To mark the start of the new law on same sex marriage 10,000 copies of a guide book explaining details of equal marriage law have been published by the Scottish Equality Network.
Guide explains LGBTI ( lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex) people’s rights when it comes to marriage, including the obligations of wedding service-providers to serve same-sex couples, and will help prevent same-sex couples being wrongfully discriminated against.
Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s First Minister, who was instrumental in delivering equal marriage in Scotland has provided a special foreword to the guide emphasising the Scottish Government’s pride in the new law and its wider commitment to LGBTI equality and human rights.
In her foreword the First Minister refers to Scotland’s equal marriage law as one of the most progressive in the world, and says; “2014 was a momentous year for equality in Scotland. The Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Act 2014 passed with an overwhelming majority in the Scottish Parliament in February, and I am delighted that the first same-sex marriages will happen this year.
“As a Government, we are proud to have introduced one of the most progressive equal marriage laws in the world.
“The Scottish Government first consulted on allowing same-sex marriage in 2011. I am personally proud of my involvement, when Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing, in leading this consultation which started the journey to marriage equality in Scotland.
“I believe that the love between a couple, regardless of their gender, sexuality, belief or background, is powerful and should be valued and recognised.
“This legislation sends a powerful message to the world about the kind of Scotland we seek to create and it is a clear indication of the Scottish Government’s commitment to equality. I wish all the very best to those couples who will now be able to enter into marriage.”
The Equality Network anticipate that between 500 and 1000 same-sex couples will marry or register a civil partnership within the first year of the new law, and around 4-500 will marry or register a civil partnership every year thereafter. This will include many same-sex couples who are expected to travel from other countries to marry in Scotland.
Tom French, Policy and Public Affairs Coordinator for the Equality Network, said; “While the law to allow same-sex marriage has now come into effect we know that many same-sex couples are still unsure how to make use of it, and whether they are entitled to the same rights and responsibilities as those in mixed-sex marriages.
This guide to the new legislation will help ensure that LGBTI people know their rights and understand what this change in the law means for their individual circumstances.
Under the Equality Act 2010 and the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Act 2014 it is against the law for service providers in Scotland to discriminate against LGBT people or refuse to provide an equal service for same-sex marriages and civil partnerships as they would for mixed-sex marriages.
It is also unlawful for local authority civil registration services to refuse to conduct same-sex marriages and civil partnerships, though religious and belief bodies can choose whether or not they voluntarily opt-in to conducting same-sex marriages.
The first civil partnership to marriage conversions took place on 16 December and the first new wedding ceremonies will take place shortly after midnight on Hogmanay (31 December) following the usual 15 day notice period for marriages.]]>
Nicola Sturgeon has accepted an invitation to be a witness at the December 31 wedding ceremony of Gerrie and Susan Douglas-Scott from Glasgow.
Both women are members of the Humanist Society Scotland, whose chief executive Douglas McLellan has accused them of spoiling his organisation’s plans.
Humanists were planning a “first” gay wedding for a gay couple from Clackmannanshire and tried and failed to secure Ms Sturgeon’s attendance.
As well as bagging the star guest, it looks likely that Gerrie and Susan will become the first to conclude the wedding ceremony.
Mr McLellan has now publicly accused Gerrie and Susan of being misleading and going behind his back.
He even emailed fellow humanists suggesting they do not officiate at the “rival” wedding.
And he suggested both women could be kicked out of the Humanist Society Scotland.
On Tuesday same sex couples were able to convert existing civil partnerships after gay marriage was made legal in Scotland.
But couples not in civil partnerships must wait until the first seconds of December 31 before having a legally-binding wedding ceremony.
Humanists carefully organised a first gay wedding for Clackmannanshire couple Malx Brown and Joe Schofield, both 42, timing their ceremony in Glasgow to the second.
They invited Ms Sturgeon and Scottish Green party leader and MSP Patrick Harvie, both of whom will be witnesses at the “rival” wedding also in Glasgow.
Mr McLellan said yesterday his organisation had been made to look like “idiots”.
He said: “We knew that they [Susan and Gerrie] wished to have a ceremony on 31st December as would other couples.
“We did not think that there would be a potentially rival event stemming from inside the society.”
“We understand that Patrick [Harvie] is a family friend and it appears that Susan and Gerrie were very quickly off the mark by inviting others to their event.
“We then reached out to politicians only to find that they had been booked elsewhere.”
Asked if the couple will still be part of the society the chief executive added: “Despite being made to look like idiots to partner organisations…no action will be taken prior to the night in question.
“What will happen after that is confidential.”
In an email sent to humanist celebrants after Ms Sturgeon agreed to attend the women’s wedding he warned: “We would hope that no colleague would seek to rival the society’s official position.”
