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The great Brexit stockpile: how UK Plc is bracing for no deal

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Brexit is unlikely to feature in the annals of military history, but Britain is getting a taste of wartime stockpiling again.

Away from the political conflict in Parliament, companies are busy turning the country into a warehouse as executives prepare for the economic chaos that the government and opposition parties have yet to demonstrate they can avoid. The UK is due to leave the European Union in 10 weeks and, as of now, there’s no deal in place to ensure trade routes aren’t strangled.

Factory floors and storage facilities are filling up as manufacturers accumulate everything from printing ink and packaging to aircraft parts and tinned food. Business Minister Richard Harrington declared that “nearly every square meter” of warehouse space in the country is now full.

Businesses from engine-maker Rolls Royce Holdings to brewer Heineken have outlined plans to hoard in case a tumultuous Brexit chokes just-in-time supply chains and creates backlogs at ports. Associated British Foods, whose products include some of the country’s most popular tea, bread and sugar, is buying ingredients, packaging and machinery ahead of time to mitigate the risk of any disruption.

Drugmakers are adding to inventories of key medicines such as insulin.

“Planning for anything other than no deal doesn’t make sense, because there isn’t any evidence that there will be one,” said Brian Palmer, chief executive officer of Tharsus, a maker of robotics and hi-tech machines based in northeast England. “It’s not an optimal way to run a manufacturing organization.”

Tharsus is stocking up on the motors and pumps it needs to keep producing for its clients around the world. It’s also increasing output to ensure it can deliver April’s demand in March, the month the UK is due to leave the EU.

The events of this week will have compounded the concerns of corporate Britain.

Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit agreement was resoundingly rejected in the House of Commons on Tuesday in the biggest defeat for a leader in modern British history. She won a no-confidence vote in her government 24 hours later before starting cross-party talks on how to navigate the country out of its political paralysis.

So far, opposition Labour Party Leader Jeremy Corbyn is refusing to engage. May has until Monday to come back to Parliament with a Plan B. While a majority of members of Parliament have indicated they’re opposed to a no-deal Brexit, that’s where the UK is headed unless May and the EU agree on a way to avoid it.

The result is companies dipping into their money reserves in an effort to mitigate what they see as not only the worst-case scenario but an increasingly likely one. IHS Markit, a research company tracking businesses, reported an almost record increase in stock in factories in December.

At Tharsus, the cost of stockpiling and the premium hours worked by staff as the company creates a “false peak” in production is running into seven digits, according to Palmer, the CEO.

“People have got containers in their car parks building inventory at the moment,” said Stephen Phipson, head of the EEF manufacturing lobby group. “There must be thousands of companies out there now running very thinly on their working capital because they’re building inventory.”Whereas last year, it was mainly big multinationals that were stockpiling, now the smaller ones have joined in.

“There’s been an awakening in the supply chain over the last few weeks,” Phipson said. “It’s gone right down to the smallest companies at the beginning of the chain” as customers demand their suppliers hold stock, he said.

It isn’t confined to manufacturers. At MI Supplies Managing Director Alex Ingham normally ensures he keeps about 100,000 pounds ($129,000) worth of the work clothing he sells online mainly to self-employed tradesmen such as plumbers and electricians. Sourced from Poland, Denmark, the Netherlands and Sweden, he can usually order them in with three or four days’ notice.

Now, worried that Brexit might slow down operations, Ingham has increased his stock of garments from brands including Carhartt and Helly Hansen by about a fifth, and if by March there’s still a chance of a no-deal Brexit, he plans on holding 60 percent more than his normal stock.

“Companies are tearing their hair out because businesses like stability,” says Ingham. “We’ve got no choice but to try and take extra stock and do a bit of disaster planning, really. If we don’t have the stock we can’t sell it, then we don’t have the sales and we can’t pay the bills and can’t pay the wages.”

At Trafalgar & JF Marquees in London, James Morris is also feeling the pressure. His business employs 30 people and provides marquees for corporate clients such as BP Plc, weddings and sports events. He imports carpets from France, plastic sheeting from Belgium and marquee frames from Germany. He plans to double stock across the board and is also looking at alternative suppliers in readiness for a no-deal Brexit.

