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Motoring news

Audi’s new Q cars

April 12 2017

Another week, another new Audi. Two new Audis, in fact. The German car maker has announced a couple more additions to its Q line up of SUVs. The Q4 is a coupe-SUV hybrid that will go up against the BMW X4 and Mercedes GLC Coupe. As its name suggests, it’ll be positioned between the compact Q3 and bigger Q5. At the other end of the scale is the Q8, which will go head to head against the Range Rover. It’s lower and sleeker than the Q7 Audi is also producing. In concept form, it sat only four people, although it seems likely the production version will be a five seater. There’s a 630 litre boot as well. Eagle eyed Audi followers will notice the only SUV slots left to fill are the Q1 and Q6. Watch this space...

Road tests

Audi Q2 puts quality over size

March 21 2018

Audi’s Q2 was one of the first premium compact SUVs on the market. It sits below the Q3, Q5 and the gigantic, seven seat Q7 in Audi’s ever growing range. Although it’s about the same size as the Nissan Juke or Volkswagen T-Roc, its price is comparable with the much larger Nissan X-Trail or Volkswagen Tiguan. Even a basic Q2 will set you back more than £21,000 and top whack is £38,000. Then there’s the options list which is extensive to say the least. My 2.0 automatic diesel Quattro S Line model had a base price of £30,745 but tipped the scales at just over £40,000 once a plethora of additions were totted up. Size isn’t everything, however. In recent years there’s been a trend of buyers wanting a car that’s of premium quality but compact enough to zip around town. It may be a step down in size but the Q2 doesn’t feel any less classy than the rest of Audi’s SUV range. The interior looks great and is user friendly in a way that more mainstream manufacturers have never been able to match. The simple rotary dial and shortcut buttons easily trounce touchscreen systems, making it a cinch to skim through the screen’s menus. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4eQ5p5Z7-Ek&list=PLUEXizskBf1nbeiD_LqfXXsKooLOsItB0 There’s a surprising amount of internal space too. I took three large adults from Dundee to Stirling and no one complained about feeling cramped. As long as you don’t have a tall passenger behind a tall driver you can easily fit four adults. At 405 litres the boot’s big too – that’s 50 litres more than a Nissan Juke can muster. Buyers can pick from 1.0 and 1.4 litre petrol engines or 1.6 and 2.0 litre TDIs. Most Q2s are front wheel drive but Audi’s Quattro system is standard on the 2.0 diesel, as is a seven-speed S Tronic gear box. On the road there’s a clear difference between this and SUVs by manufacturers like Nissan, Seat and Ford. Ride quality, while firm, is tremendously smooth. Refinement is excellent too, with road and tyre noise kept out of the cabin. It sits lower than the Q3 or Q5 and this improves handling, lending the Q2 an almost go-kart feel. On a trip out to Auchterhouse, with plenty of snow still on the ground, I was appreciative of the four-wheel drive as well. The Q2 is expensive – though there are some good finance deals out there – but you get what you pay for. Few cars this small feel as good as the Q2 does. Price: £30,745 0-62mph: 8.1 seconds Top speed: 131mph Economy: 58.9mpg CO2 emissions: 125g/km

