Hunt continues for attacker in Edinburgh

By Adam Wilson

Police are continuing to hunt for an attacker who sexually assaulted a young woman on Saturday morning.

Between 6.45 and 7.10 am on Saturday a 19-year-old woman was walking home from a night out with friends in the Cowgate area when she was approached by a man who knocked her to the ground and sexually assaulted her.

The attack happened where Middle Meadow walk meets Jawbone Walk, which cuts accross the centre of the Meadows.

The attacker fled when a member of the public saw the scene and came to the woman’s aid.

The attacker has been described by police as a white male wearing dark clothing and a dark hat.

Detective Chief Inspector Alwyn Bell said: “This has been a horrific attack on a young woman and she is understandably extremely distressed at this time.

“Specially trained officers are currently working alongisde our relevant partner agenceis to offer the victim all the necessary support and assistance she requires.

“This incident took place in an area that is often busy with joggers, dog walkers and other members of the public, regardless of the time of night, and I would urge anyone who was in the Meadows on Saturday morning and remembers anything suspicious to contact police immediately.”

Students Alex and Susan, 20 and 21, who live in the area, said: “We run in this area quite a lot and we haven’t seen anything suspicious.

“But there’s three of us in our flat so we try to run or walk to uni together.”

Inspector Bell added: “If you believe you can be of assistance to our investigations please call us on 101. Alternatively, you can make an anonymous report via the charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.”

 

Tram disruption to be discussed at council meeting

By Marion Guichaoua

A motion will be discussed by the Council this week about the traffic issues created by the tram’s installation and the new traffic lights in the city center.

The council have said: “The council notes with concern that, six months after the start of tram operations, the combination of traffic lights between Leith Street and Waverley Bridge are still causing considerable delays to traffic.

“Further notes that this effect has greatest impact on buses and cyclists but also affects general traffic and, occasionally, trams.

“Considering that long waits for west bound traffic, even for an east bound tram which will not cross the same path, are frustrating for travelers. “

The tram of Edinburgh is a 14-kilometre line between York Place in New town and Edinburgh Airport, with 15 stops.

The line opened on 31 May 2014.

The final cost of the tram is expected to top £1 billion.

Chris Hill, from the City Cycling Edinburgh Forum said: “There are all sorts of issues related to trams – not least people falling off on the tracks, particularly when wet.

“Most concerns about trams and traffic signals have been to do with the long delays caused by the timings. “

Councilor Whyte calls for a report to the Transport & Environment Committee within the two cycles setting out a full solution to this issue.

The council have refused to comment on the issue at this time.

 

 

 

National Lottery celebrates 20th anniversary

By Carolina Morais

Scottish organisations funded by the National Lottery Council have applauded its “vital” and “valuable” work, as it celebrates it’s 20th anniversary.

The Edinburgh-based charity ‘Dads Rock’, which provides bonding time for dads and their children, is set to expand after the National Lottery awarded it last month with £287,096.

A spokesperson from the organisation said: “We would not be able to function without the National Lottery’s funding. It has been absolutely vital. We have been benefiting since 2012 but this last amount we just got allows us to provide services for three years.

“We are going to run a young dads’ project and invest in parenting counseling . We estimate to help over 200 families in Edinburgh.”

The children’s charity ‘Woodcraft Folk’, focused on developing young people’s social and creative skills, also recognizes the importance of the National Lottery’s support.

A Scottish representative said: “It has been a very valuable help to our organisation. The money we received allowed us to employ more staff and to do more trials to test how to approach children and help them grow.

“Here in Scotland, for example, we were able to do what we called the ‘Summer Sessions 2013′, in Stirling, in which we made some real changes in children’s lives. It has definitely been a very successful partnership for us.

Nicola Bligh, from National Lottery Good Causes, said she is “extremely proud” of what the organisation has accomplished over the last 20 years.

“It has been incredibly important. We raised over 32 billion pounds, we have supported a lot of local projects and we have benefited peoples lives.

“It is amazing how you can benefit people everyday in ordinary sectors. And we created thousands of jobs and volunteering opportunities.

“We recently captured an image that will be released this Wednesday in which we gathered over 800 people from over 50 projects that benefited from our funding over the past 20 years. It is really moving to hear these stories. The numbers of our accomplishments are amazing, but the stories behind them are what really matters.”

Ms Bligh also said: “For the future, we hope more and more projects apply for our funding, which is very easy to do through our website. Our plan, of course, is to repeat what we did over the last 20 years just as successfully and keep changing people’s lives.”

To celebrate two decades of existence, the National Lottery is releasing a new video everyday at 6pm on its website until the 19th of November, allowing people to enter the prize draws which increase in value each day.

The first National Lottery draw was on 14 November 1994. According to the organisation, over 450,000 lottery-funded projects were accomplished and over 3,700 millionaires were made in the United Kingdom.

 

 

 

Farmers reassure public over bird flu fears

By Paul Hyland and Tom Crosby

Farmers have joined health and veterinary institutions in downplaying the dangers of a bird flu outbreak in Scotland.

The Scottish Government has urged farmers to be vigilant after the outbreak of bird flu in England.

The newly discovered H5 strain of avian influenza was found in East Yorkshire earlier this week, joining a glut of international cases in The Netherlands, Germany and South Korea.

Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead has commented following the confirmation of a case of avian influenza on a duck breeding farm in Nafferton near Driffield.

He said: “The Scottish Government is closely monitoring the case of avian influenza on a duck breeding farm in East Yorkshire, and I note the immediate and robust response by the authorities in England to prevent any potential spread of infection.

“My officials have been liaising closely with the Defra who have made it clear the public health risk is very low – and that they have ruled out the H5N1 strain that is infectious for humans. Furthermore, the latest Food Standards Agency advice is that avian flu does not pose a food safety risk for UK consumers.

