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.

Tram Advertising Slammed By Public

by Alicia Simpson and Melissa Steel

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

 

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

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

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

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

Tram outside Haymarket Station.

Tram outside Haymarket Station.

 

 

Book Week Scotland Is Back

by Rachael Bell

Authors and Organiser Fiona Hyslop celebrating Book Week Scotland 2013 Credit: Scottish Book Trust

Authors and Organiser Fiona Hyslop celebrating Book Week Scotland 2013
Credit: Scottish Book Trust

Book Week Scotland kicked off on Monday with over 100 events taking place in Edinburgh.

The week will be hosted by Scottish Book Trust and is designed to encourage everyone in the community to take part. Mark Lambert, CEO of the Scottish Book Trust, said: “Book Week Scotland is all about celebrating Scotland’s love affair with a book, and writing. Reading and writing – two of the greatest inventions that human beings have ever come up with and something that Scotland excels in.”

According to the Carnegie UK Trust report 2012, only 12 percent of people in Scotland never or rarely read books. Compare this to the National Literary Trust 2012 and After Now study 2013 that found that 1 in 6 people in the UK have literacy levels below that expected of an 11 year old.

Book Week Scotland has a particularly captive audience in Edinburgh as a UNESCO named City of Literature. Sarah Morrison, communications executive at Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature Trust, said: “It’s a marker of how much people in Edinburgh value literary interests, not just in the literary community but the wider city community. Everything from the world’s largest book festival to story time readings in a local library are so well supported. There is something of literary interest going on every day in the city.”

It isn’t just Scottish nationals that are to be involved. Book Week Scotland is expected to attract a lot of literary tourism to Edinburgh. Ryan Van Winkle, Book Week Scotland Author Ambassador, said: “One of the things I do whenever I land in a new country is to read books that are set there. To me it’s a really great way to get to know peoples voice, their history, culture and slang. In my first few months of living in Scotland I raced through Trainspotting and Alasdair Grey’s classic Lanark. You don’t have to travel to read a book, of course, it’s obvious, and the great thing about Book Week Scotland is that we will be traveling together in an epic celebration of literature.”

Last year 30,000 school pupils in Scotland participated in the event. This year every Primary One pupil will receive three free picture books to encourage them to participate. That is 180,000 books that will be given out. There will also be 120,000 copies of Treasures to go out to the public. Treasures was a campaign set up after the success of last years Book Week Scotland. It invited Scots to submit a piece of writing about the item they hold most dear.

Primary One Children enjoying their free books during Book Week Scotland 2013 Credit: Scottish Book Trust

Primary One Children enjoying their free books during Book Week Scotland 2013
Credit: Scottish Book Trust

Many authors from around Scotland have also been participating in Book Week and sharing their love for reading and writing. Shari Low, popular fiction writer, said: “As a child I spent most of my time in the library. I just loved reading from a really young age and that’s stayed with me until now.

“That’s why I’m delighted to be a part of Book Week Scotland because I think that anything that inspires a love of reading for pleasure can only be a good thing, and I think that if we can inspire as many children as possible to read now then that’s something that will stay with them.”

Book Week Scotland 2013 will be running until December 1st. Treasures is available to pick up in libraries, independent bookshops, Waterstones branches, Visit Scotland Tourist Information Centres and more. Click here to search for events in your area.

Rascals Bar Becomes An Edin-Burger

A Rascals Burger Credit: Jamie Anderson

A Rascals Burger Credit: Jamie Anderson

By Melissa Steel

A popular St. Andrews burger bar is due to make the move to Edinburgh next Thursday.

Rascals Bar will open a new branch on the premises of the former Aspen Bar on the city’s South Bridge. Its two year tenure in St. Andrews has seen it put sky-high burgers on the menu and host an undefeated eating challenge that has attracted The Daily Record and American champion eater Randy Santel.

Owner Jamie Anderson is enthusiastic about expanding his business. Anderson said: “Rascals Edinburgh will open almost two years to the day after we opened in St. Andrews. It has been a big success for us and the plan was always to expand. We were looking for somewhere else for a long time and we have finally found a good location.”

Although punters can expect the same American-style fare offered in St. Andrews, the Edinburgh bar will not serve Poppa’s Revenge, the mammoth meal that no one has been able to conquer yet. The 7,000 calorie feast includes five burgers, pulled pork, regular and sweet potato fries, spicy chicken wings and a milkshake.

Other bars in Edinburgh offer burger challenges, but Anderson said: “We will serve the same comfort food that we do in St. Andrews and have a good value drinks offer. There will be no Poppa’s Revenge in Edinburgh, though.” The decision came after Santel was defeated by Poppa’s Revenge last week. Anderson said: “I was really excited when Randy Santel took it on, but he failed. I really wanted him to do it. I think it dented people’s confidence.”

Peckish Edinburgh residents looking for a challenge should not be too disappointed. Anderson said: “We are going to make up something specific for Edinburgh and will probably pay homage to Poppa’s Revenge with a display in the bar.”

Rascals Edinburgh will also employ 15-18 people and is currently recruiting bar, waiting and kitchen staff as well as cleaners. Anderson is hopeful that they will be able to open on 5th December. Anderson said: “Everything is going okay just now, touch wood. We’ve had a really good response on Facebook and Twitter – Rascals Edinburgh already has over 1,000 likes and we have not even opened yet. It is a lot more than some of our competitors close by who have been around for years.”

