Sans education, weavers hang by thread in Varanasi

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The future of weavers’ community in Varanasi continues to remain in the dark in the absence of education, which is a must to bring about a positive change in their lives.

Members of the community have their suggestions and questions ready for candidates when they visit their constituencies to seek support. Weavers play a key role in three assembly constituencies in Varanasi district.

Karimuddin, 20, left his education midway about nine years ago and started weaving sarees on a handloom, using the skills he learnt from his father Sharifuddin.

For the last nine years, he has been waking up to weaving every morning and working tirelessly on handloom for about 18 hours a day in weaver-dominated Jalalipura area of Varanasi North Assembly constituency.

The story of Dharmendra Prajapati, 32, is no different. He attended school up to Class 8 and then took up weaving.

Karimuddin and Prajapati own handlooms and both are unhappy with their meagre earnings. They now feel if they had completed their education, they might have been earning well by taking up some other job.

They blame their poor financial condition and the government for lack of education among weavers.

According to them, freebies and welfare schemes like artisan cards do not provide a permanent solution to their problems.

“Political parties make tall claims about taking concrete steps to change the lives of weavers but forget their promises once the elections are over. We have realised that welfare schemes are not permanent solution to our problems. Ironically, no political party talks of education among weavers,” Prajapati said.

Read more: Chikankari business hit, weavers blame it on demonetisation

Prajapati and Karimuddin have decided to ask the politicians to assure to them that they would formulate a policy for the education of the children of weavers. They want separate schools dedicated to the children of weavers where they can get special facilities.

Another weaver, Bilal Ansari, said: “Weavers don’t get benefit of various government schemes like MUDRA loan and weavers insurance due to lack of awareness and education. Educated weavers take advantage of these schemes easily.”

Haji Okas Ansari ‘Wakas’, who works for the cause of the weavers, raised the issue of lack of education in weavers’ community. “Every weaver-dominated area in the state should have at least a college for the children of weavers,” Ansari said.

He said a drive should be launched to make the members of the community aware about the importance of education. Ansari’s brothers are, however, well off. One of them is a doctor while the other is in judicial services.

Another weaver, Anil Prajapati, said youngsters were drifting away from this occupation. “A policy is required to fix respectable daily wage for weavers and their skill needs to be honoured. As of now, the benefit of schemes reaches only a few. Weavers belong to economically weaker sections who need to be identified and provided benefits on priority basis,” he said.

“Demonetisation has affected the earnings of weavers heavily and there are no takers for the sarees they weave. This is going to be a crucial issue during polls,” Prajapati said.

“MPs, MLAs and regimes change but the plight of weavers remains the same. Past experiences have not been good for the community,” he said.


Justices Face ‘Blizzard of Words’ in Special Education Case

WASHINGTON — In a case that could affect the education of 6.7 million children with disabilities, the Supreme Court on Wednesday struggled to decide whether it should require public schools to do more under a federal law that calls for them to provide a free education that addresses the children’s needs.

Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. said the court was being asked to choose among several finely shaded formulations. “What is frustrating about this case and about this statute is that we have a blizzard of words,” he said.

The court appeared uneasy with a standard used by many appeals courts, which have said that providing a modest educational benefit was enough. But some of the justices indicated that they were concerned about the costs that any changes could impose.

Justice Stephen G. Breyer said that a new standard might also invite costly litigation. “If we suddenly adopt a new standard, all over the country we’ll have judges and lawyers and people interpreting it differently,” he said. “I foresee taking the money that ought to go to the children and spending it on lawsuits and lawyers and all kinds of things that are extraneous.”

Continue reading the main story

The case concerns an autistic boy whose parents, unhappy with his progress at his public school in Colorado, enrolled him in a private school and sought reimbursement for the tuition, currently around $70,000 a year. Under the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act, children with disabilities are entitled to a free public education that addresses their needs.

The lower courts have disagreed about what kind of programs public schools must provide. In the Colorado case, a federal appeals court ruled that a modest benefit to the boy was enough and that no tuition reimbursement was warranted.

