Today’s National News

Here’s a look at the news from across the UK with Ross Hempseed. 

For more information on Emiliano Sala look to our sports section for updated information.

First Minister’s gender equality council release first report

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s National Advisory Council on Women and Girls (NACWG) has released its first report.

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Nicola Sturgeon pledged to form the council in 2016

 

The report has made recommendations on how the Scottish Government can act to bring equality between genders in Scotland.

The NACWG gathered data from various businesses and third sector organisations  throughout 2018 to formulate their report.

Chairwoman of the NACWG, Louise MacDonald said: “We know from the growth of global movements such as s #MeToo and #TimesUp that there is a real appetite for radical change for equality for women and girls.

“The First Minister’s National Advisory Council on Women and Girls’ vision is for Scotland to be recognised as a leading nation in the pursuit of gender equality.”

She added in her statement: “In our first report and set of recommendations to the First Minister we set out the first steps for how that can be achieved. And while our work is primarily focussed on Scotland, I believe our story will resonate with women and girls across the UK and beyond.”

11 key recommendations

 

There were 11 key recommendations made in the report:

  1. Creating a ‘What Works’ institute to alter public attitudes towards gender rights and equality.
  2. Create a quota for a level of female candidates running in 2021 elections.
  3. Carry out a gender review for system analysis and change.
  4. Create a ‘Gender Beacon Collaborative’ including Scottish Government, local authorities, public body, third sector agency and a business to formulate a “holistic” method of tackling gender equality in work.
  5.  Improve female’s access to justice system when experiencing male violence.
  6. Create a body to ensure media are accountable when covering gender issues.
  7. Integrate UN Convention’s laws over discrimination against women into Scottish law.
  8. Create a commission to ensure early learning and primary education incorporate gender equality into learning curriculum.
  9. Provide 50 hours per week of quality, well-funded childcare for children between six months and five years-old.
  10. Create two ‘Daddy months’ of use-it-or-lose-it paid paternity leave.
  11. All new Scottish Government programs are to be created with gender sensitivity in mind.

MacDonald said on the recommendations: “We all have a part to play in creating a more inclusive society and in these recommendations we have focussed on tackling changes in the systems that too often perpetuate inequality.

“We must listen and let the voices of those who experience inequality every day be heard. And we cannot be complacent. Change will only happen if we all step up and call out institutional inequality where we see it – which will benefit everyone in Scottish society.”

 

Alex Salmond charged of attempted rape and sexual assault

 

Former First Minister Alex Salmond was arrested on Wednesday evening, January 23, and appeared at Edinburgh’s Sheriff Court at 2PM the following day where he faced the charges of 14 offences in the minutes-long private hearing, without making his plea.

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Salmond entering Edinburgh’s Sheriff Court (Photo credit: Ross Cowper-Fraser)

The charges were nine counts of sexual assault, two counts of indecent assault, two counts of attempted rape and a charge for breach of the peace.  

Salmond made a short statement to the  media outside the court strenuously denying the charges : “I am innocent of any criminality whatsoever.” 

The former First Minister could not take any questions and said: “I have got to observe the rules of the court and in court is where I will state my case.” 

 

The written statement read: “I co-operated fully with the police. I was released by the police after [the] interview and agreed to attend court today. I have always maintained that I have never engaged in criminality and that remains my position.” 

Police Scotland launched its investigation on Salmond in September last year following the Scottish Government’s inquiry after several complaints of sexual harassment against Salmond.  

After an internal investigation by the Scottish Government, Salmond won a legal battle against them earlier this month after Judge Lord Pentland said that the government’s actions had been “unlawful in respect that they were procedurally unfair” and had been “tainted with apparent bias.”

The former leader had been at the forefront of the Scottish Independence campaign. The referendum results were in favour of no to independence winning by 55%.     

Salmond had stopped to shake hands with two Yes supporters before entering the court.

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One supporter handed out badges, which read: “I stand with Alex. I would walk 500 miles.” (Photo credit: Calum Wilson)

Alex Salmond resigned as First Minister and SNP leader after Scotland rejected independence in 2014.

 

Could there be another Brexit referendum?

This last week has been one of the most tumultuous for British politics since the Brexit referendum on June 23, 2016. EN4News spoke with Mark Lazarowicz, the chair of the European Movement in Scotland, about whether another referendum would break the parliamentary deadlock.

Interview by Ailean Beaton for EN4News.

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Credits to Euromovescotland.org.uk

International Insight

Joanna Hampson brings you the latest EN4 international news brief for Tuesday October 23.

Here are today’s top stories.

