Edinburgh first to back global Occupy movement

Edinburgh Council has become the first political body to officially back to worldwide Occupy movement.

The council this afternoon voted in an overwhelming majority to redirect economic decisions to be more focussed on the needs of the 99% in an attempt to reduce the “inequitable gap” between the rich and poor.

The SNP, Liberal Democrats, Labour and the Greens, all voted in favour of the motion, with the Conservatives the only party to reject it.

During the debate, Councillor Chapman of the Scottish Green Group said: “Next week workers will go on strike to protect pensions whilst the 1% continue their parasitic feasting on the commonwealth.”

Labour Councillor Gordon Munro, who is an advocate of the Robin Hood Tax, added: “Occupy Edinburgh is a civilised response to the irresponsible actions of global bankers.”

Conservatives voiced concern over the safety of the Edinburgh camp based at St Andrew’s Square, citing anti-social behaviour and a risk to public safety. They also felt that a vote to back the movement would suggest that Edinburgh was closed to the needs of businesses.

Councillor Chapman responded: “This is not about saying Edinburgh is closed to business. It’s about representing the interests of the people.”

Background to the Occupy Movement

St Andrew’s Square has seen an influx of approximately 300 protestors since October 15 calling themselves Occupy Edinburgh. The demonstration, inspired by the Occupy Wall Street protests in America, has seen campaigners rally against the influence of the ‘one per cent’ of wealthy individuals and companies over the ’99 per cent’ of the general public. Their mantra, ‘We are people over profit’, reflects their protests against cuts to education, disability benefits and the NHS. Dozens of students, working mothers, trade unionists and other campaigning groups have set up camp and made a call for social equality and corporate responsibility.

The non-violent protests in Edinburgh are among a small minority of the demonstrations which have gone smoothly with little disruption.

Council scraps environmental privatisation plans

The council has scrapped plans to outsource its environmental services to private firm Enterprise.

The move means that services such as bin collection, recycling and responsibility for public spaces including parks will remain with the council.

The decision came this afternoon after SNP councillors won a majority vote against their Liberal Democrat coalition partners who were in favour of privatisation. The SNPs were backed by both Labour and the Green Party, while the Conservatives supported the Liberal Democrats.

However, not all Liberal Democrat councillors were in favour of outsourcing. Councillor Gary Peacock was applauded by the public gallery for voting against privatisation, saying: “I believe that waste and parks should remain in the public sector”, but added that it wasn’t a decision he took lightly.

Today’s vote is seen as significant in keeping other council services out of the public sector.

During today’s debate, Councillor Burgess of the Green Party said: “The Liberal Democrat motion, if approved, would see a large proportion of council services handed over to the private sector.”

The privatisation plans alone have cost the council £3.6million over the last two years, but the council’s director of Services for Communities, Mark Turley – who last year was paid £120,513 – said that a positive vote could have saved the city £27 million at a time that serious cuts are having to be made.

Councillor Mowat of the Conservatives warned councillors before the vote: “If you vote against Enterprise, you can go and justify it to the people who lose their jobs next year.”

There are now unconfirmed reports that the vote may lead to a collapse in the Lib Dem/SNP coalition.

More background on today’s decision is available here.

New future ahead for Spain after the General Election Day?

by Natalia Rodríguez Domínguez

Mariano Rajoy, new president of Spanish Goverment

Will Spanish General Election results mark the beginning of a new era for the country to get over its worst-ever economic crisis?

This year’s elections have been dominated by Spain’s deepest debt crisis. In his victory speech, Mariano Rajoy, new President of the Spanish Government stated: “There won’t be any miracles. We never promised any”. However, despite the seriousness of the current situation, he also expressed his optimism: “As we have said before, when things are done properly, the results come in.”
 

Rajoy has encouraged all Spanish citizens to join together and act as a whole nation in order to fight against the crisis and try to restore Spain’s financial health. His advice is to work as a unit and try to gain back respect in Europe.

Last Sunday, 20th November, Spain’s Conservative Popular Party won overwhelming victory over the then-ruling Socialist Party, which suffered its worst defeat since the start of Spanish Democracy. The Popular Party won about 45% of the votes (10,830,693) while the Socialists received only 29% (6,973,880).

The landslide victory of opposition leader Mariano Rajoy meant that his Popular Party won 186 seats in parliament, compared with the 154 they had in the last administration. As far as the Socialists are concerned, their party dropped from 169 to 110 – their worst performance in parliament since records began. The Socialist Party, which has governed in Spain since 2004, had no choice but to concede to a crushing defeat.

As the final report for the count of votes was revealed, many citizens have expressed their indignation against the method traditionally used for allocating the lower house seats in Spain.

The D’Hondt method is party-list system based on proportional representation, it was first conceived by the Belgian mathematician Victor D’Hondt, in 1878. This system slightly favours large parties and coalitions over small parties regardless of the number of votes. This means that parties with the highest number of votes do not necessarily get the most seats.

In the case of Spain’s latest General Elections, the use of this method has meant that UPyD Centre Party only won 5 seats at the Parliament despite having received 1,140,242 votes. Whilst other parties with less votes have been allocated a higher number of seats; AMAIUR Party was voted by 333,628 people, but thanks to the D’Hondt Method, they won 7 seats (2 over UPyD).

The voting system has come under scrutiny from the Spanish public with critics claiming the old system is undemocratic. Pressure is mounting to adopt a new method, which gives a fairer representation of seats, based on the number of votes cast.

Court hears phone abuse evidence in murder case

A millionaire made infuriated threats in an enraged phone call to his brother, Toby, hours before Toby was killed, the high court heard.

Later that day, Toby Siddique, 38, was murdered in his flat on Forres Drive in Glenrothes on October 25 2010. His brother, Mo Siddiq, 34, was charged with murder and conspiracy to murder last year. The accused, Mo Siddique, was arrested under suspicion of hiring assassins. Two Bulgarian men, Tencho Andonov, 28, and Nikolov, 27, were accused of carrying out the murder.

