Western Digital Moves to Court in a Bid to Block Sale of Toshiba Chip Unit

HIGHLIGHTS
WD has sought a court injunction to stop Toshiba’s chip unit sale
The court injunction details that Toshiba needs to take WD’s consent
Toshiba wants to complete the deal as quickly as possible
Western Digital Corp has sought a court injunction to prevent Toshiba Corp from selling its chip business without the US firm’s consent – a move that threatens to throw the fiercely contested auction into disarray.

The escalation in the spat between Western Digital, which jointly operates Toshiba’s main chip plant, and its business partner follows tense last-minute jockeying by suitors for the world’s second-biggest producer of NAND semiconductors.

According to a person familiar with the matter, the California-based firm has been left out of a new Japan government-led group being formed to bid for the unit.

Toshiba’s “attempts to circumvent our contractual rights have left us with no choice but to take this action,” Western Digital’s Chief Executive Steve Milligan said in a statement.

ALSO SEEJapan Urges Toshiba, Western Digital to Get Along as Chip Spat Flares

“Left unchecked, Toshiba would pursue a course that clearly violates these rights,” he added.

Western Digital has filed its suit with the Superior Court of California, seeking an injunction until its arbitration case against Toshiba is heard. It is concerned about how Toshiba, the Japanese government and other stakeholders are handling the auction process, a second source said.

The second source added it had submitted a revised bid on Wednesday that satisfies Toshiba’s requests on deal certainty and price but did not receive a favourable response. Toshiba has demanded at least JPY 2 trillion ($18 billion) for the unit.

Sources declined to be identified due to the sensitivity of the negotiations concerning the auction.

Toshiba said in a statement that it was proceeding with selecting a preferred bidder for its memory unit by the second half of June as planned and hoped to reach a definitive agreement on a sale by June 28.

Western Digital Moves to Court in a Bid to Block Sale of Toshiba Chip Unit

Toshiba wants to complete the deal as quickly as possible to help cover billions of dollars in cost overruns at its now-bankrupt Westinghouse nuclear unit and to dig itself out negative shareholders’ equity that could lead to a delisting.

Satoru Oyama, senior principal analyst at research firm IHS, said Western Digital’s argument made sense from a common-sense point of view and that developments were moving towards a worst-case scenario for the Japanese company.

“Toshiba has more to lose in the dispute because it is running out of time,” he said. “Toshiba and Western Digital eventually have to talk. They cannot afford to keep fighting when Samsung is taking advantage of the NAND market boom and investing massively.”

A third source familiar with the matter said Western Digital expects to get a ruling on its injunction request by mid-July and that arbitration cases generally take 16-24 months to resolve.

A state-backed fund, the Innovation Network Corp of Japan (INCJ), has been at the centre of trade ministry efforts to forge a successful bid that will keep the highly prized unit under domestic control. But the nature of its partnerships appears to be going through drastic changes compared to just last week.

It has been in talks with Bain Capital and the group now includes South Korea’s SK Hynix Inc, sources have said.

INCJ was, however, also part of a proposed bid tabled by Western Digital last week that also included US private equity firm KKR & Co LP, other sources familiar with the matter have said.

Other bidders include Foxconn, the world’s largest contract electronics maker. Foxconn, formally known as Hon Hai Precision Industry, is leading a consortium that includes Apple Inc computing giant Dell Inc and Kingston Technology Co.

The highest known bid so far is one from US chipmaker Broadcom and its partner, US private equity firm Silver Lake. They have offered JPY 2.2 trillion, sources have said.

Kevin Smith’s Krampus movie is now a non-Christmas-related horror anthology

Kevin Smith has announced that he’s retooling his Christmas horror comedy Comes The Krampus, after the film became a victim of the infamous Krampus movie rush of Winter 2015. Refusing to be cowed, Smith has stripped out the film’s Christmas elements, repurposed its monster, and now announced that the movie has become a horror anthology flick, titled KillRoy Was Here.

The anthology’s name comes from the famous “Kilroy Was Here” graffiti that became popular in America circa World War II. (Apparently, the film’s long-nosed monster resembles the cute little guy.) Smith has cast the film as a kind of gory morality play, noting that, “No one wants to see you spill the blood of innocents, but when someone crosses the line and goes bad, you get to make them pay in horrible ways, and the audience cheers.”

Smith’s last two films, Tusk and Yoga Hosers, were both incredibly messy efforts, albeit ones occasionally livened up with utterly bizarre ideas and visuals. We’re keeping our fingers crossed that the shift to a more vignette-based filmmaking style will suit Smith’s current cinematic attention span, allowing him to cram more gross-out spectacle and strange ideas into Killroywithout so much of the meandering padding (or, god help us, Johnny Depp cameos) that diluted his most recent work.

Now, an Algorithm to Teach Robots How to Behave Like a Human in Certain Situations

Scientists have developed a new machine-learning algorithm to help robots display appropriate social behaviour in interactions with humans.

Advances in artificial intelligence (AI) are making virtual and robotic assistants increasingly capable in performing complex tasks, researchers said.

For these “smart” machines to be considered safe and trustworthy collaborators with human partners, however, robots must be able to quickly assess a given situation and apply human social norms, they said.

Now, researchers at Brown University and Tufts University in the US have created a cognitive-computational model of human norms in a representation that can be coded into machines.

They developed a machine-learning algorithm that allows machines to learn norms in unfamiliar situations drawing on human data.

