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.”

Sanctions Failing the Poor By Andy Little

A damming report issued yesterday by Greater Manchester Citizen’s Advice Bureau’s provides disturbing evidence of the impact of sanctions on benefit claimants. The study of 376 claimants undertaken between July and September this year suggests that the Department of Work and Pensions are failing to Communicate with claimants to make them fully aware of  what conditions are involved in the claim for benefit and the penalties for non compliance.

40% of those who took part said they were not informed by letter that they had been sanctioned. 25% were not aware they had been sanctioned until they discovered their benefit had not been paid as normal.50% claimed that they were not informed of the right to appeal.

The findings will make disturbing reading for The Social Security Advisory Committee and for Matthew Oakley who is currently tasked with carrying out an Independent review of the impact of sanctions on benefit claimants.His remit specifically asks him to look at the provision of information to claimants. The CAB report suggests that the Department of Work and pensions are  failling in this task.

A Department of Work and Pensions spokesperson said;

“It is only right that people claiming benefits should do everything they can to find work if they are able.The rules regarding someones entitlement to Jobseekers Allowance and what could happen to their Benefits if they don’t stick to those rules that are made very clear at the start of their claim.”

“We will provide Jobseekers with the help and support they need to find a job, but it is only fair that in return they live up  can appeal”to their part of the contract.Sanctions are only used as a last resort and anyone who disagree’s can appeal”

The number of claimants being sanctioned has risen from 139,000 in 2009 to 508,000 in 2011.

More Than Twenty Applicants For Every Job In London

Student Radio Awards 2013

by Alex Watson

With nominations announced at the start of October, there is now just over a week left before the Student Radio Awards 2013 take place.  The annual awards ceremony celebrates the efforts of hardworking student radio stations and presenters across Britain.  This year, the event will be held at the indigO2 in London on Thursday 7th November.

The Student Radio Awards are supported by several high profile organisations, including various BBC radio stations, Global Radio and the British Council.  Dreamed up in 1995 by former Student Radio Association chair, Nick Wallis, the awards have been backed by BBC Radio 1 from the start.  Dubbed by Wallis as an ‘extraordinary talent-sourcing behemoth’, the awards boast some extremely successful previous participants.

Greg James (formerly of University of East Anglia’s Livewire) is one of the awards’ most famous alumni.  The ultimate inspiration for budding broadcasters – James won Best Male Presenter at the Student Radio Awards in 2005, and was presenting on Radio 1 just two years later.  The 27 year old presenter has never been afraid to dream big, admitting in an interview last year, ‘I always thought I could end up here [at Radio 1] if I worked hard enough’.

Greg James 2

Greg James went from the Student Radio Awards to BBC Radio 1 in just two years

The nominees for 2013′s Student Radio Awards are primarily from English universities.  Just two Scottish stations are in the running – Edinburgh University’s Fresh Air and Monster FM in Inverness.  Xpress Radio in Cardiff solely represents Wales this year.  University Radio Nottingham swept the board last year, although there were other strong contenders.

Fly FM (Nottingham Trent University) and University Radio York will go head to head this time around for certain awards.  However, nominations for categories such as Best Male and Best Female are evenly spread, leaving room for newcomers and lesser known stations to bag a prize.

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.”

Interview with Alison Johnstone, Green MSP about Green Space

Media Mondays – Dame Joan Stringer – 25.03.2013

By Lauren Elliott:
Our very own principal gives a speech on her life, her university and her favourite things.
She was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 2001, and elevated to  Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) in the 2009 Birthday Honours.
In 2003 she was appointed Principal/Vice-Chancellor of Edinburgh Napier University, the first woman to be leader of a Scottish university.

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Increased fare on Lothian Buses

On Sunday March 24, Lothian Buses increased the price for a single, adult bus ticket for 10p – from 1.40 to 1.50. Just one year after a similar increase the company said it was also introducing a number of service improvements. Plans of increasing the bus fare caused controversy over Scottish Government cuts in funding for concessionary fares earlier in January. Transport Scotland eventually reached an agreement with the bus industry which will cut the current reimbursement rate, reducing funding to bus companies by millions of pounds.

The new price for single journeys means the minimum fare charged by Lothian Buses will have risen 150% since 2002 – three times the rate of inflation over the same period.

