Potter tour to open in London

Coat of arms of Hogwarts provided by Jakovche

The Harry Potter Studio Tour is opening tomorrow, 31st March in Hertfordshire, London.

Fans of the Potter franchise will be able to see sets from the films at Leavesden Studios in Watford, where all of the eight movies were filmed. The tour features real sets, models, props and costumes from the movies. Sets, which have been made in great detail include the Great Hall of Hogwarts, Harry Potter’s dormitory, Headmaster Albus Dumbledore’s office and Diagon Alley. 

Fans can also watch short films about designers talking about their work, ride a broomstick in the green-screen effects room and see how animatronics, prosthetics and make-up were used to bring to magical creatures to life.

David Heyman, a producer on all the Potter films has said: “This is a tour for Harry Potter fans, but it’s also a tour for people who are not necessarily Harry Potter fans. It’s such a good insight into the making of a film…basically a how-to.”

Tickets for the tour can be bought online at http://www.wbstudiotour.co.uk/en/your-visit/tickets-prices. Tickets cost £28 pounds for an adult and £21 for a child.  The tour promises to be a magical experience for the whole family.

Will the Olympics ring true in Edinburgh?

by Kirsten Hayley Waller

That outside of Edinburgh Castle could have the Olympic Rings displayed. Photo: S.Johnson

The London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games (LOCOG) is applying to Historic Scotland
to place the symbol of the Olympic rings on Edinburgh Castle during August 2012.

The rings will measure 8.5m in height and 18m in width, and will be displayed on the north-west rampart of the castle.

LOCOG have also submitted planning applications for other heritage sites, all over the UK, in a bid to make the 2012 games feel less London-centric.

A spokesman said they would not comment on ongoing applications and “would wait to hear the results.”

He explained the thinking behind this application was to ensure that there was “benefit across the UK for these games.” The plan is to “use the rings to draw attention to UK landmarks.”

The committee hope this will encourage foreign visitors to visit other parts of Britain, in addition to visiting London, for the Olympic Games.

LOCOG has worked with the Scottish Government, Historic Scotland and Edinburgh Council to establish the best location for the rings to be displayed.

The logistics of installing, maintaining and dismantling the rings will be undertaken by the Organising Committee, using funds from the central government in Westminster, and not from the Scottish Executive.

Historic Scotland released a brief statement to Napier News,  saying “We have received a Scheduled Monument Consent for a temporary application for the Olympic Rings installation at Edinburgh Castle which is going through the due process.”

The Cockburn Association, who promote the conservation of Edinburgh’s landscape and architecture, have previously expressed their disgust at this plan. The Director, Marion Williams, said “I think it’s daft, insulting and ridiculous. They should leave the castle alone and get on with having the Olympics in London. Edinburgh has other things to worry about at the moment. “I’m not grumpy about the Olympics, but I am grumpy about London stamping its mark on Edinburgh.”

What do you think about the Olympic Rings coming to Edinburgh Castle? Contact Napier News and let us know.

Jehovah’s Witnesses Encouraged to be Unstoppable

Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses in Gilmerton, Edinburgh

by Viktoria Kabatne Urban

Jehovah’s Witnesses are best known for their preaching work and therefore, their knowledge of the Bible. Last week Derek Armstrong, circuit overseer, visited the Edinburgh Waverley Congregation to encourage them with three special talks to keep up with the ministry.

Brother Armstrong began his visit on Tuesday, 2 November 2010, going out in the ministry with members of the congregation and then giving a talk in the evening, titled: “Why must we keep on the watch?”, in which he warned fellow believers not to let themselves be blinded but feel the urgency of time, to keep on a guard against the world’s spirit and to keep praying earnestly for the flesh is weak but God is strong. At the end of his talk he encouraged the audience to keep busy in the ministry.

[Read more…]

Students march over fears of ‘Demo-lition’ of Education

by Kirsty Tobin

Students take to the streets of London to protest increases in undergraduate tuition fees and third-level education cuts. Credit: guardian.co.uk

Over 24,000 students are expected to take to the streets of London today in protest at increased fees and proposed education cuts.

The protest, Demo-lition, is taking place in order to highlight students’ opposition to the raising of undergraduate tuition fees from £3,290 per year to a maximum of £9,000, as well as third-level education cuts of 40%.

Aaron Porter, President of the National Union of Students (NUS), is staunchly opposed to the government initiative: “We will fight back against attempts to dismantle the funded education system we desperately need for economic recovery, social mobility and cultural enrichment. The Government’s short-sighted and self-defeating cuts to colleges and universities must be resisted and that resistance begins now.”

The increase in fees will lead to an average graduate debt expected to soar beyond £40,000.

The protest has been organised by the NUS and the University and College Union (UCU). UCU President, Sally Hunt, explains the rationale behind the march: “We are taking to the streets to deliver a clear message to politicians that we want a fair and progressive system of education funding. There is nothing fair or progressive about tripling the cost of a degree and axing college grants that are often the difference between students being able to study or not.”

The protest has received widespread support. Stand-up comic, Stewart Lee, has advocated the need for action on this issue. Speaking to the organisers of Demo-lition, he highlights the problem that will face many prospective students if these measures go ahead: “There is no way that I, a family university first-timer with a single parent, on a then full grant, for example, would have contemplated going to University under the current rules. I would have thought it was what wealthy people did, and was nothing to do with me.”

The increase in fees and the cuts in education spending are expected to affect the arts and humanities more than any other departments. In a YouTube video posted online, Lee worries that this will lead to the disappearance of “thinkers and artists and conscientious people.”

The march, which began at 12 noon, has departed from Horse Guards Avenue and will travel along Millbank. The mile long march will pass Parliament buildings. Students are expected to be joined in the protest by many lecturers, who will march with them in solidarity.

These protests take place a week on from a similar protest march, taking place in Dublin, Ireland. This protest sparked scenes of Garda violence. Irish students are taking to the streets again today to take part in a peaceful march in protest of the so-called Garda brutality.