In a reference to Ross Wright, the humanist conducting Malx and Joe’s wedding, he added: “The society will take a very dim view of any situation that could be detrimental to the ceremony being officiated by Ross.”
Gerrie and Susan will be married by a registrar, meaning their legal documents will be on hand to sign and almost certainly making them first to marry.
But Gerrie Douglas Scott, 59, denied there was any rivalry involved.
She said: “After 20 years together we’ll be looking at each other and not the clock.
“We have five children who want us to do this, and we’ll be doing it for them.”
Too upset to continue speaking, she passed the phone to Susan, 54, who said: “This is nothing about rivalry. It’s about love.
“We advised the humanist society that we would get married as soon possible. They always knew we would do that.
“I know Nicola [Sturgeon] through work and Patrick is a family friend.
“We wish Joe and Malx every best wish in the world.”
Joe and Malx, from Tullibody, declined to be drawn into the row. Joe said: “We just wish everyone all the best and long and happy relationships for those now having equal rights under Scots law.”
The Scottish Government yesterday insisted the First Minister had not snubbed the Humanist Society Scotland.
A spokesman said: “The First Minister was delighted to accept the invitation from Gerrie and Susan to be a witness at their wedding.
“This was a personal invitation from a couple that the First Minister knows and had been accepted before she received the invite from the Humanist Society for Scotland.”]]>
The author, who wrote 1,084,170 words in the seven-book series selected just 20 words from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.
She chose the line, from page 723 of the first edition: “Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean it is not real?”
Rowling, who was responding to a question from a fan on Twitter, caused delight on social media with her choice.
One user, who goes by the name ‘Angel’ said: “I just burst into tears because that’s my favourite too.”
Another person, who has a picture of character Hermione Granger as their profile, added: “This one beautiful quote has such a strong meaning even if it only has a few words.”
‘Yuri’ said: “Thank you for never letting the magic of Harry Potter die.”
The line is spoken Hogwarts headmaster Albus Dumbledore while having a chat with Harry in the ‘spiritual’ world.
The line is a favourite with many fans of the books, for whom Harry Potter is no less real for being inside their heads.
At least one fan has posed on social media with the words tattooed on their ribcage.
Yesterday, one Twitter user, called ‘Emerald’, told Rowling: “I was thinking of this quote five minutes ago when I was pondering how much I hate realists.”
‘Miss Tati’ added: “That’s my favourite too. #ItsRealForUs”
Rowling picked out the quote during a rare, impromptu question and answer session on Twitter.
Asked by Benjamin Roffman whether the Jewish religion was represented in the series, she replied: “Anthony Goldstein, Ravenclaw, Jewish Wizard.”
The author then went on to outline that every faith and belief system was represented in Harry Potter other than Wiccans – a modern, pagan witchcraft religion.
One user, Anna Blackwell, also asked what advice she would give to her former self.
Rowling replied: “It will get better. Also, those baggy red dungarees are a horrible look on you.”
The novelist has been active with Potter-related news in recent months, tweeting riddles and releasing new writing on the Pottermore website.
The Harry Potter books have sold more than 450 million copies worldwide, and have been made into films that made £4.7 billion at the box office.]]>
Normally gentle Jake the Weimaraner hates the instrument and lifts his head and starts howling within seconds of the pipes starting up.
Owner Jonathan Taylor says the bagpipes are the noise in the world – apart from Take That – that cause his pet to react in this way.
The 41-year-old from Darlington, County Durham, took a video of his “mad” pet, 7, and put it on YouTube.
Jonathan, a writer of science fiction novels, said: “I first noticed it when he was two years-old.
“I was watching the Edinburgh Tattoo on the TV and when the bagpipes came on he starting howling which we hadn’t ever seen him do until then.
“Then there was the time we were out for a Burns night in Darlington earlier in the year and there was a piper playing.
“Thankfully Jake was on the lead because he starting howling and pulling towards the the bagpipes to get at them.
“He wouldn’t hurt a fly though, he’s just like a big gentle puppy, he loves playing with other dogs and he’s great with the kids.”
“He’s absolutely mad.”
The only other time Jake has been known to howl is when Take That come on the TV.
Jonathan said: “He did start to howl at a Take That song once but I’m sure it had bagpipes in it.
“He does like to watch TV especially things with dogs in it. He sits there at tilts his head at the TV.”
One viewer responded: “Sweetest thing ever. Jake rocks.”
Another video of him on Jonathan’s Facebook shows his love/hate relationship for Marmite.
A barking Jake can be see bouncing back and forward, licking his chops and shaking his head when the Marmite jar is held out to him.
Weimaraner dogs are a German breed originally used as hunting dogs.
