Category Archives: Life and Society

23rd Edition of the Italian Film Festival

by Giulia Maccagli and Koldo Sandoval

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The 23rd edition of the Italian Film Festival comes at the Filmhouse in Edinburgh, this year.

The Festival, running from the 4th until the 17th of March, has venues in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dundee, and Inverness.

At the Festival, there is the best of the “cinema italiano”, currently on a high with the global and awarded success of Paolo Sorrentino, “Youth”.

Alongside established directors’ names, such as Sergio Castellitto, Cristina Comencini, and Gabriele Salvatores, there are also new film directors, as Edoardo Falcone and Laura Bispuri.

The Festival will see on its screen renown Italian  actors, as Valeria Golino, Elio Germano, and Jasmine Trinca.

This year the Festival has a special focus on Luchino Visconti, an Italian theater, opera, cinema director, and screen-writer, in the occasion of the 40th anniversary of his death.

The 23rd edition of the Italian Film Festival is also welcomed by the Italian Government’s new support to the film industry with an investment of £300 million a year.

 

Record Visitor Numbers For Scottish Tourist Hotspots

Scotland has seen a 5.5% increase in visitor numbers in 2015, with Edinburgh Castle leading the surge of major attractions.

The castle has overtaken the National Museum of Scotland as the country’s leading tourist hub for the first time, with over 1.5 million visitors, according to figures released by the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions (ALVA).

The National Museum was also the UK’s most popular museum outside of London, and Scotland’s most popular free attraction.

For the first time, the National Galleries of Scotland welcomed a combined total of more than 2.1 million visitors – thought to be a result of The Amazing World of M.C. Escher and Artist Rooms: Roy Lichtenstein exhibitions, with a 35% and 47% rise respectively.

Edinburgh’s Royal Botanic Gardens saw a 10% increase, which they credited to their Lights programme in the winter months.

Glasgow’s nine civic museums continue to be a draw for citizens and visitors to the city alike, with almost 4 million recorded visits – up 5% on 2014. The city’s Riverside Museum has seen a year on year rise since it opened in 2011.

Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum also saw a rise of 12.4%.

Tourism bosses have attributed the Scottish success to the current weakness of the pound to the euro and dollar, in making UK attractions more popular.

Bernard Donoghue, Director of ALVA, commented: “2015 continued to be a record year mainly due to our members continuing to show how diverse the UK is to both domestic and overseas visitors.

“More people visited Edinburgh Castle, the National Museum of Scotland, the National Gallery of Scotland, the Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh and the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, combined, than visited Jamaica, Barbados and Cuba.

“More people visited Stirling Castle, Kelvingrove, the Riverside Museum and the Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA) in Glasgow, combined, than visited New Zealand. Together more people visited these 9 Scottish attractions than visited Australia and New Zealand combined.”

Stephen Duncan, Director of Commercial and Tourism at Historic Environment Scotland, also praised the findings.

“It’s great to see Edinburgh Castle at the top of the table in Scotland after another record breaking year for the castle.

“We’ve seen particular growth in online and travel trade at the castle in 2015, and following a refresh of the castle website towards the end of the year I’m sure this will continue.”

Edinburgh voted world’s fourth most beautiful city

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A view of Edinburgh from Calton Hill

 

By Anthie Parisi & Giulia Maccagli

Edinburgh has been voted the fourth most beautiful city in the world, coming just behind the renown European cities of Paris, Florence, and Rome.

The Scottish capital was ranked fourth in a Rough Guide poll of its readers.

The Rough Guide said of the city: “It’s famed for its excellent annual festival, but there is more to Edinburgh than great comedy and arts – and according to our readers, it’s beauty.”

 

 

 

Culture, architecture, nature (Arthur’s seat, S. Giles Cathedral and the Castle, just to name some) blend together making Edinburgh a magical city to visit or live in.

Edinburgh’s World Record Aviator dies aged 97

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By Koldo Sandoval & Iain Jones

One of Britain’s greatest airmen and Leith native Eric ‘Winkle’ Brown has died aged 97 after a short illness.

