back to article VW's US environment boss gets seven years for Dieselgate scam

Former Volkswagen executive Oliver Schmidt has been sentenced to 84 months in a United States federal prison for his role in the “dieselgate” software scandal that saw vehicles deliver test results that indicated their emissions met US standards when in fact they were smoke-belching jalopies. Schmidt was general manager of …

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If one considers that the noxious NOX emissions from high compression ratio diesels actually kills people, then they are getting off lightly.

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Anonymous Coward

The case was about compliance with the rules, not the actual health impact. If health impacts of emissions were important, the the US authorities would ban all the older diesels and heavy truck engines (not to mention heavy restrictions on gas guzzling cars). But that would start to hurt US diesel engine makers and US car makers; Now that would just be plain wrong.

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Trollface

"If one considers that the noxious NOX emissions from high compression ratio diesels actually kills people"

ACTUALLY, dihydrogen monoxide kills MORE people than NOX. Not only does it attack the LUNGS, it's found in EVERYTHING (including car and diesel exhaust).

We should, like, BAN Dihydrogen Monoxide because it is SOOOOooo deadly, you know?

</sarcasm>

Actually, nitrogen oxides exist in nature, and are good for plants. Rain depletes it. And breathing it doesn't kill you outright. Some oxides of nitrogen have "recreational" use - ever suck down a whipped cream can? Nitrous oxide. 'nuff said.

chemical reactions: NO + H2O --> HNO2 [nitrous acid], which (as I recall) does not ionize completely, and plants LOVE it in the expected concentration in the rain water (similarly for CO2 I might add). Greens 'em right up! it's never really found in concentrations that are harmful to plants. not the same as sulfur dioxide from burning coal, which should be scrubbed up. by using a water spray!

ok too much reality following the snark. If I add more science I'll need a different icon.

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I'm not allowed to comment on this

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Holmes

Then I guess successive UK governments are also guilty??

(or what that your hidden political agenda??)

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Anonymous Coward

Not even CLOSE to being informed on exhaust emissions

I am in 100% agreement that those who conspired to defraud consumers via software that allowed a minutely excessive amount of exhaust emissions should be held accountable for that fraud, conspiracy and lying to regulators. That group appears from independent investigations to be less that ~(50) employees at VW, yet the EPA has crucified VW the corporation for the trivial volume of excess Diesel exhaust emissions and fraud.

The widely alleged "massive emissions" from Dieselgate is totally inaccurate however and continuously regurgitated by technically clueless entities from the U.S. EPA (Extremely Political Agency), who actually coerced VW into making publicly untrue statements regarding proper, legal emissions on VW/Audi/Porsche Diesel engines - which all by the way MEET or exceed all EPA and U.S. state emissions laws for the respective engines. The only illegal aspect of the alleged crimes is that the duty cycle on some emissions controls ran for shorter time spans than necessary to maintain exhaust emissions below the EPA's indefensible regs intended to kill U.S. clean Diesel sales and promote impractical EVs. This was part of the Obama scam than is slowly being disclosed by researchers.

The bottom line is if you took all of the excessive VW/Audi/Porsche Diesel engine exhaust emissions discharged over the course of 10+ years, it would not be a drop in the bucket to the "legal" methane gas leaks that exist in the U.S. without any punishment by the EPA. The combined total excess Diesel exhaust emissions over a ten year plus period would not even come remotely close to the "legal" volume of exhaust emissions emitted from class 8 over-the-road clean Diesel trucks in the course of one year. So to claim that the excessive VW/Audi/Porsche Diesel exhaust emissions could have or did contribute to anyone's death shows a complete misunderstanding of the facts - which you rarely get from the mainstream news or from criminal U.S. government agencies with a personal agenda that is unacceptable to the technically educated community.

Punishing those responsible for Dieselgate is 100% appropriate though crucifixion by the Extremely Political Agency (EPA), is not. Considering that General Motors (GM), engineers conspired to not disclose the ignition switch problem in millions of GM vehicles that led to the deaths of over (100) people in the U.S. The mainstream and automotive oriented media in the U.S. has quietly dismissed GM's ignition switch massacre while ballyhooing VW as being a monster for minor excessive exhaust emissions that harmed literally no one. It's wise to conduct your own research if you want the truth instead of buying into the sound bites and political agendas being propagated. VW is guilty of fraud not murder yet GM has for all practical purposes escaped prosecution by paying a token payment to survivors of ~(100) people known to have been killed by GM concealing the defective ignition switches. Meanwhile VW has had to fork over ~$30 BILLION in the U.S. and admit guilt when they were not guilty of many EPA alleged crimes. The EPA is even forcing VW to buy back cars that meet ALL U.S. EMISSIONS STANDARDS required at the time of sale, because the EPA is in a position to destroy VW/Audi/Porsche Diesel sales within the U.S. because the EPA is accountable to no one. IMNHO never in history has any U.S. government agency been more predatory or corrupt than the U.S. EPA that some Americans refer to as the Evil Predatory Agency. Let knowledge and facts be your guiding light...

