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Big, brash and potent, the BMW X7 SUV makes some serious claims
Size may not be everything, but clearly nobody told the BMW X7 that. Big SUV, big grille, big luxury, and big price tag: the 7-seater may be the German automaker’s first full-sized SUV, but nobody could accuse it of playing things safe. Then again, with the segment as competitive as it is, safe was not an option.
It’s unmistakable on the road, even if BMW’s current SUV design language leaves the latest X5 and X7 sharing very similar cues. Much has been said about the automaker’s oversized snout, but I think it looks pretty fitting on a vehicle this size.
There’s definitely something stately about it, like the Doric columns outside of a Roman amphitheater. Narrow LED headlamps either side give the SUV a squinting, supercilious expression. The X7 is unamused by your dallying, fellow road-user: it has places to be.
You get there in levels of cabin luxury that only a few years ago would be unheard of in an SUV. BMW has cribbed liberally from its 7-Series sedan, and that’s no bad thing. The driver’s cluster is fully digital, and there’s a 12.3-inch widescreen touchscreen in the center, that can be controlled by your fingertip, via the iDrive knob in the center console, or through hand gestures. Navigation, wireless phone charging, and wireless Apple CarPlay come as standard.
So, too, does a panoramic moonroof, power tailgate, front and rear parking sensors, and heated 16-way power front seats. As you’d expect, though, BMW also offers a vast list of options packages, ranging from the must-have through to the frivolous. The $1,600 Luxury Seating Package, for example, upgrades the cosseting thrones with massage and ventilation; the $3,400 Bowers & Wilkins audio system is a triumph.
Personally, I’d probably save the $650 that the automaker asks for the Swarovski glass controls, while the $1,650 Off-road Package is probably wasted on where most X7 owners will ever take their SUVs. That said, the behemoth is rated for 5,400 to 5,950 lbs of towing capacity, so horse boxes and trailers shouldn’t be an issue.
Second row seating is as plush as the first, particularly if you opt for the Captain’s Chairs. They’re an affordable $850 option, though it’s worth noting that unlike the standard three-seater bench they don’t fold down flat. That cuts down on your cargo options. With all three rows up you’re looking at just 11.5 cubic feet, though hit a button and the rear-most seats fold flat to expand that to 48.6 cu-ft. With the bench down, that can grow to 90.4 cu-ft.
It leaves the X7 not quite the biggest load-carrier in its luxe truck segment, but not far off. BMW’s split tailgate can make loading easier – there’s also a button to lower the SUV on its standard air suspension – but if third row comfort is your main concern then space is more plentiful in the Mercedes-Benz GLS.
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Some Vote, Some Don’t, and Why Students claim lack of information keeps them from polls
At a rally for gubernatorial candidate Deval Patrick, from left: Cory Kalanick (CAS’07), Nora Burnham (CAS’10), Krista Zalatores (CAS’10), Meghan O’Day (CAS’10), Esha Rakhit (CAS’10), and Whitney Veit (CAS’09). Photo by Sam Trzyzewski (CAS’07)
When Renee Rochon (COM’08) voted in the 2004 presidential election, she was among the 51 percent of 18-to-29-year-olds in Massachusetts who did so — the largest percentage in two decades. Two years later, she is about to join the millions of young people who aren’t voting in this year’s midterm elections.
“I haven’t been paying attention,” says Rochon. “I guess I don’t care that much.”
Despite efforts to get them involved, young people like Rochon are generally disengaged from politics, and from midterm elections in particular. One of the main reasons they stay away from the polls, students say, is lack of information — about the candidates, registration deadlines, absentee ballots, and even where to cast their vote.
“There seem to be a lot of barriers to voting. We need greater access to the information,” says Brooke Feldman (SED’08, CAS’08), the president of the Student Union. To tackle the problem, the Union’s Web site resource of the month provides information for voters, such as polling places and information about the candidates.
Another way of combating a lack of information about the electoral process is to get involved. Heather Ross, Boston coordinator of the nonpartisan voting rights organization MassVote, has seen increased interest from young people statewide in helping in this year’s election, a good sign, she says, because becoming involved makes them more likely to vote.
“For example, students who become poll workers get interested in the election process,” Ross says. “They have a chance to talk with the community — they see how it works. They get to see voting in action.”