Farming news

SNP handling of new beef scheme attacked

November 10 2016

The Scottish Government's own efficiency has been called into question over the handling of the new £45million Beef Efficiency Scheme (BES). An estimated 180,000 beef cows from 2000 Scottish farmers have been enrolled in the new five-year  scheme which aims to improve the efficiency and quality of the beef herd and help producers increase the genetic value of their stock. But months after signing up for the scheme, farmers are still waiting to be supplied with special tags to meet the rules which call for 'tissue tagging' of 20% of cattle. And now NFU Scotland's livestock chairman Charlie Adam says farmers' confidence in the scheme is being affected and has called for the rules to be adjusted. The union has also urged the Scottish Government to update all scheme applicants on progress with BES and let them know when the necessary tags will arrive. “If tag delays cannot be resolved in the immediate future, then the Scottish Government should recognise the problem and make the tissue tagging element voluntary for 2016. This will allow those who can take samples from the animals that they still own to do so,"  said Mr Adam. “Applicants to this important scheme, worth £45 million to the industry, have every right to know now, and in detail, what they are expected to do to fulfil their BES obligations and Scottish Government must get back on the front foot in delivering the scheme.” Mr Adam added that it was frustrating for the farmers who have already housed and handled their cattle for the winter as many of those animals were by now located in overwintering accommodation that can be some distance from home farms. Shadow Rural Economy secretary, Peter Chapman MSP claimed it was impossible for farmers to sell store cattle in the autumn sales until they were told which animals need tagged and were sent  the tags to do the job. He added: "This will create huge cash flow and logistic problems for farmers who normally sell calves at this time – this is the SNP letting farmers down yet again.” A Scottish Government spokesman said work was under way to rectify the problem and a timetable was expected by the end of the week. He added: "It is not necessary for farmers to hold off from selling their animals. "We will ensure that the sampling regime accommodates those farmers who have sold their calves and there will be no penalties for those whoo have. It may mean that some farmers will have a higher rate of sampling next year." nnicolson@thecourier.co.uk      

UK & World

This student took his Tinder profile to the next level by turning it into a PowerPoint presentation

February 21 2018

Standing out from the crowd on Tinder can be tough, but with the help of Microsoft PowerPoint a British student has managed just that – and gone viral in the process.Sam Dixey, a 21-year-old studying at Leeds University, made a six-part slideshow entitled “Why you should swipe right” – using pictures and bullet points to shrewdly persuade potential dates to match with him on the dating app. The slideshow includes discussion of his social life and likes, such as “petting doggos” and “laser tag”, and “other notable qualities and skills” – such as being “not the worst at sex” and “generous when drunk”.It even has reviews mocked up from sources such as “Donald Trump”, “Leonardo Di Capri Sun” and “The Times Guide to Pancakes 2011”.Sam told the Press Association the six-slide presentation only took about 20 minutes to make and “started off as a joke”.However, since being posted to Twitter by fellow Tinder user Gracie Barrow, Sam’s slideshow has been shared tens of thousands of times across social media.So, it’s got the seal of approval form Gracie, but how has the slideshow fared on Tinder? “I’d have to say it has been pretty successful,” Sam said. “Definitely a clear correlation of matches and dates beforehand to afterwards.“Most of the responses tend to revolve around people saying ‘I couldn’t help swipe right 10/10’ but I’ve had some people go the extra mile and message me on Facebook.“Plus some people have recognised me outside, in the library and on dates.”A resounding success.

