What’s happening in Edinburgh on the week of the 22nd April 2013.
Chinese Quake Death Toll Rises
The large earthquake that struck China’s Sichuan Province this weekend has left at least 200 people dead and nearly 12,000 injured. Rescuers have finally managed to reach many of the rural areas affected by the quake, which measured 6.6 on the Richter scale. Up to 100,000 families could be left homeless after the disaster.
Boston Bomb Suspect May Never be Questioned
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the surviving suspect of the Boston Marathon bombings, remains in a serious condition in hospital. The 19 year old is apparently so seriously injured that communication is difficult, with interrogators facing the possibility that he may never be able to be questioned effectively.
Damascus Massacre Rocks Syria
Reports of a massacre in Syria suggest that hundreds might have been left dead, after violent clashes in the capital city of Damascus. Syrian forces loyal to the President Bashar al-Assad have attacked residents in the city suburb, with opposition forces claiming up to 250 have died, including women and children.
Burmese Police Filmed Ignoring Violence
Footage has emerged of Burmese police standing by as Buddhists attacked and killed a Muslim boy with a sword. The footage also shows police standing by while rioters destroyed a Muslim shop in the country. It comes as the EU is set to lift sanctions against the troubled country.
Guantanamo Inmates on Hunger Strike
Military officials have said that 84 of the remaining 166 inmates at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp are on hunger strike. Inmates continue to protest against their indefinite confinement at the controversial centre, where prisoners are alleged to be subject to abuse and violent interrogation.
Downing Street Soothes Recession Fears
Downing Street has insisted that the U.K economy is “slowly healing” despite ongoing speculation that the country has entered an unprecedented triple-dip recession. Thursday will see the publication of the latest growth figures for the first part of the year. If GDP contracts Britain would officially have entered another recession.
Poll Shows Immigration Concerns Unfounded
A survey has shown that the number of Romanian and Bulgarian immigrants planning on moving to the U.K is lower than expected. Work restrictions for the two countries are expiring later this year, sparking fears that there would be an influx of immigrants seeking work. However the poll suggests that most wouldn’t re-locate without a job offer.
Suarez Faces Ban Over Bite
Liverpool footballer Luis Suarez has been fined by his club after biting Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic during yesterday’s match between the clubs. The FA are set to review footage of the incident before deciding whether to impose a retrospective ban. Suarez stayed on the field before scoring a late equalizing goal in the game, which finished 2-2.
Cameron Defensive Over Nurse Plans
Plans to reform training for student nurses have been defended by Prime Minister David Cameron. The proposals have been blasted by the Royal College of Nurses, which also expressed concern over staffing levels. Cameron has said that the NHS should focus on the “level of care” provided.
Google Hits Back at Tax Critics
Google have defended their tax record in the U.K, after facing damning criticism last year over allegedly avoiding corporation tax. Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt claimed that the internet giant, which has only paid £6m in corporation tax, was responsible for “billions of pounds of start-ups” in Britain.
This weekend saw Scottish Labout hold its annual conference in Inverness. With Scotland just over a year away from the independence referendum, the conference was an opportunity for the party to establish its agenda for the coming months. Here were a few of the talking points.
Lamont pledges to help SNP on social justice
Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont has vowed to work with the Scottish government to help those affected by Tory cuts. In an emotional speech to conference, Lamont pledged to work with the SNP to protect Scots from the “injustice” of the much-maligned “bedroom tax”. She told delegates “Scotland can stand united against the Tory cuts and I call upon the SNP to work with us. If they truly believe in social justice, we can work together.”
Labour attacks Thatcher legacy
Scottish Labour’s Deputy Leader Anas Sarwar accused George Osborne of carrying on the “vandalism” of Margaret Thatcher with his austerity measures. In a fiery speech to conference Sarwar blasted the Chancellor in the wake of the former PMs funeral last week. He said “(Osbourne) has shaped his whole political ideology and cut his political teeth so he can carry on the work of his political hero. Today, he is carrying on the vandalism Thatcher started and his targets are just the same.”
