Biafra Activist - Biafra Or Dead. No Going Back

Building firms waiting more than a year for bricks as raw material costs rocket, study shows

Weakened sterling has compounded rising price of raw materials
Building firms are having to wait more than a year for bricks, according to new research which also shows material prices are “rocketing”, with the extra cost often being passed on to consumers.
Bricks were reported as being the material in shortest supply and with the longest wait time, according to a study of small and medium-sized building companies carried out by the Federation of Master Builders (FMB).
Firms reported a wait time of more than a year for bricks, and up to six months for roof tiles.
Read more UK construction output suffers worst fall for five years The FMB said the supply shortage was caused by an increase in the price of raw materials required to produce bricks, which has been compounded by the weaker value of sterling, as well as high demand due to a buoyant international market.
The builders involved in the study are also at a disadvantage to the larger construction groups that can afford t..

Home and car insurance prices both fall in first quarter

‘This is a glimmer of good news for drivers who are facing rising fuel prices and increased vehicle excise duty rates,’ says AA’s Michael Lloyd
The price of car and home insurance premiums has fallen in the past three months, according to research by the AA.
Car insurance premiums peaked at their highest ever during the second quarter of 2017 but have fallen steadily since then to an average quoted premium of £660.64, which is 2 per cent less than in the final three months of 2017.
Average quotes for home buildings, contents and combined policies all fell over the quarter but remain higher than a year ago, according to the research.
Read more Car insurance prices fall as whiplash injury claims curbed The AA’s index reflects an average of the five cheapest prices from a range of insurers quoted by brokers, price comparison sites and direct against a fixed nationwide basket of customers.
Young drivers continue to pay the largest premiums for their cover. Men aged 17 to 22 pay ..

People starting apprenticeships fall by quarter amid frustrations over government levy

'The structure and implementation of the apprenticeship levy has acted as a barrier and brake to skills development'
The number of people starting apprenticeships under the government’s flagship scheme has dropped by nearly a quarter, official figures show.
The apprenticeship levy was introduced a year ago to help create three million apprentices by 2020 – but figures show a 24 per cent drop in people starting in-work training in the first half of the academic year.
Employers have been left frustrated by the “restrictions and inflexibility” of the government’s complex scheme since it was introduced in April 2017, the British Chambers of Commerce has said.
Read more Business leaders call for apprenticeship levy reform The government figures show the number of apprenticeship starts between August 2017 and January was 206,100, compared to 269,600 at the same point last year – a decrease of 24 per cent.
And in January, apprenticeship starts were down by 31 per cent com..

Audit Approved of Facebook Policies, Even After Cambridge Analytica Leak

Audit Approved of Facebook Policies, Even After Cambridge Analytica Leak Photo PwC, an auditing firm responsible for monitoring Facebook’s compliance with a federal decree, effectively gave the company a clean bill of health in a 2017 report on privacy controls. Credit Dado Ruvic/Reuters An auditing firm responsible for monitoring Facebook for federal regulators told them last year that the company had sufficient privacy protections in place, even after the social media giant lost control of a huge trove of user data that was improperly obtained by the political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica.
The assertion, by PwC, came in a report submitted to the Federal Trade Commission in early 2017. The report, a redacted copy of which is available on the commission’s website, is one of several periodic reviews of Facebook’s compliance with a 2011 federal consent decree, which required Facebook to take wide-ranging steps to prevent the abuse of users’ information and to inform them how it wa..

AT&T Chief Attacks Lawsuit to Block Time Warner Merger

AT&T Chief Attacks Lawsuit to Block Time Warner Merger Photo AT&T’s chief executive, Randall Stephenson, called the blockbuster merger with Time Warner a “vision deal” that would allow AT&T to better compete with Silicon Valley giants. Credit Carlos Barria/Reuters WASHINGTON — AT&T’s chief executive, Randall Stephenson, on Thursday attacked the Justice Department’s lawsuit to block its merger with Time Warner, saying that a combined company would be no different from the Silicon Valley giants that make and distribute video content.
As the last witness for the defense in the Justice Department’s legal battle against AT&T’s $85.4 billion deal to buy Time Warner, Mr. Stephenson portrayed the 140-year-old phone giant as being in an existential crisis and in need of the deal with Time Warner to compete against tech companies.
He called the blockbuster merger a “vision deal” that would allow AT&T to better match up against Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Google, which he referred to as ..