In fact, Rascals Edinburgh has 1,155 likes and Biblos, a bar nearby, only has 397.

The reputation Rascals established in St. Andrews has carried over to Edinburgh. Oliver Corbishley is a former St. Andrews student now living in Edinburgh and he is looking forward to the opening. Corbishley said: “Rascals in St. Andrews was a great place for a night out, watching the football or an afternoon lunch with friends. If they bring the same experience to Edinburgh, I am sure it will be a great spot to check out.”

 

 

Crocodile Takes Centre Stage at King’s Pantomime

The Cast of Peter Pan Credit: The King's Theatre

The Cast of Peter Pan Credit: The King’s Theatre

By Melissa Steel

The King’s Theatre pantomime will have more bite to it this year thanks to a “particularly scary” crocodile when it opens on 30th November.

The Peter Pan production is set to shake up the standard pantomime format with new special effects. However, fans can still look forward to seeing panto veterans Andy Gray, Allen Stewart and Grant Stott on stage.

Although most of the changes are still under wraps, the production does look set to be much grander than previous years. Director Ed Curtis said: “There will be a new level of scale and stunning special effects, including a particularly scary crocodile. I can’t give too much away, though.”

Curtis is still eager to praise King’s pantos of the past. Curtis said: “There was nothing wrong with the other productions, but we are trying to push the envelope this year.”

Curtis’s decision to take the project on was also influenced by a fondness for the King’s and the pantomime tradition. The King’s has a long history of staging pantomimes – a production of Cinderella actually opened the theatre in 1907. Curtis said: “I love the King’s. I have worked with Andy and Allen before and the prospect of working with them again was extremely attractive. Peter Pan is one of the great British fairy tale stories, too. I’ve not done a Peter Pan before, so I really wanted the opportunity to tell the story. It took me about three seconds to say yes.”

Curtis has directed a variety of pantomimes in the past. Curtis said: “I have directed three or four with Qdos before. This is not the first, but it is certainly the biggest.”

Peter Pan also marks the beginning of Michael Harrison’s tenure as producer of the King’s pantomime. Harrison is head of Qdos Entertainment’s pantomime division, one of the biggest pantomime production companies in the UK. Harrison said: “The late Gerard Kelly said to me, “Pantomime is a celebration of local culture,” and that is more applicable in Scotland than it is anywhere else and probably more applicable at the King’s than it is anywhere else.”

Comic relief comes in the form of performers Andy Gray, Allen Stewart and Grant Stott, as always. This was one aspect of the show Curtis was not eager to change. Curtis said: “It is a joy of a company to work with and the three of them are a strong comic trio.” Producer Harrison was also quick to praise the actors. Harrison said: “Grant is an Edinburgh boy, Andy although he lives in Perth has spent a long time living in Edinburgh, and Allan’s comedy is all about what is topical, whether it’s about the tram, parliament or Edinburgh Zoo. This unmissable production has got something for everyone and I am sure the production will delight audiences of all ages.”

Anger as Council Bosses Approve George Street Changes

23George_Street,_Edinburgh

By Fraser Ryan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Green belt campaigners challenge city council to tread carefully

 

Edinburgh City Council’s plans to build on the capital’s green spaces typify the modern day urban conflict between environment and development. The council’s recent Local Development Plan (LDP) sets out a range of proposals for the construction of new homes across much of the city’s green spaces between 2015 and 2025. Between 3750 and 5080 new homes are planned at sites across the capital – the bulk of which are located in Edinburgh’s west and southeast.

 

The LDP has stated that development should be focused on four key areas – the city centre; the waterfront regeneration area in the North; west Edinburgh; and southeast Edinburgh. The city’s fast-growing population has placed greater demand on housing – development is inevitable. But the issue is where this development takes place. Duncan Campbell, member of Edinburgh’s Green belt network, said: “If you are going to develop anyway on green belt, mitigation must be of the highest quality so that impacts on the setting of the rest of the green belt is preserved.

 

“City planners have a tremendous challenge which is emanating from the Scottish Government through national planning frameworks which place a primacy on growth, and the local authorities have to follow that instruction. If they don’t, there are penalties.”

Edinburgh’s planning convener, Ian Perry, recently stated “we expect the vast majority of the new homes to be built on existing and future brownfield sites, such as Leith or Granton. However, we still need to find some green field sites to meet the overall need for additional housing land.” But Mr Campbell says: “It is not beyond the wit of imaginative landscape design to use green space on brownfield sites, where you would be able to have low rise developments in those areas.”

 

Achieving the right balance is key – and if more can be done to incorporate future brownfield sites into council plans, then environmental groups will be more willing to compromise. The danger amid the scuffles is that if insufficient land is identified where development is acceptable then the Scottish Government will take it on instead. That would mean losing control at a local level on decisions about where housing should go. Mr Perry says: “it may be time to review the whole process and revisit the question of how we handle Edinburgh’s growth and protect its green spaces.”

