“Hibernation” Could Help Stroke Recovery

A technique which cools the human body, inducing a kind of hibernation, is to be used to see if it will help the recovery of stroke victims. The technique, which recuduces body temperature from 36.8C to between 34C and 35C has already been used to treat brain injury after cardiac arrest or birth defects.

Inducing hypothermia by use of cooling pads and intravenous fluids, the procedure has been successful in small-scale trials, but the process by which it helps is not yet fully known. Theories suggest that when cooled, the brain requires less oxygen, so giving doctors more time to help prevent damage.

The clinical trials are being run by Friedrich-Alexander-University in Germany in collaberation the University of Edinburgh and are likely to last until 2016 or 2017 . They will involve around 1500 people across Europe, with 200 from the UK.

It is hoped that if these trials are successful, the chances of a complete recovery from a stroke will be increased from 1 in 13 to 1 in 10. Currently there are few treatments available for stroke victims.

Dr Malcolm Macleod, head of experimental neuroscience at the Centre for Clinical Brain Sciences at the University of Edinburgh commented that  “every day 1,000 Europeans die from stroke – that’s one every 90 seconds – and about twice that number survive but are disabled. Our estimates are that hypothermia might improve the outcome for more than 40,000 Europeans every year.”

Currently in Scotland a third of all strokes are fatal and although survival rates have improved over the last decade they are the third highest killer after cancer and coronary heart disease.

Possible Junk Food Advert Ban

Scotland’s Public Health Minister, Michael Matheson,  has introduced a pre-9pm ban on the television advertising of foods which are high in fat, sugar and salt content.

Matheson has also written to Westminster Health Secretary Andrew Lansley asking whether he would support a move to introduce this ban across the UK.

“We want to introduce a pre-watershed ban and are looking to the UK Government to support such a move which would carry the additional benefit of encouraging our partners in the food industry to reformulate their produce to lower salt, fat and sugar content,” said Matheson.

The ban would restrict the viewing of junk food and sugary snacks and affect a wide range of corporations such as Pizza Hut, Mars, Cadbury, KFC and McDonalds.

With the highest obesity rate in the UK, the new proposal is intended to combat Scotland’s obesity problem. Particularly Scotland’s childhood obesity which is a concern for heath experts with 1 in 5 primary school children being considered overweight. Currently there is a ban on advertising junk food during children programs, how ever Matheson is seeking tighter regulations and further actions.

“Broadcast advertising influences the choices made by children and can shape their attitudes to food as they grow into adulthood.  Tackling obesity and encouraging people to make healthier life choices is one of the most important things we can do to improve the health of our nation,” continued Matheson.

Even if Westminster refuses to join with the ban, the Scottish Government with still mover to introduce the ban within the country.

Escaped murderer still at large

Daniel Somers, a convicted murderer, is still on the run 12 days after he failed to return to Castle Huntly prison.

The 49 year-old has been in jail for most of his life after he was given a life sentence for murder in 1978. He had been granted home leave to return to Glasgow but failed to return on the 7th March as expected. He had only been at the open prison near Dundee for just over a year.

He had previously been released on license in 1999 but was returned to prison a year later following an assault charge.

Somers is 5ft 8″ with shaved hair and blue eyes. He has tattoos on both his arms and is originally from the Priesthill area of Glasgow. Tayslide Police are appealing to the public for any information about his whereabouts.

Cineworld sees customer boost after price cuts

A few days after Cineworld announced the removal of all booking fees for its filmgoers nationwide; people seem to be happier than ever with this decision and most of them claim this will positively affect their attendance in the future.

Cineworld is the first big cinema chain to remove all booking fees and offer a further 10% discount on tickets bought online. This pioneering decision has clearly put the chain in an advantageous position in relation to its main rivals.

