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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

Scotland’s Whisky Industry Is Struggling — The Political Consequences Could Be Huge

A wee dram: surely the perfect tonic to pandemic woes? You might think so; but for Scotland’s world famous whisky industry, it’s been a torrid twelve months. Scotch shipments plunged by almost a quarter in 2020, lumping distilleries with an eye-watering £1.1bn ($1.55bn) in lost sales as exports hit a decade low. COVID-19 can account for much of the shortfall — hospitality closures and travel restrictions have battered booze businesses worldwide. But dig a little deeper, and it’s clear Scotland

Does Biden Signal A Green Light For Green Finance?

With arresting brevity last month, Joe Biden laid out his presidential priorities. “Stinging inequity, systemic racism, a climate in crisis.” Eight words of an inaugural speech that reverberated worldwide; a mission statement that marked a sea-change in America’s approach to sustainability. For the global Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) community, the president could scarcely have hit a more hopeful note. After four years in the shade, his message was clear: from now on, you’ve got a friend at the top. That Biden’s predecessor was no ally of impact investors, there’s little question. Donald Trump flirted with climate denial, encouraged fossil fuel expansion, and dragged America from global carbon commitments. And yet, in recent years, socially responsible investment has rocketed, driven by shareholder activism and boardroom resolve. The last twelve months have seen a particular shift towards the application of non-financial factors, with ESG funds outperforming the wider market. Now, with President Biden squarely behind sustainable business, a further boom in eco-investment seems certain.

Scottish National Party chief executive accused of misleading inquiry

Peter Murrell rejected claims that he had given contradictory answers | Pool photo by Andy Buchanan/Getty Images GLASGOW — The chief executive of the Scottish National Party was accused on Monday of misleading an inquiry into the handling of harassment complaints against former Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond. Peter Murrell — who is also the husband of current First Minister Nicola Sturgeon — had been hauled before a parliamentary committee to clarify comments made during a previous sessi

U.K. Green thumbs grow demand for inner-city gardening plots during pandemic

It may be a small plot in Osterley, west London, but it has provided Karen Peck’s kitchen with row upon row of cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, fava beans and garlic. But Peck, 60, gets far more out of her allotment than just fresh food. “It’s so tranquil. I have a favorite robin who comes to visit, then the blackbird turns up, and there are wrens in the corner,” Peck said in a telephone interview late last year. “You appreciate the birdsong and the tiny little brown mice, hedgehogs, urban foxe

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
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