Tag Archives: NSA

News round-up

by Nicola Brown

1. Newspaper and magazine publishers are seeking an injunction to prevent royal charter on press regulation as proposed by the government. In a last ditch attempt at the High Court on Wednesday, industry representatives will go before the Privy council to oppose the plan. The three main political parties, along with Hacked Off campaigners, back the proposal. Publishers believe the proposed charter by political parties would mean the end of a free press in the UK.

2. The government has put forward plans to cap pension fees, which they believe could save people tens of thousands of pounds. The proposal aims to limit pension management fees to between 0.75% and 1%. The government intends to stop excessive charges, and become firmer handed with pension fees. The cap comes alongside large-scale reforms being set up to automatically place workers in pension schemes.

3. Competing supermarket chains Sainsbury’s and Tesco’s may face a court battle. Sainsbury’s has appealed for a review of Tesco’s Price Promise Promotion, disagreeing with the way it compares products of different quality and origin. The argument made by Sainsbury’s has already been rejected twice. A review will likely be heard in summer 2014.

4. Leading German intelligence officials are in talks at The White House over the alleged hacking of Chancellor Merkel’s mobile phone. The US is facing increasing anger amid reports that the NSA has been spying on its allies. The NSA has spoken out saying that accusation are grossly exaggerated.

5. The Supreme Court has ruled against the appeal made by the IDS in what has been coined the ‘Poundland case’. The Court ruled that the regulations did not fall under the accused ‘forced and compulsory’ labour. Cait Reilly who brought the case forward argued it was a breach of her human rights, however others have commended it as a gateway for those wanting to get into employment.

6.  The Great British Bake Off has helped see a surge in popularity for The Women’s Institute, who had to reject 130 prospective members. Baking shows like Bake Off which, with the help of social media, have seen a resurgence in fans have helped to revamp crafts once considered old-fashioned. The WI saw queues of 350 women hoping to join a new branch in Bristol.

7. Justice Secretary Kenny McAskill’s previously applauded decision to lower Scottish drink driving limits may not be put into action until 2015. McAskill’s initial announcements in March suggested that the legal limit would be reduced from 80mg to 50mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood by 2014. The delay is due to the unavailability of vital Home Office experts, who are required to recalibrate alcohol testing equipment. The proposed change is reported to be popular among Scottish residents, as around 17 lives a year are expected to be saved under the new law.

8. The White House has stated that it will monitor its NSA surveillance, with recent leaks forcing a review of their intelligence methods. Following the revelations made by whislteblower Edward Snowden, administration has suggested changes have already been put in place. Among them are a ban on spying of foreign allies and the United Nations.

Students and staff organise against government’s cuts in higher education

By Jenny Kassner

We will march is the slogan of an unprecedented demonstration against the rise of fees in higher education that is due to take place in London on the 11 November 2010.

Students, academic staff and the general public will be marching through central London to demonstrate against cuts in education and a raise in tuition fees of universities.

The Lord Browne report, that was released in October proposed to lift the cap off tuition fees. At the same time, the government’s comprehensive spending review revealed that there would be severe cuts in education funding. This had caused wide spread disapproval amongst the British student body and academic staff.

“We must fight so that the government continues to fund education to current levels, and student support to higher levels”, stated Liam Burns, president of NUS president at the senate of the Napier Students’ Association last night. He had been invited by the association to come to speak at their first senate of the year to raise awareness of the severe consequences the Brown review is most likely to have on Scotland.

Across the country, universities’ student associations are organising free coaches for their students to have a chance to attend the demonstration in London on 11 November.  Online portals allow students to share and offer available seats on coaches.

The demonstration is organized by NUS and UCU (University and College Union). But with 7 million students and only about 125000 of academic staff a concern may be raised that the student voice will be much louder at the demonstration and staff issues might be silenced. However, the UCU press office has stated that student and staff were working together to preserve a fair system of higher education. “There is no battle between the two.”

The coalition will announce its response to the Lord Browne review today. They are expected to announce to put the cap of tuition fees in England on £9,000.

Student president candidate withdraws from race

Nathan Sparling

A candidate for the Edinburgh Napier Student Association presidential election has withdrawn from the contest.

