Some Scottish News & Views Issue # 565

Issue # 565                                                Week ending Saturday 15th  August  2020

As Clusterbùrach is Part of Parliamentary Lingo, We Have A Word for Exams Shambles by Iain MacIver Courtesy of the Press & Journal

Poor John Swinney. Poor Nicola. They hadn’t done their homework about what happens when you have to give pupils an exam mark when there has been no exam to mark. Their basic idea was spot-on. Leave it all to the teachers who’ve had nothing else to do for the last few months except stay at home and watch CBeebies. OK, maybe they had some work to do from home but it was over videolinks. Well, it’s not real work when you have Instagram minimised at the bottom of the screen, is it?

OK, maybe I will stay clear of all the teachers I know for the next wee while. This, the Scottish Government says, is the fauklt of dodgy algorithms. Like when social media giants say they are not controlling what adverts you see because it’s done by algorithms? What are they, these rhythms that cause everything going wrong in the world?

A geek explains they are sets of rules in computer applications to make things simpler by automating processes so an operator doesn’t have to think. Ideal for politicians then. It is a conditional statement, known as an IFTTT. As well as being the noise students make when opening their results, that stands for If This, Then This. He said a timer in a toaster is a perfect IFTTT. Put in your slice and depending on how it’s set, when it reaches the stated IF condition, for example, three minutes, it does This, which is pop up the bread.

We blame the toaster if the toast is burnt, although we set the timer. Now Mr Swinney and the Scottish Qualifications Authority blame the algorithms, without mentioning they set and approved them. I smell smoky soot.

It is now being described as a bùrach. I see that official parliamentary reports recognise that Gaelic word for happenings which descend into being a tad shambolic. Mike Russell, as the Cabinet Secretary for Government Business and Constitutional Relations, introduced the term clusterbùrach to a Brexit debate in 2018. That’s just too much. That gives me clusterphobia.

Everyone in that parliament building must have either already known what clusterbùrach meant or were able to work it out in an instant. Maybe they had occasion to hear its use before - probably many times. Or they heard something they didn’t understand but wouldn’t risk showing themselves up by putting their hand up and saying: “Please sir, what was the Cabinet Secretary on about?”

Which is similar to what I thought when Calum from Lochs told me he was giving up working as a joiner. He was very good - probably a better cabinetmaker than Nicola Sturgeon. Calum tells me he is now studying for his new career in pest control. Ah, a job in parliament? He doesn’t laugh but says he will be doing it in Aberdeen. Plenty pests there. You’ll find the worst ones in the pubs, ignoring social distancing.

Calum was getting ready to revise for his practical exam in pest control. So I said: “You’d better hurry home then. I’m sure you’ll be up all night swatting.” He didn’t get that joke either. He got the job though.

Who is going to get the job of being Boris Johnson’s landlord or landlady? He’s coming to Scotland on holiday with partner Carrie Symonds, and wee Wilfred. David Cameron used to slip over to Jura with wife Samantha for a break but I’m not sure they are pally enough to let Borrie and babby stay. I do hope Boris enjoys his break. I hope the same for everyone coming north for a staycation - even though I hate that made-up word.

The weather has been fantastic. So much so that it has confused certain people. Iain Macleod, the bus driver from Tong, was in Spar the other day. He noticed the rolls for his lunch were very dark. He wondered loudly why bakers no longer seemed to know how to bake rolls properly. Then he realised he still had his sunglasses on.

Ms Sturgeon and Mr Swinney are not the only ones to have had problems with the outcome of exams. There is an urban legend circulating on this island about a certain character in Stornoway who did not do as well as he wished in his O Levels back in the 1980s. Having got three passes on fourth year, he was having a final stab at English which he needed to secure the chance of a job at the local authority. When the time was up, he had no exam paper to hand to the invigilator. He claimed he’d lost it.

Outside the Assembly Hall, his mates asked what happened to his English exam paper. He said: “I ate it.” Everyone was shocked to hear that. Why? He looked at them slyly and said: “I really wanted to pass English but that paper was far too difficult for me. I hardly knew any of the answers. That’s why I ate it. I may not get a certificate for my wall but very soon I will be able to say hand on heart that I passed that exam.”

