Some Scottish News & Views Issue # 447

Issue # 447                                          Week ending Saturday 14th April 2018
How Many Marks Does it Take to Leak Computer Data? One, As Long As You Give Consent by Iain MacIver Courtesy of the Press & Journal

Remember the good old days before Facebook and Twitter? That was when we had to take a photo of our dinner, then go to the chemist to get the film developed, then the following day go around to all your friends’ houses to show them photos of what a plate of spag bol looks like? No? Me neither. It didn’t happen and we could sleep safely in our beds knowing no data about our favourite likes was leaking from the local chemist.

But now one of the giant social media networks has been leaking data about din-dins and goodness knows what else to companies that make heaps of money selling that information to political people? So what? What’s that got to do with you and me? There are about 87 million Facebook users possibly affected. Still, what’s the harm? Most people do little more than post pictures of their dog, supposedly-inspirational messages and dull clichés that were formatted by low-paid workers in China.

A couple of weeks ago, we were assured whistleblower Christopher Wylie, who worked with data recipients Cambridge Analytica, was talking nonsense when he said this was happening. He was actually pretty much spot-on. Personal details have been collected to help win elections. Technology already exists to link it to face-recognition technology and anyone who has the basic kit can have all our contact details and anything we ever posted or shared in about two seconds of us passing one of their scanners. OMG, will I be ugly in every scan?

By the time you read this, we may have all got a message from Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg confirming that all our likes and private messages are with companies working for Donald Trump - or someone even more worrying. This is getting me very rattled. I take online security very seriously and I have to change my password that I use for every web application I use from email to my income tax calculator. That is a hassle. You know what this means? I now have to change the name of our dog. Come here, kJ*h$84Ui5(&#. Sit nice. Good boy.

This is not about theft. When you go onto a website, they sometimes say “Log in with Facebook” or “Log in with Google”. It saves time, two clicks and you’re in. If you do that, that is you giving consent to give them your details - everything. They want to see what you like, what you share and also what you look at most often. Have you ever done one of these Guess My Age quizzes? Once maybe, eight years ago? That was when you personally updated your own birth year on databases around the globe. You agreed to do it. You didn’t know? RTSP, mate. Read the small print. How else can poor Facebook make a dollar?

Data brokers sell personal info to anyone with the spondulaks. Some of them hold as many as 3,000 pieces of info about every consumer, according to the Federal Trade Commission in America. Here’s the worrying thing - some of the data is wrong. They now reckon that about half of it is completely inaccurate because it is tampered with by criminals or guessed at by algorithms. That may be why you are not getting discounts on car and home insurance or even getting a mortgage. See now why it’s important? Thought so.

Hundreds of people on this island are right now on their phones while ignoring the rising level of dust and dirt in their smelly homes. That is happening everywhere. It is also changing our shopping habits. Last night, Mrs X told me to put my underpants in the basket. I could not be bothered so I put six new pairs in the basket - then I clicked Pay Now. On every High Street there used to be shops we knew and loved. Internet shopping is affecting them all - Specsavers, Boots and even Greggs. Where now for specs, drugs and a bacon roll?

Zuckerberg needs to make money. I think we will eventually have a wee box beside our computers and we will put in a £1 coin to go on Facebook for an hour. It has to happen. It will be back to the future and we’ll have to press Button A to connect. If you don’t understand what I am on about, ask someone over 50 years old.  Ultimately, the internet giants will have to stop competing. They will have to get together to survive. Myspace is going to make a comeback and will probably team up with Facebook and Twitter. What will they call it? I can see it now - My Twit Face.

North-east Oil Firm Raises More Than £8,000 for Huntington’s Charity

An oil firm has raised and donated more than £8,000 to support the work of a charity close to the hearts of employees.  Funds were raised by Bibby Offshore’s Healthy Working Lives Team which took in £8,225 for the Scottish Huntington’s Association (SHA).  SHA is the only charity in Scotland offering dedicated specialist support to families living with the incurable genetic neurological conditional, Huntington’s Disease.  The charity is one which is very close to hearts of employees at the firm as employee Keith Gordon, the company’s materials controller, lives with Huntington’s, while a number of his colleagues also have family members affected.  Keith said: “The SHA Grampian Specialist Service team has helped me so much with many aspects of living with Huntington’s Disease – including helping me to complete benefit application forms and providing all sorts of advice. I know that I can contact the team at any time for any help or support I may need, and I know I would struggle without its support.”  The money was raised through employees taking part in assault course race Glack Attack, the Kilt Walk, as well as a barbecue and live dance. The Healthy Working Lives Team develops and delivers a series of events and initiatives throughout the year to help personnel make positive changes to their lives.