1,500 Scottish students join London protests

By Samantha Brady and Craig Alexander

Aberdeen students join the London protest

Over 1,500 Scottish students have flocked to join the tens of thousands of English protesters in the London ‘Fund Our Future: Stop Education Cuts’ protest over the proposed university tuition fee rises.

Tuition fees are set to triple for English students and even more for Scottish students attending English Universities.

Liam Burns, President of National Union of Students warns about a potential knock on effect for higher fees in Scotland.

He said: ‘The impact in Scotland will be huge. Increases fees will force Scottish students studying in England into crippling levels of debt and will fuel calls for English students studying in Scotland to pay much higher fees.’

Union leaders had breakfast this morning with former Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, to discuss concerns about the coalition government’s proposed changes.

George Osborne, Chancellor of the Exchequer, has stated that the fee rises are the ‘right choice for our country’s future’.

He added: ‘Our universities are jewels in our economic crown, and it is clear that if we want to keep our place near the top of the world league tables then we need to reform our system of funding and reject.’

Murray Hope, Senior Vice President of the Heriot Watt University student’s union and National Union of Students executive stresses the importance of a Scottish presence at the London protest today.

‘Today is pivotal for two reasons for Scotland: the battle to keep education free at the point of delivery’, he said.

‘Secondly, the 40% cuts will be pushed onto Scotland to deal with. If you removed health, which has already been ring fenced, education is the most obvious cut. This means bigger class sizes, job losses, course closures, less support, reduced opening hours [and] bursary cuts.’

The protests are set to take place today between 8am and 3pm.

Christmas is coming so let there be Light

Glasgow's George Square

By Celeste Carrigan

The cold winter nights are truly upon us. As the fireworks fall from Guy Fawkes night, the Christmas lights up and down the country are beginning to be turned on. The Glasgow Loves Christmas festival is in full swing the lights are up but they have still to be switched on.

The Christmas lights will be turned on in the main shopping streets for  many cities in the UK, in the middle of the month. This will be the start of the busiest time of the year for shops. For many years people have said Christmas comes earlier every year, with shops in July and August filling their shelves with Christmas decorations and presents. This may also be said about the Christmas lights.

This years Glasgow Loves Christmas Festival is about celebrating the best of the festive season Glasgow has to offer. The lights switching on will  mark the start of the festivities, the switch this year will be flicked on Sunday 21st November.

Glasgow's Iconic Christmas Bells

As  Glasgow and many other cities are gearing up for the Christmas rush and setting up their lights, some have already turned theirs on. Oxford Street Christmas Lights are the most famous in the world, and are enjoyed by many. This year the lights were turned on the 4th November 2010 ,  but to its usual crowd of celebrities and the thousands of people who flock year after year to London’s west end to see the big switch on. This year they kicked off the Christmas celebrations on a low-key affair rather than one of  the many celebrities that have turned on the illuminations year after year, this year  children chosen by the Kids Company charity flicked the switch. London’s Regent street lights are next to be turned on, the switch will flicked by the cast of the new Narnia film, tonight Tuesday 8th November.

Although Glasgow winter festival is not the same celebrity event as London’s Christmas festivals, year after year crowds gather at the city’s George Square to see the lights be turned on. The switching on of the lights in Glasgow has and will always be a family affair. This year the organizers have put together a line up for all the family, they will be “treated to performances from the Musical Theatre course at The Dance School of Scotland, the cast of SECC panto Aladdin and Lazytown Sports Club Team featuring Sportacus and Stephanie.”

It is a party atmosphere, with families joining in the festivities.  Glasgow will be the first major city in Scotland alongside Aberdeen to have their Christmas lights switched on, whilst Edinburgh won’t be joining the festivities until the 26th November.

Students and staff organise against government’s cuts in higher education

By Jenny Kassner

We will march is the slogan of an unprecedented demonstration against the rise of fees in higher education that is due to take place in London on the 11 November 2010.

Students, academic staff and the general public will be marching through central London to demonstrate against cuts in education and a raise in tuition fees of universities.

The Lord Browne report, that was released in October proposed to lift the cap off tuition fees. At the same time, the government’s comprehensive spending review revealed that there would be severe cuts in education funding. This had caused wide spread disapproval amongst the British student body and academic staff.

“We must fight so that the government continues to fund education to current levels, and student support to higher levels”, stated Liam Burns, president of NUS president at the senate of the Napier Students’ Association last night. He had been invited by the association to come to speak at their first senate of the year to raise awareness of the severe consequences the Brown review is most likely to have on Scotland.

Across the country, universities’ student associations are organising free coaches for their students to have a chance to attend the demonstration in London on 11 November.  Online portals allow students to share and offer available seats on coaches.

The demonstration is organized by NUS and UCU (University and College Union). But with 7 million students and only about 125000 of academic staff a concern may be raised that the student voice will be much louder at the demonstration and staff issues might be silenced. However, the UCU press office has stated that student and staff were working together to preserve a fair system of higher education. “There is no battle between the two.”

The coalition will announce its response to the Lord Browne review today. They are expected to announce to put the cap of tuition fees in England on £9,000.

London firefighter strike imminent

by Craig Alexander

Fears that military will be woefully unprepared to deal with burden of bonfire night grew last night after settlement talks with London firefighters failed to meet a compromise.

Over 5,500 firefighters walked out on the 1 November between the hours of 10 am and 6 pm and there has been no indication that the 47 hour strike beginning at 9 am on Friday morning will be prevented.

The strikes have been met with widespread condemnation, with the Prime Minister, David Cameron, describing the move by the London firefighters as ‘irresponsible’.

Bob Neill, the government minister with responsibility for the fire service, has condemned the strike as “old fashioned militant muscle-flexing”, adding: “The prospect of industrial action over the Bonfire Night period is disgraceful…Such behaviour is reckless and cynical and it is no credit to the Fire Service.”