Glasgow Railway Station Bottle Attack Injures Four
Four people have been injured after an "unprovoked" attack with a glass bottle in a Glasgow railway station. The multiple assaults at Partick station took place at about 22:30 on Sunday. Trains going through the station were delayed as British Transport Police (BTP) officers dealt with the incident.  All four of those attacked were taken to hospital for treatment although their injuries are not thought to be life-threatening.  British Transport Police have asked for any witnesses who have still to speak to them to come forward. A spokesman said: "BTP officers were called to Partick rail station at 10.30pm on Sunday August 9 after reports that a group of four people were injured in an unprovoked attack in which a glass bottle was used.  The injured persons were taken to hospital for treatment.  A suspect hasn't been identified and inquiries are ongoing."

Detectorist 'Shaking with Happiness' After Bronze Age Find
A metal detectorist was left "shaking with happiness" after discovering a hoard of Bronze Age artefacts in the Scottish Borders.  A complete horse harness and sword was uncovered by Mariusz Stepien at the site near Peebles in July.  Experts said the discovery was of "national significance".  The soil had preserved the leather and wood, allowing experts to trace the straps that connected the rings and buckles.  This allowed the experts to see for the first time how Bronze Age horse harnesses were assembled.  Mr Stepien was searching the field with friends when he found a bronze object buried half a metre underground. He said: "I thought 'I've never seen anything like this before' and felt from the very beginning that this might be something spectacular and I've just discovered a big part of Scottish history. I was over the moon, actually shaking with happiness."  Mr Stepien and his friends camped in the field as archaeologists spent 22 days investigating the site.  He said: "Every day there were new objects coming out which changed the context of the find, every day we learned something new."  Archaeologists found a sword still in its scabbard, decorated straps, buckles, rings, ornaments and chariot wheel axle caps.  There is also evidence of a decorative "rattle pendant" that would have hung from the harness, the first to be found in Scotland, and only the third in the UK.  Emily Freeman, head of the Crown Office's Treasure Trove Unit, said it was "a nationally-significant find."  She said: "So few Bronze Age hoards have been excavated in Scotland, it was an amazing opportunity for us to not only recover bronze artefacts, but organic material as well.  "There is still a lot of work to be done to assess the artefacts and understand why they were deposited."

Nurses Protest Over Pay At Demonstrations in Scotland

Nurses from across Scotland have protested over pay at demonstrations in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Inverness.  Hundreds of protesters attended the "NHS Workers say No!" event at Glasgow Green.  It was one of dozens across the country over a UK Westminster government pay rise which campaigners say excludes "a massive number of healthcare workers".  Nurses paid a silent tribute during the Glasgow event to remember colleagues lost during the coronavirus pandemic.  NHS medical and dental workers, GPs and general dental practitioners in Scotland will receive a 2.8% pay rise, backdated to 1 April.  However, nurses were not included because they agreed a separate three-year deal in 2018. It came after the UK Westminster government announced almost 900,000 public sector workers will get rises of up to 3.1%   The Scottish government said nurses received a 2.95% pay increase this year and it is now working with the NHS unions to agree a timetable on next year's pay deal. One of the event's organisers, NHS charge nurse Brenda Brown, said colleagues "can't exactly feed our families on a round of applause."  She said: "We're looking for equal pay in relation to other public sectors.  We're a degree-only profession and our pay nowhere near reflects the skills, the knowledge, and the work we do behind the lines and the hospitals, the care homes and out in the community."  Demonstrators attending the Glasgow protest wore face masks and held two-metre lengths of blue ribbon to demonstrate social distancing.  A Scottish Government spokesman said: "This year nurses in Scotland received a 2.95% pay rise as part of our three-year NHS Agenda for Change pay deal.  This has meant a minimum 9% pay increase for most staff, and with some of those still moving up their pay scale seeing increases of up to 27%. This is in excess of the 2.8% uplift announced for NHS dentists and doctors in England and Scotland.  We have regular engagement with staff and unions, where all issues related to NHS staff terms and conditions are discussed.  As we are now in the last year of the three year deal, we are working with NHS unions to agree a timetable to secure a new pay deal for 2021-22."