The project funded by the US Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) represents important progress towards the development of AI systems that can “intuit” how to behave in certain situations in much the way people do.

Now, an Algorithm to Teach Robots How to Behave Like a Human in Certain Situations

“The goal of this research effort was to understand and formalise human normative systems and how they guide human behaviour, so that we can set guidelines for how to design next-generation AI machines that are able to help and interact effectively with humans,” said Reza Ghanadan, DARPA programme manager.
As an example in which humans intuitively apply social norms of behaviour, consider a situation in which a cell phone rings in a quiet library, researchers said.

A person receiving that call would quickly try to silence the distracting phone, and whisper into the phone before going outside to continue the call in a normal voice.

Today, an AI phone-answering system would not automatically respond with that kind of social sensitivity. “We do not currently know how to incorporate meaningful norm processing into effective computational architectures,” Ghanadan said, adding that social and ethical norms have a number of properties that make them uniquely challenging.

Ultimately, for a robot to become social or perhaps even ethical, it will need to have a capacity to learn, represent, activate, and apply a large number of norms that people in a given society expect one another to obey, Ghanadan said.

That task will prove far more complicated than teaching AI systems rules for simpler tasks such as tagging pictures, detecting spam, or guiding people through their tax returns.

However, by providing a framework for developing and testing such complex algorithms, the new

'They've built a garden in the middle of a cyclone': House Rules couples marvel at their renovated yards after devastating Queensland storms halted production

The devastation caused by Queensland’s Cyclone Debbie forced House Rules to halt production last episode.

But with everything back on schedule on Sunday, the contestants were able to continue with their next challenge- executing two stunning garden makeovers.

In a sneak peak released this Friday, the couples were overjoyed to witness their brand new yards for the first time.

Scroll down for video.  

Overcoming the odds! In a House Rules sneak peak released Friday, the couples were overjoyed upon witnessing their brand new yards for the first time

The Queensland contestants had faced a daunting task upon returning to the building site after wild weather hit.

In the sneak preview footage, the contestants were sent scurrying the second the countdown timer resumed with seven hours and two minutes to go.

‘We’re going to need those extra two minutes,’ Kate joked.

Devastation: Couples faced a daunting task upon return, after Cyclone Debbie hit Aaron and Daniella's house so badly, the clock had to be stopped for the first time in the show's history

Devastation: Couples faced a daunting task upon return, after Cyclone Debbie hit Aaron and Daniella’s house so badly, the clock had to be stopped for the first time in the show’s history

Relief! But in a relieving surprise, footage from the clip showed couple's on the verge of tears upon witnessing the transformations

Relief! But in a relieving surprise, footage from the clip showed couple’s on the verge of tears upon witnessing the transformations

The contestants appeared to have pulled things together at the last minute, however, as implied by footage showing the couples lost for words upon witnessing the transformations.

Queensland local Daniella was shown walking down the street, squealing with elated shock at the first glimpse of her garden.

Images from their front yard showed renovated entry steps, a new lawn and a brand new driveway.

Elation! Queensland local Daniella squealed with elation after seeing her renovated entry steps, a lawn refresh and a brand new driveway

Elation! Queensland local Daniella squealed with elation after seeing her renovated entry steps, a lawn refresh and a brand new driveway

Impressive! Meanwhile, Tasmania's Sean and Ella were equally impressed as they lay eyes on their once run-down garden

Impressive! Meanwhile, Tasmania’s Sean and Ella were equally impressed as they lay eyes on their once run-down garden

Meanwhile, Tasmania’s Sean and Ella were equally impressed as they lay eyes on their once run-down garden.

Gone was dug-up soil and dead grass that once dominated the backyard, replaced with fresh green grass and a luxurious outdoor timber table setting.

Even hard-to-please judge Laurence Llewelyn Bowen was impressed, applauding: They have (managed to) build a garden in the middle of a Cyclone!’

Two gardens are revealed on Channel Seven’s House Rules, 7:00 on Sunday night.

Lush! Gone was dug-up soil and dead grass that once dominated the backyard, replaced with fresh green grass and a luxurious outdoor timber table setting

Lush! Gone was dug-up soil and dead grass that once dominated the backyard, replaced with fresh green grass and a luxurious outdoor timber table setting

Full reveal: The Two gardens are revealed in full on Channel Seven’s House Rules, 7:00 on Sunday night

 

Why Amazon's Use of Self-Driving Technology Would Be a Game Changer

Self-driving vehicles have yet to hit the road in a major way, but Amazon already is exploring the technology’s potential to change how your packages are delivered.

Amazon is the nation’s largest online retailer, and its decisions not only turn heads but influence the entire retail and shipping industries, analysts say. That means any foray into the self-driving arena – whether as a developer or customer – could have a significant effect on the technology’s adoption.

Amazon has assigned a dozen employees to determine how it can use the technology as part of its business, the Wall Street Journal reported Monday. It’s unclear what shape Amazon’s efforts will take or how far along they might be, although the company has no plans to create its own vehicles, according to the report.

Nevertheless, the Amazon group offers an early indication that big companies are preparing for the technology’s impact.

Transportation experts anticipate that self-driving cars will fundamentally alter the way people get around and the way companies ship goods, changes that stand to disrupt entire industries and leave millions of professional drivers without jobs. The forthcoming shift has attracted the money and attention of the biggest names in the technology and automotive industries, including Apple, Uber, Google, Ford, General Motors and Tesla, among others.

