Finance Minister John Swinney under pressure to revise his budget
Scottish News: News in Scotland - Tuesday
Scottish independence: Scotland a ‘dynamic world laboratory’, says former US ambassador
Scotland is a “dynamic world laboratory” for independence debates around the world, according to a former US ambassador. Professor David Scheffer, an expert in international law, has said that Scotland will not be treated like an Eastern European state seeking EU membership and that Scotland is 'uniquely intertwined' with the international community. Prof Scheffer argues that "smart diplomacy" will resolve any doubts over Scotland continued membership of international bodies post-independence.
Opposition call for budget re-think
Scotland’s opposition parties have urged Finance Minister John Swinney to reconsider Holyrood’s spending priorities. Mr Swinney has argued that the £28bn budget will “accelerate economic recovery” amid Westminster constraints. He said: “To those who argue that I should make changes, or increase funding for particular areas, my answer is this: Scotland lacks the full powers of an independent nation and must operate within fixed resources. If you want to see changes and increases to sections of the budget, you must also demonstrate how you will pay for it."
More Scottish news:
- Scottish independence: campaign too important to be left to politicians
- Salmond warns Osborne: Westminster austerity won’t cut it for Scotland
- Scotland should “pay for itself”, says senior Tory
- North Sea oil helps Scotland through UK crisis
New Forth bridge to create jobs
The construction of the new Forth Bridge is set to create numerous jobs in Scotland, said the transport minister Keith Brown. Recent figures show that 334 subcontracts have been awarded to Scottish firms totalling £130mn. Mr Brown said: “This is excellent news and continues to show how crucial this project is for Scotland’s economic recovery as well as its future prosperity.” Brown added that Scottish businesses will continually benefit from the construction right into 2016.
George Square plans scrapped
Plans to drastically redesign Glasgow’s George Square have been cancelled at the cost of £100,000, said Glasgow City Council. After holding an international competition and announcing the winning design, the council decided to scrap the plans and go forward with a more modest design. The situation has created more embarrassment and pressure for council leader Gordon Matheson, who was caught publically performing a sex act last week. The council cited a public backlash at the £15mn price-tag for the project as the main reason for their change of direction.
Lord Patten instructs BBC executives to appear before MSPs
BBC Trust chairman Lord Patten has told senior executives that they must appear before MSPs at a Holyrood inquiry after they originally refused to do so. Holyrood’s culture committee is looking at changes to broadcasting in Scotland but last year senior BBC figures declined to address the committee.
MSPs efforts to stop disabled badge misuse
SNP MSP Dennis Robertson is to lead a consultation on a proposed law to stop misuse of disabled badges. The bill would provide law enforcement officials with more power to confiscate badges from those who they believe are using them fraudulently. Mr Robertson, who is a blue badge holder, said he was looking forward to hearing people’s views on the issue. "Finding suitable parking spaces, particularly in towns and cities, is difficult at any time,” he said. "However, if you have a disability it can be even more difficult to find a parking space close to your destination, whether it is for work, education or leisure." Supporters believe the law will provide assurance of parking for genuine blue badge holders.
£400k boost for Hogmanay fund
Scotland’s 2014 Hogmanay festivities are to get a £400,000 leg-up to help celebrate the start of the second year of homecoming. The budget increase comes after years of cutbacks for the celebrations. VisitScotland, who are in charge of the £3mn Homecoming budget, are in search of an events coordinator who will orchestrate a string of one-off events in 2014. A spokesperson for VisitScotland said: “We are looking for a suitable company to act as the creative producer to devise and implement something unique. This will add value to existing Hogmanay celebrations and create new possibilities across Scotland to kick off this exciting year.” The next Homecoming year will coincide with the staging of the Ryder Cup, Commonwealth Games and 700th anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn.
UK crisis: Barclays staff to be publicly shamed for rate-rigging
Barclays staff who will stand trial in relation to the Libor (London Interbank Offered Rate) scandal face being named after judge Julian Flaux refused to allow them anonymity. Critics argue that scapegoating of individuals is one ploy used to divert attention away from senior executives' role in the rigging of interest rates in what is a market valued at hundreds of trillions of pounds affecting mortgage holders and businesses across Britain and globally.
British woman faces death sentence
A British woman faces the death sentence after smuggling almost 5kg of cocaine into Indonesia. The 56 year-old grandmother who last lived in Gloucestershire said she was bullied into the act, while lawyers said they were “surprised” at the verdict and would appeal.
Ireland drives EU expansion
Current EU presidency holder Ireland is pushing ahead with plans to increase membership of the bloc. The EU is pressing ahead with talks with countries such as Iceland, Montenegro and Serbia. The SNP see EU expansionism as evidence that it is "completely unrealistic" to suggest that Scotland would not retain EU membership on independence.
50th anniversary for France and Germany treaty
French and German leaders are set to mark the 50th anniversary of the Elysee pact. The agreement that helped reconcile the two foes was signed by Charles de Gaulle of France and Germany's Konrad Adenauer on 22 January 1963. Despite occasional disputes, the two countries have been key members of the European Union. To celebrate the anniversary, France and Germany are issuing stamps, coins and other items of memorabilia.
French and Malian troops enter Diabaly
Troops from France and Mali have entered the Malian towns of Diabaly and Doutenza, both of which were reportedly in the hands of al-Qaeda-linked rebels. The development comes as it emerges that US special forces may have been operating inside Mali for years.
Thousands celebrate Obama’s inauguration
President Obama told an 800,000-strong crowd to “seize the moment” as he celebrated the inauguration into his second term in office. The US leader told spectators that he is determined to keep in place the social safety net for the poor, the ailing and the elderly. He also talked about the need to battle climate change, asserting that America “must lead” the way towards sustainable energy sources. Moments after taking the public oath of office, he said: "My fellow Americans, we are made for this moment, and we will seize it, so long as we seize it together.”
Russian planes in Syria not an evacuation
As many as 150 Russians will be flown home from Damascus as violence intensifies. Moscow has insisted - amid speculation emanating from sources supporting insurgents - that it the start of a mass evacuation and a sign that Russia has accepted Assad will lose the war. Russia does have contingency plans for a potential future evacuation given the high volume of nationals residing there.
Israel election takes place
Voting has begun in Israel’s general election that is predicted to elect Prime Minister Netanyahu for a third term in office. Voting began at 5:00 GMT and saw tightening of security measures with 20,000 police officers in place to secure the vote. Election polls have predicted that Mr Netanyahu, who has formed an electoral pact with the ultra-nationalist Yisrael Beitenu party, will win the most seats, but not an overall majority.
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