Scotland and China Have ‘Different Perspectives’ But ‘Common Challenges’

Scotland and China will inevitably have “different perspectives” on some issues but are also facing “common challenges”, Nicola Sturgeon will say. The First Minister, who has already raised the issue of human rights during her trip to China, will use a speech in Beijing to highlight how both nations are working to tackle poverty and improve life for children. The speech, before an audience of policy makers and academics in Beijing, comes after Ms Sturgeon had a “constructive discussion” with Chinese vice premier Hu Chunhua.  The address is part of a joint Scottish Government and Unicef event, hosted by the Chinese Peoples Association for Friendship of Foreign Countries, as part of a five day visit which will also take her to Shanghai and Hong Kong.  The First Minister will say: “China and Scotland will inevitably sometimes have different perspectives and different starting points but we have a strong friendship and partnership, as I have seen throughout my visit here, and we also share many common interests and common challenges.  We also both recognise that nothing is more fundamental to our future success than the support and care we provide for our young people.  We know that by tackling poverty, by promoting education and childcare, and by recognising and strengthening children’s rights, we can meet our moral obligations while laying the foundations for future prosperity and wellbeing.”  The Scottish Government is using the 2018 Year of Young People to consider how it can strengthen children’s rights, she will say, stressing the “government must take steps to support and cherish every child”. And she will tell how work to improve the care system for vulnerable youngsters is “one of the most important responsibilities a government can have”.  Children who can not be looked after by their parents not only “need the best possible support” but also “perhaps most fundamentally of all, they need to know that they are cared for and loved”, she will add. With a review into the care system being carried out Ms Sturgeon is meeting looked after children, with the First Minister to says this is “one of the ways in which we are ensuring that children themselves have a say in decisions which will affect them”.  She will also speak about China’s efforts, and will say: “President Xi has pledged to eliminate absolute poverty by 2020. That work on poverty reduction, and addressing regional imbalances, will make a big difference to children and families.  And at last year’s 19th National Party Congress, President Xi also gave strong indications that children will be a priority area for China after 2020.

Ayrshire Teachers Raising Money for Charity with the Help of Teddy Mascot

Teachers are raising funds for charity with the help of a five-foot teddy bear. The Belmont Academy teachers are raising cash for ‘Classrooms for Malawi’ for a trip to the African country in the summer in order to help build and renovate classrooms. Miss Melville and Miss Maxwell are running a competition to guess the birthday of ‘Molly the Malawi Bear.’ The charity has built/renovated a total of 136 schools in Malawi meaning that thanks to the many volunteers with ‘Classrooms for Malawi’, 10,880 children can now learn in safe environments.