Neal K. Katyal, a lawyer for the school district, pointed out that in the first half-hour on Wednesday two lawyers proposed nine different standards. For his part, he said an educational program was sufficient if it provided benefits that were “more than de minimis,” the standard used by the appeals court in the case Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District, No. 15-827.

Several justices expressed concerns about the potential financial burdens on school districts. “Is there any place to discuss the cost that would be incurred for, say, severely disabled students?” Justice Anthony M. Kennedy asked.

Justice Alito also appeared wary. “No matter how expensive it would be and no matter what the impact in, let’s say, a poor school district would be on the general student population, cost can’t be considered?” he asked.

But lawyers for the boy’s parents and for the federal government, which largely supported their position, said that as a general matter the schools must pay whatever the programs cost.

Jeffrey L. Fisher, a lawyer for the parents, said most cases did not require schools to spend very much. “They involve things like providing Braille textbooks, providing an iPad, providing some specialized instruction by a staff member who’s already on staff,” he said.

But he added that “there are going to be some extreme cases.” In those situations, he said, referring to the federal law, “the act does not permit cost to trump what the act otherwise requires.”

Mr. Fisher said public schools should be required “to provide substantially equal educational opportunities” to disabled children, but that proposed standard met resistance.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said the court had tacitly rejected it in a 1982 decision, Board of Education v. Rowley. Justice Elena Kagan said she had “some feeling that the word ‘equality’ is a poor fit for this statute.”

Mr. Fisher proposed an alternative for justices uncomfortable with the word “equal.” He said the court could require “a level of educational services designed to allow the child to progress from grade to grade in the general curriculum.”

Several justices said that standard could not be achieved for students with severe disabilities.

In those cases, said Irv Gornstein, a lawyer for the federal government, the court should use a different standard, one where he said “we have a slight area of disagreement” with the boy’s parents.

“We would say significant progress toward grade-level standards, not as close as possible to grade-level standards,” Mr. Gornstein said.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor asked if the court could substitute “meaningful” for “significant.” Mr. Gornstein responded that the two were synonymous, adding that he would also be content with “appropriate.” But he asked the court to avoid “meaningful” because “it means different things to different courts.”

Justice Kagan responded that whatever standard the court announced might have the same problem. “So we should come up with our own that can then be applied in different ways in different courts?” she asked.

That was the challenge, Justice Alito said. “What everybody seems to be looking for is the word that has just the right nuance,” he said.

[Source:-The New york Time]

Kerala Education Minister meets Jishnu’s parents

Education Minister C. Raveendranath on Thursday morning visited the parents of deceased Jishnu Pranoy at their residence at Valayam in Kozhikode district. He promised that the State would take stern action against the culprits after getting the report from the university.

Jishnu, a first year computer science student of Nehru College of Engineering at Pampady ,Thrissur, was found hanging at the hostel a few days back.

Jishnu’s mother told the minister that her son had been a bright student and that he would never resort to copying in the examinations. “There is a mystery surrounding his death. The college management is responsible for this. All should stand united to get justice for him,” she said, while Jishnu’s father said that he had full faith in the government.

Regarding a suicide note recovered by the police, Jishnu’s mother said he couldn’t it as he was “physically and mentally weak to pen such a letter.”

Mr. Raveendranath told journalists that the government viewed the issue “very seriously.” “It was unfortunate that an incident had taken place. The government would take all necessary steps so that such incidents do not occur in future,” he added.

Meanwhile, the government had taken initial steps in this regard. The APJ Abdul Kalam Technological University, after a preliminary inquiry, has sought for a further probe and now the Crime Branch is investigating the case. It was also decided to appoint a special committee to examine all issues on a long-term basis. An ombudsman has been appointed for grievance redressal for all colleges affiliated to the university.

The Cabinet had on Wednesday sanctioned Rs. 10 lakh to Jishnu’s family.

Meanwhile, 120 colleges affiliated to the Kerala Self Financing Colleges Management Association remain closed on Thursday in protest against the attack on its office by a group of activists belonging to the Kerala Students Union.

