SNP Criticises Relocation of Nuclear-powered Submarines to Scotland

THE SNP today called for only conventional vessels to be based at Faslane after the MoD announced plans to relocate two nuclear-powered submarines to the Scottish naval base.

The statement came after plans were announced to relocate a further two nuclear-powered submarines to Faslane Naval Base on the Clyde. Adding further nuclear material to the base in direct opposition to The SNP’s aim of a nuclear-free Scotland.

The expected economic benefits of transferring the vessels have been played down by the SNP today in conjunction with the benefits of the new £4 billion contract to construct 26 new Frigates on the Clyde.

The Ministry of Defence’s (MoD) decision to move two nuclear powered Trafalgar-class submarines, from their current home in Plymouth to Faslane in the West of Scotland, has been directly criticised by the SNP’s Westminster party spokesperson on defence and foreign affairs Angus Robertson.

He said:  “The MoD shifting two submarines nearing the end of their lifespan on the Clyde won’t disguise the lack of serious defence investment in Scotland from successive UK Governments. The fact they are happy to move nuclear submarines but not a single major surface vessel North speaks volumes.
“The fact is that Scotland’s service personnel have been poorly served by Westminster for too long by a Westminster establishment obsessed with wasting billions on nuclear weapons while stripping Scotland of military assets and cutting 11,000 defence jobs in Scotland over  the last decade. The best future for Faslane is as a full conventional naval base.”
The two submarines,  HMS Talent and HMS Triumph, will have been fully relocated from Her Majesty’s Naval Base Devonport to Scotland by 2020, making Faslane the home of The UK’s entire submarine fleet.
Other two Royal Navy craft, HMS Torbay and HMS Trenchant, are to remain at their current home in Devonport until they are decommissioned in 2017 and 2019 respectively.
Defense secretary Michael Fallon said: “This decision balances the Royal Navy’s operational requirements with giving more clarity to our servicemen and women to plan their family lives.
“HMS Torbay and HMS Trenchant crews and their families now have certainty that Devonport will be their home port until the boats decommission. We expect that local communities will welcome HMS Talent and HMS Triumph and their crews and families when they arrive in Scotland later this decade.

“Our commitment to Faslane becoming home to all Royal Navy submarines from 2020 will bring hundreds of jobs and investment to the West of Scotland.”

The two submarines will eventually be replaced by Astute-class vessels, making the transfer permanent until their eventual decommission.

New app to help modernise the health system

By Madalina Dichiu

Care Minister, Norman Lamb announced that the health system must be “modernised” and a new online application will be developed to help young people with mental health issues.

Experts say that the current situation is a “national disgrace” and the Government should spend more money on children and young people, while also stressing the importance of contact with therapists.

The Scottish Government says that the best approach to change the system is to be able to measure the things that matter most to the people using them. They are also reviewing health visits and school nursing services to ensure staff have the right training to identify and help parents, children and young people with mental health problems.

The Government has already developed an online service to provide guidance and training on child mental health for teachers, police, health professionals and other people working with children called MindEd. The research shows that mental health services are not meeting the needs of some groups of people. Only one in six older people with depression ever discusses it with their GP.

The Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said, “For far too long mental health has been in the shadows and many people have suffered in silence as a result. It is time to turn a corner on outdated attitudes and bring mental health issues out into the open. It is time that the whole of society started providing the care and support to those with mental health conditions in the same way that they would to those with a physical condition.”

Sarah Brennan Chief Executive of YoungMinds charity said: “It is a national disgrace that while three children in every classroom have a diagnosable mental illness, only 6% of the NHS mental health budget is spent on children and young people. There is overwhelming evidence to suggest that if we get it right for children and young people we will greatly reduce the burden of mental health for future generations.

“YoungMinds has been warning for several years about the dangers in cutting children and young people’s mental health early intervention services. Over the last few months we have seen the consequences of these cuts with reports of children and young people with mental illnesses ending up in police cells, being transferred hundreds of miles away or placed on inappropriate adult wards because there haven’t been the beds available.

“Local services providing much needed mental health services  should not have to operate in crisis-we have to get this right for children, young people and their families who are in desperate need of support.”

