News in Scotland - Monday

fergus-ewing.jpg
Enterprise Minister Fergus Ewing has blasted attempts by Westminster
to distract attention from its postal services privatisation programme

Scottish News: News in Scotland - Monday 

SCOTLAND

'Yes' vote will protect local postal services

The Scottish government has blasted Westminster's austerity-driven cuts in local postal services. Westminster has pre-empted the backlash by releasing a draft paper which claims local postal services could be under threat in an independent Scotland. The paper will heighten concerns that Westminster is interfering in Scotland's independence referendum campaign by having departmental resources diverted to support the anti-independence Better Together campaign's case. Fergus Ewing, the SNP enterprise minister whose remit covers postal services said: “This is just barefaced cheek from a Westminster government in the middle of privatising our cherished postal service and closing a fifth of our Crown Post offices...The reality is that a Yes vote next year is the only way to protect postal services.”

Are UK intelligence services interfering in referendum?

An MSP has reportedly written to the head of the UK's Security Service demanding an assurance that spies are not being deployed to influence the result of the Scottish independence referendum. The pro-independence independent MSP Margo MacDonald sent a letter to MI5 chief Andrew Parker telling him that his staff should be focusing on preventing criminal and terrorist threats instead of channelling resources into domestic political objectives regarding the referendum. Recently former Labour Chancellor Denis Healey admitted that Labour governments which he was part of in the 1970's deliberately underplayed the value of Scotland's oil revenues, and many believe that "dirty tricks" were used then to undermine Scottish self-confidence. Last year the UN opened an office in Edinburgh.

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Scottish author Iain Banks dies at 59

Iain Banks, renowned Scottish author, died on Sunday at the age of 59, just weeks after announcing he had gallbladder cancer and months to live. News of his death came on the day that it emerged his latest novel, The Quarry, would detail the terrible physical and emotional impact of cancer. The fictional book reflects the last few weeks in the life of Guy, a man who is terminally ill with the disease. Born in Fife, Banks studied at Stirling University, taking on a series of jobs before The Wasp Factory was published in 1984, allowing him to write full-time. In total he has produced 29 novels, 14 works of science fiction and 15 mainstream titles. Literary critic Stuart Kelly said: “When they come to write the literary history of the late 20th century and early 21st century, I am sure that Iain’s place in it will be both central and secure”.               

Further claims of economic recovery from Bank of Scotland chief economist

The recovery in the Scottish economy is "becoming more strongly embedded", the Bank of Scotland's chief economist has said. Donald MacRae's comments came as a survey suggested Scottish economic activity grew in May at its fastest pace since April 2011. The report cited stronger domestic demand as the main factor underlying the growth, as new export orders placed with manufacturers fell fractionally on the month. Such claims continue the narrative that the UK is approaching recovery – however with the rise in food banks, recent economic downgrades and heavy criticisms of Osborne's austerity measures - many critics instead argue that the UK economy is in a more serious state of long-term decline.

INTERNATIONAL                                              

Vodafone joins the likes of Google and Starbucks in avoiding UK tax

Vodafone, the world's second largest mobile phone firm, paid no UK corporation tax for a second year running in 2012 – saying that UK network investment and interest payments wiped out corporation tax liabilities for the year to April. However Vodafone's annual report revealed chief executive Vittorio Colao alone, was paid around £11mn in 2012.This will likely inflame the controversy in the UK around corporate taxation, with Google, Starbucks and others being severely criticised for the nominal amounts of corporation tax paid in the UK. Vodafone also owns 45 percent of Verizon Wireless, a highly profitable US mobile network.

UK crisis: Give RBS and Lloyds shares to taxpayers, says think tank

The UK government should hand over the majority of its shareholdings in the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) and Lloyds Group to the general public according to an influential think tank. Think tank Policy Exchange argues that the government should sell a minority of its shares to institutions and distribute the remainder to the public meaning individual citizens could have shares worth up to 1,650 pounds. The last Labour government made the decision to have taxpayers’ bailout the failed institutions and they have since been subsidised through money printing (quantitative easing) which reduces the spending power of the taxpayers income. The financial crisis has thus become an economic crisis while the cause of the 2008 financial crisis still remain, according to many observers.                                              

US security officials allegedly said PRISM leaker should be ‘disappeared’

A US editor has alleged he overheard security officials saying that the NSA leaker and the Guardian columnist who broke the PRISM story should be “disappeared.” Atlantic's Washington based editor at large, Steve Clemons tweeted on Sunday that four men sitting next to him at the airport “were loud. Almost bragging” while discussing a conference they had just attended hosted by the Intelligence and National Security Alliance. Leaker Edward Snowden said that American spies often prefer silencing targets over due process, going on to explain that he had sacrificed his life and $200,000 a year career out of his desire to protect “basic liberties” in order to “send a message to government that people will not be intimidated”. He has fled to Hong Kong in a bid to escape retaliation by the US.

Processing Aids: what’s really in our food?

There are an entire category of substances used in food production that never make their way onto the label. Such substances, known as “incidental additives,” encompass everything from oil for fish fillets to anti-caking agents for seasonings. However, the FDA and USDA do not enforce the labelling of processing aids - meaning that substances such as ‘dimethylamine epichlorohydrin copolymer’, present in sugar, is not required to be listed as an ingredient. Instead such processing aids are allowed in food production as long as each one falls within the guidelines of being 'Generally Recognised as Safe' (GRAS). However Mark Itzkoff, food compliance lawyer for Washington DC based OFW Law said that any such substance, however insignificant, would be considered a preservative that would need to be labelled.

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published this page in News 2013-06-10 13:19:37 +0100