“It’s a hassle that’s not needed,” said Morris. “We don’t have infinite resources.”

The government has ramped up its own no-deal planning and has urged supermarkets and drugmakers to stockpile. Last week, both Tesco, the country’s biggest retailer, and Marks & Spencer Group outlined their plans to build up supplies.

They join the likes of Rolls Royce, which confirmed in December for the first time that it’s hoarding parts and Airbus SE, which makes aircraft wings in Britain and announced its own plans in July. Drugmakers Astrazeneca, Pfizer and Novartis AG are also boosting supplies.

It’s not as easy for others. Manufacturers with complex supply chains like automakers, need to keep the same amount of each component. Without even one tiny part, you can’t produce a car and there are thousands that go into a vehicle.

For now, it’s a boon for warehouses. At Swiss freight company CEVA Logistics AG, Executive Director Leigh Pomlett is hiring extra workers to staff its storage units, because “the UK is filling up with a lot of Brexit stock.”

Warehousing firms that typically operate at about 75% to 85% capacity in January are now above 90% due to the Brexit effect, said Peter Ward, chief executive officer of the UK Warehousing Association.

“It’s been aligned with the realization that a day-one no-deal scenario was looking more probable,” he said.

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Riot police squads intervene as pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian protesters clash in Montreal

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People wave flags atop cars in traffic during a demonstration to voice support for the people of Palestine, at Toronto City Hall in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, on 15 May 2021.


People wave flags atop cars in traffic during a demonstration to voice support for the people of Palestine, at Toronto City Hall in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, on 15 May 2021.

  • Violence
    between pro-Israel and pro-Palestine protesters in Montreal was condemned by
    Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
  • Montreal’s
    city police force intervened and declared the protests illegal after tensions
    heightened and clashes broke out.
  • Israeli
    strikes killed 42 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip on Sunday, the worst daily
    toll in almost a week of clashes.

Montreal
– Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Sunday condemned the violence and
“despicable rhetoric” that marked several weekend protests throughout
the country, after clashes between pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian protesters in
Montreal.

The
worst violence in years, sparked by unrest in Jerusalem, is raging between the
Jewish state and Islamist militants.

Israeli
strikes killed 42 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip on Sunday, the worst daily
toll in almost a week of deadly clashes.

Speaking
after protests in Montreal, Trudeau condemned what he said was “despicable
rhetoric and violence we saw on display in some protests this weekend”.

While
insisting on the “right to assemble peacefully and express themselves
freely in Canada”, Trudeau stressed in a tweet that there was no tolerance
for “antisemitism, Islamophobia, or hate of any kind”.

Earlier
on Sunday, Montreal police used tear gas following clashes between pro-Israel
and pro-Palestinian protesters.

Several
hundred demonstrators, draped in Israeli flags, had gathered in a central
Montreal square to express solidarity with the Jewish state.

‘Protesting is a right’

Although
the protest started peacefully, tensions ratcheted up with the arrival of
pro-Palestinian demonstrators and clashes soon broke out.

The
SPVM, Montreal’s city police force, declared the protests illegal, and squads
of riot police intervened, using tear gas to separate and disperse the two
groups, according to an AFP journalist at the scene.

The
police spent much of the afternoon in pursuit of the pro-Palestinian
protesters, who spread out and regrouped in commercial streets in the city centre.

Following
the clashes, Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante said on Twitter that
“protesting is a right”, but that “intolerance, violence and
anti-Semitism have no place here”.

She said:

Montreal is a city of peace.

Several
thousand pro-Palestinian demonstrators had gathered on Saturday in central
Montreal to denounce what they said were Israeli repression and “war
crimes” in Gaza.

“Terrorist
Israel”, some protesters chanted, while others held up a banner that read,
“Stop the genocide of Palestinian children”.

Pro-Palestinian
protests happened the same day in multiple Canadian cities, including Toronto,
Ottawa and Vancouver.


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Peter Thiel Helps Fund an App That Tells You What to Do

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“How would you feel about being able to pay to control multiple aspects of another person’s life?” asks the BBC.

“A new app is offering you the chance to do just that.”