Nathan Sparling issued a statement this morning indicating that he felt unable to continue due to the ‘inappropriate actions’ of the NSA.

Mr Sparling also outlined his concern that he had received a ‘First and Final Warning’ from the elections committee without right of reply, saying: “It was the first I had heard of the complaint submitted to the Elections Committee, and I had not been given the right to respond.

“As you will be aware, it is also within my Human Rights to be given the right to respond to a complaint where disciplinary action could be taken.”

The warning was received after Mr Sparling had previously contacted Programme Representatives to inform them of an Emergency Senate.

Mr Sparling went on to register his disgust at the removal of The Journal by the NSA form all university campuses without the authority of the university, calling it a severe breach of Article 19 of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states: “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”

In a new development it has been revealed that until last night all students were able to view up-to-date election results. Visable were details of who voted, for whom and in what preference.

Mr Sparling has requested that the returning officer, Finlay MacCorquodale, transfer all votes cast for him to RON (ReOpen Nominations).

Students protesting the censorship of The Journal have already been urging people to vote RON in protest at the newspaper’s removal.

The NSA  has not commented so far on Mr Sparling’s withdrawal, the allegations within his statement or on The Journal protests.

Students protest censorship

A protest poster

Students at Edinburgh Napier University are to hold a series of protests this week over the removal of a student newspaper from all campuses.

The protests will be held every day this week, both on campus and at the Scottish Parliament.

The row centres over issues of press censorship and began after independent student newspaper The Journal published an article detailing dissent, and a possible vote of no confidence against the current president Kasia Bylinska, at the Napier Student’s Association.

Current NSA president, Kasia Bylinska
Current NSA President, Kasia Bylinska

The article stated that allegations of six counts of  unconstitutional behaviour had been made against Ms Bylinska and that eight programme representatives had signed a motion for an emergency meeting to enact a vote of no confidence in the president.

The NSA responded by removing all copies of the publication from the university, which has prompted accusations of press censorship by members of the student body.

Rik Carranza, who ran against Ms Bylinska in last year’s election, said: “This action taken by the NSA is disgusting and shares more in common with censorship in China than creating an equal playing field for election candidates which the elections committee is trying to justify.

“I am a proud member of the student union movement and have been for many years now and let me tell you, I have never seen such a flagrant disregard for freedom of speech in my time in NUS. The NSA has infringed basic human rights and they should not be allowed to continue”, he continued.

Edinburgh Napier University said: ” The University does not condone the decision of the NSA to remove copies of The Journal from its campuses.”

Shirley-Anne Sommerville, MSP

The campaign has earned support from SNP MSP Shirley-Anne Somerville. She said: “Freedom of the press is integral to any democratic society. The Journal is a valued resource in the city, keeping students up to date with student issues and wider current affairs – it is a respected paper and provides valuable experience and employment to…… those interested in the field of journalism. I hope that this current dispute is concluded as soon as possible.”

The protesters are also hoping to gain enough signatures on a petition for an emergency meeting for a vote of no confidence in Kasia Bylinska. This would over-ride the need for programme representatives to lend their support. The petition currently has over 200 signatures after just a few hours of campaigning.

Christopher Pilkington with campaign material
Christopher Pilkington with campaign material

Christopher Pilkington, one of the most active members of the protest and a programme representative for the Business Management with Marketing course, said: The idea of a university – a place that is intended to shape young minds – being actively censored is intolerable.

“We cannot be brought up to accept a censored press, particularly when the organisation doing the censoring is refusing to be held accountable to the students it claims to represent.”

Following the publication last week, all copies of The Journal have been removed from Napier campuses. The NSA have yet to issue a statement regarding the reasons for the removal and have so far declined to comment on the Journalgate protests.

Kenneth Dale-Risk, Law lecturer at Edinburgh Napier University said he did not believe the original Journal article to be defamatory stating that it was “an article of fact.”

Protesting students outside the NSA building at 12 Merchiston Place, Edinburgh

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Protests:

Wed: 11 – 5 at Craighouse

Thursday: 11 – 5 at the Scottish Parliament

Friday: 4 onwards sit-in at Craighouse Campus

Follow the row on Twitter – just search #journalgate