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SharecloseShare pageCopy linkAbout sharingImage source, M&SMarks & Spencer has changed the name of its Midget Gems sweets to avoid offending people with dwarfism after a campaign by a Liverpool academic.Dr Erin Pritchard, a lecturer in disability studies at Liverpool Hope University, argued the word midget was a form of hate speech.M&S has now rebranded the popular gelatine treats as Mini Gems.A spokeswoman said the store was “committed to being an inclusive retailer”.Dr Pritchard, who has achondroplasia, a condition which stunts growth, approached supermarkets and confectionery makers about changing the name of the sweet, raising her concerns that the use of the word “midget” had its roots in Victorian freak shows.Image source, Marks & SpencerShe wrote in Big Issue North: “Often referred to by people with dwarfism as the m-word, it is a term derived from the word midge, meaning gnat or sandfly.”Its origin automatically dehumanises people like me. It was a term popularised during the Victorian freak show, where many disabled people, including people with dwarfism, were oppressed and exploited.”M&S is the first retailer to react to Dr Pritchard’s campaign and has changed the labelling on its packaging.An M&S spokeswoman said: “Following suggestions from our colleagues and the insights shared by Dr Erin Pritchard, we introduced new Mini Gem packaging last year, which has since been rolled out to all of our stores.”Tesco has also said it will be reviewing the name of its product.A spokesman for the supermarket said: “We are a diverse and inclusive retailer and we would not want any of our products to cause offence.”We are grateful to Dr Pritchard for bringing this to our attention.”Why not follow BBC North West on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram? You can also send story ideas to northwest.newsonline@bbc.co.ukLiverpool Hope UniversityThe BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.

SharecloseShare pageCopy linkAbout sharingImage source, Getty ImagesFrench holiday bookings have jumped after Paris said it would ease restrictions on UK travellers, travel firms have said. Airline Jet2 said it had seen a “sharp” rise in bookings and searches for flights to French skiing destinations.And Tour operator Tui said ski bookings doubled on Wednesday following reports the rules would change.Many UK holidaymakers had to cancel holidays when France banned all but essential travel last month.But from Friday, vaccinated Britons will no longer need a compelling reason to enter France or self-isolate when they arrive.They will only need to present a negative Covid-19 test taken 24 hours before leaving the UK.ABTA, which represents British travel agents, said the rule change was a relief for both holidaymakers and travel firms. France to relax travel rules from the UK”Thousands of people head [to France] for ski breaks at this time of year, so this will be a huge relief for customers with holidays booked there for the next few weeks, who have been waiting anxiously for news,” it said.It added that the French government still had to give more details on entry requirements including the rules for children.Jet2 boss Steve Heapy said the rule change was good news for the thousands of Britons who go on skiing trips to France during winter. “This is the positive news that skiers and snowboarders have been looking forward to, and the spike in bookings for ski flights has been both sharp and immediate,” he said.’Bookings doubled’Tui, which owns tour operator Crystal Ski Holidays, said bookings had been increasing in anticipation that the rules would be relaxed.”Bookings to France doubled yesterday even before the announcement and we would expect to see another very positive uptick now it’s official,” said Chris Logan, managing director of Crystal Ski Holidays.Brittany Ferries chief executive Christophe Mathieu said the rules relaxation “comes as a great relief”, adding that “businesses in the travel sector have struggled to survive”.”Thousands of Brittany Ferries passengers have been disrupted and millions of pounds in income has been lost as a consequence of draconian measures like border closures,” he said.Rail operator Eurostar said it would “continue to increase the frequency of our services in the coming weeks” and that it was “ready to welcome more passengers on board”.

SharecloseShare pageCopy linkAbout sharingImage source, ReutersFrance will relax its restrictions for those travelling from the UK from Friday, the government has announced. Vaccinated travellers will no longer need a compelling reason to enter France or self-isolate when they arrive.However a negative Covid-19 test, taken 24 hours before arriving in France, will be required.France brought in the restrictions on 18 December in an attempt to slow the spread of the Omicron variant.

