Tag Archives: uk

Anti-radicalisation conference takes place in Aarhus a week after Paris-attacks

By Frederik Gammelby

An international conference on de-radicalization takes place in the city of Aarhus, Denmark, today a week after the terrorist attacks in Paris.

The radicalisation prevention programme popularly labeled the ‘Aarhus-model’ has gained international attention for its focus on creating dialogue with radicalised elements as a means of preventing radicalised youths to travel to conflict zones like Syria.

Mayor of Aarhus Jacob Bundsgaard has been speaking in the US, Lebanon, and Sweden about the programme, why the conference has garned huge interest.

While French police have increased police presence after the attacks in the French capital, the de-radicalisation conference in Denmark looks for softer ways of preventing radicalisation of especially young people estranged from society.

The conference in Aarhus comes as next week’s government spending review is expected to present significant financial cutbacks for policing in the UK and Wales.

Home Secretary Theresa May has been warned by police that cutbacks might have an effect on their response to a Paris-style terror attack.

In Aarhus, police are already playing an active part preventing radicalization of youths in cooperation with social workers, parents, and mentors.

 

 

Edinburgh Marathon promotes free workshops

By Carolina Morais

Organisers of the Edinburgh Marathon today launched a series of free workshops ahead of the event which is expected to attract thousands of people next May.

People in Edinburgh showed up at the Nuffield Health Fitness & Wellbeing Center for tips on training plans, nutrition, goal setting, physiotherapy and a guided run along the canal.

Annette Drummond, one of the organisers, said she is “proud” of all the work that has been done by her team.

“We have been around for 13 years now and the event has expanded and grown so much,” she said.

“It started off as just a marathon and now it is a marathon festival over two days, bringing 30,000 people together to raise millions for charity and boost the local economy, all whilst keeping fit and helping people achieve their dreams.”

The Edinburgh Marathon 2015, scheduled for the 30 and 31 May, will be raising funds for Diabetes Scotland and has already received a £2,376 donation from a team of investment managers from the Business Growth Fund.

The race was the first in Scotland to be recognised by the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF).

Ms Drummond said its popularity has been boosted not only for being “an IAAF rated event” but also “by the fact that Edinburgh is a beautiful city that people like to visit”.

“This is an international event”, the organiser said. “70 per cent of the marathon runners come from outwith Scotland.”

Free workshops in preparation for the main marathon will also be held in Glasgow on 30 October.

Scottish Labour Conference Round-up

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This weekend saw Scottish Labout hold its annual conference in Inverness. With Scotland just over a year away from the independence referendum, the conference was an opportunity for the party to establish its agenda for the coming months. Here were a few of the talking points.

Lamont pledges to help SNP on social justice

Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont has vowed to work with the Scottish government to help those affected by Tory cuts. In an emotional speech to conference, Lamont pledged to work with the SNP to protect Scots from the “injustice” of the much-maligned “bedroom tax”. She told delegates “Scotland can stand united against the Tory cuts and I call upon the SNP to work with us. If they truly believe in social justice, we can work together.”

Labour attacks Thatcher legacy

Scottish Labour’s Deputy Leader Anas Sarwar accused George Osborne of carrying on the “vandalism” of Margaret Thatcher with his austerity measures. In a fiery speech to conference Sarwar blasted the Chancellor in the wake of the former PMs funeral last week. He said “(Osbourne) has shaped his whole political ideology and cut his political teeth so he can carry on the work of his political hero. Today, he is carrying on the vandalism Thatcher started and his targets are just the same.”

Future Employment Taskforce Launched

Margaret Curran MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland, used conference to launch a taskforce on Employment for the Future. The taskforce will be in place to explore ways in which Scotland can increase employment opportunities in the years to come. Speaking at the launch, Curran said “We have close to 200,000 people unemployed in Scotland, and 17,000 people have spent the last two years on the dole, trying to find jobs. This is a challenge that is too urgent to wait until we are in Government again.” The taskforce will be chaired by Lord John McFall and leading tech entrepreneur MT Rainey.

New Health Watchdog Proposed

Labour announced proposals for a new healthcare watchdog, which would have the power to monitor and turn around troubled hospitals with troubleshooting “Change Teams”. Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Health Jackie Baillie said that it would be a body “with teeth”, to “regulate, inspect, enforce and encourage continuous improvement.”

