News in Scotland - Wednesday

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Scots must balance the risk of remaining part of declining Britain against
the unknown opportunities of political independence

Scottish News: News in Scotland - Wednesday (53)

SCOTLAND

Independence: being part of Britain has meant "unprecedented" cuts, IFS shows

As Scots go to the polls next year to decide if they want to keep the political Union with the rest of the UK they will reflect on the fact that workers in Britain have faced more financial strain since 2008 than in any five-year period in modern times. According to the Institute of Fiscal Studies (IFS) workers have suffered wage cuts of 6 percent in real terms over the last five years since the financial crisis was turned into an economic crisis through bailouts and money printing (quantitative easing) policies designed by Westminster and the Bank of England. Responding to the research Michael Pearce of Capital Economics is reported as saying: "We're not expecting this damage to be reversed any time soon, highlighting one reason not to get too carried away by recent signs of economic recovery." The research will place further pressure on the the anti-independence Better Together campaign to explain why Scots should be exposed to the economic risks of remaining part of Britain, which the IFS explained, is going through a worse economic situation than even the 1930s depression.

£40mn given to universities to help widen access

Some of Scotland's most selective universities are proposing to allow greater access for poorer students, and allocate more places to graduates from local colleges. Edinburgh, Aberdeen and St Andrews universities are among those which will offer around 700 new places to people from disadvantaged backgrounds. The National Union of Students has welcomed the move but said institutions could do a “great deal more” than just taking 10 or 20 deprived students each year. Robin Parker, president of NUS Scotland, said: “It’s clear the government’s investment in £40mn worth of places for students from deprived backgrounds will see improvements, but it’s unclear how far universities are taking the initiative and going above and beyond this”. “To see the huge improvements in fair access we want to see, universities must do much more”.

More Scottish news:

London outperforms Scotland in retail spending

Spending in Scottish shops has been weaker than the UK figures in May, figures show. In Scotland, year-on-year sales increased by 0.8 percent, according to the Scottish Retail Consortium (SRC) - whereas the comparable figures published by the British Retail Consortium (BRC) show UK-wide sales growth of 3.4 percent. One of the key reasons given is that London appears to be booming. The boom stems from money printing (quantitative easing) policies which favours The City and transfers wealth from the UK's regions to the capital. Real-term wage cuts and austerity continue to be a drag on main street Scotland with shops forecast to close at an alarming rate over the next few years.

INTERNATIONAL                                             

UK crisis: democracy questioned as riot police raid G8 ‘peaceful protest’

Riot police raided the central London HQ of anti-G8 protesters on Tuesday and hundreds of officers were deployed in the capital as protests took place against next week's G8 summit. The raid came on the day of the Stop G8 group's Carnival against Capitalism - targeting banks, hedge funds, mining and oil firms in central London, as well as Claridge's hotel and Boodle's private club in the run-up to the summit in County Fermanagh. One man, who did not wish to be named, said: "I think it's police brutality, to enter a completely legal squat. They're just trying to stop any protests. It's pretty scary”. One person, who had apparently been removed from the building, was taken away in an ambulance. The leaders of the world's eight wealthiest countries, including British Prime Minister David Cameron and Russian President Vladimir Putin, are due to meet at the luxury Lough Erne resort in County Fermanagh for the conference on 17-18 June.

Former HBOS chief Crosby has wrist slapped

James Crosby, the former HBOS chief executive, who was found by a parliamentary commission to be the “architect of the strategy that set the course for disaster” for the giant bank will not face criminal prosecution but instead be merely stripped of his knighthood and have his £580,000 pension trimmed. The privileged treatment is in keeping with how bankers have been treated in recent years despite evidence of systemic corruption across the entire UK sector. Despite fines for money laundering, cartel operations, Libor rigging and other scandals which amount to the biggest financial crime in history, no senior UK banking executive has yet faced trial. The news is further evidence that financiers are protected by the establishment and that there is one law for the rich and another for the ever increasing poor population.                                              

Hospital security tightened where Nelson Mandela is being treated

Security has been stepped up at the South African hospital where Nelson Mandela is receiving intensive care for a fourth day. Six uniformed police officers guarding the Mediclinic heart hospital in Pretoria on Tuesday morning have been stopping and searching every vehicle entering the main gate. The increase in security came as South Africa's President, Jacob Zuma, described Mandela's condition as "very serious". Some of the 94-year-old's oldest colleagues have called for him to be granted peace. Denis Goldberg, who like Mandela was sentenced to life imprisonment at the 1960s Rivonia trial, said: "I think it's time for us to accept that each of us plays our role and then moves on. It's the natural order of things”. This is Mandela's fourth spell in hospital since December.

NSA to continue its extensive surveillance operations

The widespread surveillance programs operated by the NSA will remain intact, despite the international and domestic backlash that has rocked the White House. President Obama has defended the controversial NSA spy programs that continue to generate headlines; with the Associated Press reporting that the administration shows no sign of slowing down its domestic operations, even as the huge scope of the surveillance becomes more widely known. Quoting a senior intelligence official speaking on conditions of anonymity, AP has reported that there are no plans to scrap the surveillance programs. Despite Edward Snowden being hailed as a hero and a whistleblower by many for sharing details about extensive domestic spying, the White House’s support of the programme is instead getting increasing backing from some of Washington’s biggest players.                                               

Greece’s state broadcaster shutdown to comply with EU bailout deal

Journalists from Greece's state broadcaster ERT have defied a government order to close it down as part of the latest public spending cuts imposed to meet the terms of the country's bailout deal. It is believed to be the first time a state broadcaster in Europe has been closed down by its government in the post-war era, threatening to blow up into a major political crisis for the Greek government nearly a year after it took office. Leftwing opposition leader Alexis Tsipras criticised the closure as "illegal" during an interview on ERT's online broadcast. "Many times the word 'coup' is used as an exaggeration," he said. "In this case, it is not an exaggeration”. The decision to close ERT was announced during an inspection in Athens by officials from Greece's bailout creditors. The so-called "troika" of the European Union, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund has been pressing the government to start a long delayed programme to lay off civil servants.                                  

Some of the worst violence is reported in Turkey since protests began

Clashes in Istanbul lasted into the early hours as Turkish riot police fired tear gas, water cannon and rubber bullets at protesters in Taksim Square and its adjacent Gezi Park. The night brought some of the worst violence since the troubles began nearly two weeks ago, with police firing tear gas into thousands of people gathered on the square. The US, which has held up Turkey in the past as an example of Muslim democracy that could benefit other countries in the Middle East, expressed concern about events in Turkey – despite supplying the country with around $21mn in tear gas and pepper spray over the past 12 years. The protests have continued to grow into wider demonstrations against Prime Minister Erdogan's perceived attempts to impose a religious and conservative lifestyle in a country which has secular laws. He has also escalated tensions by vowing to press ahead with the Taksim redevelopment plans, dismissing the protesters as fringe extremists and the protests as undemocratic plots to topple his government.

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published this page in News 2013-06-12 12:31:39 +0100