Townsend appointed Warriors head coach as Lineen joins SRU

Sean Lineen has left his position as head coach of Glasgow Warriors to assume a scouting position at the SRU and is being replaced by current Scotland backs coach Gregor Townsend.

The 29-capped former Scotland international, who had huge success at the Warriors, is to assist in scouting Scottish talent across the globe and help to reshape the development of young players.

Townsend moves to Glasgow on the back of another unsuccessful Scottish Six Nations campaign, with speculation having been rife he was to be axed. However he has received  full backing from the SRU’s Director of Performance Graham Lowe and Andy Robinson.

Lineen will be missed be Glasgow fans, having guided them from perennial league strugglers to a third place finish in his fifth season.  The coach is also saddened to be leaving the club, “I had an opportunity nine years ago to move from club rugby to the professional game and I have loved every minute of it.

“Seven years as head coach is more than some people get and I will support Gregor and help make it as smooth a transition as possible for him and the squad and staff we have here.”

However Townsend’s appointment will anger many club-level coaches who believe they have been overlooked once again by the SRU in favour of former professionals.

The Warriors currently sit in fourth position in the RaboDirect PRO12 with five games to go, with Lineen remaining in charge for the club’s forthcoming fixtures.

Edinburgh University may see a 24-hour library

A campaign will be launched during the Students Association elections at the end of March for the main library building on George Square to be open 24 hours a day.

The Student Council has already managed to extend the opening hours to 2:30am, and have previously argued for a 24-hour policy. Members of EUSA will now add their voice to the campaign, which is also keen to see other areas of the University, such as the Chrystal Macmillan building, extend their opening hours. Continue reading Edinburgh University may see a 24-hour library

Short film night launches today

Image by Christopher L Cook

Edinburgh’s only short film night is being launched today.

Taking place at the Banshee Labyrinth Cinema, Write Shoot Cut is a monthly screening of local, national and international short films.

As well as giving film fans an opportunity to see a variety of short films, the evening involves a Q&A with the filmmakers and will conclude with an opportunity to network over drinks.

Created by Edinburgh screenwriter, Neil Rolland, the event is a physical replica of his increasingly popular blog of the same name. The site showcases the best short films on the internet alongside personal interviews with the people who made them.

Starting at 7pm and lasting no longer than 90 minutes, the screening allows viewers to see around six films without taking up their whole evening.

Mr Rolland says: “I think people get put off shorts because there’s a lot of rubbish out there, there really is. So I sift through all the submissions and find the ones that have stood out in some way.

“They don’t have to fit a particular style, they just have to be interesting in some way, whether that’s the idea, story, directing, performances – whatever.”

Himself a filmmaker, Mr. Rolland’s short script Away – directed by Ryd Cook – screened at Cannes in 2009 and was shortlisted for the Anthony Minghella Best UK Short Award at Hull Film Festival.

His most recent short, Friday Night and Saturday Morning, is currently being assessed by curators around the world for inclusion in their film festival programmes, including the Edinburgh International Film Festival in June.

One third of Little City Pictures, Mr Rolland recognizes the importance for filmmakers to have a support network.

“Making films is only possible if you’ve got that support there. So hopefully [Write Shoot Cut] will be able to give that to people who maybe aren’t too sure on where to start or what to do next.”

Despite Edinburgh’s active film calendar, this is the only event dedicated to short films.

Dave Brown, co-founder of Edinburgh-based seensome, says: “By focussing on local talent, Write Shoot Cut looks like it will be a great night and a welcome addition to the Edinburgh film scene. Short films provide a welcome stepping stone allowing filmmakers to develop their abilities, as well as being an art form in their own right.”

Other monthly events include the Filmhouse Film Quiz, Shooters in the Pub, and Screenwriters, EH.

‘No Smoking Day’ urges Scots to quit

With 25% of adults smoking cigarettes, Scotland has the UK’s highest percentage of smokers according to Government statistics.  With this in mind, the nation will participate in the 28th annual “No Smoking Day” on 14 March, Ash Wednesday.

This year the British Heart Foundation has merged with the  “No Smoking Day” charity, to support anti-smoking events at thousands of venues across the UK.

