US on brink of trade war with EU, Canada and Mexico as tit-for-tat tariffs begin

Jean-Claude Juncker pledges retaliation as EU companies face 25% tariffs on steel and 10% on aluminiumTrump imposes tariffs business live

The United States and its traditional allies are on the brink of a full-scale trade war after European and Canadian leaders reacted swiftly and angrily to Donald Trump’s decision to impose tariffs on steel and aluminium producers.

The president of the European commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, promised immediate reprisal after the US commerce secretary, Wilbur Ross, told EU companies would face a 25% responsibility on steel and a 10% responsibility on aluminium from midnight on Thursday.

Europe, along with Canada and Mexico, had been granted a temporary reprieve from the tariffs after they were unveiled by Donald Trump two months ago.

However, Ross sent shudders through global financial markets when he said insufficient progression had been constructed in talks with three of the US’s traditional allies to reduce America’s trade deficit and that the waiver was being lifted.

Wall Street slumped as the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed down more than 250 points as investors sold off shares in manufacturers and corporations with global reaching. Shares across Europe also declined.

The move from Washington- which comes at a time when Trump is also threatening protectionist action against China- triggered an immediate and angry response from Canada, Brussels and from individual European capitals.

Juncker “ve called the” US move ” unjustified” and said the EU had no choice but to hit back with tariffs on US goods and a case at the World Trade Organisation in Geneva.

” We will defend the Union’s interests, in full compliance with international trade statute ,” he added. Brussels has already announced that it would target Levi’s jeans, Harley-Davidson motorbikes and bourbon whiskey.

The UK, which has hopes of agreeing a trade liberalisation deal with the US after Brexit, carried alarm at Ross’s announcement.

Liam Fox, the international trade secretary, told Britain would not rule out countermeasures or taking Washington to the WTO, which arbitrates on global trade disputes.

Speaking to Sky News he attacked the tariffs as “patently absurd” and recommended the US to think again.” It would be a great pity if we ended up in a tit-for-tat trade dispute with our closest friends .”

A spokesman for Number 10 said the government was ” profoundly disillusioned” the US had decided to apply the tariffs and that Theresa May would raise the issue with Trump at next week’s meeting of the G7 industrial nations in Canada.

” The UK and other European Union countries are close allies of the US and should be permanently and fully exempted from the American measures on steel and aluminium .”

The French president, Emmanuel Macron, called the US tariffs illegal and a mistake, while the Canadian prime minister, Justin Trudeau, issued an immediate like-for-like reaction- announcing tariffs of up to 25% on US importations worth up to 16.6 bn Canadian dollars( PS9. 6bn ), which was the total value of Canadian steel exportations to the US last year. The tariffs will encompass steel and aluminium as well as orange juice, whiskey and other food products.

With the White House having used national security legislation to introduce the tariffs, Trudeau called the measures an “affront” to Canadians who had opposed alongside their American comrades in arms.” That Canada could be considered a national security threat to the US is inconceivable .”

Canada’s foreign minister, Chrystia Freeland, went further calling her country’s $16.6 bn retaliatory tariffs” the strongest trade action Canada has taken in the postwar era. This is a very strong response. It is a proportionate reply, it is perfectly reciprocal … this is a very strong Canadian action in response to a very bad US decision .”

Mexico also denounced the move, saying it” deeply regrets and disapproves” the US decision.

The economics minstry said it would adopt equivalent measures on a variety of products, including flat steel, lamps, pork legs and shoulders, sausages and food preparations, apples, grapes, cranberries, various cheeses, and other products,” up to an amount comparable to damage caused by the United States’ action “.

It added:” This measure will be in force for as long as the US government preserves the imposed tariffs .”

Hopes remain that the fallout could be contained. Analysts at the research firm Oxford Economics said the economic hit for Europe would be well below 0.1% of GDP, as steel and aluminium merely make up a small part of the bloc’s overall exports around the world. However, they warned a tit-for-tat escalation leading to tariffs on other goods, such as vehicles, would have dire repercussions for global trade.

Last week, the Trump administration launched a national security investigated by car imports on national security grounds that could lead to tariffs on automobiles from Europe, Japan and South Korea, should trade tensions spiraling further out of control.

For the struggling UK steel industry, the news of US tariffs inspired fresh alarm. The director of UK Steel, Gareth Stace, told:” President Trump had already loaded the gun and today, we now know that the US administration has unfortunately fired it and potentially started a damaging trade war.

” Since President Trump stated his plans to impose blanket tariffs on steel imports nearly three months ago, the UK steel sector had hoped for the best but still dreaded the worst. With the expiration of the EU exemption now confirmed to take effect tomorrow[ Friday, 1 June ], unfortunately our cynicism was justified and we will now find damage not only to the UK steel sector but also the US economy .”

Representatives for the US metal industry also expressed disappointment.” Make no mistake: restricting the raw material render in the U.S. and imposing tariffs on imports from our closest trading partners places American producers directly in harm’s style ,” said Paul Nathanson of The Coalition of American Metal Manufacturers and Users.