Media Mondays – Stewart Kirkpatrick – 18.03.2013

Stewart Kirkpatrick is one of the UK’s leading digital content experts.
He spoke at our Media Mondays lecture about the digital and social media aspects of Yes Scotland.
You can find the campaign website here: www.yesscotland.net

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Media Mondays – Iain MacWhirter – 04.03.2013

Iain MacWhirter joined the BBC’s devolution unit in 1979 from Edinburgh University, becoming Scottish political correspondent in 1987.
He has worked at both the UK Parliament and Scottish Parliament, presenting the BBC2 programmes “Westminster Live” and “Scrutiny”.
He writes weekly columns for The Herald and Sunday Herald and has presented the Scottish Parliament magazine programme “Holyrood Live.”

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Media Mondays – Chris McLaughlin – 25.02.2013

BBC Scotland’s senior football reporter, Chris McLaughlin, talked today about a life behind sports journalism, drawing from his own experiences.
Chris is also a former student of Napier who graduated in 1999 with a journalism degree.
Speaking on how he is a one man band when it comes to his work, he offers advice on how to get ahead of the game whether you’re interested in broadcast or print.

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Bobby Hain – Media Mondays – 18.02.2013

Bobby Hain, Director of Channels-STV, paid a visit to Napier today. His hour long talk consisted of information on the success of STV since it started along with an overview of the online features STV now offers its audience.

However, what all Napier students wanted to hear about was the much anticipated ETV. STV and Napier University have teamed up together to launch ETV in early 2014. Bobby gave a very clear and concise outline of what ETV is to be about and let students know how they can get involved.

Overall, a very informative and clear speech. Definitely worth a listen.

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Media Mondays – The Rangers Story

By Alexander Neal, Lauren Elliott  and Lisa Mitchell.

BBJbqtzCcAEOLdpListen to Alex Thomson (Channel 4 News) and Mark Daly (BBC Scotland) discuss the origins of the problems Rangers faced and how the situation at present with regard to the saga. A detailed and extended talk from the pair, who provided witty insight and analysis of the events that led to the current scenario, as well as answering questions pitched by audience members.

This chronological account provides a good reference point for anyone interested in the story, and how it was covered in various forms of media. The pair discuss how they covered the story, on top of talking about how other agencies covered it and why.

This was a popular talk, with both men exploring in depth the issues surrounding possibly the biggest sports story to come from Scotland.

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Review: The Black Keys

The Black KeysThe Black Keys had the Glasgow crowd bouncing, dancing and singing at the tops of their voices at the SECC on Saturday.  The two-piece band, whose hits include Lonely Boy, Gold On the Ceiling, Howling for You and Sinister Kid, stunned the audience with their atmospheric blues. 

The night began with the supporting act, The Maccabees who are renown for their live performances and they did not disappoint.  Front man, Orlando Weeks, has such a unique voice that could almost be described as hypnotic.  The South London band was so in-sync with each other, their live performance was absolutely flawless.  They delighted fans with a forty-five minute set including Feel to Follow, X-Ray, Love you Better and Pelican. As far as warm up acts go, they certainly had the crowd fired up in anticipation for the headline act.

Shouting “Let’s get this going!” Dan Auerbach tore into Howling for You alongside drummer Patrick Carney.

The tone was set for the evening and the audience sang, clapped, chanted, and crowd surfed throughout the show.  The atmosphere was so electric, we could have even revived a dodo.

There was a momentary pause in the rocky proceedings as Auerbach was illuminated by a beam of light during the first two verses of Little Black Submarines.  The almost haunting solo piece soon broke into The Black Key’s distinctive sound focused heavily on the electric guitar.

It was not only the sublime rocky sounds of The Black Keys which impressed fans, but the overall production was a visual spectacle.  Live images were projected onto screens surrounding the stage, giving the concert an edge and an alternative outlook.

The last song was, of course, the anthem, Lonely Boy.  The venue erupted after the first few, distinctive chords were played out from Auerbach’s guitar and the fans can only be described as wild.

However, like all respectable shows, there was an encore and it was a shame for those who rushed out to catch the train home because they missed an absolute treat.  After clapping and stamping our feet, we were awarded with two more songs from The Black Keys and quite possibly the biggest disco ball the SECC has ever seen.

The Black Keys were set-up to be amazing to see live but they exceeded all high expectations and were truly first-class.  If you want to be entertained with good, honest music played back-to-back then go and see this band!

Alan Clements Lecture 05/10/2012

By Lauren Elliott and Lisa Mitchell

Media Mondays

The next installment of the Media Monday lectures has arrived.  The Director of Content at STV, Alan Clements, one of the most influential men in broadcasting has come to Napier to talk about his career and his experiences in the world of media.

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