The Highlands named as top world destination for 2019 by Lonely Planet

The Highlands and Islands have been selected as one of the top places in the world by Lonely Planet.

The beautiful landscape helped place the region in the top 10 of Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel list for 2019.

The guide named the Highlands “one of the wildest, least inhabited and most scenic parts of Europe”. The “innovative and fast-developing” accommodation across the Highlands is another reason for the area’s high ranking.

Lonely Planet’s guide recommends looking out for a number of animals native to the area including red deer, golden eagles, otters and whales.

The Highlands have long been a popular destination. They are home to Britain’s largest National Park, Britain’s highest peak, Ben Nevis, and a stunning coastline.

We found out where else in Scotland visitors should be sure to check out, by asking the public the most beautiful places they have been.

 

 

Truth or death? – The harsh reality of journalism

Journalist Jamal Khashoggi has been declared dead but without a body and without facts, one question I want to know is, how many journalists need to die in the name of freedom of speech?  

October 2, 2018, journalist Jamal Khashoggi walked into the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul, Turkey. As his fiancée waited outside, the journalist stepped into the building, never heard from again.

After his fiancée raised the alarm, Turkish forces began an investigation, finding evidence of torture, prompting several reports of Khashoggi’s fingers and head being cut off.

Khashoggi, by all accounts, was a courageous journalist, fuelled by a desire to see a modern progression of the Saudi regime. Deliberately choosing self-imposed exile he continued his dedication to change, through the Washington Post.

Eagerly awaiting his return, fellow journalist Karen Attiah recounts how colleagues at the Post had hoped Khashoggi would be able to submit his weekly column, which she said “captures his passion and commitment to freedom of speech in the Arab world.”

“This is the last piece of his I will edit for the Post. This column perfectly captures his commitment and passion for freedom in the Arab world” – Karen Attiah, Global Opinions Editor, Washington Post

Sadly, Khashoggi would never return.

So far, Saudi have officially “plead the fifth” recounting a botched fist-fight, while maintaining Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman is innocent. Whether this is to be believed from a country who still indulges in medieval punishment, is out for jury.

According to data collected from Committee to Protect Journalists, 48 reporters have died this year with, 47 in 2017 and a total of 1,323 since 1992. In 2017, 262 were also imprisoned, with most of these being in Arab countries.

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1,323 journalists have been killed since 1992.

The evasive and global response from governments, sheds light on the perceived value of a journalist’s honour to the truth. The disposal of journalists seems like a more viable option for corrupt governments and organisations than to deal with the publication of facts.

“Those who rule by fear, and fear to explain their rule, fear questions. They kill messengers.” – Jamal Khashoggi

The topic of a journalist’s safety is rarely addressed by public figures, instead dismissed as part of the job.  U.S President Donald Trump was recently cited praising congressman Greg Gianforte as “his guy” for an attack on a Guardian journalist, further highlighting the divide between the media and the state.

Unfortunately, this isn’t anything new. Even with the threat of vast media coverage the immediate threat to a journalist’s freedom is still very much active. After the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, is the hatred towards journalists accepted as the new normal?

 

Hate crime has no place in Scotland

With “Leith Stands Up To Racism” planned for the 27th of October, Michaella Wheatley takes a look at the latest campaigns to combat hate crime.

Scotland is known for many things such as kilts, whisky and haggis. It’s even known for providing some of the greatest talent – Billy Connolly, Ewan McGregor, and Karen Gillan. People come to see Edinburgh Castle, Kelvingrove Art Gallery, and even the Glenfinnan Viaduct.

However, on the 24th of September, Scotland added one more attraction to the list, and this one seems to buck the trend.

The country is putting a stop to hate crime. It will no longer be home to hatred.

Hate crime

The “Letters from Scotland” campaign hopes to end hate crime in the country. Credit to One Scotland.

It’s been declared on walls, radio, and TV, that no type of hate is allowed in the country. It doesn’t matter who you are or what you believe, Scotland will not stand for hate against anyone.

The “Letters from Scotland” campaign, founded by One Scotland, is the latest force to put a stop to the hate crime that has increased throughout the country. With so much uncertainty, last year’s terrorist attacks and the country’s vote on Brexit are still fresh in people’s minds and there is a concern that hate crimes could flare drastically.