When writer Brandon Wong recently couldn’t decide what takeaway to order one evening, he asked his followers on social media app NewNew to choose for him. Those that wanted to get involved in the 24-year-old’s dinner dilemma paid $5 (£3.50) to vote in a poll, and the majority verdict was that he should go for Korean food, so that was what he bought…

NewNew is the brainchild of Los Angeles-based entrepreneur Courtne Smith. The app, which is still in its “beta” or pre-full release stage, describes itself as “a human stock market where you buy shares in the lives of real people, in order to control their decisions and watch the outcome”. For many of us that sounds a bit ominous, but the reality is actually far less alarming. It is aimed at what it calls “creators” — writers, painters, musicians, fashion designers, bloggers etc. It is designed as a way for them to connect far more closely with their fans or followers than on other social media services and, importantly, monetise that connection…

Whenever a vote is cast the creator gets the money minus NewNew’s undisclosed commission… In addition to voting, followers can also pay extra — from $20 — to ask a NewNew creator to do something of their choosing, such as naming a character in a book after them. But the creator can reject all of these “bids”, and if they do so then the follower doesn’t have to part with the money…

Co-founder and chief executive Ms Smith, a 33-year-old Canadian, has big plans for NewNew, and has some heavyweight backers. Investors include Peter Thiel, the billionaire co-founder of PayPal, and the first outside person to put money into Facebook. Others with a stake in the business include leading US tech investment fund Andreessen Horowitz, and Hollywood actor Will Smith (no relation to Courtne). Snapchat has also given technical support.

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Sandpapergate will haunt Australia cricket forever: ex-bowling coach

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Cameron Bancroft. (Photo by Brenton Geach - Gallo Images/Getty Images)


Cameron Bancroft. (Photo by Brenton Geach – Gallo Images/Getty Images)

The 2018 ball-tampering scandal will haunt Australian cricket forever, much like the infamous underarm delivery of 40 years ago, the team’s former bowling coach David Saker said on Monday.

Saker was responding to opening batsman Cameron Bancroft suggesting that Australia’s bowlers knew about the plan in Cape Town to alter the ball which earned him a nine-month ban and rocked the game.

Saker was Australia’s bowling coach when Bancroft was caught trying to rough up the ball with sandpaper during the third Test against South Africa.

While refusing to be drawn on who knew what, Saker said “the finger-pointing is going to go on and on and on”.

“It’s like the underarm, it’s never going to go away,” he told Fairfax Media, referring to a 1981 incident when Trevor Chappell bowled underarm to ensure New Zealand lost a one-day match at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

The notorious delivery is still cited in New Zealand and in cricketing circles as a prime example of unsporting conduct.

However, the ball-tampering scandal – dubbed “sandpapergate” – had a greater impact on Australian cricket, with the then-captain Steve Smith and his deputy David Warner suspended for a year from all cricket and stripped of their leadership roles.

Darren Lehmann also quit as coach and all the top brass from Cricket Australia left after a scathing review blasted their “arrogant and controlling” win-at-all-costs culture.

No one else among the team or coaching staff was held to account but Bancroft’s remarks in an interview with The Guardian newspaper hinted that the team’s bowlers at least knew about the plan.

“Obviously what I did benefits bowlers and the awareness around that, probably, is self-explanatory,” he said.

Saker added: “There was a lot of people to blame. It could have been me to blame, it could have been someone else. It could have been stopped and it wasn’t, which is unfortunate.

“Cameron’s a very nice guy. He’s just doing it to get something off his chest … He’s not going to be the last.”

In response, Cricket Australia said that if anyone had new information, they would look into it.

Saker said he was not opposed to a fresh investigation but added “I just don’t know what they’re going to find out.”

