Brexit: Confidence in UK economy turns positive for first time since Article 50 triggered

The rise follows earlier jump after December’s announcement of progress in phase one of Brexit talks
Optimism about the UK’s economy is higher than at any time since Theresa May triggered Article 50 last March, according to a survey of company directors.
The rise in confidence follows an earlier jump after December’s announcement that sufficient progress had been made in the first phase of the Brexit talks.
The UK’s uncertain trading status with the EU has fallen out of the top three concerns of business leaders for the first time since withdrawal negotiations began, the Institute of Directors found.
Read more Airbus warns hard Brexit will cause business to ‘grind to a halt’ Economic conditions, skills shortages and compliance with government regulation now occupy the top spots.
A net balance of 1 per cent more of those asked thought the prospects for the economy were good, while the balance was 47 per cent when bosses were asked about the outlook for their own company.
Tej P..

Decline in bees puts supply of raw materials for global business at risk, says report

Businesses face the threat of declining bee populations and other pollinating species crucial to the development of crops
Businesses face a shortage of raw materials and a drop in the quality of crop as the number of bees decline worldwide, a new report warns.
Approximately three quarters of crops around the world depend on pollination, all of which could soon be threatened as more than a third of wild bee and butterfly species face extinction, according to a joint study by the UN, the University of East Anglia and Cambridge University.
Major businesses, including Asda, the Body Shop, Mars and Pepsico, say they are unable to take action largely because of uncertainty around which crops and regions are vulnerable to the decline in pollinators such as bees.
Read more National Grid profit warning after £140m hit from extreme weather “The role pollinators play – be it tiny midges for cocoa or squirrels for coconut – is not well understood and can be taken for granted,” says Jos van ..

Pensioners paying £4,300 each to bankroll children and grandchildren, study finds

Women are slightly more generous than men, expecting to provide an average of £374 a month to family members
Nearly a third of people planning to retire this year are bankrolling family members as well as paying for their own retirement, new research has found.
A survey found 31 per cent of people are paying out £4,300 a year on average, increasing pressure on their own retirement plans and income.
They are providing financial support to three people on average with their or their partner’s children the most likely (56 per cent) to be receiving money.
Read more Number of people retiring after age 70 doubles since 2010 Among those paying for younger generations, a quarter said they were giving money to grandchildren, 8 per cent to their parents and 2 per cent to their grandparents.
Nearly one in five expecting to retire this year estimate they provide more than £500 a month to family members.
The money is most commonly used to cover everyday living costs such as food and tra..

Is Trump Serious About Trade War? China’s Leaders Hunt for Answers

Is Trump Serious About Trade War? China’s Leaders Hunt for Answers
BEIJING — In an elegantly furnished back room at a conference in eastern China in December, a member of the Chinese leadership asked American tech executives attending the event for help.
The official, Wang Huning, a Communist Party strategist who has spent much of his career sizing up the United States as a geopolitical rival, wanted to know whether President Trump was serious about a trade war with China — and whether they could serve as a channel of communication to the White House.
He has not been alone.
For the past few months, some of the most powerful men in China — allies of President Xi Jinping with longstanding ties and deep experience with the United States — have been casting about for a better understanding of Mr. Trump and how to respond to his combative trade agenda, according to several people they have consulted.
Vice President Wang Qishan has met in recent weeks with a series of American business lead..

Peter Grünberg, 78, Winner of an ‘iPod Nobel,’ Is Dead

Peter Grünberg, 78, Winner of an ‘iPod Nobel,’ Is Dead Photo Peter Grünberg in his laboratory at a research institute in Jüelich, Germany, in 2007. His prize-winning discovery enabled the era of big data to dawn. Credit Volker Hartmann/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images Peter Grünberg, a Nobel-Prize-winning physicist who discovered how to store vast amounts of data by manipulating the magnetic and electrical fields of thin layers of atoms, making possible devices like the iPad and the smartphone, has died at 78.
His death was announced by the Juelich Research Center in Juelich, Germany, where he was a longtime researcher. The center did not provide any other details.
Dr. Grünberg shared the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2007 with Albert Fert of the Université Paris-Sud in Orsay. They had independently made the same discovery — of an effect known as giant magnetoresistance, in which tiny changes in a magnetic field can result in huge changes in electrical resistance.
The effect is at the h..

A California Housing Fight, Waged With Pen and Walking Shoes

A California Housing Fight, Waged With Pen and Walking Shoes SACRAMENTO — How do you get a landlord to endorse a proposal to limit rent increases?
Yong Her, a 39-year-old bookkeeper, was one of 40 or so organizers who considered the question on a recent afternoon. The group had gathered in a conference room here to discuss strategies for getting people of various backgrounds, incomes and occupations to sign a petition to put a rent-control measure before Sacramento’s voters.
It was one small scene in what is shaping up as an epic battle on the state and city levels to combat California’s affordable-housing crisis. Pitting a rising tenants rights’ movement against apartment owners, the fight will consume tens of millions of dollars’ worth of organizing effort and political advertising before the November election.
If the Sacramento initiative were to make the ballot and ultimately pass, rent increases would be capped at 5 percent a year. That kind of law is a fairly easy sell in higher-..

Attack on Skripals Shows Russia Is ‘Reckless,’ U.K. Says

Attack on Skripals Shows Russia Is ‘Reckless,’ U.K. Says Photo A photograph of Yulia S. Skipal from her Facebook account. Credit via Associated Press LONDON — The nerve agent attack on two people in England “demonstrates how reckless Russia is prepared to be, how little the Kremlin cares for the international rules-based order,” one of Britain’s intelligence chiefs said on Thursday, in an unusually public and scathing commentary on a foreign power.
In his first speech after a year as director of the Government Communications Headquarters, the British equivalent of the National Security Agency, Jeremy Fleming said the threat from Russia had “never gone away,” but had become impossible to ignore after the poisoning of a former Russian spy and his daughter, cyberattacks on Ukranian infrastructure and other actions.
“They’re not playing to the same rules,” he said at a cybersecurity conference in Manchester, England. “They’re blurring the boundaries between criminal and state activity.”
Ru..