News in Scotland Wednesday

News in Scotland Wednesday
News in Scotland Wednesday
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First Minister Alex Salmond’s used his new year speech to ask Scots
what powers they would give up in 2014 if Scotland was already

Scottish News: News in Scotland – Wednesday


400 Scots households a week face bankruptcy 
Scots are set to face 2013 in financial misery with an estimated 400 households a week facing bankruptcy. The number of Scots facing sequestration, or being forced to take out a Protected Trust Deed is expected to continue at a rate of almost 20,000 a year, according to accountants and business advisers PKF. Bryan Jackson, corporate recovery partner with PKF, said: “There was a widespread assumption the economy would start to show signs of recovery in 2012”.”However, it is clear from Chancellor George Osborne’s Autumn Statement, as well as other statistical and anecdotal evidence, that sustained economic growth remains elusive. The result is that personal insolvencies, while stabilising, remain at a very high rate in historic terms”. 

New insurance rules for North Sea oil firms
New guidelines on covering the cost of oil spills in the North Sea have come into effect. The move means firms will in theory have to demonstrate “financial responsibility” for drilling operations before a licence is granted. It follows a review held in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. But environmental group WWF Scotland said the guidelines would do little to prevent oil spills. It also claimed the guidelines would make no difference to wildlife caught up in any future incident. The UK Department of Energy and Climate Change ordered a review of regulations in light of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010.

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Scotland’s political leaders issue New Year messages
Scotland’s main political leaders have issued New Year messages. Labour’s Johann Lamont said she wanted to see more focus on help for families struggling in tough economic times, while Lib Dem leader Willie Rennie said Scotland faced  “a demographic time bomb, the advance of climate change and the stubborn pervasiveness of poverty”. First Minister Alex Salmond said the independence referendum in 2014 would bring new opportunities for Scots to make their own choices, and invited Scots to consider how they might vote if the referendum in 2014 was for an independent Scotland to give up its independence and hand over powers in areas like welfare or foreign affairs to London. The first minister ended his message by saying “We can build a new independent nation.”

RSPB Scotland abandons plans to build wind turbine on its own reserve
The wildlife charity RSPB has abandoned its plans to erect a wind turbine at one of Scotland’s largest nature reserves in Aberdeenshire after objections from the public. The Ministry of Defence has also put its weight behind the opposition to the scheme, claiming that the turbine could pose a risk to Britain’s air surveillance defence network and national security. James Reynolds, a spokesman for RSPB Scotland, said: “Climate change is the single biggest threat to all of nature, which is why the RSPB, as a conservation charity, is committed to sourcing renewable energy supplies. In light of the current objection from the MoD we are looking at other options for sourcing green energy”.


‘Rail an extravagance for many’ after 50% fare rises in 10 years
Rail Fares for season ticket holders have risen by as much as 50 percent in the past decade making travelling to work by train an extravagance that growing numbers of people struggle to afford, according to campaigners. Commuters returning to work after the Christmas break face an overall rise on ticket prices of 3.9 percent. But the Campaign for Better Transport says this is just the latest in a series of fare increases that is having an “appalling” impact on commuters. Chief executive Stephen Joseph said: “It’s truly shocking that we have deliberately made getting the train to work an extravagance that many struggle to afford. The time has come not just to stop the rises but to reduce fares.”

Iain Duncan Smith calls benefit rises unfair
It is unfair for benefits to rise at a faster rate than wages, the work and pensions’ secretary has said ahead of a key Commons vote on capping benefits. Figures highlighted by Iain Duncan Smith show jobless benefits rose 20 percent in the last five years, compared with an average 12 percent rise in private sector pay. But Labour said job seekers allowance had failed to keep pace with wages over the past 10 years. Shadow work and pensions secretary Liam Byrne said cuts to tax credits had pushed millions of working families into poverty and now meant thousands of part-time workers were “better off on benefits”.

Young ‘cannot cope with daily life’
One in ten young people feel they cannot cope with day to day life, with those not in work, education or training more than twice as likely to feel this way according to a Prince’s Trust survey. The annual Youth Index report questioned 2,136 16 to 25 year olds. A total of 27 percent of respondents in work feel down or depressed always or often, compared with 48 percent who were not in education, employment or training. Martina Milburn, chief executive of The Prince’s Trust, said: “A frightening number of unemployed young people feel unable to cope – and it is particularly tough for those who don’t have a support network in place”.”We know at The Prince’s Trust that it is often those from the most vulnerable backgrounds who end up furthest from the job market”.

Measles outbreak kills hundreds in Pakistan

Measles cases in 2012 have surged by almost five times that of the previous year in Pakistan, leading to the deaths of hundreds of children, according to an international health body. Maryam Yunus, a spokeswoman for the World Health Organisation (WHO) said that 306 children died in Pakistan because of the infectious disease in 2012, a dramatic surge from to the 64 children in 2011, with the jump most pronounced in southern Sindh province, where measles killed 210 children in 2012. Twenty eight children died there the year before. The organisation did not give a reason for the increase in deaths, but a provincial health official in Sindh said that the disease hit areas where poor families could not vaccinate their children.

US House passes ‘fiscal cliff’ deal
The US House of Representatives has passed the “fiscal cliff” bill, ending the long dispute over the measure that averts tax hikes and spending cuts. The bill’s passage on a 257-167 vote in the House of Representatives sealed a political triumph for the president less than two months after he secured re-election. The deal raises taxes on the wealthiest Americans, but does not contain any cuts to entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare. But critics of the bill say it does not address real concerns: “Much of the debt, 16 trillion dollars is worthless; it should not even be paid. And we are debating what kind of cuts we have to make,” Lawrence Freeman, editor of the Intelligence Review Magazine, told Russia Today. What the Capital Hill should focus on, Freeman suggests, is avoiding the risk of hyperinflation in 2013.

Tens of Thousands march in rival protests over Hong Kong’s leader
Up to 130,000 people have held rival marches in Hong Kong both for and against the city’s chief executive, Leung Chun Ying. Those protesting against him say he has misled the public over a controversial real estate issue. Leung’s critics say he should step down over allegations he lied about illegal renovations to his mansion during last year’s election campaign, and even built a false wall to try to conceal it. Leung’s critics also accuse him of being a puppet of Beijing: “We don’t even have a vote; he is elected by a small group of people. We cannot use our voting right to express our view no matter how his performance is,” said Calvin Tse, a designer. The chief executive is chosen by a panel of 1,200 business leaders and other groups, who are mostly Beijing loyalists, while the legislature is half elected by the public and half by business groups.


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