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Scotland tops UN danger list

Edinburgh's Leader commits a diplomatic gaffe

According to a recently released report from the United Nations, Scotland is the most violent country in the developed world. When murder is excluded, Scots are almost three times more likely to be the victims of assault than Americans.

Based on telephone interviews with victims of crime in 21 countries, the study found that more than 2,000 Scots are attacked every week.

Scotland now tops the list as the world's most dangerous place, ahead also of Australia and New Zealand in joint third place.

The crimes covered by the figures include assaults, although they exclude muggings on the streets, sexually-related violence and homicides. They reveal the level of violent attacks in Scotland are nearly 10 times higher than police figures suggest.

In the past 20 years, violent crime has doubled in Scotland to reach a level comparable with 'third world' cities such as Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, which are traditionally regarded as much more dangerous.

Experts believe the rise in violence has been fuelled by a "booze and blades" culture in Scotland, which sees the worst violence coming from young males aged between 15 and 25. According to the UN study, 3% of Scots had been victims of violence, compared with 2.8% in England and Wales and 2% in the United States.

Japan was the least violent country with just 0.1% being attacked, followed by Italy, Portugal, Austria and then the Netherlands.

The survey is thought to be more accurate than official figures because a huge proportion of crimes that go unreported.

Since the beginning of the year, there have been 145 attempted murders and 1,100 serious assaults with knives in Scotland. But a recent audit of Glasgow hospital departments showed that only half of stabbings had been reported to the police.

Recent victims include a 14-year-old schoolboy from Glasgow, who lost an eye after he was hit in the face with a bottle during an unprovoked attack. A 17-year-old girl from Edinburgh was left unconscious after being punched, kicked and stamped on by a gang of girls.

An accident and emergency consultant at Glasgow's Victoria Infirmary, has said that the UN figures were a "national disgrace". He added that there was a culture of violence in the country and that it was possible to buy a crossbow in the city centre, a knife with a 12-inch blade or a machete.
" What message does that send out?" he demanded.

The UN study backs up the results of an investigation from earlier this year carried out by the think-tank Civitas, which found that the UK had one of the world's highest crime rates.

It described the rise of crime in Britain as "so spectacular it was difficult to comprehend".

Police believe the country's culture of heavy drinking is the main reason behind the rising levels of thuggery and complain that they are struggling to cope with the amount of drink-fuelled violence. New licensing laws will extend opening hours for pubs and clubs to sell alcohol.

Washington -  more dangerous than Iraq?


Conde Nast Traveller Awards

The below is taken from the Leader's Report to Edinburgh City Council in  September 15th 2005

8.1 Edinburgh has in recent years enjoyed considerable success in the prestigious Conde Nast Traveller Awards and has also scooped an impressive haul of Best UK City Awards.

 Edinburgh has this year placed third in the Conde Nast Best UK City Award behind London and Glasgow. Both are both great world-class cities and a bit of healthy competition does no harm. I wholeheartedly congratulate both cities.

This is fantastic news for London given the setbacks over the summer and a great achievement for Scotland to have our two world-class cities voted in the top 3 by Conde Nast readers and further confirms our position as a world-class tourism destination.

Dear 'Leader' upsets Turks
taken from Scotland on Sunday

Edinburgh City Council has caused a diplomatic incident with Turkey by proposing a motion on the Armenian genocide, angering a close NATO ally of Britain and a would-be EU  member.

The Turkish embassy in London has decided to send a diplomat to Edinburgh in an effort to stop any motion about genocide being passed because they believe it will damage their bid to be a member of the EU.

Edinburgh Council Leader Donald Anderson has already enraged Turkey by telling its ambassador in a letter: "Having researched this issue, I am in no doubt that the Armenian community suffered a genocide at the hands of the Ottoman regime. There are substantial eyewitness accounts that are well documented and there is, I believe, wide support for the view that the historical evidence is robust and compelling for genocide.

"As council leader I have to advise you that I am convinced of the need to support recognition for what I believe was genocide."

While the move has been welcomed in the city by members of the Armenian community, it has puzzled and enraged Turks. The embassy did not give any official comment, with a source saying that they hoped they could deal with the issue by talking to the council.

The source said: "We believe that raising this issue is calculated to damage Turkey's bid for EU membership and the country's reputation in the West.

"We also believe that it is unhelpful to create divides between Muslims and the West at the very time we are seeking to promote the ideal of a modern and democratic Islam and coexistence.

"You also wonder what this has to do with a Scottish city council. I would have thought they might have other things to deal with, like roads and so forth."

Ian White, the Tory leader on the council, echoed these sentiments, saying: "Whatever the view on Turkey and Armenia it is not for councillors in this city to sort out. I would have thought they should focus on fixing roads and making sure that our streets are clean. It is a typical empty political gesture. One would have hoped they had grown up and put the era of 1980s student politics behind them."

The Armenian killings occurred between 1915 and 1923. Turkey was fighting Russia in the First World War and feared that many members of its Armenian community would defect to the side of the Russians because of the Orthodox religion the Russians and Armenians shared. The rulers of the then Ottoman Empire decided to deport them. In the following years, nearly 1.5 million Armenians reportedly died.

Turkey has claimed the deaths were the result of civil unrest at a time of war and that Turks and Kurds also lost their lives. Armenians believe the deaths of their ancestors and the lack of recognition they received paved the way for the Holocaust. When talking about his plans for the deaths of the Jews, Adolf Hitler was quoted as having said: "Who remembers the killing of the Armenians?"

Anderson said: "Accusations of genocide are a very sensitive issue and we are attempting to deal with it as such. The accusations are made against the Ottoman regime and are no reflection on the modern Turkish state or Turkish people. I have met to discuss the issue with a range of representatives from the Turkish community and agreed to host a seminar for them to present their view on this period of history."

Asked why it was felt necessary for the council to have a position on a historical issue which happened abroad, he said: "Although this isn't a particularly fashionable or high-profile issue, the council does from time to time become involved in issues that are not recognised as our core business. Apartheid would have lasted a lot longer if a wide cross section of organisations, including local authorities, had not campaigned."

See also here for a previous article about Edinburgh City Centre trading figures.

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