They make great family dogs due to their gentle nature and intelligence.
The helicopter team snapped a giant, inflatable Santa tied to the top of a building in the city’s West Regent Street.
Police Scotland Air team tweeted: “Searched rooftops in Glasgow city centre for a suspected housebreaker. Seems it was a false alarm.”
One user, ‘Rez’, said: “Poor santa as a suspect. Don’t arrest him please! I worry about my Christmas present.”
Police Scotland reassured the concerned individual: “We are happy with his explanation and he was allowed to go on his way. Your presents are safe.”]]>
Colin Donnelly, a former world and UK fell running champion, was recently described by his bosses at NHS Highland as an “athletic icon”.
But he was sacked from his hospital job and found guilty by the nursing watchdog of six charges, including waving a used incontinence pad just inches from a patient’s face.
The 55-year-old, whose Ben Nevis Race time has not been beaten for 28 years, was employed as a registered nurse at nearby Belford Hospital, Fort William.
Mr Donnelly, who had a previously unblemished 20-year nursing career, claimed NHS managers set out to get him and branded them “a coven of witches”.
A hearing of the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) in Edinburgh banned the athlete from nursing without supervision for 18 months.
But Mr Donnelly said he had no intention of ever returning to the profession.
A superstar of the fell running world, Mr Donnelly was the youngest man to win the Ben Nevis race in 1979, was three times British Fell running champion, and holds the unbeaten record for the 15 peaks in Wales of four hours 19 minutes.
The NMC, at a hearing in Edinburgh last week, heard that Mr Connelly was going through “personal health and work stress” at the time of the incidents between January and May last year.
On April 27 he used more force than necessary to move a stroke victim’s arm, causing her to cry out in pain.
When the same patient was unable to keep her other arm straight for an IV drip, Mr Donnelly said loudly “she’s starting to piss me off” within earshot of everyone in the room.
Later that day, Mr Donnelly held the same patient’s wet incontinence pad within a foot of her face, and said: “Look at this, look how wet you are.”
Another nurse working on the ward described the patient, who had difficulty speaking after a stroke, as looking “very embarrassed and hiding into herself”.
On separate occasions Mr Donnelly also used a “condemned” handling technique to move a patient onto a commode, threw a pyjama top onto the floor and refused to assist a patient who had fallen onto the floor, stating “he’s not my patient.”
Mr Donnelly admitted two of the charges and the remaining were found proved by the NMC.
Mr Donnelly declined to comment following the conclusion of the case.
But during a break at the hearing he approached reporters to vent his anger at NHS Highland.
He said: “I got on the wrong side of management – they are all a coven of witches.
“They tore me to shreds. It was an awful place and I’ll never go back.
“This has been such a traumatic experience that I’m never going back to nursing. I don’t miss that place at all.”
In February last year, a month after the misconduct which led to his first charge, NHS Highland paid tribute to him on their website.
They stated: “NHS Highland can boast an athletic icon of our own in the shape of Colin Donnelly, a nurse at the Belford Hospital in Fort William.”
Darren Smith, 29, found the bodies of the three golden labrador puppies in their kennel last week and the other six missing.
Police are investigating the sickening incident which happened at his home in Killicrankie, Perthshire, overnight last Thursday and Friday.
Mr Smith, a gamekeeper, said the puppies were only four a half weeks old and not yet properly weaned from their mother Sasha, six.
A photograph of the stolen dogs and an appeal for their return has been shared more than 21,000 times on social media.
Mr Smith said the puppies were worth £300 each and he was losing hope of ever seeing them again.
He said: “The way I’m looking at it is we’ve not got much hope of finding out what happened. We’ve just got to get on with it.”
He added: “They would have been seven weeks old on Christmas Eve . It’s someone looking to make an easy pound over Christmas.
“They would have known it would have been Christmas and it would have been easy to get rid of them then.
“I was pretty devastated. Two of the three puppies that were killed were the smallest ones. I think whoever took them thought they would be harder to keep.”
Sympathisers have shared the appeal poster online.
Clayre Brain wrote: “Just absolutely heartbreaking. Sending love and thoughts to the owners and fingers crossed that they will be found safe.”
Vikki Heenan said: “I hope some good news comes soon, get these pups back where whey should be.”
Mr Smith’s mother, Lesley, asked potential buyers to look out for unregistered puppies for sale.
She said: “If you are offered a golden labrador, about 5 weeks old, do not buy without seeing the parents as the pups have been stolen.”
“These pups should still be with their mother and are too young to be separated from her.”
A Police Scotland spokeswoman said: “Police Scotland can confirm that officers are making enquiries into the theft.