Johann Lamont was praised by attendees for her keynote speech to her party. However the SNP took the opportunity to criticise her “obsession” with the nationalists, claiming that it overshadows the party’s lack of policies. A spokesman said “There were 22 mentions of the SNP in Johann Lamont’s speech and Alex Salmond was name-checked 13 times. But sadly she was unable to come up with even one new policy.”

Unite union set to strike

The UK’s largest union is balloting its members to determine whether strike action will be used in the dispute over working conditions of delivery drivers in the oil sector.

Unite’s national officer Matt Draper said: “The professionalism of tanker drivers is at stake. We should not accept a lowering of standards so that the oil companies can maximise their profits.

“Four of the top global oil companies posted combined profits of a staggering £106 billion in 2011. Yet, drivers are suffering a contract merry-go-round, with their working conditions under constant attack.”

There are growing fears we could see a repeat of the September 2000 strikes which brought fuel shortages across the country. Due to the adverse effect a strike could have, the government has already arranged a contingency measure by enlisting army personnel to drive tankers if the protest goes ahead. It is hoped this will minimalise shortages and stop the country coming to a standstill.

Limited reserve stocks have been highlighted as an additional concern; due to the high price of fuel many petrol stations have stopped storing high quantities in reserve. This means that any reduction in deliveries will have an immediate impact on the availability of fuel.

Last week George Osbourne increased fuel duty as part of the budget, taking the cost of petrol to an average of £1.40 per litre, with a record high of £1.46.72/l recorded by the AA.

The latest price hike comes shortly after the announcement to raise the road tax bandings, with the top band range now costing over £1000 per annum. Drivers groups have long complained about the way motorists are overcharged for every aspect of owning a vehicle.

The result of the ballot will be announced later today.

Average prices per litre of unleaded petrol in the UK from 2007 to June 2011:

source: http://www.petrolprices.com/the-price-of-fuel.html

The percentage of the fuel cost which is attributed to tax is often criticised by consumer groups. Currently UK tax on fuel amounts to 70% of the pump price.

Cost per litre of crude oil extraction: 8p
Cost per litre of refining: 2p
Cost per litre to transport to UK: 2p
Cost per litre to transport to pumps: 5p

UK’s 2012 Eurovision entry unveiled

Engelbert Humperdink is the UK entry to the 2012 Eurovision Song Contest.

The UK’s entry into the Eurovision Song Contest 2012 has been unveiled today on the official Eurovision website. The entry, a ballad entitled “Love Will Set You Free” is performed by veteran crooner Engelbert Humperdinck.

Humperdinck, 75, will perform the song at the Contest finals in Baku, Azerbaijan on May 26, in a bid to reverse the recent UK bad fortune in the competition.  It has been 15 years since the UK have won the first place prize, with the 1997 entry from Katrina and the Waves, “Love Shine A Light.” It has won the competition a total of 5 times since first entering in 1959.

Born Arnold Gerald Dorsey, Humperdinck is best known for his 1967 hit, “Release Me.” His career has spanned 56 years, and he will be the oldest male performer to take part in Eurovision.

A soaring power ballad with lyrics, “Though I’ll miss you forever, the hurt will run deep. Only love can set you free,” the song has drawn mixed reactions on twitter.

User @barnabyedwards was enthusiastic, “What madness is this? The UK’s Eurovision entry appears to be a proper song sung by a proper singer,” while @garydunion was more condemnatory:  “Oh Jebus, the UK eurovision entry is even worse than I feared. This is truly dire.” His thoughts were not echoed by @dvolvemusic “Love that people are being forced to EAT THEIR WORDS about Humperdinck’s eurovision song. Its insanely brilliant, Yeah, i still love it :D”

Royals support Scottish Venture

by Orla Ni Sheaghdha

Venture Trust helps young people in difficult situations.

Edinburgh based charity Venture Trust is to benefit from the Prince William and Kate Middleton Wedding Gift Fund. The couple are encouraging guests to donate money to charity in lieu of giving them wedding gifts. Venture Trust is one of 26 organisations which are featured on the list. Chief Executive, Greg Barton is delighted about the news. “It’s a wonderful honour to be recognised by Prince William and Miss Middleton for our work with complicated young people across the UK- we’re immensely grateful for their support.”