Lost Monastery of St Æbbe in Berwickshire
The search for the lost monastery, founded by St Æbbe and recorded by the Venerable Bede, will take place at Coldingham this summer.  Archaeologists leading the dig to locate the lost monastery, say it is one of the most important sites to the story of early medieval Christianity in Britain.  The ‘Beyond Bede: the Lost Monastery of St. Æbba’ project has been awarded £62,600 from the Heritage Lottery Fund to undertake a programme of free community events, training seminars, workshops and school visits. An archaeological excavation, led by DigVentures and sponsored by The Friends of Coldingham Priory, will be held from June 19–July 1, with opportunities for the public to visit as well as jump into the trenches alongside the DigVentures professional archaeological team.  St Æbbe was the sister of King Oswald, founder of the iconic monastery at Lindisfarne. Historical sources indicate that Æbbe’s monastery burnt down soon after she died, was abandoned for a short while, rebuilt and continued to thrive until AD 870 when it was destroyed once and for all by a devastating Viking attack – just like Oswald’s Lindisfarne.  The site is fundamental to understanding the Anglo-Saxons in Scotland, and to prove the story with archaeological evidence. There have been several attempts to locate the monastery’s remains, most recently at the nearby site of St Abb’s Head, however no definitive evidence for its location has ever been found. Tantalising new geophysics results, however, suggest a number of possible Anglo-Saxon structures at a slightly different location, close to the ruins of Coldingham’s much later medieval priory. This summer, DigVentures is set to look for definitive new evidence and confirm whether or not this is indeed the site of St Æbbe’s lost monastery.  DigVentures projects director Brendon Wilkins: “Coldingham is one of the most important sites to the story of early medieval Christianity in Britain, of the Anglo-Saxons, of the Scottish Borders and the great flourishing of power in the region.  We know so much less about it than many other of the similar sites of the period, so this really is an incredibly exciting chance to answer many vital questions and to share this knowledge as widely as we can.”  Anne Dall, secretary for Friends of Coldingham Priory added: “As a community, we are delighted that the DigVentures team is coming to the village in June. Let’s hope that the investigation reveals the hidden traces of St Æbbe’s lost monastery and throws more light on the history of Coldingham.”

War Memorial Garden Returns to A Place of Peace

Coldstream’s war memorial gardens have been enhanced by two newly installed seating areas.  The local Honour Our Troops branch has been working on rejuvenating the town war memorial gardens at the entrance to Home Park behind the war memorial on the High Street since 2014 as part of their Poppy Project 2014-18.  Volunteers from other organisations in the town got on board a year later, as did Scottish Borders Council and now things are really taking off.  Coldstream Community Trust volunteers mow the grass regularly, they have created two rockeries over old tree stumps using stone from Lennel Kirk and carry out regular garden maintenance.  Coldstream Men’s Shed got on board last year and have built a sturdy bench around one of the trees where people can now sit and reflect at Remembrance services and other times. And the Coldstream in Bloom team from Coldstream Gateway Association contributed a poppy bench.  One of the Honour Our Troops organisers, Annemarie McCall said: “All of this was possible through grant funding from Hudson Hirsel and the Co-operative Society. The last part of the rejuvenation is installing lighting in the gardens so residents and visitors can feel safe when they walk through at night. We are in talks with Scottish Borders Council as to how this safety aspect can be solved.  We are over the moon that through the commitment, dedication and work of everyone involved the memorial gardens are quickly becoming a place to sit and enjoy rather than just a walkway linking the High Street and the park.  We are slowly returning them back to being a place of peace and contemplation, in line with why they were first instigated so many years ago for mothers and wives who had lost their sons and husbands during World War One. We are very grateful for all the help that individuals and organisations have given to us and it shows what we can achieve when working together.”

SNH Must Heed the Lessons of Assynt by Ray Mackay and Victor Clements
On June 29 last year, the board of Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) agreed to use their regulatory powers to force the Assynt Crofters Trust and other landowners on the Assynt Peninsula to cull large numbers of deer. By August, SNH officials had reversed that decision. Recently, the Assynt Peninsula Deer Management Sub-Group (APSG) agreed with SNH a plan of operations for bringing the woodlands at Ardvar back into favourable condition. The plan involves a combination of deer control across Assynt, some fenced enclosures to strengthen the habitat network and diversify tree species, and an agreed monitoring programme. Agreed deer culls have been delivered for 2017-18, fencing work is well underway and habitat monitoring will take place shortly to inform on-going management. So, after years of wrangling over the nature of the woods at Ardvar — whether they were regenerating or being devastated by the impact of deer and how many deer there actually were on the Assynt Peninsula, the issue of deer in the Ardvar woodlands has been settled. This draws a line under a seemingly intractable argument that has dominated land-use debate in Scotland for a number of years, and which has cost the public purse almost £1 million.  Now that the argument has been won and common sense has prevailed, we feel we are in a position to explain our own side of the story, aided by a knowledge of SNH decision-making gained through Freedom of Information (FOI). We have not been able to get SNH to explain their recent change in policy, far less apologise for the years of disruption they have caused in Assynt, and so we are publishing this account of what went wrong so that lessons can be learned and situations like this cannot arise again in future.  It is important for us to do so because, in addition to the huge public cost, the ability of the Assynt Crofters Trust to manage their own land has been publicly questioned; relationships within Assynt have been put under strain, and the time and effort required to deal with all these issues has been immense. While salaried SNH staff have been, for years, getting well paid to provide often misleading and inaccurate information to their board and to Holyrood, we have had to fight our case in our own time and at our own expense against a full array of public agencies and politicians. All of this has been damaging and unnecessary.  We have articulated our view of what has happened, because others appear unwilling or unable to do so. The local deer management group has been very sorely tested, but it has survived and has grown stronger, and we will ultimately be the better for that. In the future, we hope that SNH as an organisation can change along the lines we have suggested above. If it can, then land managers will find it easier to arrive at working solutions, local communities will have more faith in what SNH is trying to achieve and Scotland’s natural heritage will ultimately benefit.  For the full report see Am Bratach No. 318 April