In Edinburgh, only one type of aggravated crime was reported to have decreased, as stated by the Procurator Fiscal Office. Below are the statistics of hate crimes reported:

Edinburgh's aggravated crime

But One Scotland has faith in its country, as the website reads:

“Scotland believes in equality for all. No one should be denied for opportunities because of age, disability, gender, gender identity, race, religion or belief, or sexual orientation.”

It’s only been a month since the message was first displayed, but the campaign has already made a large impact. It would be no surprise if the campaign becomes one of the strongest against hate crime in Scottish history.

There is almost no escaping the words on the letters,  as soon as you read “Dear…” or hear a strong Scottish tone, you know what’s about to happen.

Following One Scotland’s lead, the Scottish Government and Police Scotland have also shown support for the campaign.  In the last year, more than 5,300 charges of hate crime were reported to the Procurator Fiscal in Scotland. However, it is believed that several incidents go unreported. The campaign is hoped to raise awareness, as well as the need to combat the issue in a positive manner.

Cabinet Secretary for Justice, Humza Yousaf, said, “As somebody who has faced Islamaphobic and racial abuse over the years, I know how upsetting being a victim of hate can be. Hate crime and prejudice are completely unacceptable and we are absolutely committed to tackling it.

“We all have a role to play in stamping out prejudice and I would ask anyone who witnesses a hate crime to play their part and report it.”

The Cabinet Secretary for Justice also commented specifically on the campaign on Twitter last month:

The trend to stand up against hate crimes goes further than this campaign, with “Stand Up To Racism Edinburgh” organising a march to take place on the 27th of October. The event, which will start at 11am on Balfour Street, will be in response to recent hate crimes in the city.

“Leith Stands Up To Racism” will declare that migrants and refugees are welcome in the capital.

Stand Up To Racism Edinburgh stated on Facebook that “Last month, over 300 people came out to support a peace vigil in response to the firebombing of the Sikh temple in Leith, which the police are treating as a hate crime.

“Earlier this year, two young Polish men were physically attacked in Davidson Mains, and Shabaz Ali, a young Syrian refugee, was stabbed six times in a racially motivated attempted murder attack in the Fountainbridge area.”

A number of film screenings were held across Edinburgh between October 2017 and March 2018. “Syrian Voices”, a short film focusing on three refugee families living in Edinburgh, was also shown at Edinburgh University on the 10th of October.

There is no question that Scotland wants to put an end to hate crime, and these campaigns and events might be the turning point to make it happen.

So, if you witness an act of hate, do what’s right and report it – because as One Scotland said:

“There’s no place for hate crime in Scotland. It’s everyone’s responsibility to challenge it.”

EN4News were lucky enough to chat with Steve West, who was promoting the Leith Stands Up To Racism march. Watch the video below:

 

Are we living in a “Peter Pan Generation”?

Every year I would get excited about my birthday. When I was 12, I couldn’t wait to turn 13 so I could class myself a teenager. When I was 15, I counted down to my 16th birthday because 16 sounded so grown up. I wanted to get a job, earn money, and be able to vote; I was in a rush to get on with my life. I was excited to turn 17 so I could learn to drive and then, finally, to be 18 so I could go out for drinks, leave school and go to university.

However, that changed the year I was turning 22.

As a teenager, I looked at people in their twenties and thought of them as adults, who had everything figured out and knew what they wanted in life. I was dreading turning 22 because I knew I didn’t exactly have a “life plan” – I didn’t know what I wanted to be doing at 40, and although I had my stuff together, it wasn’t a fit “long-term” solution.

The day after my 22nd birthday – after celebrating, of course – I was thinking to myself “Right, you need to get your life together now.” I made a list in my head of all the things I felt like I needed to do as a woman in her twenties. That list included things like saving money, enough to look at moving out; decide if I wanted to have kids and start a family or not; make a plan on finding a career job after graduating university;…

In short: I was thinking of everything that I considered proper-grown-up decisions that would set the course for the rest of my life.

It wasn’t until I was talking to my friend about it, and she told me I was acting like a 35-year-old, not like a girl aged 22, and that I should enjoy being young while I am.

I instantly felt better and assured, so I relaxed. But I did remind her that when my parents were in their early-to-mid twenties, they were married, living in a house and paying a mortgage with a one-year-old and another baby on the way.

“Relax,” she said. “That was a totally different era.”

That could not have been a truer statement – enter the Peter Pan Generation.