Future Employment Taskforce Launched
Margaret Curran MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland, used conference to launch a taskforce on Employment for the Future. The taskforce will be in place to explore ways in which Scotland can increase employment opportunities in the years to come. Speaking at the launch, Curran said “We have close to 200,000 people unemployed in Scotland, and 17,000 people have spent the last two years on the dole, trying to find jobs. This is a challenge that is too urgent to wait until we are in Government again.” The taskforce will be chaired by Lord John McFall and leading tech entrepreneur MT Rainey.
New Health Watchdog Proposed
Labour announced proposals for a new healthcare watchdog, which would have the power to monitor and turn around troubled hospitals with troubleshooting “Change Teams”. Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Health Jackie Baillie said that it would be a body “with teeth”, to “regulate, inspect, enforce and encourage continuous improvement.”
Johann Lamont was praised by attendees for her keynote speech to her party. However the SNP took the opportunity to criticise her “obsession” with the nationalists, claiming that it overshadows the party’s lack of policies. A spokesman said “There were 22 mentions of the SNP in Johann Lamont’s speech and Alex Salmond was name-checked 13 times. But sadly she was unable to come up with even one new policy.”
A gas leak at the Elgin platform, 150 miles off the coast of Aberdeen has been ongoing since Sunday.
238 workers have been evacuated from the platform and the nearby Rowan Viking drilling rig as well as Shell have moved personnel. A three mile safety zone had been put in place but it has been increased to a five mile radius by the Unite union.
Greenpeace are concerned with possible wider implications of the gas leak in the North Sea.
Total Oil Company owns the platform and claim the leak has not been caused by human error. The company believe the leak is coming from a rock formation above the main reservoir, at a depth of 4,000m.
It has been regarded too dangerous for anyone to return to extinush the blaze but the company claim there is no danger of the flare igniting the gas cloud beneath the rig.
Total has been evaluating the sitution by fly-overs in the area and are currently considering drilling a relief well which could take months.
The men were found guilty of conspiring to send the package. The pieces of mail they sent last year were designed to injure but actually the devices could not explode. McKenzie got “bomb making” tips from US television show The A-Team.
A bank of evidence was mounted against the two, including recordings from a police bug in McKenzie’s car which taped him boasting about “building a bomb”.
There is also CCTV footage of the unemployed builder buying parts including nails for the packages from local shops.
They had previously faced an allegation of conspiracy to murder before it was dropped.
George Galloway, a Respect Party Candidate, most well known for his infamous Big Brother Stint, has won the Bradford-West by-election by 10, 140 votes.
Galloway, in a shocking victory, has taken the Bradford West Parliamentary seat from the Labour Party, and polled more than 18,000 votes. Galloway was expelled from the Labour Party in October 2003 because he expressed his opposition to the Iraq War. Soon after he became a founding member of the left-wing, anti-war Respect Party.
Mr Galloway said the victory is: “the most sensastional victory in British political history.”
Labour Leader, Ed Milliband, is very disappointed with the outcome of the by-elections, but has vowed to lead a Labour Party fightback. Miliband said: “It was an incredibly disappointing result for Labour in Bradford West and I am determined that we learn lessons of what happened.” Miliband will be travelling to Bradford soon, to try to: “win back people’s trust.”
George Galloway contested the parliamentary seat of Poplar and Limehouse, in the 2010 UK general election, as well as the Glasgow List in the 2011 Scottish Parliament election, but was unsuccessful in both.
George Galloway, beat Labour candidate Imran Hussein by 10,140 votes and received 15,595 more votes than Conservative candidate Jackie Whiteley, who came third in the election.
Glasgow Rangers have more than 140 years of history, but the past few months may have been the most tumultuous, with the SPL title-defenders staring into the abyss of administration and the imminent uncertainty over possible takeovers.
A £25m bid from a Chicago-based company, if accepted, could see Rangers go into liquidation – an option fans do not support.
Club 9 Sports would want to form a new club, to avoid paying the club’s debts. Such action would lead Rangers to have at three-year ban from all European competitions. In the even more drastic scenario, liquidation could force Rangers back to the start, requiring them to apply to join the Division Three.
The only offer seeing Rangers go into administration came from former Ibrox director Paul Murray. Letting Rangers pay off their debts through the Company Voluntarily Arrangements (CVA).
The American bid is more than double Brian Kennedy’s offer, which was rejected yesterday. The American firm is now the frontrunner for taking over the club.