The charity was founded in 1982 to provide support for young people in difficult situations, particularly young offenders. Venture Trust run three programmes to help disadvantaged and vulnerable people make positive changes in their lives. Inspiring Young Futures supports youths who are in care or who are young carers themselves. Transitions to Independent Living looks after those who may be homeless or have unstable living situations. The Criminal Justice programme provides alternative options for young offenders.

These intensive personal development programmes take place in wilderness settings in order to provide participants with the opportunity to escape pressures they face in their everyday lives. Taking part in physical activities also seems to have a positive effect on the emotional and social wellbeing of those involved in the programme. The Royal Wedding Gift Fund will help to ensure the continued support of these development programmes for young people in the UK and other global projects which are being run by Venture Trust.

High speed rail discussions continue

Edinburgh centre, credit: members.virtualtourist.com

By, Kati Rawlins

Edinburgh City Council is continuing with their agenda to include the city in the plans for a UK high speed rail network.

City council leader, Cllr Jenny Dawe met with the Secretary of State Rt Hon Michael Moore MP at the City Chambers this Thursday. The topic will be high on the agenda in addition to discussions about other important issues. The discussion will also include budget cuts in the public sector, welfare reform and energy, in particular renewables.

Cllr Dawe further added: “This meeting is recognition of Edinburgh’s importance not just to Scotland but to the UK as a whole. I am grateful to the Secretary of State for taking the time to meet with me tomorrow.”

Last week at Holyrood Cllr Dawe and the leader of the Glasgow council, Cllr Gordon Matheson talked to MSPs about the importance of adding Scotland to the High Speed Rail plans. They explained what would be needed to bring the rail link to Scotland and stated the importance of maintaining the pressure on the Scottish Government to co-operate with their Westminster counterparts in ensuring that Scotland becomes a part of the network from the outset.

The meeting this week was a good opportunity in general for council leader Dawe to bring the Secretary of States attention to timely issues in Edinburgh.

Cllr Dawe continued: “The meeting will provide me with a great opportunity to promote Edinburgh’s priorities to ensure that we remain a world class city to live and visit as well as one which is attractive for investment.”

Secretary of State, Rt Hon Michael Moore MP, said: “I am keen to discuss the High-speed rail link with Edinburgh Council. I am particularly looking forward to hearing about the way it will fit into their plans for strengthening the city’s economy and the investment opportunities that it will create.”

Foreign Office Minister assures viewers armed services “won’t wear onions”

By Ryan C. Gavan
Jeremy Browne MP
Jeremy Browne made the comment on the TV programme Question Time

Foreign Office Minister Jeremy Browne told the Question Time audience in London this week  “soldiers won’t be required to speak French or wear onions round their necks or stripy t-shirts or ride bicycles” during the debate on the new joint France-UK military agreement.

He was questioned by an audience member of whether anything “will be British anymore.” Then was branded a “racist” by a heckler.

Browne will not comment on the issue, only directing questions to the Foreign Office.
A  spokesperson said “Mr. Browne was speaking during a wider and lively discussion” continuing “his comments should be seen in this context”. Following, he was just “allying concerns” and was “not meaning to cause offence.”

The French Embassy has “no comment” on the matter, despite the stereotypical descriptions.

Lise Morel,  who teaches French in the UK, was “gobsmacked” by the “clichés of the French”. She believes that it is “extremely offensive in that context in particular.”

“I am surprised such a public person would have the gall of actually saying that publically” Morel says. It is causing her to start “reconsidering getting her British nationality if members of the Government can speak about the French this way”.

Mathieu Cagna, also a French national, said it was “not bad”, putting it down to the British humour.

Dr. Lynn Bennie, a senior lecturer in Politics at the University of Aberdeen thinks “it is inappropriate language if anything else” continuing, “when politicians make these kinds of statements it does not do their reputations any good.”

This is an embarrassment to the Government is stressing the strong relationship with France at the moment. Prime Minister David Cameron was seen shaking hands with Nicolas Sarkozy over the deal. Nick Clegg the Deputy Prime Minister was seen speaking French at the talks.