SharecloseShare pageCopy linkAbout sharingImage source, M&S/PA WireMarks & Spencer and Tesco saw sales soar over Christmas as both retailers forecast strong full-year profits. M&S said its food business reported its highest-ever revenue for Christmas, while Tesco said it was an “exceptional” festive period for sales.Tesco now expects annual income to hit the top end of forecasts at £2.6bn.Meanwhile, M&S said it was “now more confident” of reaching previous expectations of at least £500m in profits for the full-year.Tesco’s chief executive Ken Murphy said that “once again, Covid-19 led to a greater focus on celebrating at home”. As a result, Tesco’s Christmas sales rose by 0.3% compared to the previous year and were 9.2% higher than the pre-pandemic festive period in 2019. Earlier this week, Sainsbury’s also reported strong Christmas sales with more people choosing to eat at home rather than venture out amid the emergence of the Omicron variant.M&S – whose Christmas campaign was fronted by its Percy Pig confectionary character – said sales within its food division rose to £1.9bn in the three months to 1 January – a 10% increase on 2020 and up 12.4% on pre-Covid levels. The retailer said that customers were already using M&S for more of their everyday shopping items and it said “the larger basket sizes we saw in the first half continued through the Christmas period”.

SharecloseShare pageCopy linkAbout sharingImage source, Getty ImagesA top Chinese consumer group has called for a boycott of a KFC meal promotion, saying it encourages food waste.The China Consumers Association (CCA) says the promotion sent some customers into a buying frenzy.KFC launched the promotion last week with Pop Mart, a Chinese toy maker known for its mystery boxes.Customers are able to collect limited edition versions of large-eyed and round-faced Dimoo dolls when buying certain KFC set meals.KFC “used limited-edition blind box sales to induce and condone consumers’ irrational and excessive purchase of meal sets, which goes against public order, good customs and the spirit of the law”, the state-affiliated CCA said in a statement.That led one customer to spend 10,494 yuan (£1,202; $1,649) on more than 100 of the meals in one go to collect the toys, while people also paid others to purchase meals for them, or just threw them away, the statement added. Image source, KFC CHINA/WEIBOKFC launched the hugely popular promotion last week to celebrate the 35th anniversary of the opening of its first outlet in mainland China. Yum China, which operates KFC China, and Pop Mart did not immediately respond to requests for comment from the BBC.In 2020, the Chinese government launched a major campaign against food waste, which was spearheaded by President Xi Jinping.President Xi called the amount of food wasted as “shocking and distressing”.The “Clean Plate Campaign” came against the backdrop of growing concerns about food security during the pandemic.The campaign saw online influencers being banned from binge eating on social media platforms, while restaurant-goers were urged to not order more than they could eat.You may also be interested in:This video can not be playedTo play this video you need to enable JavaScript in your browser.

SharecloseShare pageCopy linkAbout sharingImage source, Elsie EmeryThroughout the pandemic, working lives have been upended. Job losses, home-schooling, overtime hours, or a non-existent commute to the kitchen table – few people have been unaffected.It’s clear these changes have led some to rethink their career paths entirely. Almost a quarter of 6,000 workers, surveyed by recruitment firm Randstad UK, were planning to change jobs in the next few months.A fresh job search might raise some big questions: What do I enjoy? What do I need to live comfortably? Is work working for me?This is the first article in a new series called ‘At Work’ about how different people find purpose in their daily work.One of them is firefighter, Elsie Emery.How did you get into the job?I applied when I was 17, and turned 18 during the recruitment process.I always knew that I wanted to be in the emergency services of some sort and was lucky that for the first time in nine years, the fire service was recruiting locally. So I was very lucky with the timings.You don’t need any particular qualification, but you have to pass online tests in Maths, English, mechanical reasoning, situational judgement and behavioural science before you get to go to your fitness assessment. Getting to Level 8.8 on a bleep test is not a joke! You have to be able to swim 50 metres in 70 seconds too to prove you’re competent in water and you have to maintain these fitness levels throughout your career.After that, you go to a practical assessment day with five different tests where you use all the different kit; simulate putting a ladder back on a truck, climbing a ladder, as well as doing things like taking your equipment apart and putting it back together – stuff you’ve never seen in your life.Then the interview and presentation came at a later date and the whole process itself takes about six to nine months. When fire services recruit, there’s an inundation of people that want to go for it. In my particular round there were about 3,000 people for 15 jobs, so they needed to whittle it down. My