The third brother Aleem Siddique, 40, gave evidence this week. Yesterday he told the high court that his brother had made a phone call to him after a dispute about a BMW. Mo said, “I’ll hit him.”

Advocate depute John Scullion, prosecuting, then read out his statement from October 2010 recounting the same phone call. “He’s not my brother blah, blah, blah, I’ll kill him.”

Much discussion followed on the similarity of the words “hit” and “kill” in Punjabi. At one point the judge stepped in, telling Siddique that he was right to object to the prosecution’s ‘confusing’ questions.

He said, “It’s a bit of a coincidence that the police have noted down the translation of the similar word in Punjabi that is the word for kill?”

Mr Scullion said, “I’m asking you about how the words came to be on that page. Is it your evidence on oath that the police who noted this statement simply made up these words?”

Aleem said, “I’m not saying the police officer lied but I did not say those words. Whatever happened on the 26th, the mistake is the police officer’s, the mistake is not mine.”

Derek Ogg QC, defence for, then asked “Do you feel in a difficult position coming to court with one brother murdered and one accused?”

In tears, Mr Siddique replied, “I just want justice, that’s all that matters”.

He agreed with Mr Ogg that “you would not tell lies for Mo but wont tell lies against him either”.

The examination went on to reveal that it seemed the accused had been sleeping on the night of the murder, when the witness woke him up. He said he had to repeat the news a couple of times to Mo who “didn’t register”.

The court heard that Mo was “in shock” and crying when both brothers visited their widowed sister-in-law’s house immediately to pay their respects.

Ogg then focussed on inheritance motives. “Did Toby’s wife say things to you about her suspicions that each brother had a will that would inherit the other brother if they died? She told me Mo would get everything.

“You asked Mo if he stood to gain. At Toby’s house you had been constantly told gossip by… I need you to say the words.”

Aleem Siddique said, “His wife and mother.”

The trial continues.

Spain learns to grow a moustache

Despite the fact that Spain was the first country where Movember was exported from Australia, the campaign has had limited public support.

Movember’s aim is to raise much needed funds and awareness for men’s health issues, specifically prostate cancer and male depression. The international campaign responsible for thousands of men around the world sporting moustaches for a month is now in its eighth year. The collected money is invested on the Global Action Project which is an investigation on prostate cancer.

Today, official campaigns are run in Australia, New Zealand, US, Canada, the UK, Finland, the Netherlands, Spain, South Africa, Ireland and the Czech Republic. All these countries share the same goal, to increase male health awareness around the world. However, the number of men taking part differs throughout these countries. Spain holds last position in the number of Movember registrations with 1,101, which is 239,279 less than Canada, who have the highest numbers taking part.

Jaime Lanza, Spanish Movember coordinator, explains why Spain falls behind in participation, “In Spain there is too much disinformation, we do not distinguish between Foundations, NGO’s, Associations or Collectives. Moreover, we are Latins so we have distrust established in our genes. When it is time to put money in a money box, suspicions appear due to tremendous Spanish corruption cases held by politicians and charitable institutions. However, Spain is always very supportive of other causes such as disasters caused by inclemency of the weather (like the Indonesian tsunami or the Chilean earthquake).”

As Jaime Lanza confesses, “Spanish Movember is looking more for the increase of awareness rather than for donations themselves.” That is the first step in making more moustaches grow around Spain. Then the Spanish campaign can become stronger year after year.

Jaime also thinks there could be another reason for this, “Spain could not register its own website until this year. We are the only Latin country with an official campaign, so translations, banks agreements and other things differ from the rest of the countries”.

Juan Garcia, one of the Spanish participants, talks about his own experience as a part of Movember: “I knew about this campaign in my work. A work-mate had the idea to take part in it and some members of staff and myself decided to join him. It is enjoyable; it is the first time that I have let my moustache grow. It is also nice to feel support from people. Nevertheless, the most important fact is the work that Movember does and the feeling that you are part of it.”

National strikes row continues

On November 30, the largest series of strikes in UK history are set to take place.

They will involve over 25 different unions around the country including UNISON, Unite, NUS and EIS. The Trades Union Congress’(TUC) website states that their Day of Action could potentially attract up to 3 million workers in the walkout.

The unions have come out in anger about the government’s plans to renegotiate pensions. Under the new proposals, public sector workers will pay more towards their pensions, work longer, and receive less when they retire.

This strike action has attracted unions historically unwilling to walk out, including the Association of Headteachers and Deputies in Scotland. The National Association of Probation Officers are also on the list and they have only gone on strike twice in the past 100 years.

The government has warned that the strikes on Wednesday could cost the country £500m and lead to job losses. The unions responded to these claims by accusing the government of “fantasy economics.” The general secretary of the TUC, Brendan Barber, has said that the government is using public sector workers as scapegoats for the country’s economic problems.

The strikes were announced shortly after the government stated they were making concessions to the Unions, exempting public sector workers within 10 years of retirement, from these changes. The unions are unhappy with the government’s lack of flexibility.

Student walkouts, encouraged by the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts, are also planned for next Wednesday.  The collective protests mean the number of people on the streets is likely to be more than 3 million.

These demonstrations are likely to cause school closures, disrupt NHS services, border agencies, waste collection and universities.

Finland says farewell to the Markka

"The Euro: what 'value' a currency?"

Before leaving Scotland a friend handed over some old Finnish markka,
challenging me to see if I could “still use them.”

In truth the Finnish markka ceased to be legal tender in 2002. Finland adopted the euro when entering the Eurozone in 1999, and is still the only Scandinavian country to have embraced the single currency.

My only option, then, is to get them changed.  On a day when the euro crisis has deepened, and Nokia Siemens Networks has been forced to announce cutting a quarter of its workforce,  I show the 240 Finnish markaas, including two big green notes depicting the composer Sibelius to Jenni, the teller at Forex Bank.  She looks surprised to see them. “You want to get rid of them,” she advises, adding that from next year nowhere will take them, even the Finnish National Bank.  “Are the Finns sad about that?” I ask.  “No” she says instantly.

