£350,000 for Burns Monument revamp

Although repairs have been done in the past, the Burns Monument is in need of a face lift. Lizzie McNiven and Valerie Hamil report….

Social Networking

By Louise C. Aitken

A report on the increasing number of Scottish employees being handed their P45′s after making defamatory comments about their work on Facebook and Bebo.

Scots may be caught in Mumbai atrocities

By Zab Mustefa

Scottish employees may be caught up in the terrorist events in Mumbai according to Alex Salmond. Mr Salmond was speaking at First Minister’s Questions and condemned the attacks but said there isn’t full confirmation yet.

So far, one Briton has also been killed and seven injured in the attacks according to the Press Association although Gordon Brown has said that it is too early to speculate.

Mr Salmond said: “I know the chamber will appreciate that regardless of the nationality of those caught up in the atrocity, there will almost certainly be Scottish families with close connections with the area.”

In recent events, a fire has broken out at the Taj Mahal Hotel following a large explosion. People have been escaping out of windows but many are still trapped in their rooms or too frightened to come out.

This follows the recent gunfire between the hostage takers and Indian security officials.

Gordon Brown has echoed the concerns of Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for uniting against terrorists.

“The whole world is shocked and outraged at these events,” he said. “Our responsibility is to help the Indian Government. We will try to give what support we can.”

So far, 104 people have been killed and over 300 injured in a series of attacks across the capital. Targets included a busy train station, two luxury hotels and a popular restaurant.

The Foreign Office has advised people not to travel to India for the time being.

Hostages are still being held in the Oberoi Trident hotel. Indian forces are still involved in a fierce gun battle with gunmen.

A Jewish centre also came under grenade fire and a rabbi and his family are being held hostage.

The attacks started last night and a previously unheard of group, Deccan Mujahedeen, claimed responsibility on an Indian television channel.

Intelligence forces around the world are still trying to confirm if this small group has links with Al Qaeda or is solely based in India.

The situation remains unclear as some hotel guests are still barricaded in their rooms.

Funerals for some of the victims killed are already being held.
main-railway-station-mumbai

Christmas Switch On

Edinburgh prepares for the Christmas light switch on, 2008.

Video package by Rebecca Mackenzie-Smith

Woolies will stay open for Christmas

Business as usual for Woolworths today

Business as usual for Woolworths today. Picture courtesy of Owen Humphreys/PA Wire

By Carla Simpson

The government has entered talks with troubled retailer Woolworths’ administrators in a bid to keep the company trading over Christmas.

The high street chain went into administration last night despite last-ditch efforts by the government to save the jobs of Woolworths’ 30,000 employees.

Gordon Brown assured staff that they would be given help to find work should they face redundancy.

After struggling under a debt of £385 million and falling share prices, Woolworths called on administrators Deloitte last night to find a suitable buyer for all parts of the business.

Deloitte, whose appointment was confirmed today, said it had received interest for both the retail arm and the firm’s E.UK wholesaling operation in the past 24 hours.

“Stores will remain open past Christmas and employees in stores will be paid,” reorganisation services partner Neville Kahn said.

“Woolworths has suffered a number of cash flow problems. Strenuous efforts over recent weeks to keep these companies going have unfortunately failed,” he added.

The lottery operator Camelot dealt another blow today as they suspended trading with the store. The decision means Woolworths will no longer be able to sell lottery tickets and scratch cards.

Once Britain’s best-loved retailer, Woolworths has lost out to online retailers and the growing success of supermarkets, who now share Woolies’ once unique selling point of having ‘everything under one roof’.

The company is just one of the casualties of the global economic crisis. Kitchen and furniture store MFI called in administrators yesterday after “severe cash flow pressure”, and the owner of PC World and electrical retailer Currys reported a £30 million loss for the half-year.

Jamie Crossan asked the people of Edinburgh their thoughts on Woolworths going into administration.

Listen Here:

Saturday is Buy Nothing Day

How would you spend your Saturday without spending on “Buy Nothing Day” ?

