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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

UK-China Relations In Freefall Pose A Big Brexit Problem

In 2015, George Osborne - then the U.K.’s finance minister - crowed that Britain was China’s “best partner in the West”. What a difference five years can make. As Beijing mobilizes against Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement, and London looks to lock Huawei out of its 5G future, Anglo-Chinese relations are in freefall. On Monday (July 6), things came to a head. The U.K. is guilty of “gross interference,” decried Ambassador Liu Xiaoming, Beijing’s man in Britain, in typically sharp-tongued fash

What Poland’s Presidential Election Means For European Unity

As Poles head to the polls today, a presidential race-cum-culture war reaches its climax. The incumbent Andrzej Duda - a man who plays fast and loose with press freedom and the rule of law - seeks re-election on a platform of Eurosceptic populism. His principle rival, Warsaw’s cosmopolitan mayor Rafal Trzaskowski, offers voters a very different vision, one that defends Poland’s beleaguered minorities, and endorses ever closer E.U. integration. In many ways, the contest is a microcosm of much de

Scotland's whisky industry: Ne'er a drop to drink?

Winters are cold in Scotland, and summer is brief. And at all times, it rains. Right? Not exactly. Like most parts of the planet, Scotland is warming. Average temperatures today are almost 1 degree Celsius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit) higher than they were a half-century ago. For Scotland's world-famous whisky industry, that's a serious problem. "2018 was just really, really unbelievable," recalls Callum Fraser, production manager at Glenfarclas, Scotland's oldest family-owned whisky maker. A summe

Uncertain Future For European Kids Detained In Syria’s Terror Prison Camps

In the sprawling prison camps of northeastern Syria, home to hundreds-of-thousands of Islamic State (IS) detainees, coronavirus is far from the only chronic health concern. Malnutrition, hypothermia, and preventable disease stalk the fetid, overflowing terrorist penitentiaries, whilst another contagion, religious fundamentalism, proliferates unchecked. Every year, hundreds of children, many of European lineage, are born into this abject deprivation. They are the sons and daughters of some 12,00

The Scottish independence debate is being reshaped by the pandemic

There was a moment, five days before 2014’s historic vote on Scottish independence, when the contest came alive. Electrified by an opinion poll that put the rival camps neck-and-neck, supporters of both sides poured onto the streets in a deluge of democratic fervor. A carnival atmosphere engulfed Glasgow, Scotland’s largest city, as activists made their final, thunderous push for victory.
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