According to The Director of Policy and Communications for the BHF, “by joining forces we can enhance the No Smoking Day campaign and extend its reach, helping more people to quit… for both organisations, the opportunities posed by this merger were too good to miss.”

Binge Drinking: A Scottish Problem?

A survey out today found a third of children in Scotland are binge drinking by the age of 13.

The Scottish government believes that the link between consumption of alcohol and affordability is a major factor in aggrevating problems of alcohol abuse and aims to tackle this by introducing a minimum alcohol price to discourage binge drinking.

According to Scottish government research into differing price policy, minimum price is the most effect deterrent when it comes to discouraging drinking too much. Minimum pricing would set a floor price, below which alcohol could not be sold. This would be defined by the units of alcohol in a drink. The stronger the alcohol percentage the more expensive it will be. The purpose is to ensure that strong drink is sold at a sensible price.

There is no internationally agreed definition of binge drinking but in the UK drinking surveys normally define binge drinkers as men consuming at least eight and women at least six standard units of alcohol in a single day. This is double the maximum recommended safe limit for men and women respectively.

How much do you think is too much?

Do you find thinking about how much you are drinking in terms of units is a useful way of monitoring you’re alcohol intake? Or is binge drinking something that should be subject to individual assessment?

Please get in touch, we would love to hear your views.

Prepared for Spring?

With a mild winter almost behind us, the future could hold a less than mild spring.

With the rough spring that has already battered much of the United States in the form of tornadoes and severe thunderstorms, Scotland must ask the questions of what spring will bring, and how prepared we are.

According to Andrew Slorance of the Sottish Government, Scotland is a mixed bag when it comes to weather with the risk being ”not so much seasonal” but that at any point there can be any sort of weather, from snow fall to rain and high temperatures.

The threat from weather in Scotland is primarily winter weather, often with prolonged periods of low temperatures and heavy rain fall. However, that is not the extent, with high winds, fog and mist, and flooding also causing problems for citizens.

Flooding is often problematic and can occur during any season,  a lot of money has been invested in flood defence to protect low-lying land.

Scottish Government have a whole range of plans in place for the possible severe weather that could come up. They are prepared, tested and published on the website Ready Scotland, which is sponsored by the Scottish Government.

”The position we hold is ‘Hope for the best and prepare for the worst,” says Slorance. ” We try to be as prepared as possible… but hope it doesn’t happen.”

Scotland deals with instances of severe weather by devolving responsiblity to the lowest level with the local responder being the primary first responder.  The idea is that the local council, the local police, fire and medial officials know the best way to keep their area safe during sudden severe weather.

They also work closely with the Met Office, in order to give as much notification as possible to the public. The Met warning system has changed within the past year, changing to a four color warning system.  They even offer detailed suggestions for what to do during each of the warning types.

Slorance does say that  every instance is different, but keeping the public safe is a top priority.

Cause of Morningside fire still unknown

40 firefighters were called to deal with a blaze at a church in Morningside, Edinburgh, on Friday 9 March. Three days later, the exact cause of the fire is still being investigated.

 The alarm was raised at 19:07 at Rock Elim Church on Morningside Road. Upon arriving at the scene, fire crews discovered the blaze which had broken out in the roof space of the church building.

 A spokesperson for Lothian and Borders Fire and Rescue Service said: “The blaze was extinguished by two firefighters in breathing apparatus using a high pressure hose reel and small tools for cutting away”.

“Asbestos was suspected in the construction of the roof and crews wore protective clothing and masks to avoid any potential contamination”.

Part of Morningside Road was closed off while the fire was being extinguished and no one was injured in the incident.

However, despite the blaze posing a serious threat to those working at nearby businesses, employees were not advised to leave the premises by members of the fire crew at the scene.

A representative for Bubbles Bathrooms, the closet business to Elim Church at Holy corner, was surprised to learn what had happened and complained about not being advised by the authorities to leave the area.

“This is the first I have heard about this incident. I remember seeing many firefighters on the streets but nobody came to inform me about it. If I had known, I would have closed the shop straight away for security reasons. Somebody should have told us what was going on”.