parents were absolutely ecstatic when they found out I got the job.Routes into firefighting:College course: Complete Level 2, or 3, Diploma in Public Services, before applying to the fire service, although this is not essential.Apprenticeship: You may be able to start training on an operational firefighter advanced apprenticeship. You’ll need to be employed by a fire service to do this.Apply direct: You can apply to your local fire service, each one sets its own entry requirements.Fire service training course or volunteering: You can prepare for your application by volunteering, or doing a Level 2 Certificate in Fire and Rescue Services in the Community, which is usually run by local services.Source:National Careers ServiceWhat does a typical day look like?No day is the same. Every time you go in there’s something different or you can easily get held up on a visit [to a business].[Every shift] we do a handover from the previous night or day shift, so we know what we need to follow up on. We do a lot of equipment checks on the vehicles and our breathing apparatus, to make sure they’re operational-ready. All our training needs to be maintained, so we know what to do at an incident. We might do a simulated rescue, or go out in the yard and cut a car for collision training. Image source, Elsie EmeryOn top of that, we do a lot of physical training. We’ve got a gym [at the] station to keep our strength up and do circuits.And we do a lot of community visits – go out to vulnerable people in the community to prevent fires through education, set out evacuation plans, or, put up smoke detectors for them and run through fire safety stuff. We also do school visits so the kids can sit in the truck and go out to a lot of businesses too and do mini-audits on them.Obviously, you also respond to incidents that come up. They can go on for a long time, 24 hours even. How do people react when you tell them what you do?It’s weird, I dread telling people what I do. I cringe a little bit.The common reaction is: ‘Oh wow!’, people are usually taken aback and aren’t necessarily expecting it because of a lack of females in the role.I remember once, pulling up to a roundabout in the truck and the window was down because it was a hot summer’s day. A guy in the van next to me wound his down and shouted: “Oh my gosh, I’ve never seen a woman one.”I do get comments, but they are mostly positive – or they make me laugh.What are the biggest misconceptions?It’s not all about saving cats in trees! People do assume that we’re out every hour of the day responding to incidents, or we’re having a cup of tea waiting for a call.There has been very little time where I’ve just sat around. And it’s not as dramatic as in the films either. If we have a spare moment, we’re doing business safety work, or we’re out in the community.The push is on [fire] prevention now. So the work we do in the community around us probably makes up about 80% of our time on-shift, but that’s not really seen.What are the hardest moments you face?We do see unpleasant scenes and fatalities – that is, without a doubt, the hardest part of the job. Day-to-day, it’s odd but you almost want to have an incident of some sort – not where anyone’s hurt – but because that’s what you joined to do. I joined to be there in the moment and help people, whether that’s putting up a smoke alarm or helping shift flood water from someone’s house.But when there are family members nearby and you need to support them during an incident – that is really challenging.And for every hard moment, there are good ones. Image source, Elsie EmeryComing back from a difficult incident, we’re always greeted within an hour by a ‘diffusing officer’. The truck from that incident [then] comes ‘off the run’.The biscuits come out and we go around the room and talk about what we saw, if anything in particular stood out. It helps us to piece together what we did as a team and put it in neat, tidy piles in your brain before you go to sleep – reducing the impact of any post-traumatic shock disorder (PTSD) because of that discussion.We go through a lot together, so we have a really strong bond. And now if I move house I’ve got five blokes to help.What would you change about the job?The only thing I might say would be the training. [I’d like to have] more adaptability to train at different venues.I think that’s important because we can do as many drills as we like in the back yard, but having the chance to train in different conditions would be beneficial.But in the job itself? Absolutely nothing. The team are basically my second family. Image source, Elsie EmeryWe’re kept busy and all the jobs we’re given are satisfying. We’re constantly on training courses, always learning about things like blue light training, abseiling off a building or floating down the River Dart.I can’t even say I think we need more time off, because we get four days off a week!Any unexpected quirks?Usually the weirdest stories come from people getting stuck in things.We get called out to a lot of children getting stuck in babies’ swings. They might brag to a friend saying they can still fit in there, and we then get called in to cut them out.There have been a few stories about bath plug holes too… but I’ll leave that to the imagination!This interview has been condensed for clarity.

