Breaking news: Betting shop fire confirmed as arson

A former betting shop in Midlothian was deliberately set ablaze resulting in thousands of pounds of damage.

A group of youths were spotted on the roof of the building moments before the fire broke out on Saturday.

A group of youths were seen on the roof of the building just before the blaze broke out and police are appealing for witnesses.

Lothian and Borders Fire and Rescue Service were called to the derelict building inWoodburn Road, Dalkeith, at 9.30pm and managed to put out the flames.

A Lothian and Borders Police spokesman said: “A group of male youths were seen on the roof prior to the fire breaking out, and we are keen for any information that can help us identify them.

“Anyone who was in the area at the time, who noticed any suspicious activity, should contact police immediately. Similarly, anyone with any other information that can assist our inquiries should also get in touch.”

Anyone with any information should contact Lothian and Borders Police on 0131 311 3131 or through Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111

Breaking News: Three men found guilty over shooting that left 5-year-old girl paralysed

Three men have been convicted at the Old Bailey over a shooting in a south London shop which left a five-year-old girl paralysed.

Thusha Kamaleswaran was shot in the chest and Roshan Selvakumar, 35, was shot in the face at Stockwell Food and Wine in Brixton shop last March.

Nathaniel Grant, Kazeem Kolawole and Anthony McCalla were convicted of grievous bodily harm with intent.

The men were also found guilty of the attempted murder of Roshaun Bryan.

The court heard the gunmen were trying to shoot someone else when the two innocent victims got caught in the crossfire.

Prosecutor Edward Brown QC told jurors: “The reality of this shooting may be that, whilst there was an intention to kill the suspected rival gang member, the gunman and his accomplices couldn’t have cared less if someone else was shot too.”

Thusha’s heart stopped twice before doctors were able to save her. She has spent most of the last year in hospital and doctors say she will never walk again.

Breaking news: Two British soldiers shot dead in Afghanistan

The Defence Secretary has confirmed that two British soldiers have been shot dead by an Afghan National Army gunman.

Philip Hammond has told the Commons the incident happened at the entrance gate to the British HQ in Lashkar Gah.

NATO has confirmed that the gunman was then shot dead by return of fire.

A total of 407 British troops have been killed in Afghanistan since military operations began in 2001.

In a statement to the Commons, Mr Hammond stated: “Our thoughts, as ever, are with their families, for whom this will be a deeply personal tragedy”.

Details of the incident are still emerging and relatives are being informed.

Nurse suspended over child abuse claims

An experienced nurse has been suspended from her post after being charged with committing sexual offences against a minor.

Rhona Sharman, 50, has been suspended from her position as a staff nurse in West Lothian by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC). The ban is expected to last 18 months while the accused faces the criminal charges.

The nurse has been charged with taking indecent photographs of a child, causing an older child to be present while engaging in sexual activity, communicating indecently with an older child and causing an older child to participate in sexual activity.

According to the NMC the offences are alleged to have taken place between August and October last year and involve a child aged between 13 and 16.

Douglas Sharman, 46, is also facing two charges of intercourse with an older child, causing an older child to participate in sexual activity, causing an older child to be present while engaging in sexual activity, communicating indecently with an older child and taking indecent photographs of a child.

Since being charged by Strathclyde Police on October 28, Ms Sharman has not carried out any clinical duties.

Internal investigation

The NMC investigating committee ruled that it was in the public interest to suspend the nurse until the council had completed its investigation into the allegations.

A statement from the panel said: “This is one of those rare cases where public interest alone necessitates an interim suspension order as an appropriate response. The panel is of the view that the allegations, if proven, suggest that you demonstrated poor judgement.

Your position as a registered nurse requires you to maintain certain standards including that you must always act lawfully, whether those laws relate to your professional practice or personal life, and that you must uphold the reputation of your profession.

“The panel considered that the reputation of the profession would be damaged if an order were not in place… the alleged behaviour would fall well below the public’s expectation of the behaviour of a registered nurse.”

They noted that the alleged incidents had taken place outside work.

Chris Dickson, Ms Sharman’s lawyer, said the accused denied the allegations made against her.

Breaking news: Cowell’s crazed fan remains in custody

Cowell was left shaken after the incident

The woman accused of breaking into Simon Cowell’s London home on Saturday night has been refused bail.