[Source:-The Hindu]

Marks & Spencer Rebounds as Clothing Sales Top Estimates

Marks & Spencer Group Plc reported its best clothing sales in more than five years, delivering a confidence boost to the embattled British retailer after a tumultuous year marred by management overhauls, store closures and plunging shares.

Same-store sales in its clothing and home division rose 2.3 percent in the third quarter ended Dec. 31, the London-based retailer said Thursday, beating the median analyst estimate for unchanged sales. The timing of Christmas boosted sales in that business unit by 1.5 percentage points, M&S said. The shares rose as much as 5.7 percent in early London trading.

“Although like-for-likes were flattered by a shift in reporting periods, clothing and home still would have delivered positive growth,” Richard Lim, chief executive officer at Retail Economics, said in a note.

The better-than-expected clothing sales indicate that Marks & Spencer CEO Steve Rowe’s price cuts and efforts to improve availability of popular lines are winning shoppers back. Some of those customers are likely to be coming from rival Next Plc, which reported disappointing Christmas sales, and department-store chain BHS Ltd., which collapsed in June. Rowe expects clothing sales to return to growth in the long term, he said on a conference call, without providing specifics.

Reduced Discounting

The retailer said a reduction in discounting over the holiday period fueled the better-than-expected sales growth, along with improved availability and a more attractive range of styles. Fourth-quarter results will be hurt by the timing of sales and a later Easter holiday, it said.

“In clothing, we are removing a number of promotional events, which will have an impact in the short term but we are focusing on making sure our full-price business is strong,” Rowe said on the call. “In the longer term we will get back to growth.”

Same-store sales in its food division advanced 0.6 percent, beating the estimate for a 0.5 percent decline. Still, Phil Dorrell, a partner at consultants Retail Remedy, said the growth was “soft” in comparison to the “excellent progress” shown by discounters, Wm Morrison Supermarkets and Tesco Plc, which on Thursday posted its strongest quarterly sales growth in more than five years.

Marks & Spencer climbed 3.2 percent to 351.30 pence at 8:25 a.m. in London.


M&S enjoys cracking Christmas as clothing sales rise

Jane McTeer as ‘Mrs Claus’ in the M&S Christmas ad

Marks & Spencer has ended the long-running slump in sales at is clothing arm with its best Christmas performance for six years.

The retailer said like-for-like clothing sales were up by 2.3% in the 13 weeks to 31 December. This time last year clothing sales had slumped by nearly 6%.

The M&S chief executive, Steve Rowe, said “better ranges, better availability and better prices” had helped it improve its performance in a difficult marketplace.

To win back shoppers, Rowe has already cut clothing prices and promised to pay more attention to its most loyal group of shoppers – fiftysomething women he has dubbed “Mrs M&S”. He also slashed the number of promotions run by the store.

M&S’s clothing performance was bolstered by the inclusion of an extra five days in the trading period due to last year’s 53-week financial year and the retailer said without this benefit the like-for-like performance would have been 0.8%. Like-for-like sales at its food arm were up by 0.6% but without the extra days that figure was halved to 0.3%.

“Our food business continues to grow market share with customers recognising our product as special and different,” said Rowe.

The retailer ran a big-budget Christmas ad starring Janet McTeer as a glamorous “Mrs Claus” with a James Bond-style alter ego.

Last week’s dismal figures from Next, which wiped £2bn off retailers’ share prices on the day, fuelled fears that Christmas 2016 was a washout for clothing retailers as Britons cut spending on clothing.

But while the upset at Next capped a long period of financial outperformance, M&S’s progress follows five years of dire figures, with clothing sales down nearly by 6% over the last two Christmases.

[Source:-The Guardian]

M&S beats Christmas sales forecast in clothing and homeware

M&S store

Sales in the division rose 2.3% – well above expectations for about 0.5%.

The figures came on a bumper day for retail results, with trading updates from Tesco, John Lewis, Debenhams and Primark owner ABF.

