Corruption in the UK has worsened since the 2008 crash with politicians
and the media to blame according to a new survey
Scottish News: Top stories - Tuesday
‘Bedroom tax’ sees huge surge in rent arrears
The majority of Scottish councils have reported a rise in rent arrears since changes were made to housing benefit on 1st April with the introduction of the ‘bedroom tax’. Cosla, the local authority umbrella body, surveyed 20 of the 26 councils which have their own housing stock. All but one recorded a rise in arrears, with debts for April up £2mn on the same month the previous year. Cosla stated that if the trend continues, the policy would result in rent arrears of about £25mn a year. Under the changes, housing benefit has been cut by 14 percent for people deemed to have one extra bedroom and 25 percent for those deemed to have two extra bedrooms. Cosla president David O'Neill said: "It will be exactly 100 days tomorrow since the under-occupancy changes were introduced and I derive no pleasure whatsoever in seeing that our predictions about the dire consequences of this ill-conceived policy are starting to be borne out”.
Scottish independence: Which court will Andy Murray be in?
Andy Murray will declare his hand on the independence debate before the vote he has said. In a sign of Britain's celebrity culture Murray, who won his first Wimbledon title at the weekend, has said he is under pressure to give his opinion. He said: "I'm going to get asked about it all the time. I will think about it, speak to some people and try to see what is best for the country." The campaign which, so far, has been low in political content will undoubtedly see a stream of celebrity actors, actresses and sports' personalities - not usually known for their political insights - being wheeled out to give their thoughts on Scotland's historic independence referendum to be held next September.
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- 'No' vote to independence risks population exodus
- Bank of England should be abolished
- Scottish Times announcement - let us write for you!
CURRENCY INDEPENDENCE v UNION LATEST
(International news on monetary union to inform the Scottish referendum debate)
Greece: next 'rescue' loan payments approved
After missed deadlines over reforms and concerns about having an "uncertain" economic outlook, Greece will receive its next bailout payment of 6.8bn euros (£5.9bn). Most of the payment amount will never reach Greece however as it will be earmarked as loan repayments to institutions closely related to the those approving the bailout in a process sometimes described as 'Europe bailing out Greece to bailout Europe'. Instead of a single payment the money will arrive in tranches in July, August and September - a process many view as designed to reassure irate German taxpayers whose vote Angela Merkel will be soliciting in just 2 months’ time. Indeed, with the German election on the horizon, some view it as the ideal bargaining chip for the Greek government to have payment confirmed without delivering terms. Should the eurozone be plunged into another crisis Ms Merkel's reelection campaign would face serious problems. Greece is under pressure to cut more public sector jobs and deliver austerity cuts in return for the funds despite evidence that austerity is shrinking the private sector. The bailout comes from the Troika (IMF/European Commission/European Central Bank) which claims Greece's finances are improving arguing that it is evidence that reforms require to be implemented faster. Other experts believe that this is a narrative which suits the Troika and that to the contrary Greece is now locked into a permanent bailout cycle which is ruining the Greek economy.
UK crisis: Corruption levels have increased fivefold since 2010
More than half of respondents in a global corruption survey think that transparency has worsened over the past two years, with a quarter reported to having paid officials a bribe in the last 12 months. Respondents also believed official anti-corruption efforts had deteriorated since the 2008 world financial crash and subsequent economic decline. Transparency International's Global Corruption Barometer 2013 is the world's largest public opinion survey on corruption, and revealed that 90 percent of Britons believe the country to be run by “a few big entities acting in their own best interests”. In terms of the parts of British society most seen as corrupt, the media and politicians came out on top, at 69 percent and 66 percent. Britain has been “complacent about corruption,” and needs to “accept there is a problem in the UK rather than claiming it is only a problem overseas,” said Robert Barrington, executive director of Transparency International UK.
Venezuela confirms asylum request for Snowden
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has confirmed that the South American country received an official request for asylum from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden on Monday, after stating last week that his country would provide Snowden with a safe haven from "persecution from the empire”. Snowden, who last month leaked confidential information revealing NSA’s massive secret surveillance program, known as PRISM, is currently facing charges of theft of government property, and two counts of espionage. However if Snowden were to travel out of Moscow on a scheduled flight to either Venezuela or Bolivia, which has also offered asylum, he would likely have to make a changeover in Cuba involving flying through US airspace. Although leader Raul Castro has said that he supports Snowden’s application, he has yet made no mention of whether the country would offer asylum, or even simply grant safe passage.
Egypt: Muslim Brotherhood rejects interim president’s election plans
Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood has rejected a timetable for elections proposed by interim leader Adly Mansour, in a plan that calls for a parliamentary vote six months after amendments to the constitution are approved in a referendum. Mansour’s decree states that a panel for the review of the new constitution must be formed within 15 days, and in the run up to parliamentary elections, gives the interim president powers to issue new laws after consulting with the new government, yet to be formed. Elements of Sharia law have also been kept within the decree arousing criticism from Egypt's liberal population. The developments took place as investigations began into the violent clashes between the country’s armed forces and the supporters of ousted president Morsi earlier in the day. The violence took place outside the Republican Guard headquarters in the Nasr City district of Cairo, leaving at least 51 dead and injuring more than 430 people.
Fresh doubts over US Osama Bin Laden raid
The US’s top special operations commander ordered files relating to the Navy SEAL raid on Osama bin Laden’s hideout to be deleted from Defense Department servers and forward to the CIA, where public disclosure is more easily avoided according to Associated Press. The move which contravenes the Freedom of Information Act and federal regulations has met with no resistance from the Obama regime. It has also emerged from a damning 300 page report – previously kept secret by the Pakistani government - that the night time raid on Abbottabad has been described as an “American act of war against Pakistan”, slamming America’s “contemptuous disregard of Pakistan’s sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity in the arrogant certainty of its unmatched military might”. The former al-Qa’ida leader Osama Bin Laden was shot point blank unarmed in a US raid on his compound in the city of Abbottabad in May 2011, prompting Pakistan to set up a special commission to investigate how his presence in the country went undetected for nearly a decade, and, how US Special Forces were able to conduct the raid inside Pakistan without being detected. The report accuses Pakistani authorities of “negligence and incompetence” in detecting the leader’s presence, suggesting possible collusion with military intelligence seeing as the city was home to a large military academy for former army officers. The report does not go so far as to point fingers, but does say that “connivance, collaboration and cooperation at some levels cannot be entirely discounted”.
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