The NHS argues that many issues can be managed without the help of a GP by using the variety of sources now available, whether it’s through books, local organisations or online.

The charity Mind says: “Electronic media is increasingly being utilised as a medium to deliver psychological therapies. There are significant potential advantages to using this mode of delivery, including increased reach and improved access to psychological support and treatments.

“Some children and young people find interacting with electronic media a preferable first step to help and most are more used to such interaction than older generations.”

The Scottish Government published alarming statistics about mental health problems. Three children in every classroom have a diagnosable mental health condition. Only a quarter of people with a common mental health problem get treatment, mostly in the form of medication.

According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), 9.6% of children and young people between the ages of 5 and 16 years in the UK have a mental health problem.

’16 Days of Action’ to combat violence against women

By Carolina Morais

A campaign is being launched today by a Scottish organisation to mark the International Day for Elimination of Violence Against Women.

Between the 25th November and the 10th December, the ’16 Days of Action 2014′ campaign will be promoting a series of events throughout Scotland to raise awareness of violence against women.

The theme for this years’ initiative is ‘From Peace in the Home to Peace in the World: Let’s Challenge Militarism and End Violence Against Women’.

A spokesperson for the campaign said: “Our organisation has been recognised by the United Nations since 1995. This is a global campaign that aims to prevent and eliminate of all forms of violence towards women.

“That includes such things as sexual assault, rape, sexual abuse, cultural practices such as genital mutilation, forced marriage, exploitation, prostitution, lap and pole dancing and traffic of women for sexual purposes.”

The event will commence today in Glasgow but will engage different cities in Scotland, including Edinburgh.

“We are going to held a conference at Edinburgh University on the 8th December, but our main events will happen in Glasgow”, the spokesperson said.

“Among other things, we are launching an online survey to see if people are more informed about the issue and to really take it forward. We also have a march happening on the 27th of November and we will have activities for men who want to be involved.”

The CEO of the national organisation White Ribbon, Chris Green, recognizes that “men are the real problem” and that it is urgent to “turn the numbers around”.

“We are working more and more with men and we just have to keep on doing that.

“Right now, we have around 200 events happening around the United Kingdom to raise awareness to this cause, but the numbers are still alarming.”

Mr. Green also said: “What we need to do urgently is change the attitudes of men towards women in general, to prevent emotional and physical abuse. We need more women reporting these crimes, more politicians to take notice of the problem and more funding to be able to prevent it.”

The ’16 Days’ campaign is being funded by the Glasgow City Council Integrated Grant Fund. In partnership with White Ribbon Scotland, this initiative is hoping to achieve white ribbon status for the City of Glasgow this year.

According to the United Nations, one in four women in Scotland experience domestic violence in their lifetime, with an incident being recorded every ten minutes.

Allie Hutchinson, from Scottish Women’s Aid, says the problem is not contained to Scotland.

“The numbers are alarming everywhere. We have been around since 1976 and that is why we continue to be so committed to end violence, to work with women who have been victims of domestic violence and to look at how we can prevent this.

“At the moment, the main problem is that women are not equal to men just yet. It is up to us to fight for equality first, to challenge the myths of society, to write to MPs and MSPs to promote a society where women are equally valued.

“In the near future, we will launch a survey to look at people’s experiences related to these crimes, we will promote a series of lectures throughout Scotland, a parliamentary event with MSP’s and even a film screening at Edinburgh University.”

In the rest of the United Kingdom, statistics show 45% of women having experienced some form of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking and at least 80,000 women experiencing rape every year.

 

 

UK charity Refuge opposes launch of Clare’s Law pilot scheme

By Charlotte Barbour

Domestic abuse campaigners yesterday called into question the effectiveness of Clare’s Law, a scheme which will be piloted across areas of Scotland today.

Domestic abuse charity Refuge expressed concerns that the Law is not enough to help protect women from violence.

The scheme is named after Clare Wood, a 36-year old woman who was murdered by her abusive boyfriend George Appleton at her home in Salford, Greater Manchester, in 2009. She was not aware of his history of violence against women.

“Clare’s Law” will be piloted in Ayrshire and Aberdeen today and will last for six months. It will allow people suffering from domestic abuse access to information on a partner’s potential violent history. If successful the scheme will then be rolled out across Scotland.