Shetland Book Returned 37 Years Late to Library in Suffolk
A Shetland Library book has been returned 37 years late to a library 750 miles away in England.  The book, To Sea in a Sieve by Peter Bull, was due back in Shetland in July 1983. It was handed in on Monday to Bungay Community Library in Suffolk by a "regular customer" whose late husband had borrowed the book. Shetland Library tweeted that it was "a good job" that it did not issue fines for overdue books.  Bungay Community Library manager Amanda King said: "We guess they must have been there because it was loaned out, it wasn't a withdrawn copy he had purchased.  Periodically we do have really old books brought back and it always gives us a bit of a giggle to think these have been on the shelves for so long.  We're currently thinking we need some sort of team-building trip to Scotland, we're thinking it would be really nice if we could take it back in person."  The book, which was originally published in 1956, describes actor Peter Bull's experiences as the commander of a Tank Landing Craft during the Second World War.  Last year Lowestoft Library, also in Suffolk, received a book in the post that had been borrowed in 1967, accompanied by a note of apology and a £100 cheque.

New Scots Tory Leader Gets Fierce Baptism in Battle for the Union
by Scott Macnab
The dramatic changing of the guard at the helm of the Scotland's main opposition party over the past week reveals everything about the stark challenge facing the future of the union.
Jackson Carlaw's sudden departure as Tory leader was the consequence of consistent polling showing a clear, albeit slim, majority for independence among Scots. It's been a few years coming for Nationalists who have been anticipating such a shift with baited breath since the 2016 Brexit referendum when the weight of votes south of the border took the UK out of Europe - despite two-thirds of Scots voting to remain.  And so Douglas Ross has been installed as the man to fire up the pro-union torch in Scotland. It’s a daunting challenge for the new leader. The political agenda in Scotland is likely to be dominated by Coronavirus, the most pressing public health crisis of modern times, for the foreseeable future. Nicola Sturgeon is addressing the country live on television every day on latest developments in the battle against the virus and is widely deemed to be handling it with authority. The new Tory leader faces major challenge carving out a public profile for himself. This will be compounded by the fact that he will not be holding Ms Sturgeon to account when Parliament returns next week in the traditional focus of the Scottish political week - First Minister's Questions - which will instead be taken by former leader Ruth Davidson. A more substantial challenge for Ross will be to shift the political narrative away from the constitution and onto scrutiny of the SNP's domestic record. The row over grades awarded to Scots pupils this week in the absence of exams and recent stark figures showing Scotland's excess deaths during the Covid crisis have been among the worst in Europe point to areas where an effective opposition party should be holding the government of the day to account.  Mr Ross is an unknown quantity, but he faces a fierce baptism. Nationalists are already claiming his resignation as a Scotland Office minister back in May over the Dominic Cummings affair was a carefully calculated prelude to this leadership coronation - a ploy to show he is no Westminster lackey. It may seem like the stuff of far-fetched conspiracy theorists, but illustrates the unforgiving battleground Mr Ross now enters. When Ms Davidson took over as leader in 2011, she had a few rocky years to bed into the role, with the 2014 referendum campaign eventually proving the making of her as a leader. But a Holyrood election is just nine months away which polls suggest could deliver an SNP, or certainly a pro- independence, majority. Such an outcome would see demands for a second referendum become deafening, meaning Mr Ross does not have the same luxury of time. As the future of the union hangs in the balance, the stakes could not be higher for the new Tory leader.