29-year-old Leanne Zaloumis was charged with aggravated burglary at West London Magistrates’ Court and will remain in custody until her next hearing on June 12th.

Officer’s were called to the music mogul’s £7.5 million mansion shortly after the first episode of the new series of ‘Britain’s got talent’ was aired on ITV.

The intruder, described as an ‘over-zealous fan’ was said to have got in through a downstairs window after evading extensive security at the Holland park property.

Sources close to Cowell, 52, said that the talent show creator was ‘understandably shaken’ after the incident.

Cowell is well known on both sides of the Atlantic for his role as a judge on shows such as The X Factor, Britain’s Got Talent and American Idol and is estimated to have a fortune in excess of £200m.

Rare Automaton sparks international interest

The Black smoker is an unusual addition to the Edinburgh auction house

A rare automaton of a black man smoking a cigarette will be sold at auction by Lyon & Turnbull this week. Valued at around £1500, the piece is made by famous Frenchman Vichy and dates from the period 1860 to 1910, known as “The Golden Age of Automata”.

Sourced from a private collection near Dundee, the Black Smoker has mechanical movement to the eyes, mouth and neck. Douglas Girton from Lyon& Turnbull spoke of how the figure’s unusual qualities have sparked an interest among buyers internationally;

“It’s the most viewed item on our online auction. Our customers are excited by the fact that it’s a bit different and quirky, buyers are definitely very curious about our Black smoker!”

The success of the Hollywood Blockbuster “Hugo”, directed by Martin Scorsese, which featured automatons or mechanical robots, has undoubtedly added to the interest of the piece.

Originally used as a promotional piece in the window of a tobacconist, the antique figure remains in excellent condition with the clockwork mechanism in full working order.

Collectable

The high price tag attached to this once forgotten family heirloom is down to its renowned manufacturers, as Lee Young, automaton specialist pointed out;

“This is very collectible item, especially as it dates from the period between 1860 and 1910 when many small family based companies of Automata makers thrived in Paris. From their workshops they exported thousands of clockwork automata and mechanical singing birds around the world. It is these French automata that are collected today, although now rare and expensive they attract collectors worldwide.”

Lyon & Turnbull is one of the capital's oldest auction houses.

Gustave Vichy was born in 1839 to a Parisian watch and clock maker who, along with his wife, set up the Vichy Company in 1862 with the aim of building and selling clocks, mechanical objects and toys. In 1866, Gustave took over the company and dedicated his time to developing automata while his wife, a seamstress, dressed the figures. The Vichy Company became part of a group of family businesses that thrived in Paris between 1860 and 1910 and known as the “Golden Age of Automata”. Gustave had great success producing advertising automata and one of his models won the Grand Prix at the Great Exhibition of 1900, the only award given to automata or mechanical toys. His son Henry gradually took control of the firm, incorporating Lioret phonograph mechanisms into some automaton models, which were advertised as being able to sing, speak and play musical instruments.

The black smoker goes on sale on the 28th March 2012 at 11.00am at Lyon & Turnbull, 33 Broughton Place, Edinburgh EH1 3RR.

Radio: NSPCC say that Scots wait a month to report child abuse

Listen Here:

The NSPCC has launched a new campaign urging the public to act on doubts about child safety, as new figures show most people wait at least a month before picking up the phone.

In the last six months, 374 people from Scotland contacted the NSPCC with concerns about a child that were considered so serious they warranted immediate action. Of those, over one third had waited at least a month with an additional 26 per cent waiting more than six.

The figures come as a new viral campaign, made by Skins and Billy Elliot director Amanda Boyle, is launched in partnership with parents’ website Netmums.

The campaign, entitled ‘Don’t wait until you’re certain’ mimics a well-known online series but carries a serious message and has already received over 25,000 YouTube hits in its first 72hours online.

The campaign film was inspired by the popular ‘Sh*t Girls Say’ series, which parodies the things girls stereotypically say. The NSPCC clip uses the idea to dramatic effect drawing attention to ‘The $#*! Kids Say’, slang for the familiar ‘kids say the funniest things’.

[Read more...]

