Edinburgh Council is urgently looking for more foster carers

By Silvia Montes

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The City Of Edinburgh Council is launching a campaign to recruit more fosters as the number of children in care across Scotland is the highest since 1981.

Edinburgh Council is aiming to recruit around 30 new foster carers this year and it has organised five events across the city in order to achieve this goal. The events will be running from the 16th March to the 26th April and they will  offer an opportunity to interested people to get informed about it. Throughout an informal chat they will meet fosters and social workers and they will receive all the information related with fostering.

As the Council claims everyone can be a good foster, the only requirement is provide children with safe and caring homes. A stable environment will help children to increase their confidence and it will help them towards their future.

There are many kind of fosters needed as the children needs vary from ones to others. The age of the children goes from birth to 18 and the fostering can be held for different periods: from days to months or even for the whole childhood of the child.

For more information visit http://egfl.net/fostering/index.html

36 State-owned Remploy factories due to close by the end of this year.

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Remploy is closing two-thirds of its 54 factories across the UK according to the Government’s package of reforms to maximise the number of disabled people supported into work.

More Potter to be found on Pottermore

Harry Potter fans are eagerly awaiting the launch of Pottermore, J.K. Rowling’s interactive website. It has now been announced that all users will be able to access the website, and ebooks, in early April.

Pottermore posted an announcement on their website today stating: “We know that the extended wait for those wishing to be part of Pottermore has been frustrating, and we’d like to thank you all for your patience so far”. Officials said the delay was a result of moving Pottermore to a new platform set-up.

The website’s full launch was initially scheduled for October, 2011. With more than 550 million page views made over the course of two months, access to site was forced into delay. Pottermore, allows users to duel with their fellow wizards, cast spells and progress through the storylines of the various Potter books. J.K. Rowling has also written 18,000 additional words of Harry Potter content for the new site. It was initially opened to one million beta users in July, 2011.   

“We always knew Pottermore would be incredibly popular, which is why we made the decision to only open to one million beta users to begin with. We wanted to make sure that we had a really good understanding of how people want to use the site and which bits we’d need to modify before giving more people access,” Pottermore said in a statement.

“We gathered some incredibly useful feedback from our beta users, and it became clear that our original platform wouldn’t be suitable when millions more users came on to the site. So we made a big decision: to move Pottermore to an entirely different platform set-up. This ‘invisible’ change has involved a lot of work behind the scenes but it will enable our users to get the best from Pottermore as it grows and develops.”

Early April will also bring Overdrive’s distribution of Harry Potter ebooks and digital audiobooks to more than 18,000 school and public libraries worldwide.

For updates about the website follow Pottermore on Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/pottermore

Capital scrubs-up a Mile!

This week volunteers, business people, residents and council workers have been cleaning up the Royal Mile.  The work is helping to conserve and manage the famous street to stop its reputation slipping.  After a workshop organised by the council thirty people split into groups of four to repaint, pick up litter and remove graffiti from Castle Hill, Lawnmarket, High Street and the Canongate. A Royal Mile Manager will be appointed to help make the street “feel better” to walk around and the council believe the project will continue over 15 to 20 years. Edinburgh Napier News visited the Royal Mile today to have a look at this weeks result and find out people’s thoughts.

Barclays bonus revealed

£17 million is the figure received in pay, shares and perks by Barclays boss Bob Diamond last year – while the bank’s profits fell by 3%.

Diamond’s tax bill was also covered by the bank to the tune of £5.7 million.

The American-born chief executive received 80% of his maximum bonus, shares to the value of £2.7 million to supplement his £1.35 million salary.

It was also announced that 238 senior staff at Barclays were paid £1.2 million each, on average. It is expected that shareholders and campaigners alike will be angered by the pay deal, which comes after tension between Barclays and HM Revnue & Customs over schemes to avoid up to £300 million in tax.

You can read details Diamond’s payout in Barclay’s annual report.

Early sale of Fringe tickets

The Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Image: Festival Fringe Society

The Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society has started selling tickets to this year’s event through their own website.

 Previously, however, Edinburgh’s festival has refused to sell tickets prior to confirmation of the full program line-up, so as not to favour certain productions. Recently, this has been altered as venues began selling ticket through their own outlets.    
Neil Mackinnon, the Fringe’s head of external affairs, told The Stage News: “It is still a level playing field in the sense that access to early sales is available to every show, regardless of size and regardless of genre. Everyone has access to it and if you look at our website today you will see that as well as some big name comedians there are also relatively small, first time theatre performers who are already selling tickets.”
The official program launch is May 31, having been brought forward as a result of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebration.