Pupils Begin Return to the Classroom
Scotland's pupils will begin returning to their classrooms later for the first time since the start of the lockdown nearly five months ago. Schools in the Borders and Shetland will be first to reopen with most local authorities following on Wednesday.  Physical distancing among students will not generally be required but hygiene and safety measures such as one-way systems have been put in place. Most of the country's 700,000 pupils have not been at school since 20 March.  While councils have been given some flexibility over the back to school timetable, the Scottish government wants all schools fully open by 18 August.  All age groups will return in the Scottish Borders today(Tuesday) - a week earlier than the normal start of term - but most councils have opted for a phased approach, for instance by having youngest pupils return first.  While there is no requirement for physical distancing between pupils, teachers should remain 2m apart from students or other adults.  Older secondary pupils are also encouraged to maintain distancing where possible if this does not hinder the return to full-time learning.  There is no general requirement to wear face coverings although staff and pupils can do so voluntarily.  School buses are treated as part of the school building, so normal distancing or face covering rules do not apply to pupils, but they will have to sanitise their hands prior to boarding.  At her coronavirus briefing on Monday, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon acknowledged that some teachers, parents and pupils would feel anxious, but said the guidance was carefully worked through and informed by scientific advice.  Kelso High School in the Scottish Borders will be one of the first in the country to welcome pupils back to full-time learning.  Head teacher Jill Lothian says for young people, it's the procedures rather than the building itself that have changed most. "How they enter the building - we're using different entry and exit points for them," she explained. Every classroom is equipped with sanitiser and a cleaning station for pupils to use as they enter, and they begin by wiping down their desks and chairs. One way systems are in place and they will be encouraged to spend break times outdoors, with controls to ensure they don't all leave the building at the same time. Shona Haslam, leader of Scottish Borders Council, believes they have done everything they can to make the return to school as safe as possible "Additional cleaning, additional ventilation, children not walking around the school quite so much, one way systems in place, school transport being an extension of the school estate - we've done all of those measures that are in the Scottish government guidance and we are as confident as we can be," she said. At Inverclyde Academy in Greenock, the school's fresh cohort of S1 pupils will be the first to encounter the new normal of schooling when they arrive on Wednesday, with other year groups returning in the following days. There will be no sharing of equipment such as stationary or headphones. They can bring equipment from home but there is no need as individual stationary packs and calculators will be issued.  Desks and seating have been arranged so that pupils are facing the front of the classroom and not each other. They can sit in pairs with a "shoulder partner" but there is a strict seating plan to keep students in "bubbles", limiting the number of close contacts.  The teacher's workstation is a measured 2m distance from the desks. A teacher is allowed to approach a child to give them individual help, but such contact must be kept to a minimum and for a maximum of 15 minutes.

Highland Cattle Raise Money for Agricultural Charities

In July a photographic competition was organised to raise money for the agricultural charities RSABI and RABI. Photographs arrived from all over the UK and Europe for the 8 classes from calf to senior bull.  The cattle did not have to be ‘dressed’ for a show or even on a halter, so it gave opportunities for all members to participate and show off their cattle. Commenting on the competition Mr Campbell said: “We were so pleased with the standard of cattle, many of whom we would not normally see. It was really difficult to choose the winners. We have also learnt to use some new technology – not normally used when judging cattle!”  Set on the outskirts of Dalry, Baidlandmains Fold was established in 2013 by the Anderson family, Fred, Mary and Billy, with the purchase of 2 x 2year old heifers from the Pollok Fold in Glasgow. Numbers have increased to a total of 18 and counting, mostly descendants of the original two. They secured a second place with their stunning in calf cow.

Go-ahead Recommended for New Inverness Health Facility
A new centre offering healthcare for bone, muscle and eye conditions looks set to get the go-ahead next week. NHS Highland has proposed building its orthopaedic and ophthalmology elective care centre at Inverness Campus.  Highland Council planning officials have recommended councillors approve the plans at a meeting next Tuesday.  The facility, serving the north of Scotland, would have 24-bed inpatient rooms, operating theatres, clinics and outpatient departments. Earlier plans included a multi-disciplinary life sciences centre. Highlands and Islands Enterprise and the University of Highlands and Islands propose constructing this facility on a separate site on the campus at Inverness.

Investigation Into Fatal Stonehaven Train Derailment Begins
An investigation has begun into an Aberdeenshire rail crash in which three people died. The train driver, a conductor and a passenger were killed when the the 06:38 ScotRail service from Aberdeen to Glasgow Queen Street derailed near Stonehaven on Wednesday morning. It is thought to have hit a landslide after heavy rain and thunderstorms caused disruption across Scotland.  Six other people were also injured in the incident.  They were taken to hospital but their injuries were not believed to be serious.  Expert investigators are now working to identify the cause of the crash.  British Transport Police, the Rail Accident Investigation Branch and inspectors from the Office of Rail and Road - the independent regulator - are involved in the investigation.  The Queen was among those who sent their condolences to those affected by the derailment. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon also sent her "deepest condolences" to the loved ones of those who lost their lives in the tragedy.

