Volkswagen Pleads Guilty In U.S. Court In Diesel Emissions Scandal

Volkswagen AG (VOWG_p.DE) pleaded guilty on Friday to three felony counts as part of a $4.3 billion plea agreement reached with the Justice Department in January over the automaker’s massive diesel emissions scandal.

VW general counsel Manfred Doess made the plea on the company’s behalf after he said at a hearing in U.S. District Court in Detroit that he was authorized by the board of directors of VW to enter a guilty plea.

“Your honor, VW AG is pleading guilty to all three counts because it is guilty on all three counts,” Doess told the court.

U.S. District Judge Sean Cox accepted the guilty plea to conspiracy to commit fraud, obstruction of justice and entry of goods by false statement charges. Doess said the criminal acts occurred in Germany and United States.

Under the deal, VW agreed to sweeping reforms, new audits and oversight by an independent monitor for three years after admitting to installing secret software in 580,000 U.S. vehicles to enable it to beat emissions tests over a six-year period and emit up to 40 times legally allowable pollution.

An assistant U.S. attorney, John Neal, told the court that the emissions scheme “was a well thought-out, planned offense that went to the top of the organization.” He said VW could have faced $17 billion to $34 billion in fines under sentencing guidelines.

Volkswagen agreed to change the way it operates in the United States and other countries under the settlement. VW, the world’s largest automaker by sales, in January agreed to pay $4.3 billion in U.S. civil and criminal fines.

In total, VW has agreed to spend up to $25 billion in the United States to address claims from owners, environmental regulators, states and dealers and offer to buy back about 500,000 polluting U.S. vehicles.

The German automaker halted sales of diesel vehicles in late 2015 and has said it has no plans to resume sales of new U.S. diesels.

The Justice Department also charged seven current and former VW executives with crimes related to the scandal. One executive is in custody and awaiting trial and another pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate. Five of the seven are believed to be in Germany and have not been arraigned.

German prosecutors are also investigating.

VW chairman Hans Dieter Poetsch said Monday the company expects to broaden disciplinary action beyond the two dozen employees it has already suspended.

As part of its U.S. emission settlements, VW agreed to spend nearly $3 billion to offset excess emissions and make $2 billion in investments in zero emission vehicle infrastructure and awareness programs over a decade.

Xbox exec reveals Scorpio has 9GB of RAM available for games

You probably don’t remember me or my family. Your judgement of us was swift and matter-of-fact. “We will never let our kids zone out on electronics while we have a family meal,” you declared to your husband as you nodded in our direction. That was that. You would never allow your future, hypothetical children to be as inconsiderate and rude as mine. I’m sure you went on about your day without a second thought about the kid zoning out on the phone at brunch.

And, I get it. I do. I have said similar things in the past. Back when I also had future, hypothetical children. Back before I had present, real children. Back before I started to notice that one of those children was a little bit different than most kids his age. Back before the doctor mentioned the big, scary word that starts with an A. You see, it’s easy to make judgements when you are not really in the situation, because all you see is a kid zoning out on a phone. But that’s not what I see.

You see a kid ignoring all social interaction at the table. I see a kid who is doing a great job holding it together and not melting down.

You see a kid zoning out on a phone. I see a kid who this morning was spinning himself up in the curtains, as he so often does now, to avoid putting on his clothes. This kid likes to be naked. He finds clothes very uncomfortable and tight, even when they are two sizes too big. Wearing a soft cotton t-shirt can sometimes feel like wearing a straightjacket. So, while you see a kid zoning out, I see a kid with his clothes on.

You see a kid ignoring his family and playing games. I see a kid whose mom dragged him to a local park this morning for family pictures that he didn’t want to do. Getting ready for pictures, that kid found tall bench made of a tree branch that he could climb and jump off of again and again until those few intermittent seconds of free fall could help him forget about his tight shirt. But he couldn’t. He had to sit still, smile, and make eye contact, which is not very comfortable or exciting. But he did it. So, while you see a kid ignoring his parents, I see a kid who cooperated with family pictures for a whole hour.

You see a kid ignoring the food on his plate and watching videos. I see a kid who waited patiently for 30 minutes to be sat at a cramped table and wait for his food, only to be disappointed and unable to eat because the food on his plate was linked sausage and not sausage patties.

Why Pokémon GO Became An Instant Phenomenon

Katherine Isbister, University of California, Santa Cruz

In the last week, Pokémon GO, an augmented reality game for mobile phones, has taken off. Daily traffic for the game exceeded Twitter and Facebook use. What is driving this intense interest and involvement? One way to understand is to take a closer look at the game’s design.

First, for those who haven’t played or watched, a brief overview of how the game works. To play Pokémon GO, you download an app onto your phone, which allows you to search for and “see” virtual creatures called Pokémon that are scattered throughout the real world. You need to be physically close to a Pokémon’s location to see it on your mobile screen. Pokémon GO uses augmented reality technology — the game overlays the creature image on top of video from your phone’s camera, so it looks as if the creature is floating in the real world. When you find a Pokémon, you try to catch it by swiping an on-screen ball at it. The simplest aim of the game is to “catch ‘em all.”

To do this, you’ll have to wander outside your own real-world neighborhood, because different types of creatures are scattered throughout your town and all around the world. You can easily share snapshots of creatures you’ve collected and where you found them on social media sites like Facebook, if you want. As you get better at the game, you discover that you can train the creatures in “gyms,” which are virtual spaces accessible by visiting real world public locations (for example, the White House is a gym). When you’ve reached level 5 in the game, you get a chance to join one of three teams: Team Mystic, Team Valor or Team Instinct. These teams compete to maintain control over the gyms where Pokémon go and train. You and your friends can choose the same team, and work together if you like. You’ll also have teammates from around your community (and the world) who join in.

Several aspects of the game’s design help to make the experience so compelling. A look at gaming research shows several of the game’s elements can explain why playing Pokémon GO has been such a massive worldwide hit for players of all ages.