Tag Archives: Glasgow

Auschwitz survivor spends 71st Valentine’s Day with soldier who rescued her

A Hungarian Jew is preparing to spend her 71st Valentine’s Day with the Scottish soldier who rescued her from Auschwitz.

Edith Steiner was 20 when John Mackay’s commando unit liberated her and a number of other Jewish prisoners from the concentration camp in Poland.

She caught the eye of the then 23-year-old John at a village hall dance to celebrate their liberation but he was too shy to approach her.

Continue reading Auschwitz survivor spends 71st Valentine’s Day with soldier who rescued her


UK’s ‘most desirable’ postcodes revealed

The most desirable postcodes in England, Scotland and Wales have been revealed by Royal Mail.

The firm evaluated the employment opportunities, quality of health and education, crime rates and housing affordability of areas across Britain.

The garrison town of Tidworth, in Wiltshire – postcode SP9 – was crowned the best place to live in England.

Picturesque: The view over Salisbury Plain from Tidworth Hill

G44, on Glasgow’s south side, topped the Scottish table, while LL78, Brynteg on the Isle of Anglesey, won for Wales.

The study, carried out to mark the 40th anniversary of the postcode, was conducted in conjunction with the Centre for Economic and Business Research (CEBR).

It took the following factors into account, using data from government agencies, the Office for National Statistics and the Land Registry

  • Employment opportunities
  • Health
  • Education and training opportunities
  • Levels of crime
  • Homelessness
  • Household overcrowding
  • Ease of access to local services
  • Quality of the physical environment
  • Housing affordability

Polo in Tidworth
Tidworth is famous for its polo clubs

In England, Tidworth, on the edge of Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire, came first. The town is widely known for its military barracks, as well as for its polo club, which is frequented by the royal family.

5 most desirable postcodes in England

1. Tidworth, Wiltshire (SP9)
2. Yateley, Hampshire (GU46)
3. St Bees, Cumbria (CA27)
4. Middlewich, Cheshire (CW10)
5. Earley, Berkshire (RG6)line break Despite being near a nuclear power station, Largs in Scotland is a popular resort

Despite being near a nuclear power station, Largs in Scotland is a popular resort

The south side of Glasgow was named the most desirable place to live in Scotland. An affluent residential neighbourhood, G44 is home to golf courses and parks.

5 most desirable postcodes in Scotland

1. South Glasgow (G44)
2. Erskine, Renfrewshire (PA8)
3. Largs, Ayrshire (KA30)
4. Menstrie, Clackmannanshire (FK11)
5. Port Askaig, Isle of Islay (PA46)

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge spent their first years of marriage on Anglesey

Brynteg, on the Isle of Anglesey off the coast of north-west Wales, topped the charts in that country. The village, home to fewer than 2,000 people, offers spectacular views of the surrounding countryside, and is a popular holiday destination.

5 most desirable postcodes in Wales

1. Brynteg, Isle of Anglesey (LL78)
2. Llantwit Major, Vale of Glamorgan (CF61)
3. Llanidloes, Powys (SY18)
4. Caldicot, Monmouthshire (NP26)
5. North West Swansea, West Glamorgan (SA4)line break

There are around 1.8 million postcodes across the UK, covering a total of over 29 million addresses.

The combination of letters and numbers was chosen because it was considered easier to remember that a string of either numbers or letters on their own.

Scots ‘ghost’ companies suspected of alleged £12.5bn money laundering scam by Russian mafia

IT is claimed the crime syndicate are taking advantage of Scots corporate rules which allow companies to be set up who are little more than a name plate at an address. 

SCOTS companies are under suspicion of alleged money laundering by the Russian mafia.

It is claimed “ghost” firms based in Edinburgh and Glasgow could be involved in a laundering operation worth £12.5billion.

Police in the former Soviet republic of Moldova are probing some companies involved, as are non-governmental organisation the Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project.

It is claimed the crime syndicate are taking advantage of Scots corporate rules which allow companies to be set up who are little more than a name plate at an address.

A probe by the Independent newspaper has uncovered at least six companies registered here who have come to the attention of investigators.

The launderers created UK front companies who carried out massive phoney business deals between themselves.

The front companies then sued each other in Moldova, demanding repayment of hundreds of millions of pounds of loans.

Money would be put into the UK front companies’ accounts in Moldova then transferred to another bank in Latvia.

Police are trying to identify the criminals whose money was being laundered, but it is virtually impossible to establish who owns the UK front companies.

