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Tesla, Volvo Car pause output as Red Sea shipping crisis deepens

Tesla, Volvo Car pause output as Red Sea shipping crisis deepens

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Tesla, Volvo Car pause output as Red Sea shipping crisis deepens

Automakers Tesla and Geely-owned Volvo Car said they were suspending some production in Europe due to a shortage of components, the first clear sign that attacks on shipping in the Red Sea are hitting manufacturers in the region.

The United States and Britain launched a series of strikes on Yemen on Thursday, aimed at the Iran-backed Houthi militia whose attacks on international shipping have disrupted one of the world’s most important shipping routes.

Container shipping rates jumped further this week as concerns grew that vessels carrying everything from clothes to phones and car batteries will have to avoid the Suez Canal, the fastest route between Asia and Europe, for longer than expected.

The biggest supply chain upheaval since the COVID-19 pandemic risks derailing the global economic recovery, while higher freight and oil prices could reignite inflation. The canal accounts for about 12 percent of global container traffic.

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Late on Thursday, Tesla told Reuters it will suspend most car production at its factory near Berlin from Jan. 29 to Feb. 11, citing a lack of components after many ships were re-routed around the southern tip of Africa.

“The armed conflicts in the Red Sea and the associated shifts in transport routes between Europe and Asia via the Cape of Good Hope are having an impact on production in Gruenheide,” a Tesla statement said. “The considerably longer transportation times are creating a gap in supply chains.”

It did not say what components were delayed arriving at the factory, where it assembles electric vehicles for sale in Europe.

Volvo Car, which is majority-owned by China’s Geely said it will pause output at its plant in Ghent in Belgium for three days next week due to a delayed delivery of gearboxes.

Some tanker operators have ceased traversing the Red Sea following the U.S. and British air strikes on Yemen’s Houthis, as regional conflict stemming from Israel’s war in Gaza widens.

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Adding to the logistical headaches hampering trade, low water levels due to drought have reduced crossings of the Panama Canal, another key maritime trade route.

FALL-OUT

Shipping giants such as Maersk and Hapag-Lloyd have been sending their vessels on the longer, more expensive journeys around Africa. Last Friday, Maersk said it expects the re-routing, which adds about 10 days and around $1 million in extra fuel to a journey from Asia to Northern Europe, to last for the foreseeable future.

Both companies on Friday welcomed moves to improve security for shipping in the region, but did not say if Thursday’s strikes would make a difference., said it will pause output at its plant in Ghent in Belgium for three days next week due to a delayed delivery of gearboxes.

 Many companies, including Geely, China’s second-largest automaker by sales, Swedish home furnishing company IKEA and British clothes retailer Next, have warned of potential delays to deliveries of goods.

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U.S. retailers Target and Tractor Supply are also facing delays. Target faces some delays on items from India and Pakistan, which are big apparel suppliers, though most imported merchandise comes across the Pacific and is not affected, a source said.

Colin Yankee, chief supply chain officer at Tractor Supply, said there were delays of two to more than 20 days on some products, although spring merchandise is mostly in or will be soon.

“With the Panama Canal restricting daily trips, extended transit times and costs with moving around Africa, and the International Longshoremen’s Association contract expiring in Fall of 2024, we see the potential for volume that was moving from Asia to the US East Coast to shift to the US West Coast throughout the year,” he said by email.

Some retailers are stocking up before China’s Lunar New Year holiday and seeking air or rail alternatives in a scramble to avoid empty shelves in the northern hemisphere spring.

“If the Red Sea disruption lasts another two to three weeks, I expect to see product shortages on shelves in April and May,” said Seth Frederickson, vice president of Product Management at FourKites.

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Other automakers could also suffer shortages from the Red Sea conflict, said Sam Fiorani of AutoForecast Solutions, which tracks automotive supply chains and production.

“It can’t be believed that they’re alone, only the first to reflect the issue.” Tesla shares fell 3.7pc in New York trade and Volvo Car fell 2.8pc in Stockholm.

Stellantis said it has seen “almost no impact” on manufacturing and has used air freight in limited instances. BMW, Volkswagen and Renault said on Friday production was not affected. But EU carmakers rely heavily on Asia for EV supplies.

The region accounted for 67pc of EU imports of components for EV batteries in the 12 months to Sept. 30 and just over two thirds of lithium ion batteries shipments, according to S&P Market Intelligence data.

Carmakers and analysts in Europe have warned in recent months that EV sales were not growing as fast as hoped, with some companies cutting prices in an attempt to boost demand.