Catie Guitart and Tom Philip investigate….

Council warns of sale of dodgy shellfish

With a wave of illegal shellfish being harvested we sent Emma Hill to Leith Docks to find out more.

Interviews with Dave the fisherman and Chris, assistant manager of Lochvine

Edinburgh City Council has warned businesses against purchasing shellfish that is of an uncertain origin following concerns that it may have been illegally harvested.

Local food retailers need to be aware that shellfish not containing adequete documentation which identifies the harvesting location and the area should not be bought.

Leith Docks

Leith Docks

Councillor Robert Aldridge, Environment Leader of the City Council, said: “High risk products such as shellfish should never be purchased without correct documentation to prove that they were legitimately sourced.”

A spokesman for Lothian and Borders Police added: “We urge businesses and members of the public to remain vigilant when approached by anyone selling any goods that they feel may not have been acquired legally.”

Anyone witnessing or being offered shellfish of a suspicious nature should contact the Council’s Food Safety Team on 0131 529 3030.

Big football weekend for Capital clubs

By Ross Hart           

This weekend marks the third round of the Homecoming Scottish Cup and two part-time Edinburgh sides will be looking to defy the odds and advance to round four.

Spartans travel north to play Elgin City of the Third Division, while Edinburgh City take on Second Division Brechin City at Meadowbank Stadium.

Spartans have earned a reputation for giant killing in the tournament, having twice reached the fourth round in recent seasons.

This season they have already beaten junior side Pollok and Third Division Annan Athletic, who won a vote ahead of Spartans to gain entry to the Scottish Football League after Gretna went out of business last season.

Their hosts Elgin, by contrast, have had a poor start to their league season, having won just two out of their 14 matches and go into the tie on the back of a 5-0 loss to Annan.

Edinburgh City meanwhile have beaten Highland League sides Nairn County and Wick Academy to progress to the third round but they arguably face the toughest test.

Brechin are currently joint top of the Second Division, recording 32 points and 27 goals in the process and are serious contenders to win promotion to Division One.

But Edinburgh have claimed seven points from their three league games played and will look to Robbie Ross to fire them through, the striker having scored 15 goals this season.

An exciting day of cup football awaits and the Edinburgh duo will be hoping they will join their illustrious city neighbours Hearts and Hibernian in Monday’s fourth round draw.

A cure for snoring?

By Paul McCormack

The latest cure for snoring has been launched today by UK based company Adkins Snoring Aid. They claim to have a product guaranteed to stop the causes of snoring.

This innovative new product is simply inserted into the nostrils to inhibit the airflow through the nose, re-training the way you breathe.

Product designer, Chris Grant, told Dunedin Napier News he is delighted with the early feedback the product has received: “We have had great success from people who have trialled the product, they can’t believe something so simple and easy to use has worked.

“Our method uses a completely different train of thought to cure snoring and we are offering the product free of charge on our website, with the purchaser only having to pay for the postage and packaging.”

Snoring is a problem which affects more than 3.5 million people in the UK, with research indicating it is a more common problem among males.

This product could be welcomed by partners of snorers, who can suffer from sleep deprivation leading to stress and high blood pressure.

Want to work with Gandalf and Captain Picard?

Waiting for Godot posterBy Sarah Hunter-Argyle

 Young actors will have the chance to work with two of Britain’s most respected stars thanks to the King’s Theatre.

 Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellan will appear in Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot in April next year. Open auditions will be held on the 11th and 12th December to find two actors to play the part of ‘the boys’.

 “The quite exciting thing is they’re actually going to be acting with Ian and Patrick, rather than just a random walk on part.” Alice Driver, the Education and Learning Manager of the Theatre Royal Haymarket, said.

 The Theatre Royal Haymarket, who is producing the play in association with Duncan C. Weldon Productions Ltd, said they thought it was important to cast local actors.