By: Anna Redman
The Unite Union has decided against a possible fuel strike over Easter. However, a strike may still occur after Easter depending on the results of reconciliation talks.
The government caused panic buying when they advised drivers to fill up their tanks. Independent experts suggest petrol demands rose 172% yesterday.
In a statement, assistant general secretary Diana Holland said: “We do still retain the right to call strike action for after Easter should those talks break down.”
Approximately 90% of UK forecourts are supplied by Unite union. Almost 2,000 members are at the centre of this dispute.
Unite’s drivers are responsible for delivering fuel to Shell and Esso garages as well as a number of supermarkets.
On Thursday, Energy Secretary Ed Davey advised that people “just need to do the sensible thing… get a full tank of petrol, not a half-tank”.
Tian Tian the panda, also known as Sweetie, may be ready to mate with Yang Guang as early as next week on Tuesday 3rd or Wednesday 4th April.
Edinburgh Zoo and their team of experts have identified an increase in Tian Tian’s oestrogen and a decrease in her progesterone. Female pandas only ovulate once a year, and there is only a 36 hour period in which a female panda can fall pregnant. The two pandas at Edinburgh Zoo will be introduced to each other on Tuesday for 15 minutes at at time. They will probably be put together three times on the first date of Tian Tian being in oestrus. If natural mating does not occur on the first day of oestrus, the zoo may consider the option of artificial insemination.
However, expert keepers will be keeping an eye on the two, as pandas often tend to fight after mating or instead of mating.
A spokesperson for Edinburgh Zoo said has said: “We understand that the whole country is in a state of heightened anticipation, but whatever the outcome of next week, we as animal conervationists and scientists have learnt a huge amount in such a short time about this captivating species. We are just delighted to be playing our part in the essential long term worldwide panda breeding programme.”
Panda Mating Facts:
Panda mating season is from March to May.
A female panda may be in heat from two to seven days.
Pandas reach reproductive maturity at the age of seven years which lasts until they are 20 years old.
A female panda attracts a mate by rubbing against trees and urinating which leaves a scent which grabs the attention of male pandas, as well as by bleating calls.
The male panda leaves the female panda after mating and has nothing to do with the raising of the cub.
Pandas can have between one to two cubs at a time, but because newborn pandas require a high amount of care the mother will usually reject one of the cubs.
The body of a man, who is believed to be in his 30′s, was found on a patch of grass in Broomhouse Gardens East.
The man was found just after midnight yesterday, 29 March, after residents in Broomhouse heard what they thought were fireworks. The man is believed to have died from a gunshot wound.
A police spokesperson has said that the death is being treated as unexplained. “Officers attended at Broomhouse Gardens East just after midnight following a call from the Scottish Ambulance Service. The man’s body was found on a grass area nearby.” The police are currently carrying out house to house enquiries and are asking for information: “Anyone who was in the area at the time and who may have seen or heard anything is asked to contact Lothian and Borders Police on 01313113131 or the charity Crimestoppers on 0800555111.”
A former betting shop in Midlothian was deliberately set ablaze resulting in thousands of pounds of damage.
A group of youths were spotted on the roof of the building moments before the fire broke out on Saturday.
A group of youths were seen on the roof of the building just before the blaze broke out and police are appealing for witnesses.
Lothian and Borders Fire and Rescue Service were called to the derelict building inWoodburn Road, Dalkeith, at 9.30pm and managed to put out the flames.
A Lothian and Borders Police spokesman said: “A group of male youths were seen on the roof prior to the fire breaking out, and we are keen for any information that can help us identify them.
“Anyone who was in the area at the time, who noticed any suspicious activity, should contact police immediately. Similarly, anyone with any other information that can assist our inquiries should also get in touch.”
Anyone with any information should contact Lothian and Borders Police on 0131 311 3131 or through Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111
Today the United States Supreme Court will be begin it’s three day hearing on whether or not President Obama’s 2010 Affordable Care Act is legal. Opponents of the act state that its requirement that people buy insurance intrudes on civil liberties.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was passed in March of 2010, and has faced negative reactions and criticism from conservatives and Republican party leaders and has been dubbed “ObamaCare” by many.
