Secret Lockerbie documents published

Yesterday the Sunday Herald published a full 800 page report by the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (SCCRC). For five years no paper was allowed to get access to the report. The controversial report highlights hopes of a new appeal in the name of Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al Megrahi, since a believed miscarriage of justice may have occurred. The Libyan Megrahi got convicted of the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie in 1988. The Crown Office commented though, that it had considered all the information in the statement of reasons and had “every confidence in successfully defending the conviction”.

The reasons  the Herald was able to publish the papers are Megrahi’s permission as well as the public interest for the Lockerbie bombing.  First Minister Alex Salmond supports the report, which doubts Megrahi’s conviction. He said: “I welcome the publication in full of this report, which is something the Scottish Government has been doing everything in our powers to facilitate.” Salmond added also: “This report provides valuable information, from an independent body acting without fear or favour, and while we cannot expect it to resolve all the issues, it does however lay the basis for narrowing the areas of dispute and in many ways is far more comprehensive than any inquiry could ever hope to be.”

On Wednesday 21 December 1988, shortly after Pan Am 103 was taking off from Heathrow airport to go to New York, an explosion over the Scottish town of Lockerbie caused the aircraft fall out of the sky. 243 passengers and 16 crew members were killed, as well as 11 Lockerbie citizens. Megrahi got convicted for planting the bomb but got released in 2009 because he suffered from cancer, which was supposed to give him about three more months to live. Megrahi is still alive today.

The publication by the Sunday Herald was a contentious decision, since the it wasn’t authorised. The paper commented: “Under Section 32 of the Data Protection Act, journalists can publish in the public interest. We have made very few redactions to protect the names of confidential sources and private information.”

Experts do not believe the newspaper will face prosecution for publishing the documents.

Edinburgh contributes more to economy than London

According to a new report Scotland’s capital contributes more to the country’s economy than any other city in the UK. The study was released by London based accountancy firm UHY Hacker Young. Their calculations are based on Gross Value Added (GVA). It basically means the measure of a region’s contribution to the UK economy according to the value of the goods and services it provides. Figures show the city had a GVA of £34,950 for 2009. This figure places it ahead of London, where the GVA fell from £34,964 to £34,779. A reason for it is that the crisis had a negative impact on the capital’s financial sectors with a lot of jobs getting cut, as well as a lot of poor neighborhoods around the city.

Traditionally, London’s GVA has been considerably higher than the other major UK cities but recently it has suffered due to the economic crisis. Unemployment has had a significant bearing on the GVA contributon: the unemployment rate in the capital stood at 9.1 per cent, compared to Edinburgh’s rate of 6.3 per cent.

But Edinburgh is not the only Scottish city which performed well in the report, Glasgow and Aberdeen were also ranked in the top 5 cities in the GVA league table. Aberdeen in particular, with its sizable oil and gas industry is an important contributor to the UK’s overall economy. And the Northern city has been largely unaffected by the financial crisis and continued to show stable performance in the report.

Marc Waterman, a partner for UHY Hacker young explained: “The situation in Aberdeen is unique within the UK. It’s the only major city in the UK that has an economy based almost entirely around the oil and gas industry.” The demand for Aberdeen’s oil internationally means a positive impact on Britain’s overall economy.

The strong performance from Scottish cities should be received with some semblance of caution, since the analysis does not always include all relevant factors. But nevertheless the report should provide a boost in confidence for 2014, when Scotland will vote on independence.

New Olympic torch route illuminates games’ diverse history

Boris Johnson with torchbearers in new uniforms.
Photo credit: London 2012 Olympics

The Olympic torch will start its 8.000 miles journey on May 19th and will visit every British nation and over 1.000 communities, as well as stunning landmarks like Stonehenge or Isle of Lewis in Scotland. It will need an average of 115 people each day to carry the torch to its final destination in the Olympic Stadium in London July 27

In total 8.000 people will carry the flame along the decided route. 7,300 people were nominees from the public, with a story of achievement or involved in local communities.

The rest are athletes and celebrities. Every torchbearer will wear a white Adidas uniform with gold shards representing the flame.

History

In Ancient Greek people believed that fire had sacred qualities. They used torches in front of temples as well as for cultural festivals. During the Olympic games the torch and relay were important elements to celebrate the event. During the Games, a sacred flame burned continually on the altar of the goddess, Hera, while heralds traveled throughout Greece to announce the Games.

When the modern Olympic games started in 1896 the torch relay didn’t play a role. The first modern relay happened in1936 during the Games in Hitler’s Berlin. Back then 3.3000 torchbearers carried the flame from Olympia, over eastern Europe to Germany. After that the relay became ritual in opening the Games.

Every four years the flame is lit from the sun’s rays at the Temple of Hera in Olympia, in a traditional ceremony among the ruins of the home of the ancient Games.
After short stops in Greece the torch is handed over to the new Host City in a ceremony in the Panathenaiko stadium in Athens.
Then the announced Torchbearers spread the message of peace, unity and friendship in their journey through the Host Country. Although today the actual meaning and spirit of the torch relay might have gotten lost in a commercialised society, it is still a huge honor for the chosen people to be part of this international mega event.

Finally the Flame is extinguished on the final day of the Games, at the Closing Ceremony.

Design

For every new game the design of the torch changes. From 1936 until now no torch compares to another. This year it was designed by east Londoners Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby, who won a contest run by the 2012 Organising Committee and the Design Council. The golden Torch reflects the 8.000 miles and its equal number runners by an inner and an outer aluminium alloy skin, held in place by a cast top piece and base, perforated by 8,000 circles. Since a lot of the runners will be quite young the torch was designed to be as light as possible and weighs only 8.00 grams.

Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport said: ‘This is a big day in the Olympic preparations – the Torch Relay will now come to life for millions of people. The excitement will be increasingly infectious as people all over the UK now start to plan where they’re going to go to see the Olympic Flame and cheer on local Torchbearers.’

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