Marks and Spencer’s chief executive, Steve Rowe, said “better ranges, better availability and better prices” had helped sales to recover.

But growth was helped by the timing of Christmas this year, which meant there were extra shopping days.

Food sales were up by 0.6%. That compares with Tesco’s food sales growth of 1.3%, while Sainsbury’s food sales were down slightly.

‘Super Thursday’ Christmas trading updates

Tesco hails ‘strong progress’ as sales rise

‘Green shoots’

M&S estimated that the timing of Christmas had added about 1.5% to the clothing and home sales growth and about 0.3% to food.

But Mr Rowe warned timing would be against them for the next trading update: “As we look forward, our Q4 [fourth quarter] reported numbers will be adversely affected by sale timing and a later Easter.”

M&S clothes hangersImage copyrightREUTERS

Analysis: Dominic O’Connell, Today programme business presenter

Marks & Spencer has turned out to be this year’s surprise Christmas package.

In a festive season where most of our big retailers did better than expected, M&S stood out, finally shrugging off its clothing sales hoodoo.

Clothing sales have been in decline – and often sharp decline – for the last five years, with the exception of one positive quarter two years ago.

Over Christmas, however, like-for-like sales were up 2.3%, although the company was quick to point out that 1.5% of that was down to how Christmas fell, which meant there were five extra trading days compared to the relevant period a year earlier.

Even so, a 0.8% increase is not to be sneezed at, and is evidence perhaps that the back-to-basics reforms of chief executive Steve Rowe, which include hundreds of job losses at head office and the closure of most of the international stores, is having some effect.

Analysts broadly welcomed the latest results. Bryan Roberts, global insight director at TCC Global, told the BBC: “It might be the sign of some green shoots in that part of the business.”

The improved performance comes after a poor set of figures for Christmas 2015. Then, like-for-like sales in food rose 0.5%, while turnover from its clothing and homeware lines plunged by 5.8% because of “unseasonal conditions and availability”.

On the same day as those figures were announced, M&S said that chief executive Marc Bolland was stepping down and Steve Rowe – then the director of general merchandise division – would replace him.

Mr Rowe has taken action, including cutting prices for nearly a third of the ranges and increasing staff numbers on the shop floors.

In September, Mr Rowe said more than 500 senior jobs would be cut, and, two months later, announced plans in November to close around 30 UK stores and convert 45 more into food-only shops.

The retailer also announced plans to close some of its overseas stores.

John Lewis, Oxford StreetImage copyrightEPA

Among the key trading updates on Thursday, the John Lewis Partnership said like-for-like sales at its department stores had risen 2.7% over Christmas, while its Waitrose supermarket chain chalked up a 2.8% gain.

However, it warned that its staff bonus would be “significantly lower” this year because of the “challenging market outlook”, adding that trading profit was “under pressure”.

John Lewis staff are partners in the company and own the business. Last year, the bonus pool for its 91.500 staff totalled £145m, with an average payout of £1,585.

Supermarket giant Tesco reported a rise in Christmas sales, helped by strong demand for fresh food.

Christmas like-for-like sales grew 0.7% in the UK, and were up by 0.3% across the group as a whole.

Other updates from retailers revealed:

  • Total sales at Primark were up 11%, with like-for-like sales “good”. However, it said like-for-like sales were down in Germany and the Netherlands.
  • Department store chain Debenhams said its UK like-for-like sales were up 1% over Christmas, with online sales up 13.9%.
  • Online fashion retailer ASOS reported strong sales growth, and said it expected full-year sales to be 25% to 30% higher
  • Babycare chain Mothercare said its UK business returned to growth over Christmas, with sales up 1%
  • Sportswear chain JD Sports raised its full-year profit forecast after reporting like-for-like sales growth of “approximately 10%”
  • Supergroup, the firm behind the Superdry clothing label, reported a 10% rise in half-year profits and the Christmas period, with retail revenues over the Christmas period up nearly 15%.