“Although avian influenza has been confirmed in England only, I urge Scottish poultry producers to stay vigilant for any signs of disease – and my officials have this afternoon updated industry representatives and other key stakeholders with the latest information and veterinary advice.

A spokeswoman for the Foods Standards Agency (FSA) in Scotland also described the risk as “pretty low” and that the disease didn’t “pose a risk to food safety.”

This was mirrored by The British Veterinary Association (BVA) and British Veterinary Poultry Association (BVPA) mirrored the FSA’s.

In a press release they said: “the risk to public health is very low and there is no risk to the food chain. We would also point out that the strain of flu has been identified as H5 avian flu and NOT the more serious H5N1, which has caused disease in some people.

Bob Carruth, Communications Director with the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) Scotland said: “It tends to be with poultry flocks, whether their flocks are producing eggs, or whether their flocks are for the table, farmers tend to keep a very close eye on these birds anyway, so it’s just a matter of keeping a good look at the birds.

“If there are birds that are showing signs of being ill or groups of birds that suddenly stop laying eggs, that kind of thing, its to make sure you take the time to have these animals tested to see what the problem might be.”

He also noted that farmers were well equipped to deal with any potential outbreak.

He said: “Most poultry units have very good levels of bio security on the farm anyway so they are very careful about who they allow onto the farm. Those who do come onto the farm whether they are working with the birds or whether they are, say, bringing on supplies do tend to go through disinfection methods anyway so vehicles and boots will all be disinfected when people come onto the farm.

“What Scottish farmers will be doing is be watching very closely the situation in East Yorkshire. Obviously they are aware that there was cases in the Netherlands and a case in Germany..it’s maybe linked into migratory birds, there’s always a higher risk this time of year because it’s a time when birds are migrating.

“So we’ll wait and see the outcome of the testing in East Yorkshire, they are obviously doing monitoring within 3km… and in Scotland there is concern but we’ll wait and see what the outcome of that testing in Yorkshire is, and certainly we would ask Scottish poultry keepers to keep a very close eye on their birds in the next few days.”

Prof. Paul Digard of the Roslin Insitute, University of Edinburgh, specialises in research surrounding influenza viruses, said the risk was “very low, verging on none”.

With regards to the food chain, he said: “Even if it was a strain of virus that was risky for humans…even if it was H5N1, cooking makes it utterly safe.

“You will not catch bird flu from a boiled egg.”

Scotland’s Chief Veterinary Officer, Sheila Voas, said:

“As always, all poultry keepers should continue their efforts to maintain high levels of biosecurity and monitor their birds for any signs of disease. Avian influenza is a notifiable disease, and so any suspicion should be reported immediately to the nearest Animal Health office.

“As part of routine wildlife disease surveillance post-mortem examinations of birds are undertaken in incidents where five birds are found dead in the same location and at the same time. Members of the public are asked to report any such incidents by calling the Defra national helpline on 08459 33 55 77. Scottish Government advice is not to handle dead wild birds where possible.”

 

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.

 

 

 

A Farewell to Alex Salmond

By Charlotte Barbour

Scottish Labour politicians have said Alex Salmond will be remembered for the negative impact he has had on Scotland during his time as First Minister.

Claire Baker, a Scottish Labour MSP, described Mr Salmond as a “divisive” person and politician:

“While people should recognise his achievement as First Minister, it is time that he went.

He lost the referendum, and during his time in politics we have seen fewer teachers in schools, huge cuts to the college sector and the NHS have been put under enormous financial pressure. These are things that he will be remembered for.

Alex Salmond is a divisive person and a divisive politician and it is time for Scotland to move on.”

Salmond will submit his resignation as First Minister to the Scottish Parliament and to the Queen at 2.30 this afternoon.

Deputy SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon is expected to replace Salmond as leader of the Scottish National Party after his seven and a half years in power.

Salmond began his career in politics in 1973 at the University of St Andrews, when he joined the Federation of Student Nationalists aged 19.

He became SNP leader in 1990, and won the position of First Minister in 2007 after winning more seats than any other party in the Scottish Parliamentary Election.

He led the country into the most dramatic Scottish Independence Referendum in history, achieving a result of 44.7% yes, 55.3% no.

Despite stepping down from his position as First Minister following the ‘no’ vote in the Scottish Independence Referendum, the SNP’s campaign for Scottish Independence is far from over.

A recent poll suggested that nearly half of Scots want a second independence referendum before 2024.

This puts pressure on Ms Sturgeon to promise a re-run after the 2016 Holyrood election, despite 12% of the population being against another independence referendum.

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.

 

 

Scottish drinks industry backs drink-drive limit proposals

By Lauren Beehan

The Scottish drinks industry has welcomed the reduction in the drink-driving limit, which will be voted on by the Scottish Parliament today.

Under the new laws, the maximum blood alcohol level for drivers will be reduced from 80mg to 50mg per 100ml, meaning that a single pint of beer could put them over the limit from December 5th.

Representatives from the drinks industry have encouraged customers to be aware of the new limit and to make their plans accordingly.

Neil Williams of the British Beer & Pub Association said: “It is vital that everyone in Scotland knows about the change, as the pub is at the heart of all our Christmas celebrations. Enjoy the pub during the holiday season, but be prepared, such as having a designated driver, so you can get in the party spirit knowing you can have a safe journey home.”

Industry think-tank, the Portman Group, also supports the changes, saying that that drink producers have a role to play in the campaign against drink-driving.

A spokesperson from the group said that producers will focus now on “running responsible drink driving campaigns and education programmes to encourage people to nominate a designated driver and to never drink and drive.”