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WhatsApp unveils new text formatting feature for enhanced communication

WhatsApp unveils new text formatting feature for enhanced communication

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WhatsApp unveils new text formatting feature for enhanced communication

WhatsApp has unveiled a groundbreaking feature that revolutionizes text messaging by allowing users to customize their messages like never before.

Prior to this update, users were limited to basic text modifications such as bold and italic; however, the new feature introduces a plethora of formatting options, including numbers, bullets, block quotes, and text highlighting.

The process is simple and intuitive, requiring users to incorporate specific symbols to achieve their desired text format. For monospacing text, users can enclose their message with three backticks on both sides. Adding a quote is as easy as placing an angle bracket and a space before the text.

To strike through a message, users need to flank their text with tilde symbols, while bolding requires asterisks on both sides. One of the standout additions is the ability to create bulleted lists effortlessly. Users can precede each word or sentence with an asterisk or hyphen and a space to generate a neatly organized list.

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Moreover, numbering and spacing at the beginning of text with “1.” facilitates the creation of itemized lists, enhancing the overall clarity and structure of messages.

Inline code can now be seamlessly integrated into messages by enclosing the text with backtick symbols at the start and end. This provides users with a practical way to share code snippets or emphasize specific phrases within their conversations.

The accompanying image showcases the versatility of this new feature, illustrating the various formatting options available to users. WhatsApp users across iOS, Android, and web devices can now leverage this advanced text formatting feature to elevate their communication experience.

The update reflects WhatsApp’s commitment to continually enhance user experience and foster more expressive and organized conversations. Whether you’re conveying information, emphasizing key points, or sharing code snippets, the new formatting options provide a dynamic and engaging communication platform for users worldwide. 

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Meta to set up team to counter disinformation, AI abuse in EU elections

Meta to set up team to counter disinformation, AI abuse in EU elections

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Meta to set up team to counter disinformation, AI abuse in EU elections

 Facebook owner Meta will set up a team to tackle disinformation and the abuse of generative artificial intelligence in the run-up to European Parliament elections in June amid concerns about election interference and misleading AI-generated content.

The rapid growth of generative AI, which can create text, images and video in seconds in response to prompts, has triggered fears that the new technology could be used to disrupt major elections, across the world this year. 

European Parliament elections will take place June 6-9. Its 720 lawmakers, together with EU governments, pass new EU policies and laws.

“As the election approaches, we’ll activate an Elections Operations Center to identify potential threats and put mitigations in place in real time,” Marco Pancini, Meta’s head of EU affairs, said in a blogpost.

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He said experts from the company’s intelligence, data science, engineering, research, operations, content policy and legal teams will focus on combating misinformation, tackling influence operations and counter the risks related to the abuse of generative AI.

Meta, which currently works with 26 independent fact-checking organisations across the European Union covering 22 languages, will add three new partners in Bulgaria, France, and Slovakia, Pancini said.

Meta, Microsoft, OpenAI and 17 other tech companies earlier this month agreed to work together to prevent deceptive artificial-intelligence content from interfering with elections across the globe this year.

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‘X’ faces prolonged suspension across Pakistan

‘X’ faces prolonged suspension across Pakistan

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'X' faces prolonged suspension across Pakistan

The popular microblogging site ‘X,’ formerly known as Twitter, has been inaccessible across Pakistan for over a week. 

Despite a brief interval when the site was accessible, users are now reporting a persistent outage, even when using Virtual Private Network (VPN) services.

The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA), the government agency responsible for overseeing telecommunications, hasn’t released any official statement regarding the suspension of the service.

This lack of transparency has only intensified the frustration among users who heavily rely on ‘X’ for information and news updates. Users who initially turned to VPNs as a workaround have also hit a roadblock, as the microblogging site remains inaccessible. 

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The situation has raised concerns about the government’s stance on digital freedom and freedom of speech. The outage has not gone unnoticed by the public, with many expressing their discontent on various platforms. 

Criticism has been directed towards the government and the IT minister for what is perceived as an attack on freedom of speech and a hindrance to the revenue generated by the country’s thriving IT professionals.

Earlier, the Sindh High Court issued a directive to restore access to ‘X’ across Pakistan, recognising the site’s significance for information dissemination. However, despite court’s order, there has been no implementation, leaving users and advocates of digital freedom in a state of dismay.

The suspension of ‘X’ has broader implications, impacting not only the general public but also businesses and professionals who rely on the platform for communication, networking, and staying informed about the latest developments. The longer the outage persists, the more severe the consequences may be for the nation’s digital landscape.

As the public awaits an official statement from the PTA and the government, concerns about the potential ramifications of such a prolonged suspension continue to grow.

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