“With everything that’s been going on in the Eurozone, do Finnish people want their old currency back?” I ask, adding, “are you fed up of the euro?” Jenni’s smile falters.  She looks at me as if I am stupid.  “No, why?” she asks.

Her reaction will be a disappointment to Timo Soini, the outspoken leader of the far-right party True Finns, who made surprising gains in last year’s election.  Soini is an outspoken critic of the EU, and has since voiced his desire to run for the presidency.  He takes credit as attempts to derail the bailouts of Portugal and Greece.

Every Finn I speak to seems embarrassed by the True Finns.  “Finland is a Social Democratic country, like the rest of Scandinavia,” Taisto Oksanen, 47, a well-known Finnish actor tells me. “But in the last ten years we’ve seen that erode.  We didn’t have too much of a class divide before, but since the Euro some people have got very rich, and a few hundred thousand people have just dropped into poverty. Our education and social welfare has been damaged.   The old parties were seen as corrupt and in with business, so I think people voted for the True Finns for change.  But it’s happening all over Europe – people are voting for those that blame the immigrants.  Look at Spain.  It is history repeating.”

“True Finns are very conservative, want the Finnish markka back and to kind of isolate Finland from the rest of Europe.  I don’t know how the support packages will actually help the citizens and I think that the banks should also take some responsibility for all of this.” says International Business student Milka Tanskanen, 21. “ I was ten years old when we started to use Euro in Finland, so I don’t actually have any real experience of the Finnish mark.”

“The old notes were nice,” Oksanen tells me.  “The euro, the note, doesn’t mean anything to me.  It has less ‘value’.”

 

Edinburgh Napier’s Christmas gift guide

Vintage box sets £10 each

The Christmas season is upon us and the inevitable Christmas shop is sure to bamboozle even the most organised shopper. Enter Napier News‘ essential Christmas gift guide: a selection of unique gift ideas all available locally with personal recommendations and top tips from those in the know.

For the health conscious…

Head to Napiers herbalists on Bristo Place where you will find pampering treats with their excellent range of his and her skin care products. Made using only the finest natural ingredients, we’re recommending the facial box sets that include a facial wash, toner and moisturising cream, guaranteed to give you that winter glow. Coming in at £45 each, these beautifully packaged sets are sure to be a hit on Christmas morning.

Also available are Napier’s vintage gift sets based on traditional remedies that include a hot toddy and ginger cordial mix perfect for warming up even the coldest winter evening.  After the decadence of the festive season, refresh and replenish with the Weekend Off detox box, a herbel supplement that helps to balance the body and keep you healthy.

10% student discount available. |  Find out more at: http://www.napiers.net/

Pocket hot water bottles only £5 each!

For the perfect stocking filler…

Available at Halibut and Herring, keep your hands cosy on those long winter walks with a range of pocket hot water bottles in a wide range of designs. At only £5 each, these wooly winter warmers are a steal!

Or how about a handmade selection of Christmas charms from Rosie Brown? From snowflakes to Christmas puddings, these individually crafted charms are perfect for updating bracelets and necklaces. An engraving service is also available to add the personal touch. Give that special someone the perfect Christmas gift with a love letter charm. These delicate silver discs can be engraved with a personal message as the ultimate token of love.

Pop in store:  Both Rosie Brown and Halibut and Herring are located on Bruntsfield Place  |    15% off available at Rosie Brown’s Christmas evening with mulled wine and mine pies on 30th November. 6-9pm. |  Find out more at: http://www.halibutandherring.co.uk/ and http://rosiebrownjewellery.com/

Pig out with this festive feast at £10.99

For the chocolate lover…

The Harvest Garden is a chocaholic’s haven of indulgent and original edible treats. Play a game of chocolate draughts after Christmas dinner or for an alternative take out, feast upon gourmet chocolate pizza made from Belgian milk chocolate, creamy vanilla fudge pieces, chunky pieces of chocolate brownie biscuit and topped with white chocolate curls.

Pop in store: 58- 60 Morningside Road |  Find out more at: theharvestgarden.co.uk |

Human dignity film festival

Sam Rockwell as a lonely employee in 'Moon'

This weekend Edinburgh Filmhouse is posing the ethical question: what is human dignity?

The Biomedical Ethics film festival, now in its seventh year, will show five different films from November 25 – 27. The three-day event explores the complexities of human ethics, specifically examining the many facets of our conception of human dignity.

Director of Research, for the Scottish Council on Human Bioethics and Festival co-ordinator, Dr Calum MacKellar explained this year’s theme: “It is very difficult to explain what human dignity really represents. The film festival will seek to clarify some of the different aspects of the concept with a number of films that all reflect important characteristics of human dignity.”

Rod White, Head of Programming, Edinburgh Filmhouse said: “The power of film to provoke debate and aid further understanding of the issues that face us all today is very much one of our core beliefs and programming principles here at Filmhouse. The films chosen this year all feed, from varying angles, into different aspects of the festival’s theme this year, Human Dignity.”

Films to be screened include: Project Nim, The Elephant Man, Moon, Iris and Shooting Dogs.

After each screening the viewers will have the opportunity to discuss the issues  raised by the films with the audience and a panel of invited experts in bioethics, law, philosophy and politics.

Fans protest BBC Radio 1 cuts

David Moffatt Photographer at Moff@ Photography

Musicians and music fans gathered on a rainy Sunday to protest the cancelling of a Radio 1 show championing new Scottish music.

Glasgow’s Pacific Quay played host to the protesters who illustrated their point with Scottish musicians playing their music to show the BBC what they would be missing.

The campaign began back in October when the BBC announced further budget cuts which would include axing Radio 1′s ‘Introducing in Scotland’ hosted by Ally McCrae. The remit of the show and its sister shows in Wales and Northern Ireland, is to introduce audiences to the latest in local music. The show has helped launch the careers of Biffy Clyro and Paolo Nutini. Without these programmes protesters believe that regional music will be given limited air time.

