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

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

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

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'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

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

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.

Moratorium on travel may devastate U.K. fruit and vegetable growers

GLASGOW, Scotland — Cultivating hops is a difficult business. Long before the little cone-shaped flowers are ready for harvest, days of gruelling groundwork must be laid. For hours on end, workers kneel as they intricately thread the infant shoots around lengths of string. “Training,” as the process is known, takes skill, focus and patience. But most of all, it requires manpower — and that’s why Ali Capper is worried. “We’ve already recruited. We’ve got a team of people all hoping to come. They

Scotland Has Found the Perfect Solution to Homelessness

Eight weeks ago, Chris* was waking to the bitter winter chill of Scotland’s east coast. With nowhere to call home and “absolutely nothing” to his name, he had run out of options, and was living on the streets. “I felt really hopeless, it was so depressing,” recalls the 30-year-old Edinburgh man. But today, he’s feeling a little brighter. “I have a nice room with its own bathroom. It’s restful and I respect everyone here,” Chris says of his current accommodation – Edinburgh’s Old Waverley Hotel,

Europe-China Relations Start To Show Coronavirus Strain

China’s new year celebrations involve travel on an unimaginable scale. Upwards of half-a-billion people piled onto trains, planes, and busses, criss-crossing a continent-sized country. It’s an epidemiologist’s nightmare. And yet, somehow, Beijing managed to get a lid on its coronavirus outbreak—which emerged on the eve of the holiday—with remarkable success. Scarcely 3% of COVID-19 deaths globally have been recorded in China, a nation home to one-fifth of the planet’s population. That is, of c

Coronavirus is death knell for Scottish fishing industry | DW | 01.04.2020

As the worst of the winter weather recedes and Easter approaches, Fraserburgh harbor in northeast Scotland ought to be teeming with activity. Under clear skies, dozens of trawler boats would — in normal times — be setting off for the bountiful fishing grounds of the North Sea, or returning to unload their catch. But these are not normal times, and the port sits silent. A full four-fifths of the fleet is currently tied up, estimates veteran Fraserburgh skipper Mark Robertson. Like businesses the

Scotland's shameful record: Homelessness fuels highest drug-death rate in Europe

It's a bitterly cold night in Glasgow, Scotland's largest city. Kevin Barry Duffin's hat is pulled low against the winter chill, and he warms his hands with a steaming cup of coffee. His smile is broad as he approaches for a chat; but behind the homeless man's eyes, there is sadness. "First it was codeine. Then heroin when I was 26. Now, in the last four years, it's been coke. I was abused growing up. That's what's f---ed me up. I took drugs to cover the pain," he says. Kevin is one of dozens

Brexit And The Regions: Fear Of No Deal Disaster In England’s Industrial Heartlands

Visualise Brexit. Big Ben may spring to mind, or the prime minister at his podium in Downing Street. But Britain’s E.U. departure isn’t a London phenomenon. It was on the streets of Hartlepool, Walsall, and Dudley—not Westminster—that the Leave campaign prevailed. Brexit was forged in England’s former industrial heartlands—and now, as trade talks commence, the regions’ message is clear: do not ignore us. Devastated by steep decline in the 1980s, decades of regeneration have shaped the economies

Coronavirus: Is The U.K. Prepared?

Britain is on edge. Coronavirus’s steady creep is starting to look more like a surge: a thousand cases in South Korea, fifteen dead in Iran, over three hundred infected in Italy. The U.K.’s health secretary confessed this week that he is “pretty worried”; a jarring understatement to Brits already battling the virus. That group is currently small—a dozen or so—but experts are clear: the worst is still to come. ‘Covid-19’, the disease’s official designation, has brought chaos to China. With almo

Power Politics: Reshuffle Reveals Johnson And Cummings’ Iron Grip

It was billed as a moderate shake-up. A few fresh faces—particularly in the junior ranks—but effectively a continuity Cabinet, one committed to carrying out the Conservatives’ winning manifesto. Did nobody tell Dominic Cummings? Boris Johnson’s tough-as-nails top aide was in no mood for compromise this morning, forcing from office Britain’s second most powerful politician. Sajid Javid—now former Chancellor of the Exchequer—had been given an ultimatum: sack your senior staff, or you’re finished.

Far-Right Upset At German Election Is A Warning Moderates Had Better Heed

In Germany this week—as the nation marks 75 years since the fall of fascism—the spectre of far-right rule reared its head. A startling series of events saw Alternative für Deutschland (AfD), a party of ardent nationalists, play kingmaker in a regional election. The result is likely to be undone—but Germany’s guiding post-war principle, to keep power in moderate hands, has been punctured. The drama played out in Thuringia, an eastern state governed in recent years by the left-wing Die Linke part

After UK leaves EU on January 31, what will change?

On Friday evening, as the clock strikes eleven, Britain will leave the European Union. More than three and a half years since the EU referendum, during which the country has seen two general elections and much political wrangling, the wishes of 17.4 million Britons will be realised. • What price will the developing world pay for Brexit? But do not expect an end to the drama. January 31 marks a single page-turn in the Brexit odyssey and the next chapter could be just as fraught. A transition p
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