Joe Mroszczyk (CAS’07), the president of BU College Republicans, says he will be recruiting volunteers to help at the polls. Mroszczyk interned at the State House office of Lt. Governor Kerry Healey sophomore year and before that at her campaign office during freshman year, but feels he is the exception rather than the rule.
“I don’t think that fellow students are very civically involved,” Mroszczyk says. “There is certainly a very active minority of students who are, but in large part I think many students are not too concerned with political activities and civic involvement.”
That minority may exercise considerable influence in getting out the Terrier vote, however, because they help connect students on campus with political parties.
“Campus political activism is important because it means that we can play a role in creating a better tomorrow,” says Cory Kalanick (CAS’ 08), president of BU College Democrats.
According to a 2006 survey by the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement, young people are more likely to vote when they are asked to do so. The survey found that 44 percent of people age 20 to 25 who were contacted by a party or candidate said they vote regularly, compared to 22 percent of young people who were not contacted.
Students know best how to make that contact. “Facebook has been a brilliant resource for us in terms of reaching out to students,” Kalanick says. “It is quick and easy to spread the word via interactive messages or events.”
Massachusetts Democratic gubernatorial candidate Deval Patrick has 35 friends on the BU Facebook network — although he may not answer if you “poke” him. The other three gubernatorial candidates have photos, friends, and announcements on the Campaign Network.
Students have a cynical attitude towards politics, according to Julian Zelizer, a College of Arts and Sciences professor of history. “It’s very hard to get students to get out and vote. They don’t see how their participation matters,” he says. College does provide an ideal time for students to become engaged in politics, because the curiosity and interest are there, he says.
Sanu Dev (CAS’08) registered to vote as soon as she turned 18, but she now prefers to work for causes such as building wheelchairs for disabled people, as she did on her last spring break. “You see the results quicker,” she says.
Despite students having so many other things going on in their lives, they make participating a priority, in the opinion of Colleen Quinn, coordinator of political groups at the Student Activities Office. “They are definitively not apathetic,” she says. “I think it’s like everything else — it’s about doing what you really become passionate about.”
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EU says BMW, Daimler and VW colluded – threatens billions in fines [Update]
BMW, Daimler, and VW have been accused of colluding on emissions cheating by the European Union antitrust regulators, the first step in process that could lead to huge fines for the automakers. According to the European Commission, the three car companies worked together to restrict competition around greener internal combustion engines.
Regulators issued what are known as Statement of Objections to BMW, Daimler, and VW Group today. That effectively sets out a preliminary view of the Commission’s thinking: in this case, that the three automakers colluded.
However, a Statement of Objections does not mean the same as a conclusion in the investigation, which saw surprise inspections of BMW, Daimler, Volkswagen, and Audi premises in late 2023. Documents and other materials were seized, and come September 2023 an in-depth investigation was opened. “The sending of a Statement of Objections does not prejudge the outcome of the investigation,” the EU points out.
Under the microscope are two technologies in particular, which the Commission says it has “concerns” about. First, for diesel cars, there’s the selective catalytic reduction (SCR) system, which is designed to reduce nitrogen oxides (NOx). The SCR injects urea into the exhaust gas stream, to cut the potentially harmful gases.
However, the Commission alleges that the automakers coordinated the amount of urea dosing – also known as AdBlue dosing – as well as the urea tank sizes and refill ranges, over the period between 2006 and 2014. That was done “with the common understanding that they thereby limited AdBlue-consumption and exhaust gas cleaning effectiveness,” antitrust regulators suggest.
For gasoline cars, meanwhile, the technology in question is the “Otto” particle filters, or OPF. These help cut particle emissions from direct injection gasoline cars. “In the Commission’s preliminary view, BMW, Daimler and VW coordinated to avoid, or at least to delay, the introduction of OPF in their new (direct injection) petrol passenger car models between 2009 and 2014, and to remove uncertainty about their future market conduct,” the investigators say today.
Automakers are, the EU highlights, perfectly within their rights to collaborate on technologies. However that’s different, it argues, from behaviors designed to restrict competition on innovation. The result, it alleges, was that consumers were denied the opportunity to buy less polluting cars, even though the technology to achieve such reductions was available for manufacturers if they so chose.
“Companies can cooperate in many ways to improve the quality of their products,” Margrethe Vestager, commissioner in charge of competition policy, said today of the Statement of Objections. “However, EU competition rules do not allow them to collude on exactly the opposite: not to improve their products, not to compete on quality. We are concerned that this is what happened in this case and that Daimler, VW and BMW may have broken EU competition rules.”