The Scottish government has launched an awareness campaign to inform drivers of both the change to the limit and the dangers of driving under the influence of alcohol.

The Don’t Risk It campaign includes advertisements on television, radio and online videos, as well as interactive social media with games showing the influence of alcohol on reaction speeds.

Advertisements will also be shown in northern England, where the limit remains at 80mg per 100ml, to ensure that drivers who cross the border are aware of the different laws.

Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill, who proposed the change, said: “With the approval of Parliament, the new drink drive limit will come into force on December 5, making our roads safer and saving lives.

“We are doing everything we can to make sure everyone is informed about the new lower level.

“A persistent minority of people are still getting behind the wheel after drinking – that is unacceptable, it is putting lives at risk and it must stop. Our advice is simple, the best approach is to have no alcohol at all. Alcohol at any level impairs driving.

“This new law will bring Scotland into line with most of Europe and hopefully reduce drink drive arrests and prosecutions, as we have already seen in the Republic of Ireland, where drivers adjusted their behaviour to take account of the lower limit.”

A similar reduction was implemented in the Republic of Ireland in 2011, where drink-driving convictions fell by 3,000 in the space of two years.

Alcohol is a factor in 1 in 10 fatal road accidents in Scotland, with drink-driving causing over 400 accidents each year.

There were 4,730 people convicted of drink-driving in Scotland between March 2012 and March 2013, the last full year for which statistics are available.

Michael McDonnell, Director of Road Safety Scotland, said: “It’s almost 50 years since the current limit was introduced and that we still lose an average of 20 lives a year is a disgrace.

“Evidence from across the world demonstrates that the best results in tackling drink-driving are achieved by lowering the limit, or increasing enforcement, or both. We know, too, that a combination of high-profile enforcement, coupled with a heavyweight media campaign is the most efficient use of resources, and we are working closely with the Police Scotland and other partners to ensure that people know about the change to the limit and have no excuse.

“It’s not about catching more drink-drivers, but about preventing people from doing it in the first place. Ultimately, most of us have too much to lose, so it’s just not worth the risk.”

Chief Superintendent Iain Murray, Head of Roads Policing for Police Scotland warned that people should not drink at all if they intend to get behind the wheel.

He said: “An average of 20 die on Scotland’s roads each year and last year a further 90 were seriously injured and 340 slightly injured as a result of drink driving related collisions.

“The new lower limit will reduce those numbers and the evidence from across Europe where the lower limit applies suggests we will see reductions in drink driving and blood alcohol counts.

“However even at the new limit you are three times more likely to die in a crash than if you had taken no alcohol. It is clear, when it comes to drinking and driving, that the simple ‘the best advice is none’ message is the right one.

“On the lead up to 5 December, police patrols will positively engage with as many road users as possible to provide real-time education to those who may be putting themselves and others at risk, influence behaviour in the future and prevent collisions on Scotland’s roads.”

 

 

 

Police confident Scotland-England game will not bring disruption

By Greg Barrie

Police Scotland insist that they will be able to prevent trouble ahead of Scotland’s friendly match against England tonight whilst causing minimum disruption to the public in Glasgow’s city centre.

More than 200 fans were arrested the last time the two sides met in Glasgow in 1999 after clashes both at the stadium and in the city centre.

Fears of violence were fuelled yesterday when police confirmed known troublemakers from both sets of supporters were travelling to the match.

However, Chief Superintendent Andy Bates, event commander for tonight’s match, today insisted that policing will not be excessive. He said: “The approach we will take to the game will be proportionate and based on the threat presented at the time.

“The number of resources deployed is less than there were in 1999. We anticipate arrests, but not as many as in 1999. It’s a high-risk game with an increased risk. That’s what you would have with an Old Firm game.

“It is not about a massive oppressive police presence, it’s about preventing crime and keeping people safe; as well as minimising disruption to people in and around the city centre.”

Around 5,000 England supporters are officially due to attend the match at Celtic Park, although the actual figure could be significantly higher with reports of England supporters acquiring tickets for the home end.

Chief Superintendent Andy Bates yesterday revealed that Scottish and English police forces had identified groups of supporters that were possibly looking for trouble. Public concerns about potential trouble were heightened when he said the contest had been given the highest possible UEFA security risk rating.

He said: “There may well be some troublemakers travelling from England. We’ve been working very closely with the UK football policing unit and colleagues from across Police Scotland to monitor the activities of these groups that might want to cause trouble.

“We have intelligence about people from all over the UK travelling to this game, but we are on top of it. I have an intelligence-led operation that will engage with these people and prevent any disorder taking place.”

Security steps have been taken to prevent groups of troublemakers from causing violence in the city. Police officers from a number of forces, including the Met, have travelled to Glasgow to assist Police Scotland in identifying groups of hooligans.

England supporters have to collect their match tickets at a special venue in the city centre which will enable the police forces to identify known troublemakers and monitor their movement.

Chief Supt Bates insisted that with the additional support of English officers the police were confident of maintaining control before and after the match. He said: “We’ll be using officers from down south who have been policing England games for many years. They bring a lot of skills and experience with them.

“If we identify these risk groups of supporters, we will be having conversations with them, letting them know we know what they’re up to and will not be letting them out of our sights. We have been successful with this in the past.”

Tonight’s fixture follows the clash at Wembley between the two sides in August last year, which England won 3-2. The fixture passed without any significant crowd trouble or violence, despite close to 20,000 Scotland fans attending the match.

Police have urged supporters to make their travel plans in advance for getting to and from the stadium. They also reminded supporters that if they are consuming alcohol they should do so responsibly to ensure that they are granted access to the stadium.

