All posts by Kirsty Tobin

UK officials reiterate that Gaddafi is not a target

by Kirsty Tobin

15.24 UK officials have reiterated that Gaddafi is under no circumstances a target.

14.14 David Cameron has announced that “his government and the attorney general are satisfied that the resolution gives a responsibility to respond to Gaddafi and to use all measures to enforce the no fly zone.” This may lead to a deployment of ground troops. The UN resolution effectively freezes the assets of Gaddafi and his family. Ed Miliband responds by welcoming the action in Libya. He wants reassurance that “the action will happen in a timely fashion” and he also wants to know what the “long-term future” will be in the wake of the Libyan action.

14.10 UN officials reiterate the importance of coalition forces being in complete agreement on strategy for dealing with the Libya situation.

13.20 Cuban and Venezuelan officials have come out against the coalition’s strikes on Libya, citing the risk of civilian casualties as the reason for their opposition of the operation.

For live updates, follow us on twitter: Edinburgh Napier News

To follow our account of today’s events as they unfolded, Continue reading UK officials reiterate that Gaddafi is not a target

Last days before dissolution

by Gráinne Byrne

Third session of Holyrood about to go into recess

As we approach the last official day for Holyrood MSPs before Parliamentary recess, opposing parties are marking their line in the sand ahead of tomorrow’s final questions session.  This final session, before dissolution, sets the tone for a battle between the parties leading to the election on 5 May 2011.

In an attempt to engage with the public, First Minister Alex Salmond and his main opponent, Labour leader Iain Gray, will take part in various debates over the next few weeks.  Key issues in the frame include higher education, the economy, the health system and, perhaps most importantly, how they will deal with the financial cuts. Continue reading Last days before dissolution

Putin offers a more in-depth quote on UN Resolution

by Kirsty Tobin

14.43 Vladimir Putin has gone into more depth on his earlier comment, in which he likened the resolution to “medieval calls for crusades.” He has since gone on to elaborate, saying that: “The resolution is defective and flawed. It allows everything. It resembles mediaeval calls for crusades.”

14.14 David Cameron has announced that “his government and the attorney general are satisfied that the resolution gives a responsibility to respond to Gaddafi and to use all measures to enforce the no fly zone.” This may lead to a deployment of ground troops. The UN resolution effectively freezes the assets of Gaddafi and his family. Ed Miliband responds by welcoming the action in Libya. He wants reassurance that “the action will happen in a timely fashion” and he also wants to know what the “long-term future” will be in the wake of the Libyan action.

14.10 UN officials reiterate the importance of coalition forces being in complete agreement on strategy for dealing with the Libya situation.

13.20 Cuban and Venezuelan officials have come out against the coalition’s strikes on Libya, citing the risk of civilian casualties as the reason for their opposition of the operation.

12.27 UK officials scramble to retract comments made by defence secretary Liam Fox stating that Gaddafi is a legitimate target. Speaking on the BBC, chief of the defence staff, General Sir David Richards, said: “Absolutely not. It is not allowed under the UN resolution and it is not something I want to discuss any further.”

New York Times reports that four of their journalists being held in Libya have been released. One, Stephen Farrell, has dual Irish and British citizenship.

For live updates, follow us on twitter: Edinburgh Napier News

To follow our account of today’s events as they unfolded, Continue reading Putin offers a more in-depth quote on UN Resolution

David Cameron addresses House on Libya situation

by Kirsty Tobin

14.14 David Cameron has announced that “his government and the attorney general are satisfied that the resolution gives a responsibility to respond to Gaddafi and to use all measures to enforce the no fly zone.” This may lead to a deployment of ground troops. The UN resolution effectively freezes the assets of Gaddafi and his family. Ed Miliband responds by welcoming the action in Libya. He wants reassurance that “the action will happen in a timely fashion” and he also wants to know what the “long-term future” will be in the wake of the Libyan action.

14.10 UN officials reiterate the importance of coalition forces being in complete agreement on strategy for dealing with the Libya situation.

13.20 Cuban and Venezuelan officials have come out against the coalition’s strikes on Libya, citing the risk of civilian casualties as the reason for their opposition of the operation.

