Literally unbelievable video of golden eagle snatching baby is literally unbelievable

Via basically everyone, this video is unbelievable. A golden eagle tries – and fails, thank god – to fly away with somebody's baby:

Golden eagles have been filmed hunting reindeer calves and adult deer, so that baby was lucky.

Update

"This video is unbelievable" was clearly my subconscious being more right than I thought, because I actually don't believe this video is true.

A few people have watched it closer than I have, and frame-by-frame there are some things visible which are either very strange artefacts, or signs of a good CGI job.

For instance, when the bird swoops down, its shadow pops in one frame after it does. And for one frame, and one frame only, around three seconds in, its right wing becomes transparent.

Then there is the slightly odd motion of the child after the eagle lets go of it. Not only does it carry on going up - which would just be momentum - but its ascent actually speeds up a bit before falling

Then there's the smell-test of the circumstances. The YouTube uploader joined yesterday, has never posted any other videos, and hasn't linked their account to anything else. If you're making a YouTube account these days, you have to make a special effort not to link that account to something like a G+ profile, and the uploader seems to have gone to that effort.

And finally, the Isle of Mull Eagle Watch team think that that's not a golden eagle at all, but a juvenile eastern imperial eagle, which is not native to North America and unlikely to be hanging around Montreal parks.

None of this is conclusive evidence; but it's enough for me. I've changed the headline of this piece to reflect that. In the meantime I'm trying to find a way to contact MrNuclearCat, to get their side of the story.

Update 2

It's confirmed: the video was a hoax by a Montreal animation school, Centre NAD:

 

The “Golden Eagle Snatches Kid” video, uploaded to YouTube on the evening of December 18, was made by Normand Archambault, Loïc Mireault and Félix Marquis-Poulin, students at Centre NAD, in the production simulation workshop class of the Bachelors degree in 3D Animation and Digital Design.
Falconer Volker Walter (L) with a golden eagle on his arm. Photograph: Getty Images

Alex Hern is a technology reporter for the Guardian. He was formerly staff writer at the New Statesman. You should follow Alex on Twitter.

Photo: Getty
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Scotland's vast deficit remains an obstacle to independence

Though the country's financial position has improved, independence would still risk severe austerity. 

For the SNP, the annual Scottish public spending figures bring good and bad news. The good news, such as it is, is that Scotland's deficit fell by £1.3bn in 2016/17. The bad news is that it remains £13.3bn or 8.3 per cent of GDP – three times the UK figure of 2.4 per cent (£46.2bn) and vastly higher than the white paper's worst case scenario of £5.5bn. 

These figures, it's important to note, include Scotland's geographic share of North Sea oil and gas revenue. The "oil bonus" that the SNP once boasted of has withered since the collapse in commodity prices. Though revenue rose from £56m the previous year to £208m, this remains a fraction of the £8bn recorded in 2011/12. Total public sector revenue was £312 per person below the UK average, while expenditure was £1,437 higher. Though the SNP is playing down the figures as "a snapshot", the white paper unambiguously stated: "GERS [Government Expenditure and Revenue Scotland] is the authoritative publication on Scotland’s public finances". 

As before, Nicola Sturgeon has warned of the threat posed by Brexit to the Scottish economy. But the country's black hole means the risks of independence remain immense. As a new state, Scotland would be forced to pay a premium on its debt, resulting in an even greater fiscal gap. Were it to use the pound without permission, with no independent central bank and no lender of last resort, borrowing costs would rise still further. To offset a Greek-style crisis, Scotland would be forced to impose dramatic austerity. 

Sturgeon is undoubtedly right to warn of the risks of Brexit (particularly of the "hard" variety). But for a large number of Scots, this is merely cause to avoid the added turmoil of independence. Though eventual EU membership would benefit Scotland, its UK trade is worth four times as much as that with Europe. 

Of course, for a true nationalist, economics is irrelevant. Independence is a good in itself and sovereignty always trumps prosperity (a point on which Scottish nationalists align with English Brexiteers). But if Scotland is to ever depart the UK, the SNP will need to win over pragmatists, too. In that quest, Scotland's deficit remains a vast obstacle. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.