Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Australia goes 25 years without recession; Somalia drought threatens half the nation; YouTube TV to take on cable networks

1 Australia goes 25 years without recession (BBC) Australia's economy has jumped sharply in the last quarter of 2016, allowing the resource-rich economy to mark 25 years without recession. It brings the country close to breaking the Netherlands' record of modern-era uninterrupted economic growth.

Australia's economy had contracted in the third quarter but the surprise rebound pulled annual figures back to a 2.4% growth rate. Australia has not seen a recession - defined as two consecutive quarters of negative growth - since 1991.

It is now just one quarter short of the Dutch record set between 1982 and 2008. Estimates by the country's central bank see growth picking up to around 3% for 2017 thanks to the recovering commodity prices.

2 Somalia drought threatens half the nation (San Francisco Chronicle) Somalia's new president has declared a national disaster for a drought that threatens millions of people and is creating fears of a full-blown famine. President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed has appealed for help from the international community and Somalia's diaspora of 2 million.

Combating the drought is a priority for Mohamed, who was elected this month to lead this fragile Horn of Africa nation also coping with attacks by the Islamic extremist group al-Shabab. The United Nations humanitarian office estimates that 5 million people in Somalia, or nearly half the country's population, need aid.

About 363,000 acutely malnourished children "need urgent treatment and nutrition support, including 71,000 who are severely malnourished," says the US Agency for International Development's Famine Early Warning Systems Network.

Thousands have been streaming into Somalia's capital, Mogadishu, in search of food aid, overwhelming local and international aid agencies. Over 7,000 internally displaced people checked into one feeding center recently.

Somalia was one of four regions singled out by the UN secretary-general this month in a $4.4 billion aid appeal to avert catastrophic hunger and famine, along with northeast Nigeria, South Sudan and Yemen. All are connected by a thread of violent conflict, the UN chief said.

3 YouTube TV to take on cable networks (Gulf News) YouTube has unveiled a streaming television service offering bundles of live channels, in a direct challenge by the Google-owned network to traditional cable and pay TV.

YouTube TV was tailored for younger generations seeking news, films and more programs without subscribing to cable or satellite service, according to YouTube chief executive Susan Wojcicki.

The new service will allow subscribers in US markets to get access on any connected device to networks such as ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC, along with “sports networks and dozens of popular cable networks,” according to YouTube.

Set to launch in the coming months, YouTube TV will cost $35 monthly, with six user accounts allowed per subscriber, positioning itself to compete against so-called “skinny bundles” from Dish Network’s Sling TV and AT&T’s DirecTV Now.

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