Edinburgh Festival Gets New Director

ferguslinehan01

The Edinburgh International Festival has today announced it has appointed a new artistic director. Fergus Linehan, the former director of the Sydney International Festival as well as fomer Head of Music at the Sydney Opera House, will take over the role in October. He succeeds Jonathan Mills, who has been in charge at the festival for seven years.

Mills will step down after the 2014 festival, but Mr Linehan will work part-time as director designate from 1st May this year. He will step up to the role full-time from October 2014, which will mean 2015 will mark his first festival as director. He will remain in charge at the EIF until at least 2019.

Under Mr Linehan the annual turnover of the Sydney International Festival almost doubled, rising from $12m to $20m between 2004 and 2009, thanks to a rise in ticket sales, funding, and sponsorship.

Speaking of the appointment, Linehan said “I am delighted and deeply honoured to have been appointed as the next director of the Edinburgh international festival. I look forward to safeguarding the founding principles of the festival in ways which are engaging and relevant to all.

“Successful festivals respond to both place and provenance to create a unique identity and this is particularly true of Edinburgh, the pre-eminent festival city. It is with this in mind that I will begin the exciting work of developing my plans and ideas for 2015 and for future festivals”

Mills had previously faced criticism over his festival programmes, which some critics claimed were lacking in homegrown talent.

Edinburgh’s Lord Provost Donald Wilson also welcomed the appointment, saying “Fergus brings new skills, intellectual rigour and a highly successful track record to the Festival and the city.

“Having previously lived in Edinburgh and worked with companies visiting the city he is familiar with what the city can offer its residents as well as visitors and artists from around the world. I look forward to welcoming him back to Edinburgh and Scotland’s creative and vibrant cultural life.”

Cabinet Secretary for Culture and External Affairs Fiona Hyslop, added ‘The Edinburgh International Festival has a worldwide reputation for excellence and innovation. In bringing together exceptionally talented artists from nations across the globe, it helps to celebrate and promote Scotland’s rich culture and heritage on the world stage and strengthen our links with other countries. I welcome Fergus Linehan’s appointment as Director and wish him every success in the role.’

Council Set To Improve The City Centre

Edinburgh City Council has developed a proposal to improve the pedestrian space in the city centre, particularly in the area around Princes Street and George Street. The report focuses, specifically, on improving the pedestrian space and environment in line with the delivery of the tram project, which is due to be completed this Summer.

One of the methods of achieving this is providing an opportunity for dedicated cycle provision in the area, as well as reducing the detrimental impact of vehicles on the City Centre environment. The Council’s ‘Action Travel Action Plan’ sets targets to provide significant improvements in the walking and cycling infrastructure of the city centre by 2020, and the promotion of these means of travel.

The proposal states that by managing the traffic movement of Lothian Buses, it would achieve these objectives. Eastbound buses on Princes Street maybe relocated to George Street effectively halving the number of buses on Princes Street. The proposal also sets to close Princes Street to general traffic in both directions, as well as to allow general traffic on George Street in an eastbound direction only, including taxis. The Council have also announced they are to massively reduce parking availability spots in the City Centre.  Josh Miller,  George Street Association, explained that ”this will just not work.. People will not have to park their cars somewhere else, more inconvenient, and a lot of time will be wasted’. He argued that the ‘Council have not though through a viable alternative’.

Ian Perry, Planning Convener of the Council, said ‘Princes Street has been suffering from the trams, and economic downturn, s we have agreed to increase the pavement space and redress the balance and attract more pedestrians into the town centre and to get more people to shop’.

The results of the consultation will be the subject of a future report and any changes will then be practiced to test how successful they are.

Interview with George Street Association

Interview with Ian Perry, Edinburgh City Council

Scottish History told in Stitches

close up

by SandrZüllig and Louisa Clair Anderson

More than 500 volunteer stitchers from practically every area of Scotland are involved in what will be the Great Tapestry of Scotland.

This huge community arts projects, which began in Autumn 2011, aims to create a series of over one hundred and forty panels that tell the key stories in Scottish history – everything from Duns Scotus to Dolly the sheep. The tapestry is set to be finished by August this year and will be displayed in the Scottish Parliament in September, before going on tour in Scotland and abroad.

The Great Tapestry of Scotland is the brainchild of one of Scotland’s best-known writers, Alexander McCall Smith. The 44 Scotland Street author, together with historian Alistair Moffat, and the artistic talents of Andrew Crummy, not to mention stitchers from all over Scotland, form a team set to produce the world’s longest tapestry. Writer Alexander McCall Smith says that “the recording of events, both great and small, on cloth is nothing new. The most famous example, of course, is the Bayeux Tapestry, which is one of the world’s best-known works of art. More recently, the completion of the Prestonpans Tapestry in Scotland has reminded us of just how effective this method of narrating history can be. When I saw that tapestry for the first time, I was struck not only by its beauty but by the story behind its creation.”

The numbers behind the Great Tapestry of Scotland                                               stitcher

49, 50,000 sewing hours (equivalent to sewing 24 hours a day for 6 years!)

30 miles of woolen yarn (enough to lay up and down Ben Nevis 37 times!)

12,000 years of Scottish history

Over 500 stitchers

Over 140 panels

1 beautiful tapestry depicting the entire history of Scotland!

Keep up to date with the final spurt of the Great Tapestry of Scotland on Facebook.

