WHILE last year seemed to be one of doom and gloom in the world, from the ongoing war in Ukraine, conflict in Gaza and the cost-of-living crisis, there was in fact much to celebrate.

Medically, we are seeing a pace of progress that has not been witnessed for a century. Artificial intelligence and 3D printing provide amazing opportunities, and thanks in part to Covid-19 and the vaccines devised to tackle this, there also is the opportunity to help eradicate certain types of cancer.

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The rise of renewables also became unstoppable, and according to a report by the International Energy Agency, they will provide half the world’s electricity by 2030. The year also saw the Amazon rainforest breathe a little easier, with rates of deforestation down more than half compared to the previous year. This follows efforts to halt tree loss, most notably in Brazil.

The list of endangered species continued to grow in 2023, but some creatures bounced back from the brink. One of them was the scimitar-horned oryx, which until 2023 was listed as “extinct in the wild” but has been successfully reintroduced to Chad using captive animals. Other notable successes include Scotland’s surging golden eagle population and the return of the bittern to England.

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There were also notable wins for the LGBTQ community as a clutch of countries broke down some of the barriers to same-sex partnerships. For example, Nepal registered its first gay marriage in November, becoming one of the first Asian nations to do so. Latvia, a laggard in relatively liberal Europe, also voted to legalise same-sex partnerships.

So, while for many of us last year may seem one to be despondent about, there were some notable positives to be celebrated.

Alex Orr

MY hopes for 2024 are as follows:

•That “Scottish” versions of the right-wing English press give an absolutely fair account of the independence cause given it represents the view of around half the Scottish population;

•That reporters on oor “Scottish” telly actually properly interrogate Scottish Tories and Labour politicians wi the same vigour and venom that they do wi SNP and Green politicians (Alba get a free pass!);

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•That being a supporter of an independent Scotland is portrayed in the English media as being a normal state of affairs and not an extremist, way-out view!;

•And finally – that the English in general treat us “Jocks” with respect!

Perhaps my hopes for 2024 have been a tad on the optimistic side. Maybe my belief in humanity is a bit naive. But then maybe, just maybe, oor fellow countrymen and women will totally ignore what they read in their papers, what they hear on telly, and shout “I want ma country to be an independent nation. Youse lot can get tae France!”

Aye, maybes no, maybes no! I hae an ominous feeling that my pal the Reverend IM Jolly, traditionally a Scottish icon of gloom at this time of year, would beg to differ. After aw, a badly leaking glass, never mind a half-empty one, is what us lot dae!

Just as weel there ur thoosands of folk in the independence movement that dinnae dae pessimism. They will win the day for aw, including us doomsters! Tae aw cheery optimists and fellow doomsters alike – hae a Happy New Year!”

Ivor Telfer
Dalgety Bay

I AGREE with Sandy Gordon’s disparagement of the royal family and their sycophants (Letters, Jan 3), but cannot agree with his assertion that the royal family have no powers. If only!

The monarch and heir have foresight of any bills before they are presented to parliament. The late Queen interfered with thousands of proposed bills, many in Holyrood, having them altered to ensure they did not harm the profits, privileges, or lands of the royal family. Today, that hereditary entitlement falls to Chuck and Wills.

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As well as massive profits from the royal estates, the Duchies of Cornwall and Lancashire, it was recently revealed that any monies from people who die intestate on these estates go to the monarch. There is also an anachronism

called the royal remembrancer, whose job it to ensure that any unclaimed assets go to the monarch. In a civilised country these funds would go to the common good; but this is feudal Britain.

If only more people in Scotland could be made aware of these medieval institutions and practices, I think independence would be ours pretty soon.

Very Happy New Year to all at The National.

Richard Walthew

IF it is indeed the case, as Joanna Cherry points out, that the Rwanda bill interferes with the rights of the Scottish Court of Session, does it not therefore break the terms of the Treaty of Union, which makes Scots law inviolable in perpetuity, and thus render the Treaty null and void?

Furthermore, does this not provide grounds for our Scottish Government to appeal to the International Court of Justice to confirm this breach and its consequences? Perhaps other breaches, such as the Supreme Court judgment being based on a sovereignty that they admitted has no validity in Scotland, would strengthen our case.

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Although we might not wish to go so far as actually declaring UDI, this as a threat would surely force Westminster to drop its intransigence and begin negotiations, to salvage some of the advantages they enjoy from our contributions and resources. I firmly believe that we need to develop more than one route concurrently, so that for the Unionist parties, simply saying “no” becomes ineffective.

A referendum held under the Referendums (Scotland) 2020 Act already in statute would thereafter allow our citizens to accept or reject the negotiated terms.

P Davidson