The “Declaration on Defence Security Cooperation”, as it is known, is proposing shared military capabilities in an effort for both countries to save money. It will call for the sharing of aircraft carriers and British troops under French command.  There will also be a sharing of nuclear test facilities.

Both countries are under increasing pressure to find savings and this is one solution. It is being hailed as a “new chapter” in defence. It is a controversial partnership due to the past disagreements over conflicts as recent as the war in Iraq.

Browne followed with a comment “not to believe everything you read in the papers.”

High Speed Rail Network to include Scotland

By Katariina Rawlins

The 5th of November

London High Speed Rail

The Coalition Government at Westminster are currently considering how to best take forward plans for a UK High Speed Rail Network.

Council leaders from Glasgow and Edinburgh explained this Thursday to MSPs why it would be beneficial to include Scotland in the high speed rail plans.

Council members Jenny Dawe and Gordon Matherson spoke at an event in Holyrood that was hosted by MSP Charlie Gordon. Many people turned up for said event.

Edinburgh council leader Cllr Jenny Dawe, said: “The presence of the Leaders of Scotland’s two main cities at today’s event is a clear demonstration of our willingness to work together in the national interest and of the importance that we attach to bringing high speed rail to Scotland.”

The Council members pointed out how adding Scotland would deliver maximum economic and environmental benefits whilst ensuring that Scotland is not economically disadvantaged in relation to UK and international competitors.

Cllr Dawe added: “Failure to do so from the outset will damage not just our ability to compete internationally but also our ability to compete with those other regions of the UK that will be included in the network.”

A rail expert has warned ministers that Scotland must spend £10 million on its own blueprint for a high-speed rail route north of the Border because the UK is only serious about building lines from London as far as northern England.

Cllr Gordon Matheson added: “In fact, it’s estimated that bringing the line to Scotland could take at least 20 years – so long-term thinking and planning is absolutely crucial and we believe we have a strong case for building this rail network from both ends.”

The event was organized to make sure that the Scottish Government would work with Westminster to ensure that Scotland is included in the network from the outset.

Cllr Matheson said: “Edinburgh and Glasgow both agree that rejecting any commitment to high-speed rail for Scotland would be short-term thinking of the worst kind.”

It took place on the same day as Secretary of State for Transport Philip Hammond addressed the Transport Times Conference in London outlining the government’s commitment to HSR.

Award winning UK festival, Bloodstock Open Air announce fourth act, Morbid Angel

By Georgi Bomb

The number one independent festival in the Uk, Bloodstock Open Air has just confirmed Death Metal act, Morbid Angel to their line up in 2011. There are four acts now confirmed and Morbid Angel will join the main stage with Triptykon, Immortal and Rhapsody of Fire.

Bloodstock Open Air began as an indoor festival in 2001 when Paul Gregory and Vince Brotheridge met through mutual friends. A company called Amust4music was born and so the start of the festival. BOA is held in Derbyshire and originally was held at the Assembly Rooms in Derby city center. Their slogan, “By the fans, for the fans” was the idea behind the name of the festival which was put out as a competition for the naming of the event. The logo changes every year but will always features a ram which coincides with Derby folk law, based around a ram. BOA didn’t become an outdoor festival until 2005 when the event became a sell out and the indoor festival had its final run in 2006, when it became an outdoor festival only.

The Virtual Festival company awarded BOA with “Best Festival, 15,000” in October this year and they are up for a further two awards of “Best Grass Roots Festival” and “Best Headline Performance” for this year’s event by long-standing act, Twisted Sister.

In little over two months since their tenth anniversary, BOA have been proud to announce the American Death Metal lords, Morbid Angel which is also confirmed as their first and only UK date of 2011. The four-piece from Tampa in Florida consist of David Vincent, Trey Azagthoth, Destructhor, Pete Sandova and Tim Yeung on session drums since this year. The  band have seen a phenomenal amount of line up changes over the years with Trey being the founding member from 1984.

Releasing seven studio albums and one live during their current 26 year career; fans are eagerly awaiting the next installment which the band started work on from June of this year.

