News in Scotland - Friday

horse-lasagne.jpg
A Findus beef lasagne test by the Food Standards Agency found
that it was as much as 100% horsemeat

Scottish News: News in Scotland - Friday 

SCOTLAND

Scottish independence: Swinney forecasts low taxes post-independence
Scotland's Finance Minister John Swinney does not forecast rises in personal taxes post-independence he told BBC Radio Scotland listeners yesterday. Despite parties not usually being asked to forecast tax policies until the launch of a manifesto just before an election, SNP ministers are continually asked to predict taxation policies in an independent Scotland. Under unrelenting pressure Mr Swinney has attempted to quell the demands by forecasting a general taxation climate after independence.

Ministers plan changes to debt arrangement scheme
The Scottish government has announced plans to alter its debt management scheme to help Scots struggling with their finances. Ministers said changes to the Debt Arrangement Scheme (Das) would freeze interest and charges at an earlier stage. Das helps people pay off their debts over an extended period while giving them protection from creditors. The changes are expected to come into force before the summer.

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Free tram travel for the elderly
Pensioners and disabled travellers are to benefit from free use of the Edinburgh Trams network once up and running. Ministers have approved the extension of concessionary travel for over-60s on the route, but said city taxpayers must fund the provision. At present the government hands a subsidy to bus companies to fund concessionary bus travel, set at just 67p per ticket, and there had been an assumption by tram chiefs that the tram network would also be included.

Date set for ban on cigarette displays
The ban on displaying cigarettes and vending machine sales of cigarettes will be introduced on 29 April, the Scottish government revealed yesterday. Large shops will be prohibited from openly displaying tobacco products and vending machine sales will be outlawed from that date. The move follows the defeat of a legal challenge launched last December by one of the world’s biggest tobacco firms, Imperial Tobacco. A wider ban will come into force for smaller retailers on 6 April, 2015.

INTERNATIONAL

Beef tests ordered as horsemeat found in Findus lasagne
The Food Standards Agency (FSA) chief describes the situation as 'appalling' and claimed it may be a criminal act rather than contamination. The FSA has ordered all UK firms to test processed beef products after the analysis of Findus lasagne showed the meat was 100 percent horsemeat. Some economists argue that as UK food inflation climbs rapidly so food companies are desperately trying to find cheaper ingredients to keep prices market competitive.

UK crisis: warnings of high inflation and weak economy from BoE
The Bank of England has signalled concern over inflation the overall UK economy. The bank's monetary policy committee (MPC) has warned of high inflation and that the UK's economic outlook was "weighted to the downside". The MPC has left interest rates at 0.5 percent meaning that as inflation is much higher depositors lose money by saving. The worry with this policy is that as companies are not incentivised to save so they do not build capital to invest in the next generation of products, systems and services resulting in rapid manufacturing decline and a weaker currency as exports are damaged.

UK crisis: manufacturing decline deepens
The UK's manufacturing output declined in December compared to 2011 according to the Office of National Statistics (ONS). Economists point to the UK's small manufacturing base as the key to the UK's sharp economic decline and the reason for the sharp devaluation of sterling as Briton's buy much more from abroad than they sell. ONS figures also showed the UK's combined deficit of goods and services trade with the rest of the world was £3.2bn in December.

Near impact: asteroid to narrowly miss Earth
An asteroid is to come within spitting distance of Earth next week, in what NASA said is the closest flyby ever predicted for an object this large. The 2012 DA14, discovered by chance by astronomers after passing nearby last February, will be just around 17,200 miles (27,700 kilometers) above Earth's surface when it speeds by, the US Space Agency said. This is outside the Earth's atmosphere, but closer than the orbit of most weather and communications satellites. However, despite the close shave, NASA said there was no need to be alarmed.

Clinton and Pentagon backed rebel arms
A proposal to arm Syrian rebels was backed by the Pentagon, the State Department and the Central Intelligence Agency, but the White House decided not to act on the plan. Defence Secretary Leon Panetta and Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, revealed publicly at a Senate hearing on Thursday that they supported the proposal last year by senior officials. But officials have said John Brennan, Mr Obama's longtime counterterrorism chief and nominee to succeed Mr. Petraeus as CIA director could instead embrace greater covert action in Syria.

US Justice Dept, states weigh action against Moody's
The U.S. Justice Department and multiple states are discussing suing Moody's Corp for defrauding investors, but such a move will likely wait until a similar lawsuit against rival Standard and Poor’s is tested in the courts and a new precedent set. The US Justice Department filed a $5bn lawsuit against S&P late on Monday, causing speculation that the evidence is stronger than that against Moody’s, increasing the likelihood of the case getting past initial hearings. The lawsuits contend that the firms inflated ratings whilst understating risks as the housing bubble started to burst, in order to gain more business. Framing the cases in this manner avoids attacking individual ratings, which have largely been shielded under free speech protections. Instead, the focus is on proving that just one statement S&P made was false - that its ratings were objective. AAA ratings attributed to sub-prime mortgages misled investors on a global scale calling into question the AAA ratings for nations such as the UK.

Escalating trade dispute, Russia bans US turkey products
Russia will ban US turkey products over concerns about the controversial animal drug ractopamine, the country’s Veterinary and Phyto-Sanitary Surveillance Service (VPSS) announced this week. The news comes a few days after Russia announced it will block US beef and pork as of Feb 11 due to a lack of compliance to its zero-tolerance policy for ractopamine residues in meat and poultry products. “Pigs suffered from hyperactivity, trembling, broken limbs, inability to walk and death”, according to FDA reports on ractopamine released under a Freedom of Information Act request.

Protesters hold up hearing for Obama's CIA director nominee
The US Senate Intelligence Committee briefly postponed the confirmation hearing for CIA director nominee John Brennan after demonstrators disrupted the proceedings. The protesters, who were eventually led out of the hearing, oppose President Barack Obama’s choice for CIA director. Brennan was originally blocked as Obama's pick for CIA chief in 2009 due his alleged support for torture as counterterrorism advisor. He is instrumental in Obama’s overseas drone wars.

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published this page in News 2013-02-08 11:17:38 +0000