Both the Serbian war criminal Arkan (above) and Better Together
have allegedly been financially supported by oil tycoon Ian Taylor
Scottish News: News in Scotland - Wednesday
No campaign donor linked to war criminal Arkan
Alistair Darling has been urged to hand back a £500,000 donation from the president and chief executive of oil company Vitol, Ian Taylor, until answers are given regarding what Mr Darling and Better Together knew about his alleged financial involvement with the infamous Serbian warlord Arkan whom he allegedly gave $1mn and whether they knew of accusations of cash-for-access to Downing Street as well as allegations of tax avoidance. The matter raises fears over whether the oil company is promising to give funds to Better Together in return for favours in terms of North Sea oil sector contracts from Westminster. The sum given by Mr Taylor represents almost half of the total £1.1mn raised by Better Together. The SNP said: "Material fully in the public domain states that during his tenure as chief executive Mr Taylor's company paid $1 million to the Serbian war criminal Arkan, who was indicted at The Hague for crimes against humanity...We know that Alistair Darling met Mr Taylor to discuss his donation, and we need to know if he asked him about any of these issues. In the interests of transparency and a fair referendum campaign, the No campaign must hand this money back to Mr Taylor until Mr Darling has been able to answer:
"Will the No campaign launch an internal investigation into this matter and make its conclusions public?
What Mr Darling and Mr Taylor discussed, and did it include these issues?
What Mr Darling and No campaign knew about these issues, and what their opinion is of them?"
Vitol have strenuously denied all the aforementioned allegations.
Scottish independence: situation for young people in Britain "expected to worsen", Unicef
New evidence from children's charity Unicef has called into question the Better Together claim that Scots would be better off remaining inside the UK. The children's charity Unicef has ranked the UK 16th out of 29 developed nations for overall wellbeing and has issued concerns that teenager's future prospects are poorer than in other European countries including Slovenia and the Czech Republic. High rates of teenage pregnancy, low levels of educational attainment and employment opportunities among Britain's youth as well as alcohol abuse in young teens have sent the UK down the global performance table. Unicef have warned that young people's prospects are worsening as UK austerity cuts threaten to "sideline" a generation.
More Scottish news:
- Better Together credibility battered after warnings of fresh UK downgrades
- Scottish independence: UK downgrade means promised 'recovery' is like Waiting for Godot
- Scots go hungry to maintain London’s global status
- Scottish government criticised over ‘coherence’ of education reforms
- Scottish independence: economy will be a success after independence, says expert group
Lords dismiss SNP's Bank of England claims
A report produced by the House of Lords, an unelected body, has dismissed the Scottish government's claims that an independent Scotland would have influence over the Bank of England. The Lords' Economic Affairs Committee also slammed both the UK and Scottish governments for indulging in “conspiracy silence” and not being open with the electorate in Scotland about the economic possibilities of a 'yes' vote. The committee dismissed as “entirely fanciful” and “devoid of precedent” claims by the SNP of influence over the central bank and argued that the choice of currency represented "the most important economic decision an independent Scottish Government would face.” The Scottish government has yet to explain how an independent government could protect Scotland's economy from money printing south of the border and asset stripping of Scotland using leveraged buy-outs - both of which would be highly inflationary in Scotland. Without an independent currency Scotland would be exposed to England's escalating debt and subject to England's poor international credit rating.
Scots should be given access to more ‘hard news’ affecting them
A leading TV executive in Ireland has declared there is an “unanswerable” case for a “Scottish Six” news programme to ensure viewers in Scotland are given a clearer insight into news and current affairs affecting them. Kevin Bakhurst, a former editor of the BBC Ten O’Clock News and now a senior figure at RTE, has said that the divergence of events north and south of the Border ensure it is now “much harder to resist” the idea of a main news programme based in Glasgow. Political support for the change began prior to devolution, however, BBC governors rejected the move. Such a call for a more informed Scottish news programme follows complaints that far too much of UK wide news programmes only relate to English viewers – thus marginalising Scots and real issues affecting them.
Assembly Rooms Fringe line up revealed
A stage adaptation of The Shawshank Redemption heads the line-up at one of the longest-running venues on the Edinburgh Festival Fringe this year. The Assembly Rooms’ programme, which is being put together by veteran comedy promoter Tommy Sheppard for a second year, is hopeful that the production will be “one of the hottest tickets in town”. High-profile politicians will rub shoulders with some of Scotland’s best-known writers and musicians in other events at the Assembly Rooms, which has been a fixture on the Fringe for more than three decades. Mr Sheppard said: “We are offering the best theatre, comedy and music on the Fringe bar none. We have also been working with local businesses to improve the outdoor area of the Famous Spiegelterrace and are confident George Street will be the place to be this summer”.
UK crisis: new body to investigate RBS
A new investigation will be launched into the Royal Bank of Scotland's computer problems last year by the newly formed City regulator the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). RBS could face another fine over the 'computer problems' which disrupted millions of customer accounts. The fines will be diverted to the treasury which faces increasing funding deficits. RBS is 82 percent taxpayer owned meaning the fines will be met largely by UK citizens.
Shamed former head of HBOS hands back knighthood
James Crosby, the former boss of HBOS, has allowed his knighthood to be revoked after a scathing report found that he sewed the "seeds of destruction" at one of Britain's biggest banks. Crosby was chief executive of HBOS until 2006, but has been described as the architect of the strategy that just two years later led to the bank having to be bailed out for £20bn by the taxpayer. The 57-year-old chose to give up the honour, granted in 2006, rather than face the humiliating prospect of being stripped of it. Crosby's decision came after David Cameron refused to intervene when MPs from all three main political parties called for action based on continued evidence of the lack of action by the UK government in taking on the City of London and its growing financial bubble which many observers view as based on systemic fraud and corruption.
Syria: Western-backed insurgents form closer links to Al-Qaeda
The group al-Nusra which is prominent in the western-backed insurgency in Syria has become part of Al-Qaeda. The declaration made by Al-Qaeda in Iraq was transmitted via an online audio message was further evidence supporting the general belief that links existed between both groups in Syria whilst also confirming the operational presence of Al-Qaeda in Syria. Al-Nusra claims to have committed the majority of the suicide bombings in Syria since 2011. The move will undermine western powers in their attempt to topple President Assad and gain geo-political leverage in the energy rich and strategic region.
South Korea warns of imminent nuclear strike
A South Korean defence minister has warned that North Korea could launch a nuclear missile “at any time”, as Pyongyang has completed final preparations for a weapons test. South Korea’s warning to its citizens to prepare for an “imminent” strike comes as Pyongyang prepares to mark the April 15 birthday of the nation’s founder Kim Il-sung. Last year, Kim Il Sung’s centennial was marked by parades of tanks, soldiers and missiles, as well as the attempted launch of a satellite-carrying rocket widely believed by the US and its allies in the West to be a test of ballistic missile capabilities. Yesterday Pyongyang advised foreign embassies to consider evacuating their citizens and warned tourists in South Korea to leave Seoul in case of an outbreak of war.
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