Scotland

Pair guilty of murdering Glasgow businesswoman Lynda Spence

April 8 2013

Two men have been convicted of abducting, torturing and murdering missing businesswoman Lynda Spence, who disappeared two years ago. Colin Coats and Philip Wade, both 42, taped the 27-year-old financial adviser to a chair in a flat in Ayrshire in April 2011 and assaulted her every day for almost two weeks, then killed her. A jury at the High Court in Glasgow found them guilty following an 11-week trial. Coats and Wade forced Ms Spence into a car on Broomhill Path, Glasgow, on April14 2011 and drove her to West Kilbride, Ayrshire, where David Parker and Paul Smith let them in to Parker’s flat in Meadowfoot Road. When she arrived, Ms Spence was wearing sunglasses which were taped on the inside, and Coats gripped on to her waist. Wade carried in a tool bag which was referred to during the trial as “the torture kit”, containing garden loppers, surgical tape and vinyl gloves. They immediately whisked the woman upstairs to the attic area and taped her to a leather chair by the arms and waist. In the days that followed, the two men would arrive every day to hurt her, as a way of trying to extract financial information. She was burned with an iron, hit with a golf club and they crushed her toes, cut off her thumb and severed her pinkie finger. Parker told how he originally believed the arrangement was to help somebody that needed to get out of Glasgow, but as the situation “snowballed” he could see no way out of it. He and Smith were also charged with Ms Spence’s murder but were cleared after pleading guilty to a reduced charge of holding her against her will and assaulting her. Ms Spence was not allowed to move from the chair for the 13 days she was there, and had to urinate and defecate where she sat. On April 27 2011, Parker and Smith were dismissed by Coats and Wade, who told them: “Yous (sic) can go.” During the trial the court heard how Ms Spence and Coats were involved in a land deal at Stansted Airport, in which Coats claimed to have invested all of his money. Wade was described as his “right-hand man” in the killing and later told a friend, Pamela Pearson, that he helped dispose of a woman’s body. A statement released by Lynda’s parents said, “There is no verdict that will bring our daughter Lynda back or spare her the terrible ordeal that took her life. “We will never begin to imagine her suffering or comprehend the cruelty of any person who would do that to another human being. “We cannot begin to understand or forgive what they did to our daughter, Lynda. No words can begin to describe the heartache and pain we are suffering. “We would like to give our sincere thanks to the Solicitor General and her team for their dedication and bringing this case to a satisfactory outcome. We would also like to extend our thanks to Detective Superintendant Alan Buchanan and his team for their investigation in this case and to PETAL for their valued support. All have been of great support throughout this ordeal. “Lynda was a warm, kind and thoughtful daughter and was someone who always had time for others. “We miss her so much.”

Angus & The Mearns

Former Arbroath man to be extradited to face Australia rape allegations

April 30 2015

A former Arbroath man who was tracked by Interpol across the globe will be put on a flight to Australia to stand trial for a number of alleged rapes. Colin Simpson Henderson, who lived in Arbroath during the 1990s and 2000s, is accused of tricking his way into three women’s houses by pretending he wanted to rent a room. The alleged attacks took place when the 63-year-old was living in Australia in the early 1980s but he was not arrested at his home until last June. Judges at the High Court in London have opened the way for his extradition, rejecting claims he was too ill to be put on a long-haul flight. Mr Justice Kenneth Parker said Henderson lived in Australia until 1996. His cases were reopened in 1992 because of a suspected link to a triple murder and a sample of male DNA was recovered. That was later sent to London via Interpol but the investigation stalled until 2012 when there was a cold case review. The DNA sample was finally matched to Henderson, who accepted he was living near Melbourne at the time of the attacks. Challenging his extradition, barrister Emma Stuart-Smith pointed to a dangerous lung condition which could leave him dependent on oxygen. She told the judges it would be “reckless” to put him on a flight back to Australia to stand trial. Mr Justice Parker said he was confident the Australian authorities could be trusted to make special arrangements on the flight. It was in the interests of Australian prosecutors that he arrived there in good condition, he added. Ms Stuart-Smith also claimed sending him back to Australia so many years after the alleged crimes would be “oppressive”. Mr Justice Parker, sitting with Lord Justice Aikens, accepted Henderson would suffer “hardship” but Australia’s extradition request ‘fell very far short of oppression’ given the seriousness of his alleged offences, the judge ruled. Henderson, of Mayors Walk, Peterborough, is accused of 58 offences relating to the three attacks, including rape, assault and aggravated burglary.