Telford college launch LGBT video

Edinburgh’s Telford College is shining a light on homophobia and bullying today through the launch of a film from the LGBT society.

Featuring students and members of staff, the video focuses on personal experience, tackling hard-hitting issues such as suicide and self harm, while promoting acceptance and tolerance. [Read more...]

GAME over?

Computer game retailer Game is in danger of collapse after several suppliers refused to provide it with hotly anticipated new titles.

The failure to secure eagerly awaited games such as Mass Effect 3 and Street Fighter X Tekken have added to the speculation that the company’s future in the UK is under threat.

The group, which employs 10,000 people, confirmed that the sale of its UK business, which has 600 stores, was a viable option in its battle for survival.

The retailer is also seeking access to alternative sources of funding and has asked suppliers for more generous trading terms, but so far it has not been possible to source new products from a number of suppliers.

Game said it was working to resolve the supply issues as quickly as possible.

“This includes ongoing discussions with suppliers, seeking access to the original facility or alternative sources of funding, and reviewing the position of all of its assets in the UK and international territories,” it said.

But it warned investors: “It is uncertain whether any of the solutions currently being explored by the board will be successful or will result in any value being attributed to the shares of the company.”

The group’s quarterly rent bill is due in a fortnight and it is believed that failure to pay its landlords could push the company into administration.

The company, which has 1,300 stores worldwide trading under the Game and Gamestation brands, has lost 94 percent of its value over the last year, with the business now valued at 12.2 million pounds ($19.2 million).

MP’s critique Cardinal’s gay marraige slurs

The Catholic Church’s most senior figure in Britain has been accused of ‘scaremongering’ and ‘whipping up gay marriage fears’ after hitting out at the Government’s plans to legalise gay marriage.

Cardinal Keith O’Brien, the leader of the Catholic Church in Scotland, was told his comments were ‘unacceptable’ and MPs warned of him fuelling prejudice on an already sensitive subject.

Writing in the Sunday Telegraph, the cleric said that the coalitions proposals were a “grotesque subversion of a universally accepted human right” and the idea of redefining marriage, would “shame the United Kingdom in the eyes of the world”.

Tory MP Margot James, the first openly lesbian Conservative MP, condemned O’Brien’s use of ‘apocalyptic language’, while Scottish Secretary Michael Moore said the government’s consultation on gay marriage was not aimed at forcing religious groups to endorse same-sex marriages.

He told BBC One’s Andrew Marr Show: “We’re not seeking to change religious marriage and we’re not seeking to impose it on religious groups.What we are saying is that where a couple love each other and they wish to commit to each other for their life then they should be able to have a civil marriage irrespective of their sexual orientation.”

Labour deputy leader Harriet Harman, a former equalities minister, said she thought it was right to have same-sex marriages.

She added: “I don’t want anybody to feel that this is a license for whipping up prejudice. What you’re talking about is individual people and their personal relationships, their love for each other and their wanting to be in a partnership or getting married. I think we should support that.”

‘Controversial comments’

O’Brien has a reputation as a robust defender of traditionalist Christian teaching and in Sunday’s column said: “Since all the legal rights of marriage are already available to homosexual couples, it is clear that this proposal is not about rights, but rather is an attempt to redefine marriage for the whole of society at the behest of a small minority of activists.

“Same-sex marriage would eliminate entirely in law the basic idea of a mother and a father for every child. It would create a society which deliberately chooses to deprive a child of either a mother or a father.”

He added: “Imagine for a moment that the government had decided to legalise slavery but assured us that ‘no one will be forced to keep a slave’.

“Would such worthless assurances calm our fury? Would they justify dismantling a fundamental human right?”

The Cardinal has become the latest of several senior clergy to denounce what he calls the “madness” of the government’s backing for marriage to include homosexual couples.

He accused ministers of attempting to “redefine reality” and “dismantle the universally understood meaning of marriage”.

In January the Anglican Archbishop of York, John Sentamu, also insisted governments did not have the moral authority to redefine marriage.

‘Civil marriage debate’

Equalities Minister Lynne Featherstone will launch a consultation later this month on how to make civil marriage available to same-sex couples.

She has said she wants to challenge the view that the government does not have the right to change marriage traditions.

