Posted on

UK government borrowing hits record high in April and retail sales slump – business live | Business






Full story: Borrowing surge amid crisis





Retail sales slump: What the experts say









Covid-19 fears and Hong Kong tensions hit markets





UK internet shopping hits record high









UK borrowing: What the economists say









Introduction: Government borrowing hits £62bn in April

Updated





Source link

Posted on

Irish EBF Ballyhane Stakes at Naas in August attracts a record 563 entries



An Irish record of 563 entries have been made for the inaugural renewal of the Irish EBF Ballyhane Stakes at Naas in August, prompting Horse Racing Ireland to consider increasing prize money and staging a consolation race.

he new juvenile contest, aimed at the progeny of sires with a median of no more than €75,000 at last year’s yearling sales, is scheduled for August 3, being run over six furlongs with a prize fund of €200,000.

After attracting 345 Irish-based entries, 217 contenders from Britain and one possible from America – a colt owned by Stonestreet Stables and trained by Wesley Ward – HRI could now add a consolation race for those that miss the cut for the feature event.

With racing currently suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic, the first forfeit stage had been deferred to an unconfirmed date that will be announced when there is a clearer indication on the resumption of racing and dates for the breeze-up sales.

Jason Morris, HRI director of racing, said: “The level of initial entries for the Irish EBF Ballyhane Stakes has exceeded our expectations and demonstrates the popularity of this new concept.

“Once the picture becomes clearer over the timing and basis for a resumption of racing, we will evaluate the feasibility of increasing the prize money for the feature race and/or the creation of a consolation event.

“We can look forward to a very competitive and high quality contest in what will hopefully be better times.”

Online Editors



Source link

Posted on

You just lived through the warmest decade on record – and it’s only going to get hotter


Global warming shows no signs of letting up.

The years from 2015 to 2019 and from 2010 to 2019 “are, respectively, almost certain to be the warmest five-year period and decade on record,” the World Meteorological Organization said in a report released Tuesday.  

“Since the 1980s, each successive decade has been warmer than the last,” the agency said.

2019 concludes a decade of exceptional global heat, retreating ice and record sea levels driven by greenhouse gases from human activities, according to the WMO.

“If we do not take urgent climate action now, then we are heading for a temperature increase of more than 3 degrees Celsius (5.4 degrees Fahrenheit) by the end of the century, with ever more harmful impacts on human well-being,” WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas said. “We are nowhere near on track to meet the Paris Agreement target.”

Climate change impact: Hot temperatures shorten pregnancies, study suggests

Concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere – the greenhouse gas most responsible for global warming – hit a record level of 407.8 parts per million in 2018 and continued to rise in 2019. Carbon dioxide lasts in the atmosphere for centuries and the ocean for even longer, thus locking in climate change, the WMO said.

And 2019 itself is on course to be the second- or third-warmest year on record, with 2016 still holding the all-time temperature record.

This year was hotter than average in most parts of the world, including the Arctic.

“In contrast a large area of North America has been colder than the recent average,” the WMO said.

Taalas said that “on a day-to-day basis, the impacts of climate change play out through extreme and ‘abnormal’ weather. And, once again in 2019, weather and climate related risks hit hard.

“Heatwaves and floods which used to be ‘once in a century’ events are becoming more regular occurrences. Countries ranging from the Bahamas to Japan to Mozambique suffered the effect of devastating  tropical cyclones. Wildfires swept through the Arctic and Australia.”

The WMO’s annual report, which brings together data from numerous national weather agencies and research organizations, also highlighted the impacts of climate change, including declining sea ice and rising sea levels, which reached their highest level this year since high-precision measurements began in 1993.

Contributing: The Associated Press

‘The point of no return is no longer over the horizon’: UN chief delivers dire climate change warning

Climate activists turn attention to Black Friday: ‘Shoppers cannot ignore the climate emergency’

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Climate change: 2010s likely to be the warmest decade on record



Source link

Posted on

Canadian telecom complaints hit record high, with Bell leading the pack


Complaints about poor wireless, internet and TV service reached a record high this year as consumers expressed increasing frustration over issues such as billing and disconnection notice periods.

In its annual report released Thursday, the Commission for Complaints for Telecom-television Services (CCTS) disclosed that the number of accepted complaints jumped 35 per cent during the 12 months ended July 31, to 19,287 — the largest volume in the organization’s history.

Most of the complaints related to billing surprises and non-disclosure of contract terms, issues that have made up the majority of complaints to the CCTS since its inception.

