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How Crypto is Re‑Writing the Rules of Digital Ownership

Shortly after the financial crisis of 2008, a group of tech-minded trailblazers sought a solution to the shortcomings of conventional finance. They envisaged a world underpinned not by centralized power, but by a distributed, democratic system of ownership that was inclusive, transparent and secure. This world, the crypto world, grew steadily in the years that followed. Then the Covid-19 pandemic hit. Global lockdowns have hastened the advance of all things digital and, in this uncertain age of

How might the world meet its clean energy needs

Sixteen miles (26km) off the windswept coast of northern Scotland, the future of renewable energy is taking shape. Rotating rhythmically in the breeze, the five colossal turbines of the Hywind Scotland wind farm look much like any other off-shore wind project, bar one major difference – they're floating. While conventional offshore turbines sit atop metal and concrete towers fixed into the seabed, Hywind's turbines rest on buoyant steel keels that bob with the waves. Carefully balanced, they re

Our Hydrogen-Powered Future Is Unfolding at the Edge of the World

Perched atop the United Kingdom, ten miles north of mainland Scotland, the Orkney Islands are a wild place. Encircled by roiling waters — the North Sea on one side, the Atlantic Ocean on the other — and battered by winds year round, the weather-lashed archipelago is bracing, beautiful and has in abundance that which others are scrambling to produce: renewable power. Onshore wind turbines pepper the landscape, working in tandem with wave and tidal generators to supply Orkney’s 22,000 inhabitants

Political Storm Swirls Around Britain’s Refugee Surge

Some held their hands aloft in celebration; others simply slumped to the ground in the 24°C heat, exhausted from the ordeal they’d just endured. That was the scene on the south coast of England this week, when at least 430 migrants — including infants too young to walk — made landfall. They had braved the 20-mile crossing from either France or Belgium, navigating the world’s busiest shipping lane aboard flimsy inflatable boats. Meanwhile, 70 miles away in Westminster, the fate of those who’ll

How flooded coal mines could heat homes

Coal mines were the beating heart of Britain's industrial revolution. Their sooty, energy-dense output gave life to new-fangled factories and shipyards, fuelling the nation's irrepressible march towards modernity. They helped shape a carbon-intensive economy, however, one that took little notice of the natural world around it. They paved the way for a global dependence on fossil fuels, in doing so, fired the starting pistol on the climate crisis that today confronts us all.

Why central banks are getting into the crypto game

From bitcoin to ethereum, digital currencies have been heralded as a new dawn for money. They allow for faster, cheaper transfers, promote financial inclusion and offer greater privacy, according to their proponents. However, the promise of anonymity has also made them a favoured financial medium for fraudsters and criminals. And beset by explosive volatility, they fall far short of being a viable payment method. But what if that wasn’t the case? For monetary authorities worldwide, this is the trillion-dollar question. Spurred by the crypto sector’s meteoric rise, dozens are looking at launching their own central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) — virtual money that replaces cash with electronic tokens. Done correctly, this could democratise finance, clamp down on criminality and offer far greater efficiency. Yet deep in CBDCs’ digital DNA are concerns around state surveillance and individual privacy and the prospect of a cashless society that might not work for all.

How Brexit left small British business out in the cold

It was billed as the rebirth of UK plc, granting British businesses freedom from the high-handed bureaucracy of Brussels. But, for many SMEs with significant EU exports, Brexit feels less like a renaissance than it does the rocky road to ruin. Engulfed by paperwork, taxes and unbearable added costs, some are having to shelve their EU operations indefinitely. Others, unwilling to sacrifice their hard-earned customer base on the Continent, are battling through the red tape, desperate to salvage what business they can. Donna Wilson, a London-based textile designer who runs an eponymous homeware business, is one of the latter, although she is finding it an uphill struggle. “Selling to Europe used to be seamless,” she says. “With the EU agreements in place, we didn’t have to deal with customs and there were no hidden charges. It was a very easy experience for us and our customers.”