The firefighters union, however,  claim that the strikes are unavoidable. Matt Wrack, General Secretary of the FBU firefighters’ union said: “We do not want to take this action – but we have no choice. The alternative is to allow London’s firefighters to become doormats for their employers to walk.”

London Fire Brigade’s demands include a change to the current 15-hour night shift and nine-hour day shift to provide a longer day shift, stating that firefighters will continue to work two day shifts followed by two night shifts then have four days off.

A small replacement service is in place by private contactors AssetCo to cover the 47 hour spell London will have without a professional firefighting service. The military will only have access to 27 fire engines for the whole of London, compared to the 169 fire engines London is usually equipped with.

The Green Goddesses used in previous firefighter strikes were deemed out of date. During a strike on Thursday November 14, 2002, Evan Davies, an 86-year-old man, died in a house fire after it took a replacement fire engine 20 minutes to reach the blaze. Davies’ home was located five miles from the location of a Green Goddess and only half a mile from a striking fire station.

National News Belt

By James Davies

HMS Astute is set to enter service next year

Attack Submarine grounded off Scottish Isles

HMS Astute, the Royal Navy’s newest and largest attack submarine has been grounded on rocks off the Island of Skye. The Ministry Of Defense has confirmed the battle submarine was undergoing sea trials on Scotland’s West Coast. A Ministry Of Defense spokeswoman said :” this is not a nuclear incident, we can confirm that there are no injuries to personnel and the submarine remains watertight. There is also no indication of any environmental impact”. HMS Astute is based at Faslane Naval Base on the Clyde, and is not expected to enter service until next year.

Clegg launches attack on IFS

Deputy PM Nick launches attack on IFS

Deputy Prime minister Nick Clegg has blasted claims today that the Governments Spending Review is “unfair” and that “poorer families will lose out the most due to the cuts”. The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) has said that the Spending Review is “more regressive than progressive”. However, Mr Clegg hit back, telling the Guardian Newspaper that the IFS’s definition of fairness was “complete nonsense” and that it took account only of tax and welfare, ignoring factors like public services and social mobility.

Dr David Kelly death inquiry

An investigation into the death of ex-Iraq weapons expert Dr David Kelly has suggested his injuries were self-inflicted after new evidence was revealed. The previously confidential evidence has suggested the cause of his death was from a blade wound to his wrist, and was described as “typical of a self-inflicted injury”.

London Plans for ‘Super Council’

Plans to make the UK’s first ‘Super Council’ in London have been announced today. Hammersmith and Fulham, Chelsea and Kensington are the areas that are involved in the proposal. Under the proposal, each area will retain its political identity with its own councilors and leaders, but the move could save between £50m and £100m per year.

Johnny Depp Pays Surprise Visit to London School

By Alicia Warner

Johnny Depp surprised children in a South London school on Wednesday when he  paid them a visit after receiving a letter from one of their pupils.

The Pirates of the Caribbean actor made an appearance at Meridian Primary School dressed as the film’s character Captain Jack Sparrow and held a one-off assembly for the children.

Depp took a break from filming at the nearby 18th century Old Naval College to respond to nine-year old Beatrice Delap’s letter asking for assistance staging a “mutiny” against the teachers in the Greenwich school.

In an interview with the BBC, Beatrice explained why she wrote not to Johnny Depp, but to Jack Sparrow.

She said: “Captain Jack Sparrow, At Meridian Primary School, we are a bunch of budding young pirates and we were having a bit of trouble mutiny-ing against the teachers, and we’d love if you could come and help.

“Beatrice Delap, aged nine, budding pirate.”

The school said the pirate character received a great reception from the year-five student and all of her peers as they “greeted Captain Sparrow with great applause and sang him their own pirate song.”

The visit left local children, and adults alike, green with envy about the personalised visit. Residents said they wished the ‘same privilege’ would happen to them with one local secondary school student exclaiming: “I want Johnny Depp at my school as well.”

Onlookers have regularly spotted Depp around the Greenwich area during the filming period and many have flocked to the South-east London borough just to watch the Pirate adventure film come to life.

The event has left the local school experiencing surges of publicity with the police remaining a persistent presence as the filming continues.

An Afternoon with Edward Minton of Elliot Minor

By Rahsian Parris

Elliot Minor - From Left to Right: Ed Minton, Dan Hetherton, Alex Davies, Ali Paul and Ed Hetherton

I recently caught up with Ed Minton (from band of the moment, Elliot Minor), who took some time out of the bands hectic UK tour to talk about their new album Solaris, dish the dirt on his band mates and shed some light on what really happens on tour with one of Britain’s favourite pop rockers.

I am anxious, my palms feel clammy and all of a sudden I feel overwhelmed. Is my voice shaking? I am introducing myself and I start to stutter, why am I giggling like an excited child? Maybe it is because I am about to talk to a founding member of one of my favourite bands. I manage to get my name out and ask Ed how he is, “Hiya, I’m very well thank you. How are you?” he says. Much to my surprise, the young, modest voice on the other end of the line is instantly comforting and just like that, it is like talking to an old friend. I answer his polite question, mentioning how petrified I am and slightly unnerved that my other interviewee – Alex, who sings lead vocals – is still asleep in bed. “Do you want me to wake him up?” asks Ed, more as if he were asking me how many sugars I would like in my coffee rather than if he should rouse his superstar band mate from the depths of post performance slumber. He tells me, in an almost childlike fashion, that unfortunately he is not allowed to anyway (orders from management) and that the interview will continue Alex-less.

[Read more…]

‘This Is Us': The Fashion Behind The Backstreet Boys

By Rahsian Parris

With newly released album – This Is Us, the follow up to 2007’s Unbreakable, and in the midst of their This Is Us World Tour, the Backstreet Boys have no qualms about remedying myths that they are no longer a household name; but seven albums, one departure and over 100 million record sales later, how do these megastars of the 90s stay fashion forward without compromising the trademark style and personality that the world fell in love with over a decade and a half ago? Innovative stylist and costume designer for the Backstreet Boys, Nicole Janowicz, enlightens us on what goes into styling, for the stage, one of the biggest selling artists of all time.