 “We could have actually cast some boys from London and toured with them, but we feel quite strongly about helping regenerate the theatre base and the theatre audience.” Driver explains, “It’s a really nice way for people who’ve never gone to anything like this, who don’t have an agent, who don’t know people in the industry, to just come along and be given a go.”

 The chosen boys will work alternate nights playing two characters aged ten, but any boy up to the age of 15 will be welcome to audition.

 Driver says anyone interested in acting should come along, and they shouldn’t be nervous about working with such big stars.

 “Ian and Patrick are really excited about working with the boys… they’re going to be rehearsing with Ian and Patrick the day before [the play opens]. I’m sure there will be initial nerves but after a while they’ll relax, even though they’re working with big names they’re actually very easy going and really nice guys.”

 Nigel Le Page, National Director of the Helen O’Grady Drama Academy says: “It is a fantastic opportunity for our children… there are probably not enough opportunities like this. We get approached fairly regularly, but they’re very isolated areas, very specific.”

 Glyn Owen, Principal of the Edinburgh and Mid-Scotland branch of the academy tells his pupils – some of whom he is sure will go along – not to take auditions too seriously.

 “It’s a nice experience and we always to say take it as a day, take the audition as a fun session, don’t put anything into it apart from the fun of going along and doing it.” He advises.

 While it may not be a leading role Driver says the part is pivotal to the play, “so it’s important the boys are quite strong actors.”

Anyone wanting to audition should download an audition pack.

Know the Score Cocaine Awareness Weekends

By Claire Charras

Know the ScoreMore than 200 pubs across the Scotland are taking part in Know the Score Cocaine Awareness Weekends (CAWs) will start off in Edinburgh and Glasgow this weekend for the second time round.

The initiative targets those aged 18 to 26 years in an effort to raise awareness of the risks of drugs in the run up to the festive season.

Gordon Meldrum, Director General, Scottish Crime and Drug Enforcement Agency (SCDEA) said: “The Cocaine Awareness Weekends provide an opportunity to change attitudes by engaging directly with young people to highlight the dangers of cocaine use, which we hope will encourage them to think twice about using this drug – the risks are higher than people believe.”

Minister for Community Safety, Fergus Ewing said: “I’m delighted at the level of support from our local partners, in particular from so many licensees, for this important joint initiative.

“We are aware that many young people do not know the risks involved in cocaine use and we’re trying to ensure they have all the facts as well as making clear the legal consequences of drug misuse, people need to know the health risks, even from so-called ‘recreational’ use of cocaine. By doing just that, this campaign can help Scots enjoy the festive season in safety.”

These weekends will be running in Inverness, Renfrewshire, Dundee and Fife later on in December and provide information on the dangers of drugs across various social environments.

Click on the audio report by Ashley Toner here: Know the Score Interview

Know the Score

Student scammed by fake website

By Adam Couper

A fourth year student at Edinburgh University has been left out of pocket by a fake ticket website.Iain Lobban, 21, from Edinburgh had purchased tickets for The Mighty Boosh live show from www.londonticketshop.com which he had thought was a legitimate website he soon realised something was wrong.

Iain Lobban after learning his tickets would not arrive

Iain Lobban after learning his tickets would not arrive

‘I checked with my bank and the money had been taken out but the tickets hadn’t arrived. I then went back to have a look at the email to check all the details and when I scrolled down to the bottom I saw it had a website from Hungary. I knew straight away that I’d been conned.

‘I revisited the website which had been shut down by a solvency agency and replaced by a site which has links to reputable sites such as ticketmaster and had more customers who had also been ripped off warning people against using the site,’ he said.’It looked for all the world to be a genuine ticket site. It looked professional, and to be honest at no point was I suspicious.

‘It seems to have happened to a lot of people which doesn’t make me feel quite as much of an idiot.

On the new website hundreds of people who have also been scammed by the company have left angry and disappointed comments. Mr Lobban was as upset about the fact that he wouldn’t be going to the show as he was about the money..