“As a result,” Vestager concludes, “European consumers may have been denied the opportunity to buy cars with the best available technology. The three car manufacturers now have the opportunity to respond to our findings.”
Notably, this investigation focuses on the potential competition law violations, rather than possible environmental legislation breaches. That makes it independent from other ongoing investigations into technologies used in the so-called “dieselgate” scandal, where devices were secretly employed in certain vehicles to automatically shift them into a lower emissions mode when testing was underway.
The penalties, should any of the automakers be found to have committed antitrust behaviors, are severe. The EU can impose a fine of up to 10-percent of a company’s annual worldwide turnover.
For BMW Group, based on 2023 revenues, that could mean a fine of up to around $11bn. For Daimler – the parent company of Mercedes-Benz – the figure could be higher, at up to $19bn. VW Group – which includes brands like Volkswagen and Audi – could be even more impacted, with a total potential fine of $26bn based on its 2023 global revenues.
Update: BMW has issued a statement, saying that it “will contest the EU Commission’s allegations with all legal means if necessary.” However, in accordance to its financial reporting requirements, it also recognizes that “a significant fine” could be levied by the Commission, “likely to exceed” one billion euro:
Therefore, following its review of the Statement of Objections, the BMW Group will recognise a provision, which is likely to exceed €1 billion. This effect will negatively impact the financial results in the first quarter of 2023. The company’s review of the Statement of Objections and the inspection of files will take some time. As a result, a final evaluation of the financial impact is currently not possible.
The Galaxy S22 Ultra makes the small stuff feel important
I know I should be trying to decide if the new Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra is a Note-ified S or an S-ified Note, but I can’t get past the updated texture on the S Pen. Sweating the small stuff – like the tactile soft-touch finish on Samsung’s slender stylus – might at first seem like navel-gazing, but it’s the details that stand out in one of 2023’s biggest phones.
Expectations are always high for a new Galaxy S series of smartphones, but this year even greater weight lands on the metaphorical shoulders of the S22 series. With the backdrop of Chinese heavyweights like Oppo and Vivo snapping at Samsung’s heels in a number of markets, Apple’s ever-present iPhone still commanding record sales, and the challenges of an ongoing pandemic and supply chain crisis, the Galaxy S22 family couldn’t afford to just phone it in.
Chris Davies / SlashGear
At the same time, the Galaxy S22 Ultra has even more struggles than that. With Samsung’s effective confirmation that the Galaxy Note has been retired as a standalone line, in favor of sprinkling Note-esque functionality through the rest of its phone, tablet, and computing ranges, the biggest of the S22 trio now has to fill two flagship spots rather than just one. And, although a fresh foldable is expected to arrive to replace the Galaxy Z Fold 3 later in 2023, and which will almost certainly have S Pen talents too, there’s still a plenty-big cohort of shoppers planning to buy a more traditional glass slab than a folding one.
Chris Davies / SlashGear
With two very different aesthetics in the range this time around, it’s tough to shake the feeling that the Galaxy S22 Ultra and its smaller – and cheaper – Galaxy S22+ and S22 siblings were designed in relative isolation. Or, for that matter, that Samsung called upon the talents of its Note team to give the Ultra a solid standing start. Take it out of Samsung’s skinny box for the first time, and there’s no escaping that this feels more Note, less Galaxy S.
Chris Davies / SlashGear
You could get lost in the weeds of what makes them different and what aligns them, but the overarching feeling is really one of cohesiveness. Good design, after all, isn’t just how a new device looks on the screen in press shots, on the shelf in a carrier store, or even on the desk next to you. It’s also about how design benefits functionality, and that brings me back to the new coating on the S Pen.
Samsung’s stylus has been through a number of iterations over the years. From the original’s two-tone flush-fitting pen, to the spring-activated pop-out design that followed, with embedded Bluetooth and more buttons along the way, we’ve seen a number of shapes and sizes. The Galaxy S22 Ultra, though, keeps things simple but switches to a highly pleasing soft-touch barrel.
Chris Davies / SlashGear
If you thought phone zealots were obsessional, and that watch fans could get carried away, pen enthusiasts may surprise you with how seriously they take the humble writing implement. That’s arguably justifiable, though, given how tactile an experience handwriting can be. Whether you’re scratching out in block letters, or swooping through cursive, the feel not only of nib on surface but of how the barrel of your writing implement feels in your hand is key.