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Do we live in a Peter Pan Generation? Credits to Lalelu2000

The Peter Pan Generation is how people label today’s society and its millennials and tricenarians. It argues that people are in denial about their age and, as a result, behave in much the same way as they did ten years ago, like spending money today rather than putting it aside for the future.

This may sound reckless, irresponsible and even immature, but also very recognisable. It represents a group of 25-to-40-year-olds, who exist in a state of extended adolescence and avoid the trappings of responsibility — marriage, mortgage, children — for as long as possible.

Professor Frank Furedi, a sociologist at the University of Kent, who has been studying this phenomenon, said: “Our society is full of lost boys and girls hanging out at the edge of adulthood.”

Currently, the average age at which people marry is 30 for women and 32 for men, whereas back in in the 1970s, women typically married at 22 and men at 24.

Rather than starting a family at 23 (as it was in the 1970s), women are now starting a family at 34, and more than ever at 40 because of fertility treatments and IVF.

As for taking on the commitment of buying a house, the age of first-time buyers has gone from an average of 29-years-old in the 1980s to on average, 38, before they buy their first home. A report from LV Insurers suggests that by 2025, the average age of a first-time home-buyer will be 41.

Three million people aged 20 to 34 still live with their parents, and many others still rely on their parents. According to a report earlier this year, more than 13 million parents paid out over £34 billion in loans to their children who were well into their forties.

So you could say our parents’ generation is a totally different era. But why?

Today’s economy could be to blame. Moving out and buying your own place are considered the first steps of growing up, but in today’s society, that is harder than ever. We constantly hear stories of those who need to move back home just to save for the insurmountable deposits needed to buy a property.

People growing up in our generation can be afraid to do these things — scared to think of themselves as proper adults. Or it could simply be that people in their twenties and thirties feel like they don’t need to grow up (or settle down) just yet.

Some people of our generation don’t feel they need to start work and start a family as soon as they hit their twenties the way previous generations used to. That little window of opportunity means we can play around with our youth a little longer.

 

Opinion: Should Hillary Clinton still have to answer for her husband’s affair?

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Hillary Clinton in Arizona, 2016. Photo by Gage Skidmore (https://www.flickr.com/photos/gageskidmore/25982365345)

 

“I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Monica Lewinsky.”

These will be the words forever synonymous with Clinton – even though Hillary Rodham Clinton never had the affair that has marred Bill Clinton’s political career. She will always be remembered and scrutinised as the woman that stood beside her husband when the going got tough, even though so many women do this. In the late 1990s it surfaced that Bill had had an affair with White House Intern Monica Lewinsky. An impeachment charge began and even though he had the highest end-of-office approval rating for a US President since World War II, the scandal severely impacted his career until the end of his term in 2001.

 

But this article isn’t about Bill Clinton or whether he was right or wrong to have engaged in any form of affair with Lewinsky, or whether the several sexual misconduct claims against his name are legitimate. This is about Hillary Rodham Clinton, and for once Bill isn’t going to highjack this one.

 

Hillary has had a distinguished career in both law and politics. She earned a Doctor of Jurisprudence degree from Yale Law School in the early 70s, and not even 6 years later she was the first female partner at a law firm in Arkansas. She gave birth to her only child, Chelsea Clinton in 1980 and between 1978 and 1993, she earned more money than Bill did – it was only when she became First Lady of the United States did Bill’s salary surpass her. This would make her the first First Lady to have a postgraduate degree to her name and have a career until she entered the White House. Carl Bernstein says in his book, A Woman In Charge: The Life of Hillary Rodham Clinton, that she was apprehensive about getting married and feared that her hard earned achievements would be jeopardised by someone else – little did she know that her future would be fraught with nightmares. She made the unpopular decision in the 1970s to keep her last name as “it showed that I was still me.” She seems to want to keep her identity so badly and not lurk in the shadow of her husband – but it seems that the majority of people want to tear her down for the actions of someone else.

 

I want to know why we have such an issue with women in power in the West. Hillary has admitted in the past that her approval rating as First Lady was not the best, but she was arguably the most empowered, independent First Lady up until that point in history. She donned her bullet-proof vest and worked hard, she set an example for First Lady’s to come. Someone had to be the first First Lady to take the role by the reigns and achieve great things – you probably don’t know much about her accomplishments before she even walked into the White House. Of course, you know about Bill’s affair, you know about Monica Lewinsky, you know about his denial and then impeachment charges. But you don’t know that in the 1970s she helped set up Fayetteville’s first rape crisis centre and was the first female Senator for New York.