The Chargers’ pending move to L.A. exposes the NFL’s truth when it comes to fans

And then there were two.

The Chargers are going to make the 100-or-so-mile drive north and set up shop in Orange County as the Los Angeles area’s second NFL franchise.

After 20 years without an NFL team, Los Angeles now has two, and frankly, it doesn’t really know what to do with them.

A lot has changed with the NFL over the past two decades, and the people of Los Angeles mirrored that change with the Rams this season. By the fifth home game of the year, the crowd at the L.A. Coliseum (the team’s temporary home) looked like this:

No one went to Rams games in L.A. — so who is going attend a Chargers game in L.A.?

But here’s the sad, dirty truth: It doesn’t matter if anyone goes to the games.

The Rams and Chargers are going to make more money with no one in the stands in Los Angeles than they ever could with full houses in the old stadiums of St. Louis and San Diego.

Sure, Roger Goodell tried to convince San Diego to keep the Chargers; he even gave the team money to help build a new stadium in the city.

There’s no doubt the league wanted the team to remain, but it had to have a new stadium.

They didn’t get it, so the NFL left.

San Diego never said they didn’t want the Chargers, they just said that they didn’t want to pay for a new football stadium.

But in the modern world of sports, there is almost no difference.

Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports
Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports/Orlando Jorge Ramirez

Remember: Roger Goodell’s might call himself the Commissioner of Football — the whole sport — but his bosses are the NFL’s 32 team owners.

The NFL is the most transparent of all the professional sports leagues when it comes to showing their true allegiances — the league has been part of at least half a dozen schemes to get cities and states to build new stadiums.

It’s not because the stadiums really needed upgrades — although some certainly deserved to be condemned — it’s because of the money that a new stadium brings to team owners.

A rising tide lifts all ships, and the Chargers were pulling down the league by being in a mid-level market with an antiquated stadium.

And the windfall of a new stadium is immense — just ask the San Francisco 49ers.

No one showed up for their games in 2016, but it didn’t matter. Someone had paid for every seat in the stadium, and that will continue to be the case until the place crumbles to the ground.

That’s because when the 49ers moved from Candlestick Park, which is actually in the city of San Francisco, to Levi’s Stadium, 40 miles south in the San Jose suburb of Santa Clara, they changed the way they sold tickets.

Every seat in Levi’s Stadium — all 68,500 of them — was treated like a piece of real estate, and the 49ers sold licenses to buy the rights to sit in those seats for games. The one-time cost varied between $2,000 and $80,000.

That’s not the cost of season tickets — that’s just the cost for the right to buy season tickets — and it’s a lifetime contract. The 49ers didn’t invent the practice, but they sure did profit off it.

The seat licenses earned the 49ers $530 million. The team also sold out their full allotment of luxury boxes, worth $400 million.

That’s close to a billion dollar payday, and we’re not even accounting for the increase in corporate sponsorships, parking costs (it adds up), in-stadium revenue, and the estimated $77 million annually from the actual sale of tickets (chump change).

In all, the 49ers were able to pay off their share of their new stadium and massively profit before the team even took the field.

Revenue jumped 160 percent, to $427 million, between 2013, the team’s last year in Candlestick Park, to 2014, the first year in Levi’s Stadium.  The value of the 49ers franchise increased by nearly 70 percent ($1.6 billion to $2.7 billion) year-over-year as well, all because of the new digs.

It was a total coup. The team didn’t even have to leave the Bay Area.

The Chargers stand to make much more than the 49ers did, because of the size of the L.A. market (twice as large as the Bay Area, which also supports two teams) but also because the NFL has made the move so damn easy.

Frankly, the only surprise would have been if the Spanos family decided not to move.

The Chargers won’t have to build their own stadium — the Rams are doing that for them, and the Chargers will pay rent at the new Inglewood complex — and they will get to sell personal seat licenses and luxury boxes, money that will go directly into the team’s pocket.

And make no mistake, people will buy the PSLs and luxury boxes in L.A.

