News in Scotland - Thursday

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Unemployment among Scotland's youth surges as UK crisis continues

Scottish News: News in Scotland - Thursday

SCOTLAND

Scotland welcomes EU fishing deal
Representatives from the fishing industry have welcomed the outcome of talks in Brussels on EU fish conservation measures. The industry had faced the threat of further automatic cuts as part of the EU’s Cod Plan – a move they argued was unnecessary due to a doubling of cod stocks. Scottish Fishermen’s Federation chief executive Bertie Armstrong said: “We were facing the very real danger of the decision-making being caught in legal red tape that would have caused immense economic hardship and done nothing to aid fish stock conservation and sustainable harvesting.” Plans to further reduce the number of fishing days at sea were resisted by EU ministers. However, the issue of cod catch levels next year is to be debated in talks with Norway in January.

Universities lagging behind in widening access
Student leaders have claimed some of Scotland’s oldest universities have been ‘dragging their feet’ over recruiting more students from deprived backgrounds. A scheme by the Scottish Funding Council’s scheme funds 727 university places to widen access, however figures have been released showing that some universities are not taking an proportionate share. For the 2013/2014 academic year, St Andrews University will take up 20 such places and Edinburgh University took 50. In contrast, Glasgow University and Dundee University have taken over 200 places each, while Stirling University took 180. Robin Parker, president of NUS Scotland, said: "Scotland needs to do more to promote fairer access to higher education. While some universities have taken this message on board, others have shown a disappointing lack of ambition in the number of places they've asked for.”

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Scottish law: MacAskill backs justice system shake-up
Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill has publicly backed plans to end the requirement for two independently incriminating sources of evidence to bring a case to court. The move comes as the Scottish government raised the prospect of scrapping the controversial “not proven” verdict from court trials. The Scottish government have also hinted at a restructure of the jury system, with proposals in place for nine or ten jurors returning a guilty verdict out of a possible fifteen. The proposals have been met with some resistance. Bill McVicar, convener of the Law Society’s criminal law committee, said: “No evidence to demonstrate that the abolition of corroboration will not result in miscarriages of justice has been produced.” However, MacAskill’s suggestions have been backed by Victim Support Scotland.

North Sea oil ‘erratic’, claims think tank
A Glasgow think tank associated with the Labour Party in Scotland has produced a report predicting the value of North Sea oil to Scotland’s economy is becoming more erratic and difficult to predict. The report suggests that Scotland’s current superior financial position to the UK would be reversed in three years’ time. The report was compiled by John McLaren who was a former advisor to former Labour First Minister Donald Dewar. A spokesman for the Scottish government pointed to a report produced by a bona fide oil and energy expert at the University of Aberdeen, concluding: “Professor Kemp’s latest analysis shows the Treasury will have taken £10bn from Scotland’s North Sea in 2011-12 at a time when Scotland is facing the prospect of up to five more years of UK austerity.”

Scottish youth unemployment quadrupled in 2012
Union leaders have demanded action from the government to tackle rising youth unemployment figures. The Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) has released figures showing 38,000 young Scots face a second Christmas on the dole as the UK economic crisis deepens. Grahame Smith, STUC general secretary, warned the situation was “disastrous” for the economy in the long term and called on the Scottish government to reinstate scrapped employment support schemes. Mr Smith added: “When the coalition took power in May 2012, the number of young Scots out of work for more than a year stood at just over 2,000. Shockingly, that figure had quadrupled by November this year.”

Amber weather warnings issued for Scotland
Strong winds and 50mm of heavy rain are expected for Thursday. The amber warning has been issued for Tayside, Central and Fife, while the less severe yellow warning has been issued for Grampian, Strathclyde, Lothian and Borders and south-west Scotland. Some areas have been issued with flood warnings, including Kirkcaldy, Dundee Central and Broughty Ferry. The worst of the winds will be felt in the north and east. Traffic Scotland have warned that the public should be aware of flooding and travel disruption.

Dundee Council bans ‘immoral’ loan sites from public libraries
Dundee City Council is thought to be the first council to ban the use of short-term loan sites from public libraries and community centres. Pay-day loan sites have an annual interest rate of up to 4,000 percent and people who cannot pay back their loans can be left with a debt much higher than what they originally borrowed. Citizens Advice Scotland have said they now see about 50 cases a day of people who struggle to pay back unsecured personal loans. Council leader Ken Guild said: “We are trying our best to block access to these sites which promise solutions to people that bring only more misery and heartache. What these companies are doing may not be illegal but it is certainly immoral.”