Sandra Horley, chief executive of Refuge, said:

“Clare’s Law sounds good on paper, but in reality it will do very little to help the hundreds of thousands of women and children who experience domestic violence in this country.

“Some people will say that if Clare’s Law saves just one life, it is worth it. But let’s be clear – two women are killed every week as a result of domestic violence in England and Wales. Saving just one life is not enough.

“What will happen if a woman is told that her partner does have a history of violence? Will she be expected to pack her bags and leave straight away? At Refuge, we know that it isn’t that simple.

“Leaving a violent partner is an incredibly difficult step to take. It is also extremely dangerous – women are at greatest risk of homicide at the point of separation or after leaving a violent partner. And if women do leave, where are they supposed to go? Refuges are closing up and down the country because of huge funding cuts.

“Clare’s Law may help a few individuals but we need to help the majority of victims – not the few. The most effective way to save lives on a large scale is to improve police practice and protect the vital services run by specialist organisations like Refuge. Let’s get our priorities right.”

Lily Greenan, chief executive of Scottish Women’s Aid, fully supports the scheme. She said:

“Clare’s Law allows people who are concerned about the behaviour of their partner now have the right to ask if they have a history of abuse.

“We are supporting it because anything that potentially helps to prevent domestic abuse against a person is worth having a go at. The levels of domestic abuse in Scotland are very high, and these can become quite extreme before people feel that they can contact the police about it.

“We see the law as a pro-active approach to try and encourage people who feel uncomfortable about what their partner is doing to quietly enquire about whether or not there is a history of domestic abuse.

“Obviously it is not a replacement for a criminal investigation if what is happening to them is already definable as abuse but it may be helpful to some people to have that information in advance.”

According to the Scottish government website, the number of reported incidents of domestic abuse last year reached 60,080, a rise of almost a third in a decade.

Half of all incidents recorded in 2012-13 led to the recording of a crime or an offence, and of these, 78 per cent were reported to the procurator fiscal.

Factors which may increase women’s vulnerability to some types of violence include age, disability and poverty.

Clare Wood’s father, Michael Brown, believes that had his daughter been able to access information on Appleton’s criminal history it may have saved her life.

Local charity launches appeal for homeless children

By Arantxa Barrachina

AN ONLINE campaign launched yesterday to give Christmas presents to homeless children across Scotland.

The Social Media Santa campaign will deliver presents to homeless children by working with housing and homelessness charity Shelter Scotland.

According to the new statistics, 21 per cent of children in Edinburgh live in poverty. More than 4,000 children will be homeless in Scotland this Christmas.

Social media users are encouraged to buy presents for boys and girls from the age of 6 months to 16 years old. Gifts can be ordered or bought and sent to Shelter Scotland office in Edinburgh by 12th December.

Everyone who buys a gift can post a photo of it on social media using the hashtag #SocialMediaSanta

The campaign was launched by Ross McCulloch, Director of Third Sector Lab, a specialist digital agency working with charities and social enterprises.

Ross McCulloch said: “Twitter users can make a real difference to homeless children in Scotland this Christmas. By sending gifts like books, toys or games, we are hoping that Social Media Santas will help make this Christmas better for hundreds of children and their families across Scotland.”

Graeme Brown, Director of Shelter Scotland, said: “Social Media Santa is an innovative and generous way of using social media to help bring a little bit of Christmas cheer to homeless families and their children.

“No child should be homeless at Christmas but we know there will be more than 4,000 children homeless this festive season across Scotland, so we will carry on our campaigning until there’s a home for everyone. Until then, we will always be grateful for the kindness and generosity of fundraisers and members of the public who donate to help our clients.

“On behalf of all the children and families already helped, we say a big thank you to Ross McCulloch and all the Social Media Santas across Scotland. We now look forward to receiving and distributing the results of this year’s campaign.”

For the last three years social media users have been participated giving a Christmass gift for homeless children. Last year, Shelter Scotland charity have  received a whopping 227 gifts.

In Scotland 220,000 children are living in poverty, one in five of the child population, and this could soon rise.

The charity is calling people to participate in the project and remembers the importance of solidarity, specially at Christmas time.

