New Research Shows Bacterial ‘Language’

By Fraser Ryan

A study conducted by researchers at Edinburgh University has suggested bacteria may use a form of communication not dissimilar to human language.

According to researchers, the method, which uses chemical signals instead of sound and words, allows bacteria to flourish.

Dr Sam Brown, a member of the university’s school of biological sciences, said: “We’re only beginning to scratch the surface of the complexity of bacterial social life and its consequences for disease.

“Decoding their language is an important step towards placing our own communication in a broader biological context, as well as opening a new front in the search for mechanisms to control infections.”

The research was conducted amid fears certain forms of dangerous bacteria may soon become resistant to current antibiotics.

Decoding the language may lead researchers to new drugs in the battle to combat infections, ensuring certain infections will not become life threatening.

The scientists found bacteria produce and respond to chemical compounds which act as dialogue, a sign that they recognised their physical and social environment.

Currently, remedies that fight infection stop all communication between bacteria enzymes; allowing the bacteria’s survival instincts to build a resistance to drugs.

The University’s researchers believe that by hindering certain signals, specifically signals harmful to humans, could be equally as efficient in preventing infection without leading to bacterial resistance.

Tram Advertising Slammed By Public

by Alicia Simpson and Melissa Steel

The Edinburgh Trams may be able to recoup part of the estimated £1 billion it has cost to get them up and running. Our reporters, Alicia Simpson and Melissa Steel, went to find out more.

 

The trams, currently being tested throughout the city, could have wrap-around advertising and even be named by companies.

This scheme could earn Edinburgh Trams an extra £1.5 million a year, on top of an expected £15 million in fares.

Andrews Burns, Edinburgh Council leader, told STV news: “I would like to think the vast majority of the Edinburgh population would be supportive of this.”

However, when Edinburgh Napier News went down to Haymarket Railway Station, a main thoroughfare affected by the tram works, we found the public were less than sympathetic – and even had a few colourful suggestions for tram names.

Tram outside Haymarket Station.

Tram outside Haymarket Station.

 

 

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.”

Local Man to be Sentenced for Harrassment

By Hamza Jabir

A man convicted of harassing a woman in Musselburgh will be sentenced next month at Haddington Crown Court.

John Fraser followed the unnamed 55 year old along Musselburgh High Street and after noticing her pursuer tried to allow him to pass by stopping, however he also halted, forcing her to seek refuge in a local café.

Fraser proceeded to enter the café, so closely that staff believed them to be visiting together. After seating herself, Fraser sat at another table opposite and began banging a menu and glass off the surface.

Describing her ordeal, the victim confessed to feeling ‘extremely scared’ and feeling ‘sick’.

Fraser had a prior record for disturbing behavior and last month kicked open the front door of the Costa Coffee shop on Musselburgh High Street with his face covered by a scarf and hood.

NHS Facing £5 Million Lawsuit

By Hamza and Fraser

NHS Lothian are facing a damaging £5 million lawsuit after a patient came back to life despite being pronounced dead by doctors.

Lorna Baillie,51, had collapsed in her Prestonpans home in February 2012 and was rushed to the Edinburgh royal Infirmary.  Three hours after arriving she was pronounced clinically dead by doctors and remained so for 45 minutes after staff turned off her life support system.

After showing signs of life within this time, Mrs Baillie’s family pleaded with nurses to turn the system back on and after approval from senior staff she was successfully resuscitated. However the mother of two suffered irreparable damage to the brain due to a lack of oxygen and will almost certainly require professional medical care for the rest of her life.

Daughter Leanne Baillie, 33, said: ‘She is not the woman she was before this happened.

‘She doesn’t remember that we are her daughters. She doesn’t remember that we are her daughters. She knows my name, but to her I’m just someone called Leanne that she kind of knows.’

Dr David Farquharson, NHS Lothian medical director, said: ‘We are unable to comment on this case as a result of legal proceedings.’

 

Historic Church to host Victorian Market

File:Tron Kirk, High Street, Edinburgh.JPG

View of Tron Kirk from the Royal Mile   Photo: Kim Traynor

By Jordan Hooks

Tron Kirk, a historic church located on the Royal Mile, has become the new location for a Victorian-style market.

Proposals to convert the A-listed church into a market say the church would become the new home to a dozen stalls selling pottery, jewelry, tweed and whisky. It will also include tourist information points.

[Read more...]

13-year-old Girl Missing from East Lothian Home

Nicole Saxby who has been reported missing from her home in Wallyford, East Lothian. Police Scotland collect.

Photo of 13-year-old Nicole Saxby

By Jordan Hooks

Nicole Saxby, 13, has been reported missing from her East Lothian home.

Nicole was last seen Sunday evening around 6:40 near the railway line at Wallyford station.

No friend or family member has had contact with her since.

Nicole is described as white, 5 ft. 4in. tall, slim, with dark brown shoulder-length hair. She was last seen wearing a black leather jacket, grey top and blue Nike trainers.

Inspector Dougie Kirkham said: “Nicole is a confident young woman who knows the Wallyford and Edinburgh areas well and we are carrying out enquiries in both these areas to trace her.”