UK and WORLD

MPs call for stricter regulation
MPs have called on regulator Ofgem to be stricter when dealing with ‘anti-competitive’ behavior between energy suppliers. MPs reported that the public are put off switching between different companies due to the amount of confusing tariffs, which erodes competition and stops companies keeping their prices low. MPs stated: “We understand that Ofgem plans to reduce barriers to competition … but we believe that a more proactive approach should be adopted.”

Man arrested over ‘plebgate’
A 23 year old man has been arrested and released on bail in connection with the ‘plebgate’ row. The man, who is not a member of the police force, was arrested on Wednesday "on suspicion of intentionally encouraging or assisting the commission of an indictable offence on or around 14 December". Tensions have been rising between the Conservative Party and the Metropolitan Police following the news that friends of Andrew Mitchell claim that there is now evidence to suggest that elements within the police force may have conspired to corroborate the details of the ‘plebgate’ incident. The prime minister has accused an off-duty police officer of trying to “blacken” Mitchell’s name by providing a false account of the incident which led to his resignation.

Osborne’s plans to squeeze fail to gain support, poll says
A poll undertaken by The Independent has shown that George Osborne’s plans to squeeze state benefits have failed to gain widespread support. While 49 percent agree with the government’s plans to increase most benefits and tax credits by one per cent, 43 per cent disagree and 8 per cent say they don’t know. Liam Byrne, the shadow work and pensions secretary, has stated: "People are starting to see through George Osborne's attempts to play politics with social security. This Government has failed on jobs, put up the dole bill and is now taxing strivers to pay for their failure."

George Entwistle pay-off criticized by MPs
The commons’ public accounts committee has condemned a pay-off of £450,000 to former BBC Director George Entwistle, who quit in the wake of the Jimmy Saville scandal. Committee chairwoman Margaret Hodge stated: “This cavalier use of public money is out of line with public expectations and what is considered acceptable elsewhere in the public sector.” The BBC replied by stating that legal advice was being sought about whether the money could be taken back, but that this would probably not happen.

Age discrimination rife in elderly cancer treatment
A survey by ICM has found that ageism in the NHS is preventing elderly patients receiving treatment on that grounds that they are too old. Nearly half of those surveyed said they thought “assumptions and stereotypes” about the elderly have resulted in some patients not benefitting from the best treatment. 45 percent said they had dealt with a cancer patient who’d been refused treatment on the grounds of age, while 67 percent claimed they had heard other healthcare workers speaking of elderly patients in a “condescending or dismissive” manner. The survey echoes several reports this year that also found lower standards of cancer treatment for the elderly in the NHS.

UBS traders first to be criminally charged in Libor scandal
Tom Hayes and Roger Darin, are the first two traders to have been prosecuted in US courts thanks to the Libor manipulation investigations. UBS has agreed to pay $1.5 billion to regulators in the US, the UK and Switzerland.

South Korea’s president pledges for greater peace
Newly elected South Korean president, Park Geunhye, has vowed to work with other countries in North East Asia towards “greater reconciliation, cooperation and peace”. He was elected on Wednesday with 51.6 percent of the vote, made the vow in light of North Korea’s long-range rocket launch by North Korea. Park stated: “North Korea’s long-range missile launch showed how grave the security reality is that we are faced with.’

Top Egyptian official resigns
One of the senior officials overseeing Egypt’s vote on a new constitution has stepped down from the role citing health problems, while critics have stated that it is the widespread irregularities that have plagued the vote which have led to his resignation. Opposition groups have filed complaints of judges overseeing the referendum being replaced by government employees. The vote has seen violent protests that have left at least eight people dead.

Al Qaeda stage comeback amidst Syrian revolt
Radical al Qaeda affiliated group, al-Nusra – recently designated a terrorist organisation by the US which also supports the insurgent groups – has found increasing support amongst Syrian Sunni Muslims who felt marginalized by Assad’s Alawite (a branch of Shi’ite Islam) minority. Al-Nusra claimed responsibility for 45 attacks in Damascus, Deraa, Hama and Homs provinces, killing dozens in just one day last month according to the Site Intelligence Group. Both the Syrian Vice President and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon have admitted that there is no end in sight to the 21-month old conflict. Ban stated: "Syria began the year in conflict, and ends the year in war."

Pakistani clerics speak out against anti-polio worker killings
The head of the Pakistan Ulema Council, Tahir Ashrafi, has said that 24,000 mosques associated with the Ulema council will preach against the attacks against anti-polio vaccination workers. He stated that: “Neither Pakistani customs nor Islam would allow or endorse this. Far from doing something wrong, these girls are martyrs for Islam because they were doing a service to humanity and Islam". So far, nine anti-polio campaign workers have lost their lives, some of them were teenage girls. Following the violence the United Nations has withdrawn its staff involved in the vaccination campaign from the country.

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published this page in News 2012-12-20 11:38:44 +0000