It is a bitterly cold evening in Glasgow and as the heavens open up, showering the unmissable buzz of the city center with the patter of winter rain, it is easy to get dragged into the drab feeling of the night as more and more bodies climb in and out of taxis, typically headed for mundane Saturday night bar crawls; but a little ways into the city, laying abreast the north bank of the River Clyde and next door to the famous ‘Armadillo’ there is a different kind of hum. Hearts are pounding, screams of excitement crescendo out of the SECC Arena and into the Scottish air; behind the curtains the Backstreet Boys prepare to burst out onto the stage, ready to live it up, dressed to kill.

Nick

Nick in his first outfit during 'PDA'

Opening with 1997’s top ten hit Everybody (Backstreet’s Back), Howie Dorough, Nick Carter, Brian Littrell and A.J McLean grace the stage in suave black and white with lashings of denim. A.J and Howie wear predominantly black cotton with vibrant monochromatic patterns on their ties, A.J in an almost mafia-esque suit and trilby which clearly indicates his naturally ‘edgy’ look and Howie in a fitted black shirt and jeans. Humble. Chic. Brian, on the other hand dons more fitted trousers and a black blazer broken up by a dynamically patterned, monochrome tie and white shirt; this is topped off by a baseball cap which he wears back to front, a notable reflection of his ‘on tour’ attire of the early Backstreet Boys tours and a depiction of his bright personality and love of sport. Nick never fails to surprise and since the notably uncomfortable Never Gone era – in which he never quite seemed content – the youngest member of the Backstreet Boys has gone from strength to strength and looked especially dapper in a white shirt, black fitted waistcoat accompanied by dark jeans and stylish trainers, looking ultimately comfortable in his own skin. Individually they could all easily have been your mildly eccentric boyfriend on his first dinner date and together, in theory, these outfits should not work, but yet they do; oozing style and individuality that many musical groups of today irrefutably lack, whilst gelling to form a bond that amends any fashion faux pas. Nicole Janowicz, the secret weapon behind the newly resurrected fashion of the Backstreet Boys says “Every guy [in the group] has a different personality and style so the most difficult part of my job is consolidating everyone’s personalities and moods to find the happy medium where both are reflected yet they look like a cohesive group. Just like everyone else, the guys’ moods change and sometimes they just want to be comfortable in jeans and sneakers or they feel like dressing up a little more. The most rewarding aspect of dressing the four guys as a group is seeing a photograph, music video, TV show, or concert where they look great and the guys’ reactions are “Wow! We look good together!””

Stylist and costume designer Nicole Janowicz has been working with the Backstreet Boys for over three years now. After graduating from the University of California, Los Angeles, where she majored in psychology, she turned her hand to fashion journalism for a spell before deciding to pursue a career in fashion styling. Having styled various clients including actor Adrien Grenier (Entourage) and musical artist Kid Rock, as well as styling for a variety of magazines, she was lucky enough to cross paths with the Backstreet Boys. “[They] were preparing to launch their album, Unbreakable and wanted to revamp their image. After seeing my work they contacted me and asked me to style them for the Unbreakable cover. After shooting their album cover and Inconsolable music video together, we developed a great working relationship and they asked me to style and accompany them for their promotional tour. While we were out on tour, the guys started brainstorming ideas for their Unbreakable World Tour and asked me to do the costume design as well as go out on the tour with them. We have been together ever since.”

Brian

Brian in the 'BSB' hoody

Five tracks in and the swift disperse and disappearance of the boys signals a wardrobe change, with a short video interlude creating valuable dressing time. The boys emerge as the title track of the album begins and in contrast to the first set, are kitted out far more casually for what eventually becomes the trade mark ‘slow’ section of the concert where the majority of the chosen ballads are performed. Each backstreet boy is uniformed in an achromatic T-shirt, matching gray, jersey, zip hoodies with ‘BSB’ embellished on one breast in sparkly ruby red, (similar hoodies appear as part of the tour merchandise that can be bought at the venue on the day of the show) and a pair of jeans and trainers. The style choice for this section of the show seemed slightly questionable at the time, but proved to be a fresh, contemporary perspective on the matching suits and trilbies that usually accompany this section of a Backstreet Boys show. Janowicz reassures saying: “Costumes play a large role in the show. They communicate the theme of the songs in a particular section and the theme of the show overall. They tell a story. They have to be visible to everyone in all seats of a venue, but not overpower the performer; but at the same time, I have to remember that the costume has to last for many, many shows. They will get sweaty and have to be washed and repaired. When designing a costume, I have to ask myself, “If I am in the middle of nowhere with only the supplies I packed and this piece breaks, how will I fix it?” If the answer is “there is no way I can repair this by myself”, then I do not use it”. With that said, there is something about the hoody and jeans combo during the ballad section that makes you feel at ease. No longer does it feel like a regimental stage production (however exciting it may be), but when the boys climb down the metal stair cases on either side of the stage and get closer to the crowd, a sudden feeling of nostalgia swoops over you like a gust of warm air from the pacific. If only until the next part of the show, you are fifteen again, back in your baby pink wallpapered bedroom, wrapped in the fluffy dreams of your favourite Backstreet Boy as you sing along to All I Have To Give; be it only for a moment, everything in the world feels right again.