The CBI cautioned the EU against overreacting to Washington’s move. Ben Digby, international director at the employers’ organisation, told:” The president’s measures are deeply concerning for firms in the UK, for close trading partners and across supplying chains .”

Trump announced his tariffs in March as a route of protecting US firms from inexpensive imports but Digby said the problem was caused by global overproduction of the metals and needed to be tackled jointly by Brussels and Washington.

” There are no winners in a trade war, which will damage prosperity on both sides of the Atlantic. These tariffs could lead to a protectionist domino effect, damaging firms, employees and consumers in the US, UK and many other trading partners. Now is not the time for any disproportionate escalation, and we urge the EU to consider this when initiating its response .”

But neither side showed any immediate sign of being willing to defuse the tension. Cecilia Malmstrom, the European trade commissioner, said the Brussels response would be proportionate and in accordance with WTO rules. Ross shrugged off the threat of EU retaliation, saying it would have little impact on the US economy.

Manfred Weber, the leader of the European People’s party, the largest group in the European parliament and a key ally of German chancellor Angela Merkel, warned that treating the EU as the “enemy” would damage US consumers.

” Europe does not want a trade conflict. We believe in a fair trade regime from which everybody benefits ,” he told.

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” We have tried everything to build dialogue and mutual understanding predominate. If President Trump decides to treat Europe as an adversary, we will have no choice but to defend European industry, European jobs, European interests .”

Ross blamed insufficient progress in talks with Mexico and Canada over changes to the North American Free Trade Agreement( Nafta) for the US’s decision to slap tariffs on its two neighbours.

Mexico’s under-secretary of foreign trade, Juan Carlos Baker, tweeted:” Mexico categorically rejects any unilateral, protectionist measures that distort trading in North America .”

China, too, warned that it would respond with tit-for-tat action of its own.

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Training Starbucks staff wont fix racism but changing the rules will | Gaby Hinsliff

A day off learning about unconscious bias will have little impact. What will work is to allow anyone be left in its coffee shops without buying, writes Guardian columnist Gaby Hinsliff

How long does it take to change someone’s mind?

A lot longer than it takes to read a newspaper article, for a start. A lifetime isn’t enough, in some cases. And that’s why there has been some scepticism about Starbucks’ decision to close thousands of stores to give staff so-called ” unconscious bias” educate, or conferences in recognising and overcoming the ingrained prejudices most of us don’t even know we have.

The move follows an infamous incident in one of its Philadelphia stores where staff called police after noticing two black humen hanging out without buying anything; both were taken away in handcuffs even as fellow customers protested that they hadn’t done anything wrong. When it turned out the two men had just been innocently waiting for a friend, Starbucks observed itself branded racist overnight. Would a store manager actually call the cops on two white tycoons waiting for a colleague, or a bunch of giggly teenage daughters sharing one gingerbread latte? So why were black humen deemed uniquely threatening? The whole thing was particularly excruciating in a country where older people of colour still vividly recollect segregation in eateries, or being chased out of drugstores as children by white owners, but the backlash spread well beyond the US. And so Starbucks joined an increasing number of household names( including Guardian News and Media) and public sector organisations known to use unconscious bias training.

It’s not hard to see why it’s a growth industry; from the BBC’s gender pay scandal to the current furore over whether Oxbridge admits enough black students, the concealed premises most of us can’t even acknowledge we make are increasingly likely to land organisations in trouble. What is less clear is whether a morning of sitting through diversity videos can really achieve anything beyond some free publicity.

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Police policemen apprehending Rashon Nelson( pictured) and Donte Robinson

At best, the jury is out on whether unconscious bias training works. A recent report from the Equality and Human Rights Commission discovered” mixed outcomes” for conferences aimed at reducing bias and “limited” evidence that they change behaviour. One-off sessions conducted as a management exercise in box-ticking almost certainly don’t work; even if they briefly prick consciences, people soon forget and slide back into bad habits. Severely delivered train may even reinforce stereotypes by making people feel that bias is universal and therefore pretty much inevitable, or provoked a resentful backlash from staff who take umbrage at being deemed racist or sexist.

But if deep-seated positions don’t change overnight, employers are in an unusually good position to change behaviour. If nothing else, by provoking training Starbucks is signalling to its staff that racism is taken seriously and might cost you your job. But arguably the crucial thing it’s doing is to change the rules, dedicating personnel fewer opportunities to express any racism they might have. It’s now company policy that customers can sit in coffee stores or use their loos( one of the flashpoints in the Philadelphia case) without shelling out for a latte, so faculty no longer “re going to have to” induce potentially dodgy judgments about who seems as if they “shouldn’t” be there.

There’s a fine line between weeding out a chance for bias, and making your workforce feel like robots by removing all freedom to exert their discretion. But so-called ” bias mitigation strategies”- practical techniques to nudge people into more objective decisions, such as introducing more structured recruitment interviews that test what applicants can actually do rather than how much the interviewer instinctively warms to them- do at least recognise how social change actually happens. It doesn’t necessarily start with stances, but with behaviour. Humans are animals of habit, and if they can be persuaded to do the right thing for long enough then it eventually becomes second nature; the feeling follows the behaviour , not the other way round. Change what people do, and not only do fewer people get unnecessarily dragged out of coffee shops in handcuffs, but eventually, the very idea starts to seem bizarre.

