08/04/23 – 14/04/23
Police seized an SNP-owned motorhome valued £110,000 from outside the home of Peter Murrell’s mother. Police are also examining the £107,000 loan Peter Murrell gave the party to help with ‘cashflow’ problems post-election, some of which the party has repaid, with some outstanding. Peter still has not resigned from the party. Strange when Michelle Thomson and Natalie McGarry were suspended when under financial investigation. Thomson was later found not guilty.
After SNP MSPs and MPs threatened to withhold their £250 monthly dues to the party over concerns about Peter Murrell’s legal fees, the SNP clarified the party is not paying them.
The Scottish government is being criticised for downgrading the post of Minister for Older People, despite the 40% of the population over 50 being classed as ‘older’, and more over-65s than 15-year-olds. Older people are now the remit of Emma Roddick, who also covers asylum seekers, mainstreaming equality, faith and belief(?), social isolation, human rights, travellers, LGBTI, the disabled, the displaced and refugees.
Sixteen charities wat a rethink. Age Scotland had written to Humza Yousaf prior to his election as First Minister urging him to maintain the post of Minister for Older People.
Over 25,000 Scots pensioners have plunged into poverty since 2008, with calls for an Older Persons’ Czar to enforce legally binding measures to end deprivation. Many are cutting back on food and heating and have no resources to replace a washing machine which breaks down.
Cannabis and Crime
Following the rape and murder of pensioner Esther Brown in her own flat by Jason Graham, there are calls for a review of drugs laws and offender supervision. Since 2016 police issue warnings for possession of minor amounts, but modern dope is much stronger than it was and is fuelling a tidal wave of psychiatric problems.
Police apparently failed to follow up tips that Graham was smoking cannabis while out on licence. Graeme Pearson, former head of the Scottish Crime and Drug Enforcement Agency, said Graham should have been monitored better when released from prison, although both police and criminal justice conducted enhanced visits.
A Significant Case Review found Graham’s management in the community ‘riddled with mistakes’, and his ongoing drug use should have set off warnings. Police Scotland and Criminal Justice Social work each seemed to believe the other was responsible for monitoring his curfew, and the Scottish Prison Service failed to share information about Graham selling cannabis, selling prescription medication and being in a sexual relationship with another prisoner, all while in HMP Glenochil.
He was previously arrested for multiple alleged attacks on women, and had throttled a previous girlfriend. Despite this, an independent inquiry concluded that the crime ‘could not have been predicted or prevented’.
Cannabis is the drug most likely to trigger mental illness, with 3,700 new patients in the last 3 years suffering from psychotic delusions and hallucinations caused by cannabis or its synthetic variants. The Scottish government would only say that reviewing drugs offences and penalties is reserved!
The SNP have admitted that their auditors quit last September and they are having difficulty appointing replacements. Bill Ramsay, Convenor of the SNP Trade Union Group, is calling for the appointment of a forensic auditor (qualified to investigate fraud and professional negligence).
The SNP Westminster Group is also affected by the auditors’ resignation. Unless the group submits an auditor’s certificate by May 31st certifying that cash already received was used exclusively on parliamentary business, it will stop receiving over £1 million of ‘short money’ paid by the taxpayer for parliamentary activities.
British Sign Language Driving Instructor
Kieran Cuthbert of Kilbirnie, North Ayrshire, has just become the first deaf British Sign Language user driving instructor in Scotland. He is hoping to pave the way for more BSL instructors. Figures suggest nearly 351,000 or 6.6% of people in Scotland have long term hearing loss.
will start public service on May 15th, with 5 single-decker Stagecoach buses operating over the Forth Road Bridge on a 14-mile route between Ferrytoll Park’n’Ride in Fife and the Edinburgh Park train and tram interchange. Sensors allow the buses to travel on pre-selected roads up to 50 mph. There will be two members of staff on board, a safety driver in the driver’s seat and a ‘bus captain’ dealing with tickets, boarding and queries.
Scottish scientists at Edinburgh University’s School of Informatics are developing autonomous robots to help surgeons cut away less healthy tissue when operating on cancerous growths.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is already used in the NHS, for example to check 80,000 mammograms for breast cancer. Glasgow is using it to check the COPD patients most at risk of hospital admission to allow pre-emptive measures to be taken.
