MSPs to press ministers for Lockerbie probe

MSPs are to demand a detailed explanation from the Scottish Government of why they oppose an independent inquiry into the conviction of the Lockerbie bomber.

Leading campaigners today (Tue) presented the parliament’s petitions committee with more than 1,600 signatures backing the move.

Members of the Justice For Megrahi group (JFM) told MSPs a full, independent inquiry was the only way to restore the reputation of the Scottish legal system.

Libyan Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, who was convicted of the December 1988 bombing, dropped his second appeal and returned to his homeland after he was diagnosed with terminal cancer.

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Scottish economy boost thanks to Spanish investments

By Christine Lavelle

SCOTLAND’S economy is to receive a major boost over the next two years after Spanish power giant Iberdrola announced it will be investing £2.7 billion in businesses here.

Iberdola, owner of ScottishPower, has more than 1,800 suppliers in Scotland already, including Scottish Coal.

Senor Ignacio Galan, chairman of Iberdrola, said: “In the coming years, Iberdrola will intensify its firm commitment to Scotland.

“We plan to make investments in the United Kingdom of £4 billion in the 2010-12 period, two-thirds of which will go to Scotland. Continue reading

£300,000 pledged to Pakistan flood victims

By Amanda MacMillan

FIRST Minister Alex Salmond has announced an extra £300,000 for the flood victims in Pakistan and praised the aid efforts of the Scottish people so far.

At Edinburgh’s Blackhall Mosque today (Thurs) the First Minister pledged the extra money which increases Scottish Government support for the country to more than £1.2 million.

The £300,000 will be added to the emergency funding announced last month, making a total of £807,000 to be distributed to 15 Scottish organisations delivering much-needed relief to the country.

Mr Salmond said: “The Mosque here has been a hub of relief effort as people meet up to gather funds and to do what they can to help Pakistan.

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Andy Murray gets castle party promise from Salmond

By Christine Lavelle and Martin Graham

ANDY Murray will get a champagne reception at Edinburgh Castle if he wins Wimbledon.

Scotland’s tennis ace was given the ultimate incentive to become king of the castle today by First Minister Alex Salmond.

The 23 year-old has had a difficult couple of weeks in the run up to next week’s tournament, beaten at the French Open and at Queen’s.

Even his own mum Judy admitted it would be “difficult” to win the tournament earlier this week.

But the tennis star has the full backing and good wishes of top Scottish politicians, who are preparing to celebrate his win.
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Alex Salmond launches world’s largest collection of whisky

By Oliver Farrimond

THE WORLD’S largest collection of Scottish whiskies was officially unveiled in Edinburgh yesterday by First Minister Alex Salmond.

Visitors will be able to tour the collection, certified by Guinness World Records as the largest of its kind, in a high-tech vault at the Scotch Whisky Experience on the Capital’s Royal Mile.

The collection contains more than 3000 whiskies built up over 35 years by Brazilian whisky enthusiast Claive Vidiz, and has been shipped across the Atlantic especially to mark Homecoming 2009.

As well as the collection itself, the exhibition features an interactive tour, charting the history of Scotch whisky from a cottage industry to a famous brand recognised world-wide.

In a speech to mark the opening of the collection, First Minister Salmond said that Scotch whisky was one of Scotland’s most iconic contributions to the world.

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Grandad hopes to save millions of lives

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By Alexander Lawrie

A SCOTS-BASED granddad has invented a process that could save millions of lives across the globe.

Sven Sonander, 67, from Hillend, Fife, hopes to turn the Sahara green and provide clean drinking water for Africans.

His unique process involves de-salinating water using renewable energy that can also be used to grow trees and crops in a desert environment.

Already mega-rich business development guru Jim McColl has shown interest in adding Mr Sonander’s invention to his Clyde Blowers roster of companies.

The process would involve taking seawater and pumping it, using a water driven pump, into a lagoon where it receives solar energy.

The sun would then shine through the water onto a black absorbent plate that would heat the water to around 75 degrees.

The key stage of the process would see water flowing into a de-gassed chamber where it losses its impurities.

Sven has built a small prototype to illustrate his idea and now hopes to encourage investors and manufacturers to help make his dream become reality.

The grandfather-of-four said: “I first thought of the process around 30 years ago but it’s only in the last four years I’ve had time to devote to the idea.

“In the early stages a few experts told me the process wouldn’t work so I built the prototype out of transparent material to prove that it would.

“I’ve now shown that it can work and with the technology in place I’m looking for somebody to help push things on.

“There’s no doubt in my mind this process could help save millions of lives.”

Water machine

Sven, a retired industrial moisture specialist, has been working closely with experts from universities in Glasgow, Edinburgh and St Andrews and now needs a manufacturer to become involved.

His de-salination process attracted the interest of businessman Jim McColl, 55, who is one of Scotland’s richest men, with his stake in Clyde Blowers valued at £350m.

But Mr McColl has been forced to put his interest aside for at least a year due to existing business commitments.

Sven, who is originally from Sweden, said: “It’s great having someone like Mr McColl interested as it gives me even greater confidence in what I’m doing.

“Hopefully he can find the time in the future to help in some capacity.”

Sven hopes his unique process will attract government interest, so he has written to First Minister Alex Salmond and Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

He is convinced the desalination process he has invented will help the world’s poorest populations and in time revive their countries wealth and stimulate their economies out of recession.