Telford college launch LGBT video

Edinburgh’s Telford College is shining a light on homophobia and bullying today through the launch of a film from the LGBT society.

Featuring students and members of staff, the video focuses on personal experience, tackling hard-hitting issues such as suicide and self harm, while promoting acceptance and tolerance. Continue reading Telford college launch LGBT video

Perth prepares for the biggest kilt run

A number of celebrations for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee are planned to take place in Perth this June.

As part of the events, the town will try to break the world record for people running in kilts. All participants should run an 8 km route beside the Tay.

Kilt runners will be invited to raise funds for two nominated charities – ABF The Soldiers Charity and PKAVS that supports vulnerable people in Perth and Kinross.

Charles Dunphie, from ABF The Soldiers Charity, said: “We’re hoping to see loads of different tartans out on the day.”

A parade of 1 000 pipers from 400 bands will also take place on 2 June.

Perth will hold one of the largest civic celebrations of the Jubilee in Scotland and it hopes to be granted city status.

GAME over?

Computer game retailer Game is in danger of collapse after several suppliers refused to provide it with hotly anticipated new titles.

The failure to secure eagerly awaited games such as Mass Effect 3 and Street Fighter X Tekken have added to the speculation that the company’s future in the UK is under threat.

The group, which employs 10,000 people, confirmed that the sale of its UK business, which has 600 stores, was a viable option in its battle for survival.

The retailer is also seeking access to alternative sources of funding and has asked suppliers for more generous trading terms, but so far it has not been possible to source new products from a number of suppliers.

Game said it was working to resolve the supply issues as quickly as possible.

“This includes ongoing discussions with suppliers, seeking access to the original facility or alternative sources of funding, and reviewing the position of all of its assets in the UK and international territories,” it said.

But it warned investors: “It is uncertain whether any of the solutions currently being explored by the board will be successful or will result in any value being attributed to the shares of the company.”

The group’s quarterly rent bill is due in a fortnight and it is believed that failure to pay its landlords could push the company into administration.

The company, which has 1,300 stores worldwide trading under the Game and Gamestation brands, has lost 94 percent of its value over the last year, with the business now valued at 12.2 million pounds ($19.2 million).

‘Death row show’ gets the axe

A Chinese television show which interviews prisoners awaiting the death penalty has been cancelled.

The controversial program had run for 5 years and was a popular slot on Chinese Television, with viewer ratings in the millions. The cancellation comes after a deluge of recent criticism from foreign media, which condemned the show for being cruel and exploitative.

However the shows presenter Ding Yu, disputes this assessment. She claims the prisoners “want to be heard,” but had not been willing to talk about “past events” to people in prison. The production team claimed the show was designed to serve as a warning to the public, highlighting the consequences of criminality.

But in spite of defending its motives, the state owned Henan Legal Channel have made the decision to permanently end the show. The decision precedes a BBC documentary about the controversial show, this will be broadcast tonight and will be followed by a similar program on PBS.

Afghanistan shooting raises questions

An investigation has been launched into why an American solider stormed homes in Kandahar, Afghanistan, in the villages of Alkozai and Najeeban, and left 16 civilians dead, including women and children.

According to an U.S. official, only one U.S. soldier appeared to have been involved in the shootings but there have been eye-witness statements that suggest there were multiple soldiers involved.

An ISAF spokesman said the lone U.S. soldier “walked back to the base and turned himself in to U.S. forces this morning”.

It is speculated that the detained soldier is an Army staff sergeant who was married with two children and that he had served three Iraq tours but was on his first Afghan deployment.

It is believed that, some time before the killings, the soldier suffered a nervous breakdown.  The real reason behind the incident is currently under investigation and the solider is being questioned. There are concerns that the attack may have been premeditated.

This is just one more incident that is straining the relations in the area, and comes only weeks after American troops unknowingly burned copies of the Quran and other religious material, an act that caused mass protests across the Middle East.

Listen to the full radio piece below.

Scotland’s first Festival of Erotic Arts smothers the smut

With Edinburgh International Festival’s much-anticipated summer programme being launched on Wednesday and the first Fringe tickets already on sale, March is the time when the buzz of Edinburgh’s summer festivals really kicks off.