Litir bhon a’ Cheathramh le Alasdair MacMhaoirn
Fhuair mi preusant fìor inntinneach bho charaid ann an Canada sa mhìos seo. ’S e clàraidhean de “Red River Bungi” a bh’ ann. Nuair a bha mi aig co-labhairt ann an Toronto an-uiridh, thachair mi ri buidheann de Metis, agus thòisich sinn bruidhinn air cànan. Tha cànan Michif, aig na Metis agus bhruidhinn sinn cuideachd air cànan eile a bha cumanta aig àm malairt nam bian, Bungi. I recently received an very interesting present from a friend in Canada. It was a copy of recordings made of Red River Bungi. When I attended a conference in Toronto last year I met with a group of Mètis, and we discussed language. The Mètis have their own language, Michif, and they said there was another language commonly used during the Fur Trade, Bungi. Tha na Metis aithnichte mar mhuinntir tùsail ann an Canada. Tha iad, sa mhòr-chuid, ann am Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta agus Ontario, ach tha iad anns na roinnean eile cuideachd. Mar a tha iad fhèin a’ cantainn, “Rugadh sinn à neo-eisimeileachd”, agus ’s iad na daoine a thàinig à measgachadh à muinntir tùsail agus daoine Eòrpach a bha an-sàs ann am malairt nam bian. The Mètis are recognised as a First Nation in Canada and they come, for the most part, from Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and Ontario, but they lived in other provinces as well. As they say themselves, “We were born of independence”, and they share the cultures of both First Nation tribes and European settlers who were involved in the fur trade.  Tha an cànan aca na mheasgachadh de chànan tùsail agus Fraingis. Leugh mi uaireigin gu robh Gàidhlig ann cuideachd agus, on a bha an cothrom agam sa cho-labhairt, dh’fhaighnich mi dhaibh mun Ghàidhlig. Thuirt iad rium gu bheil Michif gu math diofraichte eadar na diofair àiteachan, agus nan robh Gàidhlig ri lorg, bhiodh e col’ach gum biodh i ri lorg faisg air Red River far an robh gu leòr Gàidheil. Cuideachd, bha cànan eile ann ann an shin, ’s e sin Bungi. The Mètis language is a result of a mixture of First Nation languages and French. I have read that there may be a bit of Gaelic also and since I had an opportunity at the conference I asked about Gaelic connections. I was told that Michif can be very different from place to place and if Gaelic was there it would most likely be found near the Red River, where many Gaels had settled. Also, they said there was another fur trade language called Bungi.  B’ e àite cudromach a bh’ ann an Red River aig àm mhalairt nam bian, on bha an Companaidh Hudson’s Bay a’ cumail baile ann. ’S ann faisg air Winnipeg a tha e san là an-diugh. Cuideachd, eadar 1812-1815, chuir Lord Selkirk buidheann de Ghàidheil ann, cuid dhiubh à Cille Dhonnan, airson an dà chuid a bhith a’ neartachadh Breatainn an aghaidh nan Stàitean Aonaichte agus airson, na bheachd fhèin, a bhith a’ toirt faochadh dha na Gàidheil a bha a’ fulang leis na fuadaichean. (’S e sgeulachd airson là eile a th’ ann!). ’S e a bh’ ann an Red River, ach baile a bha na àite measgachaidh eadar diofar dhaoine, cuid tùsail agus cuid Eòrpach. A-mach à sin thàinig na Metis agus Michif, agus cuideachd Bungi. The Red River, near present day Winnipeg, was very important during the fur trade owing to settlement by the Hudson’s Bay Company. In the years 1812-1815, a number of Gaels, many from Kildonan, were taken there by Lord Selkirk in order to strengthen British presence in the face of American expansion and also, in his own mind, to help the Gaels who were suffering under the Clearances (a story for another time!). Red River was a meeting palce for First Nation people, as well as Europeans. Out of all this came the Mètis and Michif, and also Bungi.  ’S e facal bho na tùsanaich a th’ ann am Bungi, a tha a’ mìneachadh “facal no dhà”, a rèir col’ach on a bha facal no dhà à diofar chànan ann. Tha e diofraichte bho Mhichif, a tha làn Fraingis, on a tha e stèidhichte air a’ Bheurla ach col’ach ri Michif on a tha facail thùsail ann cuideachd. Dh’fhàs e gu bhith na chainte àbhaisteach mu chuairt Red River agus feumaidh mi aideachadh gu bheil e dha-rìribh duilich dhomh a thuigsinn, a dh’aindeoin mo chuid Gàidhlig, Beurla, Fraingis agus rud beag Anishinaabais! Bungi is an Ojibwe word meaning “a few”, because there were a few words from different languages in it. It is very different from Michif, which is very French and because Bungi appears to be mostly English, but like Michif there are native ways of speaking as well. It was the usual language around Red River, and I found it almost impossible to follow, and I speak Gaelic, English, some French and a little Ojibwe! On a bha mi a’ faighneachd ma deidhinn, chuimhnich mo charaid, aig a bheil ceangal ri Taigh Tasgaidh ann am Manitoba, gu robh clàraidhean de Red River Bungi ann, agus thuirt e gun cuireadh e leth-bhreacan thugam. Thàinig iad thugam bho chionn goirid. Thuirt e gur e rud math gun deach coimhead orra on a bha iad ann an droch stàite. On a bha ùidh ann, chaidh an sàbhaladh agus tha iad a-nis ann an cruth dideatach. An ath mhìos, sgrìobhaidh mi air na clàraidhean fhèin. Owing to my inquiries, my acquaintance, who has connections with an archive in Manitoba, remembered that there were recordings and he said he would send me copies. They came and he said that it was a good thing that they were looked at because they had deteriorated badly. However, they have been saved and are now digitised. Next month I’ll describe the recordings.

