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DFS profits plummet but shares surge as sofa chain defies high street gloom

The sofa company said it is optimistic about the months ahead, despite the current challenges faced by high street retailers
DFS profits more than halved in the first six months of the year, but the sofa company said it remains optimistic, despite current conditions wreaking havoc on the high street.
Shares rose more than 8 per cent in early trading as the group maintained an upbeat outlook for the rest of the year.
Read more UK retail sales pick up in February but outlook still weak In the first half, group sales increased by 4.1 per cent to £514m, from £494m this time last year, while revenue rose 4.3 per cent to £396m from £380m in the first half of 2017.
Revenue before the acquisition of Sofology, which DFS bought for £25m in August last year, was down 3.5 per cent to £366.5m. The group said this reflected “the expected challenging market environment”.
Profit before tax was £7m, compared with £16.7m in the first half of last year. DFS said this dip was due largely to £4…

Heineken advert removed after Chance the Rapper brands it 'terribly racist'

Heineken has removed a commercial for its low-calorie beer after musician Chance the Rapper branded the advert “terribly racist”.
The ad, with the tagline “Sometimes, Lighter is Better” showed a bartender sliding a bottle of Heineken Light past a number of black people, before it reaches a light-skinned woman.
In the latest example of a company misjudging its marketing, the beer maker said it was pulling the commercial from all global markets.
Read more Heineken has made essentially the anti-Pepsi advert Hungary threatens to ban Heineken over 'communist' red star logo Tesco has stopped selling Heineken beers because of Brexit “While we feel the ad is referencing our Heineken Light beer, we missed the mark, are taking the feedback to heart and will use this to influence future campaigns,” the company said in a statement.
The decision to withdraw followed comments by Chicago-born Chance the Rapper on Monday. He accused the company of “purposely putting out noticeable raci..

Megabus adverts promising £1 tickets banned for misleading customers

Discount bus firm told to make more cheap fares available when it advertises £1 tickets
Megabus advertisements that promised customers fares starting “from £1” have been banned by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), after it found that tickets for just two routes were available at that price.
Two people complained about the adverts, which featured on Megabus’ website and on its Facebook page, after searching for tickets and failing to find any priced at £1.
Read more Australian beer advert banned for mocking redheads The complainants alleged that the claim “fares are from £1” was misleading and could not be substantiated. At the time, Megabus was promoting £1 tickets on its Aberystwyth to Birmingham route on its website, while also advertising new services from Leeds to different parts of Yorkshire with the statement “As always our fares are from £1*”. On a Facebook post, Megabus advertised day trips “from £1* London to Bath”.
According to Megabus, when the Aberystwyth a..

When Professionals Rise Up, More Than Money Is at Stake

When Professionals Rise Up, More Than Money Is at Stake When 20,000 West Virginia teachers staged a rare statewide walkout, questions of pay and benefits dominated the headlines. But those concerns could not fully account for the teachers’ ferocious resolve. After all, stagnant wages and receding benefits have been an issue for workers for decades.
The missing variable appears to have been anxiety about their status as professionals.
Fred Albert, a math teacher and local union official in the Charleston area, said many felt that the Legislature had devalued their training and certification by proposing to let people teach a subject they hadn’t studied and had no experience in.
“If someone really wants to be a teacher, if they feel the call to be in the classroom with students, they need to go through the same programs we went through,” he said.
In that sense, Mr. Albert and his colleagues were in the mainstream of recent labor history. From doctors and nurses to government workers and ..

Boeing Possibly Hit by ‘WannaCry’ Malware Attack

Boeing Possibly Hit by ‘WannaCry’ Malware Attack Photo Boeing played down the cyberattack, saying it was limited in scope and that it had not affected the company’s production lines. Credit Matthew Ryan Williams for The New York Times Boeing said on Wednesday that it was hit by a cyberattack that some Boeing executives identified as the same WannaCry computer virus that struck thousands of computer systems in more than 70 countries around the world last year.
In an internal memo, Mike VanderWel, chief engineer of Boeing Commercial Airplane production engineering, said the attack was “metastasizing” and he worried it could spread to Boeing’s production systems and airline software.
“We are on a call with just about every VP in Boeing,” Mr. VanderWel wrote. The memo called for “All hands on deck.”
WannaCry is a particularly vicious form of what is known as ransomware — malware that locks up victims’ computers and data with encryption, until attackers’ extortion demands are met, often in ..

