Deputy First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, has expressed concern that child
poverty is worse than believed
Scottish News: News in Scotland - Thursday
Increase in Scottish child poverty
Scotland's Deputy First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, has expressed concern that more than 50,000 Scottish children risk being pushed into poverty by 2020. Ms Sturgeon welcomed official statistics showing children in relative poverty had declined but warned that this 'relative' decline was the result of average wages and family income falling. Austerity and Britain’s declining economy have seen a 6 percent drop in real-term wages since the UK financial crisis began. She said: “These figures released today - while welcome - present a complex picture in terms of understanding child poverty in Scotland...While the number of children in poverty fell in 2011/12 compared to the previous year, this decrease was the result of an overall drop in average household incomes across the UK".
Glasgow attempts to tackle huge pay day loan problem
People in Scotland's largest city are borrowing £57mn a year from payday loan companies, pawnbrokers and other non-standard lenders – with 100,000 people in the city using these companies, according to research for Glasgow City Council. Payday loans are legal - but highly controversial due to their targeting of the financially desperate. Interest rates can be as much as 4000 percent, often without having conducted sufficient checks into the debtor's ability to repay the loan. One part of the city's strategy will be to promote financial education, including promoting the role of credit unions. Citizens Advice Scotland welcomed the move by Glasgow Council. The organisation's Keith Dryburgh said: "CAB evidence is very clear that the growth of payday loans in the last few years has seen a lot of irresponsible lending, which has led many families into the misery of unmanageable debt”.
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Centrica to invest in fracking south of the border
Scottish Gas parent company Centrica is to buy a 25 percent stake in a shale gas exploration licence in Lancashire. The group said it will pay Cuadrilla Resources and AJ Lucas £40mn in cash for the stake, along with up to £60mn in exploration and appraisal costs. Following the exploration and appraisal phase, Centrica said it would pay a further £60mn if it decides to continue to develop the licence. However extracting shale gas continues to prove controversial because the process involves pumping chemicals under high pressure to fracture rocks and release the gas, leading to concerns over earthquakes, water contamination and dangers to health.
CEO of RBS ousted before mass public sell off
The multi-billion pound privatisation of Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) will be announced by George Osborne next week, following the forced departure of the bank's chief executive Stephen Hester yesterday evening. Mr Hester will leave the bank later this year, clearing the way for his successor to oversee the huge public sell-off. With a payoff of at least £1.6mn – and possibly up to £5.6mn – there will be no payoff to the UK taxpayer despite their £45bn bailout to the bank in 2008. The situation now presents Westminster with potential credibility issues, with the likelihood that a successor could name their price. Such a salary is therefore likely to cause outrage given the public’s anger over the excessive rewards top bankers have and continue to enjoy.
Syrian death toll is likely an ‘underestimate’
At least 93,000 people have been killed in Syria since the start of the conflict, according to latest United Nations figures. This represents a rise of more than 30,000 since the UN last issued figures covering the period to November 2012. At least 5,000 people have been dying in Syria every month since last July, the UN's human rights body says. However, it says these statistics are an underestimate as it believes many deaths have not been reported. "Unfortunately, as the study indicates, this is most likely a minimum casualty figure. The true number of those killed is potentially much higher," UN rights chief Navi Pillay said. Meanwhile, activists say rebels have gained control of a key military base in the central Hama province. The base is on the northern edge of the town of Morek, which straddles the country's strategic north-south highway leading to the province of Aleppo.
Obama administration launches investigation amid growing opposition to surveillance
The Obama administration has launched an internal review into the leak that has exposed the widespread use of government surveillance programs. The White House said its probe will focus on potential damages to national security. The move was announced amidst growing challenges to government spying and secrecy. A bipartisan group of senators have unveiled a measure that would declassify major decisions by courts operating under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Commenting, the bill’s co-sponsor, Democratic Senator Jeff Merkley said: "Americans deserve to know how much information about their private communications the government believes it’s allowed to take under the law”. Meanwhile, the American Civil Liberties Union has filed a lawsuit challenging the secret program collecting the phone records of millions of Americans.
Turkey Protests: PM Erdogan gives protestors 24 hours to leave Taksim square
Unrest looks set to continue in Turkey as protesters prepare for further clashes with police after the Prime Minister Erdogan issued a final warning, declaring that he will remove "troublemakers" from Istanbul's Taksim Square within 24 hours. His threat comes after Amnesty International harshly criticised the use of excessive violence by police as the death toll increased to five during two weeks of unrest. The protests that have been taking place in Istanbul and other cities across Turkey started as a small demonstration against plans to build an Ottoman-style shopping centre in Taksim Square, but has grown into a wider movement uniting those opposed to what they perceive as the authoritarian rule of Erdogan, who had earlier predicted that the protests would end within 24 hours.
Stock markets fall after World Bank cuts forecast
Stock markets worldwide have fallen after the World Bank cut its global growth forecast to 2.2 percent from the 2.4 percent it forecast in January. The Bank claimed the global recession was deeper than it had expected especially in regions such as Europe, India and China. Stock prices tumbled as analysts projected a cessation of central bank money printing worldwide. The Bank is now warns that the Eurozone economy will contract by 0.6 percent this year as opposed to the 0.1 percent decline forecast earlier.
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