Scotland Continues At Forefront of Eco-friendly Energy Use

Wind turbines in Scotland provided a 44 per cent increase in power to the National Grid during the first quarter of 2018, environmental groups say.  Analysis of WWF wind power data by WeatherEnergy found that in January alone, renewable wind from onshore turbines powered the equivalent of more than five million homes. The rise in electricity compares with the same period in 2017.  Dr Sam Gardner, WWF Scotland's acting director said: "Renewables have provided an incredible amount of power during the first three months of this year.  An increase of 44 per cent on the record-breaking equivalent period in 2017 is clear evidence the investment made in this technology has paid off for the economy and the environment, putting Scotland at the forefront of the fight against climate change."  Scotland has become a world leader in sourcing its electricity from renewables and had a record year for creating eco-friendly energy in 2017.  Statistics published recently by the UK Government showed an increase of 26 per cent compared with the previous year. Some 68.1 per cent per cent of overall electricity consumption in Scotland came from renewable sources, up 14.1 percentage points from 54 per cent in 2016.  Environmental groups say renewables overtook nuclear as the second biggest source of power UK-wide in quarter four of 2017.  But they also called for the UK Government to stop excluding cheaper power such as onshore, wind and solar from the market. Karen Robinson of WeatherEnergy, which provided the data for WWF said: "It's great to see renewables continuing to power Scotland, adding to the year on year evidence that greater investment in both renewables and storage is the way forward."

