POKEMON GO ATTEMPTS TO REVIVE INTEREST

It is not unknown that Pokémon Go’s popularity has weakened since its launch in July when it beat all download records. However, it seems like the global madness over Pokémon Go subsided as the downloads plunged and knocked the app down from the top of app charts. Niantic now seeks to restore interest of its enormous player base by releasing its first major update. The main updates released on Monday by US firm Niantic include two new touches to the game. The first is addition of new Pokémon characters, Togepi and Pichu, which were originally featured in Pokémon’s second-generation Gold and Silver titles. The second update includes the release of limited edition festive Pikachu wearing Father Christmas hats, which can be captured until 29th December.  Niantic said more Pokémon would be added over the next few months, but there was no mention of the ability to trade characters nor was there the introduction of multi-player battles desired by many gamers. The new update will be released almost at the same time as Nintendo’s own Super Mario game, which is coming out on iPhone on Thursday, meaning these two will definitely compete for attention over the next few weeks.

VENEZUELA REMOVES THE HIGHEST-VALUE BANKNOTE TO BATTLE MAFIA

Due to a problem of gangs in Venezuela which are hoarding the banknotes, the Venezuelan government has announced it will pull the country’s highest denomination banknote from circulation within 72 hours. President Nicolas Maduro said that this move was necessary to combat contraband which is happening on the Colombian border. He said the gangs held more than 300bn bolivars worth of currency, most of it in 100-bolivar notes. President Maduro said there were “entire warehouses full of 100-bolivar notes in the Colombian cities of Cucuta, Cartagena, Maicao and Buaramanga”. Official Central bank figures show there are more than six billion 100-bolivar notes in circulation, which is making up almost half of all currency, and making it less worth. On Sunday a 100-bolivar banknote was stated to be worth about two US cents on the black market. With the plan to block the 100-bolivar notes from being taken back into the country, Venezuelans will have 10 days to exchange the notes for coins and new, higher-value bills.

HOW MUCH THE WORLD SPENT ON ARMS THIS YEAR

Jane’s Defense Budgets report found that outlays on weapons, equipment rose to a global total of 1.57 trillion dollars. The reason for a return of a steady growth in worldwide defense spending is an increased fear about global stability and the rise of new military powers. “Defense spending returned to a healthy rate of growth in 2016, kicking off what we expect to be a decade of stronger global defense spending,” said Fenella McGerty, principal analyst at Jane’s. “It should recover to pre-financial crisis levels by 2018.” The world’s biggest spender on defense was, once again, the US with an outlay of 622 billion dollars, while China found itself at the second place third time in a row with only 1 percent below the US. The UK held its third place spot at 53.8 billion dollars, which is 0.5 percent higher than last year. However, the fastest rates of growth were in the Baltic states. Jane’s data showed that Russia’s rested military is driving the change since the Ukraine crisis, and that defense investment in the region has doubled and will double again in the next two years. Ms McGerty added: “The profile of defense spending in the Baltics has changed dramatically in the past two years. In 2005, the region’s total defense spending came to $930m in real terms. By 2014, this had grown marginally to $981m but by 2016, it had soared to $1.45bn.”

CHRISTMAS SHOPPERS PREFER SUPERMARKET PREMIUM LABLES OVER BRANDED FOOD

After the Brexit vote, British shoppers haven’t been distracted by the 15 percent slump in the pound’s value. In fact, inflation hasn’t affected the average shopping basket with groceries 0.1 percent cheaper than a year ago. Total sales for the Kantar Worldpanel grew by 0.7 percent in the last twelve weeks, mostly thanks to the growth of sales in supermarket premium labels in run-up to Christmas. Shoppers are massively ditching famous brands for supermarkets’ own premium lables such as Morrisons’ “The Best” and Asda’s “Extra Special” which experienced growth of 35 percent and 15 percent. On the other hand, branded products experienced a decline of 1.1 percent which was enough to slow down supermarket growth. A Morrisons spokesperson said: “We introduced ‘The Best’ because customers told us they wanted premium products to complement their everyday shopping. Our ‘Best’ Meal Deal – where customers can buy a main course for two, side, dessert and bottle of wine or soft drink all for £10 – has proven very popular.”

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