In particular, the technology could make long-haul shipping cheaper and faster because, unlike human drivers, machines do not command a salary or require down time. That would be important to Amazon, whose shipping costs continue to climb as the company sells more products and ships them faster, according to its annual report. Amazon even invested in its own fleet of trucks in December 2015 to give the company greater control over distribution.

Why Amazon's Use of Self-Driving Technology Would Be a Game Changer

If Amazon adopts self-driving technology, it may push others to do the same.

 

“When Amazon sneezes, everyone wakes up,” said Satish Jindel, president of SJ Consulting Group, a transportation and logistics advisory firm.

The company said it shipped more than 1 billion items during the 2016 holiday season.

An Amazon spokeswoman declined a request for an interview, citing a “long-standing practice of not commenting on rumors and speculation.” The company’s chief executive, Jeffrey P. Bezos, owns The Washington Post.

Amazon has become something of a pioneer in home delivery, in part by setting the standard for how quickly purchases arrive on your doorstep. The company has begun using aerial drones in an effort to deliver goods more quickly, completing its first successful flight to a customer in the United Kingdom in December. Like self-driving vehicles, drones will need to overcome regulatory hurdles before they’re widely deployed.

In its warehouses, Amazon has used thousands of robots that pull items from shelves and pack them. Last summer, Deutsche Bank analysts found the robots reduced the time to fulfill an order from more than an hour to 15 minutes, according to business news site Quartz. They also saved Amazon about $22 million per warehouse. Amazon acquired Kiva, the company that makes the robots, in 2012 for $775 million.

Agri-tech startups have a field day as farmers, investors sow seeds of growth

In Indian agriculture, the scope—and application—of technology has long been limited to genetically-modified crops, high-yield seeds and, of late, a handful of sophisticated tools like aerial images and GPS technology. Needless to say, a lot of challenges that farmers faced remained unresolved, partly because there were no problem-solvers around.

But that’s fast changing. Leveraging rising mobile and internet penetration, an army of agri-tech startups is offering farmers services such as on-demand delivery of farm inputs, online financial assistance, weather updates, drone-driven crop health identification, soil health assessment and equipment on rent, among others. Then, for purposes of edification and infotainment, there are startups offering both financial literacy videos and online games, such as Wonder village and Farmer Book!

The array of offerings clearly suggests these startups are finding takers in farmers.

Ayush Nigam, co-founder of Distinct Horizon, a fertiliser application startup, says the biggest change the industry is seeing is that farmers are now willing to adopt new practices that can improve yields or reduce cost. They are open to trying new technologies as long as they are sustainable and don’t require too much additional labour.

Distinct Horizon, which has developed an innovative machine for deep placement of urea fertiliser to increase crop productivity, counts Tata Chemicals and San Francisco-based IDEO.org as partners. Nigam, who feels the space has been underserved for decades, claims his deep placement technology not only doubles farmers’ profits but also helps maintain better soil health.

Then there are startups like Ravgo, a farm equipment rental marketplace that holds out hope for small farmers who cannot afford expensive machinery. Ravgo follows a commission-based model, wherein it charges a certain percentage from vendors for the business it generates for them. The fact that analysts peg India’s tractor-hiring market alone at Rs 15,000 crore per annum indicates the potential of the segment.

The supply-chain space, too, has seen several startups, with logistics between farmers and end-customers continuing to be a tricky area. Others have gotten into primary processing, packaging and selling of produce, spanning the entire chain.

Rising investor interest
Several of these ventures have been able to raise funds from prominent investors like Indian Angel Network, International Finance Corporation, US-based venture capital fund Unitus Impact, and even Denmark-based Bestseller Foundation, a private philanthropic organisation.

“The sector is evoking investor interest because of the enormous market size and the new-found thrust on the end-customer. If entrepreneurs can prove that their concept works and farmers are willing to pay for it, investors will grab the opportunity,” says Nigam. In case of Distinct Horizon, he claims, the precise fertiliser application technology helps the company recoup four times the investment in the first year itself.

Gajjender Yadav, founder at cow milk delivery startup 4SFoods, feels the rise of socially-responsible consumerism is giving the industry a fillip. Besides, the fact that these startup entrepreneurs are not just sitting in AC cabins, but are willing to get their hands dirty, is also driving the change.

Also, investors are placing their bets on startups like 4SFoods, and other farm-to-fork and organic food ventures given the rising propensity of the Indian consumer to loosen their purse strings for healthy, pesticide-free food.

“The disposable income with the middle class is growing, the first avenue they spend money is the better quality of food. Hence, there is an incentive for companies to invest time, energy and money into delivering better quality food to the consumer. As long as the consumer is willing to pay, there is value in investing in these companies. Look at the organic sector, for example, no one was talking about it 5-6 years ago, but now people are buying organic. In general, they are willing to pay 10%-20% extra for packaged, pesticide free food.”

Using Bangalore-based Farmily, farmers can set up micro-sites to display their produce and reach out to potential customers. Whenever a customer shows interest, the farmer receives an SMS with the customer’s details, which eliminates middlemen from the process.

Another app-based startup, Mandi Trades, also connects farmers and buyers.

“Farmers face significant challenges at every point from buying agri-inputs, to improving yields and finally getting a good price for their produce. We are working on solving some of these challenges through technology,” Shardul Sheth, founder and CEO of AgroStar, had told VCCircle earlier this year.