“We ask that if anyone has any information they contact Police Scotland on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.”]]>
The bar will be the company’s first to open in Finland and will be the sixth to open outside the UK after they opened bars in Brazil, Japan, Sweden and two in Italy.
The Helsinki bar, which opened today, is located in one of the city’s old bank buildings and will serve 18 different beers on draft beers.
BrewDog co-founder James Watt commented said: “BrewDog Helsinki is probably the most keenly anticipated bar we have launched so far. For years craft beer fans in the country have been crying out us to set up a BrewDog home there.
“Since our Finnish fans crashed our website when we asked for location suggestions for future BrewDog bars, we have been working hard to secure a site. It’s been a hell of a ride creating the perfect location, but we’re thrilled to finally be answering the call of so many passionate beer advocates.”
“There is an insane passion for craft beer in Finland, and we’re thrilled to be setting up a headquarter where all those craft beer mavericks can congregate and revel in their love of beer. It is hugely exciting that we will finally be at the heart of a city where craft beer is king.”
James continued: “Finland is a hotbed for creativity and passion within the brewing world and at BrewDog Helsinki we will be serving some of the most dedicated craft beer fans in the world, and setting up home alongside some epic Finnish breweries.
“It is great to be in a city where there is already such excitement and thirst for great craft beer and we want our new bar to ramp that excitement up to fever pitch.”
The company, which now has 25 bars in total, started in 2007 in Aberdeen with James Watt and Martin Dickie. The next cities set to open a BrewDog Barcelona and Berlin.
International Tubular Services Limited (“ITS”), who support activities for petroleum and natural gas extraction, admitted that it had benefited from corrupt payments made by a former Kazakhstan-based employee to secure additional contractual work from a customer in Kazakhstan.
The bribery and corruption was discovered when the company was being sold for a reported £82 million last year.
ITS reported their discovery of the corrupt payments to the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service in November 2013 under the self-reporting initiative.
The funds, which will now be remitted to the Scottish Consolidated Fund, represent the total profit made under the corrupt contract in Kazakhstan.
Parker Drilling Company, who acquired ITS, have taken steps to implement comprehensive anti-bribery policies and training to ensure that no unlawful conduct will take place in the future.
Linda Hamilton, Head of the Civil Recovery Unit, said: “Bribery and corruption undermines legitimate businesses and can harm economic development, and we are committed to tackling it wherever it is found.
“In appropriate circumstances, the self-reporting initiative allows for companies to accept their involvement in corrupt practices, put in place effective systems to prevent it from recurring, and repay the illegitimate profits.
“In this case, we have recovered over £170,000 from ITS, which will be transferred to the Scottish Government to be reinvested back into Scottish communities.”]]>
Dr. Steve Brusatte of the University of Edinburgh’s School of GeoSciences was one of a team of paleontologists who discovered that some of the most common mammals living alongside dinosaurs were also nearly wiped out when an asteroid hit the planet 66 million years ago.
Dr. Steve Brusatte said:”The classic tale is that dinosaurs died out and mammals, which had been waiting in the wings for over 100 million years, then finally had their chance.
“But our study shows that many mammals came perilously close to extinction. If a few lucky species didn’t make it through, then mammals may have gone the way of the dinosaurs and we wouldn’t be here.”
The study, by an international team of experts on mammal evolution and mass extinctions, looked at metatherian mammals-the extinct relatives of living marsupials (“mammals with pouches”, such as opossums) and found that while they thrived in the shadow of the dinosaurs during the Cretaceous period, they nearly followed the dinosaurs into oblivion.
When a 10-km-wide asteroid struck what is now Mexico at the end of the Cretaceous and unleashed a global cataclysm of environmental destruction, around two-thirds of all metatherians living in North America perished.
This included more than 90% of species living in the northern Great Plains of the USA which is the best area in the world for preserving Cretaceous mammal fossils.
In the aftermath of the mass extinction, metatherians never recovered their previous diversity, which according to scientists, is why marsupial mammals are rare today and largely restricted to unusual environments in Australia and South America.
The study found that placental mammals- which include everything from mice to men.- took advantage of the metatherian demise.
Dr. Thomas Williamson of the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science, lead author on the study, said: “This is a new twist on a classic story.
“It wasn’t only that dinosaurs died out, providing an opportunity for mammals to reign, but that many types of mammals, such as most metatherians, died out too – this allowed advanced placental mammals to rise to dominance.”
The new study is published in the open access journal ZooKeys. It reviews the Cretaceous evolutionary history of metatherians and provides the most up-to-date family tree for these mammals based on the latest fossil records, which allowed researchers to study extinction patterns in unprecedented detail.
The work was supported by the US National Science Foundation and the European Commission. Dr. Gregory Wilson of the University of Washington also took part in the study.