Peugeot and Citroen owner Groupe PSA to acquire Vauxhall and Opel after confirming a €2.2 billion agreement from General Motors Europe

  • Peugeot buys Vauxhall, becoming the French car giant’s first major acquisition since acquiring Chrysler Europe.
  • Potential job losses could happen once the acquisition is finalised.
  • Production of several car models from Vauxhall and Opel will remain unaffected.
  • There have been fears of Vauxhall leaving the UK following after Brexit.

Groupe PSA, or better known as PSA Peugeot Citroen, has confirmed that they have agreed to acquire Vauxhall Motors and Opel from its owner General Motors for €2.2 billion (£1.9 billion).

The French car manufacturer, which owns Peugeot, Citroen and DS, announced in a statement that their intention to manage the expanded group by capitalising on their respective brand identities and honouring existing commitments to workers.

This comes after 2016 became the sixteenth consecutive loss-making year for GM in Europe, which declared bankruptcy in 2009, resulting in the discontinuation of the Hummer, Saturn and Pontiac brands the following year, the sale of Saab to Spyker in the same year, along with the discontinuation of the Daewoo brand in South Korea in 2012 and the departure of the Chevrolet brand in the European market last year, leaving Cadillac, Vauxhall and Opel the only GM brands operating in the market.

Once finalised, General Motors will solely focus on their GMC, Cadillac, Buick and Chevrolet brands, with Cadillac becoming the only GM brand operating in the European market and their Australian brand Holden set to cease vehicle and engine production by the end of this year.

PSA chairman of the managing board Carlos Tavares said: “We are proud to join forces with Opel/Vauxhall and are deeply committed to continuing to develop this great company and accelerating its turnaround. We respect all that Opel/Vauxhall’s talented people have achieved as well as the company’s fine brands and strong heritage. We are confident that the Opel/Vauxhall turnaround will significantly accelerate with our support, while respecting the commitments made by GM to the Opel/Vauxhall employees.”

However, with great acquisition comes great fear as there could be some potential job losses once the acquisition is finalised along with fears that Vauxhall could be leaving the UK following after Brexit.

Labour MPs resign over Brexit, while SNP MP makes reference to Trainspotting

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The Labour Party face trouble as several of their MPs have resigned over the House of Commons approving the second reading of a bill to allow Prime Minister Theresa May to invoke Article 50, which will trigger Brexit, the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union, following the result of the referendum last year and after party leader Jeremy Corbyn told them that they must trigger Brexit.

Shadow minister Tulip Siddiq, Shadow environment secretary Rachael Maskell, Shadow minister for diverse communities Dawn Butler, Shadow Welsh secretary Jo Stevens and Shadow Business Secretary Clive Lewis are among those of the 52 Labour politicians who resigned against Brexit.

Butler tweeted after resigning: “Been an honour to serve n shadow cabinet doing a job I love. Can’t let down future generations voting against poor excuse of a Bill #Brexit”.

Meanwhile, SNP MP Hannah Bardells quoted T2: Trainspotting when talking to MPs at the Houses of Parliament last Thursday (February 2): “I saw Trainspotting 2 recently and it inspired me. Choose Brexit. Choose making up numbers from thin air about the NHS and plastering them on the side of buses. Choose racist and xenophobic sentiments seeping out from some corners of the Leave campaign. Choose hate crime rising over 40% and LGBT hate crime by 150% in England and Wales following the Brexit vote. Choose taking the people of our nations to the polls on one of the most important issues of a generation with nothing written down and no plan. Choose ignoring the interests of the people of Scotland … despite the fact we voted overwhelmingly to stay in the EU. Choose the great Brexit power grab, taking back control of straight bananas … Choose the UK turning its back on Europe.”

She later tweeted: “Inspired by #Trainspotting2 – I wanted to highlight that Scotland did not choose #Brexit, it chose life, in the EU.”

Yesterday (February 8), the House of Commons voted in favour of the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) bill by 494 to 122, a majority of 372. It will need to gain approval from the House of Lords before Mrs May can invoke Article 50, which she was promised to do so in April.