‘To find out that the tickets were fakes is really annoying. I’m more upset that I’ll be missing the show than the loss of money although obviously my bank account has taken a hit. ‘I wish I’d been a bit more thorough when I was organising it but lets be honest no one reads every inch of an email. ‘It’s left me £100 out of pocket and there is no chance of getting a refund.’

It’s suicide to stop smoking

fags1 By Claire Charras

Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) Scotland dismissed the findings of yesterday’s investigation by BBC Scotland on the suicidal effects of a drug used to help smokers quit made by Pfizer.

Sheila Duffy, Chief Executive of ASH Scotland said: “The risks of continuing to smoke are certainly far greater than the risks from using any of the stop smoking treatments.”

The BBC’s investigation discovered there have been more than 3,000 complaints on the side effects of Champix® in the UK including 260 reporting suicidal-related reactions. Sixteen people have tried to kill themselves and ten have succeeded.

Duffy added: “Tobacco is a deadly drug. It is highly addictive and lethal, killing one in two of its regular long-term users. Smoking is responsible for 24% of deaths in Scotland each year occuring years earlier than they would otherwise - that’s 13,500 lives lost to tobacco each year.

“Drug treatments like Champix or Zyban are generally considered as options when a smoker has not been able to quit using other treatments. They remain prescription only because there are some contra-indications and because any adverse reactions need to be monitored carefully.”

Pfizer said “additional information on depression, suicidal ideation and suicide, and direct guidance about discontinuation of treatment if these symptoms occur and/or are of concern” was provided in August 2008.

Champix® or varenicline has been on the market since 2006. Pfizer states that 63% of patients who use the drug have successfully quit after four weeks.

Pfizer said: “As indicated in the labelling information for varenicline, stopping smoking, with or without treatment, is associated with nicotine withdrawal symptoms and the exacerbation of underlying psychiatric illness. Depressed mood may be a symptom of nicotine withdrawal. Depression, rarely including suicidal thoughts and suicide attempt, has been reported in patients undergoing a smoking cessation attempt, including patients taking varenicline.”

The drug company has made no statement as to whether they would look further into the case.

New job boost for Edinburgh

By Paul McCormack

Aquamarine Power, Britain’s only marine energy company, has this week announced that there is potential for recruitment in the industry to increase by 150 per cent.

The Scottish Parliament

The Scottish Parliament

The Edinburgh based organisation, which develops wave and tidal energy, believes that with the correct backing from the government, this form of energy production could eventually employ more people than the oil and gas companies based in the North Sea.

A report by the Institute of Mechanical Engineers has called on the Scottish government to invest £40m to help the industry to move forward and develop their energy producing products off the coast of Orkney.

Currently employing more than 1,000 workers in Scotland, marine energy companies are aiming to expand in order to become the most efficient form of renewable energy.

Michael Berry, Communications Finance and Sustainable growth spokesman for the Scottish government said: “Scotland is leading the world in the development of marine energy. Our seas can provide 25 per cent of Europe’s tidal power and 10 per cent of its wave power – backed by significant government support, developers are investing millions in the testing and deployment of wave and tidal devices to harness that potential.”

Holyrood has called for 30 per cent of Scotland’s energy to be renewable by 2011, increasing to 50 per cent by 2020, and this source could be the ideal method for the government to reach its proposed targets.

Berry added: “£10 million is being used to support wave and tidal energy projects around Scotland and a further £2.5 million is going towards infrastructure projects at the world-leading European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) in Orkney. The issue of further support for the sector will be examined by the Forum for Renewable Energy Development.”

This decision will come as great news for everyone in the marine energy business and will open up the possibility of several thousand new jobs across the country.

England postpone India cricket tests

By Ross Hart                     

Anthony Devlin/PA

Picture courtesy of Anthony Devlin/PA

The England and Wales Cricket Board have postponed England’s final one day matches against India in the wake of the terror attacks in Mumbai.                                     