US raise concerns over Anglo-French Treaty

by Simon Black
French and British Leaders at conference
President Sarkozy and Prime Minister Cameron at the Anglo-French Summit, 2010

What is supposed to be a major step in the right direction has already found milestones to trip over along the way. Last night PM David Cameron was cautioned that the US are concerned with the groundbreaking French-UK deal and are considering to pull out of intelligence sharing.

The deal, signed yesterday, marks an interdependence between France and the UK. It is ultimately a pool of resources which each country will make benefit off. Sharing air carriers and nuclear intelligence will further the bond between the two allies and also benefit the financial climate and civilian safety in each country.

Although it marks a long-term companionship between European powers, there are concerns circulating across the Atlantic that the deal will cut ties with the US Government. John Bolton, a UN ambassador for the US, claims this deal could dramatically decrease the amount of intelligence the US will share with the UK. “‘Inevitably the risk with this is that American methods and sources will be compromised and it is going to have a very profound effect” Bolton told reporters in the wake of the deal.

John Bolton, US Ambassdor for the UN
John Bolton, US Ambassador for the UN

The US are apprehensive that they share classified information with the UK and this could be at risk with this new deal. France were opposed to the 2003 US invasion of Iraq and only recently rejoined the NATO command structure, and some could argue they are renowned for retreating over repleting.

‘There is a long track-record of duplicity on the French part” says Bernard Jenkin, a former Tory defense spokesman.

With the Republicans gaining in the mid-term elections the US are obviously already in uncertainty. The sharing of resources between European powers can only further fuel the uncertainty that a European Army may lie in the future. This fear is substantiated by  a specific part of the deal stating that either country can deploy troops at a single command and can use each deployment bases.

Mr Cameron and French President Nicolas Sarkozy have stressed that the deal will further enhance the defense and attack capabilities of both countries while being a major landmark in compatibility between both powers.

Mr Sarkozy has stressed the deal “is unprecedented and it shows a level of trust and confidence between our two nations that is unequaled in history”. Mr Cameron suggested it is the “greatest bang for our buck”.

World News In Brief

At least seven people have been killed in the capital of Nigeria after two cars exploded outside the justice embassy today. The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (Mend), a militant group based in the south of the country, had earlier threatened attacks on the day that Nigeria celebrates 50 years of independence from the UK.

Ecudorean soldiers have rescued the president of the country after he was taken hostage by protesting police. Rafael Correa had tried to negotiate with furious police and rank-and-file soldiers, who are revolting against a new law that means they will no longer receive medals and bonuses when promoted.

A British citizen suspected of planning a terrorist attack in the UK has been killed by a US drone in Pakistan. The man, who was in his 20s and is believed to be a part of a terror cell with other Brits and Germans, was allegedly masterminding a Mumbai-style siege of a UK city.

The London Beefeaters??

by Christian McBride

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, expects more games to be held in the UK per season over the next few years and has inferred that growing popularity for the game could well lead to a London based team. Mark Waller, NFL head of sales and marketing, has said that they are framing it to happen in the next ten to twelve years.

The increase of regular season games being played in London has been praised by New England Patriot Quarterback Tom Brady. One of the leagues most successful Quarterbacks Brady claimed the trip gave the team a unique chance to bond that they would not get from regular road games in the US. Brady was quoted saying “We all went out for dinner Friday night which we don’t get a chance to do very often”

One obvious concern with playing regular season games on the other side of the Atlantic would be the fatigue factor but this doesn’t seem to be as much of a problem as has been perhaps feared. The first teams to play a London game were the New York Giants and the Miami Dolphins, and that season the Giants went on to win the Superbowl, the London victory clearly not having a negative affect on their season.

The basis for both the increase in games and the development of a London franchise is the sound economic move. The previous three Wembly games have been at maximum capacity of 85,000, such figures are comfortable enough for the NFL, driven primarily by the financial climate, to see it as a logical move. Goodell commented that it was reassuring that the games were so well received given the current economic crisis.

