WH Smith profits dented as spoof book trend falls out of favour

Sales in travel business boosted by growing passenger numbers
WH Smith has reported a dip in profits for the six months to 28 February, with a strong performance in its travel business not enough to withstand decline in high street sales.
The group blamed a “challenging” Christmas period, which was difficult in terms of book sales, “particularly given the success of colour therapy titles and spoof humour books over the past two Christmas periods”.
Read more WH Smith shows how to be a high street survivor WH Smith enjoyed strong sales of colouring books aimed at adults during the festive season two years ago, and in 2016 ranges like the Enid Blyton for Grown Ups series, featuring titles such as Five Give Up The Booze, boosted turnover.
As there was no similar new publishing trend over Christmas 2017, WH Smith said, sales dropped by seven per cent, pulling overall profit from high street stores down to £50m, compared with £53m the year before.
Business was booming in the compa..

Carpetright to close 92 stores putting 300 UK jobs at risk

Retailer struggling with debt and difficult trading conditions
Carpetright will close 92 shops across the UK, putting 300 jobs at risk as it seeks to combat increasing financial pressure.
Shares in the group tumbled by 19 per cent at the open after it announced its plan.
The retailer first announced its intention of making closures last month, when it revealed it was battling difficult trading conditions, and that it expected its financial performance for the year to the end of April to be worse than previously expected.
Read more Carpetright the latest retailer to run into very heavy going On Tuesday, Carpetright said it had identified 205 sites in the UK that are underperforming and/or on unfavourable lease terms,or “in certain cases, not expected to have significant strategic value to the company going forward”.
Under the terms of a company voluntary arrangement (CVA), which is deployed by firms who want to continue trading while dealing with debt problems, Carpetright wil..

Reporter’s Notebook: Portraits of Dignity: How We Photographed Ex-Captives of Boko Haram

Portraits of Dignity: How We Photographed Ex-Captives of Boko Haram For the past year, the photographer Adam Ferguson and I have met with hundreds of victims of Boko Haram.
Girls who were forced to have bombs strapped to them. People who were living along a highway after militants displaced them three or four times from their homes. University students who carried on while under threat from bombings.
But we’d never managed to talk to the group of students from Chibok, in Nigeria, who were released after a high-profile kidnapping in 2014 that inspired the social media hashtag #BringBackOurGirls and brought international attention to the group.
Kidnapped as Schoolgirls by Boko Haram: Here They Are Now The New York Times met and photographed dozens of the students abducted by Boko Haram. Now at a university, they say they are the lucky ones. But their celebrity has a price.
We wanted to photograph the young women whose images the world knew mostly when they were teenagers, in dark robe..

In a Syrian Town, People Started Shouting: ‘Chemicals! Chemicals!’

In a Syrian Town, People Started Shouting: ‘Chemicals! Chemicals!’ Photo A picture said to show victims of the chemical attack on the Damascus suburb of Douma. Credit Emad Aldin/EPA, via Shutterstock BEIRUT, Lebanon — For two days and a night, the computer science student had been huddling with his family in the basement of their apartment building as pro-government forces rained bombs down on their rebel-held Syrian town.
After night fell, they heard the whirring of helicopter blades followed by the whistling sounds of objects falling from the sky. Soon, a strange smell wafted down the stairs.
“People started shouting in the streets, ‘Chemicals! Chemicals!’” the student, Mohammed al-Hanash, 25, said by phone from Syria.
The attack in the Syrian town of Douma on Saturday, which witnesses and medical workers said used chemical weapons, has resonated far beyond the war-scarred community’s destroyed buildings, ratcheting up tensions among world powers and threatening to escalate Syria’s m..

Zuckerberg Faces Hostile Congress as Calls for Regulation Mount

Zuckerberg Faces Hostile Congress as Calls for Regulation Mount Video Zuckerberg Faces Tough Questions From the House Members of the Energy and Commerce Committee pressed Facebook’s chief executive on data privacy, security and political bias on the social media platform.
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS. Photo by Jose Luis Magana/Associated Press. Watch in Times Video » embed WASHINGTON — After two days and more than 10 hours of questioning of Mark Zuckerberg, the Facebook chief executive, there was widespread consensus among lawmakers that social media technology — and its potential for abuse — had far outpaced Washington and that Congress should step in to close the gap.
But the agreement largely ended there. For lawmakers, the calculus is tricky: They do not want to infringe on First Amendment rights or hurt Silicon Valley innovation but are also unsure how to regulate this new breed of company, which wields enormous power by collecting vast amounts of private data from billions of consume..

The Shift: Facebook Is Complicated. That Shouldn’t Stop Lawmakers.

Facebook Is Complicated. That Shouldn’t Stop Lawmakers. Photo Members of Congress had a mixed bag of concerns for Mark Zuckerberg this week, including points about Facebook’s privacy and data collection policies. Credit Gabriella Demczuk for The New York Times WASHINGTON — When it comes to regulating Facebook, Congress is in over its head. But does that matter?
This week’s marathon testimony by Mark Zuckerberg, the social network’s chief executive, revealed the limited understanding many lawmakers have of what Facebook is and how it works. Members of Congress came with a mixed bag of concerns for Mr. Zuckerberg, including a few incisive points about Facebook’s privacy and data collection policies and a lot of off-topic ramblings about how computers work, but these questions never amounted to a unified theory of Facebook’s troubles, or suggestions of how they might be solved.
It’s tempting to claim that technological illiteracy is the problem — that some older and tech-phobic lawmakers ..

Automation: A third of London jobs to be taken by robots within 20 years, says report

Brexit could accelerate the adoption of new technologies to replace human labour, according to Centre for London
Almost a third of jobs in London have high potential to be done by machines within the next 20 years, a new study has found.
Automation could be accelerated if immigration policy tightens after Brexit, causing labour shortages, think tank the Centre for London said.
It estimates that around one in five jobs have medium potential for automation, while 48 per cent have low potential.
Read more Automation will ‘improve our lives’, says Dyson founder People in low- and medium-skilled jobs are reportedly likely to bare the brunt of the impact from increased use of AI and other technologies.
The wholesale, retail, transportation, storage, accommodation and food sectors – which employ a million people in the capital – will be particularly hard hit.
These are also some of the sectors which are most dependent on migrant labour: 32 per cent of construction workers, and 35 pe..