Business news

ITS saved by US business

April 23 2013

Scottish oil services firm International Tubular Services was dramatically bought out of administration after Texas-based Parker Drilling paid £82 million to take on the troubled company. The firm’s global workforce of around 1,000, including around 70 employees in the Aberdeen area, was said to have been saved following the deal. It came swiftly after Bruce Cartwright, Graham Frost and Ian Green of PwC had been appointed as administrators of parent company ITS Tubular Services (Holdings). The professional services firm said ITS which focused on renting drilling equipment to “an extensive customer base of exploration and production companies, drilling contractors and service companies from 22 bases in locations as far afield as China to Columbia and Kazakhstan to the United Arab Emirates” had suffered a “cash strain” as it moved into new regions. “The last few months have seen an intensive period of activity as we worked with the board of ITS to explore the options available to them,” Mr Cartwright said. “After much deliberating, the directors took the decision for the group parent company to enter into administration with the aim of implementing the sale of the business as a going concern. “The sale means the business now forms part of a truly global player with the financial capability to invest in its future growth a move that will positively impact the trading subsidiaries, their employees, customers and suppliers that Parker has acquired.” Latest accounts show loans and overdrafts amounting to £113m at the end of 2011. Parker an international drilling contractor, drilling services and rental tools supplier to the energy industry and project manager said ITS had a broad footprint and strong portfolio of products and services. Joe Chandler, previously chief executive of ITS Tubular Services (Holdings) and now vice-president of Parker’s international rental tools business unit, said the move created an “exciting combination”. “With the support of Parker, ITS is now in a better condition to provide the best solutions for our customers,” he said. The deal comes just months after ITS founder Bob Kidd quit as chairman following disagreements with fellow bosses. That prompted legal action, as Mr Kidd attempted to regain control. Despite being the majority shareholder, it is understood contractual restrictions meant Mr Kidd could not take control of the firm and went to the Court of Session in Edinburgh in an attempt to have the conditions lifted. It is unclear what impact yesterday’s sale will have on those proceedings. Mr Kidd could not be contacted for comment. Recent accounts for ITS’ parent company show widening losses despite a rise in turnover. ITS Tubular Services (Holdings) had annual turnover of £107 million in 2011, a 21% rise on the previous 12 months. While operating profits more than doubled to £9.5m, pre-tax losses stretched to £4.4m from £4.3m.

UK & World

Live US TV shootings gunman Vester Lee Flanagan told channel he was ‘human powder keg’

August 27 2015

A man who shot dead a TV reporter and cameraman during a live news broadcast in the US told authorities afterwards he was a "human powder keg...just waiting to go boom!" In a rambling letter sent to ABC News after former colleagues were gunned down at a shopping centre in Moneta, central Virginia, Vester Lee Flanagan cited a long list of grievances, dating back to the 2007 mass shooting at Virginia Tech and the more recent massacre of worshippers at a historic black church in Charleston, South Carolina. "I've been a human powder keg for a while," 41-year-old Flanagan wrote in the note, "just waiting to go BOOM!!!!" The man described as a "loner" by former colleagues was later found with a gunshot wound after his car crashed following a police chase. He died in hospital. US President Barack Obama said the shooting was heartbreaking. He said "it breaks my heart every time" he reads or hears about these kinds of incidents. "What we know is that the number of people who die from gun-related incidents around this country dwarfs any deaths that happen through terrorism," he added. Police said Flanagan had bought the gun legally. Flanagan, who used the on-air name Bryce Williams, was a former employee at TV channel WDBJ-TV. According to officials, he was known for being unhappy, angry and hard to work with, and had been sacked. He had been fired from at least two stations for conflicts with colleagues who described him as an "off-kilter" loner easily angered by office humour. When he was sacked from WDBJ in Virginia in 2013, he had to be escorted out of the building by local police "because he was not going to leave willingly or under his own free will," said the station's former news director, Dan Dennison. Flanagan had "a long series of complaints against co-workers nearly from the beginning of employment at the TV station," said Mr Dennison. "All of these allegations were deemed to be unfounded. And they were largely along racial lines, and we did a thorough investigation and could find no evidence that anyone had racially discriminated against this man." The victims of Wednesday's shooting - reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward - were white; Flanagan was black. A third person, Vicki Gardner of the Smith Mountain Lake Regional Chamber of Commerce, who was being interviewed by Ms Parker, was injured in the shooting. Ms Parker's father said the shootings had left the family "numb".. Andy Parker said his daughter "excelled at everything she did". The conflict described by Mr Dennison in many ways echoed another, in 2000, when Flanagan was fired from a north Florida television station in 2000 after threatening fellow employees, a former supervisor said. Flanagan "was a good on-air performer, a pretty good reporter and then things started getting a little strange with him," said Don Shafer, the former news director of Florida's WTWC-TV. He said managers at the Florida station fired Flanagan because of his "bizarre behaviour". In 2000, Flanagan sued the Florida station over allegations of race discrimination. The parties later reached a settlement. Before and after his job in Florida, Flanagan worked at a series of stations around the country, sometimes for just a few months at a time. After Wednesday's shootings, the Franklin County Sheriff's Office said that video recorded by the station's camera shows Flanagan holding a weapon. Video shows Ms Parker carrying out an interview about tourism on Bridgewater Plaza in Franklin County. She smiles before at least eight shots are heard. The camera appears to drop to the ground and the reporter can be heard screaming. The station then switches back to a shot of a presenter back at the station, who has a shocked expression on her face. The gunman later posted a video he filmed of the shootings. The chilling footage shows a gun in his hand, pointing at Ms Parker and her attempting to flee when he opens fire. The Twitter account used to post the video also included the comments "I filmed the shooting see Facebook", "Adam went to (human resources) on me after working with me one time!!!" and "Alison made racist comments. EEOC report filed. They hired her after that???" Mr Ward was 27 and a graduate of Virginia Tech, while Ms Parker had just turned 24 and attended James Madison University. Mr Ward was engaged to a producer at the station, Melissa Ott, who was celebrating her last day on the job and was in the control room, watching it live, as the shooting unfolded. Ms Parker's boyfriend was WDBJ anchor Chris Hurst. He said they had just moved in together and wanted to get married. "I am numb," he said.

