All posts by monjahamburg

Titanic director breaks deep dive record

Hollywood director James Cameron has become the first person to solo dive to the deepest point in the ocean. The Marian Trench, which is located in the western pacific ocean close to Guam, is an astonishing 7 miles (11km) deep.

In 1960 the first and last successful endeavor to reach the bottom of the Marian Trench was made by US Navy Lt Don Walsh and oceanographer Jacques Piccard. Cameron though holds the record for being the first person to reach sea ground alone.

He spent several hours on the Pacific Ocean sea floor, collecting samples for scientific research and taking photographs and moving images.

After his return Cameron tweeded: “Hitting bottom never felt so good”

The specially designed sub, the Deepsea Challenger was made in Australia, weighs 11 tonnes and is more than 23feet long.

Cameron said about the expedition: “Most importantly, though, is the significance of pushing the boundaries of where humans can go, what they can see and how they can interpret it.”

National Geographics supported the expedition and its executive vice president of the Mission program Terry Garcia is proud of the program:  “In 2012 we are still exploring largely unknown places — as National Geographic has been doing for nearly 125 years. I’m delighted to say that the golden age of exploration and discovery continues.”

James Cameron always had a passion for deep waters. He has made more than 70 deep submersible dives, including a total of 33 to the wrack of the Titanic. Since Cameron is still a film director at heart it is not surprising that the Deepsea Challenge will become a 3-D film which will subsequently be broadcast on the National Geographic Channel.

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.


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.’

New wave of library cuts hang in the balance

Tonight at 6.15 pm the McDonald Road Library in Edinburgh will become the place of a communal discussion following recent plans by the Council to save money in library services. Edinburgh East Save Our Services, Greater Leith Against the Cuts as well as members of Unison will hold a public meeting to discuss changes which would include reduction of opening hours and certain venues closing on Thursdays.

Campaigners are worried the Council’s plan will threaten the functionality of Edinburgh’s libraries, and mean that some facilities would be left short staffed which would have an adverse effect on the quality of service provided to the public. .

Edinburgh based writer Ken MacLeod told STV local: “Free public libraries have been important to me all my life. Any cut in library services is a hit on the self-education and self-directed entertainment of everyone, and particularly on those who can least afford to lose them.”

The meeting tonight is a response to those issues and is open to the public.

Pinhole Photography Festival

Today Edinburgh’s Royal Botanic Gardens starts hosting the Pinhole Photography Festival. It’s the first festival of its kind in Edinburgh and celebrates the art of photography without using a lens.

The simple technique works with a tiny hole in the camera, which replaces the lens. Light passes through the hole; an image is formed in the camera. The festival gives current pinhole photographers a chance to showcase their work.

The festival is designed for beginners and people who are unfamiliar with this art as well as experienced photographers. Daily workshops and discussions are offered to give an introduction to this simple but effective kind of photography.

Visitors can go see the free festival until 17th March.

Tesco announces the creation of 20,000 jobs

Tesco Metro

After recent criticism over presumed employee exploitation in Tesco, the supermarket giant published some good news, announcing plans to create 20,000 new jobs in the next 2 years.

Prime Minister David Cameron has welcomed the plan, which he hopes will provide a boost for Britain’s struggling economy. In a statement he complimented Tesco on their announcement:

“Their commitment to creating jobs and opportunities for young people at what is a difficult time for the economy is fantastic news for the UK as a whole and for those people they will help into work,” he said.

Tesco plans on using the new staff primarily in customer service, but the programme will also focus on refreshing the appearance of existing stores and opening up new ones.

Richard Brasher, Tesco’s UK CEO said: “With youth unemployment at record levels, we’re determined to target many of our new jobs at young people currently out of work – so that in this difficult jobs market those who need help the most will get it.”

Recently Right to Work activists targeted Tesco as being part of the governments work experience scheme, where people on benefits work full-time for free. This scheme was criticized for taking advantage of free labour and undermining workers rights. However Tesco put this negative press down to a misunderstanding over the technicalities of the initiative.

Human dignity film festival

Sam Rockwell as a lonely employee in 'Moon'

This weekend Edinburgh Filmhouse is posing the ethical question: what is human dignity?

The Biomedical Ethics film festival, now in its seventh year, will show five different films from November 25 – 27. The three-day event explores the complexities of human ethics, specifically examining the many facets of our conception of human dignity.

Director of Research, for the Scottish Council on Human Bioethics and Festival co-ordinator, Dr Calum MacKellar explained this year’s theme: “It is very difficult to explain what human dignity really represents. The film festival will seek to clarify some of the different aspects of the concept with a number of films that all reflect important characteristics of human dignity.”

Rod White, Head of Programming, Edinburgh Filmhouse said: “The power of film to provoke debate and aid further understanding of the issues that face us all today is very much one of our core beliefs and programming principles here at Filmhouse. The films chosen this year all feed, from varying angles, into different aspects of the festival’s theme this year, Human Dignity.”

Films to be screened include: Project Nim, The Elephant Man, Moon, Iris and Shooting Dogs.

After each screening the viewers will have the opportunity to discuss the issues  raised by the films with the audience and a panel of invited experts in bioethics, law, philosophy and politics.

Dance against domestic abuse

Scottish Women’s Aid encourages you to put on your dancing shoes
for a good cause this Friday.

The organisation will hold a special charity ceilidh on November 25, in Edinburgh’s City Chambers. Scottish Women’s Aid celebrates its 35th anniversary with The Belle Star Ceilidh Band providing live entertainment.

This event coincides with the beginning of the 16 Days of Action campaign to raise awareness of violence against women.

The fundraiser is just one of several events to be held throughout the coming months.  Other milestones in the anniversary calendar include seminars with influential researchers and activists addressing major developments in the understanding of the issue of gender based violence over the past 35 years.

As part of their anniversary the organisation will also hold an exhibition of photographs and memorabilia at Glasgow Women’s Library from November 26 – December 10.

A spokeswoman for the charity said, “The anniversary events will place the work of Scottish Women’s Aid in its historic, social and cultural context, highlighting connections with other campaigns and other struggles for social justice. The events will look back over the history of Scottish Women’s Aid, celebrating its achievements as well as looking to the challenges that lie ahead.”

For over three decades now the organisation is battling domestic abuse and offers help to them who suffer from it. The services they provide include safe refuge accommodation as well as information and support. Their mission statement is to end violence against women by fighting gender inequality, one of the main causes resulting in abuse. In times where domestic abuse is still a taboo, Scottish Women’s Aid has been ambitiously campaigning for real change throughout the years and has established itself as an important charity organisation.

The ceilidh starts Friday, November 25 at 7.30pm in the Edinburgh City Chambers.

Prices range from £16-£20 for adults and £10 concessions for students and under 16s. All the money goes to Scottish Women’s Aid. Food and a welcome drink are also included in the ticket price.