This Country Is Finally Teaching Students About Its Ugly Colonial History

Demands to tackle discrimination through education have grown globally over the last 12 months, energised by the murder of George Floyd and wave of racial equality campaigning that followed. In the UK, a petition calling for the compulsory teaching of Britain’s role in colonialism and the transatlantic slave trade got 268,772 signatures – well over the 100,000 needed for the topic to be debated in Parliament. Scotland has an ugly colonial past. It was a ready participant in Britain’s blood-soak

From Indigenous Communities to Faith-Based Organisations, Collaboration is Needed to Tackle the Climate Crisis

There is no greater equalizer than the environment. Regardless of race, religion, gender or geography, we’re all facing a climate crisis — a man-made catastrophe that can only be tackled with collective action. Faith-based organisations and indigenous communities are key actors in this endeavour. With their moral capital and spiritual resonance, they can call for restorative action and greater sustainability, guiding policymakers onto a path that better protects the planet. This was the centra

Small UK firms struggle with post-Brexit hurdles to doing business in Europe

It was billed as the rebirth of British business — a chance to build a brighter commercial future, free of costly bureaucracy. But Brexit is proving far from profitable for many UK small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Swamped by paperwork, taxes, and eye-watering additional costs, some are having to shutter their EU operations indefinitely. Others, unwilling to cut off European customers, are simply upping sticks, and moving to the Continent. Antos, a Scottish dog chew producer, is one s

Scottish Independence Back In The Limelight As Country Votes In Pivotal Parliamentary Election

Constrained by coronavirus restrictions, there’s an eerie quietness to Scotland’s parliamentary election campaign. No raucous street activism, no mass rallies. Just a peculiar sense of calm before the impending constitutional storm. On May 6, polling day, that storm makes landfall. Voters face a stark choice. Plump for a pro-independence party, and they’re saying yes to ‘IndyRef2’: a second ballot on Scottish independence. Deny the nationalists a majority, and dreams of secession fade away (fo

Scotland’s risky route to a new independence vote

GLASGOW — Despite being on course to win next week’s Scottish parliament election, pro-independence parties face a perilous path to secure a new referendum on breaking away from the U.K. The first major obstacle is U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who says he will refuse to grant a second referendum even if the Scottish National Party (SNP) retains power and the broader pro-independence camp wins an overall majority of seats in the election on May 6. If Johnson sticks to that stance, the ind

Would You Dine in This Prison?

Approaching the end of an eight year prison stretch for drug offenses, there was little doubt in Adeeb Sarwar’s mind — sooner or later, he’d be back behind bars. “I’d lost my businesses, my home, £200,000 (USD$275,000) in cash,” recalls the Welshman. “In my head at that time, there was no other way of getting it all back without crime.” It was then that he heard of a program for prisoners on the cusp of release, one that promised new skills and a sense of pride by cooking for the public. It wa

Drug deaths: Can Scotland learn from Germany?

In 1996, Trainspotting terrified and transfixed with its heady portrayal of substance abuse in urban Scotland. Today, cinematic fiction has given way to statistical reality, and the nation battles a spiraling drugs crisis with no end in sight. More than 1,200 Scots lost their lives in drug-related cases last year, new figures reveal, the highest number since records began, and over three-and-a-half times that of the UK as a whole. Staggeringly, Scotland's substance mortality rate is now 15 time

From Germany to Ireland, a fresh push to return the Benin bronzes

As a decolonisation movement sweeps across Europe, there are efforts to return art looted by British soldiers in 1897. The story of the Benin bronzes is one Timothy Awoyemi, a British-Nigerian police officer, knows well. Like all schoolchildren in Nigeria, he was taught of the murderous 1897 raid when British soldiers plundered Benin City, stealing a priceless array of metal sculptures. So, unlike his United Kingdom-educated colleague Steve Dunstone, Awoyemi was not entirely puzzled by the sc

The Sexual Harassment Scandal That Could Derail Scotland's Drive For Independence

A string of sexual harassment complaints topple Hollywood’s most celebrated producer. Four years later on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, dreams of Scottish independence sputter as civil war consumes the country’s governing party. It’s hard to conjure a more far-fetched tale of cause-and-effect; and yet, it’s completely true. As the misdeeds of Harvey Weinstein made headlines and #MeToo reverberated worldwide, Alex Salmond — Scotland’s former leader and an edifice of the nation’s indepen

Scotland’s leadership ‘undermined’ system of government, says Alex Salmond

Former Scottish National Party leader and former First Minister of Scotland, Alex Salmond is sworn in before giving evidence to The Committee on the Scottish Government Handling of Harassment Complaints at Holyrood | Andy Buchanan via AFP The actions of senior ministers are “undermining the system of government in Scotland,” former Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond claimed Friday. Addressing a parliamentary inquiry into the handling of sexual harassment complaints against him, Salmond accus
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