 

After her unsuccessful campaign to be the first female President of the USA, the sexism projected towards Hillary Rodham Clinton became incredibly clear. People feared that Bill would highjack her presidency, they brought up his affair again, they scrutinised her for not leaving him, they scrutinised her outfits, they overanalysed every word that fell from her mouth. But no one picked on her opposition Donald Trump’s questionable tie, his multiple wives, his sexual misconduct charges. When it seemed like she had been given the platform to shine on her own during a different time (20 years after Bill’s affair), she was once again subjected to sexism.

 

The word ‘first’ is used 12 times in this article for a reason, because Clinton was a pioneer in the field of politics and was a successful woman in law, but people still  condemn her because of her husband’s actions. It seems that Hillary’s worst nightmares have become a reality, even with the momentum of the #MeToo movement and her tireless advocacy of gender equality. The moral of the story here is to look beyond the towering figures of powerful men, to the women fighting harder for their place at the table. The women you find might surprise you.

 

Hillary Clinton

Edinburgh Waverley station worst in Scotland for delays and cancellations

As an experienced train commuter, Michaella Wheatley gives an insight into how train delays from Edinburgh Waverley can impact everyday lives.

“The 15:35 service to Stirling has been delayed. Please listen for further announcements.”

The sigh that escaped my mouth was echoed across the platform. A quick glance around, and it became obvious that this was the last thing anyone wanted to hear. Frowns were plastered to almost all faces on platform 14 – and those who did not wear a frown wore a blank expression instead.

It was not that much of a surprise to hear my train was delayed. Unpleasant and disappointing? Yes, but shocking? No.

At least one train a week, out of the three Edinburgh to Stirling services I took, ended up being slightly delayed. This varied from the train being a minute late to arriving at the platform roughly a quarter of an hour after its scheduled time. For me, this meant waiting on the platform for longer, then being home a little later than planned.

It might not seem like a long time to me, but for those who had to catch another train, it was inconvenient. These are the commuters who are always hit the hardest when trains fail to run on time — the domino-effect of one delayed train, leading to missing the next train, and so on, is likely to ruin their plans completely.

Judging from some of the reactions to this announcement around me, it was easy to spot who would be missing their next train home.

In light of the importance of reliable train services and why they are important to commuters, consumer group Which? has uncovered the percentage of delayed and cancelled services for stations across the UK.

The company looked at the 20 busiest train stations outside of London and the ten busiest London stations from the beginning of this year to September 30, 2018, using data from the rail-performance tracking website On Time Trains.

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42% of all Edinburgh Waverley services end up delayed by more than a minute.

Three of Scotland’s train stations made the top 20 busiest stations in the UK: Edinburgh Waverley, Glasgow Queen Street, and Glasgow Central. Most services ran smoothly for both Glasgow stations, with Queen Street reaching only 39% of delays and Central on second place with 34%. The two Glasgow stations reported a 3% in cancellations on all services.

Edinburgh was ranked the worst station in Scotland, the 16th worst outside of London, even though it is the second busiest Scottish station after Glasgow Central.

Last week, Which? reported that 42% of all train services from Edinburgh Waverley are delayed, by one minute or more, or cancelled. The station’s cancellation rate was stated to be 4%.

However, since the end of September, these statistics have changed slightly.

The table below, including statistics from On Time Trains about Edinburgh Waverley’s performance over the past six months, reports the current percentage of delays and cancellations.

Edinburgh Waverley Station Performance

It is hoped that rail companies, as well as the government, will take notice of this report.

Alex Hayman, who is the Managing Director of Public Markets at Which?, said: “Passengers have told us reliability is hugely important to them. People have been left deeply frustrated at the unacceptably high levels of delays and cancellations which impact on their everyday lives.

“Passengers must be at the centre of the forthcoming Government rail review, it must look at performance targets to drive improvements in punctuality and reliability for passengers.

“The review must not be used as an excuse to delay real action to improve passengers’ experiences on the trains today. As a first step, the Government must introduce fully automatic compensation, ensuring more passengers get the money they are owed.”

