News in Scotland - Wednesday

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SNP leader, Alex Salmond, has become Scotland's longest serving
First Minister IMAGE: STOCKPIX.EU

Scottish News: News in Scotland - Tuesday


Alex Salmond: Scotland’s longest-serving first minister
Alex Salmond has become Scotland’s longest serving first minister. Labour’s Jack McConnell previously held the record, holding the position from November 2001 until May 2007. Mr Salmond reached the political milestone on Wednesday, having served over five and a half years as Scotland’s first minister. Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon congratulated Salmond, stating: “It is this record of success that will help win a yes vote in the referendum for an independent Scotland in autumn 2014.”

Scottish independence: Former SNP figures warn of Euro currency pressure
Member states of the European Union could attempt to force an independent Scotland to join the euro currency as the price of membership, two former leading SNP figures have warned. Jim Sillars and Gordon Wilson have rejected the Scottish government’s claim that EU membership would automatically follow independence, calling on the government to avoid the euro currency by beginning negotiations over joining the European Free Trade Association as an alternative to the EU.

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Scottish independence: Expert accuses Salmond of a ‘lack of candour’
An expert in constitutional law has accused Alex Salmond of a “lack of candour” over an independent Scotland’s EU membership. Professor Neil Walker, of Edinburgh University, has criticised the first minister’s “complacent assumption” that Scotland gaining EU membership would be “nae bother.” However, the professor concurred with another leading expert, Graham Avery, observing it seemed “quite wrong” that as existing European citizens Scots would be removed from the EU or remain under “a significantly less favourable” deal.

Super Pumas given the go ahead
Some of the Super Puma helicopters grounded after ditching off Shetland have been given the go ahead to fly again. The grounding resulted in many oil worker in the UK unable to return to shore as scheduled. Boats were drafted in as an interim measure until air accident investigator could verify the safety of the aircraft. Operator Bond hopes to have three Super Pumas of another model type available to fly from Thursday. CHC Helicopters is thought to plan to have another four helicopters operating by next week.

Scottish retailers hardest hit by UK crisis
The number of empty Shops in Scotland has risen in the first half of 2012, according to a new report. The Local Data Company (LDC) said the vacancy rate during the period increased by 1.3 percent to 16.7 percent - a rise of more than 2 percent higher than the average across the UK. Aberdeen and Stirling were the only Scottish cities not to see an increase in vacancy rates, with Paisley witnessing more empty shops than anywhere else. The LDC has reported that although the number of empty shops was rising, the “negative trends of 2011 have slowed.”

Audit Scotland: ‘Review needed” on reoffending
A spending watchdog has asked the Scottish government to re-think its strategy to tackle criminal reoffending. Audit Scotland has reported reconviction rates have stayed “relatively static” in the past decade with thirty percent of offenders reconvicted within one year. The organisation said the funding set-up was “inflexible” and stronger leadership was needed. A government spokesperson replied: “We will not be able to reduce reoffending overnight, and it will take time, effort and commitment on the part of all those involved in the field.”

Strike action over change to legal aid system
Scotland’s legal system could be compromised as defence solicitors threaten strike action over a controversial change to the legal aid system. The Scottish government has proposed that accused people who have a disposable income of £68 a week must make a financial contribution to their legal aid. The responsibility for the collection of this contribution will lie with the solicitors instead of receiving the whole fee from the Scottish Legal Aid Board. The Edinburgh Bar Association has already decided “overwhelmingly” in favour of industrial action, while the Glasgow Bar Association and other organisations are expected to vote on the issue this week.

Eurocopter: Peterhead Super Puma ditch based on false alarm

The manufacturing company behind Super Pumas has revealed that an initial false alarm avoided a “potentially catastrophic” mechanical failure. Eurocopter has reported that the warning of a lubrication system failure on the CHC-operated Super Puma was a false alarm – identical to the scenario in the ditching in May involving a Bond-operated Super Puma. In both situations the pilots made controlled landings because of the false lubrication warnings, which led to the discovery of the cracked gear boxes. The offshore organiser of the RMT union, Jake Molloy, stated: “Until they can not only ensure the reliability of the shafts, but also the emergency back-up systems, then these aircraft should not be allowed back in the air.”


UK AND WORLD

Obama wins decisive victory in US presidential elections
President Obama, the Democrat candidate, was re-elected last night in a victory that saw him win 303 electoral college votes whereas Republican rival Mitt Romney only won 204. The lower house, the House of Representatives remained majority Republican holding 232 seats to the Democrats 187 and 16 other seats. Democrats still control the Senate, holding 51 seats with Republicans holding 45 seats and two seats held by others in the upper house. Following Obama’s re-election, the dollar fell indicating the markets doubts over his ability to negotiate Washington’s debt reduction talks.

