FOR many of us 2019 will be viewed more than a little negatively, driven by a combination of Brexit, terrorism, climate change and increasing global instability.

However, while it may not have made the front pages, there is much for us to rejoice in and be thankful for. For example, children born today have the best chance of growing up healthy, safe and educated. There are now 4.4 million fewer child deaths per year than in 2000, according to Save The Children’s Global Childhood Report 2019. In addition, there are now 115 million fewer children out of school than at the turn of the century, and 94 million fewer child labourers.

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Figures from the World Health Organisation (WHO) also reveal that child-killing diseases have significantly declined since 2000. Measles, for example, declined 86% and there was also an 82% decrease in the incidence of tetanus. According to the WHO’s latest World Malaria Report, cases of the disease declined by three million between 2017 and 2018.

Governments around the world pledged to plant millions of trees in 2019, in efforts to capture carbon from the atmosphere. In Ethiopia, an estimated 350 million were planted on one day in July. Elsewhere, Ireland’s government announced plans in August to plant 22 million trees each year until 2040, while New Zealand has pledged to plant one billion by 2028.

According to United Nations figures for 2019, the number of HIV and AIDS-related deaths worldwide has decreased by a third since 2010.

A number of endangered species are also witnessing a recovery. For example, the number of mountain gorillas increased in east Africa, India’s wild tiger population grew by 30% to almost 3,000, and humpback whales in the south-west Atlantic now number some 25,000.

So, while we may think things are getting worse, there is so much for us to be thankful for and rejoice in.

Alex Orr

TO state the obvious, “free tuition” in Scotland is not actually free, but funded largely via the UK (generally using the Barnett formula), and from UK international borrowing. The same logic applies to “free personal care”, and the “free” NHS Scotland. It becomes even more complex when it comes to privatised transport, with UK franchise fees increasing the cost of travel to the public before UK Government international borrowing assists with public transport subsidies, partially alleviating such costs.

Just to make the UK fiscal issues more complex, the net UK contributions and needs of Scotland include for the purchase of sewerage and transport assets in London, for the use of the people of London, as the GERS figures reveal.

It is therefore really quite important to rebrand “free” as “universal provision”, so the people of Scotland can make informed decisions on just how much universal provision they consider appropriate, and are willing to pay for themselves, via both taxation and borrowing, both now and by others in the future, as this will be at the core of indyref2 considerations.

So, when the mainstream media again highlights the comparatively enormous % notional Scottish deficit, as delivered by the UK Government, whilst obscuring the £3-4 trillion of combined UK public and UK Government debt, as a “vote No” issue, the levels of “universal provision” and actual comparative Scottish Government debt are laid out in black and white for all the people of Scotland to see, as a “vote Yes” issue.

Stephen Tingle
Greater Glasgow

I HAD to laugh out loud when I read the article “Celtic rage at Christie ban” by Matthew Lindsay (January 7), particularly at the “fair and consistent” remark by Celtic FC.

Fans of every other football club have been asking for the same fairness and consistency Celtic FC have been receiving over the past years. If there’s a “favoured club” by referees and the SFA in Scottish football then it is most certainly Celtic FC, that is beyond doubt.

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I know of no other club in Scottish football at any level who are shown the same grace and favour. Don’t believe me? Take a look through the videos over the past five years. You can go further back if you want to, it will only reinforce my claim.

The action of one footballer to grab hold of the genitals of another player is the worst, and most dangerous of dirty tactics that can be used in the game. Contrary to the comments of the Celtic assistant manager in the previous day’s edition of The National, it did cause extreme pain and discomfort to Alfredo Morelos. Just watch the video of the match and you can clearly see the pain on his face, and STILL the referee did nothing!!!

“Fairness and consistency” have been lacking in the Scottish game for too many years now. Time to really punish the wrongdoers and elevate the game from the gutter level it currently languishes in to one we can all be proud to promote.

Jim Todd