12.27 UK officials scramble to retract comments made by defence secretary Liam Fox stating that Gaddafi is a legitimate target. Speaking on the BBC, chief of the defence staff, General Sir David Richards, said: “Absolutely not. It is not allowed under the UN resolution and it is not something I want to discuss any further.”

New York Times reports that four of their journalists being held in Libya have been released. One, Stephen Farrell, has dual Irish and British citizenship.

For live updates, follow us on twitter: Edinburgh Napier News

To follow our account of today’s events as they unfolded, Continue reading David Cameron addresses House on Libya situation

The Libya crisis: a fresh perspective

by Tony Garner

I have never been to Libya but, as an English teacher in Edinburgh, I have met and gotten to know quite a few Libyans in the past couple of years. Many of them were encouraged to come and study in the UK with promises of funding from the Gaddafi government. Typically, they would first strive to improve their English before going on to study at a British university.

Most have been male and, in many cases, their English was almost non-existent when they arrived. Only teaching the verbs ‘to be’ and ‘to have’, there was a limit to how well I could come to understand how they felt about their country’s recent history and politics. One I remember: a beginner student, an affable chef in his early thirties, said to me out of the blue once the simple word, “Lockerbie”. I had been trying to find out what Scottish places he knew, and getting him to pronounce them. I was taken aback, but the almost-total language barrier prevented any dialogue about that most emotive of towns. Shortly afterwards, the student left the school.

I got to know much better a bright woman from near Tripoli who was in her mid-twenties and, compared to the chef, absorbed English like a sponge. In the UK with her husband and expecting a baby, she was alert to humour and mixed well with the other (mostly European students in the class. She had studied dentistry in Libya and wanted to do further study before going back home to practice. One day in class another student, a Spanish woman, asked her apropos of almost nothing what she thought of Gaddafi. Her reply was swift and unhesitating: “I love him.” I wondered at the time whether that was a response learnt by rote, but a presentation she later did on Libya made me doubt it. Gaddafi was the hero of the people. He had stood up to the Americans since they bombed Tripoli in 1986. Every good thing in modern Libya was down to him, including the fact that she could dream of running a well-equipped dental surgery. She finished by inviting us all to visit her country to see how well it worked, its natural beauties and ancient historical sites. Continue reading The Libya crisis: a fresh perspective

UK backtrack on comments made by defence secretary

by Kirsty Tobin

14.10 UN officials reiterate the importance of coalition forces being in complete agreement on strategy for dealing with the Libya situation.

13.20 Cuban and Venezuelan officials have come out against the coalition’s strikes on Libya, citing the risk of civilian casualties as the reason for their opposition of the operation.

12.27 UK officials scramble to retract comments made by defence secretary Liam Fox stating that Gaddafi is a legitimate target. Speaking on the BBC, chief of the defence staff, General Sir David Richards, said: “Absolutely not. It is not allowed under the UN resolution and it is not something I want to discuss any further.”

New York Times reports that four of their journalists being held in Libya have been released. One, Stephen Farrell, has dual Irish and British citizenship.

11.20 According to reports, the building has been destroyed. Coalition forces say this building was a command centre.

11.13 Building in Colonel Gaddafi’s compound damaged in Tripoli airstrike.

10.51 Airstrikes by RAF Tornado jets aborted at risk of civilian casualties at target site.

For live updates, follow us on twitter: Edinburgh Napier News

To follow our account of today’s events as they unfolded, Continue reading UK backtrack on comments made by defence secretary

Let it snow: ski resorts enjoy best weekend of the season

by Gráinne Byrne

A snowboarder enjoys the slopes at Nevis Range. Image from Craig Cameron

Record numbers of Scottish snow-sports fans were treated to access-all-areas passes when almost every run in the country’s ski centres opened up for the best weekend of the season.

Despite other key sporting events taking place, Scotland’s five resorts enjoyed fantastic conditions and huge visitor numbers on Saturday and Sunday. Over 13,000 sports enthusiasts, including skiers, snowboarders, hill-walkers and climbers took to the hills. Continue reading Let it snow: ski resorts enjoy best weekend of the season

Libyan conflict continues

by Kirsty Tobin

12.27 UK officials scramble to retract comments made by defence secretary Liam Fox stating that Gaddafi is a legitimate target. Speaking on the BBC, chief of the defence staff, General Sir David Richards, said: “Absolutely not. It is not allowed under the UN resolution and it is not something I want to discuss any further.”