Sixth Man Appears in Inverness Sheriff Court in Connection with Drugs Seizures Worth £700,000 in Area Around Alness, Ross-shire
A sixth Easter Ross man appeared in private at Inverness Sheriff Court today (Wednesday) accused of being involved with serious organised crime to supply drugs.  Paul Austin, (34), from Invergordon, was arrested following a major police operation in the Highlands which allegedly netted over £700,000 worth of cocaine and other drugs.  Five other men, Cameron Ross (19) and Owen Robinson (19), Ryan Ross (25) from Tain, and Alasdair Finlayson (23) and Daniel Degan (30), both from Alness, were all released on bail after their court appearance.  All six are charged with being concerned in the supply of cocaine and cannabis,and being involved in serious organised crime to facilitate the supply of drugs. Austin made no plea, was committed for further examination and also released on bail. Finlayson is accused of being involved in serious crime by supplying large amounts of drugs between England and Scotland and directing his five other accused to organise the supply of drugs.  He is also charged with Degan of being concerned in the supply of Ketamine. All six made no plea and were committed for further examination.

Union Canal: Video Shows 30 Metre Breach At Linlithgow As Storms Cause Mass Flooding

The Union Canal burst its banks in the early hours of Wednesday morning as mass flooding and thunderstorms battered the country.  A 30 metre breach was reported in the Linlithgow area where part of the embankment was washed away in the storm.  Richard Millar, Scottish Canals Director of Infrastructure said: “ Last night saw 80mm of rain fall between midnight and 6am, with over 40mm falling in one hour alone at 5am.  “This led to a significant volume of water flowing into the canal, eventually overtopping and washing away part of the embankment and leading to a breach which is now 30m wide.”  Fortunately there were no injuries though the Edinburgh to Glasgow railways line has been affected. Staff from Scottish Canals were deployed at 8 am on Wednesday to take the necessary measures including installing stop planks at Manse Road Basin in Linlithgow to the east of the site and sandbags both at the A801 canal bridge and at Vellore Road bridge to the west.  Scottish Canals are in the process of contacting those boating customers who will be affected and are also liaising with Transport Scotland, Network Rail, SEPA, Historic Environment Scotland and Falkirk Council.  They added: “We prioritise these works according to the risk each asset poses first to the public, followed by visitors and staff, and then operability. This stretch of the Union Canal was not identified as a high-risk asset.  However as 200-year old working heritage structures, Scotland’s canals face increasing pressures from climate change. Freak weather, such as we experienced in Scotland over the last 24 hours, brings much higher volumes of water than these scheduled monuments were initially designed to accommodate.”

School Pupils Linked to Glasgow Virus Cluster

Pupils at a Glasgow secondary school are among eight people to have tested positive in a coronavirus cluster in the city.  NHS officials said the pupils at Bannerman High School in Baillieston all tested positive before the school returned on Wednesday morning.  They are all currently self-isolating at home, and none have actually attended school.  All eight of the cases are said to be only experiencing mild symptoms.  NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (NHSGGC) said test and protect staff had been contacting anyone else who may be affected by the cluster.  They were said to be working closely with the school and a number of other local businesses to trace any close contacts of the eight confirmed cases.  But the health board said there was "no added risk" to teachers or pupils who were returning to school.  Dr Linda de Caestecker, the director of public health at NHSGGC, said the cluster was being "thoroughly investigated and managed".  She said advice had been given to the school and other places the eight cases had visited.

Golden Eagles Breeding Success At Scottish Highlands Estate
Golden eagles have bred at a "rewilding" estate in the Scottish Highlands for the first time in 40 years.  An eagle pair successfully reared the chick at an artificial eyrie on the 10,000-acre Dundreggan estate.  This positive news came as it emerged that a young tagged gold eagle known as Tom has gone missing in the Strathbraan area of Perthshire.  Tom was being satellite-tracked by wildlife charity Raptor Persecution UK.  Springwatch presenter Chris Packham has been working with the charity on the tagging project.  On the Dundreggan estate an artificial nest was built five years ago high on a rocky crag, on the remains of an old nest site.  Its purpose was to encourage a pair of golden eagles to mate. It was made using branches from the native pines and birch trees that cover the mountain slopes. Doug Gilbert is the manager of the estate. He has been checking the eyrie every spring for the last five years. He described it as a "rewilding successes story beyond our wildest dreams".Mr Gilbert said the "rewilding" approach adopted at Dundreggan had helped. The estate used to be managed for deer stalking, and the animals tend to graze on tender saplings before they can become mature.  Now the deer population has been reduced to a level where trees can grow again. "Golden eagle-friendly" mountaintop forests have been replanted, containing tough, waist-high "wee trees", such as dwarf birch and downy willow. However Mr Gilbert said: "I do worry for the safety of the chick. They are renowned for wandering quite far distances. There are several black spots where eagles regularly disappear. Some of them are well within range of a young golden eagle - just 50 km away, and chicks can travel for 100-150km. What we are doing here won't change the course of history," said Mr Gilbert. "But if we can produce one chick, rather than one being killed somewhere else, then it's a good thing."  

