Monday, 26 September 2011

The Teewave AR.1 uses Toray carbon fiber for its chassis, crash structures, body, and interior.

Teewave AR.1 concept

This concept sports car was built, from initial sketches to working prototype, in just nine months.

(Credit: Gordon Murray Design)


Creating a new car can take years of development, but Gordon Murray Design put together a running prototype electric sports car in just nine months. The Teewave AR.1 was commissioned by Toray Industries to show off its carbon fiber production.

Toray says that its process can make carbon fiber components in just 10 minutes. The Teewave AR.1 uses Toray carbon fiber for its chassis, crash structures, body, and interior. Other Toray materials make up interior surfaces and components of the car.


Teewave AR.1 concept

Gordon Murray Design opted for a modest electric powertrain in the Teewave AR.1, meaning sluggish acceleration.

(Credit: Gordon Murray Design)


Those light carbon fiber elements make the overall weight of the Teewave AR.1 just 1,874 pounds. The lithium ion battery pack for the car makes up 530 pounds of that weight.

Gordon Murray Design did not specify the supplier of the electric power train, but its specifications are fairly standard for new electric cars hitting the market. Range is listed as 116 miles using the New European Driving Cycle test procedure, and charging time is 6 hours.

The Teewave AR.1 does not push the boundaries of electric car performance. Its electric motor, driving the rear wheels, only produces 63 horsepower and 132 pound-feet of torque. That means acceleration of 11.4 seconds to 62 mph.

You won't be able to buy a Teewave AR.1 anytime soon. The car will be used by Toray to demonstrate its carbon fiber capabilities. But Toray says its carbon fiber components will scale from a car as small as the Teewave AR.1 to any other size of vehicle.

What this concept also demonstrates is how quickly a new car can, from sketches to a working prototype, can be built. Components such as the electric drive train and suspension are modular, while the carbon fiber can be formed from molds rather than the more time-consuming stamping process for steel, which involves more tooling.


It was quite a good idea for Mini to make a coupe version as the fifth body derivative in the model line-up because the earlier variations basically covered the widest customer expectations possible.

If you loved the Mini for what it has always been, you'd easily go for the classic Hatch. Want more fun and there's the Convertible. Need to be a little pseudo and the Clubman awaits you. Crave for family practicality and the Countryman's yours.

But if you needn't any of those values but want a genuinely good looking and driving Mini for yourself, the Coupe is the perfect choice.

The removal of the compartment for rear passengers has allowed Mini to put in place a three-box profile to give the Coupe a nice coupe profile. Adding more fun is a helmet-style roof distinctively coloured from the body.

But that's just about it when it comes to the cosmetic test because the rest of the Coupe is plainly a Mini.

There's no differentiation when it comes to the lights or front grille. Simply, it's the roof that holds the key to your liking of the Coupe.

The fascia is just like in any other Mini: fun but flawed to use.

Despite the booted appearance, the Coupe's boot lid opens in a hatch manner (together with the rear windscreen) which, in essence, makes the Coupe more of a liftback.

No rear perches means that the Coupe has that kind of boot space rarely seen in any Mini. Mini has also taken the opportunity to design the interior boot cover with stylish twin cowls. In functionality terms, the Coupe is all what two people at most would ever need.

And turning to aesthetics again, the interior reaches the same dead end as the exterior in which distinction is only confined to the rear bit. The front seats, steering wheel and fascia are like in other Minis, with the latest aspect being fun in appearance but flawed in ergonomic terms.

But you really can't blame Mini for the vast similarities the Coupe bears to its other siblings.

It's a diversification of a specific model, in the first place, and not entirely all-new on its own. Hence, the need to share as many parts as possible.

The pop-up spoiler has both visual and dynamic benefits.

So if you're expecting the Coupe to feel distinctively special on the move, prepare to frown because it doesn't. However, that can never be considered a bad thing since Minis have always been known to be cars that are great to drive.

The running gear of the Coupe is predictable enough: the engines and transmissions are the ones you have seen around since the Mini's facelift in second-gen form with no changes in power and torque outputs.

The one highlighted here for the Coupe test drive in Germany this month is the range-topping 211hp 1.6-litre petrol-turbo and six-speed manual gearbox for the so-called John Cooper Works guise.

The chassis setup is basically just like in other Minis including a sporty tuning. Absence of rear seats has also allowed engineers to place a cross-member in their place to further increase body rigidity for even better handling.

With this in mind, the Coupe drives very much like the Hatch. Performance is brisk in a straight line and impressive when picking up from low engine revs and when exiting corners.