But there’s a new festival in town which is getting the tongues of arts enthusiasts wagging: the Festival of Erotic Arts (FEA).

Running for three days in June, FEA is the first of its kind in Scotland and follows a growing number of cities who have begun hosting such festivals in recent years; Seattle’s Festival of Erotic Art is now in its tenth year, and attracts over 10,000 visitors, while similar events take place annually in Paris, Berlin and New York among others.

As with any new and controversial event, FEA’s programme announcement sparked furore over the weekend, with both the city council and the Church of Scotland voicing concerns over the potential risks posed to vulnerable women and the impact advertising could have on children.

But rather than reinforcing and perpetuating clichés, the festival’s organisers, Itsy Live Events, promise to give a platform to erotic art in all its forms, as well as creating a place for art and performances not otherwise seen in mainstream venues.

Events are typical of any other arts festival; exhibitions and talks include Erotic: Surreal and Abstract and A Spoken History of the Erotic Arts. The innocently named Arts & Crafts Fair is being plugged as “a one-of-a-kind sexy fair” with everything from books to accessories to clothes being sold by craftmakers and artists alike.

For those keen to dip their toe into the erotic water, there’s a beginner’s workshop in Japanese style bondage, which involves decorative ties with ropes. Run by a bondage professional, the ticket price includes a goody bag with lesson sheets, 15 metres of rope, and an all-important pair of safety scissors.

Despite being a short, weekend festival, many of the names involved in the FEA are the crème de la crème of the UK’s fetish scene. London-based Torture Garden’s fetish, burlesque and body art club nights for “alternative arty weirdos” are the biggest in the world, with previous visitors including Marilyn Manson, Dita Von Teese and Jean Paul Gaultier. A debate on the nature of human sexuality will be hosted by award nominated cabaret act, ArtWank, while internationally bestselling author and blogger extraordinaire, Zoe Margolis, will be giving a Q&A on the art of sex blogging.

With Margolis a regular contributor to The Guardian and The Observer, the FEA is going out of its way to make sure this festival is taken seriously. Describing it as “a sleaze-free celebration of a thriving art form”, there’s an undeniable absence of smut in the way it’s being marketed – and if nothing else, it’s good advertising for Itsy Live Events’ other specialist service, “reputation management”.

Bob Dylan set to release new album

Bob Dylan has started recording his new studio album.

This will be his 35th full-length effort and it could be released before the end of the year.

“It’s an amazing thing, how he keeps creativity,” Los Lobos singer David Hidalgo told the Aspen Times. He has recently finished recording with Dylan at Jackson Browne’s Los Angeles studio.

Adele, Miley Cyrus, Pete Townshend and Bad Religion were recently featured in a tribute album for Bob Dylan, which included 76 of his best tracks.

Bob Dylan’s label is also preparing to release his complete discography for around £200.

Hundreds gather at Paul McBride’s funeral in Glasgow

A requiem mass for Paul McBride was held this morning at St Aloysius in Glasgow.

Hundreds of people have attended the funeral to pay tribute to one of Scotland’s most respected lawyers. Among the crowd were several high profile faces, including First Minister Alex Salmond and Celtic Coach Neil Lennon.

Paul McBride QC died in his sleep while on a business trip in Lahore,Pakistan, on 4 March. He was 47.

Mr McBride was one of three people who had been sent petrol bombs to their home between 1 March and 15 April last year.

He was one of the leading lawyers of his generation, having been appointed a QC at the age of just 35.

Read more about Paul McBride.

SNP asks members to drive public opinion

The SNP has mobilized its members in a concerted effort to shift public opinion ahead of a vote for independence.

At the weekends party conference, Angus Robertson, Campaign chief urged supporters to “go back to your local area and make sure we are doing everything we can to be as effective as possible.” Members were encouraged to strike up conversations with anyone from “work acquaintance’s ” to “taxi drivers” and promote a proactive dialogue about independence.

This dialogue will be pursued through public debate, particularly radio phone in shows, with members asked to bombard the stations with pro independence opinion.