Work starts on new Scottish blood centre

By Madalina Dichiu

CONSTRUCTION started today on Scotland’s new national blood centre, part of the £4.5 billion project in Scotland.

The Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service (SNBTS) received £43 million from the Scottish Government.

The National Centre of Excellence will be the hub for the processing, testing, supply, research and development for blood and human donor tissues and cells at Heriot-Watt Research Park in Edinburgh.

The facility will be completed by mid-2017 and more than 400 staff members are expected to move to the site.

It will consolidate and modernise services, which are currently carried out over a number of sites.

Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon marked the start of the development.

She said: “Currently projects worth around £750 million are in construction across Scotland. This government’s continued commitment to infrastructure investment is delivering quality services among the people who visited the new sites, creating jobs and helping to grow the economy.

“This new state-of-the-art centre will put Scotland ahead of the rest of the UK for its work researching and testing blood.

“It will also deliver investment and opportunities to the local community and will mean we can continue to provide sustainable, high quality and continually improving healthcare services to patients across Scotland.”

Mary Morgan, director of the Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service, said: “The development of this new facility has been years in the planning and it is very exciting to be on the threshold of the construction phase.

“Consolidating many of our services will mean we can continue to meet the growing blood transfusion needs of patients across the country while providing the highest quality working environment for our staff and on-going contribution to Scotland’s leading life-science research and development industry.”

Scotland’s Blood Transfusion Charity, Give Blood for Scotland, claims that only four per cent of people in Scotland give blood. The country has a constant need for blood donors, with more than 1,000 donors required every day to meet hospital demand. People need blood for many reasons – after trauma, general supply or to support cancer.

 

Scottish Citizens Advice Service Celebrates 75 Years with twitter Campaign

By Adam Wilson

Scottish politicians met with leaders of the Scottish Citizens Advice Service today to announce a campaign to show support for the charity.

Senior Scottish ministers Ruth Davidson, Kenny MacAskill, and Tavish Scott and Citizens Advice Scotland chief executive Margaret Lynch celebrated the 75th anniversary of the Scottish Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) by launching the #iamcitizen campaign on twitter.

The aim of the campaign is for the public to give thanks and recognise the service provided by the Scottish CAB over the last three quarters of a century.

The organisation produced figures showing that it has helped more than 330,000 people over the last year, or almost one in 13 adults in Scotland, and that is has helped clients gain a total of £175 million as a result of advice given.

Ms Lynch said: “Our work benefits everybody in Scotland, and for that reason I’m heartened to see leading figures from across the political spectrum recognising that and coming together to say thank you.

“I’d encourage anyone who wants to congratulate the fantastic work going on daily at their local Citizens Advice Bureau to take two minutes out of their day to say thank you, and maybe tweet a message with the hashtag #iamcitizen.”

The first bureaux were set up in 1939 as a response to the chaos of the second world war, as a service to help the public with any questions they might have with the changing lifestyle of wartime Britain.

Edinburgh , Glasgow and Aberdeen were some of the first cities in the UK to have CABs.

 

Valleyfield remembers mining tragedy 75 years on

Valleyfield memorial statue to the men who died in one of Scotland's worst mining disasters.

Valleyfield memorial statue to the men who died in one of Scotland’s worst mining disasters.

By Paul Hyland

The 75th anniversary of one of Scotland’s worst mining disasters was marked today in the Fife village where it happened.

An explosion in the Valleyfield Colliery in East Fife on 28 October 1939 killed 35 men after gas caught light and set fire to coal dust.

A presentation was held in the village community centre today where old photographs and slides from the time were shown.

Robert McKenzie, a member of the Valleyfield Mining Disaster Project Group, who organised the event, described the impact of the explosion at the time.

“It was a huge impact on the village,” he said. “There was something like 19 or 20 families bereaved and sometimes it could be maybe two people, a father and a son, a grandfather and a son, that were killed in the disaster, or the one next door could be a relation to the one that was killed.”

The miners were in the middle of a night shift when the blast happened at 3.45am. The force of the explosion was likened to an earthquake by locals at the time.

A wreath-laying ceremony was also held on Sunday at 2pm at a statue in the village commemorating the disaster. It was attended by MSPs, councillors and other dignitaries.

 

 

 

 

Police deny overreaction in rooftop manhunt

By Philip Askew and Mariana Mercado

 

Police in Edinburgh have defended their response to last Saturday’s manhunt through the city centre, where more than 50 riot officers cordoned off part of Cockburn Steet.

Authorities were pursuing two alleged motorcycle thieves through Edinburgh’s Old Town aided by riot police, sniffer dogs and helicopters in what was described as a “mini war-zone” by Twitter users.

Amid accusations of overreacting, Superintendent Angus MacInnes has defended the heavy handed response, saying that they were “simply about ensuring safe and coordinated apprehension of the suspects” due to the “height and potential danger” involved.

A spokesperson for Police Scotland has emphasised that there were no firearms involved in the incident, saying it was “never a shooting” and that reports to the contrary were just “social media doing its thing”.

The two suspects ran away from police on patrol in Tron Square at 8pm when the chase started, according to a statement from the police. One man was detained and a stolen motorcycle was recovered nearby.

Riot police were brought out when an emergency call placed the second alleged perpetrator on the roof one of the buildings in Cockburn street.

Police are still searching for the other suspect, and the investigation is ongoing.

 

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.

BrewDog Beer Launches 2014 #Mashtag

by Nicola Brown and Alex Watson

1974579_10153945299565512_180761127_nIn March 2013 BrewDog beer took to Twitter, inviting followers to create an entirely new beer simply by casting a vote each day. With voting polls open from 10am to 8pm over the course of a week, voters decided on the beer style, the flavours and even the packaging. An American Brown Ale with New Zealand hops, aged on oak chips and hazelnuts was the winner. Simple but effective, they named the process #Mashtag.