The child poverty campaigners are also urging Scottish and local government to ratchet-up delivery of the Child Poverty Strategy.

 

 

 

Affordable Contraceptive Announced

By Mariana Mercado

A new form of contraceptive injection will be available for women in developing countries.

The ready to use contraceptive injection will help women living in 69 of the poorest countries.

The news of the development of this new affordable contraception was released by the Melinda and Bill Gates Foundation, the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF) and pharmaceutical giant Pfizer.

Dr. Chris Elias, President of Global Development Programs at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation said: “When women are able to plan their families, they are more likely to survive pregnancy and child birth, to have healthier newborns and children, and to invest more in their families’ health and wellbeing.

“We are proud to be part of this innovative public-private collaboration that will help more women around the world — even in remote areas — plan their lives and their futures.”

The Sayana injection combines a long-acting, reversible contraceptive with an all-in-one prefilled single use, non-reusable injection system that eliminates the need to prepare a needle and syringe. The injection can easily be administered by health workers to women at home or in other convenient setting.

The drug will be sold for $1 (0.65p) per dose to qualified purchasers who can help enable the poorest women in these countries to have access to the contraceptive at reduced or no cost.

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 222m women in developing countries would like to delay or stop conception, but are not currently using any form of contraception.

Michael Anderson, Chief Executive Officer at the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation said: “Far too many women die or are harmed because of unwanted pregnancies,”

“This important partnership expands the choice of affordable contraceptives. We believe this will further support CIFF’s mission of enabling more women and children to survive and thrive.”

The contraceptive program saw over 75000 Sayana Press units distributed to health facilities in the introduction countries, and aproximately 2500 health care providers have been trained on the administration of the contraceptive.

Since the introduction of the program in Burkina Faso in July, a study revealed that over 5700 women are using the injection, 1659 of these women are new users of family planning.
Justine Greening, International Development Secretary for the Department for International Development (DFID) said:“Access to modern, safe and reliable family planning methods is vital in helping women to control their lives and their futures. Without the ability to choose when they have children and how many they have, too often women lose the opportunity to participate fully in their economies and societies.”

Dr. Ariel Pablos-Mendez, Assistant Administrator for Global Health at the U.S. agency for International Development (USAI) said: “USAID has invested in Sayana Press for many years, and we are thrilled that these efforts have finally come to fruition. This public-private collaboration will now help more women access injectable contraceptives. Expanding contraceptive choice is crucial to helping women plan and space their pregnancies, which we believe contributes to the health and economic wellbeing of families and communities across the globe.”

The drug is expected to be regularly available in all 69 of the developing countries by 2020.

 

 

Charities back Edinburgh City Council’s support for Living Wage

By Lauren Beehan

Charities have welcomed an Edinburgh City Council motion to support the Living Wage movement, despite Conservative claims that it would lead them to close their doors.

Councillors pledged to encourage their contractors and suppliers to pay their staff the living wage of £7.65, which Tory councillors said would force local charities to cease their services.

Speaking at last Thursday’s council meeting, Cllr Jeremy Balfour said that enforcing a living wage would leave vulnerable people without essential services. He said that three charities in his ward alone “would simply have to close and lay off their staff and lay off helping the vulnerable people in the West of Edinburgh” if they were obliged to pay the living wage.

However, Ruchir Shah, policy manager of the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, said that they supported the living wage initiative and hoped that all organisations, charities included, would get behind it.

He said: “We support the living wage. [Charities] should value their staff as much as the people they are helping. […] If charities are funded by the City Council, the council should make sure that they are paying these charities enough to pay the living wage.”

The living wage movement calls for an end to working poverty, where working people need two jobs or the assistance of charities such food banks to survive.

Cllr Norma Austin Hart, who proposed the motion, told the council that most people living in poverty in the UK are low-paid workers, who cannot afford basic human rights such as food and shelter.

Describing poverty levels as “a modern scandal”, she said: “It is no longer the case that employment guarantees a route out of poverty, so employers need to be encouraged to take this important anti-poverty action. I feel that it is incumbent on the public sector to lead the way on this.”

She describe the living wage as “the most effective tool we have at our disposal” in the fight against working poverty.

However, businesses remain cautious,  expressing some concern about an “arbitrarily-defined” living wage.

