Latest News and Comment

Know the facts about the tens of thousands of homicides, assaults, and other crimes committed with firearms each year.
1 min 16 sec ago
The number of Italians at risk of poverty has risen from 15 million to 18.1 million people in a decade, according to a new report by CGIA think tank.  Between 2006 and 2016, the "risk of poverty or social exclusion" rose by four percentage points to affect 30 percent of Italy's population, the report said. This compares to a European average of 23.1 percent, with the risk of poverty actually
1 min 16 sec ago
Tom Bower, in Rebel Prince,  writes, “presides at the centre of a court with no place for democracy or dissenting views … like some feudal lord”. Bower concludes that the prince’s legacy has been “tarnished by his addiction to luxury, his financial mismanagement, his disloyalty to professional supporters, and the torrid relationships with his family”.  He expresses concern that Charles, when
12 hours 15 min ago
 Belts, the tawse, the lochgelly made by saddler John J Dick , came in two or three weights and shapes – two-tail, three-tail – and teachers either kept them in handy drawers or looped them over their shoulders and under their gowns as a crafty gunslinger might. 

A new book by the always-interesting Scottish writer Carol Craig argues that Scotland’s poor health, the worst in western Europe, has its roots in the prevalence of adverse childhood experiences, an American term signifying an upbringing affected by the stresses caused typically by a proximity to drugs, alcohol and violence.

“As a country, we need to admit that nurturing children has never been one of Scotland’s strengths,” she writes in the introduction to Hiding in Plain Sight. In a piece in this week’s Scottish Review, she contends that teachers were encouraged to belt a pupil in front of the class because the Scottish educational system “was designed to instil fear”. She says that in the course of her research she encountered hardly anyone of our generation (hers and mine) who hadn’t been belted, “many of them multiple times”, for offences as trivial as giggling.

Craig reminds us that the belt was wielded in primary as well as secondary schools, and that girls got belted as well as boys.  In 1973, Edinburgh’s education committee voted to phase out the belt by 1977, but abandoned the decision after loud opposition from schoolteachers who were zealous of their right to beat children as young as five.

England was no stranger to corporal punishment in schools either, but Scotland was far more addicted to it – the contrast between the two educational systems grew after English local authorities began to limit the use of the cane in the 1960s. The truth is that the belt was popular in Scotland among parents and teachers, and its banning from state schools in 1987 stemmed from a judgment by the European court of human rights rather than local lobbying. Private schools had to wait until 1998 in England and 2000 in Scotland. Poland had banned it as long ago as 1783, the Netherlands in 1920 and Italy in 1928, but Scotland preserved a reverence for it

In 1972, according to logs kept by teachers, the belt was used about 30,000 times on an Edinburgh school population of 80,000, and 494 girls aged between five and 11 were among the 4,201 schoolchildren belted in the spring term of 1973.
15 hours 19 min ago
Almost 30,000 single-parent families were made homeless last year. The statistics,  also show the number of households in temporary accommodation has risen by nearly two-thirds since 2010. Shelter said government figures also reveal that nearly three-quarters of homeless households in England are lone parent families. Shelter said lone parents were bearing the brunt of the housing crisis, by
15 hours 19 min ago