If the court upholds the act, it would forbid insurance companies from denying coverage due to pre-existing medical conditions, limits how much companies can charge older people. Though the most controversial aspect is the law’s “individual mandate.” This would require almost all Americans to hold health insurance or else pay a penalty on their tax returns by 2014. Some believe this goes against civil liberties, while others claim some Americans having no health care results in their unpaid health bills being placed upon taxpayers.
Three men have been convicted at the Old Bailey over a shooting in a south London shop which left a five-year-old girl paralysed.
Thusha Kamaleswaran was shot in the chest and Roshan Selvakumar, 35, was shot in the face at Stockwell Food and Wine in Brixton shop last March.
Nathaniel Grant, Kazeem Kolawole and Anthony McCalla were convicted of grievous bodily harm with intent.
The men were also found guilty of the attempted murder of Roshaun Bryan.
The court heard the gunmen were trying to shoot someone else when the two innocent victims got caught in the crossfire.
Prosecutor Edward Brown QC told jurors: “The reality of this shooting may be that, whilst there was an intention to kill the suspected rival gang member, the gunman and his accomplices couldn’t have cared less if someone else was shot too.”
Thusha’s heart stopped twice before doctors were able to save her. She has spent most of the last year in hospital and doctors say she will never walk again.
The Defence Secretary has confirmed that two British soldiers have been shot dead by an Afghan National Army gunman.
Philip Hammond has told the Commons the incident happened at the entrance gate to the British HQ in Lashkar Gah.
NATO has confirmed that the gunman was then shot dead by return of fire.
A total of 407 British troops have been killed in Afghanistan since military operations began in 2001.
In a statement to the Commons, Mr Hammond stated: “Our thoughts, as ever, are with their families, for whom this will be a deeply personal tragedy”.
Details of the incident are still emerging and relatives are being informed.
It has been announced that oil services company Techchip have won a multi-million pound contract with with oil giants BP.
The contract will include the replacement of the Schiellion floating production and storage vessel, and will take place off the west coast of Shetland.
Based in Paris, Techchip will oversee the project from its Aberdeen office.
It is believed that the work will see an additional 450 million barrels of oil produced by 2035.
The firm currently employs 30,000 people in over 48 countries.
GAME, Britain’s biggest video game retailer, has gone into administration today.
The retailer counts around 1.300 stores distributed between the UK and mainland Europe, 5.100 employees in the UK and Ireland, of which 385 are employed at its headquarters in Basingstoke, Hampshire.
In Edinburgh, Gamestation on Princes Street, the flagship store of the company, had already been closed in late 2011.
However, as the retailers are refusing to release any comments, it’s understood that the GAME stores in St. James Shopping centre and Ocean Terminal are still open as usual.
Meanwhile, it has already been reported that about half of the 600 UK shops have been closed during the day, and it’s unclear whether the rest will stay in business.
The company’s website is currently no longer accessible, and it names MJA Jervis and SD Maddison as the appointed Joint Administrators.
Mike Jervis has commented: “Despite these challenges, we believe that there is room for a specialist game retailer in the territories in which it operates, including its biggest one, the UK.
“As a result, we are hopeful that a going concern sale of the business is achievable”.
GAME, which was founded in 1991 as Rhino Group, had already been rumoured to be in troubled waters as their credit worthiness came under scrutiny just a few days ago.
As a consequence, three main suppliers, Nintendo, EA and Capcom, blocked the distribution of their most recent releases to the retailer.
The overall performance of the company in the last few months has been abysmal, with a £18 million loss for the year to 31 January being blamed on high fixed costs and an ambitious international expansion.
Hollywood director James Cameron has become the first person to solo dive to the deepest point in the ocean. The Marian Trench, which is located in the western pacific ocean close to Guam, is an astonishing 7 miles (11km) deep.
In 1960 the first and last successful endeavor to reach the bottom of the Marian Trench was made by US Navy Lt Don Walsh and oceanographer Jacques Piccard. Cameron though holds the record for being the first person to reach sea ground alone.
He spent several hours on the Pacific Ocean sea floor, collecting samples for scientific research and taking photographs and moving images.
After his return Cameron tweeded: “Hitting bottom never felt so good”
The specially designed sub, the Deepsea Challenger was made in Australia, weighs 11 tonnes and is more than 23feet long.
