December News Headline Review
Our News Review Editor Hettie Reed shares her breakdown of the top December headlines
The US is on the up!
This month has proven to be particularly fruitful for the US, economic wise. The world’s largest economy expanded by 3.9pc during the third quarter due to increased spending from businesses and consumers. Not only has this proved the US economy to be far stronger than predicted but also with the previous quarter marking a 4.6pc growth rate this has been the strongest 6-month period for the US in more than a decade.
What does this mean for the US and the global economy? Well, with the dampening disarray of the global economy, this news demonstrates the US as a glimmer of hope for our fiscal future. With Japan moving back into recession and the growth of China and Europe grinding to a halt the superpower is evidently clawing back its economic status. Moreover, this 6-month stint of economic growth has led to predictions that the short-term interest rate level will be on the rise by mid-2015.
Google dabble in ad-free Internet
Ads are popping up all over the internet and are often the source of many users frustration. With the heavy price tags attached to online advertising it is no wonder that the internet is largely funded by advertising. However, Google have been experimenting with ways to change the status quo. The introduction of Contributor is an attempt to directly support the people who create the sites that we visit. With this new approach users will pay a monthly fee in order to access a number of ad-free sites and a portion of that fee will go to Google and the other portion to the website.
This seems like an ingenious idea to combat the woes of advertising and a handful of websites have already signed up including WikiHow, Mashable and Imgur. However, it is perhaps worth questioning the viability and longevity of Contributor as a similar service called Readability was previously initiated but was shut down in 2012. Essentially, the majority of internet users are irritated by online advertising, but are they really prepared to pay for the privilege of ad-free internet?
Poverty problems predicted for the young and employed
A recent report compiled for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation has outlined that there has been a significant surge in pensioner poverty during the last few years. This same report, constructed by the New Policy Institute has also outlined that there has been a growth in the number of under 25s who are suffering from poverty conditions.
Whilst admittedly, poverty levels are at their lowest since the 1980s the increasing amount of zero-hour contracts and low-paid employment has meant that around two-thirds of people who are in work are paid less than the living wage. Salaries have dropped for both men and women and the average self-employed person earns 13% less than they did five years ago. This has led Julia Unvin, Chief Executive of the JRF to outline that ‘a comprehensive strategy is needed to tackle poverty in the UK.’
Immigration target is unlikely to be met
Home Secretary, Theresa May has indicated that the UK is unlikely to meet its target for reducing immigration. May has blamed EU migration for blowing the Tories off course from cutting net migration to the tens of thousands before the next election. In the Home Secretary’s opinion Britain’s strengthening economy has played a significant role in the increasing numbers of people coming over to the UK from across Europe. With the ever-increasing challenge to satisfy the Eurosceptic Tory MPs, this news will inevitably open up many more challenges for Cameron and the coalition.
Nuclear talks with Iran have been extended to the end of June
The US, UK, Russia, China, France and Germany have been negotiating with Iran to finalise a preliminary deal which was agreed upon last year in Geneva. The six countries have now agreed to an extension of their discussions, as there were still significant points of disagreement. The intention of these talks is to convince Iran to curb its nuclear programme in return for the lifting of sanctions.
Whilst under the terms of international treaties it is legal for countries to develop nuclear energy, the International Atomic Energy Agency does not believe Tehran to be complying with this permitted nuclear activity. The countries will meet again in December and extent their agreement deadline until 1 March 2015.
O2 is on the cards for BT
It has been revealed that Telecoms giant BT is in preliminary talks with Telefonica about buying the O2 mobile network from the Spanish firm. This has raised interest particularly due to the irony surrounding this that BT would effectively be buying back a business that they had previously owned. Back in 2005 Telefonica acquired O2 for £17.7bn. However, it is currently only valued at around £9-9.6bn.
Whilst this acquisition is still in very early stages should it come to fruition we would see the creation of a communications giant covering fixed-line phone, broadband, mobile and TV. Currently, BT has about a third of the home broadband market and research has suggested that customers increasingly want to buy their fixed-line and mobile services from one company. Thus, the acquisition of a mobile provider could be highly profitable for the Telecoms giant. Furthermore, it has been reported that EE is also looking for a UK buy-out. With EE holding 33.8% of the UK mobile market as opposed to O2’s 26.2% this places BT firmly in the driving seat of any potential acquisition.
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