Daley Triumphs in Edinburgh

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Teenage diver Tom Daley left Edinburgh with a win after finishing first in the 10m platform final in the World Diving Series on Sunday.

The 18 year old Olympian, who took home a bronze medal at London 2012, came out on top of a four man field, producing a high-scoring final dive to seal his victory.

Daly admitted that the win will give him a boost after a post-Olympic slump. “It’s great for where I am right now in my training cycle and the whole four-year cycle,” he said. “To be scoring so high at this stage in the game isn’t quite surprising because I knew I could do it but it does come as quite a nice reward after all the work I’ve been putting in.“

“I haven’t necessarily been seeing the rewards in training recently so to come here and dive well gives you that extra boost”.

Daley was competing in only his second major event since the London Olympics last summer. After a sluggish start to the competition he was cheered to victory by the Edinburgh crowd, producing a great fightback to overtake his Russian rival Victor Minibaev with a final score of 542.15.

The World Diving Series took place at Edinburgh’s Commonwealth Pool this weekend. It was the first major event hosted at the pool since its recent refurbishment at the cost of £37m.

Chris Hoy Retires From International Cycling

By Steven Robson

Chris Hoy announces retirement in Edinburgh.

Chris Hoy announces retirement in Edinburgh.

Britain’s most decorated Olympian has today announced his decision to retire from international cycling.

Sir Chris Hoy, 37, had a very successful 2012, after winning his fifth and sixth Olympic gold medals in the team sprint and keirin events. He also set the Olympic record in London for the 750 metres team sprint by managing a time of 42.600 seconds.

The Edinburgh-born athlete had hoped to compete for Scotland in the Glasgow Commonwealth Games in 2014, but said his fitness would not allow it.

Speaking to the country’s media at Murrayfield stadium, Hoy said: “Nothing would have given me more pleasure than to have been at Glasgow 2014, but I don’t want to make up the numbers.

“It’s a hard time – one moment at the end of your career when you have to say enough is enough.”

Hoy does not believe, however, that his decision will hinder Scotland’s medal chances in Glasgow: “It’s not as if it’s a one man band. I’ve had my time in the sun, it’s time to let other athletes have their share. It will be a successful Commonwealth Games.”

Speaking of what the future might hold, the six-time Olympic Champion said that he would become an advisor to both the Scottish cycling team and the Scottish Rugby Union, as well as charity work, but quashed speculation that he may take on a great outdoor cycle route: “I’m not going to be cycling around the world.”

Asked what he thought his greatest career moment had been, he said: “To stand on the podium in Athens and to hear your name followed by Olympic Champion – that is what it is all about. But to cap it all off with my sixth gold medal – that was a special day too.”

Hoy said he would still be based in Manchester but would not rule out moving back to Edinburgh at some stage; he added: “I am going to cycle for the rest of my life, and I look forward to getting others to do that too.”

Hoy’s wife Sarra summed up the mood: “It is very emotional, but it is good to come out in the open and announce it.”

Royal Mile Action Plan

Edinburgh City Council has put forward a draft of the Royal Mile Action Plan earlier this year in order to make the capital’s most famous street more appealing for its visitors from home and abroad. The future of the Royal Mile is to be considered in a consultation exercise

The council has organized a number of workshops in the area to discuss the future of the Royal Mile with stakeholders as well as local residents.

Issues suggested for consideration by the Council include traffic flows and the mix of retail outlets. Many of those operating businesses in the street have said they are busier than ever, but some visitors have said they were let down by their overall experience of the area.

The last two workshops will take place on Wednesday 17 April 2013 in Trinity Apse and on Tuesday 23 April 2013 in Riddle’s Court. The closing date for comments on the Royal Mile Action Plan is 17 May 2013.

Napier University Independence Referendum Poll

Earlier this month Buzz Magazine asked Napier students their opinions on the issue of Scottish independence. 569 students (3.3% of the student body) were asked the question “If you were to vote on Scottish independence now, how would you vote?” Both the Better Together and Yes Scotland campaigns refused to comment on the results of the poll, which will be revealed later today.

Spartans “disappointed” at league reconstruction

by Joseph Birchenall

Edinburgh community club The Spartans FC have expressed disappointment at the SPL’s failure to reach an agreement on leaugue reconstruction.badge

Depsite the fact that the club plays in the East of Scotland league, they have released the following statement:

“We are very disappointed to learn of the outcome of today’s SPL vote on league reconstruction. Like many involved in Scottish football, Spartans believe that something significant is needed if we are to safeguard and develop the game in this country. As an ambitious club we had, obviously, welcomed the idea of a pyramid structure and the prospect that our national leagues would become inclusive rather than exclusive. We had believed that other clubs felt the same and that this time action would accompany the rhetoric.

However, while this decision was disappointing, like all forward-thinking clubs, we will continue to look for opportunities to progress and strengthen the sport for all and endeavour to work with like-minded clubs to make it more equitable.”

We interviewed Spartans FC Chairman Craig Graham today:

Iraq War Protests- Ten Years On

Last week marked ten years since U.S and U.K troops led coalition forces into the second invasion of Iraq. It also marked ten years since the anti-war protests were at their height. A time when hundreds of thousands of people were united in opposition to the conflict, where daily rallies were happening across the country. While much of the media focus has been on the anniversary of the conflict itself, and the lessons we can learn from it going forward, perhaps more worthy of attention is the sheer scale of public opposition to the war.

