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Uber is officially a cab firm, says European court

by admin   |   Posted on Saturday, December 23rd, 2017

FILE PHOTO: UBER taxi (REUTERS / KAI PFAFFENBACH)

Uber should be classified as a transport service and regulated like other taxi operators, the European Court of Justice said in a landmark ruling on Wednesday that could impact other online businesses in Europe.

Uber, which allows passengers to summon a ride through an app on their smartphones, has transformed the taxi industry since its launch in 2011 and now operates in more than 600 cities globally.

In the latest of a series of legal battles, Uber had argued it was simply a digital app that acted as an intermediary between drivers and customers looking for a ride and so should fall under lighter EU rules for online services.

The case follows a complaint from a professional taxi drivers’ association in Barcelona that Uber’s activities in Spain amounted to misleading practices and unfair competition from Uber’s use of non-professional drivers.

Hence the decision is unlikely to have an immediate impact on Uber’s operations in Europe.

Uber is in the middle of a legal battle over its right to operate in London, its most important European market. — Reuters

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Malaysia to send back plastic waste from Europe, US sent for ‘recycling’

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Wednesday, May 29th, 2019

Containers of plastic trash from shipped to Malaysia from 14 countries including United States, Japan, France, Canada, Australia and Britain | Courtesy: Reuters

Malaysia will send as much as 3,000 tonnes of plastic waste back to the countries it came from, the environment minister said on Tuesday (May 28), the latest Asian country to reject rich countries’ rubbish.

Malaysian officials have identified at least 14 origin countries, including the United States, Japan, France, Canada, Australia and Britain, for its unwanted waste sent “under the pretext of recycling”.

“So, what the citizen of the UK believe that they sent for recycling is actually dumped in our country. And this is something that is very serious, and we did not only find this one company, we have found a few companies from different countries,” said Yeo Been Yin, Malaysia’s Minister of energy, technology, science, climate change and environment.

Malaysia last year became the world’s main destination for plastic waste after China banned its import, disrupting the flow of more than 7 million tonnes of the trash a year.

Dozens of recycling factories have cropped up in Malaysia, many without operating licenses, and communities have complained of environmental problems.

“Now we know that garbage, like what you see just now, is traded under the pretext of recycling,” the Malaysian minister said.

He added that 60 containers of trash that had been imported illegally would be sent back.

“We are compiling the list of the so called ‘recycling companies’ from these developed countries and we will send back, send the list of these names of these companies to the respective governments, to take further actions against, and investigation for these companies in their respective countries,” he said.

“Malaysians like any other developing countries have a right to clean air, clean water, sustainable resources and clean environment to live in, just like citizens of developed nations a right to clean environment to live in, just like citizens of developed nations,” he added. (REUTERS)

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Thousands of striking taxi drivers protest in central Madrid

by admin   |   Posted on Tuesday, January 29th, 2019

Thousands of protesters at Sol Square in Madrid, Spain seen from top shot on January 28, 2019 | Reuters

Thousands of Madrid taxi drivers staged a protest on Monday (January 28) at Sol Square in central Madrid against the online ride-hailing sector, including companies like Uber and Cabify which they say ignore regulations and pose unfair competition.

The protest joined by taxi drivers from across Spain and Portugal ended a day of demonstrations that started with the blockage of Madrid’s most iconic avenue earlier in the day.

Spain’s government agreed to pass new regulations in September guaranteeing a cap on licences for Uber and similar services at a ratio of just one permit for every 30 taxi permits.

The regulation also permitted Spanish regions to adopt their own restrictions on the services as they see fit.

But taxi workers demand further restrictions such a law that would force customers of ride-hailing services to order transport an hour beforehand.

Taxi drivers have been on strike since Monday (January 21). — Reuters

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WHO says migrants risk illness in host countries, lack access to health care

by admin   |   Posted on Tuesday, January 22nd, 2019

Female migrants standing in line to get their temperatures checked by a Red Cross worker in Malaga, Spain on January 15, 2018 | Reuters

Migrants and refugees arriving in Europe are likely to be healthy but risk falling sick due to poor living conditions in their host countries, the World Health Organization (WHO) said in a first-ever report on migrants’ health.

WHO regional director for Europe, Zsuzsanna Jakab, said on Monday (January 21) that refugees and migrants in Europe do not bring “exotic” diseases but are in higher risk to of getting sick because they lack access to health care.

Poor living conditions also increase their risk for cardiovascular diseases, stroke and cancer, though they are less affected than their host populations on arrival, WHO said.

The report said that a significant proportion of migrants and refugees who are HIV positive acquired the infection after they arrived in Europe. Despite a widespread assumption to the contrary, there is only a very low risk of refugees and migrants transmitting communicable diseases to their host population.

Jakab said that in some European countries “citizens estimate that there are three or four times more migrants than they are in reality”. — Reuters

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