Front man for Scottish band Frightened Rabbit, Scott Hutchison, explained the importance of the show to new Scottish music, “I think it would be a travesty if the show is cut from the BBC radio schedule in Scotland. For over 10 years, the show has been an invaluable and irreplaceable platform for new and established Scottish bands. It serves to breed an essential community within Scottish music and scrapping this show would reinforce the popular fallacy that the industry does not exist outwith London”

The campaign has also gained the backing of MSP Joan McAlpine who said, “The Campaign to save Radio Six Music was successful but The Pop Cop has gathered more signatures per head of population in Scotland with a lot less publicity, which shows the strength of feeling. The BBC really needs to listen to that message and save the sound of young Scotland. This is the only Scottish opt out on Radio One, so dropping it is just unfair. “

McAlpine has already gained cross party support in the Scottish Parliament for a motion in support of the show.

Music blogger, the Pop Cop and gig promoter, Pelmet Nites have gathered over 6,000 signatures for an online petition which is expected to be delivered to the BBC in London by the campaigners themselves in mid December.

Average is sexy

Many people have always believed that guys have to be not only handsome and smart but also tall to be successful in reproduction.

Average is the new Sexy

However, a new study from the Netherlands shows that it is not the tallest men that have the most children, but rather men who have an average height of about 177 cm (5 feet 9).

Gert Stulp and his team from the University of Groningen examined data from highschool-graduates from Wisconsin in the US. All people in the study had finished their ‘reproductive career’ and had graduated from school in the 1950s. They found that “average height men attained the highest reproductive success as measured by the number of children ever born”.

“Sounds right.”, says David, a 23-year old worker who wishes not to give his full name. “It’s probably due to natural selection. Women probably choose the guys on a subconscious level and like average height more.”

“Average is beautiful. I mean, most people like average faces because they have a bit of everything  and everyone in them and why should it be different for height?”, says Chris P.  a Phd student in biomedical sciences.

But it’s not just a black and white story. Tall and short men shouldn’t worry about their lack of future children just because those of average height seem to be the most reproductively successful. Education and money also influence the number of children men have and at what age they have them, say Stulp and his collegues. The more educated men are, the later they marry and have children and the fewer children they are likely to have. But the greater the income, the earlier they tend to marry and reproduce.

“Taking education into account makes it slightly more believable. I mean, I’m 28 and I’m neither married nor do I have kids and I think I’m average height. But I’m in full education and obviously don’t have an income.  That’s perhaps why.”, says Tom B. an engineering student.

But inevitably, who knows what makes women and men tick. So, don’t worry too much about finding someone to reproduce with: there’s a suitable partner out there for everyone.

How to avoid cold weather football injuries

Snoods: Warm clothes like these help prevent injuries.


Frost is harsh to football grounds and players in Scotland alike,
with an increase in the amount of sports-related injuries.

When the pitches in Scotland start to freeze you are more likely than ever to pull a muscle or two.

According to Kirsty Smith, owner of Leith Sports Clinic, hobby footballers can take simple steps to prevent injuries during the cold period.

“Do a proper warm up beforehand, a couple laps of pitch, then dynamic stretches, and a cool down followed by static stretches. Muscles that are not warmed up properly are not ready to be stretched, especially in the dynamic, ballistic way muscles are used in football.”

Smith added that when your body is cold, “extra time for a warm up may be needed. Also, frozen pitches can be hazardous for studs sticking, so more ankle injuries are possible.”

What should you do if you have injured yourself?

“Come off pitch. Ice the area. Apply compression bandage if available. Elevate if possible,” said Smith.

These three first aid steps are applicable for any leg or foot injury of any degree.  If the injury is serious, go to the hospital, if not go home.

Second sexual attack takes place in the Meadows

A second sexual assault has taken place on the Meadows,
only a week after a similar attack was reported.

The second attack took place on Tuesday November 22nd between 6:50 and 7pm, alongside the Meadows tennis courts. The 21 year-old victim was running alongside the courts when she was forced to the ground by a male assailant, who then sexually assaulted her.

However, she was able to fight him off, and the suspect was seen to disappear towards Buccleuch Street. He was described in a Lothian and Borders police statement as being 5ft 10ins tall, around 30 and dark-skinned, possibly Indian in appearance. He was wearing a grey hooded top and appeared to be clean-shaven.

This second attack comes almost exactly a week after a 19 year-old woman was attacked by two men near Melville Drive. Police are not treating the assaults as being linked, but have considered  it as a possibility.

A police press officer  said that no new information had been released, and  “inquiries are still ongoing” for both incidents.

A statement from Lothian and Borders police said  there”will be a continued police presence in the Meadows to provide reassurance to the public.”

A candlelit vigil has been organised by Reclaim The Night Edinburgh, and will begin in Bristo Square at 7pm. Following this, there will be a 2.2 mile march around the streets of Edinburgh. The march is due to pass through Grassmarket, Cowgate and then back up the Royal Mile, before returning to Bristo Square.

Representatives from several charities will make speeches following the march, though the identities of these speakers has not yet been confirmed.

Suzi Compton, who has been responsible for organising the event, explained that the march had been planned prior to the Meadow’s assaults and that they were not the direct reason behind tonight’s event. However, she added that these attacks  had “given [the event] greater relevance.”

The message in Freddie Mercury’s silence

World Aid Day raises awareness around the globe. Photo: Courtesy UNAIDS

“Goodbye everybody – I’ve got to go, gotta leave you all behind and face the truth.”

These are some of the lines from one of the most famous songs in music history and looking back they seem hauntingly accurate. The song, written by Freddie Mercury, reached number one for the second time in 1991, staying there for five weeks following his death.

Mercury was a larger than life character and shocked the world by publicly announcing he was HIV positive one day before he died.

The legendary icon died at 45, from a type of bacterial pneumonia brought on by AIDS. He died in London, 20 years ago. Mercury is still well known for his flamboyant stage presence, powerful vocals and talented songwriting that has inspired millions.

With the anniversary of his death today, and the upcoming World AIDS Day next week, there are even more reports and research being published to raise awareness of the virus.