Anyone with any information with her whereabouts or anything that can help bring Nicole home safe are asked to contact Police Scotland 101 immediately.

Holiday Cuts at Christmas Holiday Planned for Schools

By Jordan Hooks

Plans have been proposed to cut Christmas holidays to one-and-a-half weeks while giving students an extra week off in the summer. This would extend the summer break to last seven weeks.

An exact reason for the holiday calendar changes is unclear and has only been cited from an education source as “calendar reasons.”

The proposed changes have created quite a stir, especially for working parents.

For working parents, extra-long summers creates problems finding additional support because they have already arranged childcare for a set amount of time over the summer breaks.

Tory education chief Cllr Jason Rust said: “I’m surprised they would be looking to shorten the Christmas holiday as an additional week to the summer break could create further issues for working parents and employers.”

The consultation period will run until March 28.

Woman Mugged for Handbag by two Women

File:Police in Glasgow.jpg

Photo: Postdif

By Jordan Hooks

A 63-year-old woman walking on Jubilee Road around 7 pm Sunday night was grabbed by the arm and was mugged by two women.

Aged between 25 to 30 and both wearing dark quilted jackets with fur, dark trousers and dark trainers, the two women struggled with the victim until she fell to the ground.

Officers are conducting door-to-door inquiries and are working to see if any CCTV footage is available.

Detective Constable Richard Thompson of Police Scotland said: “We are keen to speak to anyone who may have been in the area or who may have seen the suspects. As a result of the attack the woman sustained an injury to her hand and has been left badly shaken by the incident.”

Anyone with any information regarding the mugging should contact Police Scotland on 101.

Police Looking for two Men Over Cash Machine Robbery

By Jordan Hooks

A 36-year-old man was withdrawing a two-figure sum of cash from an ATM outside CC Express store in Broomhall Drive when he was approached and threatened by a man who robbed him.

The man demanded the victim hand over the money and when he did, he then was forced to return to the cash machine to withdraw additional money for a second man.

The second robber had been watching the events from the first suspect play out before he chose to attack.

One of the men was white, around 30-years-old, 5 ft. 10 in. tall, of slim build with a thin face.

The second man was wearing dark clothing and a chunky black wool hat.

Det Sgt Alan O’Brien said: “The victim was not assaulted or harmed during this incident but was left understandably shaken following the theft of his money.”

For more information, visit the Scotland Police or call Scotland Police 101.

Scottish Independence: Gordon Brown calls for greater power sharing within UK

By Eddie Nisbet

Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown has waded into the independence debate for the first time, announcing his desire to see greater levels of power-sharing across the United Kingdom.

In a speech in the east end of Glasgow today, Brown will set out six proposed “major” constitutional changes that will overhaul the current division of power between Westminster and Holyrood.

Among these mooted changes is a constitutional guarantee of the permanence of the Scottish Parliament.

“A moment cannot now be lost in detailing the positive case for a strong Scottish Parliament in a strong Britain,” Brown will tell a conference in Labour’s Scottish heartland to mark the beginning of a No tour of Scotland.

Speaking ahead of the conference, Brown has indicated that more coordinated measures are required to tackle Scotland’s social malaise regarding poverty, housing, unemployment and the environment.

The six “radical” constitutional changes to be proposed by Brown in his speech today are:

  • Constitutional law proposed to guarantee the UK pool and share resources for the defence and security of the citizens of all four nations;
  • The permanence of the Scottish Parliament enshrined in the British constitution for the first time;
  • Increased powers for Holyrood in health, employment, transport and economic growth;
  • A new tax sharing agreement that would balance pooled resources of the UK, including accountability to the electors where tax revenue is spent;
  • New power-sharing partnerships to address shared social problems of poverty, housing needs, unemployment and environmental issues;
  • A major transfer of powers running down from Westminster and Holyrood to more localised power for communities.\

Listen to Better Together spokesperson Ross MacRae on Gordon Brown’s speech today:


Brown’s No tour of Scotland is to appeal to those voters who want more powers for Holyrood short of being fully independent from the UK.

The latest polls indicate that the No vote is standing at 53% compared to 35% set to vote in favour of independence. With 12% still undecided, however, there is still plenty of political ground to be made up over the next 191 days.

Brown’s speech makes up one part of a double-pronged attack on independence, with former Liberal Democrat leader Mingus Campbell making a similar speech in Edinburgh.

Suggesting tax-raising powers could be delivered unto Scotland in the event of a No vote, Campbell is also calling for increased devolved powers as a viable alternative to independence:

“Gordon Brown’s approach, and indeed my approach and indeed the approach of the Lib Dems, is to look at the UK as a whole.

“I am endeavouring to point the way forward so that all of these contributions – for example from devo plus, from Reform Scotland – that all of these contributions make a very, very considerable – and in my view – effective alternative to the narrow minded view of independence.”