The bonus scandal deepened when it was revealed that nationalised shipyard Ferguson Marine was not obliged to comply with the public sector pay rules banning bonuses. A number of routes are affected still by cancellations and delays, including a month-long outage between the mainland and South Uist; the Corran Ferry, the 47-year-old Maid of Glencoul, cancelled; the MV Corran still awaiting replacement parts; and an engine control fault in the MV Loch Seaforth cancelling sailings between Ullapool and Stornoway, resulting in the A861 route becoming gridlocked by HGVs and tourists.
The ongoing ferry uncertainty is putting whisky production on Jura and Islay in jeopardy, with production running hand to mouth due to continued disruption to supplies of barley, and uncertain transportation for the finished product.
The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has not released annual safety assessments of nuclear weapons on the Clyde since 2017, with an appeal to release the figures rejected in 2021. Radioactive liquid from HMS Superb leaked into the Firth of Clyde in 2007, a place where seafood is caught and which fills Gourock outdoor pool. Between 2005 and 2015
‘regulatory risks’ occurred 86 times, 13 of which were high priority. The MoD used an exemption under freedom of information legislation to withhold information on the nuclear deterrent which may ‘damage…. relations between UK administrations’(!)
Humza Yousaf and Net Zero Secretary Mairi McAllan were in Aberdeen recently to announce £25 million funding from the Just Transition Fund via the Scottish National Investment Bank (SNIB) to ‘leverage further private investment’ to expand the Port of Aberdeen South Harbour. The bank has already invested £225 million to businesses moving to net zero, with £475m from other investors.
Section 35 Challenge
Despite admitting that voters’ priorities are the cost-of-living crisis, high energy bills and public services, Humza Yousaf’s first priority is to challenge the UK government blocking the deeply undemocratic gender reform bill, despite Emeritus Professor of Public Law at Dundee University, Alan Page, a foremost constitutional law expert, saying the prospects of success are ‘vanishingly small’.
When Ayr GP Dr Steffen McAndrew was asked if he was pregnant prior to donating blood, he thought it was a wind-up. Sadly it was not and, refusing to ‘placate.. the gender-brigade’, the blood donation was refused. Health authorities backed off (a bit), and now say if it is not applicable, tick ‘No’, which is still answering the same question which should not be asked.
Note to the Blood Transfusion Service: have a box stating ‘Not Applicable’!
for England and Wales may be unreliable, according to Carl Heneghan of Oxford University’s Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine. London Boroughs Newham and Brent, where many have English as a second language, recorded 29% as transgender, the highest proportion of transgender people in the UK, and one in 67 Muslims said they were transgender. It is thought people were confused by the language used, leading to misinterpretations of the question.
Should be fun when the Scottish results are published.
selection of trans social media influencer Dylan Mulvaney as the face of Bud Light and Nike’s to feature surgically untransitioned Dylan in their sports bras have caused uproar, with Anheuser-Busch losing $6bn off its market capitalization over ten days. Three-time Olympian and silver medal winner Sharron Davies is strongly opposed, as is trans icon and former Olympian Caitlyn Jenner.
Only 1% of all sports sponsorship money goes to women, and until recently, Nike reduced female athletes’ sponsorship by 70% when they could not run due to being pregnant or just after giving birth, although they reversed this after an outcry to give women 18 months off around pregnancy.
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Mountain Rescue Tensions
All may not be well between former police and volunteers in the Tayside Mountain Rescue Team (MRT), with some saying it is now a ‘drinking club’ for retired police volunteers who ‘reduce their availability’ for calls. Funds raised to establish a base in Highland Perthshire were instead used to set up one in Dundee, with the Aberfeldy base now gone.
Rural Scotland ‘abandoned’
A quarter of post offices in Scotland are not in permanent premises but in a van or outreach facility like a library, sometimes for only 30 minutes a week. Around 5000 post office branches have closed since 2015, with six closing every week throughout the UK. This particularly affects rural and island areas, women and the elderly.
The iconic Capon Oak Tree in Jedburgh will get a £7000 community grant from the Fallago Rig wind farm in the Lammermuir Hills through its Fallago Environment Fund. The tree is one of the last remnants of the ancient Jed Forest. Border clans rallied there, commemorated at the annual Callant Festival each July when a town representative leads a mounted cavalcade on rides, the most important being to Redeswire, stopping to take a sprig from the tree on his way back.
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