Cameron said about the expedition: “Most importantly, though, is the significance of pushing the boundaries of where humans can go, what they can see and how they can interpret it.”
National Geographics supported the expedition and its executive vice president of the Mission program Terry Garcia is proud of the program: ”In 2012 we are still exploring largely unknown places — as National Geographic has been doing for nearly 125 years. I’m delighted to say that the golden age of exploration and discovery continues.”
James Cameron always had a passion for deep waters. He has made more than 70 deep submersible dives, including a total of 33 to the wrack of the Titanic. Since Cameron is still a film director at heart it is not surprising that the Deepsea Challenge will become a 3-D film which will subsequently be broadcast on the National Geographic Channel.
Staff and students at Jewel and Esk College have launched a new record label, Feast Records. Utilizing the college’s impressive array of recording equipment the label is aimed at promoting “new young musical talent in Scotland”.
An event will be held to celebrate the new label on the 30th of March at Edinburgh’s Electric. The launch will be ticketed at £5 on the door and will feature young Edinburgh bands such as Maydays, The Nature Boys and Fridgemaster. Feast’s upcoming website will also feature gig and album reviews, studio sessions and up and coming bands.
This record label comes as the latest in a line of recent small independent labels to be launched in the capital such as Song by Toad, Offbeat, Alextronic and Pure Synthesis.
Feast records can be found here on facebook.
Jewel and Esk College website can be found here.
A 30 year-old Polish man died yesterday after he crashed his car into a boulder in Kirkcaldy.
The incident, which took place at Pathhead Sands, is believed to have happened during a meeting of Polish BMW enthusiasts.
Inspector Brenda Sinclair of Fife Constabulary has appealed for any witnesses to come forward.
“We understand that a number of people who were attending this event left the area prior to the arrival of emergency services, and we would urge them to contact us as they may have information which would help us.”
Total E&P UK (TEP UK), operators of the platform, has stated that 238 people have been evacuated from the rig, and no injuries have been reported. The platform is currently unmanned and powered down. The reason for the leak is still unknown.
The Aberdeen Coastguard has confirmed that the situation is still ongoing, and that there have been reports of a sheen from a possible leaking of gas into the water around the rig. They also stated that Total is attempting to ascertain what to do next.
“Investigations are continuing to determine the cause of the ongoing gas leak and TEP UK is monitoring the situation closely,” said a spokesman for Total.
The spokesman also said that they are “cooperating fully with all relevant authorities including the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA).”
The city of Aberdeen has released no warning to the public. They have said that “It is miles and miles off shore, so there is no problem. In fact it is a beautiful day for a paddle.”
A four year old boy was rescued by fire fighters after becoming trapped in a climbing frame in Lauderdale park in Dunbar, East Lothian yesterday evening (25 March 2012).
The boy had to be cut free when his arm became trapped in a metal part of the climbing frame by fire fighters using a grinder and reciprocating saw. They were able to remove the child’s arm which was still trapped by the metal pole before safely releasing his arm.
The child was checked over by an ambulance crew and did not require hospital attention.
Sir Harry Burns announced the trial will test the cost-effectiveness of EarlyCDT lung, a simple blood test used to detect the disease in its earliest stages. Current screening methods only detect advanced lung cancer.
The trial will involve people who have smoked the equivalent of 20 cigarettes a day for 20 years.
Half the participants will receive the EarlyCDT test, while half will not be screened. At the end of the trial, the clinical outcomes and the overall cost of care for both groups will be compared.
Sir Harry Burns said: “The earlier a cancer is diagnosed the greater the chance it can be treated successfully, and currently 85 percent of patients with lung cancer remain undiagnosed until the disease has reached an advanced stage. . . By testing those at greatest risk of developing lung cancer, and diagnosing it at its earliest possible stage, we stand a better chance of being able to treat the cancer successfully.”
According to government statistics one in five deaths in Scotland are smoking-related. Illness associated with smoking costs NHS Scotland over 400 million annually.
EarlyCDT-Lung testing has been used in the United States for two years. According to Oncimmune, the pharamecutical firm that developed the test, it is “performing commercially as expected” there.
Burns hopes that use of new testing procedures will help NHS Scotland increase early detection of Lung cancer by 25%.