Teen Drugs Charity Links Increased Demand to Methadone Treatment

(c) Steve Nagy/ Design Pics/ Corbis

Drug charities in Scotland have seen an increase in demand for their services this year(c) Steve Nagy/ Design Pics/ Corbis

by Stephen Mahon

A charity that helps teens across Scotland deal with substance abuse has seen a major increase in the need for its services this year.

Demand is up by 30 percent compared to the same period 12 months ago, and Roy Lees, coordinator of the Kids in Crisis charity, expects the problem to increase.  Lees said: “I put the problem down to methadone. It is an increasingly popular method to treat heroin addiction, but since it was first introduced in a big way in the ’80s, it just hasn’t worked.   We deal with the fallout from that, and during times of high unemployment the situation is worse.  The government needs to take a far deeper look at the issue.”

Kids in Crisis is an offshoot of Teen Challenge, a charity that first came to the UK from America in the 1980s.  Currently they have 12 local teams nationwide, with nearly 500 workers made up from staff and volunteers who work in multiple locations across the UK.

The aim of the charity is to actively reach people in need, and -in a novel approach- this can take the form of special buses that have been converted to coffee shops going to the worst affected areas.

A Trustee of Teen Challenge Strathclyde, Bill Kerr said: “We have a location that we visit in Paisley, and some nights nobody will come onto the bus and on other occasions up to ten to fifteen people might come on. There isn’t always a pattern that you can predict. Alcohol addiction is of course a problem, but our focus tends to be on younger people with drug addiction.”

Kerr further explained the challenges facing the charity. He said: “We truly do not know the size of the problem, we only touch a few people’s lives. If we can meet people, we’ll meet them, if we can help people we will help them.  If they are willing to go to rehab we will send them. If they are not willing to go we do not refuse them a cup of coffee.”

Teams of workers also walk the streets looking for the opportunity to serve and organise food for those who require it.

Although the original work carried out by Teen Challenge was with teenagers, they now often help people in the 18 to 40 age group.

Kerr said: “We are low key in what we try to do. We try to help those who want help.  We do not turn people away.”

Scottish Campaign on Welfare Reform Launch Manifesto

Image Source: Bonnet

Lord Kirkwood. Credit: Bonnet

 

By Andy Little.

Politicians from all sides of the political spectrum came together in Edinburgh on Thursday  13th November to support the launch of the Scottish Campaign on Welfare Reform. The group is a coalition of key third sector organisations from across Scotland.

The Campaign put forward five key reforms which amounts to a new approach to social security.they seek to increase benefit levels to ensure that no one is left in poverty. Make respect for human rights and dignity a cornerstone for a new approach to welfare. Radically simplify the welfare system. Invest in the support needed to ensure that everyone is able to participate fully in society and make welfare benefits work for Scotland.

Chairman, John Dickie said:

“The current approach to social security is not working. We have seen the rise of foodbanks, rising rent arrears and we need to rethink the overall approach to social security.”

Maggie Kelly the co-author of the manifesto said:

“Simple things can reduce poverty such as paying people benefit that raises them out of poverty”

Keynote speaker Lord Archie Kirkwood (Liberal Democrat) praised the role of the  third sector as an important pressure group for change. Lord Kirkwood said:

“There is massive value in working together, policy makers need to hear from the voluntary sector”

He was also critical of the Department of Work and Pensions. Kirkwood said:

“The Department of Work and Pensions is in a state of turmoil, the information technology for universal credit will never work for low income families and the sanctions regime potentially labels everyone a scrounger. That cannot be allowed to continue”

Shiela Gilmour, Labour MP and member of the House of Commons Work and Pensions Committee sounded a note of caution when she referred to the cost of reform. Gilmour said:

“The cost has to be discussed it’s not just a  safety net but we must have that debate not just a wish list.”

Jamie Hepburn the SNP MSP and deputy convener of the Scottish Parliament Welfare Reform Committee said:

“I welcome this manifesto for an important contribution to the debate and an important opportunity to imagine a different type of Scotland”

Nobody from the Conservative Party attended the event.

The Department of Work and Pensions was not able to respond to a request to comment.

Deportation threatened headteacher handed lifeline by Home Office

by Alasdair Crews

Ae Primary School

Ae Primary School; Credit: Dumfries and Galloway Council

The Home Office has lifted a deportation threat on an American-born headteacher working in Dunfriesshire who had his request for permanent residency turned down.

David MacIsaac, who has lived and worked in Scotland for almost 10 years, was told his application had been turned down in a letter from the Home Office, which said that they considered his four-year marriage to a Scottish woman “a sham”.

Mr MacIsaac will now start the application process again after his lawyer and the Home Office agreed a new framework for re-applying.

Mr MacIsaac has been working as headteacher for Ae Primary School for five years, having discovered a shortage of headteachers in rural communities in Scotland during a holiday to the country.

When the decision by the immigration authorities was brought down, Mr MacIsaac and his wife Susan were devastated. Their misery was compounded by the fact that Susan was recently diagnosed with breast cancer and is due to begin a course of treatment in Edinburgh.

The Home Office decision caused widespread condemnation from all corners of the Scottish political spectrum and various Parliamentary figures have welcomed the Home Office decision.