Now the independent Scottish craft brewery, which has gathered a cult status since its birth in 2007, has relaunched #Mashtag for 2014 this morning at 10am. Today voters are asked to decide between Pilsner, Red Ale and Porter to determine the beer style. In the first hour over 400 votes had already been cast. On Tuesday voters will decide on the Malt Bill and alcohol by volume (abv), Wednesday will choose the hops and IBU (International Bitterness Unit) and on Thursday the beer will be given its distinguishing characteristic with a special twist. The final day of #Mashtag will allow followers to pick a label for their newly crafted, unique beer.

We interviewed assistant manager of Edinburgh’s BrewDog, Calvin McDonald, about 2014′s #Mashtag and his dream beer.

To take part, cast your vote here.

Tennis star joins line of helpless Scottish onlookers

Wimbledon Champion Andy Murray has said he will not reveal his position on the Scottish Independence debate for fears of a backlash from opposition.

Murray has never been far from the question of independence following a comment he made some 8 years ago during the football World Cup, claiming he would support anyone playing against England.

The tennis star said: “I wouldn’t personally choose to make my feelings on something like that public because not a whole lot of good comes from it.

“I have made that mistake in the past and it’s caused me a headache for seven or eight years of my life and a lot of abuse.”

The Scot re-ignited public interest in his stance on the matter last year when he was crowned 2013 Wimbledon champion and posed for photos draped in the Scottish Saltire, but Murray has chosen to distance himself from the discussion.

“My thoughts on it aren’t that relevant, because I can’t vote myself”, he said.

Murray, who splits his residency between his London home and training base in Miami, is one of some 800,00 Scots living abroad who will not have a say in their country’s future.

The tennis star joins a list of high-profile Scots that will find themselves sitting on the side lines as the referendum comes around on 18th September, but some have been more forthcoming with their views.

Side-lined Scots

Sir Sean Connery, Actor, – Famed Scottish Actor, who now resides in the Bahamas, has long been a supporter of the separation from the UK. Connery who concedes that the decision should stay in the hands of those who live and work within the country, claims independence is an opportunity “too good to miss”.

VOTE – YES

Sir Alex Ferguson, Football Manager – Ex-Manchester United and Aberdeen manager has lived in England for more than 25 years, but the football man dares anyone to question his “Scottish-ness”. A long-term critic of First Minister Alex Salmond, Ferguson publicly pledged his allegiance to the ‘Better Together’ campaign but is distressed at the inability of Scots like himself, not to be given a vote.

VOTE – NO

Alan Cumming, Actor – Hollywood actor and TV star, Alan Cumming is a keen supporter of the ‘Yes’ campaign who claims independence can only add to Scotland’s potential and release a wave of creativity and ambition. Cumming, who currently resides in America spoke of his intention to purchase property in Scotland in order to register a vote.

VOTE – YES

Sir Chris Hoy, Cyclist – GB’s most decorated Olympian found himself the target for abuse from Scottish nationalists last year when he suggested Scottish athletes would find it harder to win medals if they were to split from Team GB. Ironically the cyclist went on to claim he did not want to enter ‘the hornet’s nest’ of the referendum debate, but considering previous comments it appears he would be opposed to a split.

VOTE – NO

Kenny Logan – The former Scotland rugby international has offered perhaps the most aggressive opposition to Scottish ex-pats’ inability to vote. Logan, who lives in England, has pledged to help fund a potential court case in an attempt to force Scotland’s hand and allow individuals like him to have a say in the future of their homeland. Thus far Logan has given little indication over which way he would vote, should he be permitted

VOTE – ?

Iain Test

Napier

Is Scotland’s Film Industry In Jeopardy?

by Alex Watson

Creative Scotland received further criticism in Parliament yesterday from artists who have previously worked with the organisation.

The comments arose during a meeting of Scotland’s Education and Culture Committee, intended to shed further light on the health of the country’s arts and culture sector.  Despite the appointment of new Creative Scotland Chief Executive, Janet Archer, in July this year, some are still unsatisfied with the organisation’s actions.  Film producer at Sigma Films, Gillian Berrie, highlighted Creative Scotland’s lack of support and funding for Scotland’s film industry, in particular.  Berrie said: “It’s embarrassing being Scottish.  We [filmmakers] can’t stay here if something isn’t done.”

Other artists in different fields were initially positive about the new Chief Executive’s progress.  Producer, Chief Executive and Co-Artistic Director of Grid Iron Theatre Co., Judith Doherty, said: “In the last three or four months I have had really good dialogue.  I have had understanding and support.”  Playwright, David Greig, agreed that Creative Scotland were improving, but that there was still much more to be accomplished.  Greig said: “The direction of travel is great [but] young and emerging artists are really suffering.”

Credit: Creative Scotland

The meeting centred on the state and reported decline of Scotland’s film industry.  Berrie admitted that under Archer’s leadership, Creative Scotland are now focussing on film more.  However, Berrie still does not feel that film is being taken seriously enough by the organisation.  Berrie said: “I think very small steps have been taken.”  Janet Archer was present to defend Creative Scotland and her decisions during the meeting.  Archer said: “I think we are doing well [and] we are having an open conversation.”  The Chief Executive implied that she would spend sufficient time devising a longterm plan for the new structure of Creative Scotland, as opposed to a quick fix.  Archer said: “I’m not interested in a sticking plaster approach.”

According to Archer, a plan for the future of Creative Scotland will be available online in January 2014.  Confirmed plans and funding methods will be announced on April 1st 2014.  Archer stressed that the funding application process would become significantly less complicated, something which had deterred and excluded many artists under former Chief Executive, Andrew Dixon.  Archer said: “Funding schemes at the moment are quite confusing.  We are on a track to simplifying our funding programs.”