A direct-to-farmer m-commerce platform, AgroStar is operational in Gujarat, Maharashtra and Rajasthan and claims to have over a million farmers on its platform.

Big Data isn’t behind either, with startups in the space winning insurance companies and banks as clients.

Mostly operating on the software-as-a-service (SaaS) model, these startups capture data on crop growth, likely yield, soil moisture, temperature and humidity, among other things, sell it to relevant stakeholders. Buyers include players selling agricultural inputs to farmers, apart from insurers and banks.

And the value-proposition is undeniable given data is the ultimate commodity.

“For most insurance companies, the challenge is to estimate the risk profile of the farmer and his farm. You have to have a lot of information, in terms of what crops are being grown, the track record, data on soil, nutrition, weather and pest attacks, the likely output, and the farmer’s income,” says Hemender Mathur, agribusiness investment lead and venture partner at Bharat Innovations Fund.

Not a cakewalk
Agrawal says the creation of a strong farmer network is tough but paramount. “Because many farmers have been cheated a lot of times by corporates and fly by night companies, they don’t trust you easily. They are generally sceptical and for companies to be able to service them and get the output from them is a challenge,” he observes.

He adds that if startups can figure out how to take “basic technology” to small farmers, productivity will rise.

On the tech side, the primary challenge is domain expertise.

For tech-driven startups, says Mathur, seamlessly integrating the technology platform with domain knowledge of agriculture is critical. “I think the challenge is to build multiple layers of analytics. How to analyse these data points in a form that it becomes more valuable and can be sold to multiple users. It needs a lot of domain expertise. People are not asking for data per se, they are asking for insights,” he adds.

Resilient food demand is, however, a good sign, and it will ensure there is always scope for innovation in all areas of agriculture.

“Challenges are on the supply side…there are so many intermediaries and inefficient handling. Aggregation is clearly the missing link. Primary processing, as simple as trading, sorting and packing, are also areas of big opportunity,” Mathur says.

As for the government’s role in the ecosystem, startups feel it needs to bump up the spend on farm inputs to unlock the sector’s long-term potential.

“The government spends almost 10 times of farm inputs on farm subsidies, but it needs to reverse the trend gradually. Farm subsidy makes a farmer dependent while inputs will make him much stronger and independent,” Yadav says.

Yamaha R15 V3.0: A closer look

The Yamaha R15 was one of the first desirable, and affordable, sports bikes in India. While its initial run was largely successful, arguably on account of a first mover advantage, it has been somewhat eclipsed in the past few years by heavy competition. But Yamaha, it seems, is not one to step down from a challenge. Enter the R15 V3.0, a new-generation bike that is cramped with features quite beyond its segment. It is still a fully-faired bike, but the design, especially in the nasal area, has been suitably changed to bring it more in line with elder siblings from the R-series family such as the previous-gen R6 and R3. The most striking change is those angular headlights, separated by a central vent. While it has only still been revealed in Indonesia, there is no doubt that it will be blazing across the ocean to the Indian market soon enough.

Powertrain

The powertrain for the R15 V3.0 is all new. The engine is a 155cc single-cylinder, liquid-cooled, fuel-injected unit with SOHC. The bore and stroke is 58×58.7mm, with a compression ratio of 11.6:1. The power output is 19.3hp at 10,000rpm and peak torque is 14.7Nm at 8,500rpm. This engine is totally different from that of the R15 V2.0’s, which displaces 149cc and features a narrower bore and lower compression ratio.

More interestingly, the R15 V3.0’s engine features Yamaha’s Variable Valve Actuation Technology, which regulates fuel combustion at different speeds and throttle inputs. The result, claims Yamaha, is the availability of more torque at low speeds and more power at higher speeds, as well as better linearity in power delivery and greater fuel economy.

The engine is likely to come mated to a six-speed gearbox (with a slipper clutch), connected to the rear wheel via chain drive.

Chassis and suspension

The R15 V3.0 will, as before, be built on a steel twin-par frame, with a newly-designed aluminium swingarm. The weight distribution on this motorcycle is now a claimed 50:50. The R15 V3.0 is fully faired, with a twin-seat setup and a (visibly) moderately aggressive riding position.

The R15 V3.0 will ride on upside-down telescopic forks up front and a swingarm-mounted monoshock at the rear. The bike revealed in Indonesia was fitted with a 100/80-17MC 52P tyre and 282mm disc brake in the front and a 140/70-17MC 66S tyre and 220mm disc brake round the back.

With a length, width and height of 1,990mm, 725mm and 1,135mm respectively, the R15 V3.0 is 20mm longer, 55mm wider and 65mm taller than the R15 V2.0. The seat height is now 15mm more, but wheelbase is 20mm shorter, indicating the possibility of better agility. Impressively, V3.0 is just 1kg heavier than V2.0.

Equipment

Yamaha has been quite generous with equipment, at least in Indonesia. The R15 V3.0 gets an all-LED lighting system, the aforementioned slipper clutch and upside-down front forks, hazard lamps and a fully-digital LCD instrument panel with gear position and gear shift indicators. Information about its safety systems (read ABS) is still unknown.