In a statement, MSP for South Scotland, Joan McAlpine said:

“This is a victory for common sense and I’m extremely pleased the Home Office has dropped its threat to deport Mr MacIsaac.

“The meeting with Scotland’s education secretary clearly sent a strong signal to the Home Office that its harassment of Mr MacIsaac was wrong.

“The Home Office should be ashamed that its archaic system brought about this highly stressful and unsettling situation.

“I hope Home Office officials learn from this situation and address the serious concerns it has raised about this barbaric Westminster system.”

Mr MacIsaac said: “Sue and I are both delighted and we have been overwhelmed by the cross-party support and the numerous letters and e-mails we have received”.

Senator remains in a critical condition

Irish senator Jimmy Harte

Irish senator Jimmy Harte

by Stephen Mahon

An Irish senator who sustained serious head injuries at the weekend remains in a critical condition.

Senator Jimmy Harte was found unconscious in South Dublin at around 4am on Saturday morning.  Gardai at Kevin Street have been studying CCTV footage from around that time, and it remains unclear whether the Donegal politician was attacked or had an accidental fall.  His coat and mobile phone were not with him when he was found, leading Gardai to believe that the Labour Senator had been the victim of a robbery.

However, speaking today, Gardai confirmed that the items had been left at a bar where Harte had been watching the Ireland v Latvia match in Dawson Street, in the south of the city on Friday evening.  “It looks like an accident, but until we have thoroughly examined the CCTV footage from around that time, we cannot say for certain,” said Chief Superintendent Michael O’Sullvan.  “We would also still appeal for any witnesses who were in the area at around that time to come forward.”

Doctors at Dublin’s Beaumont Hospital say the next 24 hours will be crucial for the 55 year old.  Harte suffered a fractured skull, a massive blood clot and a brain injury in the incident at Newmarket Square, Dublin in the early hours of Saturday morning.  He was rushed to St James Hospital before being transferred to the specialist head injury unit at Beaumont Hospital.  He remains in a medically induced coma. It has also emerged that the Donegal Senator had underlying health issues linked to a heart condition and had collapsed a number of times previously.

Harte joined the Irish Labour party in 2010 and contested the 2011 general election in Donegal North East. He failed to gain a seat, coming fourth in the three-seat constituency.

Later that year he was elected to the Seanad Industrial and Commercial Panel, one of five vocational panels which together elect 43 members of Senad Eireann,  the upper house of the Oireachtas.

Law students black up for night out

Four students black up on a night out. Image courtesy of www.thedailymail.co.uk

Four students black up on a night out. Credit; Deadline News

By Melissa Fernie

Four law students are at the centre of a race row after painting their faces black for a society night out in Edinburgh this week.

The Edinburgh University students were attending the annual law society ‘Beerienteering’ event, which is highly popular night for the society. It consists of a steeplechase around the bars of Edinburgh with challenges and surprises along the way. This year’s theme was ‘Around the World’ and students were encouraged to dress to impress.

However a team made up of three boys and one girl decided to dress as Somali pirates for the event and subsequently painted their faces black. They happily posed for photos before and during the evening but were called out on their costume choices by members of both the Amnesty International Society and the Vegetable Society at the Three Sisters Pub. Many of those involved and attending the event were surprised the law society let the team continue competing.

Speaking to students who attended the ‘Beerienteering’ event, one said: “This is an image of black and ethnic minority oppression becoming manifested in students’ costumes. Racism should be opposed on every level at Edinburgh University and we as a student body should do all within our power to make sure these attitudes are called out.”

Nadia Mehdi, Vice President of Societies and Activities at EUSA said: “I’m shocked to see that in this day and age these student weren’t aware of or choose to ignore the offence they would cause by painting their faces black.”

The law society hit back at the negative comments and Keir Gilius, President of the society said: “As a society we try to arrange our events within innovative and interesting themes leaving scope for attendees to use their imaginations. In no way was this theme intended to incite racism of cultural appropriation and as a society, we are vehemently opposed to discrimination of any form.”

Gilius apologised if the team’s costumes upset anyone and said: “In future we will strive to ensure that any fancy dress events will actively discourage the use of any costumes that could be perceived as being offensive.”

However not everyone believes the costumes should have incited a race row. One student said: “This is another fine example of some idiots looking for a reason to be offended. Not sure how on earth this is in any way racist or offensive. Absolute morons who need to get a life outside of the veg soc.”

Other students also believe too much fuss was made over the costume, with one student saying: “This is absolutely ridiculous and shows how far political correctness is being exploited. How is painting your skin black a form of minority oppression, discrimination or racism? They weren’t portraying black people in any sort of racist derogatory way. It’s annoying how so many kinds of discrimination are allowed to let slip but as soon as skin colour is involved it’s a different story.”

Anger as Council Bosses Approve George Street Changes

23George_Street,_Edinburgh

By Fraser Ryan

Edinburgh City Council bosses have been criticised over plans to implement a twelve month trial to turn George Street into a one way street.

The Edinburgh City Council’s Transport and Environment Committee have angered fellow councillors and members of the public by deciding to approve a trial one way system in George Street. The plan will see the pavements in George Street extended to accommodate street events, as well as introduce a two-way cycle route.