Most of the general public are satisfied with the news and they hope this measure will encourage other companies to do the same. Some of the comments are:

“Hopefully Odeon will follow suite. If not, then my £7 will go to Cineworld”

“Why can’t all companies just calculate their prices to incorporate all costs? Booking fees for gigs should be next. We shouldn’t be charged any extra fees when there is plenty of profit within the ticket price. And if there isn’t, then they just aren’t pricing it properly”

“I think this is a great initiative. Besides, it will surely help to keep the queues down a bit”

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Despite it already dropped fees in Scotland last year as part of a trial period, the chain was still charging a card handling fee of 70p per ticket, up to a maximum of £4.20 per booking at most of its cinemas in England and Wales.

Cineworld recently took the decision to axe all such charges for customers as a result of a research which showed that over three quarters (77%) of all cinemagoers would feel encouraged to book online if the booking fees were removed.  Besides, more than 4 in 5 customers (86%) stated had said that discounted tickets would encourage them to pre-book. In effect, it has worked.

Most of our interviewees have stated that they will choose Cineworld as priority next time they wish to watch a film. To be eligible for the online discount, customers simply need to sign up to mycineworld. For more details, click here.

Local residents campaign to preserve Craighouse grounds

by Boyana Atanasova

Local community group Friends of Craighouse Grounds & Woods have raised concerns on the future of the green fields and woodland surrounding Craighouse in Morningside, Edinburgh.

They oppose plans by the new owners, which include constructing 3-storey housing across the orchard, with 3 to 4-storey blocks dotted about the site, and a very substantial new-build development across a large area of Open Green Space and mature woodland.

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None of these proposals were previously mentioned by the developers in their recent public consultation exhibition.

Friends of Craighouse have created an online petition to show “how much people care about this incredible site and how much they value this important green space and woodland where kids play, people walk, run, enjoy the spectacular views, walk their dogs, watch the fireworks, and catch a glimpse of some of the local wildlife.

Read more about the campaign on Friends of Craighouse Grounds and Wood‘s website.

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Podcast: Shelter Scotland encourages the homeless to vote

Shelter has launched a new initiative, in partnership with the Scottish Electoral Commission, to encourage homeless people to put themselves on the electoral roll.

Those who wish to vote in the up-coming local elections can either declare a local connection, telling the nearest office where they spend the majority of their time, or register a hostel or other temporary accommodation address.

Research carried out by the commission has shown that only 56% of people living in rented accommodation  were registered to vote in April 2011, compared to 88% of home owners.

In addition, an FOI request released on February 28th this year showed that only 34 people in the whole of Scotland had chosen to register via ‘a declaration of local connection’, as of December 2011.

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Olympic torch: the first impressions from an Edinburgh perspective

The Olympic torch will probably be the most symbolic image of the British summer.
As the torch’s route and each of the bearers were disclosed today on London 2012’s website, Alessandro Brunelli  talked to someone who has already had a close encounter with it.


More on this topic:

New Olympic torch route illuminates games’ divers history

Committee calls for Marine rights to be devolved to Scotland

MPs have declared that control of  Scotland’s seabeds and coasts should be transferred from the Crown Estate to local authorities. 

The Scottish Affairs Committee criticised previous management of the areas, citing a lack of transparency and public consultation.

Whilst the Queen currently owns Crown Estate rights, surplus revenues from leasing of it’s land to operations such as fish farms are paid into the UK Treasury. However the Committee believe that all marine rights relating to Scotland should now be transferred to the relevant local authorities.

MPs reached this conclusion following consultation with residents of Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles. They received a vast number of negative responses about the Crown Estate, who were criticised for stripping money out of the areas and behaving like “absentee landlords”.

First scientific proof of exercise-induced female orgasm

Women can feel sexual pleasure or even have an orgasm when exercising, a new study proved. The research group from the Indiana University Bloomington found that about 40 % of the 370 women responding to the survey had experienced exercise-induced orgasms or sexual pleasure in more than 10 occasions. The most ‘rewarding’ type of exercise in terms of sexual pleasure was found to be abdominal exercising. Debby Herbernick, a well-known researcher, advice columnist and author told EurekAlert that the study might help women to feel more comfortable and normal with their exercise experiences.