101 people, including six foreign nationals, are reported to have been killed in co-ordinated attacks by gunmen across the city, which was due to host a test match between the two countries from December 19.

The England squad will remain at their hotel in Bhubaneswar, 580 miles east of Mumbai, for at least 24 hours as the ECB and their Indian counterparts continue talks as to whether the remaining games will be played.

In a statement, the ECB’s managing director Hugh Morris said: “On behalf of the board and the England team, we would like to express our condolonces to the families and friends of those people who were killed or injured in last night’s attacks.”

Mr Morris added that “the safety and security of the England team is of the utmost importance to the ECB”. They will continue discussions with Indian officials over the next 24 hours.

England are 5-0 down in the seven match series, with the sixth game due to take place on Saturday and the final match scheduled for December 2.

Kevin Pietersen’s side are also due to play a three day match from the 5th of December before taking on two test matches from the 11th, but the future of these remains uncertain.

The inaugural Twenty20 Champions League tournament due to start in Mumbai next Wednesday has also been postponed in the wake of the attacks.

English county side Middlesex were due to take part in the competition but delayed flying to Mumbai, while two participating Australian teams were stopped from travelling by the Australian cricket authorities.

Missing man’s body found in South Queensferry

By Carla Simpson

A body found in the water at Port Edgar is thought to be that of a man reported missing earlier in the week.

Lothian and Borders Police believe that the body, which was discovered by a member of the public yesterday, is that of Peter Ingram, 37. 

 Mr Ingram went missing from his home in Meadowbank on Sunday and was last seen in the Restalrig area on Tuesday morning.  His family and friends said his disappearance was very out of character and expressed concerns for his welfare.

 The police are currently awaiting formal identification and say that there are no suspicious circumstances surrounding the discovery of the body.

News in Brief

By Charlotte Morgenthal and Carla Simpson

UK

Baby P doctor suspended. The doctor who failed to notice Baby P’s broken back and ribs has been suspended from practising.  The General Medical Council said Dr Sabah al-Zayyat, who examined the 17 month old two days before he died, had spotted bruises on his body but did not carry out a full examination. Related Links: BBC

Scottish Water Strike. Employees of Scottish Water will start a 24 hour strike over pay at midday.  Around 802 union members are expected to walk out.  Related Links: BBC Scotland

Glasgow Council to cut 400 jobs. Scotland’s largest council is aiming to cut up to 400 jobs in the next year in a bid to save almost £23m. Related Links: BBC Scotland

House prices falling. A survey showed today that house prices fell by 0.4 percent in November. The decline is easing but house prices are still 13.9 percent lower than have been a year ago. Related Links: Reuters BBC

Cameron to address UUP. Tory leader David Cameron will address the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) at the annual conference next week. The move comes after the two parties agreed to form an elecoral pact which will see them as joint candidates in general elections. Related Links: PA

Publicans campaign against beer duty. The pub industry has launched a campaign to axe the rise in alcohol taxes.  The British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) claims the recent tax increases, which adds 3p to a pint of beer and 13p to a bottle of wine, will threaten the already struggling pub industry. Related Links: PA

World

Bangkok second airport taken by protesters. Thousands of tourists will be flown out of Thailand within the next 48 hours from military bases, and other national airports according to the country’s Tourism Minister.  Anti Government protesters shut down the second, national airport in Bangkok today to stop officials trying to see Thailand’s PM Somchai Wongsawat. Related Links: BBC – Video BBC Reuters

Suicide bomb in Kabul. A suspected suicide bomber has attacked the US embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan. At least one civillian was killed, and police say more have died. The attack happened during a Thanksgiving celebration at the embassy. Related Links: BBC

Zimbabwe education crisis. The number of Zimbabwean children going to school has fallen dramatically from 90% to just 20%, according to a senior UN relief offcial.  Catherine Bragg, speaking at a New York news conference, said teachers were not being paid and called for ‘massive’ international assistance. Related Links: BBC

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