Plans to implement the same plans on Princes Street were rejected, meaning the street will remain two-way during the initial twelve month trail period. It is unlikely any alterations will be made to Princes Street until the Trams are operational by May 2014.

Joanna Mowat, a city centre councillor and Conservative transport spokeswoman, said it would be “foolish” to introduce the system, and called it one of the worst schemes she had “ever seen in local ­government. We are flying in the face of what the architects of the city wanted, what businesses want, what pedestrians want and what cyclists want,” she said.

Gordon Henderson, spokesman for the Federation of Small Businesses Scotland, said that its members felt they had been “comprehensively ignored”.

According to a poll conducted by the Federation, only 35% of people supported the move, while 27% were in favour of splitting the bus services between the two streets.

David Porteous, a senior council official who authored the report, defended the council’s decision, saying “Respondents were sceptical about the benefits of introducing a one-way system to the city centre, arguing that traffic would be displaced if no ­developments in alternative transport provision or better linkages between other parts of the city were provided.”

Video games industry adapts as 20 more filesharing sites are blocked by courts

By Alasdair Crews

As the music industry welcomes a court ordered block of filesharing sites, the games industry is taking their own measures to deal with the problem.

The British Phonographic Industry have welcomed a court order for all internet service providers (ISPs) in the UK to block access to more than 20 filesharing sites.

The chief executive of the BPI, Geoff Taylor, stated that they felt that the block, along with those already in place for other sites will “significantly reduce” the use of the sites in the UK.

The other major entertainment industry in the UK, the video games industry, is taking a different approach.

A recent survey by Tiga, the trade industry body for video games, stated that although almost 60 percent of their members see piracy as a problem, only 10 percent see cracking down on filesharing sites as the best option.

Instead, the majority think that “new business models” are the way forward.  The “free-to-play” model – also known as F2P – where players can play a base game for free and pay money to acquire new items and progress quicker, has become the model of choice for developers, especially on mobile devices.

A look at the statistics suggest that this model is fruitful for developers – EA Games announced yesterday that their premier F2P mobile title – “The Simpsons Tapped Out” – has generated more than $100 million in revenue since it’s launch in 2012.  Estimates given this month state that “Candy Crush Saga”, made by King Games, earns over $800,000 daily.

Mobile devices are not the only place where this model has been successful.  Valve Corporation made their popular PC game “Team Fortress 2″ game free-to-play in 2011 and they estimated that their gross from the game has been “12 times more” than if the game remained a full-priced purchase.

However, not all developers are taking this action.  The CEO of Deep Silver, Dr. Klemens Kundratitz, who make the popular “Saint’s Row” series, admit that piracy is generally “ignored” in their business plan and that they just, “live with it [as it has] been part of our business for decades.”

EA Games' "The Simpsons Tapped Out" has grossed $100 million in revenue since it's launch

EA Games’ “The Simpsons Tapped Out” has grossed $100 million in revenue since it’s launch

G4S seek redemption with 2014 Commonwealth Games bid

g4s

G4S bid for Glasgow 2014 spot. Photograph: David Davies/PA

By Jonathan C. H. Davis

G4S have staged a bid to be part of the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow next year to avenge their humiliation at last summer’s London 2012 Olympics.

The private security company, solely responsible for Games Security at London 2012, had to pay £70m in compensation to organising committee Locog after 3,500 soldiers were drafted in for the event. This followed G4S’s admission two weeks before the opening ceremony that they were not able to provide enough guards.

Glasgow 2014 organisers have already put strategies in place to safe guard against a repeat of what happened in London by divide up the contracts between a number of security firms.

A Glasgow 2014 spokeswoman said “We are working to support Police Scotland, who have responsibility for Games security, to deliver a safe and secure Commonwealth Games next summer.

“Learning from previous Games, we have offered opportunities to a wide range of compliant providers from the private security industry to contribute to delivering a safe and enjoyable Games experience for athletes, officials and spectators.

“Companies will be considered on their merits and assessed in line with detailed tendering requirements and procedures. No appointments have been made.”

Glasgow 2014′s organisers are offering two aspects of event security to private companies – safety stewarding and security guarding – with G4S preparing a bid for the former.

A G4S spokesperson said, “As the existing provider of stewarding services at a number of Games venues, we are participating in the process to be included in the framework to continue to provide these services during the Games.

“We already work for Hampden Park, Ibrox Stadium, and the new Hydro Arena, and have unrivalled experience at major events such as ‘T in the Park’ and ‘RockNess’”

The announcement has already come under heavy scrutiny, with Chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee Keith Vaz stating, “I am astonished that G4S has the nerve to apply for this contract. This is the company whose poor management nearly wrecked the greatest Olympics of modern times and led us to call in the troops.”

Despite these comments,  the security company, are confident they are well placed to bid for Glasgow2014′s security contracts, stating “G4S is one of the largest employers in Scotland with around 5,000 people working to provide services across the country.”

