News in Scotland - Thursday

scottish-gas.jpg
The UK government appears not to have made energy contingency plans
for the current weather

Scottish News: News in Scotland - Thursday

Westminster incompetence threatens gas crisis as Scottish supplies save UK

Supplies of natural gas across Britain may soon run out because the UK government was not prepared for the event of unusually cold weather visiting Britain. Some experts believe that gas supplies could run out within days as a supply crisis ensues. The UK government is denying there is a crisis but the lack of supply has pushed up prices - now the highest in the world - and gas tankers are heading for the UK. The UK government has taken measures to increase the flow from the North Sea. Scotland's North Sea sector contains the vast majority of Britain's supply meaning if Scotland were independent now, England would have to import Scottish supplies at emergency prices leading to increased revenues for a Scottish exchequer.

Scottish teachers back strike action

Over 90 percent of teachers have backed strike action over pension reforms it is being reported. The Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) held a strike ballot ahead of negotiations with the Scottish government which is under pressure to implement the reforms in line with Westminster. The principle point of contention appears to be the proposal to raise the retirement age to 67, it is reported. EIS general secretary Larry Flanagan said: “To simply replicate the worst of the UK government’s continuing attacks on public sector pensions north of the border, even when they have the freedom to negotiate a Scottish alternative in relation to the teachers’ pension scheme, is unacceptable.” The Scottish government has had its budget cut and so its ability to mitigate against Westminster cuts is limited.

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Scottish independence: Ditch UK tax system, warns Lord O’Donnell

The former head of the UK civil service has slammed the UK's “bonkers” fiscal system that pays benefits to retired millionaires in the Mediterranean. Lord O’Donnell, who was Cabinet secretary when David Cameron took office in 2011, was speaking in Glasgow on the potential for changes in the event of a Yes vote to independence. A Scottish state, he said, could start from scratch with a new tax and benefits system that would end what he called- “indefensible anomalies” in the current set-up. His comments come as the Scottish government’s Fiscal Commission studies a new tax system for an independent country, based on recommendations by economist Sir James Mirrlees.          

Scottish independence: Another boost for North Sea oil

A consortium of oil companies is to invest more than £330mn in an appraisal drilling programme which could lead to further development of a giant North Sea field. The BP-led consortium said drilling had already started on the first of five wells planned over the next two years at Clair, west of Shetland. Clair is already known as a "monster" field, holding eight billion barrels of oil. This comes amid SNP claims that the country can look forward to an oil boom in the early years of independence, assuming a Yes vote in September 2014. At present - the Scottish oil and gas industry employs about 400,000 people and provides nearly half of the UK's energy needs.                                            

Scottish independence: Homecoming 2014 “is about welcoming everyone”

First Minister Alex Salmond says he is confident a multi-million pound “Homecoming” campaign in 2014 will not become politicised - despite a clash with the independence referendum. He insisted the date for the second Year of Homecoming had been selected before the referendum date and was instead timed to coincide with the 700th anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn. Suspicions of the timing also abound after Westminster announced there would be commemoration celebrations marking the outbreak of World War 1 with Union flags expected to be adorned in every community weeks before the referendum. Mr Salmond said it was important for politicians of all parties to get behind the campaign. He said: “People want to see Scotland for all the range of things that it offers. Scotland is a welcoming society and country, we welcome our friends from south of the border as well as do internationally - that is part of the Homecoming ethos”.

INTERNATIONAL                                             

UK crisis: Former welfare minister calls for direct action against ‘bedroom tax’

A former welfare minister has delivered a dramatic appeal to landlords to take direct action against the 'bedroom tax' by knocking down walls or bricking up windows in protest against housing benefit cuts. Thousands of people will protest tomorrow against the Westminster changes, which come into force on Monday, in more than 50 demonstrations across the UK. Mr Field said: “Why do I advocate for the first time direct action? I do so because the tax is so grossly unfair and is levied on some of the most vulnerable people in our society. Wicked actions require a different response from parliamentarians”.            

Eurozone crisis: Cypriot banks reopen with heavy withdrawal restrictions

Banks in Cyprus have opened for the first time in almost two weeks, with tight controls on transactions to prevent a run on deposits after the island was forced to accept a stringent EU rescue package to avert bankruptcy. In central Nicosia on Thursday, queues of at least a dozen people had formed outside branches of the country's two biggest lenders - Bank of Cyprus and Cyprus Popular Bank, also known as Laiki. The deal was finally reached in Brussels early on Monday, and imposes severe losses on deposits of over 100,000 euros in the country's two largest banks. Since Monday's deal, Cypriot authorities have been rushing to introduce measures to prevent a mass withdrawal of euros from the country's banks, while hundreds of demonstrators continue to march in protest at the bailout plan.                                              

Moscow warns Arab League’s action against international law

The Arab League’s move to hand the Syrian opposition the country's official seat at a summit in Doha and the decision to give military backing to the rebels are both against international law, Moscow has warned. Arab leaders gathered on Tuesday for the League’s annual two-day summit in the Qatari capital Doha - and to the outrage of Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government, Syria's opposition National Coalition formally took the country's official seat at the gathering. The Arab League’s decisions have come under fire in Damascus as well. State-run Syrian news agency SANA said that the organization compromised its “values for the sake of Gulf Arab and Western interests when it gave Syria's seat to the opposition Syrian National Coalition,” Reuters reported. Western-backed rebel forces continue to face problem unifying their opposition and are also aligned with Al-Qaeda           

US deploys bombers on South Korean ‘deterrence’ mission

The US has said two nuclear-capable B-2 stealth bombers flew "deterrence" missions over South Korea on Thursday, defying threats of retaliation from North Korea against ongoing war threats. The deployment of the stealth bombers is seen to deliver a potent message to Pyongyang about the US commitment to intervening in any north – south disputes as military tensions on the Korean peninsula soar. It comes shortly after the North severed its last-remaining military hotline with South Korea and put its rocket units on combat status with a threat to target US bases in the Pacific region.

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published this page in News 2013-03-28 10:42:07 +0000