Social media has also been targeted, with supporters asked to persuade their friends to ‘follow’ the SNP on twitter, and ‘like’ them on Facebook.

Tibet Protest March across Edinburgh

Activists from Edinburgh joined the worldwide commemorations of the Tibetan National Uprising Day on Saturday with a march through the Scottish capital.

 This year marks the 53rd anniversary of the Tibetan Uprising in the country’s capital, Lhasa. The Uprising erupted on 10 March 1952, a decade after the Chinese invasion of the country.

One of the organisers of Saturday’s march explained their motivation was to denounce China’s violent regime, “China’s repressive policies since it occupied Tibet 60 years ago have created a crisis in Tibet, provoking an unprecedented wave of self-immolations by Tibetan monks, nuns and laypeople. So far, 21 Tibetans have set fire to themselves in eastern Tibet; eight since 6 January 2012. Marchers”.

Protesters departed from The Mound at 1.30pm and walked to the Chinese Consulate in Murrafyeld, where they left hundreds of flowers matching the colours of the Tibetan flag, alongside pictures of Tibetants who were killed or self-immolated since the Chinese occupation of the country.

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Armed with placards, flags, flowers and megaphones, they peacefully marched over George IV Bridge, down Victoria Street, along Grassmarket, Lothian Road and Shandwick Place, calling for support to bring human rights back to Tibet. Some of the banners read: ‘Let Tibetan voices be heard’, ‘Tibet is Burning’ and called for freedom for Tibet.


Marchers also handed out leaflets holding the Chinese authorities responsible for neglecting the basic rights of the Tibetan people stating, “The Chinese authorities have engaged in wholesale abuse of human rights of native Tibetants, while embarking on a campaign to eradicate Tibetan language and culture”.

Edinburgh University Tibet society also encouraged people to gather in Bristo Square on Saturday. A spokesperson for the society expressed their support, “We need to let the world know that Scotland will always stand in Solidarity with Tibetants in Tibet and will not stop until Tibet is free”.

Edinburgh couple robbed in ‘terrifying’ ordeal

An Edinburgh couple have been held at knife-point and robbed in their own home.

A group of armed men entered the house on Barnton Avenue West at around nine thirty on Friday evening. Police have disclosed that a four figure sum of money and jewellery were taken from the house.

It is believed that two of the three men spoke with foreign accents while the third was Scottish.

Police are appealing for witnesses.

Cameron wants more British home-owners

David Cameron has said that he aims to help more people in the UK become home-owners.

The government has launched a scheme targeting lenders, encouraging them to offer 95 per cent deposits on new build properties.

It is hoped that the scheme will provide a financial ‘cushion’ if a property falls into negative equity.

A woman shot in Peckham after shopping trip

A woman is currently recovering in hospital after being shot in Peckham.

The 30-year-old was shot by a stray bullet during a dispute between two men.

The incident happened at around 17:15 on Sunday, 11 March, on Bournemouth Road close to Rye Lane, while the woman was returning home from a shopping trip.

An investigation is currently underway involving Detectives from Operation Trident.

Water watchdog critical of Scottish Water’s relationship with insuring firm

An investigation by Scotland’s water watchdog Consumer Focus has raised concerns about Scottish Water’s relationship with private insurance firm Homeserve.

The watchdog looked into the issue of sales letters from the private firm being sent to thousands of households in Scotland in ‘Scottish Water’ branded envelopes. The letters contained information on “water supply pipe responsibilities” but then go on to try to sell the product of the insuring company.

The investigation indicated that over half of people thought the sales letter was sent directly from Scottish Water and most found the letter to be confusing.

Douglas Sinclair, Chair of Consumer Focus Scotland, commented: “Consumers expect to be able to trust information from their public services. It is unacceptable that people will have received a letter that they think is from Scottish Water but is in fact a carefully crafted sales tactic by a private insurance firm.

A spokesperson for Scottish Water said: “We have already addressed most of the issues raised by Consumer Focus Scotland (CFS) and they have acknowledged changes made to the Homeserve literature. We are happy to meet them again to discuss this.”