There's no doubting the Coupe's handling, too. This is as sporty as a car of this small size gets, and the way it grips at high speeds when slamming down the autobahn to its top speed is quite amazing. Special thanks go to a new rear spoiler that pops up at over 80kph (and disappearing again when dipping below 60kph).

Ah, that spoiler, the item much talked-about in the Coupe which many critics have described as more a cosmetic gimmick rather than one for dynamic reasons. But as things turned out during the international driving trials, there seems to also be much weight leaning towards the latter factor.

The Coupe also goes around into corners with the same conviction as the Hatch: superbly agile, finely balanced and virtually free of understeer. It's equally as capable as a rear-drive sports car like the Mazda MX-5, unless your idea of looking out from the car is through the side windows.

There’s some stow space behind the front seats... and more of it in the boot.

Speaking of the driving view, the Coupe does feel different from the Hatch in the sense that the front windscreen is more slanted and not as upright as in the Hatch or Clubman. And the Coupe's rear view is limited, although the view of the spoiler (and the stripes painted on it) looks cool.

A more serious downside (in terms of marketing and not engineering) is the unavailability of an automatic gearbox. Mini still insists that JCW cars must be manual. This means that Thais won't be getting this powerful JCW, unless they order it.

Instead, the Cooper S and Cooper variants will come at the year-end with six-speed slushers, the prior spec having steering-mounted paddle-shifters. There wasn't the chance to sample the Cooper S, but it's fair to say _ based on previous driving experiences of other Minis _ that the Coupe with this power treatment will still be a fast car to drive.

You need not have suspicions about the Coupe's ride: the underlying firmness of the chassis makes for a stiff ride, even on the slightest of potholes on German roads. We'd easily say that the ride on Bangkok streets would be terrifyingly hard.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Thailand launches new campaign to fight drug crimes


The golden triangle region where Thailand, Laos and Myanmar join has been the centre of drug production and trafficking for a long time. Drug situation in Thailand has deteriorated since 2007 when about 400.000 were arrested on drug related ground. National statistics show that in 2011 the number of persons implicated in narcotics has attained 1.3 million across 80.000 villages. A reason enough for the new government to approve a new anti-drugs campaign that pledges to be inflexible with traffickers and help addicts through rehabilitation programs. Few days ago, a military border force seized 3.4 kilograms of heroin and 95 kg of crystal methamphetamine, worth US$33 million, the drugs were smuggled from Myanmar, where it is believed that ethnic minorities are major heroin and methamphetamine traffickers. In order to stop narcotics production, Thai businessmen will be encouraged to rent plots of land and invest in agriculture projects and then hire hill-tribe people to work on the farms so that they make a decent living. Border checkpoints will be intensified along the Thai-Burmese border to discourage drug smuggling. Prisons are over-crowded with drug convicts, to prevent them from going back to drug trafficking after being released, they will be encouraged to learn new skills in the final year of their jail terms. Children remain an easy target, therefore the armed force will act as a role model and promote sports and healthy life. Opening military camps and stadiums and donating sports equipment to needy youngsters will be their priority. For the past decade, Thai government has been far from successful in its fight against drug trafficking, but Yingluck Shinawatra by joining force with neighboring countries wishes to stop the problem at the root.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

British expat arrested in Phuket today was on a list of fugitives wanted by an international division of the UK’s Serious Organized Crime Agency (SOCA)

Paul Ridden in detention in Phuket. Photo: Lars Goran Dikander.
Paul Ridden in detention in Phuket. Photo: Lars Goran Dikander.

PHUKET: A British expat arrested in Phuket today was on a list of fugitives wanted by an international division of the UK’s Serious Organized Crime Agency (SOCA), the Phuket Gazette has learned.

Paul Ridden, 58, was arrested today after being fooled into meeting a friend in front of Chalong Police Station.

When he drove into the police station car park, his exit was blocked by other vehicles behind him.

“When he pulled up, Tourist Police volunteer Gary Halpin reached in and removed the key from the ignition,” said fellow volunteer Jum Ali Khan.

The move to lure Mr Ridden to capture today follows a Chalong Police attempt to bring him in for questioning yesterday after a fellow expat complained of being cheated out of 75,000 baht.

Sussex Police in the UK appealed to the public for help in finding Mr Ridden in June after he jumped police bail in April.

The appeal, which said Mr Ridden was wanted for “numerous fraud offenses”, was carried nationwide, including on the BBC website.

The appeal was issued by Detective Constable Rick Kent, Senior Officer, Operations, of SOCA’s Middle East and Asia division.

Speaking to the Phuket Gazette tonight, Mr Ridden confirmed that he had been contacted by the British Embassy in Bangkok, but he declined to answer any questions related to why he was wanted by the UK authorities.