New York Times reports that four of their journalists being held in Libya have been released. One, Stephen Farrell, has dual Irish and British citizenship.

11.20 According to reports, the building has been destroyed. Coalition forces say this building was a command centre.

11.13 Building in Colonel Gaddafi’s compound damaged in Tripoli airstrike.

10.51 Airstrikes aborted at risk of civilian casualties.

For live updates, follow us on twitter: Edinburgh Napier News

To follow our account of today’s events as they unfolded, Continue reading Libyan conflict continues

New round of air strikes against Libya

by Kirsty Tobin

10.27 Reuters report that forces loyal to Gaddafi are taking civilians from local towns into Misrata and using them as human shields.

10.15 Confusion arises as Sky News reports that Gaddafi is a legitimate target for UK military, while coalition forces have maintained that they are not targetting the dictator.

10.04 Unconfirmed reports are surfacing that one of Gaddafi’s sons is critically injured. He is reportedly fighting death in a Libyan hospital, following injury when a fighter jet crashed into the Gaddafi compound. Some reports state that he died yesterday.

9.43 Building in Gaddafi compound damaged by air strikes.

9:35 New air strikes launched around Ajdabiya. Ajdabiya is currently held by forces loyal to Gaddafi. Forces previously encamped in Benghazi have been pushed back to this north-eastern town.

British and French forces maintain that targets are being carefully chosen to avoid civilian casualties.

For live updates, follow us on twitter: Edinburgh Napier News

Census 2011 process begins

by Gráinne Byrne

Scotland’s biggest population survey will drop through the letterboxes of over 2.5 million addresses from today.

The once a decade head-count will inform Government and policymakers about how to position vital services such as healthcare, housing and education.

The Registrar General for Scotland, Duncan Macniven, who is charged with organising the census said: “For many young people, and people from the rest of the world who have made Scotland their home, such as many of the SPL’s football stars, 2011 is the first time that they have been responsible for filling in a census questionnaire. This month, they have their chance to make a permanent mark on Scotland.

The census will be filled in by householders on 27 March 2011 and have an impact for ten years.

Single police force consultation slammed by police chiefs

by Gráinne Byrne

Under the new proposals force numbers may be depleted

Senior police officers have hit out at the Scottish Government over its consultation on streamlining the police system in Scotland.

In a letter to Justice Minister, Kenny MacAskill, Kevin Smith, vice-president of Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland (ACPOS), accuses the Government of misleading the public, saying ‘the consultation process would have benefited from a more neutral perspective.’

The government is consulting on the future of policing in Scotland, including a proposed single ‘blue-services’ force. This would merge police, fire and ambulance services. The merge would make an alleged saving of almost £200 million.

Earlier this year, David Strang, chief constable of Lothian and Borders, spoke out saying that he feared that the cuts were “dangerous’’ and would cut police officer numbers “by several thousand”.

The consultation comes to a close on 5 May 2011 and the responsibility of the future of policing will fall into the hands of the incoming government.

Demonstration for inspiration

Blog by Kirsty Tobin. Audio by Tina Charon

Protesters in Place du 1er Mai (AP Picture)

When President Mubarak stepped down on Friday, everyone knew that this would mean big changes for Egypt. What people didn’t necessarily expect was the knock-on effect this victory for democracy would have. The Egyptians are now in the process of nation-building, with calls coming for the country’s military rulers to provide better pay and conditions. Yet, even without a resounding conclusion, the successes of Cairo seem to be inspiring similar scenes of protest in the Algerian capital. The Algiers protests kicked off hours after demonstrators in Tahrir Square achieved what they had been fighting for over the past two weeks – Mubarak’s resignation, a new government and a new chance at democracy.  The Egyptian demonstrations, teamed with the on-going Tunisian protests, can most certainly be seen as a direct influence on those which have just begun in Algiers.

