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General News: Stockpiling the Magnum

Behind the Headlines News

For those worried about their supply of ice cream – even in winter – Unilever has started to build up stocks of Ben and Jerry’s and Magnum ice creams with concern growing over a No-Deal Brexit.

The company revealed the move in case supply chains become fractured. Chief Executive Alan Jope said, ‘I might have built further cover but we are in consumer goods and when you build inventory it can end up being the wrong mix of product’.

The Department of Education has also issued warnings and informed schools to ensure they are flexible regarding food served to children. A ‘No-Deal’ technical notice explained that the Government would not be able to guarantee supplies of food that is brought in from Europe.

Civil Servants have made planning for a March 29 scenario the ‘highest priority’ for the Ministry of Defence, even at the expense of other military projects. Troops are being put on alert in case they are needed to support Police and Border Force officers should No-Deal become a reality.

Spare a thought for people across the Atlantic in the American mid-west where temperatures have plummeted to a lethal -44C, creating scenes that might have come from the movie, ‘The Day After Tomorrow’.

Reality in Chicago currently is a wet T-Shirt will freeze solid in seconds and a cup of boiling water thrown into the air turns instantly to snow.

Harsh winters are routine in this part of the world but this year has been exceptional. As snowy conditions begin to cover the UK, some consolation can be taken from the fact that, with December and January now over, officially at least, winter now has less than 27 days to go.

For those hoping to have the money to buy their own home, the areas to avoid are the Midlands and the North, where property prices have risen fastest since the Brexit vote. The value of properties in Birmingham have jumped by 16 per cent since June 2016, resulting in those who consider rising house prices a good thing declaring it the ‘top performing’ area of Britain.

Manchester and Leicester are joint second currently, prices rising by 15 per cent with Edinburgh and Nottingham seeing a 14 per cent rise. London however, has seen a mere 1 per cent rise.

Zoopla’s Richard Donnell said, ‘Growth has slowed in cities across southern England, as a result of growing affordability pressures, higher transaction costs and increased uncertainty’.

The number of jobs that might be lost as robots take over has taken a new twist as Blenheim Palace, the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill, revealed that a new tourist guide called Betty is, in fact, a robot.

Betty has been programmed to seek out tourists in the Palace’s Great Hall and provide them with information as well as answer queries about the palace and its history. Betty also takes pictures of guests and uploads them to Twitter, spending twelve hours roaming the halls before taking herself off to a docking station for a recharge. The robot has been produced by the Oxford Robotics Institute (ORI), part of Oxford University’s department of engineering science.

Dr Bruno Lacerda, of ORI, said: ‘Having Betty at the palace is a great opportunity for us to engage with the public in a stunning setting.

‘Betty shows how robots are now able to autonomously work amongst humans and allows us to illustrate some of the underlying technology we have developed with that aim.’

Use of Betty at Blenheim contrasts sharply with the aptly-named Strange Hotel in Japan, which was run entirely by robots until some of them began to malfunction. One example was the room service robot which was programmed to answer queries from those staying in their rooms but kept waking up one sleeping guest frequently at night by repeatedly saying, ‘I’m sorry, I didn’t understand that question’, after confusing the sleeping guest’s snoring for a question.

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