Nick

Nick in the 'pops of neon' outfit

Half way through the show and after another brief interval accompanied by a video clip, all four boys take to the stage again to up the tempo of the show with 2001’s epic single The Call. This time around you get a real feel for the Backstreet Boys as individuals. At first glance you would not even think they were ‘styled’. A.J looks like he has just popped out to the supermarket in a casual slogan tee that reads ‘never grow up’ and a pair of dark jeans with a ‘worn’ look on the thigh. Nick masters the art of the blazer/jeans look with a fantastic white jacket with an adorning large print on the back, a white and silver printed tee and dark jeans accessorised with a red striped belt that adds a bit of Rock ‘N’ Roll grit to his outfit; so effortlessly that you could swear that there is a fashionista brewing inside him just bursting to get out. Brian teams a light blue, retro print T-shirt with a black PVC looking ‘puffer’ gilet, washed out jeans and high-top trainers; adding retro/cool to an otherwise sporty concept. Howie knits the individual looks together by wearing a modern interpretation of the gilet in black and white which ties in with Nick’s monochrome attire and is also wearing a print tee; his jeans, that are very similar to Brian’s, mean that two of the boys are wearing dark jeans and the other two boys wearing lighter jeans.

Janowicz tells of how she captures the boys’ individual styles and how that translates into how they look as a group: “they all have very strong personalities which naturally come through. Brian is very athletic and sporty and loves textures and colors. I have him wear distressed jeans, really soft cottons, cashmere, things that are very comfortable and colorful. A.J is very rock ‘n’ roll so I focus on pieces that have an edge and are very unique. He likes taking fashion risks and loves to shop with me. Nick is preppy with a little urban twist. I use a lot of patterns and colors, while maintaining an effortlessly cool look. Howie is chic but youthful. He looks so great in a suit so I like to pair suit pieces that are a little more sophisticated with casual pieces. I also include my own style preferences”, and what about when the boys do not agree? “They know I am really serious about a particular look when I say, “As your stylist, I feel really strongly about this.” If we are divided on something, we all take a vote and the majority wins. Sometimes I come in with a look and they have their own suggestions to add. In that case, we collaborate and develop a really great look.”

AJ and Howie

A.J and Howie in the Larger Than Life costumes

I wonder if this was the case for the next couple of outfits that hit the stage, notably Nick’s addition to the Trance inspired ‘Pops of neon’ outfits, where his pair of skin tight ‘skinny jeans’ come ‘treggins’ (a hybrid between trousers and leggins) gave many a Backstreet fan a show they had not bargained for. Be that as it may, the visual highlight of the show was undoubtedly the stage costumes from the performance of Larger Than Life (although Nick’s ‘treggins’ came in close second). An innovative blend of military chic, android attitude and traces of inspiration from the official music video made Larger Than Life a visually stunning spectacle. “Those costumes evolved over a month and went through many trials” says Janowicz “The choreographer originally had a vision of building a robot on stage. While I was pulling clothes for the Straight Through My Heart music video, I saw a piece of gear for motorcyclists that I thought could look really great if I somehow turned it into robot armor[…] I called every set designer I know and did an extensive internet search. Eventually, my friend at Set Masters developed a way to form and bolt polished aluminum to motorcycle protective gear. The resulting costume along with the music and choreography has become a highlight of the show.”

As Straight Through My Heart belts out its last anthemic chorus and multi-coloured confetti showers the audience from above, it feels almost ludicrous that such a brilliant show is about to come to an end; but as A.J, Brian, Nick and Howie hold each others raised hands as they plunge forward in a large bow, the reality dawns upon all. However, with all great concerts there is one reassuring factor and that is that the greater the show, the more the memory of the night stays embedded in your mind. For years I figured this was down to just how well an artist sung, but there is so much more that goes into a great live show other than good vocals (of which the Backstreet Boys are masters of the trade). What we remember primarily is what is aesthetically pleasing. Without the expertise of innovative and creative stylists and designers such as Nicole Janowicz, would we even remember what happened at a concert? It is true that all the major points and structures of a good show are marked by wardrobe changes which ultimately signifies the immutable connection between fashion and music. So next time you are at a live show, as you chant along to your favourite song, stare dreamy eyed and your favourite artist, remember those few individuals behind the scenes that spend untold amounts of time helping to make the memories you will have for a lifetime.

As I slowly leave the Glasgow SECC Arena, trying to replay every moment back in my mind like a vivid home video, I do not even notice that it is still raining and that I’m being bumped every which way by over zealous Backstreet Boys fans still very much on cloud nine. The horns of near by traffic are completely drowned out by my own mental rendition of Straight Through My Heart and I smile to myself; maybe because that was the best show I have ever been to, maybe because I feel like a teenager again or maybe it is because I have just remembered the ‘treggins’.

The Backstreet Boys This Is Us World Tour hits London’s O2 Dome tonight – Doors – 18:30. For more UK dates visit Backstreetboys.com

From Store to Tour: Want the Backstreet look? Get some inspiration from some of the designers and brands that the boys wear themselves: Dior, Dolce and Gabbana, Gucci, Hysteric Glamour, H&M, Joe’s Jeans, Levis, Marc Jacobs, Nike and Reebok

No stop in Glasgow for East Coast Mainline?

By Nikki Hunter

National Express East Coast service

Courtesy of freefoto.com

Train services on the East Coast Mainline could no longer arrive in Glasgow and instead terminate at Edinburgh Waverley station according to new plans lais out by national express.

This change will not take place until the December 2010 timetable is discussed and produced. It is currently under discussion now.

At the present moment the service leaves from Kings Cross, travels up the east coast of England, up to Edinburgh then though to Glasgow, however this could stop being the case. Direct services from Glasgow to London Euston will continue, however this does not help some people. One traveller said: “If the new timetable changes go ahead, I hope alternative train routes from England to Glasgow will be sorted as this train is a part of peoples everyday working life.”

There will be a significant amount of people affected by this change and many will have to find alternative routes. A lot of travellers are just looking for reassurance at the moment. The East Coast Mainline is transferring to a Government controlled  company ‘East Coast’ before midnight on the 13th of November.

If the new timetable changes are brought in this will not be linked to the nationalisation of the East Coast Mainline.

The London Beefeaters??

by Christian McBride

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, expects more games to be held in the UK per season over the next few years and has inferred that growing popularity for the game could well lead to a London based team. Mark Waller, NFL head of sales and marketing, has said that they are framing it to happen in the next ten to twelve years.