The reported £6 million spent by Visit Scotland to promote the 2012 Disney Pixar film Brave is clearly a bone of contention for Berrie.  MSP Stewart Maxwell argued that the endorsement was intended to advertise Scotland as a tourist destination, rather than sell cinema tickets.  Nonetheless, Berrie maintains that this money could have been put into several Scottish films, rather than one large international project.  Berrie also compared the worth of Scotland’s film sector (£32 million per annum in total) to that of Ireland (around £400 million).  According to Berrie’s figures, Ireland’s tourist industry reaps around £250 million of this every year.

Alitalia Says No To Ryanair’s Rescue Offer

Ryanair Deputy Chief Executive Michael Cawley. Credit: Anthony Devlin

Ryanair Deputy Chief Executive Michael Cawley. Credit: Anthony Devlin

By Laura Girasole

Yesterday, Italy’s wrecked ex-flag carrier, Alitalia, refused an offer of help to maintain its services from low-cost airline Ryanair.

With the opening of three new domestic routes, which will connect southern cities to Rome, Ryanair Deputy Chief Executive, Michael Cawley, invited Alitalia to accept some help. The three routes will fly to Alitalia’ s hub Fiumicino feeding Alitalia’s international flights. Ryanair also opened the doors to further cooperation. Cawley said: “Ryanair believes that by offering to feed Alitalia’s international hub at Fiumicino and by searching for opportunities to work with and assist Alitalia in its turnaround, that we can help the new investors and the management of Alitalia to return that airline to profitability and viability.”

Alitalia swiftly refused. They said: “Alitalia thanks Ryanair for its cooperation offer but we wish to remind that we have our own strategy, our own industrial plan, our own air fleet and our own staff which allow us to have the appropriate feed for our international and intercontinental flights leaving from Fiumicino Hub.”

In a press statement, Alitalia also expressed its disappointment about Ryanair flying to Fiumicino instead of Ciampino, Rome’s peripheral airport. Alitalia said:”It is a shame. Everywhere in first-world countries, low cost airlines fly to small suburban airports and not to hubs.”

Alitalia is going through hard times. The airline is in a deep crisis, which led to a drastic reduction of domestic and international flights. The company has been relying on capital injections for the decade. Today, it will be crucial due to a deadline for a capital increase, which should keep it running. Alitalia hopes that this and a new business plan focusing on competitiveness will be enough to save the airline from bankruptcy.

Meanwhile, the airline has lost the leadership of Italy’s air traffic. Ryanair is now the number one carrier and its profits in Italy keep soaring.

 

New Consoles Launch Amid Poor Review Scores and Developer Pressure

By Alasdair Crews

Microsoft's Xbox One, which launched earlier this month.  Credit: Microsoft

Microsoft’s Xbox One, which launched earlier this month. Credit: Microsoft

The successful launch of the new Xbox One and PlayStation 4 consoles has been overshadowed by poor game review scores. Both consoles launched in the U.S. earlier this month with both console producers, Microsoft and Sony, proclaiming that thier machine have sold more than one million units in North America within 24 hours of going on sale.

Unfortunately, the successful sales for both machines have been dulled by a succession of poor review scores for their flagship games. PlayStation 4 exclusives “Killzone: Shadow Fall” and “Knack” and Xbox One-only offerings “Ryse: Son of Rome” and “Zoo Tycoon” have received mixed reviews across the gaming press.

The added pressure game developers are under when working with new hardware could have contributed to the poor review scores.  An assistant producer with Ninja Theory, Colin Chang,  said: “With development of those titles having lasted at least two years and working on theoretical hardware (that changed as time went on) at the beginning of the next-gen SKUs. [It's a challenge], especially if you’re a launch title with such a constrained deadline.”

Having to develop parallel versions of games for the new consoles, as well as the consoles already being on sale, has also affected quality.  Chang said: “I can imagine this would have affected third party publishers and developers like Activision and EA the most as they would’ve shipped 4-5 SKUs of games such as Call of Duty Ghosts and Need For Speed Rivals.”

Alongside the middling review scores, technical issues have plagued both new machines. Faulty disc drives in the Xbox One have led to Microsoft offering affected customers a free game download; whilst Sony has had issues with a blue light on the PlayStation 4 causing the console to reset itself and cause other operational issues.

Both companies maintain that the issues affect less than one percent of the consoles sold so far. With both consoles expected to be top sellers this Christmas, Microsoft and Sony hope that these issues remain isolated.

Related Story: Retailers Braced For PlayStation 4 Launch

Reaction to the Scottish Government White Paper

Scottish Government White Paper. Credit: Lib Dem Voice

Scottish Government White Paper. Credit: Lib Dem Voice

By David Thomson

The Scottish Government has launched its much hyped White Paper at the Science Centre in Glasgow in front of the world’s press.

Both First Minister, Alex Salmond, and Deputy First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, launched the Scotland’s Future – Your Guide to an Independent Scotland ahead of next year’s referendum.

The 670-page document is said to be the ‘the most comprehensive blueprint for an independent country ever published.’ It offers the clear understanding of economic and social policy with childcare being at the heart of the guide.

Alex Salmond said: “This is the most comprehensive blueprint for an independent country ever published, not just for Scotland but for any prospective independent nation.‬‬‬ But more than that, it is a mission statement and a prospectus for the kind of country we should be and which this government believes we can be. Our vision is of an independent Scotland regaining its place as an equal member of the family of nations – however, we do not seek independence as an end in itself, but rather as a means to changing Scotland for the better. This guide contains policies, which offer nothing less than a revolution in employment and social policy for Scotland with a transformational change in childcare at the heart of those plans. Our proposals will make it far easier for parents to balance work and family life and will allow many more people, especially women, to move into the workforce, fostering economic growth and helping to boost revenues – which will in itself help pay for the policy.”