Taking the Pipes From Uist to New York
Sgoil Lionicleit Pipe Band, made up of secondary school students from Uist and Barra, are being documented as they travel to New York to take part in the famous New York Tartan Week.  It is the first time the pipe band have ever attended the event, and the motivation came when tragedy hit the islander’s small community. Sgoil Lionicleit Pipe Band member, Eilidh MacLeod, was one of 22 victims of the Manchester bombings in May 2017.  Gaelic media company MacTV have been following the pipe band as they began fundraising for their trip which has taken them 5,000km away from the tiny island they call home. David Martin, producer for MacTV, says: “When we heard that Sgoil Lionacleit Pipe band were taking part in the Tartan day parade we thought it was a great opportunity to follow them. After a difficult year we felt it was important to document the group as they perform and promote our culture at iconic locations around New York”  The New York Tartan Week, which is in its 20th year, celebrates Scottish culture and centres around Tartan Day took place on April 6th.

Key Used to Open Glasgow School of Art Sold for £32,000
A key designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh to open Glasgow School of Art has sold for £32,000 to help raise funds for the restoration of the fire-damaged masterpiece.  The former owner of the key and auction house Lyon & Turnbull will donate a percentage of the sale to The Mackintosh Campus Appeal, the £32 million fundraising campaign launched following the blaze which badly damaged the Mackintosh Building in May 2014.  Designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh especially for the opening ceremony of the building he designed, the key was presented to Sir James King, the Lord Provost of Glasgow from 1886–9, by six-year-old Miss Mary Newbery, daughter of Fra Newbery, director of The Glasgow School of Art, who then unlocked the door.  The key, which has not been seen in public since the opening ceremony on December 20, 1899, achieved a hammer price of £32,000 at the sale at Lyon & Turnbull in Edinburgh on Wednesday, with £8000 commission on top.  It has been bought by Sir Ludo Shaw Stewart, owner of the Ardgowan Estate near Inverkip, Inverclyde where it will go on show at Ardgowan House.  He said “I am delighted that the key will remain in Scotland, it will take pride of place on show at Ardgowan House.  I have a particular interest in the key and the Glasgow School of Art as one of my forebears was a founding father of the first School of Art in Glasgow, started in 1753 by brothers Andrew and Robert Foulis, a precursor and inspiration to the later Mackintosh School.  The key is a beautiful object and we look forward to welcoming it to its new home.”  The sale took place in the year of the 150th anniversary of Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s birth. Sir James King, who sold the key and is the direct descendant of the Sir James King who opened the building with it, said: “I am delighted that a percentage of today’s sale will be donated to the restoration fund for the Mackintosh Campus Appeal.  My namesake, the first baronet, was twice Lord Provost of Glasgow and a leading business figure in the city of his day.  If this beautiful and symbolic key can help unlock even just a little support from today’s entrepreneurs to restore this Glaswegian cultural masterpiece it will have done its job inspiring future generations.” Remembering the ceremony in later years, Mary Newbery recalled how she was shepherded up to the building carrying a “small, oblong, pale, pearly silk cushion with a silver fringe round” to hold the key. She said: “This cushion was made by Mrs. Mackintosh and my mother. Thinking about this lately, the formal ceremony would be arranged by my father who had a touch of pageantry.  He liked formal things done properly. Then the door was unlocked and in we went. There was a feeling of cheerful achievement.  The thing is the Mackintoshes were perfectionists and they couldn’t have an ordinary key. The door had a special plate and to open that interesting door of the new School of Art there had to be a proper key and that key had to be laid on a special cushion.”