Cameron attacks EU budget increase
David Cameron has attacked the proposed EU budget €100bn euro increase as being ‘ludicrous’ ahead of a meeting at Downing Street with German Chancellor Angela Merkel who argues that a rise in the EU budget is necessary. Cameron is aiming for a freeze in the EU budget but is under pressure to reduce the budget in real terms from Conservative party members. A summit of EU-member states meet in Brussels in the next month to discuss the budget.

UK gender pay gap
A study by the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) has found that female executives earn £423,390 less over their lifetime in comparison to male counterparts working in UK companies; earning £127,257 average a year compared to £141,946 received by male executives. The study found that women received less than half of what men were awarded in bonuses and that the gender pay gap between men and women is 14.9 percent. The percentage of women in the executive workforce is now 57 percent, the highest since CMI records began in 1995.

UK cancer costs over £15bn a year
A study presented today in Liverpool to the National Cancer Research Institute suggests the cost of cancer in the UK is over £15.8bn a year. The study by Oxford University researcher’s aims to find the best areas of further research calculates that 64 percent of the cost is from economic losses from ill-health, early death and unpaid care work from friends and family.

A third of disability claimants fit for work
The UK Government has announced that 36 percent of people reassessed for disability benefit between December 2011 and February 2012 have been found fit for some kind of work. Employment Minister, Mark Hoban backed the Department for Work and Pensions efforts to support people back into work via the Jobcentre Plus and the Work Programme.

French government to consider gay rights bill
The French government are to meet to discuss a bill extending gay rights to legalising gay marriage and allowing gay couples to adopt. France currently allows gay couples to enter into civil unions but only married couples are allowed to adopt under French law. President Francois Hollande’s election pledge to extend gay rights is facing tough opposition with 1,000 mayors signing a petition against the bill and protests in 75 French towns. The bill is expected to reach parliament in January.

Spain against Catalan pro-independence movement
Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoys spoke against the pro-independence movement in Catalonia as defying common sense and history. Catalonia’s President Artur Mas has called for elections in the regions for November 25 and is seeking a mandate to hold a referendum on “self-determination”. The Popular Party government said that the vote would breach the constitution and claimed that Mas was acting divisive in a time of economic crisis.


Greece to hold vote on austerity cuts
Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras has pleaded with parliament to vote through 13.5bn euros worth of spending cuts, which include pensions and tax increases, to secure the country’s next round of financial aid worth €31.5bn of loans from the EU and IMF. Greece is expected to run out of money on 15 November if they do not qualify to receive the financial aid. A third day of strikes is set to continue across Greece, bringing public transport to a stand-still. Greece’s two largest labour unions representing half of the Greek workforce organised the strikes in response to proposed austerity measures.

Israel announces more settlements
The Israeli government has announced plans to build 1,200 homes in settlements in four Jewish enclaves. The announcement is seen as a threat to the Palestinian plan to ask the UN to upgrade their status to non-member observer state to recognize an independent Palestine later this month. Senior Palestinian official Saeb Erekat condemned the Israeli settlements as an attempt to make the peace process between the two states more difficult.

Turkey: ex-Israeli commanders tried over peace activist killings
A court in Istanbul has begun the trial, in absentia, of four ex-Israeli military commanders over the fatal raid on a Turkish boat as it tried to break the blockade of Gaza in 2010. The Mavi Marmara was carrying six hundred pro-Palestinian activists towards the Gaza coast when it was intercepted by the Israeli navy in international waters in May 2010. The Israeli commandos boarded the Mavi Marmara leaving nine Turkish activists dead and seven commandos wounded. If the four are found guilty, the court could issue a warrant for their arrest. Israel states the four commandos acted in self-defence after they came under attack by Turkish activists on the boat.

Cameron suggests Syrian president should receive safe passage
In a speech in Saudi Arabia, David Cameron announced that the Syrian President, Bashar Assad, could be granted safe passage out of Syria and immunity from prosecution. The PM made it clear that the UK would not provide President Assad with a safe haven but that leniency ought to be considered in order to end the bloodshed of the Syrian civil war which has seen 40,000 people killed so far.

Syria: UK to enter talks with opposition groups
David Cameron is set to authorise UK officials to begin talks with armed opposition militants in Syria, as ministers acknowledge that militants are increasingly dictating activity in the region. William Hague will announce the move at a conference in Doha this week. Cameron, who will announce an extra £14m in humanitarian aid for Syrian refugees, stated: “The longer this goes on, the more that it can promote and drive extremism and we’ll see instability in the region.”


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published this page in News 2012-11-07 13:03:35 +0000