Brazil to produce low cost vaccines for developing countries

Brazil’ s top state funded research foundation is to start producing low cost combined rubella-measles vaccines for export to developing countries, particularly to Africa.

A $1m partnership with the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation is going to support the venture, Brasilian Health Minister Alexandre Padilha announced on Monday at a medical science conference.

The country has set its plan to invest in biochemical expertise to join China and India as producer of vaccines for export which are more affordable than the pharmaceutical industry ones.

Low cost Rubella – Measles vaccines are now produced just by India. The Brazilian version is expected to cost around $0.50 per dose and it is to hit the market by 2017, at a rate of 30m doses produced a year, reducing the current chronic shortage.

Brazil’s Oswaldo Cruz Foundation started producing combined vaccines in 2003 for the country’ s immunization program but the high prices made them unaffordable to developing countries. The Melinda and Bill Gates foundation investment will allow to lower the price and bring further investments in the area which will fuel an export – targeted expansion. For this reason, the government plans to build a brand new plant and create new jobs.

The Gates foundation will now sponsor clinical trials and might contribute further, a spokesman said.

Measles and rubella are virus-caused diseases which kills thousands of people a year, especially children. They are particularly dangerous during pregnancy, causing the foetus development retards or even death.”More than 150 000 people die every year all over the world, victims of measles. The production of this vaccine will allow us to access the global market. We’ll start with this vaccine which will open us the doors to other kinds of vaccines produced here in the country” Minister Padilha stated at the meeting, explaining the plan to further investments.

Laura Girasole

african children waiting for a vaccination

african children waiting for a vaccination

European Ocean Energy Association Conference in Edinburgh Today

By Melissa Steel

The European Ocean Energy Association (EUOEA) Conference continues today at the Our Dynamic Earth venue in Edinburgh.

The conference brings together politicians and industry members to discuss the future of ocean energy. Also known as wave and tidal, ocean energy involves harnessing the power of waves and the tide to create electricity and pump or purify water. Speakers today at the second and final day of the conference include First Minister Alex Salmond and Simon Christian, UK Managing Director, ScottishPower Renewables.

Today began with Salmond delivering a keynote speech. The EUOEA tweeted that the First Minister said “Once commercial viability is achieved, renewables take off very quickly.”

Minister of State for Energy and Climate Change, Greg Barker spoke after the First Minister this morning. He said he wanted to “reaffirm the UK government’s long term commitment to ocean energy” and that “we must grasp the huge opportunity for abundant clean energy that geography and tech innovation can deliver”.

The day will proceed with a discussion of how ocean energy can take on other energy sectors in the future, led by speakers Beatrice Coda of the European Commission’s DG CLIMA initiative, Steve Wyatt, Director of Innovation at the Carbon Trust and Rob Stevenson, a Policy Director.

Later on there will be a panel on the financial challenges the industry faces. Emmanuel Brochard, Director of Business Development, DCNS Ocean Energy and Oliver Wragg, Business Development and Project Manager at Atlantis Resources will be among those to take to the stage at this time.

The final panel event of the day is ‘Member States: Financial and Strategic Support Models’, a look at how different countries approach ocean energy. John Callaghan, Wave and Tidal Programme Manager of The Crown Estate, is one prominent contributor to this discussion.

European Ocean Energy Association CEO, Sian George will close the conference this afternoon with a meeting of the ‘Ocean Energy Hub’, a group of industry leaders and politicians who want to create a ‘road map’ for the future of ocean energy.

Panels run yesterday revolved around issues such as boosting the number of jobs in the industry and the creation of new technology.

According to Scottish Development International, Scotland “benefit[s] from 25 percent of Europe’s tidal energy and 10 percent of Europe’s wave resources”. We are also “leading the world in the development and commercialisation of wave and tidal energy. Scotland’s natural environment offers the perfect location for wave and tidal energy investment.”

 

 

 

 

 

Judge Slams Media in Phonetapping Case

By Stephen Mahon

The jury in the Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson trial at the Old Bailey have been told to disregard online and printed satire concerning the pair.

Mr Justice John Saunders outlined the importance of both receiving a fair hearing, but acknowledged that it would be hard for the jury, with the headlines and speculation surrounding the ex News of the World editors since the phonetapping accusations first came to light.

The pair are accused of conspiring to illegally access voicemail messages on mobile phones belonging to actors, politicians and victims of crime.  The News of the Worl was closed down by Rupert Murdoch shortly after it had emerged that missing schoolgirl Millie Dowler’s voicemail had been hacked.

Speaking on the eve of the trial, Justice Saunders made particular reference to this week’s edition of Private Eye magazine which depicts Rebekah Brooks on the front cover.  “Private Eye has seen fit today to put out their November edition…it bears a picture of Rebekah Brooks on the cover,” he said.

“It is meant to be satire. You ignore it; it has no serious input and it is not relevant to your considerations.”