David Tossell, the Director of Public Affairs for NFL International, has said that “if there is a real will for a team to be developed in London, for regular games to be played in the NFL season, then the logistical problems can be worked around.” And when asked about the opportunity for local British players to get into the London franchise he said that though the teams would have to be primarily American in nationality but it would be “obviously beneficial if British players could do well enough to go across and play for American colleges and make their way into the game.” As it stands there are many non-American players in the NFL, indeed the Superbowl winning team of three years ago has a Scottish fist team kicker, born in Glasgow and a purported Celtic fan.

tayloragain
image borrowed from http://www.deadspin.com

Economy still in recession

The United Kingdom is still deep in recession, reports Janos Gal.

The UK economy shrank by 0.4% in the last quarter from July to August reports the National Statistics. It is the longest period of  recession since records began in 1955.

This is the second year that the economy has contracted, or the sixth quarter, making the UK one of the worst hit economies in the European Union.

Germany and France came out of recession six months ago, and leading politicians and businessmen expected the UK would come out of recession by the end of 2009.

“There are many millions of people who will be deeply concerned to see that Britain is still in recession six months after France and Germany came out of recession,” told George Osborne, Shadow Chancellor the BBC.

He said that the new data means that the measures such as low interest rates and quantitative easing that the government said would turn the economy around have not worked.

He added: “It destroys the myth that Britain was better prepared.”

Source: news.bbc.co.uk
Source: news.bbc.co.uk

“Third quarter GDP is awful, with no positive news within the report, the UK may be the only major economy to have contracted in the third quarter” said James Knightley, economist at ING.

Alistair Darling, the Chancellor of Exchequer said that confidence is returning but it will still take some more time to recover.

“I have always been clear that I did not expect to see growth until around the turn of the year and I have consistently said that we are not out of the woods yet.”

Glasgow hacker loses chance for appeal.

Hacker Gary McKinnon has failed to get permission to appeal to the UK supreme court over his extradition to the US.

Lord Justice Stanley Burnton and Mr Justice Wilkie of the High court judged that the case was of not enough importance to be put forward to the UK Supreme Court, and that the call for extradition was an appropriate response of the American Government considering the alleged offence.

Accused of hacking into US military sites, the US have been trying to extradite Mr Mckinnon, 43, for the last four years, despite knowing about it for seven years.

Mr Mckinnon a sufferer of Aspergers syndrome, a form, of autism has maintained the fact that he only hacked into US government files so he could find evidence of UFO’S and alien technology.

The US government however claims that Mr Mckinnon hacked into 97 computer and created $800,000 (£487,000) worth of damage to American equipment.

They also claim that he changed erased important information at a US naval air station following the attacks on New York at 9/11.

The ruling by the High court comes after the Home Offices decision in July that Mr Mckinnon should be extradited to America, Alan Johnson, Home secretary, stated that:

“It would be illegal for me to stop the extradition of Gary McKinnon, which the court ruling has made clear.

Mr McKinnon is accused of serious crimes and the US has a lawful right to seek his extradition, as we do when we wish to prosecute people who break our laws.”

The decision has sparked anger from autistic charities and civil rights groups that believe that extraditing someone suffering from a mental health problem is wrong.

Liberty the human civil rights group condemned the decision, stating : “Today’s court decision demonstrates the disgrace that is Britain’s extradition arrangements that allow vulnerable people to be shipped off around the world when they should be tried here at home.”

His Mother Janis Sharp who has been campaigning against his extradition spoke out after the ruling was made outside the High Court in London, she said:

“To use my desperately vulnerable son in this way is despicable, immoral and devoid of humanity.”

“I’ve fought for five years to protect my son and I am not about to give up now. I will stop this if it’s the last thing I do. I will not stay by and watch Gary be destroyed.”

Argentinian President marks Falklands anniversary in London

Gordon Brown meets Christina Kirchner
Gordon Brown meets Christina Kirchner

By Vikki Graves

Argentinian President Christina Fernandez de Kirchner is in London today for the G20 summit. The discussions will focus on solving the global economic crisis, but for Argentinians, today’s date has another significance. It marks the anniversary of Argentina’s landing in The Falkland Islands, which sparked a bitter 74 day war. Ironically, President Kirchner will be marking the anniversary on British soil. She will attend a commemorative event at the Argentinian Embassy in London.