Price

Like we mentioned before, the R15 V3.0 was unveiled in Indonesia, with Indonesia-specific specifications. It is difficult to predict the precise package that will make it to India. However, an assumption that it would cost more than the current R15 V2.0 (Rs. 1,18,373, ex-showroom, Delhi) would not be amiss. In Indonesia, the motorcycle will be available in three colour schemes – Racing Blue, Matte Black and Matte Red. We would like much the same, thank you.

 

TRIUMPH BOBBER ROADTEST – A BOBBER EACH WAY

The concept of buying an old sports bike and turning it into a streetfighter is probably within the ken of any motorcycle enthusiast. Just rip all the superfluous bits off and replace the others with blingy aftermarket items. It’s not rocket science, and there’s a sense of achievement without breaking the bank. But try turning a standard bike into a bobber and chances are you’re quickly in over your head.

Moreover, the expense will likely be more than you’d budgeted. Plus you’ve no guarantee of success, and it may take forever. That’s why existing motorcycle companies are doing all the hard R&D yards for you, producing all sorts of retro-inspired stuff, and then adding catalogues of aftermarket items that allow you to personalise to your heart’s content and wallet’s extent. Take, for example, Yamaha with its XSRs. A mate who rides R1s just turned around and bought a Yamaha XSR700, a LAMS bike for heaven’s sake. Why? Because he liked the look of it. Bike purchases are often heart over head. And he knew that he could derestrict it back to around 65hp, making it quick enough.

Moreover, with a few suspension tweaks he ends up with retro stunter that looks and handles great, won’t land him in the slammer, and didn’t cost the earth. Other bike makers have hit upon the same formula, and Triumph is the latest to roll out something a bit left field in its Bobber. Just like Ducati laid claim to the Streetfighter title, now Triumph has decided to take ownership of the Bobber tag. Bobber is what? Originally, almost a century ago, it related to a ‘bob-job’, which was another term for a ‘cut-down’, meaning stripping excess bodywork, right down to fenders – the rear was shortened or ‘bob-tailed’ – all to make the machine lighter and quicker. A cut-down often involved modifying the chassis, lowering the rear subframe and seat so there was one long sweeping line from the steering head to the swingarm.

THIS BIKE IS AWFUL PURTY. EVERYONE WANTS TO KNOW ABOUT IT. GOT NO FRIENDS? YOU’LL BE MORE POPULAR WITH A BOBBER.

In the 30s, the AMA introduced a new racing class involving bikes like these, so road-based derivatives became popular, and the bobber class was born. Back then and right into the fifties and sixties, bobbers were handbuilt but that changed over time. Triumph’s 2017 Bobber looks like it might have been produced back in the sixties, as it’s based on the latest Bonneville T120, itself a retro machine.

But apparently every aspect is different. It even has its own frame, though the front half of the bike still resembles the T120. However, there’s only a single disc and the forks wear gaiters, and there’s a different main instrument and smaller headlight and tank. Otherwise, they’re identical. Things get way dissimilar at the rear though, where there’s a gorgeous bespoke single seat that could have easily been borrowed from a 30s or 40s bike, only it sits on an adjustable aluminium pan, secured by torx fixings and they didn’t happen along until 1967.

Moreover, the seat sits on a ‘swing cage swingarm’ mounted to a monoshock absorber mainly hidden from view. The engineer responsible reckons it “gives the hardtail look but with suspension that is comfortable and gives good wheel control, offering 76mm of travel”. The idea behind the adjustable seat is that it slides backwards or forwards, ideal for cruising with the seat back but you tend to ride in more spirited fashion with it forward, so the choice is yours.

Travel is limited to 50mm. The 1200cc engine is similar to that of the T120, high torque, but with its own airbox and intake tract it produces slightly more grunt, 106Nm at 4000rpm, and will lug lower, right down to 1500rpm. Peak power of 57kW also arrives early at 6100rpm, but it’s well onto it by 4500rpm. There’s really not much point heading beyond about 5500rpm unless you’re chasing numbers, and it’s all over by 6500rpm anyway.

This bike is awful purty. Everyone wants to know about it. Got no friends? You’ll be more popular with a Bobber, not that there’s seating for pals; it’s a solo mount only. That seat is a bit thin and while it’s okay at town speeds and ride quality is passable on smooth surfaces the short sharp shocks you do notice at highway speeds. Lack of padding aside, the riding position is wizard for a cruiser, the pegs and flat bars positioned with just a slight forward bias. Kick ‘er in the guts, figuratively speaking, and the almost unbaffled pipes speak with a lilt few will dislike. At times there’s almost the sound of a flat-four, but mostly it’s a characteristic parallel twin bark, not too loud or underdone. The slash-cut pipes are sweet looking too. Our machine had optional leather panniers, not that sizeable but easily removed. I prefer the pared-to-the-bone look.

As mentioned, this is the T120 motor, but beefed up for basement torque. Of which there’s plenty, though there needs to be as it runs moonshot gearing. Come 100km/h it’s waffling along at 2600rpm, so fuel use on the open road in the mid-fours is possible. We saw 4.7 after a stint that included performance testing.

Because it runs such tall gearing it isn’t quite as quick as Thruxton R, but nor is it backward in coming forwards, hitting 100 in 4.4sec, only 0.4sec behind the cafe racer. And it’s the same for an overtake, down a gear or two and you’re on the wrong side of the road for only 76m. We’re not sure why but upshifts on the Bobber seem smoother than those of Thruxton, and they share the same gearbox. Perhaps it’s because you’re hooking the next gear at around 2000rpm in town, 3000 or so out in the boonies.