Mr Justice Saunders delivered detailed instructions to the jury of nine women and three men at London’s Old Bailey after they were sworn in yesterday, warning them to consider the case only on the evidence and arguments presented in court. He was also critical of the treatment the former  editors had received online, with much made of Rebekah Brooks’ friendship with Prime Minister David Cameron and other high profile acquaintances.  Justice Saunders issued hardline controls on avoiding social media during the case.  Failing to adhere to these guidelines could result in contempt of court proceedings against the jury.

“The internet is generally not controlled and often fuelled by opinion and speculation, a great deal of information is imparted and received by people through Facebook and Twitter.

“A significant amount of publicity has been inaccurate and misleading… offensive and demeaning to some of the defendants. A lot is ill-informed and most of it is abusive.”

Ms Brooks and Mr Coulson are charged with conspiracy to illegally intercept communications and Ms Brooks is also accused of two counts of conspiracy to commit misconduct in a public office, and two counts of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice by hampering a police inquiry.

Mr Coulson is additionally charged with two counts of conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office.

A total of eight ex News International employees are due before the jury and all remain on bail as the case resumes. The trial is expected to last six months.

The prosecution is due to start it’s case later today.

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Rebekah Brooks: Trial starts today

 

Independent Scotland could face terror threat, warns Theresa May

Theresa May speaking in Edinburgh on the independence threat to Scottish security.

Theresa May speaking in Edinburgh on the independence threat to Scottish security.

By Lisa Moir

Claims by the UK Home Secretary that an independent Scotland would be ill-equipped to tackle terrorism threats have been ferociously denied by YES campaigners.

Speaking from Edinburgh yesterday, on the latest UK government paper, Theresa May has said Scotland would have reduced ability to detect criminal and terrorist threats.

This was the seventh paper to be published by the UK government, ahead of the Independence referendum, to take place in September 2014. Focusing on the security of an independent Scotland, it claims that threats from organised crime gangs, cyber criminals and global terrorism “are best confronted with Scotland inside the UK.”

However, Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill rejected this saying, “These claims are wrong…Scotland is already an independent jurisdiction when it comes to policing and justice issues, and current cross-border cooperation shows how well that can work to combat terrorism and other threats.”

SNP MSP Christine Grahame supported MacAskill saying “This is Project fear at its worst”, adding, “the SNP has a record of delivering when it comes to policing and security and we will take no lessons from someone who has done so much to undermine this vital area south of the border.”

Theresa May has clearly stated that the current intelligence and security network could not be easily divided and, as a result, resources including the £860m UK cyber security programme would not be available to an independent Scotland. She added that Scotland would lose automatic access to MI5, MI6, GCHQ and the New Crime Agency and that “terrorists will seek new ways to exploit any weakness.”

Despite this, Allan Burnett, former Counter Terrorism for Scotland Chief, remains confident of the Scottish ability to tackle any security threats, having witnessed first hand “the great Scottish talent in military, secret and police intelligence services, and can readily envisage the huge ability, energy, integrity and innovation they would pour into this exciting mission.”

As yet the Scottish Government has still to unveil detailed plans for a post-independent intelligence service, but insists an annual budget of £2.5bn is available to create new security and defence forces.

Home Secretary is said to be “highly sceptical” about the proposed budget, which compared with UK spending of about £33bn for defence and £2bn for security, intelligence and cyber-security, seems rather modest. May also rejected the YES campaigners claims that Scotland would face a diminished threat from terrorism, by shunning illegal wars and rejecting nuclear weapons, suggesting that many terrorists have a problem, “with the way of life in the West,” rather than specific grievances about Foreign Policy adding, “you can’t say the threat would definitely diminish.”

Although not addressing any of May’s specific comments in detail an unperturbed, Kenny MacAskill stated, “An independent Scotland will have first rate security arrangements to counter any threats we may face. And we will continue to work in very close collaboration with the rest of the UK and international partners on security and intelligence matters, which is in everyone’s interests.”

Rape Campaign to Raise Awareness Among Students Over Festive Period

Universities are working in conjunction with Lothian and Borders Police to raise awareness around the increase of rapes taking place over the festive period. The campaign sees students as their “target market”, but some students are questioning why this hasn’t been an on-going campaign.

Universities work with police.

Police

‘We Can Stop It’ aims to increase awareness about the Sexual Offence Act Scotland 2009, which defined several new offences relating to sex without consent.

Changes in the legislation included the acknowledgment that someone who is incapable through drink or drugs is considered unable to consent; the ability to consent to sex can be withdrawn at any time and male rape being legally classified as such for the very first time.

The emphasis of the campaign will be on 18-27 year olds and will focus primarily on men, hoping to provoke a change in values when it comes to rape so that men’s role in preventing rape can be brought to the forefront of peoples’ attention.

Chief Superintendent Malcom Graham, Divisional Commander for the City of Edinburgh said: “With the festive holidays fast approaching, we know that there will be significantly more young people out in bars and clubs.

“I hope that by working with educational establishments and receiving their support for the campaign we can reach our target market effectively and educate them about the key areas of change in the legislation.

“Our officers will also be in and around a number of campuses in the coming weeks speaking to students about the campaign and I would encourage anyone who is interested in becoming involved to speak to them.”