Rarely before, and never since, have we seen so many people marching against a common cause. One of the most striking aspects of the protest movement at the time was how it galvanized young people and schoolchildren into vocal opposition to the conflict. Throughout March 2003 schools up and down the U.K were hit by walkouts, as students and staff decided to make their voices heard.

As a fourteen year old schoolkid in Glasgow at the time, I recall clearly the excitement of March 19th. At a time where all of us were angry about the prospect of the war we felt powerless. Staging a mass walk-out that afternoon was a small act of rebellion, but for us it felt like the most significant act in the world. We had the silent support of many of our teachers, a quiet nod here and there to let us know that they didn’t expect us back in the afternoon. Many of them would be joining us at the rally in the city centre.

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As handfuls of us left together to start our noisy journey to the march, we fell in with other crowds. Students from Glasgow University draped in banners, handing us signs and teaching us slogans to shout. Other teenagers from local schools looking as nervous as we felt. When the crowds came together in George Square we brought the city centre to a standstill. There was a tremendous feeling of solidarity and power. It felt like what we were doing mattered, that it would have an effect.

One thing that angered all of us was the perception, both in the media and from any adult you cared to ask, that it was nothing but an excuse to skive. That we weren’t interested in the protest, only in the prospect of an afternoon off school. Teachers unions dismissed our protests as truancy. An attitude like that is an insult to the very real feeling of anger we all felt about the war. Schoolchildren were just as opposed to the conflict as any adult or student activist, but without the luxury of freedom to make our voices heard.

The Stop the War movement politicized many of us for the first time. It gave us our first steps into political protesting, and made us feel like a part of something important. Crucially, it was our first real experience of vocalizing our anger and frustration to the world. And ten years on that is as worth remembering as any aspect of the conflict.

Rape Campaign to Raise Awareness Among Students Over Festive Period

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

Universities work with police.

Police

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tour de Scotland?

The Tour de France may be streamlining its way to Edinburgh, after The City of Edinburgh Council backed an audacious attempt to bring the event to Scotland for the first time.

Councillors approved a report outlining the commitments required in the event of a successful bid in a meeting today.

Heralded as the world’s largest annual sporting event, the Tour de France could bring £45-55m of revenue for the national economy, with Edinburgh benefiting to the tune of £24m.

Tour de France

Tour de France

Edinburgh Castle is the proposed venue for the Presentation of the Riders, with displays, cycle shows, stalls competition and a raft of cultural activities being held across the city throughout the duration.

A ‘non-race’ mode procession of the cyclists running through the city centre would precede the start of the race, which would be held elsewhere in the city, with riders racing down the spine of the UK through Scotland, England and Wales.

The event attracts global interest with no less than 100 TV channels, 400 newspapers and press agencies and 70 websites over 190 countries offering live coverage of last year’s event.

Councillor Steve Cardownie, Edinburgh Council’s Festivals & Events Champion, said: “I can think of no more dramatic backdrop than Edinburgh Castle and our historic Old Town and, of course, our residents are well used to laying on a fantastic welcome to the many millions of visitors that travel to the city each year.

“Of course, Edinburgh is no stranger to cycling success, thanks to the incredible achievements of Sir Chris Hoy, and we are already seeing the impact this is having on participation – a trend that would surely continue following a successful Grant Depart.”

The bid, led by EventScotland, has the support of the Scottish Government, British Cycling, UK Sport, the Welsh Government, plus numerous other English and Welsh authorities.

While the date has not yet been announced, it is likely to be in the next five years and could even be as soon as 2014.

Edinburgh Gets Ready for the Release of ‘The Hobbit’

The Hobbit hits theatres

The Hobbit hits theatres

Peter Jackson’s highly anticipated trilogy ‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey’ will hit cinemas worldwide this weekend.

It has been highly awaited and people in Edinburgh have also jumped in on the excitement, with local showings sold out. The film will serve as a prequel to the highly successful ‘Lord of The Rings’ Trilogy and will feature a lot of familiar faces from them including: Sir Ian McKellen,  Andy Serkins, Cate Blanchet, Elijah Wood and Orlando Bloom.

The Scottish presence is apparent in the world of middle earth. Edinburgh born actor Ken Stott starts in the film as a Dwarf Balin, one of Bilbo Baggins closest friend. Comedian Billy Connolly has been cast at Dain Ironfoot, a great dwarf warrior and will appear in the second and third instalments. ‘Lord of the Rings’ veteran, Glasgow bred,  Billy Boyd attended the London premiere last night – he appeared as Pippin in the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Local Edinburgh cinema The Cameo hosted a ‘Lord of the Rings’ film marathon on the 9th of December 2012 to celebrate the release of ‘The Hobbit’. The audience was encouraged to dress up and the event was deemed a great success by management. ‘The Hobbit’ will be the first 3D film to be shown at The Cameo. Kenny Gold, duty manager of The Cameo, “There has been a lot of build up. We couldn’t have picked a better film than ‘The Hobbit’ for our first 3D showing.”