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The issue with NOX isn't that it exists, it's the concentrations it exists in.

Even the most NOXious diesels are fine outside of urban areas and smogtraps, but a large chunk of California has smogtrapping areas (The central valley and LAX basin), so the laws nationally are set for those (NOX is why lean burn gasoline engines were banned. Instead of regulating NOX emissions and allowing makers to comply any way they wanted, US carmakers lobbied the government to mandate stociometric air-fuel ratios which allow "easy" 3-way catalysts to be used - at cost of fuel economy.

EU rules haven't said much about NOX until recently and now they allow makers to solve the issues however they want, as long as they comply.

Another way of tackling the issue using the technology in the dieselgate engines would be to add a NOX sensor in the intake, switching to low-NOX mode when atmospheric levels increase above a threshold and economy+power mode the rest of the time. The problem is that rules and regulations are based on the assumption that emissions control systems are fixed or extremely slow-acting things and they haven't been for a long time.

Urban NOX levels are the main reason why condensing boilers were pushed so hard by councils. There have been NOX limits on boilers since ~2003, but condensing units emit even less (almost zero) because the oxides are absorbed into the water and go down the drain instead. This is important because around half of London's NOX is sourced from old boiler installations that aren't (currently) covered by emissions legislation - they were grandfathered for 20 years past the introduction of the new law. Those NOX bombs tend to be 1970s-early 80s non-sealed units that also put out shitloads of carbon monoxide.

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Anonymous Coward

Diesel Smoke

Ever watch welderup :)

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outrageous

So after all this, the company is still going to be in business? They should be shut down. On the other hand, any company to take its place probably won't be any more ethical, just perhaps more lucky.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: outrageous

On the other hand, any company to take its place probably won't be any more ethical, just perhaps more lucky.

VW got caught. Other companies have admitted similar actions in Europe, and others have denied it but are under investigation for the same. Penalties have either yet to be decided, or been minimal.

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FAIL

Re: outrageous

"So after all this, the company is still going to be in business?"

yeah, sure, lay off zillions of employees worldwide because a handful of people scammed the U.S. gummint in order to get promoted and/or earn bonuses...

</sarcasm>

I think jailing the actual perpetrators is a MUCH better idea.

the premise that ALL corporations are inherently evil, and must be punished, is a COMMUNIST one. It should be rejected on THAT basis, alone.

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Re: outrageous

"the premise that ALL corporations are inherently evil, and must be punished, is a COMMUNIST one. It should be rejected on THAT basis, alone."

Corporations exist to make profit for shareholders - since shareholders (the generic blob of shareholders represented by Wall Street) are only interested in short term profits and dividends then their prime motivation is money.

And since we know that the root of all evil is the love of money I think we can reasonably suggest that corporations have an inherent bias to evil.

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Re: outrageous

"Corporations exist to make profit for shareholders - since shareholders (the generic blob of shareholders represented by Wall Street) are only interested in short term profits and dividends then their prime motivation is money."

There are a couple of classes of shareholders to consider. The Wall Street crowd are certainly only interested in the short term which can be defined as the end of their current bonus period. Those of us who are pensioners and who actually provided the money invested in this are interested in the long term continuation of profits; we are not particularly happy with the antics of the speculating crowd, nor of those company employees who respond to them. Perhaps throwing personal criminal liability on company executives is long overdue and should be extended to other aspects of company conduct.

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Re: outrageous

'And since we know that the root of all evil is the love of money'

Any other bits of the bible you take seriously? Not wearing mixed fabrics? Stoning adulterers? Not eating shellfish?

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Coat

Re: outrageous

Corporations exist to make profit for shareholders - since shareholders (the generic blob of shareholders represented by Wall Street) are only interested in short term profits and dividends then their prime motivation is money.

The implications are obvious. We shouldn't just jail the bosses, we should jail the shareholders. Or at least fine them.

Despite the icon, I'm halfway serious on this one. The bosses do what they do because the shareholders allow, even encourage, them to do so. If you knew you might be fined for voting a psychopathic shithead onto the board, perhaps you'd be a little more careful.

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Re: outrageous

" we should jail the shareholders. Or at least fine them."