So no, you can’t change hearts and intellects in an afternoon. But you can change the rules, and sometimes that’s what really matters.

* Gaby Hinsliff is a Guardian columnist

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All 12,000 Pret a Manger staff to get 1,000 each as chain is sold for 1.5bn

Krispy Kreme owner JAB to acquire sandwich shops from private equity firm

Every Pret a Manger employee is to receive a PS1, 000 windfall as the British sandwich shop chain is taken over by the German-controlled company behind Krispy Kreme doughnuts and Kenco coffee, in a bargain worth more than PS1. 5bn.

Bridgepoint, the UK-based private equity firm, has agreed to sell Pret to the investment group JAB Holdings, which has been rapidly acquiring companies linked to the coffee market in recent years.

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Who are JAB Holdings?

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Based in the tax haven of Luxembourg, JAB Holdings is controlled by four members of the secretive Reimann family of Germany: Wolfgang, Stefan, Renate and Matthias, who can be counted among the wealthiest business dynasties in Europe with a luck of more than EUR1 6bn( PS14bn ).

The anonymous-sounding name JAB comes from the initials of Johann Adam Benckiser, who as one of the family’s forebears founded a chemical firm in 1823 that would become Reckitt Benckiser.

The investment vehicle still owns the second-largest stake in Reckitt, while the consumer giant’s former chief executive Bart Becht- who broke British corporate records in 2010 with a pay package worth PS90m- is chairman of JAB. The company also has shares in Coty, the beauty company behind the brands Calvin Klein and Wella.

With three senior partners at the helm, the company has been on a buying spree in recent years. JAB splashed out on fizzy drinkings company Dr Pepper Snapple earlier this year and paid out $13.9 bn( PS10. 5bn) in late 2015 for Keurig Green Mountain, one of the biggest coffee firms in the US.

Adding Pret will help JAB vie further with Starbucks and Nestle, while moving the vehicle away from luxury brands such as Jimmy Choo, which it sold last year for $1.2 bn. It also reportedly plans to sell Bally, another luxury goods firm in which it has a controlling stake.

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On Tuesday, Clive Schlee, the Pret a Manger chief executive, told 12,000 of its employees, from head office staff to baristas, would receive a PS1, 000 payout on completion of the deal.

Schlee said:” The PS1, 000 bonus will be paid to all employees who are on the payroll during the week the deal completes. It’s serendipity for those who have just joined .”

Staff at a Pret shop in London had no idea the company had been sold when asked by a reporter on Tuesday morning, and were incredulous that they would receive a PS1, 000 bonus.

” What? Why? Why would you dedicate us PS1, 00 each ?” told Fatu, a barista from Guinea in west Africa.” They don’t need to give us fund if they sell the company .” Fatu, who has been working at Pret for five years and loves it, said she would save all of her PS1, 000.

Lidia-Alexandra Sipos, a Pret team leader, said she would also save most of her PS1, 000 windfall after buying a gift for her mother.” She helped me so much to get here, and I want to give her something special to say thank you ,” she told.

Sipos started work at Pret 2 week after arriving in the UK from Romania in 2016 on the recommendation of her sister who was already working at the chain.” Pret really does look after you ,” she said.” I cease in December to try and get an office management job, but I analyze two days a week and it’s hard to get a job that lets you do that.

” So Pret helped me come back in February, and I can study management at college on Tuesdays and Thursday. And it pays better than receptionist work .” Sipos said she gets paid PS9. 70 an hour with a PS1-an-hour bonus if the store passes regular mystery shopper tests. She said the store almost always pass the points-based exam, as” we all come together as a team to make sure everything is always a good standard “.

Pret is based in London, where it was started by the entrepreneur Julian Metcalfe and his friend Sinclair Beecham with one shop in 1986. Metcalfe went on to create the Itsu restaurant chain and Metcalfe’s skinny popcorn.

Having expanded rapidly in recent years, opening 50 shops in the past year alone, Pret has more than 500 stores, generating revenues of PS879m. It also has stores in the US, China and Dubai.

The company is trying to attract more British employees as it prepares for potential personnel deficits after Brexit and seeks to expand further in the US and internationally.

The sale of Pret will mark a lucrative payday for Bridgepoint, which paid PS364m, including debt, to buy the chain about a decade ago. The private equity firm had been considering floating the company on the New York stock exchange, as it eyed significant expansion into the $41 bn( PS32bn) a year US coffee shop market.

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Instead, the deal will bring Pret under the ownership of Luxembourg-based JAB, which is an investment vehicle for Germany’s reclusive Reimann family.

Alongside Krispy Kreme and Kenco, JAB owns the Douwe Egberts and Tassimo coffee brands. It announced a bargain to take control of Dr Pepper Snapple, the fifth-largest fizzy drink maker in the world, for $18.7 bn earlier this year, in order to combine it with its US-based Keurig Green Mountain business.