Wanlockhead: Scotland's Highest Village Votes in Favour of Buyout Plans

Residents of Scotland's highest village have voted in favour of plans for a community buyout. They were balloted over a bid to take ownership of nearly 4,000 acres of land at Wanlockhead in Dumfries and Galloway.  The ground surrounding the village is currently owned by the Buccleuch group.  Just over 55% of those who voted backed the buyout, with 69 in favour and 55 against. More than 80% of those eligible to vote took part. Wanlockhead Community Trust (WCT) said it had developed the buyout bid to secure a "sustainable future" for the area.  It is also hoped that the bid can boost local employment opportunities. Lincoln Richford, who chairs the trust, said: "We have the Southern Upland Way coming through the village, we have Scotland's most southerly ski slope, we have the beautiful Mennock Pass which is a popular place for campers. All these things are already there, a buyout would enable the village to expand and control some of these areas."  He added: "At the moment there is one job in the village - a shepherdess - apart from that there is nothing. So young people either have to have an ability to work from home or they have to leave the community.  We would be hoping to produce some jobs for people to work locally." The next stage will be to apply to the Scottish Land Fund and other foundations to raise the financial support needed for the buyout.  Mr Richford said a lot of work had gone into the plans.  "We have published a 50-odd page feasibility study which outlines lots of ideas of what can be done," he said.  "The ideas are mostly based around tourism where Wanlockhead is well-suited."  Buccleuch described the vote as an "important step" in the process towards a buyout. It said it would continue its dialogue with the trust which had been "constructive throughout".

Coronavirus in Scotland: Orkney Cluster Linked to Fishing Boat
Health authorities in Orkney say they are dealing with a cluster of five confirmed Covid-19 cases linked to a fishing boat.  NHS Orkney said positive tests had been detected in a group of people who worked together and then travelled to various homes on the outer islands. The fishing boat had sailed to Orkney from Peterhead. It had also been to Scrabster in Caithness. Highland, Grampian and Orkney health boards are now tracing contacts.  The NHS Orkney chief executive described the situation as a "significant number of cases in a small island community".  The board said earlier it was examining links with the 177 cases that are part of a cluster in Aberdeen.  Director of Public Health Louise Wilson said: "Following their identification, the individuals have been asked to self-isolate and we are tracing all of their contacts, who will also be asked to self-isolate as a precaution.  She said a further update would be issued after the next meeting of the incident management team, adding: "We are taking all necessary steps to contain this outbreak but it is vital people follow the FACTS guidance to limit the spread of the virus." Giving her daily briefing, the first minister confirmed three new cases had been confirmed in Orkney in the last 24 hours. Nicola Sturgeon said anyone in the isles who developed symptoms of coronavirus should "isolate immediately" and make arrangements for a test.  "While Orkney had a number of cases at the beginning of the pandemic it has had very few since, so I would urge everyone on the islands to guard against complacency," she said.  The first minister said the outbreak - and others including Aberdeen - "should not cause undue alarm" as clusters of this kind were "inevitable".  Asked about the possibility of a local lockdown in Orkney, she added: "I don't want to get too far ahead of where we are."  The first minister added Orkney and other island communities "have gone a long period of time without cases, and human nature being what human nature is that may understandably lead to a sense of feeling on the islands that the threat has gone, the risk has gone, and therefore maybe people are not being as assiduous in complying with all the rules."  Orkney's last confirmed cases of the virus were reported on 15 June.  Orkney's MSP, Liam McArthur, said the spike in new cases was "deeply worrying" and a reminder the virus remained a "real threat".  "We all have a responsibility to act with the upmost care to keep ourselves and our community safe," he added.  NHS Orkney said it was taking the cluster "extremely seriously" and working with mainland health boards, port authorities and ferry operators to try to limit the outbreak.