The fine to the company is in effect a fine to the shareholders, as that's money they will not get as profits/dividends

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Re: outrageous

"Perhaps throwing personal criminal liability on company executives is long overdue and should be extended to other aspects of company conduct."

Let me qualify that: liability to company executives when specific individuals can be identified as culpable in a specific case.

If legislation seeks to make individuals liable as opposed to the corporation that that would almost certainly need to be the directors as no other job titles are defined in law. The alternative would be if the legislation defines a specific role such as a data protection officer who could be held responsible whatever the job title - with a fall-back to the directors if they fail to appoint and empower one.

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Coat

Re: outrageous

You've all got it wrong. We need to jail the people that printed the money!

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Re: outrageous

"There are a couple of classes of shareholders to consider. The Wall Street crowd are certainly only interested in the short term which can be defined as the end of their current bonus period. Those of us who are pensioners and who actually provided the money invested in this are interested in the long term continuation of profits; we are not particularly happy with the antics of the speculating crowd, nor of those company employees who respond to them. "

Agreed - but unfortunately the short term burners seem to rule the roost, whether by bullying and chancing their way to owning more of the shares than they should or by just shouting loudest.

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Re: outrageous

> And since we know that the root of all evil is the love of money

>> Any other bits of the bible you take seriously? Not wearing mixed fabrics? Stoning adulterers?

>> Not eating shellfish?

Yes, I do take the bible seriously.

Those were OT restrictions and penalties - I'm not quite sure why you think they are relevant to a discussion of the nature of greed.

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Gimme that old time religion

@John Robson

Yes, I do take the bible seriously.

Those were OT restrictions and penalties

Perhaps you can explain something for me.

I see that sort of statement from Christians quite frequently. They write off all the bad bits (and there are a lot of them) in the OT by saying something about "new covenant" and "the OT stuff no longer applies." All well and good, but then they absolutely insist that we all follow the 10 commandments. Which, I believe, are in the OT and should therefore be discarded as being no longer applicable, the same as the stuff about not eating shellfish or wearing poly-cotton shirts.

I'm having difficulty following the reasoning about the 10 commandments. But since you take the Bible seriously, perhaps you can explain it to me.

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Re: outrageous

@jmch

The fine to the company is in effect a fine to the shareholders, as that's money they will not get as profits/dividends

Yeah, but it's a blunt instrument. It's either too little to have any effect or it screws the company completely. A screwed company means a lot of innocent low-level workers lose out, as well as the executives and the shareholders. A low fine means shareholders hardly notice it, especially if they have diversified holdings.

Similarly with fining/jailing the executives. It's either too low to be noticed (and they find ways to make it up) or it wipes them out. Which screws the company. Which means innocent low-level workers lose out.

If you fine the shareholders for taking insufficient care when voting at shareholder meetings, they notice. But it's a lot less likely to screw the company and hurt the low-level workers. Even if shareholders have to sell all their shares to pay the fines, it may not be a disaster for the company.

Here's what made me think about it. The Nuremberg trial established a number of things. Blindly following orders is no excuse. There is command accountability: issuing illegal orders is an excuse. The Nelson derfence (turning a blind eye) is unacceptable, you have to put in place systems to prevent abuse. But then I started thinking: the guy at the top is held to blame. But he's there because people voted for him and, theoretically, in a democracy the people are sovereign and at the top of the chain. So if you elect a leader who invades Poland, you are to blame. And although that principle didn't appear in Nuremberg, Germany was ostracised for several decades and most Germans felt shame for several decades. The lesson was brought home where it counts (but these days is being increasingly forgotten).

As an idea it's probably entirely unworkable, but maybe if the shareholders felt the brunt of the pain they'd stop electing psychopathic shitheads.

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Re: Gimme that old time religion

"I'm having difficulty following the reasoning about the 10 commandments."

What are you struggling to understand?

From what you've written it sounds like you suggesting that I don't follow the restrictions about shellfish purely because they are in the OT... That's the not reason I don't live out those restrictions.

If you read the gospels then you might find out why those restrictions are no longer observed, and therefore understand why the Ten Commandments are still observed.

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Re: Gimme that old time religion

@John Robson

I'd congratulate you on missing the point, except you didn't miss it you evaded it.

If you read the gospels then you might find out why those restrictions are no longer observed, and therefore understand why the Ten Commandments are still observed.

Nowhere in the Gospels (or anywhere else in the New Testament) have I seen anything that voids any of the 613 commandments of Mosaic Law in the OT. What I do find is this, in Matthew:

5:17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.

5:18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.

5:19 Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

That seems pretty clear to me. Jesus, in his own words, saying that Mosaic Law stands. In its entirety. All 613 commandments. Including the one about shellfish. The best you can say about a new covenant is that if one was made then it amends and clarifies, but does not abrogate, the existing one.