Olivier Goudet, the JAB chief executive, said:” We’re very excited to partner with Pret and its talented team to continue their extraordinary growth tale .”

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Leaked Tesla email says Model 3 will go to 24/7 production

Tesla is about to ramp up production of the Model 3 sedan according to an email obtained by Jalopnik. The company shut down the sedan’s production line this week, but this email says the line will shortly run away and a third shift will be added, permitting the sedan to be built around the clock. Tesla is aiming to produce 6,000 Model 3 sedans per week by June.

The email, reportedly penned by Elon Musk, details a wide-range of topics, including Model 3 production, fiscal expenditures, manufacturing tolerances, Tesla’s lack of fiscal profit and how meetings can kill a company.

According to this note, the Model 3 line will be down for three to five days” to do a comprehensive package of upgrades .” It states that this will allow Tesla to ramp up production to 3,000 to 4,000 Model 3 sedans by next month. Then, the company plans to implement another set of upgrades to allow for 6,000 by the end of June. Last week, according to this email, Tesla completed its third consecutive week of building more than 2,000 Model 3s.

It’s a tall order to expect production to triple in two months.

To help meet this expectation, Tesla is adding another shifting to official records of the general assembly, body and paint at its Fremont facility. Between Fremont and its Gigafactory, Tesla is looking to 400 additional employees to help meet the production schedule.

This news about increasing production arrives amid questions about safety and work conditions in Tesla’s facility. Though Tesla fiercely pushes back against the news, the issues to will likely continue as employees fight to satisfy Musk’s lofty production expectation.

Musk is apparently looking to rein in expenditures, too , noting that anything costing more than a million dollars requires his direct acceptance. Maybe he will accept that couch fans raised money for.

Jalopnik published the email in its entirety, and the bit at the end about sessions is worth reading. This is just part of it:” Excessive meetings are the blight of big companies and almost always get worse over time. Please get of all big meetings, unless you’re certain they are providing value to the whole audience, in which suit keep them very short .”

Tesla has yet to respond with a comment.

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Google wants to cure our phone addiction. How about that for irony? | Matt Haig

It helped us get hooked on tech , now it wants to wean us off by employing more tech. Is this about business , not wellbeing ?, says author Matt Haig

Worried about the hours you spend scrolling your phone, sinking into despair, gazing at glamorous Instagrammers leaning against palm trees while you try to get out of bed?

Worry no longer: help is coming. And it’s coming from, um, Google. Yes, that’s right. Google is now trying to improve our” digital wellbeing'” by making our telephones less addictive. Its newest version of Android includes an array of features with the stated objective of maintaining us from our phones.

Among the many latest additions is a “dashboard” app that tells you at a glance how- and how often – you’ve been using your telephone. It will enable you to set time limits via an app timer, and give you warns when you’ve been using it for too long.

This is Google doing what it always does. It is trying to be the solution to every aspect of our lives. It already wants to be our librarian, our encyclopedia, our dictionary, our map, our navigator, our billfold, our postman, our calendar, our newsagent, and now it wants to be our therapist. It wants us to believe it’s on our side.

There is something suspect about deploying more technology to use less technology. And something ironic about a company that fuels our tech craving telling us that it holds the key to weaning us off it. It doubles as good PR, and pre-empts any future criticism about corporate irresponsibility.

Google may be the world’s most valuable brand, but it is has been consistently dogged by criticisms including over privacy, search neutrality and paying its fair share of tax. Amid a new era of scepticism towards the privacy-neglecting practices of Silicon Valley behemoths and awareness of technology’s potential harm to our mental health, Google’s move looks like a classic attempt to get ahead of the game. People no longer want a life-work balance, they want a life-tech balance. And Google is here to assist.

” Seventy percent of people want more help striking this balance ,” told Sameer Samat, vice-president of product management at Google at its annual showcase last Tuesday. So they could be seen to be acting as the will of the people, a wise move for a company which boasts- for its search engine alone- route over a billion users.

The trouble is that while Google professes to acknowledge the dangers of technology taking over our lives, it keeps on attempting new ways for, well, technology to take over our lives. At the very same showcase, it unveiled something else it is working on. A Google Assistant, straight out of a dystopian sci-fi movie: a type of AI that constructs telephone call on your behalf.

An audience of tech fans watched with palpable exhilaration as Google CEO Sundar Pichai proved a demo of Google Assistant booking a hair appointment over the phone. The bit that really got them when the “assistant” dropped a casually affirmative “mmm-hmm” into the call. Pichai told the crowd,” The amazing thing is that Assistant can actually understand the subtleties of conversation .” It also unveiled Google Lens, a visual search tool that looks for information in the objects around you, and proved a demo of it identifying everything in your friend’s apartment, even the blurb of a Zadie Smith novel.( Zadie Smith, as a self-described” luddite abstainer”, was a brave selection .)

Ultimately, it looks like Google is ready to wean us off our telephone craving because tech is no longer just about phones and laptops. Google’s ultimate award is to be involved with every aspect of their own lives. Like an overbearing mother, it wants you to sit down and take it easy, as it does everything for you, even telephone the hairdresser. It wants to know everything about you. It wants, quite literally, to get inside your eyeballs. And it will sell us this, the way it sells everything: without us even noticing. It will construct something so convenient we’ll wonder how we got by without it.