We really liked how this felt in our launch ride around town; it seemed to change direction in playful manner, thanks to the skinny front 19-inch wheel and the wide-set drag bars. Out in cow country its handling is a delight, but then it’s a Triumph and that’s a given. These guys are chassis maestros. With a raked out front end, it shouts stability holding a line beautifully, even with the pegs grinding away. And with a rear tyre that’s not overly wide, and decent bar leverage, it drops into turns happily as well. The limiting factor is ground clearance in tighter going. Helping make this a delight is a kerb weight of just 250kg. And that makes moving it around a bit of a doddle, especially as you’re not on tippy toes and the C of G is low.

Is this the ultimate cruiser then? Probably not, the ride precluding that. And some might not come to grips with its brakes either. A single disc up front is a much better look than a pair, and it keeps unsprung weight to a minimum but in a panic stop mauling the brake lever doesn’t have that much effect. If you need to stop in a hurry you have to also stand on the brake pedal.

Do that and it pulls up from 100km/h in 3m less distance than the Thruxton. The other issue is its 9L fuel tank, but we managed 170km easily from brimmed and by that time your bum will be wanting a break anyhow. The Bobber is my fave from the new Bonneville family. It looks fantastic, does the important things well, and can be customised further if you want. Good luck securing one though; the first shipment of 25 sold out just like that.

The luxurious lifestyle of the cladding firm couple: Boss who sold materials which covered deadly tower block lives with his secretary wife in a £1 million mansion

Her husband, who entered the curtain-walling business straight from university, has boasted of 25 years of ‘practical experience’ on Harley Facades’s website.

Mr and Mrs Bailey were director and secretary of Harley Curtain Wall, which went bust in 2015, owing creditors £1million, according to reports.

A customer demanded £428,000 for disputed work and the company owed £1.18million in total. But it was later bought for £24,900 by Harley Facades Ltd, Mr Bailey’s other firm, which according to its latest accounts has £151,000 in the bank and made £299,000 profit last year.

Rydon's CEO Robert Bond (pictured with his wife at a classic car event) said last night the work 'met all required building regulations' and was signed off by the council's building control

Rydon's CEO Robert Bond dressed as a clown

Rydon’s CEO Robert Bond (pictured with his wife at a classic car event, and right as a clown on Facebook) said last night the work ‘met all required building regulations’ and was signed off by the council’s building control

The Rydon CEO has an Aston Martin with a private 'Bond' number plate pictured here next to the family's silver Porsche

The Rydon CEO has an Aston Martin with a private ‘Bond’ number plate pictured here next to the family’s silver Porsche

The 27-storey Grenfell building, which was built in 1974 but refurbished last year, has an average of six flats per floor was reclad in a £10m refurbishment completed last year

The 27-storey Grenfell building, which was built in 1974 but refurbished last year, has an average of six flats per floor was reclad in a £10m refurbishment completed last year

Belinda Bailey, pictured on a ski trip, has served as secretary for her husband's cladding company

Belinda Bailey, pictured on a ski trip, has served as secretary for her husband’s cladding company

Their mansion has three buildings with a large, covered swimming pool attached to the main house. Four cars including a Land Rover and a Porsche were parked outside

Their mansion has three buildings with a large, covered swimming pool attached to the main house. Four cars including a Land Rover and a Porsche were parked outside

Harley Facades congratulated themselves on the work they had done at Grenfell on their Facebook page

Harley Facades congratulated themselves on the work they had done at Grenfell on their Facebook page

This aerial photo taken hours after the fire ripped through the tower block shows the devastating scale of the inferno

This aerial photo taken hours after the fire ripped through the tower block shows the devastating scale of the inferno

Burning debris falls from a massive fire that raged in a high-rise apartment building in London and killed at least 17

Burning debris falls from a massive fire that raged in a high-rise apartment building in London and killed at least 17

The company, which installed but did not manufacture the panels at Grenfell Tower, said in a statement they were a ‘commonly used product in the refurbishment industry’.

Mr Bailey, 58, said on Wednesday night: ‘This is an incredibly tragic incident. Our thoughts are with the residents and their families who have suffered such a personal loss. We will fully support and co-operate with the investigations into this fire.

‘At this time, we are not aware of any link between the fire and the exterior cladding to the tower.’ He was unavailable for further comment yesterday, apparently holed up in his country retreat.

His mansion has three buildings with a large, covered swimming pool attached to the main house. The village of Crowborough is also home to a string of celebrities.

Mr Bailey enjoys skiing and motorsports. He has three sons, twins aged 27 and a 23-year-old.

Away from work, Mrs Bailey appears to own a number of cats and belongs to a breeder’s group on Facebook. Photographs from her profile show her enjoying holidays by the sea and in the Alps. Grenfell Tower was clad last year as part of an £8.6million refurbishment by builders Rydon, whose boss has insisted its work ‘met all required building controls’.