In the Which? report, it is found that only eight train operating companies offer Delay Repay, and ScotRail is one of them.

This report from Which? comes a few weeks after ScotRail announced major changes to the train timetables, which will take effect in December, and are hoped to combat criticism from passengers about over-crowding trains during rush hour. The changes include faster journey times, more services, and more seats have been promised, but failed to announce how this would affect the punctuality of Scotland’s train, which is, at the end of the day, the biggest problem at hand.

 

Comment: The Tories are supporting the DUP’s agenda not Northern Ireland’s Peace Process

The DUP have received a £410 million allocation for Northern Ireland Assembly budget from the Conservative Party, despite Stormont not sat since snap local elections in March 2017.

Stormont’s debates chambers have been silent for over 12 months, the DUP are a party not in power at home but solely making decisions for Northern Ireland. It adds to a growing list of decisions and Brexit stance shifts by Theresa May’s Government, pointing to a willingness to do whatever necessary to keep the DUP content and themselves in power.

Peace Bridge: Derry. Credit: Aoibhinn O’Doherty

A hard border will be disastrous for Northern Ireland, The European Union is doing everything it can to stop a disintegration of the peace progress in Brexit negotiations whilst Britain does everything in its’ power to keep the DUP’s support. Allowing Northern Ireland to remain in the single market and customs union, having the hard border along the Irish sea is a huge conceit by the EU. It shows a desire to show leniency on Britain’s hard stance for the better of peace in Ireland. Theresa May and the rightwing press in Britain are outraged by Europe’s “demands,” misunderstanding who is really unrealistically demanding.

The disadvantages of a border are clear; trade, immigration and economic support will be brought to a standstill in Northern Ireland. Derry sits along the border, NI’s second city, every day hundreds commute to and from the city across the border. An economic blackspot, for decades it has benefited from European money and incentives for cross-community projects, local business, start-ups and trade. A ‘Peace Bridge’ links the still-segregated sides of Derry’s Foyle river, paid for and devised by the EU.

The Foyle Constituency voted overwhelmingly to stay in Europe, the advantages of having an elected member in the EU was clear to Foyle’s constituents, due to the work of the cities’ John Hume in spreading Europe’s peaceful philosophy.

It was on the morning of June’s General Election’s result and formation of a coalition government with the DUP, Hume came to mind. It was Hume’s fight for civil rights and ultimate vision of peace throughout the darkest days of the Troubles that saw an end to the bloodshed. The Good Friday Agreement and the design of Northern Ireland’s power-sharing Assembly was the result of secret negotiations between Sinn Fein, The DUP, Westminster and the Dáil. Forging relationships between Nationalism and Loyalism, Britain and Ireland, Hume’s lifelong commitment to equality and peace seen him receive the Noble Peace Prize in 1998.

It was not without outside support that peace was achieved. Hume was an MEP and sat in the EU’s Strasbourg Parliament. He addressed the Parliament following his Noble award, it was the speech I came across on the morning of June 26.

“The European Union is the best example in the history of the world of conflict resolution. The philosophy of the European Union and the peace of Europe is the philosophy of our [Good Friday] agreement.” Hume bellowed.

In no uncertain terms, Hume owes peace to Europe, every meticulous detail of NI’s new government was based on what followed the ashes and rubble of the Second World War. Hume understood The European Union and the philosophy it represented, respect for difference and sitting down together to work toward a common goal. 

With the threat of a no deal Brexit and a hard border, Theresa May is holding Northern Ireland’s peace process to ransom. The Good Friday Agreement brought an end to hundreds of years of intolerance to religion and culture. Britain, along with the Irish Republic, Europe and the two diametrically opposed parties of Republicanism and Unionism agreed to an equal footing. Britain accepted a responsibility to acknowledge and work with Nationalism in Ireland, for the first time Unionism had an opposition.

With the formation of a coalition with the DUP in June, Theresa May compromised Britain’s promise to Northern Ireland and have put peace in jeopardy. As we edge closer and closer to leaving Europe, with negotiations in existence but not progressing, it is becoming clear that May and her negotiator Michel Barnier are far more interested in supporting the DUP and its’ opposition to the North of Ireland remaining in the customs union and single market. It seems obvious to me, as it does Europe’s negotiators, the Conservatives are only intent on keeping their minority government in power through the DUP and not honouring their commitment to peace in Ireland.   

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