SharecloseShare pageCopy linkAbout sharingThey are not glamorous, there are no chandeliers or luxury furnishings, yet warehouses are hot property around the world. But why? In short, it is because businesses, especially retailers, are running out of space to put the many things we order online. Since the pandemic began at the end of 2019, online shopping is estimated to have grown by 43.5% to reach $2.87tn (£2.1tn) globally, almost half of which came from Asia, according to market research firm Euromonitor.The global supply chain crisis has been making headlines for months. Behind it is a web of disruptions to everything from factories, the shipping industry in Asia, the US and the UK and even a shortage of lorry drivers.What you may not have heard about is that this has helped push the take up of warehouse space around the world close to full capacity, with vacancy rates at record low levels.It has been particularly marked in Asia as so many of the things we buy are made in and shipped through the region. “The current vacancy rate in Asia is around 3% which is a historic low,” according to Henry Chin from CBRE, the world’s biggest commercial real estate services firm.”The stronger demands from ecommerce and the ongoing supply chain disruptions mean that companies want to hold the highest safety stock on hand,” he added.To adapt to rising demand companies like RedMart, which is one of Singapore’s biggest online grocers, require larger warehouses and increasingly rely on automation. A year ago, RedMart moved to a much bigger warehouse, quadrupling the space it has available, just as the pandemic hit. The new facility is 12 metres high and covers an area equivalent to seven football pitches.”Four or five years ago, we recognised that the online business and sales for groceries was going to increase anyway,” said Richard Ruddy, the chief retail officer of RedMart’s parent company, Lazada.”In the last 12 months, including the pandemic, the online market in Singapore grew by about 70% year over year which is about twice the previous 12 months. So the warehouse here helped us to meet part of that demand.”Every week tens of thousands of orders flow through the facility, which is located close to Singapore’s border with one of its main importers, Malaysia. At any one time there are more than 100,000 products in the warehouse. The fast turnaround of goods means they will all be gone within three days and replaced with new items.Unsurprisingly, the company uses data to know exactly how many of which products it needs at any one time, while automation allows it “to use every cubic centimetre of this warehouse,” Mr Ruddy said.That has meant RedMart needed to hire just 200 extra workers to operate its much larger facility, which is crucial at a time of staff shortages.Mr Ruddy predicts further expansion in the years ahead and RedMart is not alone in expecting such growth.Image source, Getty ImagesIn latest CBRE survey, more than three quarters of companies using warehouses in the Asia-Pacific region said they are keen to expand in the next three years – signalling demand for warehouse space will continue to grow.With that growth in demand warehouses look set to become ever more automated and get a whole lot taller.”The most obvious one is in Hong Kong which has a 20 storey warehouse because the land is limited for industrial usage,” said Mr Chin.”Across Asia-Pacific, we will see three to five storeys, ramped up logistics facilities to improve efficiencies and they are also cost effective.”However, this approach to doing business is not without its critics. For years, there have been concerns that people would be replaced by robots, while the idea of warehouses taking up more and more space is not popular either.But as we buy more and more online, retailers will just keep on growing to keep up with demand.This video can not be playedTo play this video you need to enable JavaScript in your browser.