After taking Mr Ridden into custody, Police Col Boonlert Onklang noticed that the Eastbourne native had overstayed his visa.

Mr Ridden will spend tonight in detention at the station, and will be presented in court tomorrow to face a fine for his immigration infraction.

However, that may not be the end of his problems in Phuket.

At least six people were lining up at Chalong Police Station tonight to file complaints against him.

All the complaints related to Mr Ridden having allegedly deceived or cheated the plaintiffs out of money.

One woman told the Gazette that he borrowed her motorbike and then rented it out to tourists.

Mr Ridden also hired cars from local rental operators, then rented them out to tourists, “like subletting,” one man said.

“There are eight cars in total,” he added.

Another person ready to file a complaint said he rented a car from Mr Ridden and was still waiting for his deposit to be returned. “That was two weeks ago,” he said.

Yet Mr Ridden claimed that he himself was a victim of deceit.

“I was just trying to run a business in Thailand. What happened was that the guy I came to work with said he would get me a work permit, so I gave him 65,000 baht. That was three months ago," he said.

Mr Ridden said that he was working with a local firm that installs CCTV systems.

“I was like a sub-agent. I was getting the job and they were fitting it. Their manager told me that he could get a work permit for me if I worked for them for a year, so I gave him the money. But the boss never knew about it,” he said.

“The paperwork that was signed – which I still have – was all forged by the manager. And they know about it. That’s how it all started,” he said.

Mr Ridden said that the 75,000 baht involved in the original Phuket complaint was saved in a bank account.

“The money was for getting the man a visa, but he found a cheaper way and decided to do it himself. But to get the visa [the man wanted], he needed to have money in a bank account, and that’s where it is. I will give it all back,” he said.

He also said that he had been in touch with several people – and in front of the Gazette he specifically asked for certain people to come and see him – so he could give the car registration books back.

Mr Ridden also asked that the Thai man he had hired to help him to run his business not be involved, especially since the Thai man’s wife was one month pregnant.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Google closes 10 services in 'spring clean'


The services being closed by Google include Aardvark, a social network-powered question-and-answer search tool, Fast Flip, an experiment in displaying news content online, and Notebook, a note-taking and URL-clipping service. In a post on Google’s blog, Alan Eustace, senior vice president, said: “Over the next few months we’ll be shutting down a number of products and merging others into existing products as features. [...] This will make things much simpler for our users, improving the overall Google experience. It will also mean we can devote more resources to high impact products—the ones that improve the lives of billions of people.” He added: “We’ll continue to take risks on interesting new technologies with a lot of potential. But by targeting our resources more effectively, we can focus on building world-changing products with a truly beautiful user experience.” Other services being discontinued by Google include Desktop, which the company says has been superseded by cloud computing, Google Pack, the company’s bundle of downloadable software, and Sidewiki, a collaborative approach to annotating websites. Google Maps API for Flash, Google Web Security, Image Labeler and Subscribed Links are the other services to be closed. Aardvark founders Max Ventilla and Damon Horowitz said that Google+ had taken on some of the role performed by their service. In a blogpost, they wrote: “We’ve been excited to share these lessons within Google over the past year, especially as part of the effort behind Google+. “It has been gratifying to see how well this project is doing — even in these early stages, Google+ has already become a great place to share knowledge online, eclipsing the original! — and there is much more to come very soon.”

Giant saltwater crocodile weighing more than a tonne was captured in a remote Philippine village following a spate of attacks on humans

 Giant saltwater crocodile weighing more than a tonne was captured in a remote Philippine village following a spate of attacks on humans and livestock, officials said Tuesday.

The 21-foot (6.4-metre), 1,075-kilogramme (2,370-pound) reptile may have eaten a farmer who went missing in July, along with several water buffaloes in the southern town of Bunawan, crocodile hunter Rollie Sumiller said.

A crocodile also bit off the head of a 12-year-old girl in Bunawan in 2009, according to the environment ministry.

Josefina de Leon, wildlife division chief of the environment ministry's protected areas and wildlife bureau, said it was likely the biggest crocodile ever captured.

"Based on existing records the largest that had been captured previously was 5.48 metres long," she told AFP.

"This is the biggest animal that I've handled in 20 years of trapping,"

Sumiller added, estimating the male to be more than 50 years old.

"The community was relieved," he told AFP, but added: "We're not really sure if this is the man-eater, because there have been other sightings of other crocodiles in the area."

The team, employed by a government-run crocodile breeding farm, began laying bait using chicken, pork and dog meat on August 15, but the reptile simply bit off both meat and line the it was skewered on.