Team Scotland Pass Medal Target
Scottish athletes are celebrating securing the country’s best-ever medal haul at an oversees Commonwealth Games. David McMath won Scotland’s seventh gold of the Gold Coast Games in the double trap shooting event in Australia, taking the medal tally to 30.  Team Scotland won a record 53 medals at Glasgow 2014 but the previous best performance at an away Games was at Melbourne in 2006 with 29 medals.  James Heatly added a diving bronze medal later on Wednesday – following in the footsteps of his grandfather Sir Peter who won gold in the same event in 1958 – while Maria Lyle won silver in the women’s T35 100m final to make it 32 medals for Scottish athletes.  The medal haul will continue to grow over the next few days with Reece McFadden and John Docherty guaranteed at least bronze medals in boxing after reaching semi-finals.  Team leaders had set a target of at least 30 medals to make 2018 Scotland’s best away Games, with early success in cycling and swimming setting the tone.  Duncan Scott claimed six medals in the pool, becoming Scotland’s most decorated athlete at a single Games.  Sportscotland chief executive Stewart Harris said: “Once again Team Scotland has delivered on the global stage with a string of sensational performances surpassing our best ever performance at an away Games in the Gold Coast.  For many of those medal-winning athletes, the 2018 Commonwealth Games marked the next step on an incredible sporting journey, and we are thrilled for each and every one of them who have brought home a medal.  I also want to thank the sportscotland Team Behind the Team, who have helped ensure that Scotland’s athletes are the best prepared they have ever been for an away Games. They have put in hours of hard work behind the scenes with the athletes and each and every one of them should be very proud of the results we have achieved.  And while we are of course delighted with the medal successes I also want to pay tribute to the many athletes who achieved a personal best and to every single member of the team for the incredible dedication they have shown to the Games.”

Theresa May Set to Launch Legal Bid to Stop Nicola Sturgeon's Brexit Bill Becoming Law

Theresa May is set to mount an unprecedented legal challenge at the UK Supreme Court next week to stop Nicola Sturgeon’s own Brexit Bill from becoming law.  Lawyers for the Prime Minister have been examining the Continuity Bills of both the Scottish and Welsh Governments, which seek to protect the devolved settlement in the event there is no agreement between London, Edinburgh and Cardiff on the UK Government’s flagship EU Withdrawal Bill.  The First Minister and her Welsh counterpart, Carwyn Jones, believe this is a “naked power-grab” by Whitehall.  Mrs May strongly denies this and insists more powers will be going to Holyrood and Cardiff Bay after Britain leaves the EU in March 2019. However, she wants a temporary hold put on some 24 powers and responsibilities so that common frameworks can be agreed to ensure the important UKwide internal market is protected.  The PM’s law officers have until next Wednesday to launch a legal challenge or face the Continuity Bills getting Royal Assent and becoming law. It is thought Jeremy Wright, the Attorney General, and Lord Keen of Elie, the Advocate General, Whitehall’s senior Scottish lawyer, will make the court application as early as Monday. A ministerial statement is expected to follow at Westminster.  Earlier this week David Mundell, the Scottish Secretary, said that a court challenge was “almost inevitable” but suggested it was “not a big deal” as it was just a legal process.  However, the UK Government’s own bill has still to complete its parliamentary passage and Mrs May and Mr Mundell have until Tuesday May 8, the final day of Report Stage in the House of Lords, to get a deal with Ms Sturgeon and her colleagues as the Withdrawal Bill after this date goes to Edinburgh and Cardiff to get the consent, or not, of MSPs and AMs.  Officials from all three governments are said to have engaged in intense talks over Easter to try to resolve the constitutional impasse but so far without success.  Mr Mundell has insisted he expects the talks with the devolved administrations to go “down to the wire”. While he has repeatedly expressed confidence a deal with Edinburgh will be done, SNP sources have insisted Ms Sturgeon will not budge on what she regards as a matter of principle.  Yet some peers have even suggested that the second chamber, where the Government has no majority, could seek to block the legislation if there is no consent from MSPs and Ams.  If, for whatever reason, the EU Withdrawal Bill were blocked, then the legal challenge at the Supreme Court, set to take a number of weeks, would take on huge significance because if the UK Government lost, then the Continuity Bills would proceed to become law and the constitutional control over post-Brexit powers would shift from Westminster to Holyrood and Cardiff.

Comment -R

You cannot trust anything coming out of Westminster, its now like the scenario in Russia, where whatever Prada said the ordinary Russians believed the opposite was true . The Unionists support Junk Economics ,they put Theresa May in power and Theresa is a poor negotiator, an X remainder ,who lost her majority through self aggrandizing arrogance . She has 26 countries happy with how negotiations on Brexit are proceeding, and the UK is split , her party is split and her time is limited, just like her negotiating ability.  Dump Londinium rule and Junk Tory economics- it makes no sense whatsoever. Scotland is now.

