News in 5 Minutes: Explosions in Thailand, Scots retailers call for Brexit tax breaks, and Ediburgh's pandas birthdays

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TODAY’S INSTALMENT (12 August) of the CommonSpace daily news roundup includes explosions in Thailand’s tourist hotspots, Scots retailers calls for post-Brexit tax breaks and Edinburgh’s pandas celebrating their birthdays.

News: Explosions in tourist hotspots of Phuket and Hua Hin in Thailand

A series of bombings took place across Thailand on Thursday night into Friday morning

A series of bombings in Thailand has caused fatalities and left dozens injured, the Guardian reports. Explosions happened throughout Thursday night into Friday morning across the country in several tourist hotspots. A street vendor was killed in Hua Hin where seven foreigners were among the 19 people injured. Blasts were also reported on Patong beach on Phuket Island, and one person has died as a result of an explosion in Suret Thani.

Ukranian troops placed on alert as tensions mount over Crimea

Ukranian troops have been placed on alert near the administrative border with Crimea as tensions grow between Ukraine and Russia over the region. Recently Russia has accused Ukraine of making armed incursions into Crimea, which was annexed from Ukraine by Russia in 2014 after an unrecognised referendum. The Ukranian security service SBU said that the alert level had been raised to red because of “"the escalation at the administrative border”.

Icelandic elections called six months early as Panama Papers fallout continues

Parliamentary elections in Iceland will be held six months early, after the release of the Panama Papers in April lead to the resignation of PM Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson. Protesters took to the street after the papers were released, but although Gunnlaugsson resigned his government remained in place. Gunnlaugsson’s replacement, Sigurdur Ingi Johannsson, asked the leaders of the parties represented in the Icelandic parliament to agree on a date for the elections, which have been set for 29 October.

 Politics: Retailers call on Scottish Government to offer post-Brexit tax breaks for businesses

The Scottish Retail Consortium has called for cutting of business rates

Bodies representing Scottish retailers have called on the government to offer post-Brexit tax breaks for businesses. The Scottish Retail Consortium and Scottish Chambers of Commerce have both urged the government to adjust business rates. The Scottish Chambers of Commerce said that taking no action on business rates was “no longer an option” for the government in the wake of Brexit. Economy secretary Keith Brown has said that investing in infrastructure is necessary to protect the economy.

Musical chairs in local by-elections as SNP and Labour trade seats

The SNP and Labour have both lost and won seats to and from each other in local by-elections. Robin Sturgeon, father of FM Nicola Sturgeon, lost out to Labour’s Louise McPhater on second-preference votes in Irvine West. In Renfrewshire South and Garrowhill, the SNP gained a seat from Labour in a by-election called after the death of a local Labour councillor.

Sport: First Scots gold at Rio 2016 for Callum Skinner in third team sprint victory

Callum Skinner is the first Scot to claim gold at the Rio Olympics as part of the men’s cycling sprint team

Callum Skinner has won Scotland’s first gold medal in the Rio 2016 Olympics in the men’s cycling team sprint. He took gold alongside teammates Philip Hindes and Jason Kenny in a third consecutive team sprint victory for the Great British Team.

Andy Murray wins twice in a day at Rio 2016, with success in both singles and doubles tennis

Andy Murray has won twice in a day at the Rio Olympics, after defeating Italy’s Fabio Fognini to progress to the quarter finals of the men’s singles tennis. Murray also claimed victory in the mixed doubles alongside Heather Watson.

Culture: Our Land festival launches with events across Scotland

The second Our Land festival has launched with a pledge to push for more radical land reform

The Our Land festival kicks off today, with events focused on both urban and rural land reform issues taking place across the country. The festival has launched this year with five demands to press for bolder, more radical land reform in Scotland. Read our piece about the festival line-up here.

Weather: No surprises – rain expected to continue into weekend

Umbrellas will remain a necessary accessory as rain continues into Saturday

Wind and rain are the theme as we close out the week, with showers and heavier rain forecast to continue into Saturday. If you’re heading out over the weekend, please heed the cautionary tale of editor Angela Haggerty, who left her umbrella in the pub and is now trapped in the CommonSpace office waiting for showers to abate.

And another thing: Edinburgh’s giant pandas birthday celebrations

Tian Tian and Yang Guang are both turning 13 shortly

The giant pandas who are residents at Edinburgh Zoo have celebrated their upcoming birthdays with ice lollies made from mashed apple and bamboo. The pandas were given the special treats ahead of their birthdays. Yang Guang, the male panda, will turn 13 on Sunday 14 August, while his female companion Tian Tian will turn 13 on 24 August.

Pictures courtesy of Jeff Gunn, byronv2Maureen Barlin, Our Land/CommonWeal, almagill, Twitter/Edinburgh Zoo

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