The purpose of World AIDS Day is to remind people around the world of the HIV and AIDS epidemic. It has been 30 years since AIDS was first reported, and it is estimated that today 34 million people are living with HIV around the globe.

World AIDS Day 2011 has a ‘looking forward’ theme with a focus on 2015.  The organisation, UNAIDS, which is a joint United Nations programme on HIV and AIDS, is leading the campaign with what they call ‘Getting to Zero’. The organisation claims “we have three main targets which are: zero new infections, zero discrimination and zero AIDS related deaths by 2015”.

UNAIDS is promoting a “smarter, faster, better campaign” to raise awareness of these targets. They may seem ambitious but with the global statistics of HIV and AIDS decreasing it might not be  impossible.

The total number of Scots with HIV is now 6,845 with 72% made up of males and 28% females. The main spread of HIV is mainly due to drug use and the sharing of needles and syringes.

The Scottish charity, Positive Help, has created services to help those who are affected by HIV and AIDS in the Edinburgh area. They provide a transport service, home support service and a children and young people befriending system. The befriending system is aimed at children from three to eighteen who are HIV positive, or have parents that are.

Angus Mackenzie from the charity claims, “the befriending system is very helpful to both children and teenagers, but also their parents.”

“There was one little boy we took to a festival and his reaction was just mind blowing, as if he’d never seen anything like it before.”

One of the biggest issues with HIV and AIDS is the embarrassment and taboo that still surrounds the virus toady. Mercury himself remained silent about his illness until one day before it killed him. Many suffer discrimination and feel restrictions in relationships with friends and family. This is what the befriending systems aims to prevent.

Despite the advances in life expectancy, Positive Help claims that those influenced by HIV still suffer physically, mentally and socially. Mental health issues are a problem with the virus as it can lead to ill health, depression, isolation and agoraphobia.

Freddie certainly gave us Somebody to Love

A scene from the musical 'We Will Rock You'

Hit West End show, We Will Rock You, comes to Edinburgh
to commemorate the 20th anniversary of Freddie Mercury’s death.

The Queen frontman died an untimely death 20 years ago today. His death came one day after publicly announcing that he had Aids and asking fans to join him in his fight against the deadly virus. His anniversary coincides with the opening of ‘We Will Rock You’ at the Edinburgh Playhouse on Monday, November 29, 2011. The sell-out production will rock Edinburgh for six weeks. The performance is directed by Ben Elton with Brian May and Roger Taylor supervising music. On the opening of the production, Brian May said: “People will definitely come out of the theatre feeling that in a strange way they now know us, Queen, our struggle and our journey.”

Based on a fantastical story, Ben Elton explained: “We take the legend of Queen and create our own fantastical story of young kids battling the mighty corporations who want to suppress their individuality and their love of music. They need a hero who can help them in their struggle, and we have two – the dreamer Galileo and the sassy rock chick Scaramouche. Guess who ends up winning?”

One of Mercury’s most famous quotes, “I’m not going to be a rock star, I’m going to be a legend” certainly rings true today.  His music with Queen is still considered to be some of the greatest ever made, earning him his coveted legend status. His flamboyant routines and outrageous costumes entertained fans for decades. Mercury undoubtedly proved his dedication to his fans when he continued to entertain them, worldwide, while battling his illness. Belting out well known hits such as Bohemian Rhapsody, Another one Bites the Dust and Don’t stop me now, he carved his name into the heart of the music industry.

To celebrate the opening, a Gala event will be held on December 1, 2011 in the Edinburgh Playhouse. Held to raise funds for the Mercury Phoenix Trust, it will feature a special appearance from Queen legend Brain May. The Trust was founded in 1992 by Brian May and Roger Taylor, together with Queen manager Jim Beach. Since the establishment of the trust, it has raised over $15 million to contribute more than 750 grants to Aids charities worldwide.

December 1, will also mark World Aids day. It helps people living with the disease and commemorates those whose lives it took.  Brain May said: “I am really excited to be taking part in the show in Edinburgh, it’s always so much fun and a fantastic atmosphere and to know we are raising money for the Mercury Phoenix Trust is the icing on the cake.”

Tickets are still available for ‘We Will Rock You’ playing in Edinburgh Playhouse. For more information visit http://www.edinburghplayhouse.org.uk/prod-productions_details.asp?pid=2396&VenueID=93

Salmond “scared of separation”

Iain Gray used today’s First Minister’s Questions to corner Alex Salmond over his refusal to name a date for Scotland’s referendum on independence, accusing the First Minister of being “scared of separation”.

In typical First Ministers’ Questions style, Mr Salmond responded in kind by accusing the Labour leader of being “frightened of the concept of independence.”

The Labour leader urged Mr Salmond to “steady the ship and decide a date for the referendum,” after a week of bickering between Holyrood and Westminster, which saw Finance Secretary John Swinney accuse the UK Government of “becoming ever more hysterical” over the issue of independence.

The First Minister confirmed that the referendum would take place in the second half of the SNP’s current term in parliament, as set out during the party’s election campaign earlier this year, but refused to confirm a specific date.

Mr Gray said: “The longer this goes on, the more it looks as if Alex Salmond is trying to rig the referendum to get the results he wants.

“He always puts party before principal and isn’t that why he can’t name a date?”

Mr Salmond responded by saying: “Some people in the Labour party actually recognise that they lost the election and have to accept the mandate of the Scottish people.”

He added: “Westminster should keep out of the referendum and not meddle.

“It would be insulting and contemptuous for the Scottish people for Westminster to get involved.”

The First Minister went on to say that a number of opinion polls are showing increasing and substantial support for an independent Scotland. He reminded the main chamber that the SNP were re-elected with “a massive majority” six months ago on the basis of their promise to hold a referendum.

He went on to express concerns that the UK Treasury was not keeping the Scottish Government properly informed about the impact the euro will have on the Scottish economy. The Chancellor, George Osborne, is yet to respond to John Swinney’s request that economy-boosting measures are included in the Treasury’s autumn statement, including an increase in capital spending.