The Chargers are going to make so much money from this move to L.A. they don’t even care about selling tickets for the next two years — they’re likely to play at the StubHub Center, which holds less than 30,000 people. (Though they’ll probably double the price of tickets and call it boutique football.)

The Chargers might have an easier time selling themselves to Los Angeles than the Rams, too — they already have a significant presence in the area.

Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports
Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

More than a quarter of the Chargers’ season ticket holders live in Orange County, which makes the drive to Carson or Inglewood far more palatable on a lovely Sunday morning.

There will be people who drive up from San Diego for games, too.

And then the Chargers will profit on a market that’s five times larger than the one they’re departing, with far greater corporate resources.

The NFL is a massive brand in a region that has 18 million people that all seem to gravitate towards shiny brands.

Even after paying a $550 million relocation fee, and even though the Chargers have to split the pie, those are big league dollar signs, all for a 100-mile move.

After moving to Los Angeles last year, the value of the Rams doubled. They were the 28th most valuable franchise in the NFL — now they’re No. 6.

You can expect the same jump to happen for the Chargers, and that’s good for the NFL as a whole.

The Chargers’ move will also allow the NFL to focus its attention on landing the Raiders a new stadium, whether that be in Oakland, Las Vegas, Mexico City, London, San Antonio, or Boise.

Someone will cough up the cash necessary to house the Raiders, and that franchise’s value will balloon as well.

Another win for the NFL, which could then help the Buffalo Bills threaten to move to Toronto or San Antonio or Shanghai — whatever city will build a new stadium for free and allow the team to keep the billions the new digs will make them.

Build the stadium — it doesn’t matter whether they actually come.

The NFL really doesn’t need people in the stands for anything but optics. Fan money doesn’t add up, corporate dollars do — and with the way the NFL and its teams do business, that corporate cash is going to be rolling in for decades.

So as long as millions of people tune into games every Thursday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, the NFL and its teams will continue to see multi-billion-dollar team values annually increase by an average of 10 percent.

Oh, and if you want to pay $100 to sit and watch just one game for three-and-a-half hours, you can do that too — the NFL certainly isn’t adverse to taking your pocket change. Buy a sweatshirt while you’re at it.

Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports
Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports/Orlando Jorge Ramirez

It’s terrible and gut wrenching that San Diego, a city that has supported and loved the Chargers for 55 years, will no longer have an NFL team to call their own, but Chargers owner Dean Spanos, with a single half-billion dollar move, has made at least $2 billion in profit. The NFL will profit even more, in the long run — it has a game in the largest city on the West Coast for 16 weeks a year.

This was a major win in big business, and good, loyal fans had absolutely nothing to do with it.


Report: Chargers plan to move to Los Angeles, ending 56-year run in San Diego

The San Diego Chargers reportedly will relocate to Los Angeles. (AP)

The Bolts are bolting, it would appear.

According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the San Diego Chargers are planning to announce this week, and as early as Thursday, that they are moving to Los Angeles. The Chargers had been in San Diego since the AFL days starting in 1961, moving from L.A. following the franchise’s inaugural season of 1960.

The report says that Chargers have told NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and other NFL owners of their intent to move for the 2017 season, but Chargers chairman Dean Spanos has yet to send a formal relocation letter to the NFL. Spanos also hasn’t formally informed public officials in either city of the team’s plans, so there’s a chance — albeit remote — that he could change his course last minute.

But given that Spanos and the franchise have been seeking a new stadium for parts of two frustrating decades, all signs strongly point to a move.

Even amid all the talk for more than a year that the team could leave San Diego, the timing is surprising considering that the NFL did not want to have a team relocation occur during the divisional playoff weekend. That’s why the league pushed back the franchise’s deadline to move from this Sunday to next Tuesday, following Monday’s national holiday for Martin Luther King Day.

The NFL owners who make up the league’s stadium and finance committees met in New York City on Wednesday, and it was notable that the Chargers did not attend the meeting, nor did the owners spend much of the 3.5-hour meeting discussing the situation. Most of the time was spent by the committees discussing the Oakland Raiders and their possible move to Las Vegas, which might have indicated that the NFL knew what was coming from Spanos.