In the name of convenience, Google is not just mining our data, it is eroding our unique humanity. We require a time-out. Technology is evolving far faster than we are. We need to be asking Google bigger topics than:” Can you book my hair appointment ?” Starting with: if tech can do everything we can do, what is the point of us?

* Matt Haig is a novelist and journalist. His book Note on a Nervous Planet is published in July

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Tesla posts record $710m net loss as it struggles to produce Model 3 cars

Elon Musk get testy with analysts amid concerns over companys future, after it burned through $745.3 m in money during important quarter

Tesla posted a record $709.6 m net loss in the first quarter and burned through $745.3 m in money while struggling to crank out large numbers of its Model 3 mass-market electric car.

The loss and cash burn announced Wednesday raised questions about the company’s future and whether it would be able to pay all of its bills by early next year without more borrowing or the other round of stock sales.

During a sometimes-testy conference call with analysts, Tesla’s CEO, Elon Musk, conceded that criticism was valid but said it was ” quite likely” the company would make money and have positive cash flow in the third quarter.

” It’s high time we became profitable ,” told Musk, who also promised restructuring this month to attain earning goals.” The truth is you’re not a real company until you are, frankly. That’s our focus right now .”

But Tesla investors dedicated a rare rebuke to Musk after he cut off analysts asking about future gain potential, sending shares down 5% despite promises that production of the troubled Model 3 electric car was on track.

Tesla stock was little changed after the earnings announcement but fell during a conference call with analysts, when Musk began cutting analysts’ topics short, expensing Tesla over$ 2bn in market capitalization.

” These questions are so dry. They’re killing me ,” Musk told after an analyst asked what percentage of Tesla 3 reservation holders have started to configure options for their vehicles, an indicator of how much gain Tesla will be able to wring from the vehicles. Another analyst asked about a capital requirement before being cut off.

He then took several questions in a row about plans for a self-driving vehicle network and other long-term projects from the host of a YouTube channel focused on investing, praising the questions as not boring.

Tesla said its net loss amounted to $4.19 per share. Excluding one-time expenditures such as stock-based compensation, the company lost $3.35 per share. Revenue grew by 26% from a year ago to $3.4 bn.

The giant loss in a critical quarter for the 15 -year-old company fell short of Wall Street estimates. Analysts polled by FactSet expected an adjusted loss of $3.54 per share. Revenue, however, exceeded estimates of $3.28 bn.

In April, Tesla said it would not need to return to marketplaces for more capital because it expected to generate cash from sales of the Model 3. But it has had trouble getting them out the door to several hundred thousand people who put down $1,000 deposits to order one.

Moody’s Investor Service downgraded Tesla’s debt into junk province back in March, alerting at the time that Tesla didn’t have money to covering $3.7 bn for normal operations, capital expenses and debt that come due early next year. At the end of last year the company had a total of $9.5 bn in long-term debt.

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A Tesla Model 3 at an auto show in China. Photograph: Roman Pilipey/ EPA

” The negative outlook reflects the likelihood that Tesla will have to undertake a large, near-term capital raise in order to refund ripening obligations and avoid a liquidity shortfall ,” Moody’s wrote in a note to investors.

Tesla has had only two profitable quarterss in its virtually eight years as a public company.

The key to raising money to cover-up expenses is production of the Model 3 mass-market electric car, which starts at $35,000 but can easily top $50,000 with options.

Musk said the restructuring would involve getting rid of third-party contractors that have grown out of control.” We’re going to scrub barnacles on that front ,” he said.
He admitted that Tesla made a mistake by adding too much automation too quickly at the factory.

The plant has missed Musk’s forecasts by a wide mark. When production started last summer he promised to build 20,000 Model 3s during the course of its month of December. Instead, Tesla induced merely 2,425 during the course of its entire fourth quarter.

Then Tesla forecast 10,000 Model 3s per month at the end of the first one-quarter. As it turned out, only under 9,800 were assembled from January through March, Tesla said in April. The Fremont, California factory was shut down for four or five days last month to clear production bottlenecks, Tesla said.

The company, which also makes solar panel, predicted in April that production would climb rapidly through the second one-quarter and reach about 5,000 vehicles per week- which would return Tesla to its originally promised 20,000 per month rate- around the end of June. It predicted high marketings and strong cash flow in the third one-quarter.” As a outcome Tesla does not require an equity or indebtednes create this year, apart from standard credit lines ,” the company said.

The Model 3 is the most important piece of Tesla’s plan to become a mainstream automaker. At one point it had more than 500,000 potential purchasers on a waiting list. But in April the company conceded that some had canceled, although women refused to give numbers. Tesla said reservations “remained stable” through the first quarter.