Captain Brown was the most decorated pilot in the Royal Navy Air Arm and held three world records including the most different types of aircraft – 487.

Educated at the Royal High School and the University of Edinburgh where he learnt to fly in the University Air Squadron.

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Captain Eric Melrose Brown CBE DSC AFC, born January 21 1919, died February 21 2016.

He joined the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve as a Fleet Air Arm pilot, where he was posted to 802 Squadron. Brown got several distinctions such as the Distinguished Service Cross for his service on Audacity on 10 March 1942.

He also became a fluent German speaker in his student life. As a privileged witness, Brown travelled  with his father to 1936 Olympic Games organised in Berlin where he checked the cruelty of Hitler’s political Regime.

After Second War, Eric ‘Winkle’ Brown has been tried too many different airplanes, but he was also teaching a big number of current pilots for Royal Navy.

Brown became a writer in his last few years, writing his autobiography explaining his experience as a pilot.

 

RAC prediction for lower petrol prices confirmed

By Paloma Ferreira

The RAC’s prediction this week that the falling price of oil and supermarket competition for customers would lead to British drivers paying less than £1 a litre by Christmas has been confirmed.

The RAC is a transport organisation and a breakdown assistance service.

UK supermarket brand, Morrisons, has cut the price of unleaded petrol to below £1 a litre which is the lowest UK price level since 2009.

The supermarket chain announced that they would be selling unleaded at more than 99.9p per litre and cutting diesel by 1p a litre.

Morrisons’ petrol retail director Bryan Burger said: ‘Today, for the first time in more than six years, we are moving unleaded prices down to below £1 a litre. This is a moment where motorists will feel some relief after being clobbered by tax and price rises for the last decade.’

Other supermarket companies such as ASDA, have also announced lower prices.

ASDA is currently running a promotion for this weekend only, from Friday until Sunday, of unleaded petrol for 99.7p per litre and 103.7p a litre for diesel.

Speaking with the Edinburgh public, citizens had varying opinions on whether this change would affect them personally.

A university student said: ‘I have just gotten a car, and switching from paying for transport to petrol I haven’t seen much of a difference, however I will be traveling long distances for Christmas time so I might see a change there.’

A taxi driver said: ‘I think this petrol costs will have an impact on the long run.’

The average tank of petrol for a U.K. driver of medium car is £70 for about 55 litres. If the lower prices of petrol are sustained, the average car user could pay about £50 for the same amount of petrol.

The AA has released their fuel price report for November 2015. They state on their site that Scotland has recorded the highest diesel price at 110.7 p per litre. They also report that supermarket prices for unleaded have fallen to 105.5 p per litre and that the gap between supermarket prices and the UK average for unleaded has grown to 2.5 p per litre.

Niel Greig from the Institute of Advanced Motorists commented: ‘We can always welcome lower petrol prices, Scottish drivers have been paying some of the highest prices in Europe in fuel for many years now, so this is an early Christmas present which we hope will be sustained.’

He also commented on the amount one could save from the lower prices of petrol. Mr Greig said: ‘There have been some figures released by the AA, for each individual tankful its quite a low amount, just a few pounds, but for over a year you can save several hundred pounds.’

 

 

 

 

Saudi women to cast first ever vote

Saudi Arabia

By Koldo Sandoval

Women will vote on Saturday 12 December in Saudi Arabia for the first time in history. The municipal elections take place across Saudi Arabia where women are expected to vote for the first time. Many people are optimistic that women’s voices will finally be heard in Saudi politics – even if only at a local level.

The president of Muslim Women Association in Edinburgh, Tasneem Ali, said: ‘Every woman should have the right to vote. It’s a matter of democracy. Realistically is how it should be.’

Women were previously barred from voting or being elected to political office, but in 2011 King Abdullah declared that women would be able to vote and run in the 2015 local elections, as well as be appointed to the Consultative Assembly.