Motoring news

Join the queue for littlest Audi Q

November 9 2016

Audi’s relentless release of new models continues with the launch of its smallest SUV. The Q2 goes on sale in the UK next week with prices starting at £22,380. There’s an extensive selection of petrol and diesel power trains as well as the option of front or Quattro four-wheel drive. More models will be added to the range later on, including powerful SQ2 and RSQ2 versions. Aimed squarely at a younger audience, the Q2 has bolder, sharper lines and a different shape to Audi’s bigger SUVs, the Q3, Q5 and Q7. Although it’s clearly meant more for buzzing around cities than growling across farmland, cladding and skid plates lend it an aura of ruggedness. Audi is also offering a range of vibrant colours to deepen the Q2’s appeal to youthful buyers. The interior is as plush as you’d expect from Audi, justifying its price hike over similarly sized SUVs like the Nissan Juke and Honda HR-V. The materials are high quality – softtouch plastics, leather on higher spec cars and brushed aluminium trim elements all blended into a smart-looking package. As standard, drivers get a seven-inch infotainment screen on top of the dashboard. It’s operated through Audi’s rotary dial system that’s far more intuitive and easier to use when on the move than rivals’ touchscreen systems. Among the many options is Audi’s excellent Virtual Cockpit - a 12.3in screen that replaces the manual instruments behind the steering wheel. Overall, the Q2 is 4.7in shorter than the A3 hatchback, but Audi says there’s enough leg and headroom for two adult passengers in the back. Boot space comes in at 405 litres – 50 more than you’ll find in the A3 hatchback and rival Nissan Juke, although it trails the Mini Countryman by the same amount. To begin with, the only diesel option is a 1.6 litre with 114bhp, although a more powerful 184bhp 2.0 litre unit will be added to the range soon. Similarly, the petrol engine range is limited for now but will be expanded by the end of the year. The 1.4 litre, 148bhp unit offered now will be joined by 1.0 litre, 114bhp three cylinder turbo and 2.0 litre, 187bhp options – the latter coming with an S-Tronic automatic gearbox. When it arrives the 1.0 litre petrol version will be the cheapest model in the range with a price tag of £20,230. Courier Motoring has yet to get its hands on the car but early reviews have been very positive and Audi looks to have yet another winner on its hands. jmckeown@thecourier.co.uk