UK sports round-up

Top Story: Muamba remains in ‘dangerous condition’

Other sport news from around the UK:

–       Hearts maintained their excellent Edinburgh Derby record with a 2-0 victory at Tynecastle yesterday. Goals from Craig Beattie and Suso Santana proved enough to defeat a lackluster Hibs and extend their unbeaten run in the fixture to 10 games.

–       Kilmarnock won the Scottish League Cup for the first time after an 84th minute Dieter van Tornhout edged out Celtic. The Glasgow club’s hope of winning the treble are now over with Neil Lennon left fuming by his side’s missed chances.

–       Manchester United moved 4 points clear at the top of the Premiership following their 5-0 thrashing of Wolves. The result also consigned Wolves to the bottom of the table, with them only having won only 1 game in 14.

–       The SRU have backed Andy Robinson after defeat by Italy in the Six Nations left Scotland without a win in the tournament. However the coach has admitted that he is at the “lowest ebb” of his tenure leading to speculation he may fail to see out his 2015 contract.

– Jenson Button clinched victory at the opening Formula 1 Grand Prix after an impressive performance in Australia. Reigning World Champion Sebastian Vettel finished second whilst Lewis Hamilton clinched third following a poor start. Scot Paul di Resta finished just inside the points in 10th.

More in Sports:

Podcast: Fabrice Muamba still in critical condition

Rugby legend donates brain to science


Four killed in French school shooting

Three children and a teacher have been killed following a shooting at a Jewish School in Toulouse.

The shooter took aim as pupils were being dropped off for primary school before he escaped on a scooter. The three children killed were all described as being of North-African descent.

Details remain unclear but police have stated there are similarities between this attack and previous shootings of soldiers in the same region. Three paratroopers have been killed in the last week with another seriously injured in two separate attacks.

President Sarkozy and Gilles Bernheim, the Grand Rabbi of France, are on their way to attend the scene whilst extra police have been drafted into the area. Security has also been stepped up around all Jewish schools in the country.

Joachim Gauck taking office as new German president

Photo credit: Reuters

Joachim Gauck has taken up the official functions as the new German President and taken over the official residence Schloss Bellevue. With 991 out of 1228 (approx 108 abstentions) votes the top candidate was confirmed in the first run and will be sworn-in on Friday.

Gauck, a former GDR civil-rights activist, was the federal commissioner for the Stasi archives from 1990 to 2000, during which he was critised for retaining former Stasi employees.

He will take over the position from Christian Wulff, who was forced to step down following a financial scandal involving private banking transactions.  The expectations for him as the eleventh president are high and it is hoped he will  repair some of the damage caused by Wulff’s financial affair. In his first speech following the vote yesterday, Gauck promised to advocate freedom and responsibility.

For a  biography of Joachim Gauck click here.

