News in Scotland - Thursday

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Salmond claims poor poll findings is result of referendum "phony war"

Scottish News: News in Scotland - Thursday

Salmond: this is just the "phony war"

SNP leader Alex Salmond has said that the Scottish independence referendum has not "even started" yet. In an interview with the New Statesman, which media analysts will view as a partial relaunch, Mr Salmond said: "This is the phoney war. This is not the campaign. I went into an election in 2011 20 points behind in the polls and ended up 15 in front." Mr Salmond was referring to opinion poll findings which have shown that the 'yes' campaign has failed to gather momentum. Mr Salmond has faced criticism from opponents and other pro-independence figures who argue that the 'yes' campaign has been intellectually shallow and too tightly controlled with an emphasis on brand promotion rather than proper political campaigning.

Scotland will thrive after independence, says top economist

Leading economist Professor John Kay has stated that Scotland has sufficient wealth to thrive as an independent nation. Prof Kay said in a lecture in Edinburgh last night that Scotland would be a "rich country" after independence arguing that Scotland is the wealthiest part of the UK outside of London and the south-east of England. The renowned economist, who along with such figures as Jo Stiglitz - former World Bank chief economist - is a member of the Scottish government's Council of Economic Advisors explained that Scotland would be driven by Edinburgh as its "dominant" economic centre.

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William Hague accused of ‘lecturing’ Scots on independence

Foreign Secretary William Hague will claim today that foreign nations are “baffled” over why Scotland would want to leave the Union, using his speech in Scotland to back the case for the UK. In the address in Edinburgh, Mr Hague will also warn that an independent Scotland would lose access to Britain’s expertise in intelligence and security services if it decided to vote “yes” in Sept 14. However, Mr Hague’s claim that Scotland would be safer as part of the Union was contradicted by experts contacted by Scottish Times last year. The SNP last night hit back to argue that Mr Hague should be dealing with the crisis in Syria, rather than “lecture Scots” on independence. Angus Robertson, the party’s defence spokesman, insisted that an independent Scotland would be able to make the country’s case in a way that met “the aspirations” of the country. Mr Haig has been integral to the UK's involvement in Syria – including the controversial arming of Syrian rebels against the Assad government.

UK crisis: banker bonus boom revealed

Bankers’ bonuses reached record levels in April as the UK government’s cut in the top rate of income tax came into effect, new figures have revealed. The disclosure has provoked anger, with Labour accusing David Cameron of giving a “massive tax cut” to millionaires in the City at a time when ordinary families are seeing their incomes dwindle. According to the Office for National Statistics, the average weekly bonus in the financial sector was £143 in April – a rise of 64.4 percent compared with April 2012, likely costing the treasury tens of millions of pounds in lost tax revenues. The TUC’s general secretary, Frances O’Grady, said: “For all the talk about cracking down on tax dodging, it is clear that George Osborne was in league with top bankers to ensure they could get round the 50p tax rate by changing the date when their bonus was paid...If there is to be no effective cap on bonuses, then we should at least ensure the public purse benefits to the full by effectively taxing every bonus and salary hike enjoyed by super-rich bankers”.

UK crisis: Osborne signals split of RBS

Chancellor George Osborne has announced that the treasury will "urgently review" the Westminster's banking commission recommendation that the taxpayer-owned banking giant be split into a "good bank" and a "bad bank". In this scenario those parts of the bank which has bad assets such as loans which are not recoverable will be taken on by the taxpayer while the profitable assets will be held in the "good bank" and sold in order that the government can recoup some of £45bn in bailouts that the taxpayer was forced to cover in 2008 by the then Labour government. The banking commission also recommended that traders and staff of banks who commit financial crimes should face jail sentences however it appeared to exempt top banking executives from the same fate. RBS has recently been fined and are under investigation for on-going financial scams including money laundering, ISDAfix and Libor manipulation, currency trade manipulation, 'mis-selling' of financial products and other nefarious activities. Many of those fines will be borne by the taxpayer who is the current owner of the institution.

FBI investigation feared by MIchael Hastings who contacted WikiLeaks just before lethal accident

WikiLeaks has released a tweet saying that journalist Michael Hastings 33, killed in a car crash on Tuesday morning, had contacted the organisation hours earlier to say he was the subject of an FBI investigation. The tweet, issued on Wednesday to 1.9mn followers states that: "Michael Hastings contacted WikiLeaks lawyer Jennifer Robinson just a few hours before he died, saying that the FBI was investigating him”. Since his death on Tuesday there has been an outpouring of condolences from the journalism community. Matt Farwell, who worked with Hastings, told Rolling Stone: "As a journalist he specialised in speaking truth to power and laying it all out there. He was irascible in his reporting and sometimes/often/always infuriating in his writing: he lit a bright lamp for those who wanted to follow his example … He always sought out the hard stories, pushed for the truth, let it all hang out on the page”. The FBI have not yet commented on the investigation claim.                                            

China has more proven oil reserves than US with Russia ahead on shale reserves

The US Energy Information Administration's recently published 730 page report which assesses the shale formations of 41 countries, has revealed that a global race for shale development could be imminent. China now has more proven oil reserves than the US, and countries like Argentina are starting to exploit their unconventional energy sources. According to its latest assessment, Russia has the most shale oil reserves with 75 billion barrels, ahead of both the US and China. Critics of shale oil point to environmental concerns such as high water use, water contamination, the release of methane, and earth tremors caused by drilling. The process has been banned in France, while the UK recently lifted a moratorium on drilling for shale gas.                       

Bank of America ‘encouraged employees to lie to customers’

Employees of financial giant Bank of America have stated in court documents that they were encouraged to lie to customers, and sometimes even rewarded for foreclosing on homes. Sworn statements from several Bank of America employees are the latest claims entered as evidence in a multistate class action lawsuit that challenges the bank’s history with foreclosures. In one of the sworn statements, an ex-bank staffer said he would be directed to deny upwards of 1,500 loan modification applications at a single time with no apparent reason. Simone Gordon, a senior collector at the bank from 2007 to 2012, said that site leaders regularly instructed employees to prolong the loan modification process for customers because the longer proceedings were delayed, “the more fees Bank of America would collect”. Last year, Bank of America was among five mortgage service providers that paid out a $25bn (£16bn) settlement to state and federal regulators after coming under fire for their foreclosing practices.

Talks between Afghanistan and US in disarray

Tensions over the Taliban's new political office in the US's key ally Qatar have thrown planned talks between the Afghan anti-government group and the US into disarray. The meeting was expected to take place in Doha, with some reports indicating this could be as early as Thursday, but the Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, has said his government will not be attending any talks. Karzai, who has headed the US-backed Afghan government since the US-led invasion in the wake of September 11, 2001, opposes bilateral US-Taliban talks. In another decision on Wednesday, Karzai broke off ongoing Afghan-US talks on an agreement to allow the US to maintain soldiers in Afghanistan after a NATO combat mission ends next year over what it called the US' "inconsistent statement and action" over the peace process.

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published this page in News 2013-06-20 11:58:17 +0100