SharecloseShare pageCopy linkAbout sharingImage source, Getty ImagesTrade negotiations with India are not for the faint-hearted. But with no progress on a free trade deal with the United States, and none expected in the foreseeable future, the formal start of talks with India, being announced in New Delhi on Thursday, is the biggest negotiation the UK government will launch this year. India is on course to become the third largest economy in the world by 2050, and the government hopes UK-India trade will double over the course of this decade. The Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan calls the prospect of a free trade deal with India “a golden opportunity” and there are certainly huge commercial prizes up for grabs. EY’s director of trade strategy, George Riddell says the move to open negotiations is a “welcome step”, and one which he says is already generating real enthusiasm in the business community.The alchemy of marketing ScotchIndia’s jobs crisis is more serious than it seemsUK warns US of retaliation over steel tariffsBut India, with so many vested and vulnerable interests to protect, has always been reluctant to liberalise.The EU has been trying for years to reach a meaningful deal with India, with little success. Australia too, has been working on a deal for a decade. Areas such as government procurement policy and the trade in services are particularly difficult.”The current terms under which services providers are trading between the UK and India date from 1995, and don’t take into account any of the technological developments that have taken place over the past twenty-five years,” Mr Riddell points out.And India always makes big demands about visas for Indian professionals and students to work and study abroad.British officials say both sides are now keen to get a UK-India deal done quickly, and they would like it to be agreed by the end of the year. But it’s an ambitious timeline.Image source, Getty ImagesSo, why try to get this deal done with India, if recent history suggests it will be so difficult?It is partly because the country is so big, its population so large, and partly because: well, where else?China is simply off limits. The US is saying no. Other big emerging economies like Brazil are incredibly difficult to negotiate with. And a deal has already been done with the EU, albeit on worse trading terms than the UK had before it left the union.Smaller deals can be done, like the ones already agreed with Australia and, another in principle, with New Zealand in 2021. The government sees those agreements as important steps towards membership of the trans-Pacific trade deal, the CPTPP, in the world’s most dynamic region. But the uncomfortable fact is that after leaving the EU, the UK is trying to rebuild its trade policy almost from scratch at a time when, broadly speaking, many governments are focused on domestic economics. “Some of the momentum has gone out of reaching trade agreements generally,” says Emily Jones, associate professor in public policy at the Blavatnik School of Government in Oxford. It doesn’t help that there’s little momentum behind multilateral deals at the World Trade Organisation. And, under both Donald Trump and Joe Biden, the United States has been concentrating on protecting the American worker at home.Image source, NewscastSo, with the Office for Budget Responsibility estimating that the size of the UK economy will shrink by about 4% over the long term, because less trade will be done outside the EU single market, the pressure is on officials to make up ground elsewhere. “The civil servants the UK has working on trade are really good,” Ms Jones says, “but I think politics is driving the trade agenda.” “The need to show success is being given a higher priority than the intrinsic economic merits.”The government would dispute that. We know it is trying to promote digital trade and service exports – areas in which the UK economy often excels. But the overall strategy is less clear. When it comes to environmental issues, for example, analysts argue that it’s not immediately obvious how UK trade policy sits alongside UK climate goals. Image source, ReutersIn agriculture the government wants to promote a shift towards sustainability and biodiversity. But at the same time, it has agreed to liberalise agricultural trade with Australia, a country which farms on a far more industrial scale than the UK.The NFU president Minette Batters has certainly been critical, calling the Australia deal “one-sided” with “extremely little to benefit British farmers.” The government responds that it is trying to do new kinds of trade deals, and the implication is that some people may not like it. And it is setting out to be different. Last month, the trade minister Penny Mordaunt gave a speech in the US in which she urged Washington to side with the UK in what she called “a global battle between two competing versions of capitalism.”A free-trading UK is on one side, she argued, and the EU – “a trading bloc that is pushing its regulatory system on the rest of the world” – is on the other. Brexit, Ms Mordaunt went on, “is a major geo-political event and it calls for a US response that recognises the moment, and the opportunity that comes with it.” Many critics were not impressed, describing the speech as begging for American support in matters of trade. Anton Spisak, head of policy at the Tony Blair Institute, called it “a solid candidate for the most embarrassing speech delivered by a government minister in 2021.”But the government insists that its critics lack ambition, and that ministers are determined to give substance to the Global Britain slogan. Trade policy in 2022, and the progress of negotiations, will be another big test of how well that’s going.