Former Chancellor Alastair Darling, the head of the pro Union, Better Together campaign, responded to the White Paper and said: “With so much uncertainty and unanswered questions about the cost of independence, leaving the UK would be a huge leap in the dark – especially when we know that devolution works for Scotland. We can have the best of both worlds – a strong Scottish Parliament with the strength and opportunity of being part of a bigger United Kingdom.”

If the current SNP administration get’s re-elected, they have set out a series of pledges that would include:

  • A transformation in childcare, helping more women into work and providing up to 35,000 jobs.
  • A safe, triple-locked pension that meets Scotland’s needs and puts more money in the pockets of our pensioners.
  • A guaranteed minimum wage that rises alongside the cost of living to make sure the lowest paid get a fair wage for a fair days work.
  • Basic rate tax allowances and tax credits that will also rise at least in line with inflation.
  • A change to the way ‘green levies’ are paid for – saving families around £70 a year on their energy bills.
  • A fairer welfare system, including a halt to the rollout of Universal Credit and the abolition of the ‘Bedroom Tax’. ‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬
  • A productivity and competitive boost to secure the position of Scottish business.

The First Minister will lead a debate at Holyrood this afternoon that will give MSP’s a chance to examine the document in more detail.

Speaking ahead of the debate, Scottish Labour Leader Johann Lamont questioned the benefits of a Independent Scotland. Interviewed on BBC Scotland Good Morning Scotland, Lamont said:”The assumption that simply by Scotland going it alone we will somehow be more radical, more progressive, is simply not true. We will still have to deal with the arithmetic of politics which is you have to fund things. What we seem to be getting from the Scottish government now is that we will cut taxes and at the same time we will improve services – that’s not credible.”

UK Uncut Fight Fuel Poverty On The Streets

By Martha Shardalow

Yesterday morning on the day winter death statistics were released, hundreds of people took action against the ‘Big Six’ energy companies in central London.

Man braves the cold Tuesday to fight for pensioners heat this winter in London’s financial district. Credit: FT Photo Diary, UK Uncut

Anti-austerity groups taking direct action against fuel poverty, including UK Uncut, Fuel Poverty Action and Disabled People Against Cuts, held an ‘outrageous, creative and inclusive’ protest at the London office of the German energy giant Npower.

Susan Barett of UK Uncut said: “The fact that people are dying of fuel poverty as npower and other energy companies rake in the money and avoid tax is a scandal.”

“This government is not only unnecessarily cutting our services in the name of austerity but are allowing these energy companies to get away with murder, which is why we are fighting back.”

Additional protests took place in Oxford, Lewes and Bristol as over a thousand people took to the streets across the UK.

UK Uncut, started out as a hashtag in 2010 the night before the groups first protest at Vodaphone’s flagship store  a week after George Osbourne announced major government cuts.  This hashtag trended around the UK and yesterday the protest also went viral as #justicenotjumpers and #heatoreat were re-tweeted across the internet.

The campaign groups met at 11.30am at Royal Exchange by Bank Tube Station and marched on to npower – the UK’s most complained about energy company. Npower have paid no corporation tax for the for the past 3 years despite reporting a 34% profit rise of £413 million last winter due to price hikes. An estimated 30,000 people were pushed into fuel poverty.

Joseph Murphy of DPAC said: “Another harsh winter will mean more disabled people will find themselves isolated in their homes, unable to heat them, or cook properly. The energy firms continue to sit in government departments writing energy policy, in buildings where the heating is paid for by the very people who will die of cold this winter. This is a disgrace. We ask all disabled people to take action, and to show this government, and these companies, that we wont take this and will fightback.”

On Monday Ofgem released figures of the combined earnings of British Gas, Npower, eOn, EDF, Scottish Power and SSE. These earnings have multiplied five-fold since 2009, to more than £1bn whilst “excess winter deaths” rose by almost a third last winter in England and Wales.

Joseph Blake, a local freelance journalist, joined the protest in defiance yesterday. He said on Twitter: “On way to fuel poverty protest with @UKUncut @FuelPovAction at #bank. Basic necessity of keeping warm should never of been privatized.”

Activists carried a coffin full of energy bills through London’s streets, symbolizing those who died last winter.

They placed blame on politicians and the ‘Big Six’ alike as ‘people power not npower chants rang through the city!’

Guantanamo Bay’s Secret Facility: Penny Lane

 

Satellite Image of Guantanamo Bay and Penny Lane Credit: AP

Satellite Image of Guantanamo Bay and Penny Lane
Credit: AP

By Jordan Hooks

CIA agents hid in tiny cottages beneath Guantanamo Bay prison and used prisoners to help achieve one of America’s top goals: infiltrating al-Qaida.

In the years following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the CIA bartered with prisoners regarding any information they had that would lead the U.S. to the terrorist group. In return for promised freedoms, safety for their families and monetary awards, the prisoners were sent back home to kill terrorists within their country who were planning attacks on the United States.

Although it was kept a secret from the public for years, the CIA knew this was a dangerous risk but felt that the payoff was more beneficial in the long run. The program, dubbed Penny Lane, was facilitated in eight small cottages that stood a few hundred yards from the administrative offices of the Guantanamo Bay prison. They were hidden deep within a ridge covered in thick shrubs and cactus. The cottages were designed with a ‘hotel-like’ feel and included a real mattress, kitchen, shower and television.