Your Cute Rubber Duck May Be a Haven for Bacteria

Your Cute Rubber Duck May Be a Haven for Bacteria Photo A study that tested 19 different bath toys found that the murky water released by rubber ducks can contain “potentially pathogenic bacteria” that can cause eye, ear and stomach infections. Credit Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images LONDON — There’s an ugly truth about the rubber duck, the popular bathroom toy that children put in their mouths and use to squeeze bath water into their siblings’ faces.
Something yucky is likely to be inside, scientists say: “potentially pathogenic bacteria” that can cause eye, ear and stomach infections.
A study by American and Swiss researchers found that toy ducks appeared to be a breeding ground for microbes. The murky water released from four out of every five ducks tested included Legionella along with Pseudomonas aeruginosa bacteria, often associated with infections acquired in hospitals, the authors of the study said.
The study, conducted by the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Te..

China’s Space Station May Crash to Earth on April Fools’ Day

China’s Space Station May Crash to Earth on April Fools’ Day Photo A rocket carrying China’s first space station, Tiangong-1, lifted off on Sept. 29, 2011. China lost control of the station about two years ago. Credit Lintao Zhang/Getty Images The sky is falling. Again.
China’s first space station, Tiangong-1, abandoned and out of control, is expected to drop out of orbit around this weekend, with pieces of it likely to survive the fiery re-entry and crash somewhere on Earth.
Don’t worry.
According to space debris experts, the chances that you personally will be hit by of a chunk of space metal are essentially zero — less than one in a trillion.
“It’s really very, very, very tiny odds,” said Andrew Abraham, an analyst leading efforts to track and predict the demise of the space station at the Aerospace Corporation, a nonprofit that performs research and analysis for the United States Air Force. “I certainly would worry about things like crossing the street far more than debris from Tia..

We Might Soon Resurrect Extinct Species. Is It Worth the Cost?

We Might Soon Resurrect Extinct Species. Is It Worth the Cost? Photo An illustration of an extinct rat kangaroo, published in 1825. Researchers recently analyzed the costs and benefits of re-establishing and maintaining 16 species in Australia and New Zealand that went extinct in the last millennium. Credit Florilegius, via Getty Images With enough determination, money and smarts, scientists just might revive the woolly mammoth, or some version of it, by splicing genes from ancient mammoths into Asian elephant DNA. The ultimate dream is to generate a sustainable population of mammoths that can once again roam the tundra.
But here’s a sad irony to ponder: What if that dream came at the expense of today’s Asian and African elephants, whose numbers are quickly dwindling because of habitat loss and poaching?
“In 50 years, we might not have those elephants,” said Joseph Bennett, an assistant professor and conservation researcher at Carleton University in Ontario. Dr. Bennett has spent his c..

Matter: Antarctic Ice Reveals Earth’s Accelerating Plant Growth

Antarctic Ice Reveals Earth’s Accelerating Plant Growth Photo A boreal forest in Quebec. A new study suggests the world’s plants capture an extra 28 billion tons of carbon each year. Credit De Agostini/Getty Images For decades, scientists have been trying to figure out what all the carbon dioxide we have been putting into the atmosphere has been doing to plants. It turns out that the best place to find an answer is where no plants can survive: the icy wastes of Antarctica.
As ice forms in Antarctica, it traps air bubbles. For thousands of years, they have preserved samples of the atmosphere. The levels of one chemical in that mix reveal the global growth of plants at any point in that history.
“It’s the whole Earth — it’s every plant,” said J. Elliott Campbell of the University of California, Merced.
Analyzing the ice, Dr. Campbell and his colleagues have discovered that in the last century, plants have been growing at a rate far faster than at any other time in the last 54,000 years. ..