The cycle of inspiration is becoming more and more clear. Just as the Egyptian protesters showed their support for their neighbours by waving Tunisian flags in early demonstrations, many parallels can be drawn between the protests in Egypt and those in Algeria. Perhaps, though, the influence is even stronger in this case. Mustapha Benfodil, an Algerian writer and journalist, has said that it is hoped that the these demonstrations will turn Place du 1er Mai (1st of May Square) into an Algerian Tahrir Square.

The similarities are already becoming glaringly obvious. 1st of May Square has become the focal point for the protests, and is set to continue as such, truly becoming the Algerian Tahrir Square. The protests themselves are eerily similar to those which were taking place in Cairo just a few short days ago. Protesters were vastly outnumbered by police with estimates in France’s Le Monde newspaper placing 2,000 to 3,000 civilians facing down up to 30,000 members of the police force. According to eyewitness accounts, the police, like those in Cairo, seemed bent on disrupting the demonstration. Dressed in full riot-gear they acted as an oppressive force, a force that, arguably, is still acting as the unthinking hand of a government the people have long-since lost faith in: violent supporters of President Boutefilka entered into the square with the cooperation of the police. All of this almost mirrors the manner in which events in Cairo proceeded, the situation before the worst of the violence broke out. And yet the protesters remained unfazed, risking beatings and arrests to stay and shout slogans. “A free and democratic Algeria.” “Government out.” And most tellingly, “Yesterday Egypt, today Algeria.”

It would appear that the concept of democratic rule is infectious. Opposition groups are pledging to continue demonstrations until changes are made, until the state of emergency that the country has been under since 1992 is lifted. It seems as though the successes in Cairo have shown the Algerian people that they should not take no as an answer. Democracy is proving to still be the inspirational, driving force that it’s always been. It’s easy to forget, sometimes, that there are still countries fighting for the basic civil freedoms and rights which we take for granted. Easy to forget that there are still countries where democracy is less than a pipe-dream, where it is in fact widely frowned upon. But seeing the passion with which those in Tunisia, Egypt, and now Algeria, are fighting for it, and inspiring it, it’s obvious that the call of democracy is alive and well. But who will be next to answer?

Listen Here:

Pope clarifies position on condom usage

by Kirsty Tobin

Pope pictured during March papal visit to Africa

The Vatican has clarified comments regarding condom usage in the fight against AIDS.

Controversy and confusion arose after the pope made comments which were subject to varying translations from the original German. The English translation referred to condoms being a responsible choice for male prostitutes, while the Italian translation used language which implied that their usage was also permitted for female prostitutes.

The pope’s spokesperson, Fr Federico Lombardi, has clarified the issue, stating: “if it is a man, a woman or a transsexual who does it, we are always at the same point, which is the first step in responsibly avoiding passing on a grave risk to the other.”

On Sunday, Fr Federico Lombardi released a statement explaining that the comment neither indicates a reform in the teachings of the Catholic Church nor does it indicate that condom usage is now permissible without restrictions. It explains that condoms should only be used in extreme circumstances: “abstinence and fidelity are much more decisive and fundamental in the struggle against AIDS, while the condom appears as a last resort when the other two are lacking.”

“The pope takes into consideration an exceptional situation in which the exercise of sexuality may represent a real risk to the life of another person,” he continues.

The initial quote came under fire after an extract from ‘Light of the World: The Pope, The Church and the Signs of the Times’ was leaked this weekend. The book, set to be released this coming week, contains a series of interviews with the pope carried out by Peter Seewald.

In the interview in question, the pope reacts to remarks he made during a papal visit to Africa in March of this year. These remarks alluded to a continuation of the church’s staunch opposition to birth control, intimating that use of condoms was wrong in every circumstance.

When the subject is broached by Seewald, the pope further clarifies his position. His response generated the quote which caused so much controversy: ‘there may be a basis in the case of some individuals, as perhaps when a male prostitute uses a condom, where this can be a first step on the way in the direction of a moralisation, a first assumption of responsibility.”

The announcement has garnered approval from AIDS/HIV organisations. UNAIDS called the comments a “significant and positive step forward.”

Students march over fears of ‘Demo-lition’ of Education

by Kirsty Tobin

Students take to the streets of London to protest increases in undergraduate tuition fees and third-level education cuts. Credit: guardian.co.uk

Over 24,000 students are expected to take to the streets of London today in protest at increased fees and proposed education cuts.