  • The killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi was allegedly planned days in advance. The Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan revealed he has strong evidence to suggest Khashoggi was killed in a premeditated murder at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on the 2nd of October. In his address this Tuesday, to the MP’s of his ruling party, President Erdogan confirmed that 18 people had been arrested in Saudi Arabia over the case, but is yet to release further information regarding the details of the evidence. For live updates from the investment conference in Saudi Arabia head to the Guardian.

 

  • The world’s longest sea-crossing bridge has finally been opened in Zhuhai, China. Chinese President Xi Jinping has officially opened the bridge, which connects Hong Kong to Macau and the mainland Chinese city of Zhuhai, spanning 55km (34 miles) of water. The $20 billion bridge took nine years to build while incurring major delays and cost overruns. To watch the video ‘flying over the world’s longest sea bridge’ head to the BBC.

 

  • Poland’s first openly gay politician has said progressive policies can win in the countries local elections. After the ruling Law and Justice party suffered setbacks in local elections at the weekend, Robert Biedroń who stepped down as mayor of Słupsk to launch his own pro-European, “pro-democratic” movement, has now said that progressives can win. Biedroń’s own political trajectory, as a young, former LGBT activist who was elected to the Sejm in 2011, strides towards a modern Poland, advancing on the common view of the Catholic country. The Guardian report on the advancements of the upcoming elections in more detail on their website.

 

  • Donald Trump has warned that the US will bolster its nuclear arsenal to put pressure on Russia and China. Speaking to reporters, the President repeated his belief that Russia has violated the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty, which he has threatened to leave. Russia continues to deny these allegations.

In Business

 

  • UK based vacuum cleaner manufacturer, Dyson, is set to build its new electric car in Singapore. The factory will break ground in Singapore later this year with the first car scheduled to roll off the production line in 2021. Dyson has said Singapore was chosen for the project based on the availability of engineering talent, regional supply chains and proximity to some key target markets. With a vast budget of £2 billion committed to the plant, Dyson will be focussing largely on research and development and test track facilities.

 

  • Co-founder of the Benetton clothing firm, Gilberto Benetton, has died at the age of 77. Benetton founded United Colors of Benetton in Italy, with brothers Luciano and Carlo and sister Giuliana, in the 1960s. Considered as one of the most powerful families in Italy, Benetton himself is credited with diversifying the clothing company into a multi-billion euro giant. United Colors of Benetton is known for its provocative advertising campaigns which have previously featured images of prisoners sentenced to death in America and, more recently, displayed images of migrants being rescued from the Mediterranean.

Brexit bill powers curbed by MSPs at Holyrood

In a series of meetings held by the Finance Committee at the Scottish Parliament, MSPs have been debating amendments to the Westminster EU Withdrawal Bill amongst dispute over devolved powers in a post-Brexit political landscape.

There is potential that First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Prime Minister Theresa May could come to an agreement over powers between the two governments.

The finance committee will meet again at Holyrood tonight. Credit: Wikipedia.

Both the Scottish and Welsh governments are both currently considering measures in case they do not give their consent to the EU Withdrawal Bill. Both find themselves in disagreement with the UK Government over how powers will be divided after Brexit.

The issue is that UK ministers wish to have the final say in 24 key areas of power, whilst the devolved governments want a detailed consultation over such changes.

Holyrood has put forward it’s own alternative to the Westminster Bill in order to avoid concerns of a ‘power grab’ by the UK Government.

Scottish Brexit minister Mike Russell said the bill “can be improved”, and said he would “consider all suggestions”.

Around 230 possible amendments are being considered, with a majority of them having been rejected so far. It is known that 20 amendments have been voted through, with potentially more this evening as the Finance Committee will meet again tonight at Holyrood.

Leaked Brexit documents could affect UK’s access to single market

A leaked document regarding the UK’s exit from the European Union suggests access to the single market may be restricted.

The obtained leak – in a draft section of the UK and EU’s withdrawal agreement – states that during the post-Brexit phase the EU wants the power to restrict the UK’s market access and suspend “certain benefits”.

Meetings are taking place today to decide the Uk’s future with Brexit. Image: Pixaby

Theresa May will meet with her senior ministers today as she chairs the first of two discussions to clarify the UK’s position.

Nicola Sturgeon – who will not be involved in the meeting at Downing Street – has demanded discussions with the administrators associated with the Brexit negotiations.

Scotland’s First Minister has written personally to Theresa May ahead of the crucial meetings to say the Scottish Government should be able to have a say in the influence of the exit objectives from the EU.

The leaked documents have led to politicians on both leave and remain sides to advise Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union David Davis, to take a cold hard Brexit deal.

Sturgeon wants the Scottish Government to have a say. Image: Wikimedia Commons

Last month the Scottish Government released in its own analysis that a hard deal could leave the Scottish economy £12.7 billion worse of a year – leaving the SNP leader to take action.

Holyrood’s Brexit minister Michael Russell will meet in Dublin today to discuss the Irish border.