The first two female registered candidates were Jamal Al-Saadi in Medina and Safinaz Abu Al-Shamat in Mecca, the Saudi Gazette reported. An estimated 70 women are planning to register as candidates and an additional 80 as campaign managers, according to local media in Saudi Arabia.

Neither male nor female candidates will be allowed to use pictures of themselves in campaign advertising and on election day there will be separate polling centers for men and women.

Women’s rights activists had long fought for the right to vote in the oil-rich gulf kingdom.

‘Female participation in December’s elections is an important step towards creating greater inclusion within society’, said Nouf al-Sadiq, Saudi citizen and graduated student in Middle East studies at George Washington University.

Women’s rights in Saudi Arabia are limited in comparison to many of its neighbors in the Middle East. Saudi Arabia is considered one of the most restrictive countries for women by the International Community. The World Economic Forum in 2013 ranked Saudi Arabia 127th out of 136 countries for gender parity.

Many women has been registered across the country, especially in the capital Riyadh. The government also requires voters to have personal ID cards, and many Saudi women do not.

Ali supports the advances that Saudi Arabia women are getting, she insisted that it’s a democratic matter separated that it not just a problem for Islamic states, she said: ‘Islamically women have the right to vote but when a country prohibits it, it’s not about Islamism. This is how every society can go forward’.

Saudi women still have to contend with limits on their freedom of movement, and since it is illegal for them to drive, many of them will have to rely on male members of their family to take them to register and vote. Male relatives who oppose female voting rights could also be a barrier.

Despite the right to vote suppose an advanced for women in the Middle East, international media such as CNN have reported that ‘public political dissent is illegal in Arabia Saudi’. According to Freedom House’s annual report on political rights and civil liberties; Saudi Arabia is a mainstay of the 10 worst countries in the world for women’s civil rights. Citizens that even hint that political and human rights should be expanded are considered as a terrorist action by the monarchy.

Study on Scotland’s most expensive streets is misleading

By Yaz Duncan

A recent study by the Bank of Scotland naming Northumberland Street as the most expensive in Scotland may be misleading according to local estate agents.

The study conducted by the bank named Northumberland Street in Edinburgh’s New Town as the most expensive street to buy property, with average house prices hovering around the £1.3million mark.

However, the study has faced criticism from estate agents who say that the statistic is not accurate because more expensive houses have been sold in the surrounding streets.

Peter Lyle, Director of Edinburgh Residential at Savills said: ‘We have sold a property in Northumberland Street for £1.7m, a little bit more actually. That is the most expensive this year.

‘Properties in the surrounding area have sold for more than £1.7m in streets like Heriot Row and Royal Circus. A whole townhouse there will be more expensive than in Northumberland Street.

‘The study is comparing apples and pears and is simply taking an average of what has been recently sold. If you look at some streets in St Andrews houses are selling for three or four million. It is an odd statistic.’

Despite the alleged inaccuracy of the study, Northumberland Street properties are still selling for higher than average prices and the New Town continues to be a desirable area.

Peter Lyle added: ‘Northumberland Street is in the heart of the New Town, walking distance from Princes Street and close to nice parks. It ticks the boxes for people wanting to live in the city centre.’

In response to suggestions by estate agents that the study is misleading Nitesh Patel, economist at the Bank of Scotland said: ‘We took the period from 2010-2015 and there had to a be a minimum of seven transactions over this period.

‘Northumberland Street meets that criteria with an average house price of over £1.3m. There is always research being done on expensive streets. We make clear that it has to be a minimum of seven transactions in five years.

‘We get data from the Registrar of Scotland. I don’t know what estate agents have  said but there will be one or two streets with more expensive sales but they would not meet our criteria.’

The average UK house price in 2015 was £197,000 but the number of homes in Scotland sold for more than £1m has more than doubled over the last 12 months. The capital boasts 13 of the 20 most expensive streets, Aberdeen have four and Glasgow have two.