Timeline: Joachim Gauck’s life and career

  • 1940 Joachim Gauck is born to a captain of the merchant navy and a office clerk on the 24th of January.
  • 1951 Gauck’s father is taken in and sentenced to two times 25 years of heavy labour for supposed anti-soviet agitation and spying. The family does not know about the trial or the deportation.
  • 1953 Gauck and his family are informed that the father has been sent to a labour camp in Siberia.
  • 1955 Konrad Adenauer achieves the release of about 10 000 prisoners of war, among them Gauck’s father. As a result of these experiences, Gauck and his sibblings are brought up with a strong rejection of any type of forced government.
  • 1959 – 1965 Gauck studies theology in Rostock. He gave up his original dream to study journalism due to the situation in the GDR.
  • 1959 Gauck marries his school friend Gerhild Radtke with whom he has four children.
  • 1965 – 1982 Pastor in different religious communities.
  • 1982 – 1990 Leader of the church convention work.
  • 1988 / 1989 Participation in the public and church-initiated protest movement in Mecklenburg. Work as a civil-rights activist.
  • 1990 Election into the Volkskammer.
  • 1991 Seperation from Gerhild Radtke.
  • 1990- 2000 Federal Commissioner for the Stasi archives. The administrative office is unofficially called Gauck-Behoerde as a result of his leadership.
  • 2000 Relationship with the journalist Daniela Schadt.
  • 2001 Host of the ‘Joachim Gauck’ show on the German public TV channel ARD.
  • 2001 – 2004 German representative honorary member of the administration of the European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia organisation.
  • 2003 – 2012 Leader of the organisation ‘Gegen Vergessen – Fuer Demokratie’ (translated ‘Against forgetting – for democracy’).
  • 2010 First nomiation for president.
  • 2012 Election for president on the 18th of March, exactly 22 years after the first time G

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.


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.


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.’

UK’s 2012 Eurovision entry unveiled

Engelbert Humperdink is the UK entry to the 2012 Eurovision Song Contest.

The UK’s entry into the Eurovision Song Contest 2012 has been unveiled today on the official Eurovision website. The entry, a ballad entitled “Love Will Set You Free” is performed by veteran crooner Engelbert Humperdinck.

Humperdinck, 75, will perform the song at the Contest finals in Baku, Azerbaijan on May 26, in a bid to reverse the recent UK bad fortune in the competition.  It has been 15 years since the UK have won the first place prize, with the 1997 entry from Katrina and the Waves, “Love Shine A Light.” It has won the competition a total of 5 times since first entering in 1959.

Born Arnold Gerald Dorsey, Humperdinck is best known for his 1967 hit, “Release Me.” His career has spanned 56 years, and he will be the oldest male performer to take part in Eurovision.

A soaring power ballad with lyrics, “Though I’ll miss you forever, the hurt will run deep. Only love can set you free,” the song has drawn mixed reactions on twitter.

User @barnabyedwards was enthusiastic, “What madness is this? The UK’s Eurovision entry appears to be a proper song sung by a proper singer,” while @garydunion was more condemnatory:  “Oh Jebus, the UK eurovision entry is even worse than I feared. This is truly dire.” His thoughts were not echoed by @dvolvemusic “Love that people are being forced to EAT THEIR WORDS about Humperdinck’s eurovision song. Its insanely brilliant, Yeah, i still love it :D”

Podcast: Fabrice Muamba still in critical condition

Fabrice Muamba remains in a dangerous condition in intensive care though his heart has “stabilized”.

Manager Owen Coyle and chairman Phil Gartside again visited the midfielder, who has not regained consciousness since suffering a cardiac arrest in Bolton’s FA Cup tie against Tottenham.

Rumours have begun to circulate that the Lancashire club may pull out of the competition following Saturday’s emotional events.

Club captain Kevin Davies earlier told BBC Radio Manchester that, “Until we get more information about Fabrice’s condition, I don’t think anything really matters.

“I know they were keen to get the game off tomorrow night [against Aston Villa], which is a no-brainer. From then on, we don’t really know as players. It’s all about Fabrice and his family really. The football side just doesn’t come into our thoughts.”

Tributes have continued to pour in for Muamba, with Gartside echoing the player’s fiancé’s call to keep the player in people’s prayers.

Fellow professionals have also been quick to send their best wishes with team-mate Stuart Holden tweeting, “”Praying for you Fab. Hope he’s OK. Thoughts with him and his family. For all those asking, I know as much as you do. Waiting anxiously for updates from teammates. Fab is a fighter!”

Arsenal captain also tweeted “I’m so sad about what happened to Fabrice Muamba today. Played with him for a couple of years. What a great guy. Always a smile on his face. Please Fabrice bring that smile back. My thoughts are with you and your lovely family!”