The charred debris likely from Grenfell's cladding lies on grass below the tower  

The charred debris likely from Grenfell’s cladding lies on grass below the tower

A children's play area is filled with debris directly under Grenfell Tower on the Lancaster West Estate 

A children’s play area is filled with debris directly under Grenfell Tower on the Lancaster West Estate

Cladding is a material attached to a building's frame to create an outer wall (shown in this graphic). The process of applying the rain-proof frontage can create a 25mm-30mm cavity between the cladding and the insulation behind it, shown between the first two layers

Cladding is a material attached to a building’s frame to create an outer wall (shown in this graphic). The process of applying the rain-proof frontage can create a 25mm-30mm cavity between the cladding and the insulation behind it, shown between the first two layers

Councils turned to cladding to meet standards set by Blair government scheme

Cladding became popular as councils sought to meet insulation standards laid out under the Blair Government’s £22billion Decent Homes Programme, which ran from 2000 to 2010.

The programme’s rules dictated that homes should have efficient heating and effective insulation, modern facilities and be in a good state of repair.

For high-rise council blocks, local authorities were faced with either knocking them down, meaning they would have to find or build homes elsewhere, or refurbishing them.

The latter option was much cheaper, despite the millions of pounds then pumped into the scheme.

In London alone, it is believed more than £820million in public funds were paid to contractors to make alterations.

Local authorities turned to cladding the outside of old council house stock, including tower blocks, in a bid to improve the buildings’ appearance and the improve so-called ‘thermal efficiency’ ratings.

A press release by a cladding firm from the time stated: ‘Over-cladding existing homes to improve their energy efficiency as well as aesthetics is proving the solution of choice for local authorities in their bid to meet Decent Homes standards.’

The statement gave examples in Bristol and Lanarkshire where cladding had been used to meet the terms of the programme.

A architect was quoted at the time saying: ‘The main priorities were to eliminate water ingress, improve the thermal efficiency of the blocks, and enhance the physical appearance of the external envelope.’

Rydon boss Robert Bond lives in the circled £2million mansion with swimming pool on a private estate in Orpington, Kent

Rydon boss Robert Bond lives in the circled £2million mansion with swimming pool on a private estate in Orpington, Kent

The construction boss and his wife Tina (pictured) appear to enjoy sailing and exotic holidays around the world

The construction boss and his wife Tina (pictured) appear to enjoy sailing and exotic holidays around the world

Grenfell Tower before the refurbishment

Grenfell Tower after the refurbishment with the cladding

Grenfell Tower before the refurbishment (left) in 2011 and with the new cladding (right)

Chief executive Robert Bond said the work was signed off by the council’s building control officials.

Mr Bond, who has four daughters in their 20s, lives in a £2million mansion on a private estate in Orpington, Kent.

He is believed to own an Aston Martin with a ‘Bond’ number plate. A silver convertible Porsche was parked outside his home yesterday.

His wife Tina answered the door of the property when asked for comment and if her husband was home. She said, ‘Thank you and goodbye’, before closing the door.

The married couple appear to share a love for classic sports cars and have posed together in front of a silver Ferrari.

Mrs Bond’s Facebook account shows the family enjoy a luxury lifestyle, including holidaying on a yacht. One photograph showed her and her daughters posing in bikinis in crystal-clear waters on an exotic holiday to a destination apparently in south-east Asia.

Left, the fire ages through several floors of the Grenfell Tower, centre, the inferno rips through the building towards the top floors and right, firefighters attempt to battle the flames on Wednesday morning

Cladding company has covered six other blocks in panels ‘that went up like a matchstick’ in London ALONE

Fears are growing for hundreds of families living in tower blocks after it was revealed the firm which supplied the panels at the centre of the west London inferno has also carried out similar work across the capital.

Grenfell Tower was equipped with overcladding by East Sussex-based company Harley Facades Limited in a contract valued at £2.6 million.

It has since come to light that the firm has used a similar aluminium composite material (ACM) to clad several high rises and public buildings throughout the UK, raising fears for the safety of thousands of other residents.

Ferrier Point (pictured), a 23-storey block with 115 flats in Newham, east London, was clad in an aluminium composite material in 2015

Four 23-storey tower blocks in Camden, north London were refurbished with the cladding at a cost of £16million

Ferrier Point  left), a 23-storey block with 115 flats in Newham, east London, was clad in an aluminium composite material in 2015. Four 23-storey tower blocks in Camden, north London (pictured right) were refurbished with the cladding at a cost of £16million

Castlemaine Tower, a 23-storey block in Battersea, south London, was clad and refurbished by the firm in 2014

Clements Court in Hounslow, west London

Castlemaine Tower (pictured left), a 23-storey block in Battersea, south London, was clad and refurbished by the firm in 2014, as was Clements Court (right) in Hounslow, west London

Four 23-storey tower blocks in Camden, north London were refurbished with the cladding at a cost of £16million, as was Ferrier Point, a 23-storey block with 115 flats in Newham, east London, in 2015.

Six tower blocks in Harrow, northwest London, were given the rainproof cladding when it was refurbished in 2015 in a contract worth £3.5million, as was the 13-storey Merit House, home to 114 flats in Barnet, north London.

Castlemaine Tower, a 23-storey block in Battersea, south London, was clad and refurbished by the firm in 2014, as was Clements Court in Hounslow, west London.

The material is set to be at the centre of an investigation into fire safety after witnesses claimed it ‘went up like a matchstick’, helping spreading the fire from the fourth floor to the roof in just 15 minutes.