After the vote, Lewis announced his resignation as Shadow Business Secretary and then Corbyn tweeted: “Real fight starts now. Over next two years Labour will use every opportunity to ensure Brexit protects jobs, living standards & the economy.”

Oscars 2017: More diversity this time?

After two years, the #OscarsSoWhite controversy is far from over but the good news is that there has been non-white actors and actresses nominated for the four categories in this year’s Academy Awards: Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress.

Denzel Washington received his fifth Best Actor nomination for his role in Fences, in which he also directed and is up for a Best Picture nomination as well. At eight nominations, Washington is now the most nominated African American actor in the Academy Awards.

Ruth Negga has been nominated for Best Actress for her role in Loving. She is the first black European and African actress nominated in a lead acting category.

Mahershala Ali has been nominated for Best Supporting Actor for his role in Moonlight, while Dev Patel is nominated for the same award for his role in Lion. The Best Supporting Actress award has had a notable first in which three black actresses were nominated for the same award: Viola Davis for Fences, Naomie Harris for Moonlight and Octavia Spencer for Hidden Figures.

It is not the first time in which three non-white actress were nominated for the same awards as a similar occurrence happened a decade ago when black actress Jennifer Hudson won the award for her role in Dreamgirls with fellow non-white actresses nominated being Mexican actress Adriana Baranza and Japanese actress Rinko Kikuchi, for their roles in Babel.

Will this happen in future ceremonies? Only time will tell. The 89th Academy Awards will take place on Sunday 26th February on ABC. Comedian and talk show host Jimmy Kimmel will host the ceremony.

Boris Johnson in hot water after Hollande comments

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has caused controversy on Tuesday 17th January, when he warned French president Francois Hollande not to hit the UK with World War Two-style punishment beatings for leaving the European Union, following after Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit plans for the country.

While attending a conference in New Delhi, he said “If Monsieur Hollande wants to administer punishment beatings to anybody who chooses to escape, rather in the manner of some World War 2 movie, then I don’t think that that is the way forward and I don’t think it’s in the interests of our friends and partners.”

His comments was heavily scrutinised by critics as “crass”, “abhorrent” and “wild and inappropriate”. A spokeswoman for May said that he was not comparing Hollande to a Nazi.

She said: “He was making a point. He was in no way suggesting that anyone was a Nazi. There is not a Government policy of not mentioning the war.”

This isn’t the first time that Johnson’s comments have gone under hot water, as during the EU referendum campaign, he compared the EU to those of Adolf Hitler.

A senior spokesperson for the Labour Party said, “We are all aware that the Foreign Secretary has a habit of making wild and inappropriate comments. Talking about World War Two in that context is another one of those and that is not going to be something that is going to improve the climate for this negotiation.”

Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron criticised Johnson’s comments and said that they were an “utterly crass and clueless remark from the man who is supposed to be our chief diplomat”.

Former Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt sent a tweet saying: “Yet more abhorrent & deeply unhelpful comments from Boris Johnson which PM May should condemn.”

The Brexit negotiations for the UK to leave the EU continue.

Auto-Tune or Out of Tune

Ever wondered how the vocals in one of the songs you listen to either on the radio, your phone or your media player can sound a bit robotic or a bit distorted? Or perhaps that it doesn’t sound right or being too off-key?

There’s one thing to call it: Auto-Tune, an audio processor that has been controversially used to alter or falsely improve a singer’s vocal, which can mislead fans. For example, compare “We R Who We R” by Kesha with “I Will Always Love You” by Whitney Houston. Which one is Auto-Tuned and which one is not? The answer is that the former is Auto-Tuned and the latter is not since Auto-Tune didn’t come into usage until 1998 and then into more usage in the late Noughties.

It is basically the technological equivalent to well, backing vocals and this decade’s equivalent of the 2004 Ashlee Simpson miming incident in Saturday Night Live, which itself was the Noughties equivalent of the 1989 Milli Vanilli lip-synching incident in which they had to repeat the hook of their hit song “Girl You Know It’s True” on MTV when the song was jammed.