David Martin of the Scottish Retail Consortium said that the two biggest costs to retailers are people and property. He said: “Smaller businesses might be acutely hit by this – if there is pressure on one of these two variables, you have to reduce that cost, either by a cutback on additional employee benefits or by reducing staff numbers.”

However, he also said that the vast majority of retailers, traditionally associated with low salaries, already paid above minimum wage.

Doctors Support Margo MacDonald Assisted Suicide Bill

By Jordan Hooks

A surgeon and a professor of neurology are among a group of doctors who have spoken out in support of legalising assisted suicide.

Eleven medical experts back the bill proposed by independent MSP Margo MacDonald. The bill would compliment the palliative care that is currently offered in Scotland.

One ear, nose and throat surgeon, Gillian MacDougall, said there are more GPs that support the bill, but are afraid to sign it in fear of being labeled as ‘Dr. Death.’

The bill is the second attempt Margo has made to change the law. Her previous attempt was voted down by MSPs in 2010.

Under the new proposed bill, only those who are terminally ill or who are suffering from deteriorating progressive conditions, which make life intolerable will be able to seek assisted suicide. A second professional opinion would be needed, followed by a 14-day ‘cooling-off’ period.

This process is then repeated again, after one of the doctors concerned would supply a license facilitator with a prescription to enable assisted suicide to take place.

If the prescription is not used within 14 days, it is required to be returned.

When she launched the Bill in November, the Lothian MSP said she believed it could be successful this time, stating: “I have sensed from the beginning that there was a change because of the volume of support that we can demonstrate.”

Boycott Campaigns send G4S Off Campus

By Martha Shardalow

It’s another bad week for security firm G4S as two UK universities choose not to award them control of on-campus services.

Kings College London Action Palestine initated a campus campaign against G4S after criticising the company for their role in the Middle East.

image source: KCL Action Palestine Committee 2013-14

image source: KCL Action Palestine Committee 2013-14

G4S has an explicit part to play in providing security and equipment to Israeli prisons, settlements and checkpoints in the occupied West Bank. KCL Action Palestine launched a protest on campus and over 500 students signed their petition.

University of Southampton Students for Palestine followed suit and succeeded in their efforts not to award G4S a contract to provide security on campus. Previously, G4S had been a favourite to win major contracts at both Kings College London (KCL) and The University of Southampton and had already provided services to these universities.

Edinburgh University Student Association (EUSA) enacted much the same fate for the company back in 2011 – a major victory for the Palestinian Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Movement. G4S no longer provides security services for Edinburgh University Library made possible by Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) who forced the university to tear up its contract with the firm.

The Boycott Israel Kings College group released a statement that the decision was due to “a continuous effort of resistance and support by the KCL students and staff.”They successfully passed a motion in the student union in support of the campaign, asking the union to commit and lobby the university against G4S.

Southampton students joined in celebration after their petition and public statement received overwhelming support by students and student societies. The petition was signed by 24 student societies from the Marxist society to the Taekwando Club.

 Juman A, co-founder of Students for Palestine Southampton, voices her concerns to to exclude ethically corrupt companies from student circles. She said: “We believe that no one should be allowed to profit from their wrongdoings. We take a firm stance against G4S’ complicity in the occupation and its discriminatory malpractice in the UK and elsewhere around the world.G4S is complicit in the Israeli occupation’s flagrant violations of human rights and its breaches of international law.  The boycott movement stems form the root of the Palestinian struggle and we, as students, are committed to one cause – that is justice.”

The weight of these developments are growing in momentum as part of an international campaign against G4S. This wider movement has seen public  bodies, nongovernmental organisations and financial institutions across the world terminate their contracts and boycott G4S.

A growing number of universities are joining the pack with student campaigns in the UK continually taking force, including The University of Birmingham.

Due to their complicity with Israeli apartheid, G4S have also been excluded from the contract tendering processes at universities in Oslo and Bergen in Norway. These two institutions have called for the express exclusion of all such companies on their campuses and, alongside London and Southampton, do not deny this as a vital step towards strengthening the boycott movement globally.