Six tower blocks in Harrow, northwest London, were given the rainproof cladding when it was refurbished in 2015 in a contract worth £3.5million

The 13-storey Merit House, home to 114 flats in Barnet, north London

Six tower blocks in Harrow, northwest London (left), were given the rainproof cladding when it was refurbished in 2015 in a contract worth £3.5million, as was the 13-storey Merit House (shown right), home to 114 flats in Barnet, north London

Pictured: The new plastic cladding hangs charred and melted underneath the windows of the Grenfell tower in west London

Pictured: The new plastic cladding hangs charred and melted underneath the windows of the Grenfell tower in west London

The £8.6million refurbishment by Rydon and the cladding by Harley Facades will be key issues at the public inquiry into the blaze. Westminster City Council said Harley Facades also supplied cladding for its Little Venice Estate.

But a spokesman said: ‘There is no reason to believe the type of cladding is the same as that used at Grenfell Tower.

‘Having today reviewed all records we are reassured that the cladding fully complies with all fire and safety requirements and underwent stringent checks before being certified by Building Control. However, as a precaution, we have instructed independent specialists to carry out urgent checks.’

‘We do listen’ says boss of company which manages Grenfell Tower

Maintenance firm responsible for Grenfell paid £11M by taxpayer

The company responsible for the safety and maintenance of the block of flats which turned into a raging inferno and killed at least 17 people was paid £11million last year from taxpayer’s money.

Grenfell Tower is owned by the borough council in Kensington and Chelsea, but the management of the building is the responsibility of an independent company – Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation (KCTMO).

Speaking to Nina Hossain on ITV News London the company’s boss Robert Black said: ‘We are in complete shock and condolences for what’s happened today. Our thoughtS are with everybody that is currently affected and still affected.’

Robert Black (left) who is Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation’s Chief Executive and in charge of the management of Grenfell Tower and Andrew Goldman from Rydon Construction who appeared on TV this morning admitting he did not know the exact details of the materials used in the revamp of the block of flars

The doomed block of flats underwent a £10million refurbishment which were completed in May last year which was overseen by Rydon Construction.

After a day of finger-pointing and revelations residents had spent years lobbying over safety concerns, a massive investigation has been launched and experts are predicting it could lead to a prosecution.

Those in the firing line are the council, who own the property and send people to live there, KCTMO who are responsible for maintaining Grefnell Tower and Rydon who installed cladding as part of their refurbishment.

The Health and Safety Executive, the police and the fire service are now expected to launch a large-scale investigation and Rachel Adamson, Head of Regulatory Law at Stephensons law firm, said for an incident of this size it is very likely they will be considering criminal charges.

Residents say they told former KCMOT worker Siobhan Rumble (right) of their safety concerns, but claim their warnings were overlooked in the building that is owned by Kensington and Chelsea Borough Council, whose Chief Executive is pictured left

She told MailOnline: ‘Corporate manslaughter charges are often quite difficult to prove as they relate to the controlling mind of the business.

‘If an individual is thought to have been negligent, a charge of manslaughter by gross negligence may be considered.

‘There are a range of other potential charges, such as breach of fire regulations or breach of health and safety regulations, these are the tiers down from manslaughter.’

Investigators are expected to look at how recent renovation work was carried out, whether Construction Regulations have been adhered to, and what fire safety precautions were in place.

More than one resident has claimed that there was no central fire alarm system for the tower block – or it had failed – and only smoke alarms in individual flats were working.

There are also claims that there that there was no central sprinkler system – or it was also not working properly during the fire.

Others have claimed that the new cladding encasing the block added during last year’s £10million refurbishment by Rydon Construction caught alight ‘like a matchstick’.

Checks are to be carried out on tower blocks going through similar refurbishment to Grenfell Tower, policing and fire minister Nick Hurd has said.

 

How diarrhea can give you a healthy lifestyle

Washington D.C.: Despite thousands of years of pant-crapping history, there’s a surprising amount we don’t know about diarrhea. Does it actually help clear the bacteria causing a gastrointestinal infection, or is it merely a symptom of disease that should be prevented as much as possible?

In a new study from Brigham and Women’s Hospital, investigators explore the immune mechanism that drives diarrhea, concluding that it does play a critical role in pathogen clearance in the early stages of infection.The new study, published in Cell Host and Microbe, also uncovers a previously unrecognized role for interleukin-22, an immune system molecule, in the host’s defense against infection.

“The hypothesis that diarrhea clears intestinal pathogens has been debated for centuries,” said corresponding author Jerrold Turner, MD, PhD, of the BWH Departments of Pathology and Medicine.”Its impact on the progression of intestinal infections remains poorly understood. We sought to define the role of diarrhea and to see if preventing it might actually delay pathogen clearance and prolong disease.”

Diarrhea is critical to enteric pathogen clearance, and that IL-22 may play a key role in host defense. (Photo: AFP)

To investigate, researchers used a mouse model infected with Citrobacter rodentium, the mouse equivalent of an E. coli infection. Using this model, they saw an increase in the permeability of the intestinal barrier within just two days of infection — well before inflammation and epithelial damage.

In particular, they uncovered a critical role for interleukin-22 that in turn influences another molecule called claudin-2, previously known to be involved in causing diarrhea.They found that diarrhea resulting from the signaling of these two molecules helped promote pathogen clearance and limited disease severity.

Other investigators have proposed developing new therapeutics to inhibit claudin-2. However, Turner and colleagues explain that the activation of this pathway may be critical for combating an infection, particularly in the early stages of a disease.They conclude that diarrhea is critical to enteric pathogen clearance, and that IL-22 may play a key role in host defense.