This week in sport

Edinburgh Napier News Sports podcast for Thursday 24th November

Scotland's route to Brazil 2014 announced. Photo: SFA

Scotland’s World Cup qualifying fixtures announced, a discussion of Celtic’s Gordan Strachan approach, analysis of Hibs’ managerial search and Six Nations TV news.

Listen Here;


Champions League Round-Up

Comprehensive coverage of all big games in this week’s UEFA Champions League.

Listen Here;


“Chinese Army” couldn’t grit Edinburgh

Central areas like the mound are being gritted, but will they go far enough?

A local Councillor has described Edinburgh’s attempt to keep the city’s streets safe during the winter season as “impossible for the Council to do, even if they got the Chinese army.”

The comments come as local residents raise concerns about the availability and distribution of grit as predictions of a harsh winter loom. Last year grit bins ran out of salt and members of the public were forced to buy their own or stay in their houses.

Councillor Norman Work, vice-convenor of Health and Social Care, has taken a controversial stance on the issue of whose responsibility it is for gritting Edinburgh’s roads.

Last year, he angered many Edinburgh residents when he said: “A lot of people think the Council should clear the pavements, but I think residents and shopkeepers should do it – unless you’re 90 years old. This is no time for laziness: why not clear your own pavement?

“I remember when people used to clear the pavements outside their own property.”

This year, he is again urging individuals to be more proactive. “People think the council’s going to come and dig their car out of their driveway.”

“If you’re able, get a shovel and help.”

The Council are setting up a scheme for members of the public to register as volunteers to help with the gritting.

Councillor Work said he would pitch in: “I’ve got a pair of wellies – I’ll get out and help.”

Yet he did promise that “there is more money” going towards gritting this year, with the Council having bought more bins and holding open discussions with local residents to improve on last year’s problems.

Suggested strategies include adapting vehicles to have shovels, and dumping builders’ bags of grit onto pavements to supplement the shortage of bins.

However,  Work pointed out bureaucratic issues in the system. “Health and safety is preventing the workers who bring the grit to replenish the bins. They bring it, then they can’t walk on the pavement.”

Grit poachers also undermine the Council’s efforts. “Sometimes the Council fill [the bins] and people come and steal it to sell on privately,”  Work added.

Distribution and restocking of bins are becoming an increasingly worrying issues for community members.

Gorgie and Dalry was identified as an area with a worryingly small number of salt or grit bins which are allocated unevenly. On Ardmillan Terrace there are two bins, but between there and Haymarket – a distance of two miles – there are no bins, while there are none at all north of Dalry Road.

Rona Brown, Secretary of the Community Council, said: “We shouldn’t have to wait for an accident to happen”.

Local resident Angela Astor expressed concern that they would run out, saying: “There definitely isn’t enough grit in the bins right now to last the winter.” She also claimed people have been urinating on the material making it impossible or difficult to use.

Chair of the local community council Maria Kelly said: “There is concern that the council is trying to dump salt responsibility on the neighbourhood community council.” She requested more salt bins last month, but has not received an acknowledgement from the Council.

The Council website has a map of bin distribution available here. They also invite requests for relocating bins.

Students hold further protests over fees

Edinburgh University was the scene of student protests yesterday. Those involved are demanding that the university reverse its decision to implement £9000 fees for non-Scottish students.

 The march was organised by the EUSA and the Edinburgh University Anti-Cuts Coalition, and took place yesterday at 12.30pm. Students marched from Holyrood along the Royal Mile to the Scotland Office on Melville Street, with police closing Lothian Road in order to allow the protestors through.

Around 150 people are believed to have attended. The Anti-Cuts Coalition told Napier News that students were also “coming in on buses from Aberdeen, St Andrews and Glasgow” in order to take part.

Following the demonstration, a number of students took to the George Square Lecture Theatre at around 9pm, and proceeded to occupy part of the building, with reports emerging that there were around 27 people present.

The Anti-Cuts Coalition announced on Twitter that they would be leaving the building before lectures were due to start today, meaning that there would be no need for the University to alter classrooms or timetables.

A number of similar demonstrations and occupations took place all over the UK yesterday. Occupations took place at York, Birmingham, Goldsmiths and Warwick universities.

Several speeches were made at the end of the Edinburgh march, from Robin Parker, the president of NUS Scotland, and Matt McPherson, the president of the EUSA.

Mr Parker said, “Ultimately these fees are the responsibility of the regressive educational policies of the Westminster Government, and the Scottish Liberal Democrat MP’s who went back on their promises have to take ultimate responsibility.”

“Students from the rest of the UK will potentially be paying more than £36,000 for a degree in Scotland from next year. This is more than the maximum allowed in England, if you take the huge numbers from down south who attend Edinburgh and St Andrews into account.”

“And unlike in other parts of the UK, there are no requirements in Scotland for institutions to have a minimum bursary level for poorer students, and no independent regulation to ensure transparency for students about what additional support is on offer.”
However, Edinburgh University have claimed that they are introducing the most generous bursary package available to English, Welsh and Northern Irish students who come to study in Scotland.
Professor Mary Bownes has previously announced that, “From the total resources available to the University, we intend to create a bursary scheme of £6.7 million for RUK students. We are also planning to use investment income to fund a significant number of new access and accommodation bursaries a year for Scottish-domiciled students.”
The Anti-Cuts Coalition announced to Napier News that they are “planning a feeder march from Edinburgh University to the Scottish Trades Union Council (STUC)” on November 30, in order to show solidarity with public sector workers. The STUC protest is due to begin at the Usher Hall.

Singer backs Sky Arts futures fund

Belle and Sebastian singer, Stuart Murdoch, will front a seminar at Creative Scotland tomorrow. The event is in support of a £30,000 arts fund, available for three lucky artists.

The fund is from Sky Arts in association with non-profit organisation, IdeasTap. In addition to the substantial bursary, the winners will also receive mentoring to aid in the development of  their practice and career over a year. The project’s aim is to support young people in the arts today, by bridging the gap between formal education and working as an independent facing financial restrictions and lacking creative support.