Prosecution evidence finishes in Suzanne Pilley murder trial

Edinburgh High Court

The murder trial of Suzanne Pilley, 38, has finished hearing evidence from the prosecution today.

 David Gilroy, former colleague and lover of Ms Pilley, has been accused of  the murder. Mr Gilroy denies the murder of Ms Pilley, whose body has never been found.

 Legal argument has been taking place at Edinburgh’s High Court, prior to the defence beginning its case.

 The trial continues.

Failed UK rescue bid in Nigeria

Chris McManus, 28, from Oldham, Greater Manchester, and Franco Lamolinara have both died following an attempt by UK Special Forces and Nigerian military on Thursday.

Both engineers were abducted last May by an Islamist group in Sokoto. While David Cameron has claimed the men’s lives were in “imminent danger,” the Italian president, Giorgio Napolitano,  told the Italian media “The behaviour of the British government, which did not inform or consult with Italy on the operation that it was planning, really is inexplicable.” Mr Napolitano is seeking a political and diplomatic explanation from Britain.

Reports allege that the kidnappers turned their guns on the two construction engineers before the joint British and Nigerian military operation even entered the compound. Following the operation Mr Cameron said: “The early indications are clear that both men were murdered by their captors”.

However, an unnamed Nigerian official from the state security service tells the story differently, suggesting the men died in the crossfire.

Italian Senator Lucio Malan told BBC Two’s Newsnight of Italy’s dissatisfaction. “It is quite uncommon that a country that is involved is not informed before. Apparently it was a very difficult situation and it might have been the best decision but it is still to be explained why the Italian authorities haven’t been informed”.

Dvaid Cameron’s repsonse: “A window of opportunity arose to try and secure their release. We also had reason to believe that their lives were under imminent and growing danger.”

Commons Foreign Affairs Select Committee chairman Richard Ottaway supports the Prime Minister telling the BBC: “I can understand the concerns and frustrations of Italian politicians but I think they’ve got to accept and recognise that these are very fast-moving, delicate operations and it’s not always possible to keep politicians briefed in advance of what goes on.”

The two men were seized by gunmen in the town of Birnin Kebbi on 12 May 2011. The Foreign Office advises  against travel to some areas of Nigeria warning that there is the threat of kidnap and terrorism.

Young mother died in paracetamol overdose, enquiry hears.

The dangers of an over-the-counter painkiller overdose Image: pepedelaolla de la olla

A 20 year old woman died after taking too many paracetamol tablets, a coroner has told an enquiry today.

Desiree Philips upped her dose of the over-the-counter drug after a routine breast surgery and was found unconscious next to a packet of tablets at a home where she lived with her 11 -month – old son.

The inquest heard how Desiree died of liver failure on August 26 last year after being transferred to another hospital for a transplant operation.

Carmarthenshire Coroner Mark Leyton said: “Desiree was using paracetamol for pain relief and may have been exceeding the normal dose. But it remains unclear whether it was a built up or whether she took a large single dose.”

The case is the latest to present the danger of the drug when taken in an incorrect dose.

A Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency Spokesman said: “Paracetamol is a safe and effective painkiller when used correctly and when dosage recommendations are followed. Every pack has a warning about overdose and instructions not to take more than eight tablets in any 24-hour period.”

Obama Praises Kony 2012 Campaign

The Obama administration has praised the people who have started the Kony 2012 Campaign. However people in Uganda are outraged at the film.

In the last 5 days alone the internet has gone viral with videos and posts about Joseph Kony. The charity group Invisible Children started the Kony 2012 Campaign with a 30 minute film on youtube which was pushed via Twitter, Facebook, celebrities and every other person. The video has been viewed over 50 million times and everyone seems to be talking about it. Some are promoting the campaign incessantly and others are voicing their protest against it and the notion of the campaign itself. The video has gained such momentum that it is taking the internet and world by storm.

