IMF Raises UK Growth Forecast
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) upgraded the UK’s growth forecast on Tuesday, six months after it had downgraded its expectations for the country’s performance. The UK’s economy is now expected to grow by more than any other major economy, but the organisation warns that output levels in the country are still years away from their potential. “In the United Kingdom, recent data have shown welcome signs of an improving economy, consistent with increasing consumer and business confidence, but output remains well below its pre-crisis peak”, it said. “Growth is expected to be about 1.5 percent in 2013 and 2 percent in 2014, slowly returning to trend in the medium term, but output levels will remain below potential for many years”. The estimates were contained in the Fund’s World Economic Outlook. Shadow chancellor Ed Balls welcomed the news, but said that the government was complacent. “After three wasted years of flatlining it’s good that we finally have some growth. But this is the slowest recovery for 100 years and working people are worse off as prices continue rising faster than wages”, he said.
EDL Leader Quits Organisation Over ‘Dangers of Far-Right Extremism
Far-right English Defence League leader Tommy Robinson and co-leader Kevin Carroll have decided to leave the movement, citing concerns over the “dangers of far-right extremism”. “I have been considering this move for a long time because I recognise that, though street demonstrations have brought us to this point, they are no longer productive. I acknowledge the dangers of far-right extremism and the ongoing need to counter Islamist ideology not with violence but with better, democratic ideas”, said Robinson during an interview on BBC Radio 5 Live. Their decision to quit the EDL comes after discussions with the Quilliam group, which describes itself as an “anti-extremism think tank”. “I cannot take Tommy Robinson or Kevin Carroll’s announcement seriously until they reject their fascist views on Islam and Muslims and would caution other organisations celebrating this announcement as a massive personal achievement”, said Mohammed Shafiq, chief executive of the Ramadhan Foundation, a Muslim youth foundation.
N.Korea Warns of ‘Horrible Disaster’ Ahead of US Naval Drills in Sea of Japan
North Korea said on Tuesday its military was on high alert and ready to launch operations in response to a joint US, South Korea and Japan naval drill in the Sea of Japan. “This clearly proves that the remarks of such high-ranking officials of the US Obama administration as the secretary of state that the US neither pursues a hostile policy towards the DPRK nor has the will to attack it are sheer lies”, said a statement released by the country’s official Korean Central News Agency. It also said that the US would be fully responsible for the “horrible disaster” that would result from a nuclear exchange. “We’ve seen this type of rhetoric from North Korea before. Such comments from North Korea will do nothing to end its isolation or reduce the costs it pays for defying the international community”, said US State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki. South Korean Defence Minister Kim Kwan-jin said the country’s forces had not noticed any unusual activity by their neighbour’s military.
English Youth Worse at English and Maths Than ‘Every Other Nation’
England has achieved the lowest score among the industrialised world in young adult literacy and numeracy tests. Research led by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) also found that basic skill levels had effectively worsened in the last 40 years, with recent school leavers achieving worse results than their parents or grandparents. “In fact, England is the only country where the oldest age group has higher proficiency in both literacy and numeracy than the youngest age group after other factors, such as gender, socio-economic backgrounds and type occupations, are taken into account”, says a report released by the organisation. The current coalition government placed the blame squarely on the opposition, saying these were “Labour’s children”. “This shocking report show England has some of the least literate and numerate young adults in the developed world, educated under a Labour government and force-fed a diet of dumbing down and low expectations. We are fixing the problem with a more rigorous curriculum, better teaching, higher standards and tougher discipline”, said Skills Minister Matthew Hancock.