The only place a gospel mentions a new covenant at all is in a disputed translation of Luke and doesn't give any details of what it entails.

But maybe I'm missing the bit in a gospel where it says "You can throw away 603 of the commandments of Mosaic Law because this new covenant replaces all of them; only the 10 commandments matter any more." The closest I can come is the bit about what people say can be worse than what they eat, but given standard rabbinical interpretation of such phraseology that doesn't mean he's saying that certain foods are no longer bad but that some speech is worse.

It's time for you to point out the relevant passages, if you can. In the meantime, I shall continue to believe that since you are willingly breaking the least of the commandments then you are willingly imperilling your immortal soul.

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Re: Gimme that old time religion

Matthew 15.

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Re: Gimme that old time religion

Matthew 15.

And that is your entire defence against Jesus saying that he hadn't come to change Mosaic law? That not one jot or tittle of Mosaic law would be dropped until the end times came? That's it? That's your whole justification for dropping 603 of the 613 OT commandments? Even if your argument were valid (it isn't), it wouldn't explain why the 10 commandments get an exemption.

So let's examine your (entirely predictable, BTW, I was expecting it) argument. It is possible (but not, I think, justifiable) to stretch Matthew 15 well beyond its elastic limit to negate all the dietary restrictions of Mosaic law. That in no way affects the rest of Mosaic law. Nothing about no longer having to chop off foreskins. Nothing about mixed fabrics being acceptable. Nothing about not stoning to death people who work on the Sabbath. Nothing about slavery suddenly being a bad thing. Nothing about having to marry women you rape. Etc.

And, yes, your interpretation stretches Matthew 15 well beyond reasonable limits. Jesus was comparing one thing prohibited by Mosaic law with a novel injunction of his own. I do not see any way of reasonably interpreting that as negating the dietary restrictions, let alone 603 of the 613 OT commandments.

Consider this reasoning: "Accidentally killing somebody while driving your car without due care and attention is bad, but murdering somebody by deliberately running them over is worse." Do you take that to mean that because vehicular murder is worse, negligently killing somebody is OK? Of course you do not. How about this: "Slightly exceeding the speed limit is bad, but murdering somebody by deliberately running them over is worse." Do you think that is a sensible comparison to make? Yet you insist that when Jesus compares a bad thing with a worse thing that the bad thing suddenly becomes a good thing. Not just that, but a whole slew of unrelated bad things suddenly become good things.

When Paul decided his mission was to take Judaism to the gentiles, he came up with doctrines that could be called "Judaism for Gentiles - Lite." Those gentiles were reluctant to change their diets, so Matthew 15 was trotted out to justify the eating of pork and shellfish. They were reluctant to hack their foreskins off, so that had to go, but I have yet to see any Biblical justification. There was nothing about dropping most of the rest of Mosaic law.

At most your argument would justify abandoning the dietary restrictions (although I do not agree that it does in fact justify that), not for abandoning 603 of the OT commandments. And nowhere does your argument justify retaining the 10 commandments even if I accept (and I do not) that all the rest of Mosaic law no longer applies.

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Re: Gimme that old time religion

No it's not an entire defence, at no point did I say it was - you said that you couldn't see anything that justified omission of *any* of the OT restrictions.

That is one reference to a passage which does just that.

Since you clearly have no interest in actually having a discussion (claiming that Paul's letters are non biblical is a new lone though - trolling credit where it's due) then there is no point in continuing the conversation.

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Recently we had an issue at work where some software licences was not renewed at all - and an upcoming audit would point it out anyway.

Project Mangler in charge of that project got told by manglement to tell the auditor that the software licence expired a week ago - he refused to lie.

Not worth having that kind of blot on your career - and manglement denying they told him to lie.

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> he refused to lie.

Been there. Was told to lie about the status of a project to protect the bum of the person who hadn't done her crucial bit (secure premises for a new office in a country into which we were expanding). I refused, took it as the straw that broke the camel's back, and resigned a few months later. Bloke who told me to lie was out on his ear soon after. Person in the C suite who couldn't be arsed to do her bit still there, still incompetent.

Mildly off topic, but it feels good to tell.

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Anonymous Coward

we had an issue at work where the experiment got stuck inside the fuel channel tube through the moderator.

in the committee that was formed to examine why the (research) reactor was damaged, the management chose to blame the technical guy who built the experiment. they produced engineering drawings. clearly the tech had built it with too loose tolerances.

however, my mate, the tech, then produced the actual drawings that he'd been given to build the neutron probe. the dimensions were strangely larger than the management version of the drawings. my mate is still working, happily.

so is his phb, tho' I gather it slowed his career a modicum.

obey orders, but GET THEM IN WRITING, perhaps store off-site, sometimes!