The increase of regular season games being played in London has been praised by New England Patriot Quarterback Tom Brady. One of the leagues most successful Quarterbacks Brady claimed the trip gave the team a unique chance to bond that they would not get from regular road games in the US. Brady was quoted saying “We all went out for dinner Friday night which we don’t get a chance to do very often”

One obvious concern with playing regular season games on the other side of the Atlantic would be the fatigue factor but this doesn’t seem to be as much of a problem as has been perhaps feared. The first teams to play a London game were the New York Giants and the Miami Dolphins, and that season the Giants went on to win the Superbowl, the London victory clearly not having a negative affect on their season.

The basis for both the increase in games and the development of a London franchise is the sound economic move. The previous three Wembly games have been at maximum capacity of 85,000, such figures are comfortable enough for the NFL, driven primarily by the financial climate, to see it as a logical move. Goodell commented that it was reassuring that the games were so well received given the current economic crisis.

David Tossell, the Director of Public Affairs for NFL International, has said that “if there is a real will for a team to be developed in London, for regular games to be played in the NFL season, then the logistical problems can be worked around.” And when asked about the opportunity for local British players to get into the London franchise he said that though the teams would have to be primarily American in nationality but it would be “obviously beneficial if British players could do well enough to go across and play for American colleges and make their way into the game.” As it stands there are many non-American players in the NFL, indeed the Superbowl winning team of three years ago has a Scottish fist team kicker, born in Glasgow and a purported Celtic fan.

tayloragain

image borrowed from http://www.deadspin.com

“Fresh Radicalism” required by G20

by Andrew Moir

Over thirty thousand people turned out on Saturday to protest the G20 summit. Students played an important part in the protest and some believe that they have a responsibility to shape the world.

The G20 is the gathering of the leaders of the world’s most influential countries including the UK, the United States, Japan and Russia. They are meeting in London to discuss how to combat the global economic downturn. The Put People First march on Saturday was the first of many themed events in the run-up to the summit. Other issues include poverty, jobs and climate change. Protests will be held across the world’s capitals but the focus will be in London.

put people first

put people first

Mick Napier, chairman of the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign believes that people are protesting to protect their futures. “We need to think about where the world is going for our own self-interest our own collective self-interest.” He believes that students are the key to this success and the new problems faced by the world require a perspective that most politicians will not have.

“Students are always important as harbingers of a fresh radicalism, of a fresh readiness to look at major problems that confront the world. I mean 29,000 or 30,000 children died last night of hunger and lack of availability of clean water or the most essential medical care. This holocaust of 30,000 every 24 hours is expected to grow. You just can’t go on like that forever, something’s going to break”

Students have proved active in 2009 with lecture theatres being occupied across the country to protest the situation in Gaza demanding links to the region and funding for their cause.

Strathclyde University nursing student Rob Mcmillan believes in the power of students. “Politics is a crucial part of my university life, even if just at union level. It makes you feel part of the place. You have a say in how things are run. It gives you a voice and opens up your eyes to the potentials of the real world. And isn’t that what going to university is all about?”

Not all students share this sentiment. Kirstin McEwan studies at the University of Glasgow. “I just don’t have the time. I worked hard to get here and now I’m going to make the most of it. I have to work to pay rent. Living is my priority.” This does not mean she has opted out of the political process. “I voted. My rights lie with the elected leaders and at the G20 they’re far more likely to make a difference than anyone standing outside with placards.”

However Mr Napier believes politician may be forced to listen to public opinion. “There’s certainly a mood of resentment and anger that wasn’t there before and I think it makes them tread carefully and I think they have to be careful of an aroused public opinion and if the people at the G20 protests show that that’s beginning to be aroused it can only be a good thing.”

The extent to which the world leaders will listen and the full consequences of the protests will only be known when the summit begins on Thursday.

Argentinian President marks Falklands anniversary in London

Gordon Brown meets Christina Kirchner

Gordon Brown meets Christina Kirchner

By Vikki Graves

Argentinian President Christina Fernandez de Kirchner is in London today for the G20 summit. The discussions will focus on solving the global economic crisis, but for Argentinians, today’s date has another significance. It marks the anniversary of Argentina’s landing in The Falkland Islands, which sparked a bitter 74 day war. Ironically, President Kirchner will be marking the anniversary on British soil. She will attend a commemorative event at the Argentinian Embassy in London.

Last weekend, British Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, met President Kirchner at the Progressive Governance forum in Vina del Mar, Chile. While Mrs Kirchner was keen to discuss Argentina’s claim to sovereignty of the islands, Mr Brown had stated in advance that there was “nothing to discuss from our side”.

The talk is reported to have lasted 35 minutes of which 15 were devoted to discussing the Falklands. It was described as “constructive” by both sides, who also, according to a British official, “agreed that they have differences of opinion”.

But this seems to be the only thing they agree on. Argentina’s claim to the islands, known in Spanish as ‘Las Malvinas’ is a powerful tool in domestic politics. Opinion is particularly strong in Tierra del Fuego, the province at the southern tip of the country, 300 miles from the islands. One Argentinian claims “for the world Malvinas are forever Argentinian”.

A British tourist, who visited Argentina in 2007, during the 25th anniversary of the war, confirms the strength of public feeling on the issue. “When I was in Ushuaia, the capital of Tierra del Fuego, there was a lot of grafitti saying things like ‘Malvinas for Argentina!’ and ‘The English are Pirates’. If you speak to the locals, many of them will agree that the Islands should join Argentina and become part of their province.”

Argentina’s Foreign Minister, Jorge Taiana, said “the President clearly established that in the 21st century the persistence with an archaic colonial enclave [by the British] is something not consistent with the world’s rhythm”. Gordon Brown, however, focussed not on a British sovereignty claim, but on the rights of the island’s inhabitants.