“It is the government’s fundamental job to reflect society and to shape the future, not stay silent where it has the power to act and change things for the better.”

Many church leaders believe gay marriage would represent a further significant step in marginalising traditional religious values in society.

Civil partnerships were introduced in 2004 to give same-sex couples the same legal rights as married couples, but the law does not allow such unions to be referred to as marriages. Civil partners are entitled to the same property rights, the same exemptions on inheritance tax, social security and pension benefits as married couples, but do not have the same status under English law.

Until now it has been banned for civil partnership ceremonies to include religious readings, music or symbols and forbidden for them to take place in religious venues, regardless of the views of the building’s owners. In Scotland, which has its own legislation, some church parishes offer blessing ceremonies for same-sex couples.

Stirling Castle inspires new exhibition

Exterior view of Stirling Castle © Crown Copyright reproduced courtesy of Historic Scotland


Scottish artist, Iona Leishman, is preparing to launch an exhibition
based around Stirling Castle’s turbulent history.

The exhibition, entitled Sense of Place, will open on December 2 and celebrates works inspired by the site’s tempestuous history and outstanding built heritage. The colourful mix of real and imagined subject material stretches to around 80 canvases, many created with light to the dramatic physical outlines and sheer power of the castle’s crag-top location.

Many Scottish kings and queens have been crowned at Stirling, including Mary Queen of Scots in 1543. There have been at least eight sieges of the castle including several during the Scottish Wars of Independence.

Leishman, originally from Perth, has used her broad spectrum of styles to appeal to a wide range of tastes and ages. Her portfolio conjures historical moments inspired by the Royal Court at Stirling, where the intrigues of kings and queens ultimately forged the political legacy of modern Scotland.

“As well as the celebration of the built heritage and history,” she explained, “I’ve created a third category, crossing point, which forms a bridge between the castle and imagination. I’ve painted at different times of the day to capture the contrasts as the light moves around the castle. But when I’m painting figures, I’m trying to bring something out from inside, using impressions I’ve gained of the castle and what I know of its history”.

The potential of this rich source material has allowed Leishman to develop a huge body of work that has attracted interest from thousands of castle visitors. The residency has proved so successful that Historic Scotland, the organisation supporting the exhibition, is now preparing to expand the programme to include other sites.

“This has been an exceptionally productive project, well received not only by visitors and education groups but also by our staff,” said Historic Scotland’s Head of Learning Services, Sue Mitchell.

“Interest, both internally and externally, in what Iona has achieved, has stimulated an expansion of the artist in residence scheme, and work is now underway to create new programmes at Huntingtower Castle near Perth and Jedburgh Abbey in the Scottish Borders.”

The show is free to all visitors at Stirling Castle, and can be found in the Exhibition Room within the Nether Bailey complex. All paintings are for sale and an exhibition catalogue is also available.

Merchiston students set up shop

Students gather around stalls in Merchiston foyer trying to sell their products to others.

Merchiston campus has been transformed into a retail haven by 3rd year graphic design students this week.

The class project called for students to create a group of original market stalls that were cost effective to run and turned over a profit.

The overarching theme of the project is ‘a market environment’ where students aim to develop a better understanding of what products consumers are most interested in. The individual stalls reflect rooms in student residences, with designs including a sweets room, a ‘lads pad’ and a printed media stall.

The budding entrepreneurs received no money from the university to fund their project and instead relied on the generosity of their fellow students to provide their wares for sale.

The range of gifts available include bags, coasters, sweets and ceramics as well as work and illustrations from students of Glasgow and Edinburgh schools of art.

The stalls will be up and running until closing time today to provide inspiration and temptation for any early Christmas shoppers in the Morningside area.


Scots Fiddle Festival 2011

This weekend sees the launch of ‘Fiddle 2011′
in Edinburgh city centre.

Boasting traditional music, lively ceilidhs and world class performers the Scots fiddle festival promises to be an action packed, fun filled event for all the family.

Listen here:

Tickets for ‘Fiddle 2011′ are available from the Queen’s Hall Box Office on 0131 668 2019, www.thequeenshall.net or in person at The Queen’s Hall, 85 – 89 Clerk Street, Edinburgh, EH8 9JG. Open Mon – Sat 10am – 5.30pm.

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