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Inside Nintendo’s secretive creative process

Nintendos conductor takes us behind video games giants inner workings, how it find talent and the philosophy that sparks its eccentric ideas

Nintendo is coming out of a rough patch in its 128 -year history. After expending most of the 00 s riding high on the success and profits of its DS and Wii consoles, the current decade has find the Japanese company struggle to adapt to the changes that its rivals and smartphones have wrought upon the video game world. The death of company chairperson Satoru Iwata in 2016, who presided over a creatively and financially brilliant period in Nintendo’s history, left many wondering how the company would find its style again.

In March 2017, Nintendo’s fortunes turned around again with the launching of the Switch, a smart portable games console that can also be docked next to a Tv and played at home. It has proven extremely popular, and its flagship games Mario Odyssey, Splatoon 2 and Zelda: Breath of the Wild hoovered up awardings last year, including three Baftas at this month’s rite. One of the minds behind this joyful little machine is Shinya Takahashi, Nintendo’s GM of growth, who started at the company as an artist in 1989 and is now in charge of Switch. He has been called Nintendo’s conductor.

Kiyohiko
Kiyohiko Ando and Shinya Takahashi pick up the game invention Bafta for Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Photo: Thomas Alexander/ Bafta/ Rex/ Shutterstock

” People always ask us whether we take risks on purpose. But to us, we don’t really take risks- we just keep trying new things ,” said Takahashi last week. Although he has enormous responsibility at Nintendo, he is not a stereotypically stern Japanese executive. His face is warm and affable, his hair somewhat scruffy; he is quick to chuckle over both our questions and his own answers.” The thinking that guidebooks us is: what can we do to agreeably astound players? It’s not that we’re consciously trying to innovate; we’re trying to find ways to build people happy. The result is that we come up with things other people have not done .”

Takahashi paints innovation as a side-product of Nintendo’s working culture- something about which the company has always been notoriously secretive. In the last few years it has started to open up simply a little; its regular Nintendo Direct broadcasts show the faces behind games such as Mario, Zelda, Animal Crossing and Splatoon. In the company’s creative process, explains Takahashi, the ideas come first.

” In many cases, we begin by assigning a small group to a project; not inevitably senior staff, but developers, to try and come up with ideas. Those lead to the end product. Super Mario Odyssey is a good example to explain this: we actually had several small groups and as a result we had many different ideas, which we then put together to make a single product. Naturally during the course of early growth, we find the right mission for other projects. I believe every game has a different mission. With[ Nintendo Switch launch game] 1-2 Switch, for example, the mission was to make a party game where players would not have to look at the screen- where people would face each other .”

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‘ We’re trying to find ways to attain people happy’ … a player with a Nintendo Switch in Tokyo. Photograph: Aflo/ Rex/ Shutterstock

A constant flow of new talent is extremely important to this approach. For a long time, the creative face of Nintendo was Shigeru Miyamoto, the creator of Mario- but now there is a newer generation of game inventors in the limelight, including Splatoon‘s director Tsubasa Sakaguchi, who joined the company in 2004. Nintendo does not prioritise experience in its employ, says Takahashi- instead it looks for focus.

” The Japanese hiring system differed from western companies. Typically in Japan, we hire people straight out of college ,” Takahashi explains.” We have many candidates applying to Nintendo, and in many cases, the ones we hire are the ones who really understand what they have accomplished through their college years. If we insure an artist who was very focused and decided about creating a single large-scale project, and they accomplished this over many years, or if we consider a person who worked on a single movie from the beginning to the end of their course- that type of person needs a lot of determination and knowledge to accomplish such a thing. That’s what we’re looking for.

” The bottom line is, the quality of the end product that those students created doesn’t really matter to me. How they kept their focus, what they believed throughout those years … that’s what important to me. We like our staff members to be as creative as is practicable- and creative people should not just listen to their bosses saying’ Yes sir ‘, or’ Yes ma’am ‘. I want them to always ask themselves,’ Is this direction correct ?'”

The history of Nintendo is one of eccentric notions. It has pioneered touchscreens, virtual reality, analog control sticks, motion control, portable games consoles, second screens and wireless controllers- sometimes successfully, sometimes not. Unusual features of Nintendo’s consoles are often what inspire and enable unusual inventions in its games. Often, technology feelings strangely distant from the creative things that it enables; the language of technology, of CPUs, GPUs and 4K resolution, is nothing like the language of imagination. At Nintendo, console and game design are intertwined.

” We have the software squad and the hardware team working very closely together ,” elaborates Takahashi.” From the hardware view, they will sometimes come to the software group and tell,’ We have this particular chipset that we’re thinking about using in our next system, are you able take advantage of this ?’ But sometimes, the software team goes to hardware squad and tells,’ We’re working with this theme, can you look into the technical prospects, and see if you can come up with hardware features to accommodate it ?’

” This is the advantage we have at Nintendo as a software/ hardware integrated organisation- when we do research for our new hardware systems, our software developers, our artists, our programmers and our hardware engineers all get together and choose what we should aims to achieve. We’ve been doing that for many years .”