The protest, Demo-lition, is taking place in order to highlight students’ opposition to the raising of undergraduate tuition fees from £3,290 per year to a maximum of £9,000, as well as third-level education cuts of 40%.

Aaron Porter, President of the National Union of Students (NUS), is staunchly opposed to the government initiative: “We will fight back against attempts to dismantle the funded education system we desperately need for economic recovery, social mobility and cultural enrichment. The Government’s short-sighted and self-defeating cuts to colleges and universities must be resisted and that resistance begins now.”

The increase in fees will lead to an average graduate debt expected to soar beyond £40,000.

The protest has been organised by the NUS and the University and College Union (UCU). UCU President, Sally Hunt, explains the rationale behind the march: “We are taking to the streets to deliver a clear message to politicians that we want a fair and progressive system of education funding. There is nothing fair or progressive about tripling the cost of a degree and axing college grants that are often the difference between students being able to study or not.”

The protest has received widespread support. Stand-up comic, Stewart Lee, has advocated the need for action on this issue. Speaking to the organisers of Demo-lition, he highlights the problem that will face many prospective students if these measures go ahead: “There is no way that I, a family university first-timer with a single parent, on a then full grant, for example, would have contemplated going to University under the current rules. I would have thought it was what wealthy people did, and was nothing to do with me.”

The increase in fees and the cuts in education spending are expected to affect the arts and humanities more than any other departments. In a YouTube video posted online, Lee worries that this will lead to the disappearance of “thinkers and artists and conscientious people.”

The march, which began at 12 noon, has departed from Horse Guards Avenue and will travel along Millbank. The mile long march will pass Parliament buildings. Students are expected to be joined in the protest by many lecturers, who will march with them in solidarity.

These protests take place a week on from a similar protest march, taking place in Dublin, Ireland. This protest sparked scenes of Garda violence. Irish students are taking to the streets again today to take part in a peaceful march in protest of the so-called Garda brutality.

Students clash with Gardaí over fees protest

by Kirsty Tobin

Irish students have been involved today, Wednesday, in clashes with Gardaí as protests in the nation’s capital took a less than peaceful turn.

Students storm Dublin in protest against the near-doubling of registration fees. Photo: Susan Ryan, 2010

An estimated 40,000 students took to the streets of Dublin to protest the raising of registration fees. The students marched, in a protest organised by the Union of Students in Ireland, from the northern end of O’Connell Street to outside the offices of the Department of Finance. Here, violence erupted between members of An Garda Síochána and protestors.

One onlooker, a recent graduate who faces emigration in the near future, describes the sudden change in the protest: “One minute people were chanting ‘no ifs, no buts, no education cuts,’ and throwing the occasional egg at the building, and then the next thing we knew, a line of six mounted Gardaí were driving their horses into the crowd. A cry of ‘sit down, sit down’ went up and forty or fifty people sat down on the road. More followed suit. The Gardaí, after a couple more attempts, retreated.”

Gardaí and protestors in lobby of Department of Finance building, Merrion Row. Photo: Susan Ryan, 2010

According to this eyewitness, a line of Gardaí in riot gear formed and, behind this line, protestors who had entered the Department of Finance were forcibly ejected. The Garda mounted unit also “rode the horses straight at the crowd. They trampled a number of students. The riot police started hitting the crowd with batons to get them to move,” the former student said.

The students present at the protest had mixed reactions to the turn the protest took. One argued that “it hindered the cause to the extent that the ‘violence’ is all that is being focused on by the media, here and abroad, but, on the other hand, shaking Fine Gael TDs’ hands, and applauding the Gardaí for their patience isn’t going to stop anything.”

Another student, who also declined to be named, claims that the escalation could be seen to have damaged the effect of the protest: “it was a peaceful protest until people, of their own accord, went against the USI and started to riot, which didn’t help our case at all.”

All of this comes in the wake of public speculation that fees are set to rise from €1500 to €2500 a year.

Ahead of next week’s student demonstrations in London against education cuts and increased tuition fees, the question becomes whether or not we can expect to see similar scenes here.