If the EU obtains the power to restrict the UK’s access to the single market during the transition period, it will begin on 29 March 2019, when the UK leaves the EU and will end on 31 December 2020.

Germany’s two largest parties begin to form coalition

Four months of stalemate have resulted in a German coalition Government, according to media reports.

Germany’s September elections proved inconclusive, as a coalition has not been agreed between the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD) and Chancellor Merkel’s Conservatives (CDU/CSU).

Thought to be the last major stumbling block to government, the agreement on distributing ministries comes after intense negotiations since Tuesday.

Whilst healthcare and workers’ rights are points still to be settled upon, the non stop talks are expected to end with a coalition.

Previously the SPD leader Martin Schulz had ruled out entering Government with Merkel’s CDU and its’ sister party CSU.

Whilst a government could be in place by Easter, the SPD’s 460,00 members will have final say on a coalition government in a postal vote in the next few weeks.

Within the SPD a opposition group to coalition are calling themselves NoGroKo (no grand coalition).

Far-right party Alternative for Germany (AFD) became the third biggest political force in the country winning 94 seats in September.

State of the Union 2018

US President Donald Trump has declared a, “new American moment” as he delivered his State of the Union speech to congress.

In his maiden address, the republican leader said he was,” extending an open hand” to democrats in order to move forward. Together.

Trump also stated that he was ordering Guantanamo Bay to be kept open, reversing the Obama-era directive to close the controversial detention camp.

In an upbeat juxtaposition to his “American carnage” inaugural speech just a year ago, Trump has claimed his administration was, “building a safe, strong and proud America”.

“There has never been a better time to start living the American dream,” he told congress. Following up with saying that in the first year of his term, 2.4 million jobs were created. The stock market has soared while unemployment rates in the US are at a 17 year low.

However the average job satisfaction last year was only 38%, the lowest first-year figure for any president in in the history of Gallup- polling service.

In the Democratic rebuttal, Massachusetts congressman Joseph Kennedy III, a great-nephew of President John F Kennedy.

Up and coming Democrat, Joseph Kennedy III. Credit Wikimedia.

Kennedy attempted to seize Trump’s political mantle by claiming to speak for the “American’s who feel forgotten and forsaken.”

He went on to depict Trump’s presidency as “chaos. Leaving the country fractured and with many citizens being left anxious, angry and afraid over the last year.

In a passionate moment, Kennedy spoke of how, “Bullies may land a punch. They may leave a mark…But they have never once in the history of our United States, managed to match the strength and spirit of a people united in defence of their future.”

However it was one blatant moment during the speech when the president claimed that African-American unemployment had hit record lows that showed the Democratic Party’s disapproval of Trump’s presidency. The Democratic Congressional Black Caucus sat in silence amid a standing ovation.

There were many Democratic lawmakers who boycotted Trump’s Speech.

Congress meets for The State of Union Address by President Trump. Credit – Good Morning America.

 

UPDATE – Last Minute Talks At Holyrood As SNP Seal Budget Deal With Greens

Just hours before MSPs vote on the SNP budget, a deal has been struck with the Green Party for support of the government’s budget.

Finance Secretary Derek Mackay spent earlier today negotiating with opposition parties in a bid to find much needed support for his budget plans, which will include major changes to tax.

Mr Mackay has said his budget would provide, “stability, sustainability and stimulus” for the Scottish economy and services.

The Green Party said they were willing to make a deal if there was, “significant amendments to the budget as it stands”.

As a minority government, the SNP needs at least one opposition party to at least abstain to get its budget plans through Holyrood.

Mr Mackay was quick to dismiss any potential deal with the Scottish Conservatives or Labour, calling Labour’s budget proposals ridiculous and unworthy of consideration.

Meanwhile the Lib Dems are pursuing funding for education and mental health, along with support for ferry services in the northern isles.

Leader Willie Rennie said the budget “needs to do more to meet the long-term needs of the economy”.

Currently Scotland has three income tax bands – a 20p basic rate, a 40p higher rate beginning at £43,001 and a 45p additional rate for earnings over £150,000.

Mr Mackay has suggested redrawing the system by adding a 19p “starter” rate and a 21p intermediate rate, while adding 1p to the higher and additional rates, creating a five-band system which would see many Scots actually pay less tax than they do now.

This would raise an extra £164m. This rising to £366m when combined with threshold changes from previous years.

UPDATE: The SNP have reached a deal with the Scottish Green Party, in exchange for a ”substantial package” of funding towards extra cash for councils and better pay settlements for workers in the public sector.

Mr Mackay will inform MSPs of the details of the deal at Holyrood later today.

Follow the Budget debate at 2.40pm today at Holyrood – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/live/uk-scotland-scotland-politics-42858908

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