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Mexico’s Andrea Meza crowned Miss Universe

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Miss Universe Andrea Meza


Miss Universe Andrea Meza

UPDATE:

MISS UNIVERSE 2020/2021 IS ANDREA MEZA FROM MEXICO:


UPDATE:

THE MISS UNIVERSE 2020/2021 TOP 5:

1. Mexico

2. India

3. Brazil

4. Dominican Republic

5. Peru


UPDATE:

HERE ARE THE MISS UNIVERSE 2020/2021 TOP 10 CONTESTANTS:

1. Jamaica 

2. Dominican Republic 

3. India

4. Peru 

5. Australia 

6. Puerto Rico

7. Thailand

8. Costa Rica

9. Mexico

10. Brazil


UPDATE:

MISS UNIVERSE TOP 21 IN SWIMWEAR:


UPDATE:

MISS UNIVERSE TOP 21: 

1. Columbia

2. Peru 

3. Australia 

4. France

5. Myanmar

6. Jamaica 

7. Mexico 

8. Dominican Republic 

9. USA

10. Indonesia 

11. Argentina 

12. India

13. Curaçao

14. Puerto Rico

15. Phillipines 

16. Brazil

17. Great Britain

18. Nicaragua

19. Thailand 

20. Costa Rica

21. Vietnam


 UPDATE:

MISS UNIVERSE SOUTH AFRICA NATASHA JOUBERT WALKS THE STAGE AT MISS UNIVERSE 2020/2021:


74 contestants will compete for the title of Miss Universe on 16 May in Hollywood, Florida. 

The Miss Universe pageant takes place on 16 May in the US (02:00 to 05:00 on 17 May SA time). The show will be broadcast live on 1 Magic (DStv Channel 103) with a repeat at 21:30. 

Reigning Miss Universe Zozibini Tunzi of South Africa will crown her successor at the end of the event.

Representing South Africa is Natasha Joubert, and South Africans are hoping for the “magic double” – back-to-back consecutive wins, which has only happened once before in the pageant’s history.

Natasha wowed crowds at the national costume competition last week and on Friday impressed during the preliminary round

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Miss Mexico crowned Miss Universe 2021

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By AFP Time of article published 16m ago

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Washington – Miss Mexico was crowned Miss Universe on Sunday in Florida, after fellow contestant Miss Myanmar used her stage time to draw attention to the bloody military coup in her country.

Sunday night marked the Miss Universe competition’s return to television, after the pageant was cancelled in 2020 for the first time due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Andrea Meza, 26, finished first ahead of the Brazilian and Peruvian finalists in a flashy televised event, hosted by American actor Mario Lopez and television personality Olivia Culpo.

Former Miss Universe contestants Cheslie Kryst, Paulina Vega and Demi-Leigh Tebow (who won the title in 2017) served as competition analysts and commentators, and a panel of eight women determined the winner.

Dressed in a sparkling red evening gown, Meza tearfully walked the catwalk as Miss Universe for the first time, before rushing back for a group hug with the other competitors.

Meza beat more than 70 contestants from around the globe in the 69th installment of Miss Universe, which was held at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida.

In the days leading up to the final competition, Miss Myanmar Thuzar Wint Lwin, who made the top 21, made waves when she used her time in the spotlight to bring attention to the coup in her country.

“Our people are dying and being shot by the military every day,” she said during her biographical video, which showed photos of her taking part in the anti-coup protests. “Therefore I would like to urge everyone to speak out about Myanmar.”

Natasha Joubert, Miss Universe South Africa 2020 competes on stage in Ema Savahl swimwear during the MISS UNIVERSE® Preliminary Competition.

She also won the award for best national costume: during that competition segment on Thursday, she wore an outfit beaded in traditional Burmese patterns and held up a sign that said, “Pray for Myanmar.”

Myanmar has been in uproar since February 1, when the army ousted civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

At least 796 people have been killed by security forces since then, according to a local monitoring group, while nearly 4 000 people are behind bars.

Miss Singapore Bernadette Belle Ong – who did not make the top 21 – also used the national costume portion to make a political statement.

Dressed in a glittering red bodysuit and matching thigh-high boots, she turned around to reveal her cape – in the colours of the Singaporean flag – was painted with the words “Stop Asian Hate.”

“What is this platform for if I can’t use it to send a strong message of resistance against prejudice and violence?” she wrote on Instagram alongside pictures of her outfit.

The United States in particular has seen a surge in anti-Asian violence in the past year, which activists have blamed on former president Donald Trump’s rhetoric, especially his repeated description of Covid-19 as the “China virus.”

The pageant has also drawn criticism in the past for objectifying the contestants.

In recent years, the competition has shifted image, focusing more on female empowerment and activism.

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