Following the emotional events at White Hart lane this weekend, Mark McKinlay brings us up to date with the latest news.

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Tea grown in panda poo most expensive worldwide

Green tea grown solely in panda excrement will command high prices worldwide.  An entrepreneur in the southwest Chinese city of Chengdu plans to charge up to £2,000 per 500 grams for his product, which he claims says will make it the world’s “most expensive tea.”

An Yanshi says he chose to grow tea in panda poo after learning of its high nutritional value. “The digestive and absorption abilities of the panda are not good. . .They are like a machine that is churning out organic fertilizer. Also, they absorb less than 30 percent of the nutrition from the food and that means more than 70 percent of the nutrients are passed out in their faeces,” he said.

Because pandas only eat wild vegetation, An also claims tea grown from panda feces is truly organic.

He also says using his unique fertilizer eliminates environmental damages caused by chemical fertilizer. He hopes to promote use of animal dung by other farmers throughout China.

Some locals have expressed cynicism at An’s high prices. “It’s sold at such a sky-high price, perhaps this is just hype. I don’t think the most expensive tea in the country is sold at such a price” said 49-year-old Li Ximing.

An defended his decision to charge high prices for his tea, saying that a portion of his profits would be set up a fund used to support environmental projects.

Rugby legend donates brain to science

Scottish rugby star John Beattie has announced he intends to donate his brain to science after he dies. The revelation follows a recent study which suggests that rugby players are at risk of similar long term brain injuries to those sustained by boxers. His brain will be used in a neuroscience study to determine the effect of regular head impacts on the condition of the brain. Over the next few months he will undergo a series of tests and scans which will be followed by an autopsy when he dies. This should give an accurate indication of the level of damage which has been incurred during a rugby players career.

Spamalot opens at Playhouse tonight

Monty Python’s Spamalot, a hit Broadway musical is opening at the Edinburgh Playhouse tonight.  Written by Eric Idel and John du Prez, this production of the “rip-off” of Monty Python will run for six-days.

The production stars former Doctor Who Star Bonnie Langford and this UK tour will run in Edinburgh for 6 days.  In celebration of the musical, a giant spam tin is making appearances around the city centre, visiting Edinburgh Castle, the National Gallery and Parliament.

Spamalot tells the story of King Arthur and his knights of the round table à la Monty Python.  Featuring the 1975 film’s killer rabbits, foul-mouthed Frenchmen alongside Broadway staples like chorus girls, the show was immensely popular in the US, winning the TONY award for best musical in 2005.

The show begins at 7:30 Monday-Saturday (matinees at 2:30).  Tickets can be purchased on The Playhouse’s website for between £15.50 and £39.50.

Council ‘underhand’ with removal of trees


Council contractors have cut down five trees along the Water of Leith, despite earlier promises they would be protected.

One of the trees at risk of removal along the Water of Leith
Image: Alexandra Wingate

Stop the Chop campaigners were informed of the reversal on Thursday, with three trees removed within 24 hours. The two remaining trees were cut down earlier today.

Stop the Chop’s anonymous petition organiser said that local residents had been given “no time to respond to this Council U-turn”, adding that “the Council have acted with a lack of transparency and in a cynical, underhand manner”.

The Water of Leith Flood Prevention Scheme has seen numerous trees removed along the river between Stockbridge and Warriston Crescent in recent months, prompting a petition signed by 1,159 people to save the trees on the Canonmills stretch of the river.

In December 2011, Dave Anderson, director of city development, confirmed that the five trees in question could “be saved without any negative impact on the flood works programme”.

However, this government-backed decision was overturned by Councillor Gordon Mackenzie, convenor of the council’s Transport, Infrastructure and Environment Committee, after the trees’ removal was deemed necessary to “provide a safe access for the construction team”.

All of the trees along Warriston Crescent have already been removed
Image: Alexandra Wingate