New data recently released has shown that cod stocks in the North Sea are now bouncing back from their historical lows due to overfishing in the 1980s and 90s. In 2006, stringent regulations were imposed by the industry to help cod stocks recover. Since then there has been a steady recovery. Today, they are approaching the level of maximum sustainability yield, which is the measurement widely accepted as the gold standard of responsible fishing.
Today let’s talk about fracking. It’s a subject that is constantly in the news. However, what is fracking? Well, fracking or hydraulic fracturing is the process of drilling and injecting fluid into the ground at a high pressure in order to fracture shale rocks to release the natural gas inside.
The process involves using a lot of water that at the fracking site is mixed with up to 600 different chemicals; including lead, uranium, and mercury. The fracking fluid is then pressure injected into the ground through a drilled pipe. When this mixture reaches the end of the well it causes the nearby shale rock to crack, creating fissures where natural gas flows into the well.
In the Central European country of Slovakia, a mobile phone banking revolution is taking place. Thousands of people are now regularly making payments using their mobile phone. It’s all down to new technology that several Slovakian banks have introduced.
The system being used in Slovakia is called Near Field Communication (NFC) technology. This offers users a user-friendly solution to the mobile payment hang-up, but it requires coordination between banks and mobile operators, as well as infrastructure in shops. Slovakia is considered the European leader in adopting innovative solutions.
Category: Economic / Banks / Business
Want a mortgage in Britain? If you apply for one now you are likely to be asked some new bizarre questions! This is because the UK property market is overheating. There is a ‘super bubble’ in the London area.
The tsunami like effect is rippling outwards, right across the South East of Britain. Its effect is pushing property prices up. London has seen prices increase in the last year by approximately 17%. Year-on-year prices rose across the UK by an average of 8%. Prices are expected to increase another 10%.
Category: Economic / House Prices / Mortgages
Today let’s talk about cars. It’s a topic we all like to discuss with our friends - so why not in an English lesson? Car sales statistics for April 2012 have recently been published so I thought it a good idea to compare the UK and USA figures. The UK figures do, I believe, represent the number of vehicles registered in April rather than those actually sold.
Category: Cars / Car Sales / Top Ten
In today’s world is an internship simply a degree in slavery? That’s the question Britain’s Daily Mail discussed recently. It said it is the employment scandal of our age. Highly educated graduates working for nothing as interns in supposedly glamorous jobs.
The paper names the people who are exploiting them – Britains MPs, celebrities, publishers and even charities. Certainly, it is an interesting question whether or not an internship is a degree in slavery? The paper says the graduates of the cream of a generation are now skivvies. It mentions tales of bullying, humiliation and says abuse abounds.
It makes you ask why do people work for nothing, when at the end of the day they probably won’t get a job out of it. Certainly, employers are still taking full advantage of employing interns for free. Graduates though are desperate for experience and want something good to put on their CVs in order to secure possible future work.
Category: Education / Interns / Students
Russia has begun to cut off gas supplies to its neighbour Belarus. On Monday it cut gas supplies by 15% amid claims Belarus owes ₤135m (US$200m) in unpaid bills. On Tuesday it cut the gas supply by another 15%. This follows Russian President Dmitry Medvedev’s order on Monday to Russian gas monopoly Gazprom to cut supplies from Monday.
Russia has said the cuts will rise day by day to 85% if Belarus does not start paying off its debts, accrued when it failed to pay increased prices. This has raised fears in European countries in that deliveries to Europe might again be disrupted. Relations between Russia and Belarus have soured since they failed to agree on unified customs rules and Belarus gave refuge to ousted Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev.
Russia supplies a quarter of Europe’s gas needs. It uses Belarus, which borders European Union member Poland, as one of the key transit routes for oil and gas to the continent. Previous pricing disputes with Minsk led to oil supply cuts, with Poland, Lithuania and Germany being affected most. A similar standoff with Kiev halted Russian gas supplies across Ukraine for two weeks in January 2009. This left many Europeans without heating and fuel during a harsh winter.
Category: Energy / Belarus, Russia / Gas
There’s been trouble in Athens just recently. A Greek crisis of monstrous proportions that if not capped could bring down other economies in Europe. Greece, virtually bankrupt, has been brought to its knees in the last few weeks with turbulent unrest and civil strife in the Greek capital. There have been national strikes. Worse, demonstrations turned into riots with vigilantes’ attacking banks and other civil buildings, setting them on fire; horrendously killing three bank workers in the process.
The Greek Prime Minister was desperate to stave off bankruptcy for his country; his parliament forced to beg and accept financial help from the European Union. If not them it would have been the IMF but the EU hierarchy is against outside ‘foreign’ help unless absolutely necessary. Instead, it has come up with its own aid package.
The EU is lending Greece €110bn, a colossal amount of euros, in order to prevent Greece from going bankrupt. By doing this it is sending a stern message to the money market speculators to back off Greece and let it function properly.
A massive oil slick in the Gulf of Mexico has now hit several US state coastlines. The slick has been caused by a leaking oil pipeline. It follows a huge explosion aboard the BP (British Petroleum) operated Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico.
The rig sank on April 22, two days after a huge explosion that killed 11 workers. US President Barack Obama has flown down to see for himself exactly how bad the spill is and to meet the boss of BP. The US President puts the blame firmly on the shoulders of BP who he says will be held personally responsible.
Choppy seas and strong winds have so far hampered the clean-up operation. BP has been severely criticised for under estimating the scale of the crisis. The sheer size of the oil spill threatens the very way of life for people all along the shorelines of Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi and Florida. The US state of Louisiana has been hit the hardest, which itself is still battling to recover after hurricane Katrina hit the area in 2005.
Baked beans lovers in Germany and Austria recently kicked up a bit of a fuss after it emerged that tins of the famous Heinz variety contained fewer beans than cans sold in Britain. European fans of the famous Heinz product have been angered after it emerged in an Austrian newspaper that the British variety are superior to its European counterpart. In fact, tins in Austria and Germany were found to have a less tasty sauce and a more watery taste than their British equivalent. Heinz that for decades has used the famous slogan ‘Beanz Meanz Heinz’ has been under attack from fans following the Austrian Times comparative study.