Lesley Johnstone, Chair of the Edinburgh Violence Against Women Partnership, is an advocate of the campaign and said: “Sexual abuse can have a devastating impact upon victims and their wider families, and we strongly support this initiative and the activity the police are doing at Edinburgh’s Universities.”

Students and staff at Napier University responded positively to the campaign, recognising the gravity of the issues at hand. However, some people raised concerns about why the campaign was only being run over the festive period.  Napier Student President Tom Zanelli echoed these concerns: “Rape is a disgraceful act and needs stamping out, I do agree that rape and what actually is rape is still very much unknown, so hopefully this campaign can help raise awareness and also stamp it out.

“To be honest students will always drink and I’m not convinced they will drink any more or less over the festive period, the campaign should on-going throughout the year and always targeted at students.”

Former student Robert Piper said: “A lot of them are too busy studying or going home for Christmas and everything, but yes I think it’s a good thing. They should realise that whenever they go out and have a few drinks, being social, they might let their guard down. They should still be aware of what’s going on around them and everything else that’s going on, not just for themselves but for other people as well.”

Computer Security and Forensics student Jake Gregg said: “Most of the students are going home at Christmas, I don’t see why they wouldn’t do this during term time when there’s more students here. Some students understand the issues, but others maybe need their awareness raised.”

Financial Advisor Zara Lochrie: “I think if there’s enough promotion and awareness is raised enough then I don’t think this campaign will be overlooked, I think it’s something that’s quite prominent just now. If students are aware of it and if there’s enough awareness around the university then it will definitely take off I’d say.

“I’d say students would be the perfect target audience, especially over Christmas with all the Christmas parties and things like that, but student and staff alike over the Christmas period where everyone’s drinking a little bit more. I think it’s a good time to get in there when it’s relevant to them.”

Placements Administrator Lindsay Morgan: “I guess this is a good time for the campaign, because it’s the time when everyone’s drinking and partying. I wasn’t aware of that legislation change so I dare say there are a lot of students out there who aren’t aware of the change either.

“A lot of students will have gone home already, but then there’s local students too, and students still keep in touch with all the things going on at university so it may not be too late.”

Improved Household Energy Efficiency is the Way to Combat Fuel Poverty

Energy efficiency measures prevented 35,000 Scottish households from falling into fuel poverty last year.  This was countered by rising energy prices linked to more people suffering from the cold weather, according to reports.

Statistics released today show that the installation of measures such as loft and cavity insulation, double glazing and new boilers have helped to reduce energy consumption, greenhouse gas emissions and cut household energy requirements.

Around 1,500,000 dwellings (about 65%) were rated ‘good’ in terms of energy efficiency on the National Home Energy Rating (NHER) scale. This continues the upward trend from 31% considered ‘good’ in 2002 and is an increase of 3% since 2010.

Elizabeth Leighton, Senior Policy Officer at WWF Scotland said: “The results show that insulation is the best way of protecting people from rising energy bills. It is estimated that in an un-insulated home a third of all heat lost is through the walls and a quarter of heat through the roof.

“Nearly two thirds of households living in inefficient homes are in fuel poverty, an increase of 8% on 2010 figures. This demonstrates the need for minimum energy efficiency standards so people are not condemned to live in fuel poverty.”

Despite efforts by the Scottish Government to help reduce household energy bills, tens of thousands of families were pushed into fuel poverty in 2011 as a direct result of energy company price rises. The latest figures show that fuel poverty rates increased to 28.9%, affecting 684 000 households, which is 1 percentage point higher than 2010 levels (27.9%).

From July to October 2011, more than 102,000 households fell into this category after energy prices increased by 14%.

Housing and Welfare Minister Margaret Burgess said: “Rising energy bills are a huge concern for this government, and fuel poverty is an absolute scandal in an energy rich country like Scotland.

“The more that energy companies continue to implement punishing price increases, the more they are undoing the good work we are doing to tackle fuel poverty.

“That is why we are urging the UK government – who has responsibility in this area – to do more to help vulnerable people and ensure that our households are better protected.

“This government has allocated over £68 million in 2012-13 to energy efficiency and fuel poverty programmes to help individuals and families who are in most need of support. We also have in place a cash-back voucher scheme offering up to £500 per household for energy efficiency measures such as double glazing, loft and cavity wall insulation, and from today, energy efficient boilers and appliances for private sector landlords.”

Norman Kerr, Director of national fuel poverty charity Energy Action Scotland said: “The fact that more Scottish households are now in fuel poverty is very disappointing but not surprising as energy prices have gone up and people’s budgets generally are under pressure. Efforts to make homes energy efficient, so that less energy is needed to heat them, are more vital than ever and will clearly have to be increased.

“Our advice to the public is to check out if they are on the best fuel tariff and payment method for their needs, to shop around energy suppliers, and to take up the free or discounted insulation from Scottish Government programmes such as Home Energy Scotland. There is a tendency to think it won’t make a difference, but it does all help at these difficult times.”

Energy efficiency measures prevented 35, 000 Scottish households from falling into fuel poverty last year but this was countered by higher fuel poverty linked to rising energy prices, according to new figures.

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