The 2023 S Pen is still skinny, maybe too so to avoid hand cramping over longer-term use, but its finish has that you-want-to-touch-it appeal. It’s a marked contrast to the rest of the Galaxy S22 Ultra’s glassy body, two slabs of slightly-curved Gorilla Glass Victus+ sandwiching an Armor Aluminum metal frame, which I suspect will quickly become a slippery victim to drops and falls. The diminutive pen is a small thing in contrast, but it’s easy to grip and feels much more like an actual ink pen as a result.
Chris Davies / SlashGear
Samsung’s software enhancements help there, too. You’d think the flow of digital ink would be an easy thing to model, but with each Note generation we’ve seen the results massaged and improved. This time around, the big boast is an upgraded algorithm that – by better predicting where you’re going to write or sketch next – improves overall responsiveness. The result is virtual ink that really does feel like it’s emerging from the slender tip of the S Pen, something you will either care deeply about or have little to no opinion on.
That’s because what’s interesting, in a broader sense, about the Galaxy S22 Ultra is how it really does feel like Samsung’s “kitchen sink” phone now. That was always the preserve of the Galaxy Note series, where Samsung was upfront about trying out its latest and greatest functionality and hardware. The prosumer audience that upgraded to each successive Note, Samsung argued, wanted the very newest device. Even if that meant a bigger phone to accommodate it all.
Chris Davies / SlashGear
Compared to the sleek Galaxy S22+, then, the Galaxy S22 Ultra feels a lot more divisive in its form-factor. With a graceful evolution of last year’s Contour Camera aesthetic, the S22+ (and the cheapest S22) seem at arm’s length from the Ultra and its blunter edges and equally-blunt positioning. The argument that most shoppers should probably opt for the S22+ is an even easier one this time around, compared to trying to distinguish between the most sensible buy from the S21 series last year.
Simplification and focus, though, feel correct for Samsung right now. Two years ago it was throwing three Galaxy S series devices, and two Note variants, at the wall, and hoping potential buyers would be able to figure out which made most sense. Assuming there’s no new Note on the horizon, this year the choice tapers down to just three, and there’s even clearer space between the two more expensive models.
Chris Davies / SlashGear
Details like that matter, just like having a silo into which the S Pen can always slot matters, and that Samsung’s decision to extend OS updates to four generations of Android matters too. Things which aren’t as exciting or as attention-grabbing as a flourish of new cameras or the latest Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chipset – or Samsung’s new BTS ad campaigns – but which arguably have a bigger impact in your overall time with a phone. The Galaxy S22 Ultra is a huge deal for Samsung, but it’s the little things which may help decide if it’s a huge success
A recent Time magazine cover had this headline: “ROTTEN APPLES: It’s Nearly Impossible to Fire a Bad Teacher. Some Tech Millionaires May Have Found a Way to Change That.” Driving the emotionally charged and factually deficient war on teacher tenure, language like this reflects an increasingly widespread attack on tenure as the major villain in lowering teacher quality.
Most people who care about quality education are presented with conflicting perspectives that are often confusing. The sensationalistic journalism reflected in the Time story fuels the fires of irrationality and anger adding to the problem rather than educating the public in any constructive way. Polls suggest that a majority of Americans are opposed to tenure. An increasing number of states are tying the granting and continuation of tenure to student test results.
The polarization between teacher organizations and policymakers regarding tenure has also increased. As both sides approach education’s challenging problems with emotion rather than objective analysis, they make the search for effective solutions more difficult. Attacking and defending is a recipe for stalemate.Why We Need Security of Employment: A Personal Odyssey
While I will try to be objective and focus on helping you better understand the pros and cons of tenure — or, more accurately, teacher job security — I want you to know that I strongly support both teacher job security and high teacher quality.
I begin with by own experience because I think it’s instructive. I taught high school for ten years. The principal who hired me not only supported my getting tenure, she also did everything she could to help me get it. The principal who replaced her would never have supported my getting tenure and was happy to see me leave. My teaching had actually improved over those ten years, but there was a political conflict between our department and the principal having to do with a curriculum that helped to constructively empower students. Tenure protected me from being fired for political reasons.
That is the primary reason for tenure: providing security of employment to protect academic freedom.