“It’s concerning that the numbers are going up,” said Howard Maker, head of the Commission of Complaints for Telecom-television Services (CCTS).

He said that some telecom service providers may be testing the limits of the Wireless Code as they develop new product offerings in a dynamic communications services market. But he expressed surprise nevertheless that providers continue to run afoul of rules in areas such as disconnection, where notice requirements are explicitly detailed.

The report shows that customers complained most often about their wireless service, followed by internet, TV and landline phone. Bell, Rogers, Telus, Virgin, Freedom and Cogeco were the primary targets.

Montreal’s Bell Canada accounted for by far the largest number of complaints, responsible for 30 per cent of the total with 5,879 accepted complaints. Bell’s confirmed breaches of the Wireless Code doubled to 29 per cent on a wireless customer base of 9,834,380, as of the end of its third quarter.

Toronto-based Rogers Communications, which had just under 10.8 million wireless subscribers at the end of the first quarter, came in second with 1,833 complaints.

Both Bell and Rogers saw their share of overall complaints decline, with Bell dropping from a 33-per-cent share to 30 per cent, and Rogers dropping from 10 to 9 per cent.

The share for Vancouver-based Telus, however, increased by 1.5 per cent to 8 per cent, with the number of complaints jumping by 71 per cent to just over 1,600 — partly due to the company’s interpretation of the code regarding new contract terms when a customer changes wireless plans.

Overall, the CCTS saw a 42 per cent increase in the number of service provider violations of the Wireless Code, with the most common involving the failure to provide documentation to customers and to provide proper notice before disconnection of service.

Billing was again the predominant irritant for phone, internet and TV customers, with complaints typically arising after fees for monthly services were higher than expected, for example when a promised discount wasn’t honoured. Next common were complaints related to disclosure of information and a lack of clarity about service contracts, followed by service delivery and credit management issues. Just over 900 complaints came from small business customers.

Billing issues have increased by more than 144 per cent over the past five years to 20,000, with Bell accounting for more than 37 per cent, the report says. TV complaint issues were more than three times higher than in 2017-18 in part due to the fact that 2018-19 was the first full year of accepting TV complaints.

Maker said the overall increase in complaints can likely be partly attributed to consumers being more aware of their rights.

“Now that you have rules and minimum standards, customers are better informed,” he said, media coverage of telecom sales practices may have made more consumers aware that they can file a complaint online any time for free at ccts-cprst.ca.

“Record numbers of complaints, rapid industry change, and our own desire for continuous improvement have motivated us to focus on our dispute resolution process, and we’re looking at ways to improve our service to make it more efficient, effective and transparent,” Maker said.

The volume of complaints has been ratcheting up following a decline with introduction in 2013 of the Wireless Code, leading the CCTS to add regulatory personnel and refine its dispute resolution process. The CCTS accepted 14,272 complaints in 2017-18, a 57-per-cent annual increase over the 9,097 total in 2016-17, although issues resolved have also risen, to 91 per cent in the latest period.

On Jan. 31 the CCTS will begin to administer a fourth code, the Internet Code, which was issued by the CRTC earlier this year. The new code will apply to large internet service providers and is intended to make it easier for customers to understand service contracts, plan prices and promotions.

Wireless, TV and internet service complaints reach an all-time high

Below are the telecommunications companies that received the most complaints, ranked by the number of complaints received.

Bell Canada: 5,879 accepted complaints, 30.5 per cent of total

Rogers: 1,833; 9.5 per cent

Telus: 1,610; 8.3 per cent

Get more business in your inbox

Get the business news and analysis that matters most every morning in our Star Business email newsletter.

Sign Up Now

Virgin Mobile: 1,253; 6.5 per cent

Freedom Mobile: 1,147; 5.9 per cent

Cogeco Connexion: 1,039; 5.4 per cent

Michael Lewis

JOIN THE CONVERSATION

Error!We have suspended your account in accordance with our Code of Conduct. For more information please visit Code of Conduct

Q:

What is your top telecom complaint? Share them below

Conversations are opinions of our readers and are subject to the Code of Conduct. The Star does not endorse these opinions.





Source link

Posted on

Record number of people register to vote on deadline day after huge last-minute spike



A record number of people registered to vote on the final day applications were open, with a huge last-minute spike taking the number of people who registered on Tuesday to 659,666.

Before the final deadline at midnight on 26 November, there had been well over 3 million applications to register since the general election was called in October. 