‘The Hobbit’ is set in the all too familiar Middle-Earth and it follows the adventures of Bilbo Baggins, played by Martin Freeman, and 13 dwarves on their quest to take back the Lonely Mountain from the reign of the dragon, Smaug – who will be voiced by Freeman’s ‘Sherlock’ co-star Benedict Cumberbatch.

The Guardian comments that the movies ‘offers an enormous amount of fun, energy and a bold sense of purpose’. Peter Jackson is once again trying to give movie goers a unique and innovative experience. ‘The Hobbit’ is shot in High Frame Rate (HFR): 48 frames a second instead of the usual 24. This gives the movie a higher definition and with the help of 3D makes the 169 minutes of spookiness more realistic.

Fan interviewed by Shiv Das about ‘The Hobbit:’

The Hobbit premiered last night in London, gathering a remarkable group of celebrities, including the Duke of Cambridge.  Sanaa Siddiqui, who was at the front of the crowd at last night, comments on the atmosphere of the event: “The whole of Leicester Square was packed to the brim with fans. The area was stunningly decorated to look like the Shire. I met all of my favourite actors, it was such an amazing day.”

Audio Interview: final hobbit vopxox shiv das

Top 10 Ways to Celebrate Hogmanay in Edinburgh

Street Party in Edinburgh for the New Year.

Street Party in Edinburgh for the New Year.

1. Street Party

The renowned Edinburgh street party is something that should not be missed. Join 80,000 partygoer’s dance into the New Year with music from top DJs and musical entertainment such as The Maccabees, Reverend and the Makers and The OK Social Club. Celebrate at midnight with the extravagant firework display.

Tickets are £15 available at http://www.edinburghshogmanay.org/

Music ★★★★  Food ★  Venue ★★★  Family Friendly ★★

2. Concert in the Gardens

The music event of the evening proves to be as big as it ever has. Scottish musicians dominate this year with legends Simple Minds, Dundee-based boys The View and Edinburgh four piece Bwani Junction rocking into 2013. Enclosed tickets are sold out and the Garden tickets are soon to follow.

Garden tickets are £37.50 available at http://www.edinburghshogmanay.org/

Music ★★★★★  Food ★  Venue ★★★  Family Friendly ★★

3. The Loony Dook

Maybe the craziest Hogmanay tradition of them all! Join the ‘loony’s’ plunge into the River Forth on the 1st of January 2013. The Dooker’s parade kicks off the event and then it’s into the water. What a better way to kick off the New Year!

Register at http://www.theloonydook.co.uk/Register.html

Music ­­­­- Food – Venue ★★ Family Friendly ★★

4. Propaganda New Years Eve Party Animal

Celebrate 2013 with the UK’s biggest club night, Propaganda. The HMV Picture House will be home to student friendly club night. This event is for the mainstream indie music fans, but chart music is also played.  Curfew is 5am. Definitely the perfect place for those who want to dance all night long.

Tickets are £7.25 available at http://www.ticketweb.co.uk/

Music ★★★★ Food – Venue ★★★ Family Friendly –

5. The Keilidh

Fancy learning some traditional Scottish dance moves? If so, then head to the outdoor ceilidh event in the Princes Street Gardens. With a food village and outdoor bar, your every party need is catered to while you master your ceilidh technique. Last years event was a total sell out; so don’t miss out this time.

Tickets are £37 available at http://www.edinburghshogmanay.org/

Music ★★★★  Food ★★  Venue ★★  Family Friendly ★★

6. St Giles Candlelit Concerts

If you want to celebrate Hogmanay somewhere that is warmer that Princes Street, then maybe this event is for you. Michael Harris with the St Giles Cathedral Choir directs this year. Parts 1 and 3 of J.S.Bach’s Christmas Oratorio and Vivaldi’s Magnificat will be featured. The Candlelit Cathedral provides an exquisite atmosphere.

Tickets are £16 available at http://www.edinburghshogmanay.org/

Music ★★★  Food – Venue ★★★★  Family Friendly ★★★

7. Vegas! The Grand Hogmanay Ball

Can’t afford a trip to America to celebrate 2013? Well, Edinburgh’s own Voodoo Rooms will turn into Las Vegas for one night on the 31st of December 2012. This sophisticated event features music from Cow Cow Boogie, a swinging six-piece from Edinburgh. Burlesque dancers and showgirls will provide entertainment as well as blackjack tables.

Tickets are £25 available at http://www.ticketweb.co.uk/

Music ★★★  Food ★★  Venue ★★★★  Family Friendly –

8. Baby Loves Hogmanay Disco

Electric Circus plays home to the perfect event if you have a baby that loves to dance. Music is played at a baby-friendly volume and Club DJ’s provide the tunes. The disco is family friendly as there is a chill out zone, catering and even a bar for mum and dad.

Tickets are £8 available at http://www.babylovesdisco.co.uk/

Music ★★★ Food ★  Venue ★★  Family Friendly ★★★★★

9. Your Lucky Day Festival

Head to the National Museum of Scotland for some culture on New Years day. Your Lucky Day festival is for all the family and provides dance, music and theatre. There will also be chance to see the Lady Luck art instillation by Walker and Bromwich.

All events are Free.

