News in Scotland - Thursday

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UK ministers caused horsemeat scandal, warns MPs committee

Scottish News: News in Scotland - Thursday

SCOTLAND

Scottish independence: powers needed to reverse income inequality, say leading economists
A group which includes the Nobel prize-winning economist and former World Bank Chief Economist Jo Stiglitz has warned that without independence Scotland will be unable to address it problem of inequality. The group named the Fiscal Commission studied growing wealth inequality in the UK - which has the worst record in the developed world damaging economic growth and limiting the potential of people in Scotland - concluded: "without access to the relevant policy levers – particularly taxation and welfare policy – there is little the Scottish Government can do to address these trends". SNP MSP Kevin Stewart who sits on the Welfare Reform Committee said: “As this report makes clear, we need the full powers of an independent country if we are to untie the Scottish Government’s hands and start to make a real difference to poverty and inequality in Scotland”.

Scottish independence: shale gas adds to Scotland's energy potential
Scotland is well placed to "capitalise" on its shale gas reserves because of the expertise which it is has in its giant oil and gas sector. The gas, produced by the controversial fracking process is forecast to be "worth £5bn to Scotland" according to a PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) report. However the reserves are tiny compared to Scotland's estimated oil and gas reserves in the North Sea (£1.5tn) and in the renewables sector both of which are significant on a global scale.

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Competition Commission to probe AG Barr Britvic merger
The proposed merger of Irn Bru maker AG Barr with rival soft drinks firm Britvic is to be investigated by the Competition Commission. The plan was referred to the commission by the Office of Fair Trading, which raised concerns it would leave Coca Cola as its only major UK competitor. Under the merger, the new company - Barr Britvic Soft Drinks plc - would become one of Europe's largest soft drink firms, with annual sales of more than £1.5bn.

INTERNATIONAL

UK crisis: horsemeat scandal caused by UK ministers, say MPs
A report by MPs has blamed the scaling down of food safety powers held by regulators. The cross-party report indicated that ministers have been compromised by the scandal as their weakening of regulatory powers led to the mislabelling of food not being detected. So far consumers have no blamed the government for the crisis. Some economists warn that as money printing by the Bank of England leads to high food price inflation so food processing firms are under pressure to find cheaper ingredients in order to keep prices stable -  a form of hidden inflation.

King says "recovery in sight" but inflation allowed to rise
The governor of the Bank of England (BoE), Mervyn King, who did not see the financial crisis coming and was in post during bailouts and a policy of money printing (quantitative easing) which is now driving up inflation has said that 'recovery is in sight'. The BoE forecasts inflation pressures until 2016 yet indicated that there would be no tightening of interest rates in the near future. As food prices rise and austerity policies continue it appears that savers will be punished by the Bank while financial speculators will continue to be injected with cheap money.

EU horsemeat affair prompts DNA testing
The EU plans to conduct 6,500 health tests as authorities try to reassure consumers about food safety and uncover the roots of a horsemeat scandal that baffles them. The tests are the result of an emergency meeting attended by seven member states, led by the UK and France, and the European Commission, to hatch a response to the widening crisis. The ministers agreed that the commission will propose 4,000 tests of horse carcases across the EU for traces of phenylbutazone, a drug administered to horses that can be harmful to humans, and 2,500 DNA tests on processed foods for the presence of horse meat. The first results should be published on April 15.

EU to search for most dangerous financial product
Sven Giegold, a German member of the European parliament is on a mission to find and eradicate dangerous financial practices, Reuters reported. The European lawmaker, who launched the competition with two non-governmental groups, wants to find the next financial product - such as subprime mortgage or collateralised debt obligations (CDOs) which led to banking insolvency, public bailouts, money printing and economic depression. Giegold hopes the competition will spur supervisors and regulators into taking more action, such as banning certain high-risk products.

23% of America Is Illiterate
One in five Americans lacks the basic skills beyond a fourth grade level, the US Department of Education has found. Being illiterate is defined as those Americans who lack basic skills beyond a fourth grade level. Besides the human tragedy, economists estimate that over $200bn is sucked out of the economy every year due to this high illiteracy rate. Further consequences of illiteracy include mental health problems, and often the inability to provide the kind of support that children need to do well at school.

North Korea nuclear test: No radiation detected
South Korean experts say they have not detected any radioactive isotopes from North Korea's nuclear test, hampering efforts to assess the device. Eight samples had been analysed but nothing found, the Nuclear Safety and Security Commission said. Finding certain isotopes - xenon gases in particular - would help experts determine whether a plutonium or uranium-based device was used. But a well-contained test could yield no radioactive isotopes, experts say. North Korea's neighbours and the US, meanwhile, are working to coordinate a response to the test.

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published this page in News 2013-02-14 12:47:23 +0000