An eight milimetre (0.31-inch) metal cable finally proved beyond the power of its jaws and the beast was subdued at a creek on Saturday with the help of about 30 local men.

The local government decided against putting down the reptile and will instead use him as the main attraction at a planned nature park in the area.

"He's a problem crocodile that needs to be taken from the wildlife so that it can be used for eco-tourism," Sumiller said.

Crocodylus porosus or estuarine crocodile is the world's largest reptile that usually grows to five or six metres long and can live up to 100 years.

While not considered an endangered species globally, it is "critically endangered" in the Philippines, where it is hunted for its hide to feed the fashion industry, de Leon said.

Monday, 5 September 2011

Drug couriers killed in Chiang Rai


Two drug traffickers were killed and 22,200 methamphetamine pills seized late on Sunday night in a clash with a combined force of police and para-military rangers of the Pha Muang Force in Thoeng district of Chiang Rai province, police said. Pol Maj-Gen Songtham Alapach, the Chiang Rai police chief, said the combined police-ranger force laid in wait near Rom Pho Thong village in tambon Tap Tao of Thoeng district between kilometre markers 56-57 on the road to Phu Chi Fa mountain near the Thai-Lao border after learning that a drug gang would transport speed pills across the border from Laos. Late in the night, the combined force spotted five men carrying backpacks and AK47 rifles walking down from the mountain and ordered them to stop for a search. The smugglers opened fire and a 10 minute gunfight followed. After the clash, the police and rangers examined the area and found the bodies of two men who were killed in the fight.  One of them was identified as Laopho sae Wang, 50, a villager of Rom Pho Thong village, and the other was an unidentified Hmong from neighbouring Laos. The three other smugglers fled back across the border. A backpack containing 22,200 methamphetamine pills and a 9mm pistol were also found at the scene.

Taiwan busts massive drug smuggling ring


TAIWAN police say they've busted a drug smuggling ring responsible for transporting $66.06 million worth of narcotics to Australia, New Zealand and Japan. A total of nine suspects have been arrested, including the suspected leader of the ring, 40-year-old Fan Chu-lin, the Criminal Investigation Bureau said on Monday. "This is definitely one of the largest smuggling rings to be uncovered in many years," bureau official Yang Ming-chang said. Over a 10-year period, the group allegedly smuggled hundreds of kilograms of ecstasy and amphetamines from Hong Kong and China to Japan, New Zealand and Australia. It also smuggled large amounts of marijuana from Thailand and Holland into Taiwan. According to preliminary estimates, the drugs smuggled by the group over the 10-year period totalled at least $65.5 million, Yang said. If convicted, Fan could face a minimum 20 years in jail under Taiwanese law.

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Kickboxer Lee Aldhouse is to be extradited to Thailand to face trial for the murder on Phuket of former US Marine Dashawn Longellow,

Kickboxer Lee Aldhouse is to be extradited to Thailand to face trial for the murder on Phuket of former US Marine Dashawn Longellow, a British newspaper is reporting.

The Daily Mirror says a government source told them: ''The only way he could have realistically avoided extradition is if he would have faced the death penalty if found guilty. But the Thai Government have assured us that he will not.''

Aldhouse, 28, has 14 days in which to appeal.

The stabbing murder of Longfellow, 23, became a notorious case on Phuket as a manhunt was launched for his suspected killer.

Aldhouse was arrested at London's Heathrow airport a few days after the mid-August murder, having made his escape via Cambodia and a flight from Singapore.

Prosecution authorities in Bangkok are likely to be delighted with the precedent-setting decision by British Home Secretary Theresa May.

Once it is officially confirmed, Longfellow's family and friends in the US and on Phuket will be vastly relieved.

Prison conditions in Thailand were believed to be what caused the decision to run past the normal two months for a Home Secretary to decide whether an extradition is appropriate.

Phuket Prison is overcrowded with conditions well below international standards.

Authorities in Thailand will be anxiously awaiting a decision on whether Aldhouse chooses to appeal, a move that could mean a delay in the process or worse, extradition being refused.

Aldhouse, known as the Pitbull, picked a fight with Longfellow at the Freedom Bar in Rawai, a southern beachside spot on Phuket. Having lost the fight, Phuket police believe, Aldhouse collected two knives from a nearby 7-Eleven store and ambushed the former Marine when he returned to his apartment.

Did Lee Aldhouse Do It?

Phuketwan has posted dramatic footage of a man who looks like Lee Aldhouse obtaining two knives from a 7-Eleven store shortly before Mr Longfellow was stabbed to death

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