Music ★★  Food ★★  Venue ★★★★  Family Friendly ★★★★★

10. El Barrio NYE Party

The Latin bar and club will provide a New Years Eve Fiesta. Their aim is to bring the Latin spirit to Edinburgh by providing Latin music, dancing, drink and flair. This night will not disappoint avid Latin music lovers.

Tickets are £10 available on the door

Music ★★★ Food – Venue ★★★ Family Friendly –

ScotRail to Provide Wi-Fi Access by the End of 2013

WiFi trial on Scottish trains.

WiFi trial on Scottish trains.

The Scottish Government has invested £2 million in ScotRail for free Wi-Fi access in their express trains by the end of 2013.

Major routes include Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen and Stirling as well as areas in Inverness and Fife.  These routes will be carried out by 170 trains, all covered by the Wi-Fi service.

Steve Montgomery, managing director of ScotRail, said: “More journeys are made on our class 170s than any of our [other] trains, so it makes sense to begin the roll-out on this fleet.”

Dani Cardon, media officer of ScotRail, says that the implementation will take a few months to be completed: “We’re rolling out Wi-Fi on our 170 trains at a rate of 5 to 6 each month. That will take place from March until December 2013.”

However, no line will be prioritised and the installation will happen gradually.  Mr Cardon says, “It won’t be one line at a time. We install Wi-Fi on particular trains which will run across all routes.”

A pilot project was set up on 4 trains before the intended roll-out, stating that 77% of users were satisfied with the speed and performance of the Wi-Fi service provided.

Transport Minister Keith Brown is confident about the planned changes, “We have an absolute commitment to bringing better connectivity to every corner of Scotland, and I have been highly encouraged by the success of ScotRail pilot scheme.”

Despite the good intentions, there will be challenges concerning the signal. Mr Cardon states: “We can only enhance Wi-Fi when there is already a signal there. Although, there will be good connections overall, there will be remote areas which won’t have a good connection.”

“But that’s improving all across Scotland as much as phone signal is.”

The fitting of the 170 trains will take place during weekends scheduled particularly for maintenance in order to guarantee usual railway service isn’t disrupted.

Edinburgh Looking for Revenge in Heineken Cup

visser

© SNS Scotland

French side Racing Metro visit Murrayfield tomorrow night as Edinburgh look to avenge last week’s defeat in the Heineken Cup.

Edinburgh have made eight changes to the side that lost in France.

Scottish centre Ben Cairns returns after long-term injury. As Edinburgh’s all-time top try scorer in the competition, he is a welcome addition to a team struggling for points.

Cairns is joined in the back line by New Zealand centre Ben Atiga, whilst Piers Francis and Chris Leck form a new half-back combination. Lee Jones and Dougie Fife have been brought in to replace injured wingers Tom Brown and Tim Visser.

Robert McAlpine replaces Sean Cox in the pack, joining forces with his former Scotland age-grade colleague, Grant Gilchrist, in the second-row.

Edinburgh coach Michael Bradley could not explain how his side lost 19-9 at Racing Metro last week, slumping to their third defeat in the competition.

Following last season’s surprise surge into semi-finals, Edinburgh have failed to win qualification from the group stages.

Tomorrow’s game offers the team an opportunity for an improved performance ahead of their Pro12 double header against Glasgow Warriors.

We spoke to Scotland Centre Matt Scott and Edinburgh Second Row Robert McAlpine ahead of the clash.

scott12

Matt Scott © Edinburgh Rugby 2012

mcalpine12

Rob McAlpine © Edinburgh Rugby 2012

What was the feeling amongst the squad after last Saturday’s defeat to Racing Metro?

Matt Scott – It was a feeling of great disappointment and frustration as we felt we played good enough rugby to win the game. Rugby games at this level are won by small margins, and unfortunately we didn’t get the majority of these small margins right.

Rob McAlpine – Everyone was pretty gutted after the defeat in Paris, the game was for the taking. We provided enough scoring opportunities to win the game, but didn’t manage to convert those opportunities into points. It was disappointing.

Is the pressure now off for tomorrow’s game with qualification looking unlikely, or are players still feeling the stress of the situation?

MS – I don’t think the pressure is ever really off when playing professional rugby. There has been quite a few changes for this game, and the new players that have come in will be looking to stamp down a marker for selection in the upcoming games.

RM – No, there is no pressure off at all. We are desperate to put in a performance against Racing Metro at home, and we owe it to our fans and supporters to get a result. Having the home advantage is a great help and we should hopefully get a result.

What has training been like this week, have you been working on anything in particular?

MS – Training has been tough as everyone is keen to get a win on the board in the Heineken cup. We have targeted a few areas that Racing are weak in, so the boys will be looking to exploit those.

RM – Training has been really good this week, especially with players stepping in and playing that have been out injured. Netani Talei (Fiji), Ben Atiga (All Blacks), Ben Cairns (Scotland), and Dimitri Basilaia (Georgia) all step in after time out injured.

What have the coaches been saying ahead of tomorrow’s game?

MS – They have been willing us to get a win in front of our own fans, particularly to gain some momentum going into the two Glasgow games, which are going to be really important in our season.

RM – .. Can’t answer too much about strategy..

Personally what do you think can be done tomorrow to get a result?

MS – I think if we get our set piece delivery better and hold on to the ball we will cause them all sorts of problems. They are a huge side and don’t like being moved around. Murrayfield is a particularly large pitch, so I’m sure you will see us using that on Friday.