“The essential principle has always been that the Islanders should determine the issue of sovereignty for themselves and, let us be clear, our first priority will always be the needs and wishes of the Islanders.” – Gordon Brown

But what do the Islanders want? They were granted British citizenship in 1983, but the consitution supports their right to self-determination. They are ruled by a Governor, appointed by the Queen and advised by  Executive Council and an elected Legislative Council.

A statement release by the Falkland Islands Government on Monday made its position on the Argentinian sovereignty claim very clear.

“…our Argentine neighbours remain in a time warp, still pressing their anachronistic claim to territorial sovereignty.  In short, they wish to colonise the Falkland Islands.

We have been encouraged by the UK Government’s clear and unshakeable position that the sovereignty issue is not for negotiation.  There is no turning back from this.

Falkland Islanders have expressed their views freely and unequivocally over many years.  We wish to remain British.  Our constitution enshrines the right to determine our own future.  Surely no-one who supports democracy and human rights can oppose this?”

Yesterday, yet another coincidence befell President Kirchner. On the the eve of the anniversary of the beginning of the war, it was announced that Raul Alfonsin, the democratically elected president who took over at its end, died in his sleep aged 82.

Alfonsin’s government replaced the military dictatorship which started the war and, controversially, put nine of its former rulers on trial. He is widely seen as a symbol of a return to democracy for Argentina. The announcement of  his death could well overshadow any plans Mrs Kirchner may have to restate her claim to the Falklands.

Time for gathering together

Twenty of the world’s influential leaders meet this week in London at the Excel Centre on the banks of the Thames. They meet during a period of almost unprecedented financial turmoil.

But will they come up with world-changing solutions?

The United Kingdom chairs the Group of Twenty in 2009 and this week it hosts the G20 summit.

The Washington Summit held in November 2008, on the international response to the global financial and economic crisis, set out an agenda for G-20 Finance Ministers to take forward work in areas of financial management such as the promotion of integrity in financial markets. It is also proposed that the G20 should reinforce international cooperation and that  International Financial Institutions should be reformed. 

World leaders gathered in a G20 meeting

World leaders gathered in a G20 meeting

Four working groups were set up to undertake this work in anticipation of the London Summit and now this week they come together to discuss what might still be required to restart the global economy.

World leaders are set to reiterate a pledge to avoid protectionism and complete stalled global trade talks but offer little to those calling for more economic stimulus. 

The G20 now has a crucial role to drive forward work betweenboth advanced and emerging economies to tackle the international financial and economic crisis, restore worldwide financial stability, lead the international economic recovery and secure a sustainable future for all countries.

The financial markets and the world economy both continue to face serious global challenges and the severity of the crisis and ongoing uncertainties demonstrate need for urgent action. During the United Kingdom’s Chair, the immediate priority will be to gain further agreements for a concerted and managed international response.

The G-20 will need to send a strong message that it will do whatever is necessary to stabilise the financial system and to provide further economic support. The Financial TImes says that the group must  commit to maintaining open trade and investment, to avoid a retreat to protectionism, and direct necessary additional support to emerging markets and developing countries. It is understood that it could be emerging markets who actually help other countries out of this dilemma. 

Whilst China holds much of the US debt in its hands it is also exporting many cheap goods to the US, which can only be seen as a relationship which is beneficial to China, a so called emerging market. 

In China the economy continues to grow. 

The G20 should develop proposals to restore growth in the medium term, including the unwinding of emergency measures taken in response to the crisis.

President Barack Obama is voicing optimism that this week’s crucial G20 summit will set the framework for recovery, saying that world leaders know they must “deliver a strong message of unity” for the sake of the global economy but he played down talk of a split between the US and the leading continental European economies, notably Germany and France.

Gordon Brown said: “The world is coming together and the results of this week will show that global problems… require global solutions.

PM Gordon Brown

PM Gordon Brown

“I believe the world will rise to the challenge and defeat those who say doing nothing is an option and defeat those who say protectionism is an option.”

Meanwhile Ministers were struggling to maintain momentum for the G20 summit last night after it emerged that any spending decisions would be deferred to a later meeting.

Yesterday, Kevin Rudd, the Australian prime minister who will hold pre-summit talks with Brown tomorrow, said it was now up to the International Monetary Fund to determine how much additional support the world economy would need next year, and that there had never been any expectation that the decisions on that package would be taken in London.

 

The so called Casino Capitalism in the City of London has been severely criticised by our neighbours in Europe. The light touch regulation so much revered by Gordon Brown and his Government in 2006 has not worked. The need and desire to reduce the burden of paperwork has allowed loopholes to develop. 

Transparency is now the watchword of the G20 and they want more regulation done more obviously. 

Lord Turner of the FSA thinks that, for example, AIG was the worst case of an institution falling between the stools of the US and the UK regulatory processes. Madoff was also regulated in the UK and the US. But that too was missed by both sets of regulators. 

Now we have toxic assets being sold around the world. Some believe that tax havens such as The Isle of Man, Jersey or Monaco with their shadow banking systems may have to be brought to an end.  France has already threatened that Sarkoy will resign as Prince of Andorra and now Andorra has agreed that it will give up its special status. Common standards will have to be applied. There cannot be a separate banking system evading the national jurisdiction in the opinion of Peter Mandelson, Business Secretary, who also thinks that in this country there was a sound regulatory framework but that the powers could have been used more “intrusively”. 

Separately five British people have been arrested in connection with a suspected plot involving explosives to disrupt the G20 summit.

The individuals were arrested at addresses in Plymouth and they are being held under terrorism legislation.

Despite the involvement of explosives, a police source with knowledge of the investigation has told the Guardian that initial inquiries indicate the five were “not planning a Guy Fawkes plot”.

“I think it was more designed to disrupt than injure or kill,” the source said, adding that reports that the individuals were Greek nationals were false. It is understood that the “suspicious devices” found suggest a small-scale stunt. Unconfirmed reports said the individuals may have had “flares” in their posession.

What is the G20?

