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Kerry: Middle East offers to help with air strikes

Washington said countries in the Middle East had offered to join air strikes against Islamic State militants and Australia said it would send troops, but Britain held back even after the group beheaded a British hostage and threatened to kill another.

US Secretary of State John Kerry Credit: AA / TT/TT News Agency/Press Association Images

US Secretary of State John Kerry has been touring the Middle East to try to secure backing for US efforts to build a coalition to fight the Islamic State militants who have grabbed territory in Syria and Iraq.

"We have countries in this region, countries outside of this region, in addition to the United States, all of whom are prepared to engage in military assistance, in actual strikes if that is what it requires," Mr Kerry said.

"And we also have a growing number of people who are prepared to do all the other things," he said in remarks broadcast on the CBS programme Face the Nation.

Clinton returns to Iowa amid speculation over 2016 bid

Former Secretaries of State Hillary Rodham Clinton Credit: Olivier Douliery/ABACA USA/Empics Entertainment

Hillary Clinton returned to Iowa for the first time since her 2008 presidential bid, amid speculation that she is considering another run for the White House.

At a yearly steak fry fundraiser for Senator Tom Harkin, the former secretary of state didn't shy away from the speculation, saying "It's true. I am thinking about it."

However, Clinton was quick to say her focus was on helping Democrats in the upcoming midterm elections, and praised Iowa's democratic candidates, gubernatorial challenger Jack Hatch and Senate hopeful Bruce Braley.


Economic risk to Scotland report 'full of factual errors'

A report that suggested an independent Scotland would face three major risks in oil, finance and pensions is "inaccurate", a spokesman for the Scottish Finance Secretary said.

The Centre for Policy Studies report said the rising cost of public sector pensions would be "likely" to impose significant pressures on a Scottish budget.

It is little surprise that a think tank co-founded by Margaret Thatcher is against an independent Scotland, and this report is stuffed full of basic factual errors.

In fact the only part of this report that is accurate is the importance of Scotland's oil to the strength of the pound - which is exactly why the UK Government will agree to a currency union with Scotland. This simply underlines Scotland's economic strength.

– Spokesman, Scottish Finance Secretary John Swinney

Scotland could 'face risks in oil, finance and pensions'

Scottish nationalists have severely underestimated the economic risks of independence, according to a centre-right think tank.

An independent Scotland would face three major risks in oil, finance and pensions, the Centre for Policy Studies said.

An instillation in the North Sea. Credit: PA

Its report, entitled Why Scots Should Say No, suggests that the North Sea revenue for the Scottish government would fall from £10.1 billion in 2011-12, but only £5.5bn in 2013-14, to £3.7bn in 2016-17, some £3.2 billion adrift of the £6.9 billion predicted by the Yes campaign.

The "probable" flight of a large proportion of the financial services sector from Scotland, as indicated by announcement by RBS, Lloyds, Clydesdale and Standard Life last week, could leave revenues of £47.7 billion in 2016-17, excluding North Sea oil, which is about £9.2 billion lower than the £57.3 billion forecast by nationalists, the report said.

Cameron to make last-ditch Scotland trip in final push

David Cameron will today make a last-ditch trip north to urge Scots to vote No in the referendum and keep the United Kingdom together.

Prime Minister David Cameron Credit: PA

The Prime Minister, who campaigned in Edinburgh last week, will be back in Scotland ahead of Thursday's crucial vote, which could lead to the break-up of the UK if there is a majority for independence.

With just three days of campaigning left, political leaders on both sides of the debate will be intensifying their efforts in a last-gasp attempt to win over undecided voters. He is expected to issue a stark warning towards waverers that there could be "no going back" if they opt for independence.

Frontline staff deserve 'to be treated with respect'

Frontline emergency, health and transport staff deserve "to be treated with respect", and may need to adopt wearable technology if they are to cut the number of violent attacks on them.

GLA Conservative crime spokesman Roger Evans, author of the report, said:

We depend on frontline workers whether it's a medical emergency or getting us to work.

These people need to be treated with respect.

Shockingly, I have uncovered figures which show that violence against people like nurses, cabbies and receptionists is rife.

They are being punched, kicked, scratched, threatened and spat on every day whilst doing their job.

Affordable wearable technology, such as wearable panic buttons and body worn cameras, will help bolster the security and protection of these essential workers.

– Roger Evans


Breakdown of violent attacks on frontline staff

According to a series of Freedom of Information (FOI) requests launched by the Greater London Authority's Conservative group:

  • Some 12,386 physical assaults have been reported on staff working in acute services such as hospital emergency departments, maternity wards and medical imaging units.
  • A total of 11,336 first responders and paramedics have been assaulted in the period, the most affected being London, North West and South Western Ambulance Services.
  • Some 22,056 police officers and 1,077 PCSOs have been attacked while on duty in England and Wales, while 6,045 rail staff have been physically and verbally attacked

Pickles warns devolution may 'suck power upwards'

Localism in England should be about devolving power to the lowest appropriate level - down to councils, to neighbourhoods and to individuals, Communities Secretary Eric Pickles said, after a report suggested that Manchester should lead the way on devolution in the UK.

Communities and Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles Credit: PA

Mr Pickles said: "There may be some role for combined authorities on a strategic level to promote economic development and transport, but there is a real risk they will suck power upwards away from local councils and local taxpayers.

"Nor should localism be a fig leaf for hitting hard-working people with a new range of municipal stealth taxes. Creating new taxes, more politicians and new tiers of local administration is not the answer - the starting point should be increasing local democracy and local accountability."

More than 400 frontline staff 'attacked every week'

A worryingly high number of frontline hospital, emergency services and transport staff are attacked every week across the UK, according to a report.

Staff should wear GPS-trackable panic buttons, the report said. Credit: PA

Some 65,970 frontline staff were physically attacked at work over a three year period, the report from the Greater London Authority (GLA) Conservatives found.

Frontline staff have been "punched, kicked, scratched, threatened and spat on", the report's author said.

Members collected the data using Freedom of Information (FOI) requests, and said the number of yearly attacks divided into around 420 every week.

They are calling for transport and emergency services staff to begin wearing panic buttons and cameras.

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