Prada reacts to recent blackface controversy

Prada is no longer selling a line of accessories and displays following complaints it featured blackface-style imagery. The controversy began last week when a New Yorker complained in a viral Facebook posting after walking past a Prada boutique in Manhattan’s SoHo district and noticing what she described as a “racist and denigrating” caricature in the storefront. The Italian fashion house had recently launched a series of luxury keychains and trinkets, including one showing a character with brown skin and exaggerated red lips. Prada Group released a statement saying that it “abhors all forms of racism” and that the imaginary creatures were not intended to “have any reference to the real world and certainly not blackface.” The statement said it was withdrawing the characters in question from display and circulation.


Uber will resume road testing in Pittsburgh

Pennsylvania’s Department of Transportation has approved Uber’s request to resume testing autonomous vehicles on public roads in the Pittsburgh area. The approval was effective Monday and lasts one year. It comes about nine months after one of Uber’s autonomous test vehicles hit and killed an Arizona pedestrian. A department spokeswoman said Uber can test throughout Allegheny County, where Pittsburgh is located. If Uber’s cars go more than 25 miles per hour, they must have a second human backup driver on board. One human backup is allowed at speeds below 25 mph. Uber spokeswoman Sarah Abboud confirmed the approval but declined to say when the testing would resume.


Feds: German company will plead guilty

U.S. authorities said a German engineering company has agreed to plead guilty and pay $35 million for its role in the Volkswagen vehicle emissions scandal. The Justice Department said Tuesday that IAV has agreed to plead guilty to conspiracy in Detroit federal court on Jan. 18. The government said IAV misled regulators about whether certain VW and Audi vehicles met pollution standards. The diesel vehicles were programmed to trigger certain pollution results only during testing, not during regular road use. The scheme affected nearly 600,000 vehicles. In a court filing, the government said IAV engineers traveled to a California test facility in 2006 and 2007 to evaluate whether the “defeat device software” was working. VW pleaded guilty in 2017.


Statistic of the year winner is plastic waste

The world’s burgeoning plastic waste crisis has won the attention of Britain’s Royal Statistical Society, which chose 90.5 percent — the proportion of plastic waste that has never been recycled — as its international statistic of the year. The society, which chooses a winner from nominations made by the public, picked the statistic generated in a U.N. report based on the work of U.S. academics Roland Geyer, Jenna R. Jambeck and Kara Lavender Law. Public awareness of the problem has been growing, particularly after filmmaker David Attenborough’s documentary “Blue Planet II” showed sea turtles shrouded in plastic, among other horrors. Geyer said he was honored by the accolade and hopes “it will help draw attention to the problem of plastic pollution that impacts nearly every community and ecosystem globally.”