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Nationalist feud could fatally wound Scottish independence hopes

GLASGOW — Bound by a cause of almost sacred importance, the Scottish National Party projects an image of unparalleled unity. But scratch beneath the surface, and the bitterest of divisions fester. Last week, former SNP leader Alex Salmond tore a hole through party ranks, accusing Nicola Sturgeon — his successor as Scotland’s first minister, and one-time protégé — of misleading parliament over an inquiry into the handling of sexual assault claims against him. At stake is not just the reputations

Scotland fails to curb spiraling drug death epidemic

It’s a distinction that would shame any government, let alone one chasing the dream of self-rule. Scotland, by a dizzying margin, is the drug death capital of Europe, new figures reveal — a tragedy and a blot on the record of Nicola Sturgeon’s pro-independence Scottish National Party (SNP) government; but one that's unlikely break her country's political fixation with Brexit, nor derail plans for a second say on separation from the United Kingdom. More than 1,200 Scots died in drug-related cas

London Is “Rewilding” and Native Species Are Flocking In

Diminutive and extremely rare, you’d be lucky to ever catch sight of a black redstart, one of the U.K.’s rarest birds. And yet, in the very heart of Britain’s sprawling capital city, sightings are on the up. “To hear and then see a black redstart singing in the heart of London, it always gives me a buzz,” says Dusty Gedge, an ornithologist who’s spent his life recording the species’ metropolitan comeback. “So far this year, I’ve spotted six.” The little bird’s resurgence reflects a sweeping ch

The UK rediscovers its love of urban agriculture

As the country wrestles with renewed coronavirus restrictions, many are finding solace in allotment gardens. In some cities, applications for them have spiked an incredible 700%. In Sydenham, a leafy suburb of south-east London, what was once a single Victorian home now encloses five small, separate flats. That, along with the neighbourhood’s median home price of over half a million pounds, “tells you the sort of population increase in the area”, laughs Ania Klimowicz, the owner of one. And a g

Brexit: Scottish independence back in the spotlight | DW | 15.12.2020

With Brexit talks sputtering, though not quite dead, the specter of tariffs, travel restrictions, and towering economic uncertainty looms large over Europe. From Berlin to Brussels, Belfast and beyond, leaders are scrambling to shore up no-deal contingencies, finessing plans many hoped would never see the light of day. Yet, in one corner of the continent, a quiet sense of satisfaction simmers. Officially, Scotland's pro-independence government wants an agreement: The country's exporters are as

When will the SNP get a grip on Scotland's drugs death crisis? | The Spectator

For more than twenty years, Brian was left to rot on a methadone prescription. Month-after-month of opioid replacement therapy was the best course of action, his treatment team concluded, making no effort to definitively end his debilitating drug dependency. For Brian’s parents, watching their son slowly succumb to the steely grip of addiction, it was two decades of agony. Then, in 2018, a ‘top up’ hit of street Valium proved too much, and – as they put it – he was at last ‘released from his tor

"I want every woman to understand she can make a meaningful contribution to her society”

Growing up in provincial northern Nigeria, “women weren’t supposed to be seen, let alone heard,” says Lantana Bako Abdullahi — but she wasn’t going to let that happen. For many women in Nigeria, early marriage means the end of formal education, preventing them from developing the knowledge and skills needed to help lift their families and communities out of poverty. When friends began getting married in their early teens, she pursued education instead, broadening her horizons and dreaming of a

President Joe Biden — Good News For Scottish Independence?

A “wee break”, at last, in the swirling storm clouds over 2020 — Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s pro-independence First Minister, could scarcely contain her excitement as America’s election result came into focus. With Joe Biden in the White House (and Donald Trump confined to Twitter) her nation inches closer to the sunny uplands of sovereignty and self-governance — or so she hopes. It’s been a gruelling year for Sturgeon's Scottish National Party (SNP), battered and bruised by a coronavirus outbr

What Dominic Cummings’ Departure Means For Brexit

He is the man who vowed to “Take Back Control” and “Get Brexit Done”, but as Dominic Cummings stalked out of Downing Street for the final time yesterday, Britain’s EU departure was far from resolved. Boris Johnson’s chief aide cultivated a poisonous and pugnacious aura around the prime minister, critics say, and few people — particularly among Conservative MPs — will be sorry to see him go. But now, as the dust from a bombastic week in Westminster settles, minds will be focusing on the future,

Biodiversity activists in the UK are calling for an entirely new urban-planning designation

On the outskirts of Cambridge, England, butterflies flutter against the breeze above wildflower pastures and shimmering grasslands. Dragonflies, down by the river, waft similarly around a watery habitat shared with trout, otters and the majestic kingfisher. This oasis of nature is Trumpington Meadows, a 1,200-home community where wildlife protection meets something rather surprising: city expansion. “It was just agricultural land lacking in biodiversity, and a housing firm wanted to build thous

President Biden: Bad News For Britain, Brexit And Boris?