The campaign was started because Invisible Children wanted to make the US government aware of Joseph Kony, the leader of the Ugandan Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) who is responsible for the abduction and enslavement of more than 30 000 children. And the campaign seems to have succeeded as it has got the attention of Obama. According to The Telegraph, the White House Press Secretary, Jay Carney has congratulated the “hundreds of thousands of Americans who have mobilised to this unique crisis of conscience.”  Carney said; “The United States continues to pursue a comprehensive multi-faceted strategy to help the governments and people ofCentral Africain their efforts to end the threat posed by the LRA and reduce the human consequences of the LRA’s atrocities.”

However, Ugandans are extremely upset by the video saying that it paints a picture of Uganda 6 years ago, as Kony and his troops fled Ugandain 2006 and are now dispersed in the jungles in the surrounding countries. An Ugandan government spokesperson Fred Opolot said; “It is totally misleading to suggest that the war is still in Uganda. I suspect that if that’s the impression they are making, they are doing it only to garner increasing financial resources for their own agenda.”

The Kony Campaign has received vast criticism as people believe that Invisible Children are making money out of an issue which has been around for two decades. The campaign has resulted in Invisible Children facing harsher scrutiny over how they use their funds and about how much of their income from donations actually goes to the causes they campaign for.


Post Office to be ‘transformed’ by £1.3bn

Modernised: Post offices will be regenerated by £1.3 billion. Image: SuzanneKn

£1.3 billion will be invested in “transforming” the Post Office, it has been announced. Longer opening hours will be a priority of the changes.

Modernisation of around 6,000 post offices aims to be a “once in a generation” opportunity to breath new life into the postal service.

None of the 11,800 post office branches will close in the initiative, the government promise, but the postal workers’ union expressed concern that the changes could be a “major gamble” and potentially result in downgrading some branches.

The programme hopes to make the post-office more self-sustaining. Over the last 12 years the number of people visiting the post office has fallen from 28 million to 20 million.

The transformation plans include extended opening hours, and more local-style post offices which operate a counter inside a wider convenience store.

The investment is subject to European Union state aid clearance.

Forth Road Bridge to close lane this weekend

 Motorists are being reminded to adjust their travel plans as urgent repairs to the Forth Road Bridge will see traffic restricted to a single lane this weekend.

Image: Ian Britton @ freefoto.com

The work was scheduled at short notice after damage was discovered to nuts on the bolts on the bridge’s main suspension cables and will close from 3am to 12pm on both Saturday and Sunday.  

 Drivers are advised to delay their journey, seek an alternative route or use public transport. Barry Colford, Chief Engineer and Bridgemaster, said: “We are sorry for the inconvenience this causes and would like to thank the travelling public in advance for their patience and understanding. Traffic restrictions are necessary for safety while we lift an access cradle and other equipment into place.”

 It is warned that similar restrictions may be enforced on subsequent weekends if there are any delays in the work due to weather. This morning saw the bridge closed to double deck buses due to high winds.

    Follow bridge updates on Twitter: @forthroadbridge

Community order and bar ban for MP Eric Joyce

Eric Joyce. Image: http://ericjoyce.co.uk/

Falkirk MP Eric Joyce, 51, has been given a 12 month community order and 3-month ban from all bars and pubs, following his guilty plea to four counts of assault.  Despite this finding of guilt, Mr Joyce will not be stepping down.

The assaults occurred during a brawl  at a House of Commons bar on February 22.  Labour whip Phil Wilson and Conservative MP Stuart Andrew were among those involved. Mr Joyce admits to one count of assault by beating, including head-butting his Tory rival. Mr Joyce also attacked Tory councillors Luke Mackenzie and Ben Maney.

Following the attacks Mr Andrew sported a bloody nose and Mr Wilson had a cut to his face after he attempted to restrain the aggravated Mr Joyce. The Falkirk MP is reported to have stated there were “too many” Tories in the bar, before his assaults began.

Mr Joyce was given a £3,000 fine and ordered to £1,400 in victim compensation. In addition to his fines and bans, Mr Joyce faces a Friday to Sunday curfew as part of his community order.

Mr Joyce says he “was lucky to avoid prison”.

A Labour Party spokesman said: “This is an extremely serious incident. We have suspended Eric Joyce pending the results of the police investigation.”

The Daily Record reports Mr Joyce saying “I won’t be standing at the next general election but until then I will carry on doing for my constituents what I do at the moment.”

Yesterday Joyce  admitted to having an “ill-advised” liason with  Meg Lauder, a teenage constituency helper who was 17 when their relationship began.