 

The Panda Craze

The piteously extravagant and undeserved media and public hype over the breeding of Edinburgh Zoo’s two giant Pandas, Tian Tian and her prospective mate Yang Guang, is a cause for worry and concern. Especially at a time when we have witnessed a tragic blaze at Five Sister’s zoo in West Lothian killing a substantial number of reptiles and other animals including 11 meerkats. People seemed not too bothered by these events yet any news about Tian Tian and her oestrogen levels and we quickly turn to our screens. The BBC have now featured the sensationalised scrutiny of the panda breeding in their headlines alongside more justifiable stories, in terms of news values, like the capturing of the man suspected of being responsible for the Boston Bombings and the Earthquake in China killing more than 150 people.

Artificial insemination has been carried out on Tian Tian following a week when hormones showed she was approaching her 36-hour fertile period. In a desperate and almost forlorn attempt to get the Zoo’s most popular creatures breeding, it is telling of British Society’s very needless obsession with pandas. A grassroots campaigning animals charity, Scotland for Animals said the drive to breed Tian Tian is a a purely ‘financial and commercial’ project with the intention of ‘increasing visiting numbers to the zoo’. Scotland for Animals underwent a campaign to expose the ‘lies’ of Edinburgh Zoo who, they feel, hide the commercial implication of their actions behind a blanket emphasising ‘a conservation effort’.

Once entering the official website for the Zoo one can’t help but notice a special section dedicated to buying tickets to visit the Pandas, alongside a link to the  pandacam. Even when contacting the zoo the first thing they say is to visit the website if your inquiry is connected to visiting the giant pandas. Now it’s almost impossible to contact the Zoo unless it’s an emergency inquiry because of the melodramatic amount of international attention driven towards the sex life of these sexually uninterested, animals. You can’t get away from these black and white, bamboo-eating bears. When they first arrived in 2011, loaned by the Bifengxia Breeding Centre in China, massive cheering crowds gathered as they were driven to the gates, in a spectacle as exaggerated and pathetic as the opening of Krispy Kremes in February. The media flocked like a pack of birds to the airport desperately awaiting their arrival as if they didn’t have anything else important to report on. A costly, specially-refurbished VIP enclosure was created for these celebrities as they were taken down the ‘red carpet’ into the zoo’s grand entrance. Moreover, this move signifies a wider socio-economic, cultural and political deal between the Scottish and Chinese Governments, representing the culmination of five years of political and diplomatic negotiation at the highest level. Pandas are,therefore, not just animals but ambassadors to China,and symbols of international diplomacy at the greatest standard.

The question to ask is why this intensive publicity and hype? Perhaps it’s because pandas are an endangered species, a rare and valued Chinese national treasure, meaning complete and utter precedence over every other animal in the country. There are only 1,600 of them in the wild, and around 300 in captivity. we perhaps because they are simply endearing and pleasant to look at? If 158 million people like a video of a panda sneezing on Youtube then surely they safely tick the ‘cute’ box? A more plausible reason maybe that Edinburgh is home to the only two giant pandas in the UK, surely such a rarity on our Island will inevitably give way to mass appeal and attention? Or is it something more intricate and deeper, as Henry Nicholls, author of The Way of the Panda explains, it maybe  due to their almost baby-like features with their flat face, large eyes and clumsy nature.

The panda craze illustrates wider issues to do with journalism in today’s world. If there is such international and domestic fascination and excitement over the news of two pandas breeding does it qualify as important news? The acute distinction between ‘of the public interest’ and ‘in the public interest’ should be addressed. This story is quite clearly of the public interest but not in the interest of the public. In terms of generating mass political debate and changing the face and structure of countries for decades to come, the pandas are not in the same league as the conflict in Syria or the global financial recession for example.

However, as symbols of international relations, and subjects of mass tourism, marketing, merchandise and general (and genuine) adoration, these creatures will continue to attract special journalistic heed, News and the Zoo is a business, business is commercial and commercial is about selling. The Tian Tian and Yang Guang show is to go on for a while yet.

Interview with Scotland for Animals

Council threatens to sue protest group over court costs.

Rising legal costs have driven Edinburgh City Council to announce that they plan to take Portobello Park Action Group (PPAG) to court to recover costs incurred so far as a result of their attempts to block the building of a new secondary school on Portobello Park.