One Edinburgh firm claimed a debt of $500million from a Russian guarantor in the Moldovan courts.

The company’s registered address is a small accountancy firm in Edinburgh not involved in any wrongdoing.

The man listed as the sole director of the company who claimed the debt told the Record: “According to the Independent, the criminals fake trials, so they must have a judge working with them in Moldova.

“They stage things so they get damages basically in the courts, then they force the Russian companies to pay up. In that way they money launder.

“But I am sorry I cannot help you because I have no idea. Nobody involved in any way with the company in Scotland knows what happens. That is a fact.”

Asked about his directorships of other companies registered to unlikely addresses here, the man said: “If the police would like to know more, I will talk to them. But I am not ready to waste time on newspapers.”

The scam appears to have gone on for four years before being shut down in May by the authorities in Moldova.

A Moldovan investigator said: “This money was routed from Russia, but the companies incorporated in Britain were instrumental to transit the funds.”

Scottish Independence: Civil Unrest and Polling Day Violence Feared

Scottish independence

Police in Scotland are planning for civil unrest following the result of this week’s independence referendum.

The result will be announced on Friday 19 September and Police Scotland said it is putting an “appropiate plan” in place for the morning after the “significant event” happens the night before.

There will be a higher police presence in anticipation of potential trouble, with officer leave said to have been cancelled across some areas of Scotland over fears of clashes the day after the country has decided its future at the polls.

And at polling stations across Scotland on 18 September, reports claim staff have been warned to prepare for “disturbances”.

The No campaign has told IBTimes UK of cases of vandalism, with opponents also ripping posters, while leader of the Better Together campaign Alistair Darling reported being “menaced” while out canvassing to keep the UK together.

Describing the treatment of No campaigners at the hands of pro-independence rivals, former British chancellor Darling said: “I have been involved in political campaigning for about 35 years and I’ve never seen anything like this.”

He called on Scots to not be intimidated as they consider how to cast their votes on Thursday.

“I think we will win as I don’t think Scotland is going to get bullied in to accepting something it doesn’t want,” he said.

Reports of scuffles that left three people injured at a football ground in a clash over the referendum came earlier in the campaign.

And pro-independence campaigners besieged the headquarters of the BBC in Glasgow, demanding the sacking of political editor Nick Robinson over coverage of the debate.

'Yes' campaign people gather for a rally outside the BBC in Glasgow, Scotland September 14, 2014.

Yes campaign people gather for a rally outside the BBC in Glasgow(Reuters)

The Better Together campaign branded some of the actions by Yes rivals as “intimidation”. In a strongly worded statement, a spokesman said:

“Whether it’s abuse directed at No voters online, the vandalism and destruction of our field posters or the shouting down of opposition voices, the nationalists have tried to intimidate people into silence.

“It won’t work. The quiet, patriotic majority in Scotland are finding their voice and they are saying ‘no thanks’ to the risks of separation.”

But the potential for unrest and disturbances does not come only from the Yes camp.

Last weekend, a heavy police presence was in force at a march by the unionist Orange Order in Glasgow. A carefully planned route designed to minimise flash points result kept the peace and no arrests were reported.

Assistant Chief Constable Bernard Higgins of Police Scotland said: “The referendum is a significant event which is expected to attract a higher than normal turnout.

Policing arrangements for the referendum are well in hand and will be appropriate and proportionate.

“Police Scotland’s priority is to ensure public safety and security. We will respond appropriately to any issues which arise. We will not offer comment on the numbers of officers or their specific operational deployment.”

Monsanto at centre of intensifying debate on food

Inside the Greenhouses of MonsantoSatan or saviour, sinner or saint?

There are few companies that polarise opinion more than Monsanto, the US genetically modified seeds group.

For the company’s opponents, it is a ruthless agricultural monolith, using technology to dominate the food chain with its genetically modified seeds, while keeping a tight grip on farmers over its seed patents and licensing agreements.

Its supporters, however, point to the company’s role in promoting agricultural productivity, and see it at the forefront of pushing up agricultural yields in the face of a growing global population.

Hugh Grant, Monsanto’s chief executive, is acutely aware of the dichotomy. Hardly the mould of a Bond villain, the down-to-earth Scot from Larkhall, southeast of Glasgow, acknowledges that the company should have engaged with a wider audience in the past.

“I think in hindsight that was wrong,” says Mr Grant, who adds that the difficulty in any conversation with the consumer was that few people know much about agriculture to start with.