Applications are welcomed from artists aged 18-30, based in the UK and Ireland, who have an idea for a creative project. Forms of submissions can range from dance to theatre and music to art. Each applicant will propose how the Sky Arts fund can help to take their work to a next level.

The seminar will feature a live Q&A session with Murdoch, who will talk about his career and establishing himself in the industry. Murdoch will also offer advice about working in the arts. This will be followed by a panel of the fund’s staff members, who will answer questions about applying for the fund.

Opera director Daisy Evans, 24, was one of the winners of the first round of applications. Her submission was a ‘Silent Opera’ production, in which she uses live vocals and pre-recorded music heard through mobile headphones. “When they told me I had won I felt like my heart had dropped out,” she said. “This is a huge opportunity and if people are considering applying then they really need to believe that they have something worth speaking about and that people want to hear. The doors are there to be opened – just open them.”

The 24 year old Opera lover also had some advice for potential applicants: “My advice for people applying in this round is to be really passionate about your own idea.”

Applications for round two are now open.

Bookings for the seminar are still available at: http://www.ideastap.com/IdeasMag/all-articles/Sky-Arts-Ignition-Futures-Fund-Seminars/booking and is free.

Cricket in a right old ‘fix’

Salman Butt. Photo: courtesy AFP

Disgraced former Pakistan Captain Salman Butt and promising 19-year-old sensation, Mohammad Amir, lost their appeals yesterday when the Lord Chief Justice dismissed their claims of disproportionate sentencing in the Lord’s spot fixing case.

On November 3, Pakistan’s Butt, Amir and Mohammad Asif were convicted of spot fixing and sentenced to prison. Butt was given a 30 month sentence and Amir was charged to spend six months at a youth correctional facility. The bookie, Mazhar Majeed, was handed a sentence of 2 years and 8 months.

Asif, who is facing a one-year sentence, is also scheduled to appear. Balham Chambers, a London-based lawyer will be representing him. Unlike his fellow disgraced teammates though, Asif is appealing against the conviction itself.

The Incident

During the course of the fourth and final test match between England and Pakistan, at Lord’s from 26-29 August, it was proved that Butt influenced Asif and Amir to bowl no-balls to signal to Majeed that ‘everything was going according to plan’

Had he not been caught, Butt’s pocket would have been ₤150,000 heavier.

Deadly Impact

Any illegal activity in sport is disastrous, let alone players accepting money to underperform. They represent their country when on the field.  Is ₤150,000 enough justification to betray one’s motherland?

At a time when the International Cricket Council (ICC) is looking to widen the reach of cricket around the globe, the poison of match fixing is the last thing they want. As seen by the misdemeanor of the Pakistani trio, something as small as a no-ball has caused widespread havoc: young talents ruined; old cases dug up; fingers pointed; administrations in uproar. Would someone new want to pursue a sport in such malady?

And what of the loyalists?

The thrill of watching a ‘good game’ is now diluted with persecuting doubts. ‘Wait, this is too spectacular. Could it have been fixed? they wonder.  ‘Can I ever watch a game without being paranoid?’

But it is the players who are true to the game who bear the worst impact of match fixing.

They adhere to rigorous training, tackle overwhelming pressure and display inspiring human toughness to bring glory to their country. But instead of the recognition they deserve, their efforts are rubbished in one simple phrase: ‘Oh, it’s obviously been fixed!’

Change in attitude

Cricket is already suffering from a lack of fan involvement. People are starting to prefer the comfort of their homes to the excitement of the stadiums. Add in the needless Umpire Decision Referral System (UDRS) controversy and the ICC has more than enough on its plate already without having the bane of match fixing threatening to destroy the credibility of the sport.

Punishments and procedures can only go so far in curbing cricket’s worst illness, as seen from previous cases (Salim Malik’s life ban being removed, Marlon Samuels’ light sentence). The incentive is on the players themselves to resist temptation and it isn’t that hard. All one needs to do is remember the pride of wearing the national crest to spit in its face.

Wanting a little extra on the side doesn’t give anyone the right to cheat.

What’s happening in Edinburgh this week – Top 5

By Gemma McCallan

5

Design and Democracy Art Exhibition – starts Friday 25 November 2011, The Scottish Parliament

16 graduates from Scotland’s four renowned art schools have collaborated to create an exhibition. ‘Design and Democracy’ will showcase how inspired design can be both life enhancing and creative. Designs range from photographic presentation, model store fronts, products designed for a specific use and innovative graphic design.  The exhibition aims to demonstrate that design can improve the way we live.

Entrance is free. For more information see http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/newsandmediacentre/44405.aspx

4

Beauty and the Beast – starts Friday, November 25, 2011, Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh

The Lyceum Theatre will play host to the classic tale, Beauty and the Beast, this weekend. This performance tells the story of a merchant who stumbles across a castle and angers the beast who lives within. The merchant promises to return, or send his daughter Beauty in his place. Beauty must first face the terrible monster before they gradually become friends and prove that love conquers all. This is a treat for the whole family.

Tickets start from £18 for adults and are available on https://bookings.lyceum.org.uk/WebPages/EntaWebShow/ShowList.aspx

3

My Week with Marilyn – Showing from Friday, November 25, 2011, Cameo Picture House

Michelle Williams plays one of Hollywood’s icons, Marilyn Monroe, in this biographical film. Based on two books by Colin Clarke, the film focuses on a week in 1965 when Monroe travelled to Britain. She was on her honeymoon with new husband, Arthur Miller. When Miller leaves the country, Clarke takes on the task of entertaining Monroe. Throughout their week together, Monroe escapes Hollywood life and the pressures that go with it.

http://www.picturehouses.co.uk/cinema/Cameo_Picturehouse/film/My_Week_With_Marilyn/

2

The Saw Doctors – Saturday, November 26, 2011,The HMV Picture House, Edinburgh

Irish band, the Saw Doctors, take a rare trip to Edinburgh to scatter some of their Irish charm.  With hits such as I Useta Love Her and Joyce Country Ceili Band, it will be hard to resist getting to your feet and having a jive. This is a night not to be missed – but don’t forget your dancing shoes.