Lee Caldwell, current infantryman in the U.S. Army, said: “The efforts made by the CIA were risky, but had greater benefits than the U.S. public realizes. Being in the military, I know the government only acts with the country’s best interests in mind. Penny Lane helped save American lives and was a strong attempt to keep our lands safe.”

Several current and formal U.S. officials said that many of the men who passed through Penny Lane helped the CIA find and kill many top al-Qaida operatives. Others stopped providing useful information and eventually lost touch with the CIA.

Penny Lane is still standing and can be seen on satellite images, but has long been abandoned. Operations  have ceased to exist since the program was shut down in 2006.

Grants Aim To End Stigma For Mental Health Sufferers

by Nicola Brown

image source: facebook.com/seemescotland

Caption: See Me logo            Charity fights stigma with £40,000 worth of grants.

In light of the controversial “mental patient” costumes sold by leading Supermarkets, Edinburgh charity ‘See Me’ has recently granted £40,000 to local groups in a battle to change attitudes.

With the stigma of mental illness still the dirty underbelly of Scottish society as shown through Asda and Tesco’s offensive Halloween costumes, a Scottish government initiative aims to tackle these issues. Recent government statistics have revealed that over a third of the population are affected by mental disorders each year. The most common afflictions being depression and anxiety. Yet many sufferers are still being stigmatised, which according to the Mental Health Foundation, can make it harder to recover. The charity ‘See Me’, which is fully funded by the Scottish government, aims to empower these people to speak out in a collective voice.

A spokesperson for See Me, Annie Ashby, said: “[The grants] seek to encourage organisations to take a lead in changing public attitudes and behaviours towards people with mental health problems by engaging with their local community. People with lived experience of mental ill-health have a key role in the delivery of each project.”

The changing attitudes are being achieved through the money awarded to 4 Young People’s Awards and 6 Local Grant Scheme Awards. Among the groups benefiting from the grants is HUG, with the project name ‘Vibrant Highland’, who have been awarded £4,000. The aim is to create a Highland youth group comprising 13-25 year olds with mental health problems. The grant will place them alongside other young people with the aim of educating them about their rights, as well as producing a DVD to highlight how attitudes have affected them. The charity think it important that these young people have a say in vital decisions that will impact their lives.

Another group to be awarded is LGBT Health and Well Being, also given £4,000. The Edinburgh based group is the largest community organisation helping young people affected by the stigma associated with their sexual orientation (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender). The grant will fund creative writing workshops held by professionals who have lived with mental illness. The workshops will encourage people afflicted by a diverse range of mental disorders to channel their experiences creatively. The participants writing efforts will then be bound in a book, with the writers offering training and guidance on how to design the layout. The book will be launched at a celebratory public event to raise awareness about their shared experiences.

The way in which society responds to those suffering from mental disorders is improving through the work carried out in the media. Monday night witnessed the twentieth anniversary of the Mind Media Awards. The night played host to journalists, broadcasters, bloggers and documentaries, which celebrated those depicting an accurate picture of mental heath and as a result, challenging the stigma. Chief Executive at Rethink Mental Illness, tweeted: “Very impressive to be celebrating 20 years of#VMGMindAwards great contribution to changing attitudes towards mental health.”

Withered Hand Tells All About 2014 Album

by Alex Watson

After nearly a five year wait, Scottish indie band Withered Hand have finally unveiled information about their long anticipated second album.  Due to be released in February 2014, the record is to be titled New Gods, and will consist of eleven songs.

Apart from upbeat track ‘Heart, Heart’, the new album is entirely made up of previously unrecorded music.  There have been some notable changes in the Withered Hand line up since the first album, Good News.  Listeners can expect to hear Malcolm Benzie (from band Eagleowl), Peter Liddle (Second Hand Marching Band), Fraser Hughes (Second Hand Marching Band and The Occasional Flickers) and Alun Thomas joining Dan Willson (Withered Hand founder and frontman) on New Gods.  The final cut of brand new track ‘Horseshoe’ hints at a much bigger and broader sound overall for this album.  According to Willson, the nostalgic feel of the song is thanks to his own music taste being stuck in the 1990s.

Withered Hand will tour the UK and USA after the release of New Gods
Credit: Alex Watson

Willson has also rustled up some well known performers to feature on the album.  Pam Berry (Black Tambourine), Eugene Kelly (The Vaselines) and members of Glasgow’s Belle and Sebastian appear throughout the record.  Founder of Fife’s Fence Records, Kenny Anderson (AKA King Creosote) also guests on several songs.  Willson admits to intentionally preserving a small slice of Scottish music history in New Gods.  The musicians guesting on the record have all inspired him, in some way or another.  The singer said: “Part of it is paying your dues, and part of it is making a document of something.  It was an opportunity to have versions of these songs that I wrote with people who, over the last ten years, have made music which I think is amazing.”

Despite his DIY music background, Willson, has chosen to release New Gods in partnership with record labels FortunaPOP! (UK and Europe) and Slumberland Records (USA).  Willson said: “My intention all the time when I was recording this album was to self release it, like I did with previous things.  And, at some point in the process, I thought, ‘Oh, this is going really, really well.  I probably can’t do this record justice.’”  Willson also opted to polish the sound for this album by recruiting famous music producer, Tony Doogan.  Doogan has previously produced successful albums for well known acts, including Belle and Sebastian, The Mountain Goats and Mogwai.  Willson said: “I waited until I knew that I could work with Tony Doogan, the producer, because I’d never really worked with a producer before, and I was really intrigued.”

When asked about the length of time it has taken for this new album to come to fruition, Dan Willson explained that something held him back from completing New Gods until he was certain he could make it the record he wanted.  Willson said: “Some of [the reasons] are to do with really boring things like money, and some are to do with recognising that this bunch of songs that were coming was the next album.”

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