Big Protests in South Africa Force Ramaphosa to End London Visit

Big Protests in South Africa Force Ramaphosa to End London Visit Photo President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa was in London for his first visit to a meeting of Commonwealth leaders since February, when he replaced Jacob Zuma. Credit Daniel Leal-Olivas/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images LONDON — South Africa’s new president, Cyril Ramaphosa, who had traveled to London this week to assure global investors of his determination to tackle corruption in his country and restore faith in its public institutions, cut short his trip on Thursday to deal with unrest at home — a vivid indication of the challenges he faces.
The protests in the North West Province, in which demonstrators seeking better jobs and housing, and improved roads and hospitals, clashed with the police, were the biggest in the two months since Mr. Ramaphosa took office.
His predecessor, Jacob Zuma, was tarnished by scandal and deeply unpopular during much of his nearly nine-year tenure, and he was eventually forced out in..

A.I. Researchers Are Making More Than $1 Million, Even at a Nonprofit

A.I. Researchers Are Making More Than $1 Million, Even at a Nonprofit SAN FRANCISCO — One of the poorest-kept secrets in Silicon Valley has been the huge salaries and bonuses that experts in artificial intelligence can command. Now, a little-noticed tax filing by a research lab called Open AI has made some of those eye-popping figures public.
OpenAI paid its top researcher, Ilya Sutskever, more than $1.9 million in 2016. It paid another leading researcher, Ian Goodfellow, more than $800,000 — even though he was not hired until March of that year. Both were recruited from Google.
A third big name in the field, the roboticist Pieter Abbeel, made $425,000, though he did not join until June 2016, after taking a leave from his job as a professor at the University of California, Berkeley. Those figures all include signing bonuses.
The figures listed on the tax forms, which OpenAI is required to release publicly because it is a nonprofit, provide new insight into what organizations around the..

G.E. Makes a Sharp ‘Pivot’ on Digital

G.E. Makes a Sharp ‘Pivot’ on Digital No old-line company embraced the digital wave with more gusto than General Electric. The industrial giant spent billions, hired thousands of software engineers, and even created image-morphing television ads to recast itself as “a digital-industrial company.”
The scope of G.E.’s digital ambitions were put on full display in 2015, when the company set up GE Digital as its own business within the industrial conglomerate. Jeffrey R. Immelt, then chief executive, boldly declared G.E.’s goal to become a “top 10 software company” by 2020.
Today, there are no such ambitions. The spending at GE Digital is being slashed, amid layoffs and sharply narrowed aims at G.E. under John Flannery, who became chief executive last August.
Last November, Mr. Flannery told investors that expenses at GE Digital would be cut this year by more than 25 percent, or about $400 million. While he insisted the digital initiatives at G.E. are “very key” to the company, he added, “..

Pound sterling slumps after Mark Carney casts doubt on May interest rate hike

Earlier this week sterling had hits its highest level against the dollar since the June 2016 Brexit vote as trader bet heavily on another hike in the cost of borrowing next month
The pound fell sharply on Thursday evening after the Governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, cast doubt on another interest rate hike next month.
Speaking to the BBC in Washington, Mr Carney drew attention to the “mixed data” from the UK economy this week and said he didn’t want to be “too focused on the precise timing” of when rates might next rise.
Read more Sterling rises as Mark Carney signals hawkish stance on rates Mark Carney says Bank to revise up its GDP growth forecasts Mark Carney says inflation has further to rise Earlier this week sterling had hits its highest level against the dollar since the June 2016 Brexit vote as traders bet heavily on another hike in the cost of borrowing coming in May, following last November’s increase.
But in the wake of the Governor’s dovish comments in fell..

In a Trade War, China Might Boycott U.S. Goods. That Could Backfire.

In a Trade War, China Might Boycott U.S. Goods. That Could Backfire. TAICANG, China — If China calls for a boycott of American goods, Chinese workers like David Xu could be in trouble.
Mr. Xu is one of thousands of residents of this port town who cash paychecks from American companies. He works as a technician at a Procter & Gamble manufacturing and distribution center here, one of the company’s biggest in China. Across town, Nike has opened a huge distribution center, its largest in Asia.
In all, more than 40 other American companies have set up shop here, making chemicals, lighters and a broad range of other products for a Chinese market eager for American goods.
“There is no deep hatred for American companies,” said Mr. Xu, who has worked for Procter & Gamble for 13 years. “The impact of this trade conflict shouldn’t be big. After all, American companies bring so many conveniences to the lives of Chinese people.”
Continue reading the main story Some Chinese state med..