News in Scotland - Tuesday

Ian Taylor is reported to have been a benefactor of both Serbian warlord
Arkan and the campaign against Scottish independence Better Together

Scottish News: News in Scotland - Tuesday


Poll shows majority of Scots want Vitol ‘dirty money’ donation returned

A new YouGov poll shows that most people in Scotland believe that the 'no' campaign in the independence referendum should return the £500,000 donation from Ian Taylor - their principal donor. Mr Taylor, chief executive of the oil trading firm Vitol, has previously been fined after admitting making payments to the national oil company in Iraq during the regime of Saddam, and paying $1 million to the Serbian paramilitary Arkan as part of an oil deal in the 1990s. Vitol are also in discussion with HMRC over tax avoidance in the UK. The poll, commissioned by the SNP, found that 43 percent of Scots believe that the ‘no’ camp should hand the donation back, 34 percent do not, and 23 percent don't know. In terms of those who express a definite opinion, this translates into 56 percent believing that the ‘no’ campaign should return the donation. Commenting on the poll, SNP Westminster leader Angus Robertson MP said: “This issue is not going away. The reputational damage this is causing the No campaign is outweighing the value of the money”.

Westminster gets Scottish pension figures wrong

Finance Secretary John Swinney told MSPs that his advisors published mis-calculated figures to the tune of £1.8bn relating to teachers' pensions after Westminster's Actuary Department, which prepared the figures, supplied wrong data. Mr Swinney told the finance committee of the "deeply regrettable" error and gave reassurances that there would be no material implications for teachers' pensions.

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500 questions posed by the ‘no’ campaign

The group campaigning to keep Scotland in the Union, Better Together, marked the 500 day milestone to the independence referendum by publishing 500 questions on independence. The pro-Union campaigners have posed 500 questions on Scotland's future, which they say need to be answered by those who favour independence. The questions cover topics such as Europe, defence, health and sport. Responding, Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: "A vote for independence means we take Scotland's future into our own hands. Being independent means we always get the governments we vote for and that's very important...The gap between the richest and the poorest is growing ever wider. Only independence can change this". It is understood that the questions will be submitted to the SNP through parliamentary questions, freedom of information requests and letters to ministers.

Independence: further calls for UK to quit EU

Former Tory chancellor, Lord Lawson, who was Margaret Thatcher's longest serving chancellor, has stated that it is time for Britain to leave the European Union (EU). The development comes after sweeping gains by the Ukip party in an English by-election and local elections. Lawson's views are becoming more widespread across England leading to fears in Scotland that if there is a 'no' vote in next year's referendum Scots will be subsequently forced out of the EU against their wishes owing to England's numerical superiority in the increasingly likely 'in-our' UK referendum on EU membership after the next Westminster election. The ‘no’ campaign now face question over whether their ‘better together’ approach extends to Europe. Lord Lawson said, in a Times column, that the economic benefits from Britain quitting the EU “would substantially outweigh the costs”.                                  


Krugman's plan B: has it already been tried?

In an interview with The Guardian, Paul Krugman has called again for the end of austerity and the use of stimulus to recover markets. Mr Krugman has led the charge against what he calls the 'delusional' deficit-reduction strategy. However, stimulus failed to cure our economic depression before austerity policies were used and governments are still borrowing meaning there is still lots of 'stimulus' going into the economic systems. Increasingly, more and more economists are arguing for debt restructuring as a policy and that the stimulus versus austerity debate is a false choice. Restructuring would be anathema to bankers who, more observers now argue, are behind Mr Krugman being given a global platform to disseminate his views.

US declare China’s ‘cyber snooping’ is a serious concern

China is allegedly using espionage to acquire technologies to fuel its fast-paced military modernisation program, the Pentagon said on Monday in an annual report that accused Beijing of trying to break into US defence computer networks. The report said China's cyber snooping was a "serious concern" that pointed to an even greater threat because the "skills required for these intrusions are similar to those necessary to conduct computer network attacks”. A senior US defence official said his worry was over China's lack of transparency about its military intentions. The report comes amid admissions by former FBI counterterrorism agent, Erin Burnett, that many forms of private communications – including telephone calls and emails - are surveilled by the US government, unbeknownst to many US citizens.                           

Israel condemn Google’s homepage change to ‘Palestine’

Israeli officials have condemned Google's decision to change the label on its homepage in the occupied territories from 'Palestinian territories' to 'Palestine'. The deputy Israeli foreign minister, Zeev Elkin, said the move to recognize Palestine would backfire. "When a company like Google comes along and supports this line, it actually pushes peace further away, pushes away negotiations, and creates among the Palestinian leadership the illusion that in this manner they can achieve the result” he said. The Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, however welcomed the move, calling it a "victory for Palestine and a step toward its liberation". Google "put Palestine on the internet map, making it a geographical reality," an Abbas advisor, Sabri Saidam, told the official news agency WAFA.

Israel denies ‘act of war’ on Syria

Syria has accused Israel of supporting rebel factions following airstrikes at the weekend described as an act of war’. While both Washington and Israel claimed they had no warning of, nor hand in the strike - Israel stepped up military presence on its borders, deploying both tanks and troops; while the US gave the go ahead for arming Syrian rebels. Syrian state news outlet SANA reported that the Foreign Ministry sent identical letters to the president and secretary general of the UN Security Council deploring the attacks, urging immediate action against Israel. A spokesperson in Washington issued a statement following the attack stating that “Israel is determined to prevent the transfer of chemical weapons or other game-changing weaponry by the Syrian regime to terrorists, especially to Hezbollah in Lebanon”. The situation continues to intensify however as Syrian rebels become increasingly backed by Israel’s western allies – with suggestions this backing includes the use of such chemical weapons in attempts to oust president Assad.


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published this page in News 2013-05-07 12:11:32 +0100