However, I left high school teaching to get my doctorate so that I could train teachers, and a primary reason was that ineffective teachers in my school, protected by tenure, dismayed me. I wanted to do what I could to help improve teaching quality.Tenure and the Protection of Ineffective Teachers
Jump ahead about 15 years, and I’m the chair of the Department of Secondary Education at San Francisco State. I inherited a department in which almost all faculty members were tenured. Some were excellent, but a few were appallingly bad. I still remember a student walking into my office saying, “I can’t stand it. He just sits there and pontificates. He has no notes. There is no curriculum. I want to strangle him.” This frustrated me. I hate bad teaching. Teaching quality matters to me more than words can possibly describe.
There is a clear downside to tenure: it continues to be used to protect ineffective teachers from being fired.
But I think eliminating tenure is the wrong solution because it doesn’t effectively address the problem.A Bogus Argument Against Tenure
One argument against tenure is that in other occupations, no one gets tenure. But using private industry as a guide to excellence is a bogus argument. The quality of work in the American workforce is as varied as that in teaching, and for a majority of Americans, job satisfaction is low.We Can Have Both Tenure and Effective Teaching
The answer is:
2023 BMW M235i xDrive Gran Coupe Review – Heritage Heresy
Nobody asked for the 2023 BMW M235i xDrive Gran Coupe, but that’s not to say there’s not an audience for a feistier, crossover-adjacent, heritage-inverting sports sorta-sedan. Unexpected to the eyes and even more shocking when you consider what’s going on beneath, there’s more to figure out here than just the lengthy name.
Just what defines a “Gran Coupe”? It’s basically BMW-speak for a sedan that’s not quite a four-door-coupe, tapping that same concept of a swooping roofline, but kicking up the tail in the process. It leaves the M235i Gran Coupe striking from some angles and a tad ungainly from others.
Honestly, I prefer the A-Class Sedan’s mini-S-Class vibes overall, but there are elements of the BMW that are appealingly unapologetic. The front lower fascia, for example, with its gaping intakes and their bronze-finish trim flare like bullish nostrils, while the matching grille mesh calls to mind macerating blades. By the time it reaches the rear, though, that deep sculpting has become a little stolid, the trunk lid in particular sitting heavy on the taillamp clusters like the sinking layers of an underbaked cake.
Underneath the love-it-or-hate-it sheet metal is a surprise, the same platform that BMW uses for the X1 and X2 crossovers. Blame the Gran Coupe styling on top of that for the unwelcoming rear seats. At least once you’re inside they’re okay for those of average height, but the M235i’s narrow back doors makes getting in and out a less than elegant affair.
The M235i shares the same 2.0-liter inline-four gas engine as the 228i, though its turbocharged output gets massaged a little higher. Figure on 301 horsepower versus 228 hp, plus 332 lb-ft of torque. 0-60 mph arrives in as little as 4.6 seconds, BMW says, while the top speed is an electronically-limited 155 mph. There’s a single transmission option, BMW’s eight-speed Steptronic.
While the BMW faithful back in Europe have their purity tested with a front-wheel drive 2 Series, the US only gets xDrive all-wheel drive versions. The AWD is still front-biased, though, albeit with a Torsen limited-slip differential as standard. For casual highway cruising, indeed, the driveshaft for the rear wheels can deactivate itself entirely, in the name of frugality.
BMW also throws in the suspension, brakes, and steering from its M Sport division, and together they leave the M235i feeling sharper and tighter. The 19-inch M Forged 557 bicolor wheels – a $600 option to replace the standard 18-inchers – don’t destroy comfort when you’re thrumming along in Comfort mode, and nor do they leave the BMW crashy when you’re pushing harder.
Inside, sunglasses may not be optional if you check the Magma Red Dakota Leather interior. The $750 M Sport seats are comfortable and adjust nicely, while the dashboard borrows some of the exterior’s sparkle with its textured silver trim. It’s plastic, sure, but at least it’s all miles away from the dour black-on-black-on-black that so many “sports” sedans seem to default to.
As standard you get an 8.8-inch center touchscreen and an 8.8-inch digital driver’s display, along with Apple CarPlay, front collision warnings, lane departure warnings, blind spot detection, and automatic high beams. There’s also front and rear parking assistance, ambient lighting, and automatic climate control. BMW’s dashboard feels sturdy and well laid-out, but part of that could well be familiarity: there’s not much here we haven’t already seen in most other recent models from the company.
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