SharecloseShare pageCopy linkAbout sharingImage source, Getty ImagesKim Kardashian is among three celebrities being sued by investors in the EthereumMax crypto-currency.Other defendants include boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr, basketball player Paul Pierce, and the currency’s creators. The legal action alleges the celebrities collaborated with EthereumMax to “misleadingly promote and sell” the crypto-currency.EthereumMax said it disputed the allegations and looked forward to the truth coming out.In spite of its name, EthereumMax has no legal or business connection with the Ethereum crypto-currency.’Losing investments’The class action claims EthereumMax operated a “pump and dump” scheme – where misleading marketing is used to inflate the price of an asset then sold to unwitting investors at a profit.The complaint filed with the Central District Court of California alleges the “company’s executives, collaborating with several celebrity promotors” made “false or misleading statements to investors about EthereumMax, through social-media advertisements and other promotional activities”.The defendants “touted” the ability of “investors to make significant returns”, it alleges, resulting in an artificial increase in the price of the crypto-currency, “causing investors to purchase these losing investments at inflated prices” and, in turn, enabling the executive staff of EthereumMax named in the legal action to “sell their EMax tokens to investors for a profit”.”In plain terms, EthereumMax’s entire business model relies on using constant marketing and promotional activities, often from ‘trusted’ celebrities, to dupe potential investors into trusting the financial opportunities,” the court filing alleges.Boxing matchIt alleges former National Basketball Association (NBA) player Mr Pierce promoted EthereumMax in a “widely discussed” post on Twitter, in May 2021, “praising EthereumMax’s ability to make money for him”.At the same time, EthereumMax started to use former world champion Mr Mayweather’s boxing match with YouTuber Logan Paul to promote the crypto-currency. Mr Mayweather is said to have also promoted EthereumMax at a crypto-currency conference. Finally, reality-TV personality Kim Kardashian, the complaint alleges, published an Instagram post, saying: “This is not financial advice but sharing what my friends tell me about the EthereumMax token.” The head of the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority, Charles Randell, later said Ms Kardashian had “asked her 250 million followers to speculate on crypto tokens”, suggesting the post – marked as a an advert – may have been the “financial promotion with the single biggest audience reach in history”.’All-time low’At the time, EthereumMax told BBC News its marketing and public-relations efforts “are always from an awareness perspective and not encouraging to purchase – as the Kim K post was simply intended to raise awareness of the project and its utility”. “It is our intention that our marketing and PR efforts encourage people to research our project… before making a decision,” it said.”This approach takes a lot of time, energy, and resources and is in stark contrast to the quick pump-and-dump schemes out there.”However, such promotion caused the currency to increase in value to over 1,300% times its initial price before plummeting to “an all-time low” just over a month after Ms Kardashian’s post, the court filing alleges, enabling defendants to “offload” EthereumMax tokens “for substantial profits” while many of those who purchased currency during this period lost out. ‘Deceptive narrative’The claim names as plaintiffs in the case those who invested between 14 May and 27 June 2021 and were “damaged thereby”.EthereumMax denied the claims.Steve Gentile, identified in the filing as the “co-founder/creator of EthereumMax”, told BBC News: “The deceptive narrative associated with the recent allegations is riddled with misinformation about the EthereumMax project. “We dispute the allegations and look forward to the truth coming out.”BBC News has sought comment from Ms Kardashian, Mr Mayweather and Mr Pierce.

SharecloseShare pageCopy linkAbout sharingImage source, Getty ImagesThe US is in no rush to agree a deal to ease tariffs on British steel, the country’s top trade official indicated on Wednesday.Trade Representative Katherine Tai said the border taxes on British steel and aluminium exports would be addressed “when the time is right”.British exporters currently pay a 25% duty on steel shipments to the US.However their European counterparts are able to export to the US tariff-free after a deal was struck last year.The US suspended Trump-era tariffs of 25% on steel and 10% on aluminium levied on European products, but left them in place on UK exports.One UK steel exporter has already said it is shifting production to Spain as a result. United Cast Bar Limited told the BBC it was unlikely to move production back to the UK once it had been moved, unless an agreement was reached with the US very quickly.UK steel future uncertain without US tariffs dealGlobal economy faces grim outlook, says World BankMs Tai said it had taken six months to reach an agreement with the EU. Washington has also opened formal negotiations with Japan about the ongoing tariffs on its metals.”It’s a matter of pragmatism,” she said, referring to when a deal might be struck with the UK. “We just need to have a process that makes sense, but the UK is very much on our minds and I am confident that we will take this up when the time is right,” she said.Ms Tai was speaking to an online forum hosted by the Institute of International and European Affairs in Dublin.Washington has voiced concerns that the UK government’s plans to redraw trading arrangements in Northern Ireland, agreed when the UK left the European Union, could threaten peace on the island of Ireland.Ms Tai refused to be drawn directly on whether the US will link resolution of the steel dispute to negotiations over the Northern Ireland protocol. But she said the Biden administration would continue to follow closely any developments between Britain and the EU on issues relating to Northern Ireland, and said it was encouraging both sides to find a durable solution. She added that she and President Joe Biden “care deeply about supporting the Good Friday Agreement” that maintains open borders on the island.