The group said this week that they plan to appeal the Court of Session decision saying that council do not need permission to go ahead with the plans.

Diana Cairns of PPAG responded today saying she was not aware that the Council had decided to sue, and said the group would need to take legal advice before responding to this news.

She agreed that this could possibly be a scaring tactic from the Council to try to discourage the group from pressing forward with their appeal.

 

Splashback causing waves for Leith Councillors

Source: Greener Leith

Leith local election candidates faced the voters last night at the Leith Links hustings.  On the menu were crucial issues for the port  including the biomass proposal and the tram project. 

Leith Waterworld was also discussed and the closure of the family-friendly pool last January has not deterred campaigners, Splashback, from trying to reopen it. 

Edinburgh Napier News spoke to Johnny Gailey, one of the Splashback leaders.   

 

Councillors pedalling fast to fight pollution

Gordon MacKenzie speaks to Spokes supporters at the 2012 local election hustings.

It’s campaign time  and on May the 3rd  voters will  choose the future of the city transport. 

 Transport had been in the spotlight in recent years due to the troubled tram project.  Now Edinburgh faces another challenge with European Union strict standards on air pollution.  The Green party have highlighted the deadline for the city to reach acceptable air pollution levels by 2015.  If the council do not meet these targets the taxpayer will face a heavy financial penalty.  

Spokes is an Edinburgh charity organisation that focuses on bicycle transport but also green issues.  A hustings was held on Thursday  29th  March to question the councillors responsible for this important issue.

A Little April Foolery

A “little April foolery” is a protest staged all over Edinburgh by local artists on the first of April. The protest is aimed at the controversial legislation, which will come into action on the first of the month. Many hundreds of artists are set to make the city centre their big stage as they fight against the country-wide legislation which will establish rules requiring that every artist has a license before they can stage free events.

Nearly 1500 people are expected to attend this event, either as performers or spectators.

Edinburgh Napier News interviewed Jen McGregor, the founder of the “A Little April Foolery” campaign.

“A little April Foolery” is a very different take on this popular day of pranks. Here are some interesting theories and facts suggesting how April Fool’s day may have originated and how it can be celebrated:

One theory shows April Fool’s Day dates back to the 12th Century Arabia.

A different theory says April Fool’s started with the introduction of the Gregorian calendar. Before, people celebrated the new year on the first of April. Hence, people still celebrating on that day were “April Fools”

Here in Scotland we originally call this day “hunting the gowk” (the cuckoo), and if you are tricked, you are an “April gowk”. We love this basic celebration of Schadenfreude that much that we gave it a second day, called “Taily Day”. This day is solely devoted to pranks involving the backside of the body. The “butt” of these jokes may often have a “kick me” sign placed on their back.

In France it is immensely popular to prank someone using a dead fish. Throwing at or even slapping someone with it, putting it in someone’s bag, there are no limits. Just remember to shout “Poisson d’Avril!” (April Fish!) and hilarity ensues.

In Poland the day has a similar theme to France. The Polish love to prank people by pouring water on them.

Depending on where you live in England, you may also be called a “gobby” or a “noodle” if you find yourself on the receiving end of the prank.

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

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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…]

Tibet Protest March across Edinburgh

Activists from Edinburgh joined the worldwide commemorations of the Tibetan National Uprising Day on Saturday with a march through the Scottish capital.

 This year marks the 53rd anniversary of the Tibetan Uprising in the country’s capital, Lhasa. The Uprising erupted on 10 March 1952, a decade after the Chinese invasion of the country.

One of the organisers of Saturday’s march explained their motivation was to denounce China’s violent regime, “China’s repressive policies since it occupied Tibet 60 years ago have created a crisis in Tibet, provoking an unprecedented wave of self-immolations by Tibetan monks, nuns and laypeople. So far, 21 Tibetans have set fire to themselves in eastern Tibet; eight since 6 January 2012. Marchers”.

Protesters departed from The Mound at 1.30pm and walked to the Chinese Consulate in Murrafyeld, where they left hundreds of flowers matching the colours of the Tibetan flag, alongside pictures of Tibetants who were killed or self-immolated since the Chinese occupation of the country.