Readers' letters

So many near misses approaching bridge

April 15 2013

Sir, I sincerely hope that when the roadworks are complete at Dundee’s waterfront there is a totally separate lane leading on to the Tay Road Bridge. Last Monday I was heading home to Tayport along Riverside Drive only to be stopped at the Tesco entrance at exactly 5pm. I was in the correct lane unlike so many who chanced their luck in the left-hand lane, only to later indicate and push their car into the right-hand lane. So many near misses. Because of this it took me and everyone else in the correct lane 28 minutes to reach the Tay Road Bridge access. No mention was made of this on the Radio Tay jambuster line. When I eventually got home I searched my phone book and checked online for their number to alert them to the congestion. Couldn’t find it anywhere. Why not display it on the billboards? Goodness knows there are plenty of them en route! So, come on, traffic controllers and pushy drivers get your act together! Anne H F Lowe. 13 Nelson Street, Tayport. Biomass makes no sense Sir, Recent Courier reports relating to the proposed biomass plant in Dundee have focused on the health impact associated with emissions of nitrogen dioxide but what is never mentioned is the increase in local carbon dioxide emissions. No new coal-fired generation facility would be allowed in Scotland without carbon emission mitigation and yet people seem to be sleep walking into supporting a so-called biomass (wood burning) facility which also emits significant quantities of carbon dioxide. Both coal and wood-burning involve the oxidation of carbon to form carbon dioxide. In fact, a wood-burning generator emits almost 25% more carbon dioxide per kWh of electricity generated than a coal-fired generator would. In effect, Dundee would be importing carbon emissions from the countries from which the wood will be sourced. This makes no sense when we are ravaging our countryside with ever more wind turbines in an effort to reduce Scotland’s carbon emissions. Dr G M Lindsay. Whinfield Gardens, Kinross. Figures are dwarfed Sir, I wish to congratulate Steve Flynn on his excellent letter (Courier, April 11) on the inequalities of present government legislation. While most people do not wish to see illegal benefit claims made, these are dwarfed by tax dodging from the well-off and by reduced taxes, again, to people who are much more than comfortably off. Another group of people Mr Flynn does not mention are the directors of banks who, through inefficiency and cavalier decisions have cost the taxpayer billions of pounds yet, many are still being paid large bonuses and pensions. I am sure that the amounts of illegal benefit claims pale into insignificance when compared to these latter items. John Baston. 9a Seabourne Gardens, Broughty Ferry. It is a time to show respect Sir, Why should anyone want to organise a street party to celebrate the demise of a former prime minister? The only appropriate time to organise such a gathering was surely when that person left office(in the case of Mrs Thatcher, over 22 years ago). But dancing on the grave, so to speak, of the former leader is not just distasteful it is perverse. It doesn’t matter whether it is in the Durham coalfields, the republican streets of Belfast and Londonderry, or the centre of Glasgow or Brixton. Events like these don’t just diminish our reputation for tolerance, they undermine the whole texture of political debate and democracy. Respect for your opponents in time of personal difficulty and death is simple good manners and humanity. Nobody contests that Mrs Thatcher was a controversial figure. But the plain fact is that her attitudes and beliefs (honestly held and worthy of respect at a time of her passing), were subject to the test of the ballot box. For good or ill she was successful on three occasions. In the end it was her own MPs and Cabinet who prompted her resignation in November 1990. Bob Taylor.24 Shiel Court,Glenrothes.Remarks show a lack of classSir, I write with reference to your article featuring Labour councillor Tom Adams and entitled, A dram to toast the lady’s demise.I found the tone of the article to be in incredibly poor taste and I am very uncomfortable with the pleasure Mr Adams appears to derive from the death of an 87-year-old frail lady with Alzheimer’s. Mr Adams, of course, makes no mention of the fact that Harold Wilson closed three times as many coal mines as Margaret Thatcher ever did. Nor does he appear to apportion any responsibility for his plight as a young man to the militant NUM leader Arthur Scargill. Most of those in his party seem to accept that Mr Scargill and his fellow militants played a major role in the failure of the mining industry. That aside, his comments, coming from an elected member of Fife Council regarding Mrs Thatcher’s death are disgraceful and show a distinct lack of class. Allan D S Smith. 10 Balgonie Place, Markinch.

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