RM – Racing Metro have a big forward pack and being able to move the point of contact and play a quick game we should expose weaknesses and create opportunities to score.

Finally, if you get a result tomorrow what kind of confidence would that give the team going forward?

MS – It would be great for momentum to get a win, especially against a team of racing’s calibre.

RM - The win would give us massive confidence going into the 1872 cup (Glasgow Edinburgh back to back matches) and will hopefully allow us to pick up where we left off in the Rabo Pro 12. Two wins from two against Glasgow would put us right back up in the mix in the table.

Apocalypse Soon

We found some of the oddest stories about people preparing for the end of the world. A little closer to home, Edinburgh Skeptics are hosting a “Not The End of The World” party on Thursday 20th December. Dress code: only the latest in doomsday fashion.

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Turkish village of Sirince

Turkish village of Sirince (Picture: AFP)

Believers in the Mayan calendar have flocked to a small Turkish village, near the ancient city of Ephesus. They believe that the positive energy in this village will protect them from any apocalyptic harm. It certainly has done no harm to the local tourism industry.

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Robert Sefatsa (Photo: Bongiwe Mchunu)

A 38-year-old South African man has handed papers in to the Constitutional Court in a plea for the government to create a new state department to deal with Armageddon. He even went through the trouble of suggesting a name for the department: the “Department of Paranormal and Esoteric Sciences”. A commission of inquiry should include geologists, statisticians, astronomists, economists and extra-terrestrial technologists, and should be competent to cope with evacuation procedures, sea and air logistics, and resettlement, he said.

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A plumber is camping out beside Mount Bugarach for a week, waiting for the end of the world. Worried by the doomsday Internet rumours, Ludovic Broquet hopes the mountain peak will provide shelter from the inevitable meteor showers/tsunami/zombie outbreak.

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Robert Bast (Screengrab TeeVeeVidz / Survive2012.com)

Robert Bast (Screengrab TeeVeeVidz / Survive2012.com)

46-year-old Australian Robert Bast, owner of the website Survive2012 , has spent over £220,000 preparing for the earth’s demise. The majority of the cost went into buying a 75-acre plot 1,500 feet above sea level in order to avoid tsunamis and flooding. Obviously, the highest point on this piece of land holds the specially built house and bunker. The bunker is kitted out with stockpiles of food and water, and the necessary survival equipment: batteries, generators, water purifiers, solar power, and gas cookers.

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This photo taken on November 24, 2012 shows the unfinished boat built by Lu Zhenhai, a man from Urumqi, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, afraid that his home would be submerged in a doomsday flood in 2012.  Lu said he was worried that the apocalypse would happen in 2012, so he decided to invest all his money, about 160,500 USD into building what he hopes will be his own indestructible ark.   (STR/AFP/Getty Images)

This photo taken on November 24, 2012 shows the unfinished boat built by Lu Zhenhai (STR/AFP/Getty Images)

A Chinese man has built a survival ark using all his life savings amounting to £99,000 to be safe from the pesky apocalyptic floods. Lu Zhenghai began building the vessel in 2010 when he started to fear that the flood would threaten the survival of his family.

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Farmer Liu Qiyuan looking out from a survival pod that he built and also dubbed "Noah's Arc". (Ed Jones, AFP)

Farmer Liu Qiyuan looking out from a survival pod that he built and also dubbed “Noah’s Arc”. (Ed Jones, AFP)

Another Chinese man and former farmer has built special survival pods. The tsunami proof pods come fitted with seatbelts for at least 14 people at a time, but the creator said that it would protect 30 people for up to 2 months. He has received 21 orders for the bright yellow ping-pong doomsday survival pods, which cost about £23 500 each.

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Even the Australian Prime Minister addressed her citizens about the earth’s demise by flesh-eating zombies. She is confident that she will serve her country right till the Earth’s last minute.

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NASA debunks doomsday rumours (Photo: Sdecoret, Dreamstime.com)

NASA debunks doomsday rumours (Photo: Sdecoret, Dreamstime.com)

NASA has released an official statement to comfort the people of earth. “The world will not end in 2012. Our planet has been getting along just fine for more than 4 billion years, and credible scientists worldwide know of no threat associated with 2012. Just as the calendar you have on your kitchen wall does not cease to exist after December 31, the Mayan calendar does not cease to exist on December 21, 2012. This date is the end of the Mayan long-count period but then – just as your calendar begins again on January 1 – another long-count period begins for the Mayan calendar.”

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To make sure you aren’t caught with your trousers down when doomsday arrives, head over to http://preppingtosurvive.com to get the best tips on apocalypse preparations.

Splashback causing waves for Leith Councillors

Source: Greener Leith

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

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

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

 

Fashion show raises thousands for charity

    

A charity fashion show has raised nearly £3,000 for children’s charity CHAS.

Thursday night saw the opening of Edinburgh’s glamourous fashion event which showcases the work of both student and established designers.

The event, organised by students at Edinburgh University, will run a special VIP event tonight (Friday, the 30th) and finish with a general admission performance on Saturday evening.

 For more information or to buy tickets for Saturday go to: http://www.edinburghcharityfashionshow.com/

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