Obama loses the House

by Kirsty Tobin

As voters went to the polls yesterday, Democrats faced a bleak electoral map

Democrats have lost control of Congress following yesterday’s midterm elections in the United States.

With the G.O.P. claiming 239 seats, and the Democrats winning only 183, results are reflecting the approval ratings Obama has experienced in recent months. As Gallup places presidential approval ratings at a lowly 44%, the country begins to turn against the Democratic party.

John Boehner, expected to replace Nancy Pelosi as Speaker of the House, highlighted this change of public opinion in his victory speech last night: “The American people have sent an unmistakable message to Obama tonight and that message is change course.”

Boehner spoke at length about the voice of the American people and the shift in policy they are demanding from their representatives: “Across the country right now, we’re witnessing a repudiation of Washington, a repudiation of big government, and a repudiation of politicians who refuse to listen to the American people.”

Harking back to the Obama slogan of ‘Change’, the Republican Party are now promising a new Washington.

Boehner is pledging a new approach which, he claims, has as yet been untried by either party: “cutting spending instead of increasing it, reducing the size of government instead of increasing it, and reforming the way congress works and giving the government back to the American people”.

Despite this bleak electoral map for the Democrats, there are occasional bright spots. Obama has retained majority in the Senate, albeit with a slightly narrower margin of control. The Democrats lost six seats to Republican challengers, but fought off attacks from Tea-Party favourites Sharron Angle (Nevada) and Christine O’Donnell (Delaware).

Obama has not yet offered any reaction to the results, but a press conference has been scheduled for later today. He is expected to reach out to Republicans, many of whom campaigned on platforms opposing his agenda and, particularly, his Healthcare Reform package.

It wasn’t supposed to be like this

by Kirsty Tobin

It wasn’t supposed to be like this.

As unemployment levels reach levels not seen since the mid-90s, dole queues have escalated almost beyond belief

We were sold the dream of graduating into a thriving economy.  We were sold the dream of fine houses, and cars, and comfort.  We were sold a social life and an ideal.  We were sold the equivalent of the picket fence, the smiling children (one of each), and the labrador retriever sitting on the lawn.  We were sold the idea that our degrees would be worth something.  We were sold the belief that we would be set up for life.

It wasn’t supposed to be like this.

When the early warning signs of this global recession started rearing their ugly heads nearly three years ago, our futures crumbled in front of our very eyes.  All of a sudden this perfect vision we’d been sold, the perfection we were assured was in all of our futures, was out of our grasp, replaced only with the uncertainty and fear that plagued our parents during the 1980s.  Overnight, thousands of college graduates, and prospective graduates, went from being much sought after candidates for employment to being merely possessors of what can only be described as essentially worthless pieces of paper.

It wasn’t supposed to be like this.

Three years ago we were faced with endless possibilities.  The world was our oyster.  We had everywhere to go and nothing holding us back.  But that was then.  That was when the live register wasn’t overflowing.  That was when there were only 40,600 under-25s signing on every month.  That was before the recession, before the National Assets Management Agency (NAMA), before it all went pear-shaped.  Now there is twice that number signing on.  According to the Irish Central Statistics Office’s seasonally adjusted figures, 88,663 people under 25 signed on last month.  And, according to the Irish Labour Youth’s proposals on tackling youth unemployment from early this year, “23% of those aged 20-24 are in neither full-time education nor employment”.  That’s an overwhelming number of people, graduates for the most part, who are relying solely on Social Welfare Payments for subsistence.

It wasn’t supposed to be like this.

Thirty years ago, faced with what we are facing today, our parents’ generation graduated and then left Ireland in droves – the United Kingdom and America were lands of hope and opportunity that promised them job security and a chance at a life.  At least they had options.  This generation isn’t so lucky.  Although some countries in mainland Europe and further afield are showing shaky signs of economic recovery, there is still a long way to go before any of these countries are out of the woods.  And even further to go before they are capable of supporting foreign job seekers.  So we have become largely confined to those economically deficient Emerald shores.  We’re doomed to signing on. Despite our best efforts, despite our university educations, we are doomed to being stuck in menial jobs – a fate from which we were supposed to be protected.