Nintendo Labo– the company’s most recent big idea, which uses the Switch console to turn cardboard models into interactive toys – is emblematic of Nintendo’s preference for finding new ways to use old or inexpensive technology, rather than rushing to keep up with cutting edge.( This idiosyncracy has obstructed Nintendo as well as helped it; being underpowered compared to its challengers didn’t knock the Wii, but it did damage its successor the Wii U, which could not vie against the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One .) Instead of spending millions researching new graphics technology, Nintendo’s R& D department has expended two years figuring out how to build working toys out of cardboard.

” We want to make new and surprising things, so we always keep an eye on new technology ,” claims Takahashi.” That said, in order for us to make surprising things, we also look at older technologies to see if we can leverage them in new ways. New technologies tend to be a bit too advanced- we try to find ways to make technology more approachable .”

The remark recalls a philosophy ascribed to legendary Nintendo engineer Gunpei Yokoi who referred to his great achievements- the Game& Watch and Game Boy– as” lateral thinking with shriveled technology “. Takahashi’s adherence to this approach shows us that although there will always be changes at Nintendo, and there always is likely to be blunders and departures, its philosophy is consistent. This is a company where amazing players is never considered a risky approach; it is the only approach.

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‘McStrike’: McDonalds workers walk out over zero-hours contracts

Staff from branches in England take action for minimum 10 -an-hour living wage

McDonald’s workers in Britain are striking in a dispute over zero-hours contracts and working conditions that is being closely observed by the fast food the enterprises and trade unions.

Staff from branches in Manchester and Watford will join colleagues in Crayford and Cambridge as part of a “McStrike” as employees demand a minimum PS10-an-hour living wage.

Members of the Bakers Food and Allied Workers Union are also asking for a choice of fixed-hour contracts, the end of unequal pay for young employees, and union recognition.

Employees at UK branches attracted worldwide attention in September by striking for the first time. Britain is one of McDonald’s strongest marketplaces, reporting 12 years of quarterly growth.

While the numbers of employees taking strike action on Tuesday is small- simply 11 are officially involved- one academic said the move was significant.

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Tony Royle, a professor of employment relations at the University of York, said the dispute was symbolic of the growing income gap, an increase in precarious run and a decline in independent trade union activities representation.

” McDonald’s is a multibillion-dollar firm which continues to pay its senior executives sky-high salaries while paying low wages for the vast majority of its two million employees.

” Young employees including with regard to have felt the brunt of the’ flexible’ labour market and austerity government policies and are increasingly frustrated, angry and ready to fight for a more merely workplace.

” It’s now 40 years since McDonald’s entered the UK market. Today’s strike and the strike in September 2017, despite McDonald’s’ attempts to play down and undermine[ the action ], could be the beginning of a shift in UK employment relations .”

McDonalds’ employees won their biggest pay rise in 10 years in January, but it was banded by stance, region, and age. Merely company-owned McDonald’s restaurants- about a quarter of branches in Britain- were affected.

Annalise Peters, construction workers at a McDonald’s in Cambridge told:” The populace and the labour motion have given us so much support and encouragement .”

Striking fast-food employees also plan to demonstrate in Watford, the hometown of McDonald’s chief executive, Steve Easterbrook, as part of the industrial action.

Lewis Baker, a McDonald’s worker in Crayford, said:” Every message of support builds our confidence as we stand up to this bullying company and demand a fair wage and respect on the job .”

A McDonald’s spokesman said on Tuesday afternoon that only one person had strolled out across three ten-strikes planned for the morning, while a maximum of of five people could walk out across the other two due to take place this afternoon.

” The vast majority of our employees – across all stores, franchised and company-owned – received the annual pay rise in January, and the increase referred to within your piece started back in 2015.

” Union recognition did not feature on the ballot paper, “were not receiving” suggestion this strike is calling for McDonald’s to recognise the union.

” We offered all 120,000 employees the chance to move to fixed hours contracts, more than 80% of them opted to stay on their existing contracts ,” she said.

Labour shadow chancellor John McDonnell has written to McDonald’s calling for a meeting to discuss the union’s demands.

McDonald’s owns or franchises more than 37,000 restaurants in 120 countries.

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‘I love tech boys’: Chinese job ads mirror sexist attitudes to women, study finds

Both private and public sector employers in China frequently specified humen only or men preferred in undertaking ads

Recruitment ads for Chinese internet giant Alibaba advertise a key perk: the company’s beautiful women.

A post first published in 2013 and still available on the company’s official Weibo account as of January, featured photos of female Alibaba employees in suggestive poses.” They want to be your coworkers. Do you want that too ?” the ad said. A 2012 recruitment video presented a female employee pole dancing, and a montage of female employees saying,” I love tech boys .”

These are some of more than 36,000 chore postings reviewed by Human Rights Watch( HRW) between March 2017 and January this year that demonstrate the predominance of sexist attitudes towards women in the Chinese workplace.

HRW, which reviewed task ads on company and government websites and social media sites since 2013, discovered both private and public sector employers frequently specified” humen merely” or” men favor” applicants.

Even China’s globally known tech companies such as Alibaba, Baidu and Tencent, use girls to attract talent, HRW told.” Sexist undertaking ads pander to the antiquated stereotypes that persist within Chinese companies ,” told Sophie Richardson, China director at HRW, at the release of their report.

