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Duncan Hamilton rss

The Mekong River with Sue Perkins. Picture: BBC/Kate Owen

Claire Black: Why is it wrong to pay for cuddles?

‘I WAS at a place where I thought paying someone to hug me and not have ulterior motives sounded like a great idea,” Samantha Hess said. “I decided why can’t this be a thing that we can easily and safely reach for?”

Omerta seems to have befallen political discussion in Scotland over the oil price fall. Picture: Hemedia

Comment: Difficult economic times lie ahead

ECONOMISTS? You can’t believe a word they say. So says an economist who has let fly at fellow forecasters in his latest monthly report.

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Alasdair Darling made joke regarding RBS. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

Drumlanrig: Hopeful keen to show party credentials

THE annual Scottish Politician of the Year award at the Prestonfield House Hotel was, as usual, a rumbustious affair.

Lord Smith heads up the commission tasked with recommending increased devolution powers. Picture: Neil Hanna

Leader: Smith commission proposals must be backed

IN less than a week, we will know what new powers are likely to be devolved from Westminster to the Scottish Parliament. The participants – Unionist and nationalists, alike – in Lord Smith’s ­commission on greater devolution will (all being well) have agreed a package that will reshape our democracy and further ­empower MSPs.

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Royal Mail has its work cut out. Picture: Malcolm McCurrach

George Kerevan: Ailing Royal Mail can’t hide

I’VE just had a fun experience watching – on my laptop – the progress of my wife’s Christmas present being delivered to our front door (and no, she doesn’t know what it is).

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Sturgeon looks set to be less combative than her predecessor. Picture: PA

Euan McColm:Business as usual in new political era

SCOTLAND has changed forever, haven’t you heard? Everyone says so. The election of Nicola Sturgeon as First Minister marks the dawn of a new era. Our politics is transformed. Not only this – and you may want to brace yourself – Scotland will never be the same again.

Ryanair Chief Executive Michael O'Leary. Picture: Greg Macvean

Lesslie Young: Wherever you are it pays to be nice

RYANAIR’S half-year profits, announced earlier this month, have leapt by 32 per cent. So much has this increased the airline’s confidence for the future that it has placed an order for 200 new aircraft as it looks to double its business over the next decade.

Dani Garavelli: Privacy dilemma in internet age

HOW MUCH privacy are we entitled to expect on the internet, where Peeping Toms hijack webcams and baby monitors and thieves stake out our homes, asks Dani Garavelli

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Lynsey Sharp celebrates winning Commonwealth silver at Hampden. Picture: Getty

Aidan Smith: Hampden’s true vocation is athletics

THE 1967 Lisbon invasion force will correct me if I’m wrong – the thousands of Celtic fans who were there, and even the many more who only claimed to have been – but the stadium where Billy McNeill lifted the European Cup looked from the TV like an impressively grand arena battened on to a much smaller and more modest one. For every big, whomping, monolithic section that might have been designed by Albert Speer, there was another resembling a municipal running track, opening right out on to trees and waiting patiently for someone to dream up the concept for Jeux Sans Frontieres.

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Lena Dunham. Picture: Getty

Claire Black: Dunham apology does no-one any favours

WHO would want to be Lena Dunham? Yes, by the age of 28 you’d have created and would star in a popular TV show, have a coterie of famous friends, bagged a couple of million quid for your memoir and you’d be considered the “voice of a generation”. But then there’s all the rest.

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Jeff Salway. Picture: Jane Barlow

Investors benefits from crackdown on kickbacks

IT’S nearly two years now since the City watchdog introduced controversial rules banning advisers from taking kickbacks on investment sales.

The party need to stop telling voters they know what's best for them. Picture: Michael Gillen

Leader: Labour must listen to Scottish electorate

WHAT else has to happen ­before Labour accepts that its minimalist position on more powers for Scotland is unsustainable? If it was not already clear to Ed Miliband and Ed Balls that their sniffy attitude to more devolution to Holyrood was costing Labour dear, the devastating message in a series of opinion polls over the past few days must surely have illuminated them.

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Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks during an Apple special event. Picture: Getty

Claire Black: Tim Cook puts down gay rights marker

IT WASN’T that much of a surprise when Tim Cook, the chief executive of Apple, confirmed he is gay. He was named No 1 on Out’s list of the most powerful gay people last year. He slipped to No 2 this year, losing a point for not being out in an “I’ve declared it to the world in a heartfelt article published in a business magazine” type way.

Referee Morag Pirie ahead of a Scotland v Iceland womens international with her team of officials.

Aidan Smith: Football’s gender equality progress

HEARTS and Hibs might seem like they’re in the vanguard of equal opportunities right now, with the former having a woman owner and the latter a female chief executive. But way back in the 1950s the fairer sex was welcome at Tynecastle and Easter Road. A generation of young couples courted on the old terrace slopes of both grounds. Many went week-about to Leith and Gorgie, a quaint Edinburgh custom at a time when the quality of Embra fitba was never better. I know this because my mother and father were among them, and it wasn’t that Mum went to games under duress – she loved them, too.

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Jeff Salway. Picture: Jane Barlow

Summing up: Banks still don’t understand customers

ARE you ready for the embrace, Lloyds customers? Or are you simply bracing for the next stage in the decline of your local banking services as Lloyds turns its back on more of Scotland’s small towns and villages?

There have been a lot of calls to Labour MPs and MSPs after Johann Lamont's resignation. Picture: Robert Perry

Drumlanrig: Jim Murphy’s meets hen party politics

JIM MURPHY was in good form when he launched his Labour leadership yesterday – although one of his jokes fell into the questionable category.

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Demonstrators protest last week as Labour party leader Ed Miliband attends a fundraising dinner in Glasgow. Picture: Getty

Dani Garavelli: Food bank political point-scoring

SUCH is the current fad for food banks, it is easy to forget they are a scab on the face of humanity as opp­osed to a photo opportunity, an image-booster or an excuse for oneupmanship. Indeed, as politicians jostle with each other to get involved, then talk about it on Twitter, you ­begin to realise that if food banks didn’t exist, parliamentarians would have to invent them (delib­erately, that is, as opposed to inadvertently as a result of welfare reforms).

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Political process is important but doesn't compare to the importance of everyday saints in society. Picture: PA

Andrew Wilson: Those that ask little and do a lot

NOT sure I believe in God. I may do but doubt is the main thing I return to in trying to answer the unanswerable. But I truly do believe in what I think matters in the lessons from all of religion for how we hold ourselves and conduct our lives. The rhythm of religious life matters for us all, even the doubtful and the disbeliever. The latter have a certainty I never could buy.

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'Holyrood has struggled to match Westminster on accountability'. Picture: Mike Wilkinson

Alan Page: Scrutiny essential before extra powers

The Scottish Parliament was not just about “the sovereign right of the Scottish people to determine the form of government best suited to their needs”. It was also about the subjection of the government of Scotland to democratic scrutiny and control.

'He wants his critics to know that he is fully behind enhanced devolution for Scotland.' Picture: Toby Williams

Euan McColm: Jim Murphy right to apologise

APOLOGISING is a risky business for politicians. It can go one of two ways.When first minister elect Nicola Sturgeon said sorry to MSPs – and voters – back in 2010 after it emerged she had written to a court requesting leniency for a constituent convicted of fraud it went very well indeed. Sturgeon’s reputation was enhanced by her handling of what could have been a career-damaging mistake.

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