However, he quickly admits that this in itself was an excuse. “You can’t frame this from a perspective of ‘you don’t know much about the subject’ because everybody has a visceral reaction to food,” he says.

In London to speak at a conference about ‘Feeding the world’ held by The Financial Times’ sister publication, The Economist, the 55-year-old adds that the company’s distance from the consumer was also an issue: “People buy brands and we literally don’t touch the consumer: there’s so much work to be done to demystify what GM is.”

Mr Grant’s comments reflect a growing awareness among large agribusinesses and food companies about the intensified consumer debate over the food we eat. GMOs and Monsanto, the largest seed company in the world, have been at the sharp end of those concerns, with heightened anxiety over the combination of food and technology.

Stacy Malkan of Friends of the Earth, says the dominance of Monsanto and other agribusinesses raises serious questions about the safety of the global food supply.

“People are concerned about corporate control of the food system and a few companies owning the DNA of the seeds for our most important food crops,” she says.

GM food labelling is set to be the next focal point of attack for the company’s opponents.

But if anti-GM groups, environmental activists and some in the farming community are harsh critics, there are probably as many supporters among shareholders and analysts.

In the decade since Mr Grant took over in 2003, net profits have ballooned from $267m to $2.5bn. Shares in Monsanto have risen more than 10-fold to $109, although they are about a third lower than its all-time high hit during the food crisis of 2008.

Having started in 1901 as the producer of saccharine, Monsanto was a producer of defoliant Agent Orange during the Vietnam war.

It commercialised the herbicide Roundup in 1976, and six years later, the company’s scientists were the first to genetically modify a plant cell. The company’s plant biotechnology segment grew through a series of acquisitions, culminating in the 1996 introduction of soyabean seeds resistant to Roundup.

By 2000, Monsanto’s last Roundup patent had expired, and as chief operating officer, Mr Grant turned the company’s focus more firmly toward seeds. The shift has paid off: in the business year to August 2013, the seed and genomics division generated nearly 70 per cent of the company’s $14.9bn in sales.

Mr Grant joined the company as a salesman in Scotland in 1981, spending 10 years in sales, product development and management before relocating to the group’s headquarters in St Louis, Missouri, as global strategy director of the agriculture division.

Last year, the company stepped up its efforts into so-called “precision agriculture” – the application of advanced GPS, data analytics and remote sensing to farming – with the near $1bn acquisition of Climate Corporation, a San Francisco-based data company.

People are concerned about corporate control of the food system and a few companies owning the DNA of the seeds for our most important food crops– Stacy Malkan, Friends of the Earth

Mr Grant becomes more animated when describing the new areas Monsanto is moving into, noting that its investments in research in enzymes and genetic information transmissions, as well as data analytics will help its core aim of increasing yields. “The end point is augmenting yield which I think is going to be desperately needed,” he says.

Bill O’Connor at asset managers Capital Innovations says Mr Grant had set the company up for future growth. “He’s really laid the foundation to grow the company because he’s reinvested in technology and science, and has enhanced their pipeline of products,” he says.

However, Doug Gurian-Sherman, senior scientist at the environmental group Union of Concerned Scientists, says large seed companies have helped to create an unsustainable system of agriculture that promotes soil degradation, increases the use of herbicides as weeds develop resistance and wider use of pesticides.

“The nature of what we need in agriculture may not support a business model like Monsanto’s in five to 10 years,” he says.

Monsanto’s critics have not deterred some members of the development community working with the company. Having seen the mistakes of the pharmaceutical industry, holding back drugs from the developing world, Monsanto is offering its innovations to regions such as Africa.

It has formed partnerships with the likes of the charitable foundations of Bill Gates and Howard Buffett – the son of Warren Buffett – the UN’s World Food Programme as well as US Agency for International Development.

Mr Grant is heartened the number of smallholder farmers who are now using Monsanto’s seeds – about half of its 17m customers are small farmers. “I think that’s a cause for tremendous, tremendous optimism [for agricultural yields],” he says.

In spite of the controversy surrounding the company and its role in agriculture, it is clear that Mr Grant relishes his role.

“A lot of what we do in agriculture has meaning – there’s a relevance and applicability and it makes a difference,” he says, adding: “The corollary of that is that it puts us at the centre stage. There’s always a seat at the table and everybody has an opinion, but I would much rather be there than in something that was innocuous or irrelevant or cosmetic.”