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Unhappy

PHB's need more stimulus to do the right thing. Jail time seems to be it.

You have to wonder how high these people would score on the PCL-R.

My guess. 30+ easy.

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Stop

“This sentence reflects how seriously we take environmental crime. "

Not if your name is Donald Trump who is doing his best to ruin the USA.

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Mushroom

"ruin the USA"

If that was just the case then the rest of us would find him much more amusing, it's his potential damage to the rest of the world that bothers me.

For example >>>>>>>>>

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>“This sentence reflects how seriously we take environmental crimepeople who make us look stupid. "

FTFY

I suspect there has been no change to the emissions test or action taken in light of this case, so it is still wide open to being fooled.

Been here before, repeatedly over the last few decades, with various US government and associated agencies computer systems, who's security has been shown to be inadequate. Yet rather than do anything about improving security, great effort is put into prosecuting foreign nationals, especially when those foreigners are revealed to be teenagers, working on their own, out of a UK bedroom.

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Anonymous Coward

I might jump an open drawbridge, Or Tarzan from a vine. 'Cause I'm the unknown stuntman that makes Eastwood look so fine.

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Anonymous Coward

There's a saying amongst the officers, "If a job's worth doing, it's worth doing well. If it's not worth doing, give it to Rimmer".

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How come...

...every crime in the USA seems to include "wire fraud".

IANAL in any way, shape, or form and nor am I a 'merkin but what is it with that specific crime that it seems to crop up in charges so frequently?

Genuine question there.

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Re: How come...

Short answer: it's a vague charge that is so easy to throw in. It was designed to combat forms of mail fraud, later electronic fraud, but developed a serious feature creep along the way.

Current definition is by itself worth a chuckle:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wire_fraud

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Poor bugger.

Seems that we have this week's designated goat, sacrificed upon the altar of Being Seen To Be Doing Something. One can't help wondering just how "seriously" this would be taken were VW a B2B or, better still, a government supply organisation.

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Re: Poor buggers (as in the American people)

One can't help wondering just how "seriously" this would be taken were VW a B2B or, better still, a government supply organisation.

If it were a government organisation, nothing would have been done. If it were a US corp on the receiving end, they'd just agree a "no fault" settlement and a modest payout. But we can all see this has little to do with the minutiae of the actual case, and everything to do with deterring VW and other unwelcome foreign corporations from focusing on growing any business in the US. You can see the same rampant protectionism around the Boeing/Bombardier trade dispute, in some of the fines handed out to non-US banks for alleged money laundering or mis-sold loans, and a whole range of other US public sector actions.

Corporate ownership of Congress and US policy making and implementation now goes so deep that they may as well dis-enfranchise individuals, abandon elections (solving the problem that elections can't be trusted because Russia interferes) and just allow corporations to buy influence directly. Rather than have policy consultations, just have policy auctions, where companies make bids for various clauses, if a threshold is reached, every corporation who bid has to pay up. Every five years, instead of political parties, businesses (or rich families) could bid to become government, based purely on how much they can raise - not so different to now, but without the tedium of having to vote, or listen to months of boring political coverage by the press.

As we can see from the crooked family junta currently in the Whitehouse, seems most of this has already happened, and the persistent influence of certain rich families on the Democrat side is equally damning.

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a role in which the Department of Justice said he learned of the conspiracy to cheat on emissions tests and joined in rather than putting a stop to the practice.

Would he have been able to stop the practice or would he have been out of a job?

“a key conspirator responsible for the cover-up in the United States of a massive fraud perpetuated on the American consumer” and said he “... viewed the cover-up as an opportunity to shine and climb up the corporate ladder”.

You can't honestly tell me only a few people in the whole of the US arm of VW knew about it.

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You can't honestly tell me only a few people in the whole of the US arm of VW knew about it.

That's why they're only going for people who are sufficiently senior to carry the can for it. It's actually rather great that they aren't going for the actual techs - for all these people are referred to in the press as 'engineers' they are quite senior managers.

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So the yanks have got a few billion out of VW.

So what about the UK ? Something I read claimed that as part of a deal not to have our bankers hauled up we let VW go but that might not be true.

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crazy world

Just the *additional* fatalities caused by the NOx emissions beyond their certified limit already exceeds on an annual basis the number of direct fatalities from the 911 attacks, yet the jailable offence here is telling a porkie pie and wire fraud. You could not make this stuff up.

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Certain that if this had been a US company that he'd gotten off with a slap on the wrist.

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