vehicles

    Volkswagen AG aims to sell 1.5 million divisions of zero-emission or plug-in vehicles in China by 2025 with most of them locally produced, while General Motor Co . is targeting 150,000 divisions in the same time frame under its Buick, Chevrolet and Cadillac brands.

    Wang predicted that by 2030, 10 percent to 20 percentage of China’s vehicle marketings could come from battery-powered automobiles or plug-in hybrids. Last year, Chinese customers bought 507,000 such vehicles, or more than three times as many as in the U.S. With some 28 million vehicles sold last year, China’s auto market is about half-again bigger than that of the U.S.

    ” China is the world’s largest single market for electric vehicles today ,” said Roland Hwang, director of the transportation program at the Natural Resources Defense Council, an ecological advocacy group. A California-like electric car sales mandate” in China will kick the whole global electric vehicle market into even higher gear ,” he said.

    ‘Remain Vigilant’

    Brown has vowed to fight endeavors by the Trump administration to undermine the state’s stringent auto rules and to be done in order to court if there’s a challenge to California’s 47 -year-old permission to enact clean-air regulations that are tougher than U.S. standards.

    In the interview, Brown accused the U.S. automobile industry of backing Trump, saying it hasn’t changed much since General Motor claimed in 1973 that it would go bankrupt if California forced the installation of catalytic converters.

    ” The leopard is not going to change its spots ,” Brown said.” We have to remain vigilant.”

    In separate statements, GM and Ford Motor Co. signaled that the Paris withdrawal may do little to sway their plans for current and future electric vehicles. Though neither addressed The pullout immediately, Ford said climate change is real and GM said “international agreements aside, we remain committed to creating a better environment.”

    Brown’s opposition to Trump’s policies could have political ramifications at home.” Climate change could be a unifying issue that pulls the Democratic Party together if the 2018 midterm elections become a referendum on Trump ,” said Alan Baum, an independent auto analyst in Bloomfield Township, Michigan.

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