Cochonou writes: The analysis of the black boxes of the TGV which derailed on Saturday revealed that the accident resulted from an excessive speed caused by late braking. The test train entered a radius curve at a speed of 265 km/h instead of the maximum speed of 176 km/h. The French national railways company ruled out any other cause, such as mechanical failure or track mishap.
During test runs, a number of security features are disabled, in particular parts of the TVM system which would have prevented any overspeed during normal service. This leaves the train speed under the sole responsibility of the driver.
The accident which killed 11 people occurred on the last run of the scheduled trials on the new high-speed line between Paris and Strasbourg. As more details on the accident surface, it becomes evident that this last run was performed in a festive spirit, with relatives (including children) of the employees on board, and 7 people present in the train cab instead of 3. This casts a shadow on the security procedures of the French national railway company: it appears that the high-speed train technology is considered so safe that the risks inherent to trials runs were somehow neglected. The two drivers and the traction inspector have been suspended by SNCF pending possible criminal charges. Other changes in the management structure will probably follow.
Cochonou writes: French tax authorities have reportedly submitted a record-setting tax claim of 1 billion euros to Google. The company is accused to have channeled most of its French revenue through a Dutch intermediary and then to a Bermuda-registered holding, before finally reporting it in Ireland in order to avoid French taxes.
This claim follows a two year-long probe during which Google offices in Paris were searched, and evidence of abusive tax optimization techniques were discovered. On its side, Google maintains that it is in compliance with French national legislation.
Other internet giants keep a close eye on the development of this situation.
Cochonou writes: After waiting for Wild Fox Project to deliver a way to play HTML5 video encoded with h264 in Firefox, it is finally Microsoft that has released an extension with such functionality. It is currently a bit of a kludge, replacing the HTML5 video tags by calls to the Windows Media Player plugin. As could be expected from the company, the extension is only available for Windows 7 users.