It wasn’t supposed to be like this.

While employment rates among graduates in the UK have risen slightly on figures from last year, this can’t last.  There are already much greater unemployment rates than there were two years ago, and with recent cuts to public sector jobs, as well as a rise in the retirement age, finding jobs post-graduation is about to get a whole lot harder.  UK students are facing the very same problems that Irish students are. They’re about to graduate under a government that cares so little about them that it’s proposing 40% cuts to university teaching budgets.

It wasn’t supposed to be like this.

Since the recession hit in full force, there has been minimal attention paid to the plight of the disillusioned student masses, and the majority of this was relating to the reintroduction of third-level fees to Irish universities.  Other than this, the focus has been on job losses and NAMA, civil-service pay-cuts and ministerial over-spending.  There has been, by and large, little notice taken of the thousands of students who are graduating every year into a market that can’t hold them, with nowhere else to go even if they could afford to get there.  Historically, students have been instrumental in effecting change.  It’s time we followed that example.

It wasn’t supposed to be like this.

We have been whispering about our futures.  Talking about how the recession affects the direction of our lives.  Discussing the uncertainty of the coming days and months in hushed tones.  It’s time for the tones to become less hushed.  It’s time that people realised that there is more to this recession than job losses and pay-cuts; that a younger generation is suffering, neglected and forgotten.  It’s time that we students made our voices heard.  Let the cry ring forth:

“It wasn’t supposed to be like this!”

Edinburgh Restaurateurs Come To Pakistan’s Aid

by Kirsty Tobin

Mumbai Mansion, owned by general secretary of the Scottish BCA, Salim Haider

A number of restaurants and takeaways across Edinburgh have this past week taken part in a charitable event raising money for Pakistan Flood Relief.

The event is the brainchild of the Bangladesh Caterers Association of Scotland. Three restaurants and four takeaways throughout the city pledged to donate fifty percent of profits from one night of service to the relief effort. The proceeds from the evening will be given to a representative from the Pakistan High Commission.

Kamal Mahi, a member of staff at the participating Morningside Spice Indian Restaurant, explained what will happen with the money once it has been collected and counted: “from there it’s going to be distributed equally to wherever it’s needed most”.

The evening also benefits from donations given by various providers of produce in the area: “some people have donated lamb, chicken, even vegetables, to the restaurants,” said Mahi.

The profits have not yet been tallied. The committee is meeting on Friday, following the return of the Chairman of the Scottish branch. General Secretary, Salim Haider, expects to be able to make the formal donation early next week.

The participating restaurants have been selected by the heads of the Scottish branch of the BCA.

 

Radio version of article: Food for Pakistan

Violent Teen’s Bail Lifted for Family Holiday

by Kirsty Tobin

Harrison is facing sentencing at Perth Sheriff Court

Bail conditions and curfew imposed on John Harrison (17) were yesterday lifted by Perthshire sheriff George Way so that the violent teen could depart for a family holiday.

Sheriff Way listened to argument from Solicitor Mike Tavendale relating to a lifting of bail curfew and a postponement of sentencing. Harrison’s sentencing, on three separate charges, had been due to take place today.

Tavendale stated that Harrison’s mother had booked the holiday well in advance of any offences relating to this sentencing.

Way has come under fire from Conservative justice spokesman Bill Aitken; “it does nothing to increase respect for the law when offenders such as Harrison are allowed to go on holiday in these circumstances and is yet another manifestation of the soft-touch approach employed in the Scottish justice system.”

The offence that resulted in the initial introduction of a curfew took place in July of this year, when Harrison lashed out at police officers who were attempting to arrest him. He is confined to his house between the hours of 7pm and 7am.

Harrison also committed a burglary and assaulted an elderly gentleman, resulting in his being banned from Coupar Angus, Perth and Kinross. The burglary and assault both took place while Harrison was on bail following the altercation with police officers.

Aitken has further decried the decision in reaction to the teen’s past; “this man presented the court with a fait accompli and I am surprised and disappointed the bail conditions were varied. Indeed, I am surprised – bearing in mind the seriousness of the offence and the fact that this was committed whilst already on bail – that he was not remanded in custody pending sentence.”