Daily Political Media Summary: 19 August 2009

Reform Scotland

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Daily Political Media Summary: 19 August 2009

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All newspaper references refer to Scottish editions. Where there is a link to a newspaper’s website, the relevant page reference is blue and underlined.

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Economy

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Recession: World wide economic recovery has begun, although recovery will be unpredictable and protracted, according to the International Monetary Fund\’s chief economist Olivier Blanchard in a paper to be published by the IMF on Wednesday. On Monday Japan became the latest major economy to return to growth in the second quarter, following a recovery in German and French GDP. (Telegraph page B1)

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Whisky summit: A summit will today scrutinise plans by whisky giant Diageo to cut 900 jobs in Scotland. Finance secretary John Swinney will lead the talks which will focus on an independent report into the controversial plans. The report, compiled by business development firm BDO Stoy Hayward, also seeks alternative solutions as part of the campaign to save jobs. (Scotsman page 6, Herald page 2, Press and Journal page 7, STV, BBC)

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RBS: Royal Bank of Scotland last night unveiled potential multi-million-pound bonus packages for two new directors. The revelation was made in a regulatory announcement to the London Stock Exchange just before 5pm yesterday.(Herald page 3)

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Energy funding: Fife’s reputation as a world-leading player in Scotland’s renewable energy manufacturing industry is set to be enhanced by a multi-million-pound investment. Scottish enterprise minister Jim Mather will announce £13 million of new funding today when he visits Fife Energy Park. (Courier page 1)

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Sterling: The pound jumped on Tuesday after figures showed inflation proving far more resistant to recession than economists had expected, prompting speculation that the Bank of England may tighten monetary policy sooner than previously thought. The Office for National Statistics said consumer price inflation was at 1.8 per cent in July, unchanged from June. Average forecasts had been for a sharp drop to 1.5 per cent. (FT page 1)

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Crime

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Lockerbie: Alex Salmond has given the strongest indication yet that the Lockerbie bomber is to be released from prison, by insisting the decision would not be swayed by a show of strength from the United States. Speaking after the receipt of a letter from several high-profile US senators, including Ted Kennedy and John Kerry, the First Minister said: "There will be no consideration of international power politics or anything else. It will be taken on the evidence in the interest of justice." (Scotsman page 1, Herald page 1, Times page 5, Telegraph page 1, Press and Journal page 1, Courier page 1, FT page 2, Guardian page 1, Daily Mail page 1)

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Transport 

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Rail prices: Passenger watchdogs have warned train operators not to raise leisure fares to compensate for the impending first cut in standard tickets for decades. Passenger Focus fears "unregulated" fares, such as advance purchase tickets, may be increased next January to coincide with a 0.4 per cent reduction in "regulated" fares such as season tickets. (Scotsman page 7, Herald page 3, Times page 6, Guardian page 10)

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Health

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Junk food ban: Hundreds of secondary pupils across Glasgow are being kept in school at lunchtime in a bid to promote healthy eating. A pilot scheme has been launched by the city council this week that will see almost 1,000 first-year pupils at eight secondary schools bringing their own packed lunches, buying food from the school canteen or returning home. (Scotsman page 20)

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Cancer treatments: A record number of cancer patients in Scotland are being treated within two months of being diagnosed, according to the latest figures out yesterday. In the last three months of last year the Scottish Government met its key target of 95% of urgently referred patients beginning treatment within 62 days for the first time, hitting 95.4%. Figures for the first three months of this year show still further improvement at 96%—Scotland’s best ever performance. (Courier page 7)

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Education

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Training: More than three-quarters of parents do not believe schools adequately prepare pupils for employment, research suggested today. The majority (90 per cent) also think children should be taught vocational courses as well as academic subjects, the OnePoll survey of 3,000 parents found. (Scotsman page 24)

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Politics

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Agency budgets: Labour leader Iain Gray yesterday denounced the Scottish Government\’s stewardship of the Highlands and Islands. On a trip north Mr Gray accused ministers of "systematically taking apart one of Europe\’s most successful development agencies", Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) and called on the First Minister to restore immediately "the massive cuts" made to the agency\’s budget. (Herald page 6)

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Festival of Politics: Annie Lennox demanded more action to help sufferers of HIV/Aids in Africa when the rock star gave her long anticipated talk at the Scottish Parliament\’s Festival of Politics yesterday. Scots-born Lennox was the star act lined up for last year\’s festival until ill-health forced her to withdraw. (Scotsman page 10, STV, BBC)