The figure is around 40 per cent higher than the 2.3 million applications to register in a similar period in the 2017 election, and the Electoral Reform Society said on Tuesday that of the applications made since October, 67 per cent were made by people aged 34 or under – a figure which is generally seen to be beneficial to Labour.

More follows…

Social media is an increasingly important battle ground in elections – and home to many questionable claims pumped out by all sides. If social media sites won’t investigate the truth of divisive advertising, we will. Please send any political Facebook advertising you receive to [email protected], and we will catalogue and investigate it. Read more here.



Source link

Posted on

Greenhouse gases surge to record in 2018, exceeding 10-yr average rate: U.N.


GENEVA, Nov 25 (Reuters) – Greenhouse gases in the atmosphere hit a new record in 2018, rising faster than the average rise of the last decade and cementing increasingly damaging weather patterns, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said on Monday.

The U.N. agency’s Greenhouse Gas Bulletin is one of a series of studies to be published ahead of a U.N. climate change summit being held in Madrid next week, and is expected to guide discussions there. It measures the atmospheric concentration of the gases responsible for global warming, rather than emissions.

“There is no sign of a slowdown, let alone a decline, in greenhouse gases’ concentration in the atmosphere – despite all the commitments under the Paris Agreement on Climate Change,” said WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas.

“This continuing long-term trend means that future generations will be confronted with increasingly severe impacts of climate change, including rising temperatures, more extreme weather, water stress, sea level rise and disruption to marine and land ecosystems.”

The concentration of carbon dioxide, a product of burning fossil fuels that is the biggest contributor to global warming, surged from 405.5 parts per million in 2017 to 407.8 ppm in 2018, exceeding the average rate of increase of 2.06 ppm in 2005-2015, the WMO report said.

Irrespective of future policy, carbon dioxide stays in the atmosphere for centuries, locking in warming trends.

“It is worth recalling that the last time the Earth experienced a comparable concentration of CO2 was 3-5 million years ago,” Taalas said.

Levels of methane – a much more potent greenhouse gas than CO2 – and nitrous oxide also hit new records, the report said.

The U.N. Environment Programme’s annual “emissions gap” report, due on Tuesday, assesses whether countries’ emissions reduction policies are enough. (Reporting by Emma Farge; editing by Stephanie Nebehay and Kevin Liffey)



Source link

Posted on

Hong Kong election: Pro-democracy candidates make stunning gains after record turnout



Pro-democracy candidates in Hong Kong surged to an early lead in the first polls since the start of anti-government protests in the city.

Record numbers of people turned out to vote in the district council election which is seen as a test of support for the pro-Beijing chief executive, Carrie Lam,

Initial results suggested that by 4am local time establishment candidates had only won around 18 seats, compared to 207 for pro-democracy candidates, out of a total of 457, according to local media.

Hong Kong’s district councils control some spending and decide issues such as recycling and public health.

If the pro-democracy camp gains control, it could get six seats on Hong Kong’s semi-representative Legislative Council and 117 seats on the 1,200-member panel that selects the city’s chief executive.

“The performance of the pro-democracy camp will send a signal to Beijing,” said Andrew Li, a 22-year-old student who supported a pro-democracy candidate. “By ignoring people’s demands, it wakes up all Hong Kong people to come out and vote.”

After the polls closed at 10.30pm local time, electoral affairs chief Barnabus Fung said at least 2.94 million people voted – a turnout of 71 per cent and double the 1.47 million who took part four years ago.

Among the successful pro-democracy candidates were Lester Shum, a former student leader of the umbrella movement in 2014, and Kelvin Lam, who stood in after activist Joshua Wong was barred from running.

There was no major disruption during the day, despite recent attacks on candidates including Junius Ho, a pro-Beijing incumbent who suffered stab wounds earlier this month. Mr Ho lost to a pro-democracy challenger.

However the standoff continued at Polytechnic University, where protesters have been surrounded by police.

“The government needs to know that if they don’t answer our demands, we will continue demanding and the protests will not stop,” said a 26-year-old pro-democracy voter who gave her name as Cda.

Anti-government demonstrations began six months ago over an extradition bill that would have allowed people to be sent to mainland China for trial.

While the bill has since been withdrawn, protesters remain angry at alleged police brutality and what they see as Beijing’s interference in the freedoms promised to the former British colony when it returned to China in 1997.

Ms Lam pledged that her government would listen more closely to the views of district councils when she cast her ballot.

“I hope this kind of stability and calm is not only for today’s election, but to show that everyone does not want Hong Kong to fall into a chaotic situation again,” Lam said.

Additional reporting by Reuters



Source link