Juries to Hear Trials Remotely From Cinemas
Juries will hear trials remotely from cinemas under plans to stop a growing backlog of criminal cases.  The move will see the most serious criminal trials go ahead in courtrooms while a socially-distanced jury watches a video-link in a cinema.  The Lord Justice General Lord Carloway described the plan as "bold and imaginative".  But he warned of a "long term project" to clear the backlog of cases postponed due to Covid-19.  Lord Carloway said there were about 750 outstanding High Court and 1,800 Sheriff Court cases as a result of the courts being closed by the pandemic earlier this year. He said this "illustrates the seriousness of the position" and added that the "remote jury approach is the only practical way which has been identified to reduce that backlog."  High Court trials restarted last month in Edinburgh and Glasgow, having been paused during the pandemic.  Juries have been observing trials via a video link from another courtroom.  But moving the juries to watch cases from cinemas will free up increased space for more trials.  The Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service (SCTS) hope jury centres based in cinema complexes in the east and west of Scotland, with capacity for at least 16 juries, will be in place by the autumn.  Lady Dorrian, chairwoman of the restarting solemn trials working group, said: "The beauty of this solution is that it preserves the 15-person jury trial and will allow us, in time, to raise business in the High Court to a level that will start to address the growing backlog of cases.  It was clear that the remote jury model does work and, if suitable external venues could be identified, it would be possible to run a much higher number of trials, making full use of the courtrooms we have available for the trials." Eric McQueen, chief executive of the SCTS, said: "The great advantage of these remote jury centres is that they provide, in a single building, a number of spacious and soundproofed auditoria that can comfortably accommodate 15 physically-distanced jurors, combined with state-of-the-art secure technology.  It also means we have a model that can be replicated at various sites around the country."  The cinemas used will be staffed by SCTS staff and made to look as much like a court as possible.  Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf said £5.5m of Scottish government money will fund the scheme, which he said was a "ground- breaking solution". He added: "Our funding of this scheme not only allows serious criminal cases to proceed but also provides reassurance to victims, witness and accused who have been adversely affected by case delays."

Scotland Marks 75th Anniversary of VJ Day
Commemorations are taking place across Scotland for the 75th anniversary of Victory over Japan Day.  VJ Day marked the end of the conflict in Asia and brought World War Two to a close in 1945, four months after the fighting in Europe finished.  Millions of people from the allied countries took part in parades and street parties to celebrate.  But today's events will mean commemorating in a different way because of the ongoing pandemic.  VJ Day ended one of the worst episodes in British military history, during which tens of thousands of servicemen were forced to endure the brutalities of prisoner-of-war camps, where disease was rife and there was a lack of food and water.  For thousands of British civilians captured when British and Dutch Far East colonial territories were overrun, VJ Day was the end of illness, starvation rations and an uncertain future in the Japanese camps. It is estimated that there were 71,000 British and Commonwealth casualties of the war against Japan, including more than 12,000 prisoners of war who died in Japanese captivity.  Due to the ongoing pandemic, the events taking place in Scotland are different from those in previous years.  The Red Arrows will perform a flypast of Edinburgh in one of the only physical events marking the day.  An online concert and service of remembrance will lead the commemoration.  The Royal Scots will hold a wreath-laying ceremony at Laurieston Castle, Edinburgh to remember their 496 serviceman who died in prisoner of war camps. In Dumfries, a virtual service will go online and a video will be promoted across the council's social media channels to mark the day.  Councillor Archie Dryburgh said: "It is, of course, disappointing that there can't be an actual gathering but the safety of veterans and the public is our paramount consideration during Covid-19.  Our alternative VJ Day arrangements demonstrate Dumfries and Galloway Council's continuing support for and appreciation of our Armed Forces."  Among the other events planned is a message from First Minster Nicola Sturgeon thanking the World War Two generation, and a two-minute silence.  Legion Scotland will issue medallions in honour of those who made a contribution to the war effort.  Veterans Minister Graeme Dey said the day would be a time for the nation to come together to remember the sacrifices "which ensured the peace and freedoms we enjoy today". He said: "The whole country owes our current and ex-service personnel an immense debt of gratitude for their service and sacrifice." Dr Armstrong added that VJ Day would pay tribute, not only to the British forces, but the Allied and Commonwealth forces, "without whom the defeat of Japan would not have been possible".