The G 20 is otherwise known as the Group of Twenty Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors. It is a group of finance ministers and central bank governors from 20 states, 19 of the world’s largest national economies and includes the European Union.

It is a forum for cooperation and consultation on matters pertaining to the international financial system. It studies, reviews, and promotes discussion among key industrial and emerging market countries of policy issues pertaining to the promotion of international financial stability, and seeks to address issues that go beyond the responsibilities of any one organization.

A naked future for Britain’s streets?

by Kirstyn Smith

An interesting new way of outlining London’s streets could soon be a reality, thanks to Boris Johnson’s plans to render the streets of London ‘naked’. 

However, this is not a case of the controversial mayor contemplating a mass public nudity bylaw.  Rather, he proposes to remove traffic lights, street signs and road markings in an innovative concept known as ‘shared space’.

Shared space is a theory pioneered by Hans Monderman – a Dutch traffic engineer and inventor.  The scheme is intended to get rid of the traditional seperation between road users and pedestrians by removing kerbs, lines, signs and signals.  It is thought that by eliminating the physical barriers put in place to reduce motorists’ speed, this allows drivers and pedestrians to essentially ‘share’ the streets, urging both parties to become more cautious and aware of the other.  As a result, it is hoped that road safety will be improved, as users will be forced to negotiate their way through shared ares at appropriate speeds and with due consideration for the other users of the space.drachten

Discussing the potential project, Johnson enthused: “I’m a great fan of naked streets.  I envisage a future where pavements would blend seamlessly with roads.”

The plan has already been implemented in a number of countries, including Germany, Sweden and Australia.  If Johnson’s plans came to fruition, London would be one of few UK cities to embrace the ‘shared space’ idea. 

However, could this proposition be a realistic propsect, not just for London, but for other significant British cities? 

The residents of Edinburgh will likely wonder whether ‘naked streets’ could be applied to their city centre. Enthusaists maintain that the tram system - once it is eventually in place – could help towards creating an urban environment ideally suited to the shared space concept.  In a number of circumstances, such a project could be advantageous, for example, there could be a place for the reduction in the number of road markings in residential areas.  Similarly, there could be potential in trialling a ‘naked streets’ approach to the city’s main high streets in order to reduce road furniture – worth pursuing to monitor the response to such an approach, all considering, of course, the reaction if the scheme were to go ahead in London.  

Not everyone is as enthusiastic as Boris Johnson about  It could be the case that those who support the idea of shared space – particularly in Edinburgh, where the idea is yet to even be proposed –  are getting ahead of themselves.  A spokesperson for Edinburgh City Council was more realistic about the need for ‘naked streets':

“For the foreseeable future, there remains a role for signs, lines and road humps.  Signs and lines are key to managing parking, prioritisiroadsignng public transport and cycling; road humps have an outstandingly good record in reducing speeds and therefore accidents.  Thought there may be limited scope for removing traffic lights, they are key to managing traffic at our busiest junctions and to providing places where people can cross busy roads with more confidence.”  

Yet, as much as signs, lines and roadhumps play a part in the reduction of accidents, the actualisation of shared space in Holland has proven to have positive results in this respect.  The town of Drachten – one of the scheme’s pioneer towns – has no visible road markings, stop signs or directions.  Parking meters are also absent from road sides.  When traffic lights were removed from the town’s main junction, the number of accidents dropped from thirty to two over a period of six years.  This junction sees 22 000 cars each days and traffic jams are a rarity.

It has to be acknowledged that the towns in which shared space has been implemented tend towards less heavily urbanised areas.  Furthermore, the large number of cyclists on Dutch streets would benefit the ‘naked streets’ as their presence acts to slow and calm traffic – an advantage for the shared space approach.  The legal framework is also different and should be considered; in Holland it is the driver who is presumed at fault in any crash between a vehicle and a pedestrian or cyclist, so it has to be assumed that safer driving thrives in Hollondontraffic2land regardless of the shared space scheme.

Statistics are something that Johnson should also take into account.  There are 8 000 buses in London, 32 000 black cabs and 34 000 licensed mini cabs.  According to the London Road Safety Unit Fact Sheet, while the number of traffic accidents has decreased by more than 10 000 over the past decade, the number of people injured on the road each year remains very high at over 24 000.  By putting the ‘shared space’ plan into action, it could be that this number could fall further.

Fundamentally, this is what the plan wishes to generate – regardless of the city or region or mayor.  By allowing road users to take control of the streets for themselves, they are trusted to grow accustomed to communicating more with each other, ultimately creating an environment in which not only both parties feel safe to travel, but – through a reduction in accident – whose safeness can be proven.

National company rewards local students

By Ross Hart

A national financial software development company has linked up with an Edinburgh based university to reward the talent of local students.

Scott Logic, who have offices in London and Newcastle Upon Tyne as well as the capital, have come into partnership with Heriot Watt University to extend its programme of Excellence in Computer Science.

The programme rewards the top five students in year three of computer science at the Riccarton based university. The awards included prize money, a personalised glass hand-made by the National Glass Centre in Sunderland as well as a fast-track application form which guarantees the winning students an interview with the company.

One of the award winners from Heriot Watt, Scott Watson, received £100 and told of his delight at the acknowledgement of his work.

Award winner Scott Watson

Award winner Scott Watson

Speaking exclusively to Dunedin Napier News, Scott said: “I am delighted that a company such as Scott Logic has recognised my potential and rewarded me for my hard work.

“Other than the direct benefits, it’s a great thing to be able to include on my CV.”

Scott is also looking forward to the prospect of being able to go straight into the interview process for a post with the company.

He commented: “I’m excited about the opportunity to go for an interview at Scott Logic.  I’m very impressed with their company ethos and I could see myself thoroughly enjoying working for them.”

The 21 year old from Falkirk also believes that the company’s programme of Excellence is a positive for the Computer Science students at Heriot Watt.

“The awards programme is a great way of encouraging and identifying the brightest young minds”, he said.

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