Last weekend, British Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, met President Kirchner at the Progressive Governance forum in Vina del Mar, Chile. While Mrs Kirchner was keen to discuss Argentina’s claim to sovereignty of the islands, Mr Brown had stated in advance that there was “nothing to discuss from our side”.

The talk is reported to have lasted 35 minutes of which 15 were devoted to discussing the Falklands. It was described as “constructive” by both sides, who also, according to a British official, “agreed that they have differences of opinion”.

But this seems to be the only thing they agree on. Argentina’s claim to the islands, known in Spanish as ‘Las Malvinas’ is a powerful tool in domestic politics. Opinion is particularly strong in Tierra del Fuego, the province at the southern tip of the country, 300 miles from the islands. One Argentinian claims “for the world Malvinas are forever Argentinian”.

A British tourist, who visited Argentina in 2007, during the 25th anniversary of the war, confirms the strength of public feeling on the issue. “When I was in Ushuaia, the capital of Tierra del Fuego, there was a lot of grafitti saying things like ‘Malvinas for Argentina!’ and ‘The English are Pirates’. If you speak to the locals, many of them will agree that the Islands should join Argentina and become part of their province.”

Argentina’s Foreign Minister, Jorge Taiana, said “the President clearly established that in the 21st century the persistence with an archaic colonial enclave [by the British] is something not consistent with the world’s rhythm”. Gordon Brown, however, focussed not on a British sovereignty claim, but on the rights of the island’s inhabitants.

“The essential principle has always been that the Islanders should determine the issue of sovereignty for themselves and, let us be clear, our first priority will always be the needs and wishes of the Islanders.” – Gordon Brown

But what do the Islanders want? They were granted British citizenship in 1983, but the consitution supports their right to self-determination. They are ruled by a Governor, appointed by the Queen and advised by  Executive Council and an elected Legislative Council.

A statement release by the Falkland Islands Government on Monday made its position on the Argentinian sovereignty claim very clear.

“…our Argentine neighbours remain in a time warp, still pressing their anachronistic claim to territorial sovereignty.  In short, they wish to colonise the Falkland Islands.

We have been encouraged by the UK Government’s clear and unshakeable position that the sovereignty issue is not for negotiation.  There is no turning back from this.

Falkland Islanders have expressed their views freely and unequivocally over many years.  We wish to remain British.  Our constitution enshrines the right to determine our own future.  Surely no-one who supports democracy and human rights can oppose this?”

Yesterday, yet another coincidence befell President Kirchner. On the the eve of the anniversary of the beginning of the war, it was announced that Raul Alfonsin, the democratically elected president who took over at its end, died in his sleep aged 82.

Alfonsin’s government replaced the military dictatorship which started the war and, controversially, put nine of its former rulers on trial. He is widely seen as a symbol of a return to democracy for Argentina. The announcement of  his death could well overshadow any plans Mrs Kirchner may have to restate her claim to the Falklands.

Strikes Continuing

By Stewart Primrose

A deal to end the wildcat strikes has been rejected by workers at the oil refinery in Lincolnshire.

The offer from employers Total was to recruit around 28% of its workforce from the UK, however, this offer has been dismissed by Union leaders. Talks are set to continue throughout today and both sides hope for a solution.

BBC’s Danny Savage, who is at the site said: “As things stand this protest continues, this dispute is not over.”

Workers are concerned that the sub-contractor, IREM,  is looking to save money

by only using foreign workers. The protests are expected to continue across the UK . The workers have stated that

they want proof the migrant workers are on the same pay and conditions as themselves. French contractor, Total, have maintained this is this case.

Derek Simpson, Joint General Secretary of Unite feels that even if the dispute is solved there may be future problems with this situation.  “Even if this dispute is settled [there is] still a major problem about how these foreign companies, who win contracts and come complete with a workforce, are going to create other difficulties.

“It will occur again, and I’m sure it will occur in other countries as well unless there’s a realisation that you can’t just

Protesters
Protesters

use the freedom of labour to the exclusion of indigenous labour.”

The conflict originally began a week ago in North Killingholme, in North Lincolnshire. A contract for work to expand

 the refinery was given to IREM, who wish to use foreign workers. Total claim it is not discriminating and the decision to award the contract was a fair one.