An air of anticipation, and anxiety, will hang heavy around 10 Downing Street this morning. Ears straining for the familiar chimes of the Prime Minister’s phone, awaiting feverishly the most coveted call in world politics: “Please hold for the President-Elect.” For Boris Johnson, unsure of where he stands with Joe Biden, America’s chosen man, it’ll be a nervy moment. On the face of it, he’s a more natural fit with Donald Trump: two populist showmen set on shaking up the established order. Scra

Brexit Turmoil As Boris Stands By Law Breaking Plan

There are rumblings of rebellion in Westminster this evening. The trigger: a breach of international law sanctioned at the very top. In an incendiary move, Prime Minister Boris Johnson this week set out plans to override a legally binding Brexit pact—one he brokered himself just eleven months ago. The British government’s proposed Internal Market Bill addresses a cornerstone of the last year's Brexit withdrawal agreement, one that ensured a hard border wouldn’t return to the island of Ireland

At the bottom of the bottle: Inside Scotland’s alcohol crisis

From her earliest memories, the misery of alcoholism has marred Karen Angus’ life. She was only a girl when her father, “a violent, unpredictable alcoholic,” died from drink, leaving behind a wife who was abstinent and seven children who — in time — would be anything but. “I lifted my first drink at 13, and my life was never to be the same again,” Angus said, her voice charged with emoti

Scotland: Support for independence surges

It's been 20 years — almost to the day — since Paula Kirby packed up her things, and moved to Scotland. As an English-woman north of the border, 2014's vote on independence didn't pose too great of a dilemma: the UK was reasonably stable, prosperous, and progressive. Separation "just wasn't worth the upheaval," says the freelance translator. That's ancient history now. In the six years since Scots rejected independence by a 10-point margin, Britain has lurched from the constitutional bedlam of

UK faces new surge in migrant arrivals | DW | 15.08.2020

When at last he arrived in Calais, a port town on France's north coast, Gulwali Passarlay felt a surge of hope long suppressed: safety and the promise of a new life was at hand. But his optimism soon faded. "I had a really, really inhumane experience in Calais. Several times I spent 18 hours in a cell in police custody. We didn't have any dignity or value whatsoever." Read more: Migrants in France up against pandemic, police abuse The Afghan, then just 13 years old, had first fled the horrors

Groundbreaking A.I. Robots Will Hold Conversations and Learn Users’ Personalities

This year, as coronavirus-induced panic caused public life to retreat behind closed doors, the fortunes of socially vulnerable senior citizens plummeted. For many, being forced to curtail visits from friends and family, keeping coronavirus out meant letting loneliness in. In the not-so-distant future, however, this painful trade-off may not be necessary. That’s thanks to advances in the realm of “socially intelligent” artificial intelligence, a phenomenon that a group of British scientists is

Scotland's 'Navigators' Transform Lives in the Emergency Room

A 15-millimeter hole in his kidney is what it took to open Robbie’s eyes. Fifteen booze-fueled years of knife crime and gang violence had landed him here at one of Scotland’s largest hospitals, hemorrhaging from a stab wound in an emergency room he’d visited 16 times before. Something needed to change — the 26-year-old knew it, but he hadn’t a clue where to start. And then, as Robbie recovered in the resuscitation unit, two curiously-clad men appeared by his bedside at Glasgow’s Royal Infirmary

British Prisoners And Their Families—The Forgotten Victims Of COVID-19

In the frenzied first days of Britain’s coronavirus outbreak, as contagion fears reached fever pitch and public life retreated behind closed doors, the nation’s lockups locked-down. With little notice, prison visits were cancelled, exercise and education activities curtailed, and out-of-cell time cut to as little as thirty minutes a day. Such muscular measures were necessary, officials said, spurred by fears that a single super-spreader might bring down an entire institution. That COVID-19 has

UK: Fears of resurgent terrorism as COVID-19 lockdown ends | DW | 12.07.2020

On June 20, as Brits basked in the mid-summer sunshine, terror struck with little warning. Armed with a knife, 25-year-old Khairi Saadallah walked into a park in Reading and stabbed to death three friendsin a frenzied, indiscriminate attack, prosecutors allege. It was — in the words of Neil Basu, head of UK counter-terror policing — the "re-emergence" of one disease, extremism, as another, COVID-19, recedes. He is not alone in his concern. Deprived of social stimulation during lockdown, expert
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