Media Watch 30/1/15

By Rowan Williams

In Egypt, at least 26 people, mostly soldiers, have been killed in a series of attacks by Islamist militants near the Sinai peninsula. Attacks were carried out on police offices, a military base, and a military hotel, with the group behind the attacks, Sinai Province, known to have pledged allegiance to Islamic extremist group Islamic State. The well-coordinated attacks are some of the deadliest anti-government violence in months. Islamist attacks have grown in intensity after the ousting of Islamist President Morsi in 2013, with the northern Sinai region placed under a state of emergency in October 2014 when an attack on a checkpoint killed dozens of soldiers. Sinai Province has called upon Egyptians to rebel against the government. Tensions in Egypt continue to run high as rallies are held this week to mark the anniversary of the 2011 uprising against then-President Hosni Mubarak.

Government proposals to shorten doctor training times could seriously compromise patient care, leading medical groups have warned. The British Medical Association (BMA) have criticised the plans that could reduce the time it takes to become a consultant by up to two years. The proposals were made following an independent report in 2013 that made recommendations for changing consultant training. The BMA warned that under the proposals, new doctors would not be able to achieve the same level of expertise as doctors at present. The Department of Health has said that changes would not be made unless they were in the best interest of patients. Fears for patients were also highlighted today after hospitals that provide 75 percent of all NHS services rejected £1.7 billion worth of budget cuts, claiming the cuts would risk the safety of patients.

China overtook the United States to become the top destination for foreign direct investment (FDI) for the first time in 2014, a United Nations economics thinkthank has reported. China’s FDI stood at US$128 billion in 2014, while the US’ FDI fell by two-thirds to US$86 billion. The United States’ fall in FDI has been attributed to a deal between firms Verizon and Vodafone, which involved a share buyback reversing US$130 billion of foreign investment. While economists have predicted a rebound in the US figures for 2015, targets for FDI in China have shifted away from manufacturing towards the service sector. This, accompanied by the fact that China drafted a law liberalising FDI in China, suggests that China’s FDI levels will continue to grow through 2015.

The Papers

Stories related to religion make a few headlines today, with a mix elsewhere. The Times leads with news of a large increase in the “religious slaughter of animals”, after Muslim campaigners rejected the use of stunning. The number of sheep and goats killed without stunning has risen by 60 percent, according to the British Veterinary Association. The Daily Telegraph leads with calls from the Church of England for parliament to not rush through a “three-parent baby law”. The technique that would give a child three parents involves mitochondrial DNA transfer, and has been promoted as a way of tackling various inherited genetic conditions. The Guardian leads with news of “The great wages crash”, reporting that Britons are “taking home less in real terms” than they were in 2001. Men and young people have been hit hardest by the “wage squeeze” that followed the financial crisis. The Financial Times reports that oil conglomerates Royal Dutch Shell and ConocoPhillips have “slashed” billions worth of investment projects due to low demand. The CEO of Royal Dutch Shell, Ben van Beurden, expects a “price rebound”, the paper writes. The Independent writes in its headline that a “Hard line on immigration could cost Tories election”, after a study showed that “migrants could swing vote in up to 70 constituencies”. The Conservatives have been “urged to embrace” foreign-born voters to earn votes, the paper reports.

British Media on China

On China’s birth rates: despite a relaxation of China’s one-child policy, few couples have opted to have a second child in Shanghai, prompting coverage from The Guardian and The Daily Telegraph. The Guardian carries an agency piece which reports that just 5 percent of eligible women are taking advantage of the policy’s relaxation. Officials in Shanghai are “now telling young couples: please have more children”, the piece states. The Daily Telegraph writes that Shanghai’s birth rate “is among the lowest in the world”, and claims that the Shanghai government is “anxious” to increase the city’s birth rate “to counter the mounting cost of demographic imbalances”.

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