The truth came out in 1990 that they were not the singers on any song from them, which tarnished their reputation along with the producer of the songs, legendary German producer Frank Farian, who would later rebound with Eurodance group La Bouche and pop trio No Mercy.

I think Auto-Tune is indicative of an inability to sing in key and why do that? I mean why use it to disguise poor vocals or change the pitch of your vocals in order to do what? Become overhyped and popular with the public? Or even worse, face a strong backlash for the effect?

Well popular songs of the past two decades from some of my favourite artists have used this divisive and controversial processor. One of the first songs to use this processor was Cher’s megahit “Believe”. However, unlike the other examples, part of Cher’s vocals in the song that were Auto-Tuned was actually done as an experiment by music producer Mark Taylor. In fact, part of the then-new processor in the song is what led to it becoming one of the best-selling singles of 1998-99 and spawned a new category of music: Electronic-tinged pop. I wonder what if the Auto-Tune effect wasn’t used at all, would “Believe” still be a megahit?

Time magazine called Auto-Tune “one of the 50 worst inventions”. The very same magazine whose journalist Josh Tyrangiel unfavourably compared it to Photoshop, while Daily Telegraph music critic Neil McCormick called the processor “a particularly sinister invention that has been putting extra shine on pop vocals since the 1990s” and legendary producer Rick Rubin said this “Right now, if you listen to pop, everything is in perfect pitch, perfect time and perfect tune. That’s how ubiquitous Auto-Tune is.”

Auto-Tune can be used for a good reason like Kanye West did for his fourth album 808s and Heartbreak, which was a complete departure from his usual hip-hop sound as he did it for a dramatic effect following the death of his late mother and T-Pain deliberately uses it to make his vocals sound metallic than to cover up bad singing, but aside from that, it is considered to be overrated, overused and oversaturated. It basically damaged the music charts of this decade. A prime example of this is the first US number-one of this decade was none other than “Tik Tok” by Kesha, which was largely criticised for the overproduced sound, however the first UK number-one of this decade was Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance”, which did not have any Auto-Tune at all, though “Tik Tok” did reach number one in the UK not long after, which comes to show that the British public are more discerning of Auto-Tune than the American public.

Is Auto-Tune a bad thing if it takes over the music charts? Yes. Aside from the loudness war, it’s fine to use the effect if it doesn’t replace the artists’ original authentic sound but it’s not fine to use the effect in order to disguise poor singing. Some artists appreciate the effect, while others don’t, for example Jay Z did a song for his 2009 album The Blueprint 3, called “D.O.A.”, which stands for “Death of Auto-Tune”.

Furthermore, six years ago the seventh season premiere of The X Factor got flack for its usage of Auto-Tune and after realising that, series creator and head judge Simon Cowell ordered a ban on Auto-Tune for future episodes. Heck even The Simpsons episode “New Kids on the Blecch” poked fun of the effect (at the time called a pitch corrector) when it was used to make up for the total lack of singing talent from Party Posse. The usage of Auto-Tune needs to be reduced because this processing effect is out of tune.

Anti-terror cops guard Lambeth and Wandsworth

The City of London Police has implemented anti-terror cops to guard the areas of Lambeth and Wandsworth in an attempt to combat against terrorism and criminals.

Operation Servator is a project which involves new tactics and cutting edge techniques for police officers in order to combat against terrorist acts and criminal behavior. It also increases the opportunity for the public interacting with the police.

The operation was launched on February 2014, but wasn’t officially implemented until today. The reason why Operation Servator has been implemented is to protect the city of London and to provide reassurance to the general public, while making would-be criminals and terrorists easy to detect by cops.

Posters for the operation will be displayed on shop windows with the slogan “Together, We Got It Covered” in order to explain the public about the operation and their tactics, while police officers may visit businesses and community centres during deployments to inform and reassure staff. Members of the public should report any crime immediately by calling 101 or 999 if an immediate response is required.