” These companies pride themselves on being forces-out of modernity and progress, yet they fall back on such recruitment strategies, which shows how deeply entrenched discrimination against females remains in China ,” she said.

Researchers detected undertakings from college counsellors to teachers and delivery administrators were earmarked for men. This year, 19% of civil service chore ads listed” humen opted” or “suitable for men” in their descriptions. Last year, 13% of civil service tasks specified male only applicants, according to the report.

When job ads are specified for women they often come with physical appearance requirements. A 2015 task ad for deputies for national courts in Beijing tried girls between the ages of 18 to 25, with” good skin tone” and” no obvious scars “. The ad said they should be between 162 cm and 173 cm( 5′ 3” and 5′ 6 “) in height and weigh less than 65 kg( 143 lb ).

Some employers were looking for only married women with children, on the basis of the logic that they would not leave their posting to have children or get married.

China’s communist party has named gender equality as one of the pillars of the party’s ideology- former Chinese leader Mao Zedong famously told women ” hold out half the sky” in China.

Just 20% of heads of Chinese government agencies and companies were women, according to a 2010 report from the All-China Women’s Federation. Last year, China ranked 100 out of 144 countries in the World Economic Forum’s gender parity index.

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World Bank recommends fewer regulations protecting workers

Unions alarmed by suggestion that deep structural reforms are required to adjust to changing nature of work

The World Bank is proposing lower minimum wages and greater the recruitment and firing powers for employers as part of a wide-ranging deregulation of labour markets deemed necessary to prepare countries for the changing nature of work.

A working draft of the bank’s flagship World Development Report- which will recommend policy action from governments when it comes out in the autumn- says less “burdensome” regulations are needed so that firms can hire employees at lower cost. The controversial recommendations, which are aimed principally at developing countries, have alarmed groups representing labor, which say they have so far been frozen out of the Bank’s consultation process.

Peter Bakvis, Washington representative for the International Trade Union Confederation, said the proposals were harmful, retrograde and out of synch with the shared-prosperity agenda is moving forward by the bank’s chairperson Jim Yong Kim.

He added that the WDR’s vision of the future world of work would find firms relieved of the burden of helping to social security, have the flexibility to pay wages as low as they wanted, and to fire at will. Unions would have a diminished role in new arrangements for” expanding workers’ voices “.

The paper” almost completely ignores workers’ rights, asymmetric power in the labour market and phenomena such as declining labour share in national income ,” Bakvis said.

The International Labour Organisation has also expressed alarm following the proposal, which include the right for employers to opt out of paying minimum wagesif they introduce profit-sharing strategies for their workers.

The WDR draft tells:” High minimum wages, undue restrictions on the recruitment and firing, strict contract forms, all induce workers more expensive vis-a-vis technology .”

Five years ago, the World Bank’s 2013 World Development Reportconcluded that labour regulations had little or no impact on employment levels, but the draft for the 2019 WDR says that if workers are expensive to reject, fewer will be hired.” Burdensome regulations also make it more expensive for firms to rearrange their workforce to accommodate changing technologies .”

The report is being prepared amid growing speculation about the impact of artificial intelligence and automation on employment and wages in future decades.

” Rapid changes to the nature of work set a premium on flexible for firms to adjust their workforce, but also for those workers who benefit from more dynamic labor markets ,” the draft says.

Bakvis said the draft” puts forward a policy its own programme of extensive labour market deregulation, including lower minimum wages, flexible dismissal procedures and UK-style zero-hours contracts. The resulting decline of workers’ incomes would be compensated in part by a basic level of social insurance to be financed largely by regressive intake taxes .”

The paper says that labour regulations” protect the few who hold formal jobs while leaving out most workers” and the sort of social protection schemes that began with the German chancellor Otto von Bismarck in the late 19 th century were not appropriate because they covered only a third of developing country populations.

Bakvis said the draft did not” analyse options for incentivising the formalisation of work, despite the considerable efforts the ILO has made toward that goal and the real progress that has taken place in some developing countries to deliver the benefits of formalisation: legal protection of workers’ rights, including their right to safe workplaces, and access to social security.

” Instead, the WDR takes informality as an unavoidable country and, worse, implies that it should even be promoted. Nor does it examine how the undermining of labour market organizations through deliberate corporate strategies such as outsourcing and cloaked working relations[ for example, classifying Uber driversas independent contractors] can be countered by providing legal protections for these categories of workers.

” Workers in the platform economy who have engaged in campaigns for recognition of their rights have encountered fierce resistance from their companies .”

Bakvis added that the report insinuated support for companies such as Uber by agreeing that their workers were not employees but were” emerging as a separate labour category “.

A World Bank spokesman told:” To stimulate debate and draw attention to critical issues, the report will present a range of ideas for how governments can create the conditions for workers to benefit from huge shiftings in technology, demographics, urbanisation and other factors.

” To objective poverty and boost shared prosperity, it’s vital that we consider new initiatives to meet the disruption that will surely come from these structural changes. We encourage and look forward to comments and an evidence-driven discussion on this important topic .”

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