Despite the extension that was granted the team apparently will make its intentions known soon. It likely will come prior to San Diego mayor Kevin Faulconer giving his State of the City address Thursday night.

The Chargers’ moves prior to now have suggested the team was preparing to relocate, but there was still hope for a Hail Mary pass to keep the franchise in place. But the Chargers secured a location for a temporary training facility just outside L.A. in Costa Mesa in December, and the city’s 11th-hour pitch to keep the team — a projected $1.2 billion stadium to be built on the current site of Qualcomm Stadium — clearly wasn’t enough. Public funds would have come in the form of $375 million for the deal that apparently will never happen now, and there were no indications that the league planned to increase its pledge over the $300 million it has offered to help bridge the funding gap for a stadium.

So the Chargers return to their roots where the franchise was founded, but it will be crowded there with the Rams having just relocated last year from St. Louis and receiving tepid TV ratings for their first season. Both the Chargers and Rams are coming off losing seasons in which their head coaches were fired, and both jobs remain open.

The NFL had been out of Los Angeles for more than 20 years, but with the Rams and Chargers now there, two teams might be a crowd.


The rise and rise of e-sports in Latin America

The global gaming industry could be worth $100bn (£80bn) by next year.

But these video games aren’t just confined to the bedroom – they are now major sporting events in their own right with “electronic sport” (e-sport) tournaments attracting millions of viewers on television and the internet.

One of the fastest growing regions in the world is Latin America, and in Brazil even the national passion – football – is facing competition from e-sports.


Marks & Spencer, Tesco, Debenhams, Primark and JD Sports lead flurry of Christmas trading news – business live

A Christmas Market at Birmingham’s New Street last month.

Still with the economy, and eurozone industrial production rose more sharply than expected in November.

Output climbed by 1.5% month on month compared to forecasts of a 0.5% increase. Year on year it rose 3.2%, much better than the 1.6% expected.

The October figures were revised upwards, with a 0.1% rise month on month compared to an earlier reported fall of 0.1%. Dennis de Jong, managing director at, said:

After stuttering throughout the summer, industrial production in the eurozone bounced back with a vengeance in November, which will give the ECB serious grounds for confidence at this early stage in 2017.

The outlook remains weighed down by continued political uncertainty, but the recovery in the region is gathering some real momentum. Unemployment is falling, business confidence is up and the weak euro is a real boost for exporters.

Although Mario Draghi and his ECB colleagues are still faced with some very real political threats, the economy is standing up well in the face of adversity.

The ECB is due to announce its latest monetary policy deliberations next Thursday.

Back with the industrial production figures and Howard Archer, economist at IHS Markit, was also positive but warned of an uncertain outlook:

Even allowing for the fact that industrial production has been highly erratic, November’s jump reinforces our belief that Eurozone GDP growth could well have reached 0.5% quarter-on-quarter in the fourth quarter of 2016. This would be up from 0.3% in both the third and second quarters.

It appears that the Eurozone manufacturing sector carried decent momentum into 2017, and they will be helped by the very competitive euro…

Looking ahead, a concern for Eurozone manufacturers will be that mounting uncertainty over the coming months (particularly political) could cause business and consumers to be cautious in their major spending decisions, thereby constraining demand for capital goods and big-ticket consumer durable goods

It is also very possible that purchasing power for Eurozone consumers’ will become less favourable as inflation picks up, thereby weighing down on demand for big-ticket consumer durables.

In particular, an uncertain political environment could be increasingly problematic for Eurozone growth prospects over the coming months, especially given that the UK’s Brexit vote last June and November’s election of Donald Trump as US President fuels concern over potential political shocks. General elections are due 2017 in the Netherlands (in March), France (in April/May) and Germany (in September), while a 2017 election is very possible in Italy following Prime Minister Renzi’s early-December defeat in the referendum on constitutional reform which has led to his resignation.


German economy grows at fastest rate in five years

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