Westminster's austerity programme is hitting Scots hardest according to
a new report
Scottish News: News in Scotland - Tuesday
Independence: Scots pockets continue to be hit hardest by Westminster austerity
Middle income families will see their spending power cut by an average of £34 a week, or nearly £1,800 a year due to changes to benefits, according to an Institute of Fiscal Studies (IFS) report - with Scotland the worst affected part of the UK. Such income inequality is mirrored by a disparity in wealth levels, with a recent Office for National Statistics (ONS) report showing that Scotland also has the lowest percentage share of the wealthiest households. The IFS added that over the next three years, less well-off families will continue to be hit harder than those with higher incomes. Commenting, SNP spokesperson for Work and Pensions Dr Eilidh Whiteford MP said: “The Scottish Government’s Fiscal Commission found that, since 1975, income inequality among working age people increased more quickly in the UK than any other OECD country, and that ‘without access to relevant policy levers - particularly taxation and welfare policy - there is little that the Scottish Government can do to address these trends; confirming that the only way to safeguard the welfare state in Scotland is by voting Yes next September”.
Scaremongering on independence
Continued claims by Unionist politicians that Scotland faces economic threats because of the debate over independence have been described as scaremongering by the SNP who are telling the voters that you "Can't believe a word they say". Despite Scotland underperforming in terms of investment over many decades anti-independence parties insist that the debate over an independent Scotland threatens a drop in inward investment. These claims are about deliberately spreading irrational fear across the electorate about independence, according to the SNP and are not based on any evidence. The Nationalists point to the conclusion of a recent Scottish Council of Development and Industry report which said: “It was difficult to discern tangible evidence that the debate itself was causing investment to be halted or deferred.” Many people feel a distrust of parties in the independence debate observers point out and this type of tactic will serve to deepen this distrust as well as create a tribal and antagonistic atmosphere which can result in discourteous and threatening conduct in the public debating arenas.
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Teachers warned to be balanced on independence
In advance of next year's independence referendum, school teachers have been warned that they should not share political views with their pupils. Edinburgh city council have told teachers they must facilitate "fair and balanced discussions" without offering their own opinions. The development comes as it emerged that the campaign against Scottish independence, Better Together, admitted that it intended to distribute a teacher-resource pack along with lesson plan and research material including a mock debate kit to every Scottish school.
Independence: Labour’s ‘staggering hypocrisy’ over court fines
The SNP has pointed to the ‘staggering hypocrisy’ of Labour allegations regarding court fines, as figures show the majority of money collected goes straight to the UK Treasury. On BBC Good Morning Scotland today, Lewis Macdonald said: “If the Justice Secretary… collected more of the fines that the courts imposed you would very quickly find…it would more than cover the savings”. The SNP stated that Mr Macdonald has also failed to recognise it was only at the end of April that Westminster granted fine enforcement officers in Scotland’s courts access to vital information needed to help them crackdown on fine defaulters. Justice Committee member Roderick Campbell said: “If Mr Macdonald wants to argue over figures, he should look at the true cost of the union – which is laid bare in figures showing Scotland has lost £370mn in fines to the Treasury”. “It has never made any sense for fines levied for offences committed in Scotland to then be retained by the UK Treasury, when they could be put directly to good use funding anti-crime initiatives here”.
Record number of policeman a sign of independence, says SNP
Newly released figures show that there is a record number of police officers - 17,496 - in Scotland which is an increase of 7.8 percent (or 1262 officers) since 2007. The SNP have welcomed the statistics describing them as an example of the "good governance independence brings". By contrast, police numbers in England and Wales have dropped to their lowest levels since 2002, leading the SNP to describe the difference between the two statistics as a "Tale of two governments".
UK crisis: Britain “never more than a few days away” from a food shortage
British people should eat less meat, and retailers and food producers should be penalised for wasting food, according to a new MP's report that has warned the UK is “never more than a few days away” from a significant food shortage. Global meat consumption is soaring, with production big business in countries such as China and the US, where the meat and poultry industry takes up the largest segment of US agriculture. The International Development Committee report warns that such a rise is unsustainable, saying that in the longer term, the focus should be on pasture-fed, rather than on grain-fed livestock - with meat promoted as an occasional treat rather than an everyday staple. MPs also suggested that some biofuels are having a significant impact on food security by driving food prices higher and making them more volatile.
German chemicals giant to expand further into ‘untapped markets’
German chemicals giant BASF has unveiled plans for a huge investment drive in the Asia-Pacific region, where it hopes to take advantage of above average growth to more than double its sales. BASF, which currently generates around 16 percent of its revenues in Asia Pacific, announced plans to invest $13bn there by the end of the decade and create up to 9,000 new jobs. In addition to those main markets, BASF said it also hopes to explore "untapped markets in Mongolia, Laos, Myanmar, and Cambodia”. It plans to establish research facilities in the areas of electronic materials, battery materials, agriculture, catalysis, mining, water treatment, polymers and minerals.
Turkey imports of crowd control munitions from the US grown over past twelve years
Turkey has bought $21mn in tear gas and pepper spray – mainly from the US– over the past 12 years, Turkish media outlet Sozcu has reported. In total, the country imported 62 tons of tear gas and pepper spray between 2000 and 2012. Turkey is currently being rocked by its biggest wave of anti-government protests in years, with at least two people killed and thousands injured from clashes with police since the protests began on Friday. Videos and images have emerged on social media showing police in riot gear firing tear gas, using pepper spray, and physically beating demonstrators. The US is known for its exports of crowd control munitions to countries rocked by widespread protest. Amnesty International confirmed that one US company had shipped 21 tonnes of ammunition to Egypt – enough for 40,000 rounds of tear gas grenades and canisters – in addition to a separate shipment of 17.9 tonnes.
Further questions raised around the controversial use of ractopamine in meat
The sale of Smithfield Foods, the US's largest pork producer, to Shuanghui International - China’s largest meat company - raises new questions about the future of ractopamine, a controversial growth hormone that is widely used in US pork production and has long been the subject of controversy. The US Food and Drug Administration approved ractopamine, a beta-agonist, more than a decade ago to increase the rate at which animals grow – therefore reducing the time to slaughter. But China, Russia, the European Union and several other countries question its consumer safety. While few consumers are aware of ractopamine’s use in meat production, the additive has for years been a source of conflict between countries that ban its use, including the EU; and those that use it, including the US, which is aggressively pushing for greater access to markets for agricultural products.
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