Protests have spread to many sites in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

“The outcome will be minimal”

MEP Alyn Smith
MEP Alyn Smith

Scottish Member of the European Parliament Alyn Smith (SNP) joins in the criticism of the UK’s plan to heal the British economy.

Interview by Charlotte Morgenthal

What impact will the European Central bank intervention have on Scotland?

It will have a minimal impact and the meeting will moreover be about international coordination of the financial crisis.

Do you wish that Scotland has somebody sitting at the EU Council table? What difference would it make?

Yes, it is pretty much SNP policy that we have an independent Scotland within Europe. Yes, I do wish that we have access to all the levers. Our Ministers currently have a seat in the Council but they don’t have speaking rights. From the European Parliament perspective: Unless you have the right to participate you don’t really make the law for your country.

With all the voices criticising the Westminster tax cut approach this morning and yesterday: what do you think about it?

I do agree with them. There is a lot of sloppy decision making at the moment. Alistair Darling and Gordon Brown allowed the economy to get that far and it is a catastrophic failure of regulation. It is pretty much an Anglo-Saxon problem which doesn’t exist to that extent in say France or Germany. If you leave the market to itself it will pretty much destroy itself.

The Pre-Budget Report, A Reaction and Interpretation.

By Lindsay Muir.

Yesterday the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Alistair Darling, unveiled the most anticipated pre-budget report in twenty years. The report is the basis for some radical changes and tax-cuts designed to buffer the force of the recession which looks certain to hit in 2010, perhaps even before the end of the year; and stimulate both the financial markets, which were up 9.84% at close yesterday, and consumer spending.

The Chancellor’s report is a major cataclysm in the economic policy of the Labour Party. The move to increase the income tax rate on earnings over £150,000 to 45%, should Labour win the next general election, marks the end of New Labour’s pledge not to increase income tax and is perhaps a hint of the return of the Labour Party of old.

As predicted VAT, value added tax that we pay on so called “luxury goods” is to be slashed by 2.5% to the new level of 15%. This is the lowest rate allowed under EU law. Through this the government hopes to stimulate consumer spending, which has understandably dropped in recent months with many facing growing utility bills and general financial uncertainty. In basic economic terms it is hard to overestimate the importance of consumer spending, without it the entire financial system on which the modern world is based would collapse on a scale one hundred times worse than has already happened.

The title of yesterdays report, “Facing global challenges: supporting people through difficult times”, should not be taken at face value but as the ethic which will see the world overcome recession. It is in the global interest that the nation states of the world begin to trust each other and their financial institutions in order to kick start the global economy in a reformed and better regulated manner in order to avoid the same economic problems 30 years from now.

Full details of yesterdays pre-budget report can be found here. Courtesy of HM Treasury.

News in Brief

By Rebeca Calvo-Gaspar

Edinburgh.

Firrhill Drive in fire. More than 40 firefighters from the Lothian & Borders Fire and Rescue Service helped to extinguish the fire. Some parts of the building to be demolished due to safe and security reasons. No one was harmed during the incident.

Adopt a wild animal for Christmas. The Edinburgh Zoo and the Highland Wildlife Park launch this campaign as a way to finance and support the cost of feeding and keeping these animals.

Scotland.

“Thank you” parades. More than 300 soldiers returned from a six-months operational tour in Afghanistan will take part in three parades in Penicuik, Glasgow and Ayr to thank families and friend for their support.

Rats in Glasgow. Almost 4000 calls for help made by more than concerned neighbors. Glasgow’s West End is the most affected area.

UK.

Men’s wages still higher than women’s. The Office for National Statistics calculates and 17.01% pay gap from 17% last year. An average full-time working woman would lose around £369,000 during her whole working life, the Equality and Human Right Commission estimates.

The Prince of Wales celebrates his 60th birthday launching the Price’s Trust’s Youth week in East London. This charity helps 14 to 30 years-old who are unemployed, with no education or training.

World.

Official recession in Europe. Figures show the economy contracted 0,2% during the third quarter. Second consecutive negative growth define a recession. Germany and Italy first to join the club of which no country wants to be a member.

Recycled urine for astronauts. The US Space Agency invested $250m in the water recycling gear which converts waste-water, including urine, into fresh water for drinking.