The Scottish government argues that the Scottish meat brand
'must be protected'
Scottish News: Top Stories - Tuesday
Scotland's college mergers plans 'incoherent', EIS warns
Legislation to reform Scotland's colleges could create a "nationally incoherent" system of further education, a union has claimed. The Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) has criticised the "complexity" of the changes proposed by the Scottish government. The Post- 16 Education (Scotland) Bill aims to regionalise further education, with the Scottish government saying it will provide flexibility to govern colleges and save £50mn a year. But the EIS has said: "The complexity of the proposed structure will only confound all but employees and public policy experts”.
Horsemeat scandal: Scottish meat brand 'must be protected'
The good brand image of Scottish meat must be protected amid the scandal of horsemeat entering the food chain, the rural affairs minister has said. He said there was no evidence the scandal was an issue in Scotland, adding that there was no room for complacency when it came to the testing of food supplies. After the meeting, he said: "I highlighted that in my view there is an absolute need for supply chains to be shorter and easier to track and for high quality local produce to be used whenever possible”.
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
University chiefs demand end to tuition fees cap
A group of university leaders have called for the scrapping of a cap on fees charged by Scottish universities to students from the rest of the UK. Institutions north of the Border can charge students from England, Wales and Northern Ireland up to £9000 a year. Now a group representing the 12 governing bodies of universities in Scotland has made a controversial call for them to be allowed to set their own maximum fee. The university ruling courts made the statement in a submission to the Scottish parliament's education committee. It is currently scrutinising the Post-16 (Scotland) Education Bill, which would enshrine the cap in the law.
Warning on welfare costs
The SNP government has yet to present a "clear, costed vision" of an independent Scotland's welfare system, a leading economist has warned. Professor David Bell, of Stirling University, said welfare provision would continue to face significant constraints if Scotland left the UK. The SNP government has established a panel to examine the cost and delivery of welfare in an independent Scotland, with the report due in May. A Scottish government spokeswoman said: "Figures show that 40 percent of Scottish tax revenues were spent on social protection, compared with 42 percent for the UK as a whole”.
Scottish Independence: Nicola Sturgeon dismisses EU ascension treaty claims
The deputy first minister has speculated that an independent Scotland would not be required to sign a new ascension treaty to become an EU member, calling for continuation of the status quo. Ms Sturgeon said that Scotland would inherit the same opt-outs as Britain, including not joining the Euro, advocating a Schengen free travel zone, or a share of its valuable cash rebate. She said: "We are going to be simply arguing for a transition from membership as part of the UK to membership as an independent country, but on the same terms as we were a member as part of the UK.”
UK energy market on downhill “rollercoaster”, says Ofgem chief
The UK energy market is flat lining on a downhill “rollercoaster” according to energy regulator Ofgem. The regulator’s CEO warned that sheer demand will constrict the British energy market with soaring prices following foreign oil dependency and closed power plants, leaving energy reserves “uncomfortably tight”. Writing in the Daily Telegraph, CEO of the regulator said: “We have to face the likelihood that avoiding power shortages will also carry a price. If you can imagine a ride on a rollercoaster at a fairground, then this winter we are at the top of the circuit and we head downhill – fast. Within three years we will see reserve margin of generation fall from below 14% to below 5%. That is uncomfortably tight."
David Cameron calls for faster restructure to return RBS to private sector
The UK prime minister has said he wants RBS to accelerate restructuring and will not rule out returning the government’s share in the state-owned bank to the public. Speaking during visit to India to strengthen trade and investment agreements, Mr Cameron outlined his intention for RBS to return to private-ownership after the previous government bailed out the bank ahead of the 2008 collapse, at the cost of 45 billion to taxpayers.
Nestlé finds horsemeat in pasta meals
Nestlé the world's biggest food company has removed beef pasta products from sale in Italy, Spain and France after finding traces of horse DNA. The Swiss-based company, which last week said its products were unaffected by the scandal, said its tests had found more than 1 percent horse DNA in two products. Nestlé said in a statement on Monday: "there is no food safety issue”. The discovery of horsemeat in products labelled as beef has spread from the UK across Europe since last month, prompting product withdrawals, consumer anger and government investigations into the continent's complex heavily deregulated food-processing chains.
Human intelligence is declining according to Stanford geneticist
A geneticist at Stanford has published a study conducted to try and identify the progression of modern man’s intelligence. According to his research, Dr Crabtree thinks unavoidable changes in the genetic makeup coupled with modern technological advances has left humans intellectually challenged. He has recently published a follow-up analysis, explaining that of the roughly 5,000 genes he considered the basis for human intelligence, a number of mutations over the years has forced modern man to be only a portion as intelligent as his ancestors.
US Supreme Court to Hear Monsanto Seed Patent Case Today
The US Supreme Court is today (Tuesday) to hear Bowman v. Monsanto, a patent case billed as the one to determine who owns the rights to seeds in the ground: the farmer who planted them on his land, or the controversial agribusiness giant that has invested resources in designing and selling them. According to a joint report from the groups Centre for Food Safety and Save Our Seeds, “Monsanto has alleged seed patent infringement in 144 lawsuits against 410 farmers and 56 small farm businesses in at least 27 U.S. states as of January of 2013”. But Bowman’s appeal, now, is the first of its kind to make it all the way to the Supreme Court.
China's PLA controls hackers: US IT security firm
China's army controls some of the most prolific hackers in the world, according to a new report today by an Internet security firm that traced a host of cyber attacks to an anonymous building in Shanghai. Mandiant said its hundreds of investigations over the past three years showed that groups hacking into US newspapers, government agencies, and companies "are based primarily in China and that the Chinese government is aware of them”. Clients including The New York Times have hired Mandiant to clean up their systems after cyber attacks blamed on Chinese hackers.