Monday, 26 August 2013

Crossbow killer still on the loose

Calton would like to apologise to his regular readers for the lack of posts recently - he has had his beak stuck in a book. The RSPB British Birds of Prey book by Marianne Taylor with photos by Stig Frode Olsen to be precise. You can see how Calton was so riveted - apart from anything else he had to check that Stig had got his best side - although he was somewhat less than impressed with the description of Sea Eagles as "squat-bodied, cumbersome, short-tailed, long-necked, short-legged and big-headed". It went on to describe our expression as "outraged" - so would yours be given that list of epithets! That aside, it is an excellent book which details the struggles (still ongoing) between birds of prey and (some) humans and the attempts by other humans to assist us. Given the enduring popularity of the Mull Sea Eagles and the desire of many people, not just bird-watchers, to see an eagle, it is sad that Golden Eagles are still being killed on some of Scotland's shooting estates. It is downright tragic that Hen Harriers have all but disappeared from grouse moors in the North of England due to persecution and there was a successful initiative on twitter to rename August 12th "Hen Harrier Day" this year.

Unfortunately the persecution does not stop at raptors. News came today that a second gull had been shot with a crossbow in Inverness. Now, gulls are not Calton's favourite birds, however shooting them with a crossbow bolt, leaving them to die a lingering death, is utterly deplorable. Calton hopes that the person or persons responsible will be swiftly brought to justice for causing such unnecessary suffering. If you have any information that could lead to the apprehension of the individual(s) concerned, please contact Police Scotland - you could help prevent an even greater crime.

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Polyamory is not for the birds

As the Scottish Parliament considers legalising same-sex marriages, it is worth remembering that, no sooner was the ink dry on the legislation allowing them in England and Wales than a legal challenge was launched to force the Church of England to perform same-sex marriage ceremonies, making a nonsense of Maria Miller's 'quadruple lock'. Not only that, but all those scare-mongerers who warned that widening the definition of marriage to include same-sex couples would open the door to demands for other types of relationship to be recognised don't seem quite so laughable now, as the BBC turns its attention to promoting polyamorous relationships.

Now, Calton may be old-fashioned, or maybe just old, but sea eagles mate for life with a bird of the opposite sex, because even a rudimentary understanding of biology shows us that two (and only two) birds, one of either sex, are required to produce a chick and both are needed to successfully rear it to maturity. (And, while he remembers, Calton would like to congratulate the East Coast couple on their first son. Hopefully they will think of a better name than 13white1 soon!) Why humans should want to deviate from this family set-up is, quite frankly, beyond him and his real concern is what effect it will have on the children? If consenting adults want to make life hard for themselves by having multiple relationships, that's up to them (one is hard enough work Calton would have thought) but children don't have the choice. Some would say that it doesn't matter what sort of family children grow up in as long as it is loving, but do we really know that? What about stability? We do know that heterosexual marriages are more likely to last than heterosexual unmarried couples. We don't have any reliable data yet on homosexual or polyamorous relationships. That doesn't seem to stop social work departments embarking on what may turn out to be the biggest social experiment of all time in placing children with homosexual couples, sometimes in preference to heterosexual couples.

Marriage, between one man and one woman for life, has been the foundation of our society for centuries. We might like to think that we are more enlightened in the 21st century but that assertion hardly stands up to scrutiny when you look at our society. We are not progressing - we are regressing. So, what gives us or our politicians the right to redefine marriage, and by inference, the family? Nothing, in this eagle's opinion.

Monday, 12 August 2013

Tinkering while UKIP gains ground

It's a bit rich for Labour politicians to go on about companies recruiting more local workers when they (Labour) presided over an education system which has failed to get a generation of young people ready for the workplace and it would seem that they (Labour) deliberately encouraged mass immigration as a way of forcing acceptance of the philosophy of multiculturalism. And we all know how well that worked out. As long as companies can get cheaper, better workers from outside the UK they will do so - it's called capitalism. It's up to the Government to limit immigration if they want to keep jobs for British workers and that will not be possible as long as we remain in the EU. That is why UKIP are gaining support in many parts of England. Unemployed Brits are fed up of seeing jobs go to Eastern European immigrants and it is fuelling resentment, especially when getting a job means that an immigrant passes the residency test and can then get a council house. The three main Westminster parties all realise this but are not prepared to do what is necessary to sort it i.e. leave the EU. Instead they are all tinkering round the edges and fighting with each other rather than dealing with the problem. No wonder the voters are losing patience with them.

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

OK four-eyes

Calton has reached the age where he has to perch a pair of glasses on his beak to read or use the computer however there is nothing wrong with his distance vision, unlike many of those who regularly get behind the wheel of a car. DVLA has issued updated guidance stressing the responsibility of motorists to ensure that their eyesight is up to the job but, as long as there is no requirement for regular eye tests after a driver passes their driving test, we will continue to see accidents caused by poor eyesight. Given that it costs nothing in Scotland to have your eyes tested every second year, there really is no excuse and Calton fully supports Brake's campaign to 'sharpen up'. It's not always easy to realise (or admit) to needing specs but the alternative - living with the knowledge that your poor sight has caused a crash - is far worse. So go and get your eyesight tested, as Calton did last month. Don't wait for the Government to make it compulsory (which hopefully they will do).

Monday, 5 August 2013

Wanted - a minimum hours guarantee

It's not just zero-hours contracts which are being abused in theses times of austerity and business retrenchment - it's also self-employment contracts for workers who should be employees, as Calton has already pointed out. Both types of contract can offer workers flexibility and can be appropriate but, all too often, workers are not being given any choice in the matter. If they refuse to accept what's on the table they know that someone else will. Many people on these types of contracts are low paid - the last thing they need is uncertainty about the number of hours they will get each week. Self-employment contracts offer no job security at all as they can usually be terminated without notice. Employees have, for some time now, accepted that the days of big annual pay rises are over. Some have even accepted pay cuts in order to keep their jobs. The least employers can do is give them some sort of minimum hours guarantee and there should be a crack-down on those employers who are using self-employment contracts in order to get out of having to comply with employment legislation.

Saturday, 3 August 2013

Getting it badly wrong for every child

It may seem like a good idea, especially in a week that has seen details of the horrific abuse suffered by Daniel Pelka at the hands of his mother and partner, to assign every child in Scotland a 'named person' or sort-of guardian angel to ensure their wellbeing, as proposed in the Children and Young People bill currently going through Holyrood. In fact, it is the complete opposite. Our social services are struggling to cope as it is, with many social workers not feeling confident that they could identify children at risk from internet grooming, just to take one example. Assigning an approved adult to every single child, whether they need it or not, is just going to take resources away from where they are really required. Legal experts are concerned, and so is Calton, that such legislation could be illegal under Article 8 of the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR), which protects a parent’s “private and family life”.Whereas, previously, the criterion for intervention was that a child was 'at risk of significant harm', under the new legislation, the named person will be able to intervene if he/she considers that the 'wellbeing' of the child is at risk, 'wellbeing' being defined by the Government. This sounds to Calton like a charter for politically-correct liberals to impose their view of an appropriate upbringing on families whether they want it or not. Religious families who wish to bring their children up in the faith may well be told that it is not in the childrens' best interests. It could be a way of outlawing smacking, and other forms of discipline, by the back door. Instead of children, it will be parents on the naughty step. If, like Calton, you are concerned about the ramifications of this dystopian legislation, you can read more and sign a petition urging MSPs to reject it here. Calton strongly believes in protecting youngsters but interfering in family life to this extent is not the way to do it.