Tickets are available on Ticketmaster and are £24.45 each. http://www.ticketmaster.co.uk/event/360046AC9F545952?artistid=776886&majorcatid=10001&minorcatid=1

1

Rob Deerings Christmas Special – Tuesday, November 29, 2011, The Stand Comedy Club
Edinburgh’s finest comedy club provides a festive treat next Tuesday. Leading stand-up comedian, Rob Deering, offers a winning combination of music and laughter. Described as Chris Tarrent and Bill Bailey’s ‘love child’, Deering entertained Edinburgh with an unforgettable night. This year promises to be just as good. Labelled as ‘a comedy gig, a mix tape and a party’ all rolled into one, it promises to be full of festive cheer and a belly of laughs.

Ticket prices begin at £8.00 and are available to buy on http://www.thestand.co.uk/listings.aspx


Action Against Violence Towards Women

The City of Edinburgh Council and other local authorities
will be taking part in 16 Days of Action.

This event starts tomorrow and opposes violence against women. The event, which has the support of the UN, will take place from November 25 until December 10. This event comes after two sexual assaults were reported in The Meadows over the past week, bringing violence against women into the spotlight.

A “Reclaim the Night” event is set to occur tonight leaving from Bristo Square at 7.30pm in response to the recent sexual assaults and in anticipation of the 16 Days of Action, which starts tomorrow.

The event, which will be run by the Edinburgh Violence Against Women Partnership (EVAWP), aims to bring together a number of local services and charities in order to raise awareness and help the prevention of violence against women.

According to White Ribbon Scotland, a domestic violence incident is recorded every 10 minutes, and reports of domestic violence have risen by 8% since 2007. Domestic violence affects women disproportionately, with 84% of recorded incidents having a female victim and a male perpetrator. It is believed that 1 in 5 women in Scotland will experience domestic violence in their lifetime.

Rape conviction rates in Scotland are currently at an all time low of 3.7%. Added to this, in 2007, 26% of Scots surveyed believed that a woman is at least partially responsible for being raped if she wears revealing clothing.

Superintendent David Carradice of Lothian and Borders Police has stated that the police are “committed to tackling violence against women and work alongside our partner agencies to bring those responsible for violent crimes to justice, while at the same time offering all the necessary support and advice to victims.”

Scotland climate change warning

Scotland is at increasing risk from climate change,
a new report published today claims.

The report, entitled, ‘How well is Scotland preparing for climate change’, argues that there will be both benefits to Scotland, and risks. It urges the Scottish government to take action to mitigate the impact of climate change.

Some of the benefits of a warmer climate detailed in the report include: fewer winter deaths, lower demand for heating, new opportunities for tourism, and increased agricultural capacity.

At the same time, the report details a range of risks. Flooding is a risk for densely populated urban regions, while Scotland’s disparate rural community is more likely to struggle with extreme weather, if transport links and essential services are disrupted. Scotland’s population profile is increasingly ageing, and the elderly, together with groups already vulnerable to health problems in deprived communities, are both identified as less adaptable to extreme weather.

Stan Blackley, Chief Executive of Friends of the Earth Scotland, said, “With the UN climate talks starting in Durban next week, this is a timely report. At those talks, we need all of the countries in attendance to commit to serious action to reduce carbon emissions and support those who are being worst affected by the impacts of climate change.

“While we already know the devastating effects climate change is having and will increasingly have on developing countries, this report shows that climate change will also impact negatively on Scotland, and that we need to both prepare for it and mitigate against it.”

Potential economic and ecological impacts are also identified by the report. One aspect singled out for particular attention is the potential loss of peat from Scotland’s sensitive peatlands. As well as providing an important ecological environment, peatlands form a significant carbon store, the report contends.

The Adaptation Sub-Committee of the UK Committee on Climate Change, who produced the report, make a number of recommendations to the Scottish government. These include setting specific ‘adaptation outcomes’ which seek to address potential consequences from climate change. They urge greater uptake of ‘low-regret adaptation actions’, the integration of adaptation thinking into policy and decision-making, and effective collaboration with the UK national adaptation programme.

Dance against domestic abuse

Scottish Women’s Aid encourages you to put on your dancing shoes
for a good cause this Friday.

The organisation will hold a special charity ceilidh on November 25, in Edinburgh’s City Chambers. Scottish Women’s Aid celebrates its 35th anniversary with The Belle Star Ceilidh Band providing live entertainment.

This event coincides with the beginning of the 16 Days of Action campaign to raise awareness of violence against women.

The fundraiser is just one of several events to be held throughout the coming months.  Other milestones in the anniversary calendar include seminars with influential researchers and activists addressing major developments in the understanding of the issue of gender based violence over the past 35 years.

As part of their anniversary the organisation will also hold an exhibition of photographs and memorabilia at Glasgow Women’s Library from November 26 – December 10.

A spokeswoman for the charity said, “The anniversary events will place the work of Scottish Women’s Aid in its historic, social and cultural context, highlighting connections with other campaigns and other struggles for social justice. The events will look back over the history of Scottish Women’s Aid, celebrating its achievements as well as looking to the challenges that lie ahead.”

For over three decades now the organisation is battling domestic abuse and offers help to them who suffer from it. The services they provide include safe refuge accommodation as well as information and support. Their mission statement is to end violence against women by fighting gender inequality, one of the main causes resulting in abuse. In times where domestic abuse is still a taboo, Scottish Women’s Aid has been ambitiously campaigning for real change throughout the years and has established itself as an important charity organisation.

The ceilidh starts Friday, November 25 at 7.30pm in the Edinburgh City Chambers.

Prices range from £16-£20 for adults and £10 concessions for students and under 16s. All the money goes to Scottish Women’s Aid. Food and a welcome drink are also included in the ticket price.

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