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Armed with placards, flags, flowers and megaphones, they peacefully marched over George IV Bridge, down Victoria Street, along Grassmarket, Lothian Road and Shandwick Place, calling for support to bring human rights back to Tibet. Some of the banners read: ‘Let Tibetan voices be heard’, ‘Tibet is Burning’ and called for freedom for Tibet.

 

Marchers also handed out leaflets holding the Chinese authorities responsible for neglecting the basic rights of the Tibetan people stating, “The Chinese authorities have engaged in wholesale abuse of human rights of native Tibetants, while embarking on a campaign to eradicate Tibetan language and culture”.

Edinburgh University Tibet society also encouraged people to gather in Bristo Square on Saturday. A spokesperson for the society expressed their support, “We need to let the world know that Scotland will always stand in Solidarity with Tibetants in Tibet and will not stop until Tibet is free”.

Obama Praises Kony 2012 Campaign

The Obama administration has praised the people who have started the Kony 2012 Campaign. However people in Uganda are outraged at the film.

In the last 5 days alone the internet has gone viral with videos and posts about Joseph Kony. The charity group Invisible Children started the Kony 2012 Campaign with a 30 minute film on youtube which was pushed via Twitter, Facebook, celebrities and every other person. The video has been viewed over 50 million times and everyone seems to be talking about it. Some are promoting the campaign incessantly and others are voicing their protest against it and the notion of the campaign itself. The video has gained such momentum that it is taking the internet and world by storm.

The campaign was started because Invisible Children wanted to make the US government aware of Joseph Kony, the leader of the Ugandan Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) who is responsible for the abduction and enslavement of more than 30 000 children. And the campaign seems to have succeeded as it has got the attention of Obama. According to The Telegraph, the White House Press Secretary, Jay Carney has congratulated the “hundreds of thousands of Americans who have mobilised to this unique crisis of conscience.”  Carney said; “The United States continues to pursue a comprehensive multi-faceted strategy to help the governments and people ofCentral Africain their efforts to end the threat posed by the LRA and reduce the human consequences of the LRA’s atrocities.”

However, Ugandans are extremely upset by the video saying that it paints a picture of Uganda 6 years ago, as Kony and his troops fled Ugandain 2006 and are now dispersed in the jungles in the surrounding countries. An Ugandan government spokesperson Fred Opolot said; “It is totally misleading to suggest that the war is still in Uganda. I suspect that if that’s the impression they are making, they are doing it only to garner increasing financial resources for their own agenda.”

The Kony Campaign has received vast criticism as people believe that Invisible Children are making money out of an issue which has been around for two decades. The campaign has resulted in Invisible Children facing harsher scrutiny over how they use their funds and about how much of their income from donations actually goes to the causes they campaign for.

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y4MnpzG5Sqc

Edinburgh set to celebrate its remarkable women

March sees the annual return of International Women’s Day (IWD) with events planned throughout Edinburgh to mark the occasion.

For over 100 years, the world has celebrated the achievements of women and their contribution to the arts, sciences, medicine and numerous other fields. On and around 8th March the celebration continues as countries around the world host their own events.

Beginning life in 1909 as National Women’s Day in the United States the day was instigated by the Socialist Party of America. It soon spread overseas to socialist countries in Europe before being recognised as an international event in 1911.

The UN’s theme for this years IWD will be Empower Women: End Hunger and Poverty. The United States have also planned a Women’s History Month to coincide with IWD and Google will change its search engine icon to show their support.

Founder of the internationalwomensday.com, Glenda Stone explains why IWD has become so popular, “Activity on International Women’s Day has skyrocketed over the last five years. This is due to the rise of social media, celebrity involvement, and corporations taking on the day sponsoring and running big events. Our twitter.com/womensday community with around 10,000 followers is phenomenal for sharing videos, information and news as it happens. Offline large scale women’s rallies have become even larger through the use of social media. It would be hard to find any country that did not celebrate the day in some way.”

This year, Edinburgh will recognise IWD with a calender of events kicking off this evening at Surgeons Hall with a series of talks acknowledging women often overlooked in Edinburgh’s medical community. The Scottish Parliament, Edinburgh University and the Film House will also play host to events and talks.

For more information on these events click here.

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.

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.”

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