Islands MSP Calls for Scottish Gaelic to Be Added to Duolingo

It claims to be the world’s most popular online learning service for new languages. Duolingo, a free digital app, has more than 200 million users worldwide and is one of the popular downloadable educational tools.  It offers 31 language courses to English speakers, including three “constructed languages” such as Klingon, but not Scottish Gaelic.  Now an MSP representing most of the country’s native speakers is calling for that to change. Alasdair Allan, SNP member for Now Na h-Eileanan an Iar, wants the language to be added to the platform following the runaway success of its online Irish language course.  Mr Allan said that in the first two years after the Irish language launched on Duolingo in 2014, 2.3 million people started learning Irish, averaging 3,000 new learners a day.  Mr Allan said: “Online tools like Duolingo make it both easy and fun to learn a new language and I would have warmly welcomed a resource like this when I was learning Gaelic.  Adding Scottish Gaelic to Duolingo would boost the profile of the language and bring it to a vast new community of language learners, including the Scottish diaspora across the globe.  I hope Duolingo agrees to add Scottish Gaelic to its services, opening the eyes its millions of users to this beautiful language that gives us a better understanding of Scotland’s history and culture.” Duopoly was started in 2009 in Pittsburgh by university professor Luis von Ahn and his graduate student Severin Hacker. A Duolingo spokeman said: “We’re honored to hear Mr Allan’s request for Duolingo to add Scottish Gaelic. There are many considerations when it comes to adding a new language course, like the market size and demand for learning that language, technical limitations, and the availability of qualified and committed volunteers to create the course, along with our own small team’s limited resources and time. The reality is we can’t add every language that we’d like to, as soon as we’d like to, but as we grow through the release of high-demand languages, it allows us to keep adding smaller languages in the future.”

Scotland Set to Be Hotter Than Parts of California in Mini Heatwave
Spring showers will soon make way for sunshine and soaring temperatures with the nation set to bask in a mini heatwave.  Next week the mercury will rise across Scotland for a brief spell between Wednesday and Friday next week.  Edinburgh and parts of the east coast could enjoy highs of 22C (71.6F) as the temperature gradually climbs.  It comes as the UK has suffered under drizzle and gloomy conditions, struggling to get above 7C in April so far(44.6F), the Met Office said. If the predictions are accurate, on Thursday next week Scotland well be hotter than Los Angeles, California which will see highs of 17C compared to 20C in Glasgow on the same day. Met Office forecaster Sarah Kent said: “The wind direction is shifting, so we lose this really cloudy, misty and murky easterly wind. It is not going to be wall-to-wall sunshine at all, but it is going to be warmer because we have lost that cold wind.”  Scotland could see some bands of heavy rain on Saturday, while the rest of the UK will start off cloudy with a scattering of showers before the sun breaks through. But don’t get too excited, spring may not yet be in full gear. STV forecaster, Sean Batty cautioned: “It currently looks like the warmer spell of weather will last about 3 days - Wednesday to Friday next week.  Beyond that it turns more changeable again, & there could even be some colder spells later in the month.”

Calls for City Park to Open to Public this Summer
The gates of a historic Inverness park should be thrown open to the public for this summer, according to a campaigner calling for greater community use of the area.  Jon Ford is a member of the newly-formed Love This Park group which is exploring the possibility of transferring ownership of the Northern Meeting Park from Highland Council to a community-run group.  Supporters want to transform the site in Ardross Street into a vibrant space everyone can use, rather than viewing it through the locked wrought iron gates.  They also want to breathe new life into the dilapidated buildings, with suggestions including creating a coffee shop.  Although the vision is still in the early stages, Mr Ford would like to see a short trial introduced to gauge public response to greater accessibility at the park managed by Highlife Highland.   "I wonder if this year we could try and get some deal to have the gates open during the week so people can use it as a park and walk in there," he said. "I don’t know what the logistics would be. But it would be a postive step to have the gates open even for a trial period for a couple of weeks during the peak summer season." A public meeting was held in January to discuss the idea of acquiring the park through Scotland’s community asset transfer scheme (CATS) which empowers local people to acquire publicly-owned land or buildings in a bid to put them to better public use. Mr Ford said exploratory talks were ongoing with other interested groups and organisations about the way forward.