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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...

Dundee

Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour to visit Dundee Rep

June 8 2016

National Theatre of Scotland’s hit show Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour stops of at Dundee Rep Theatre late this month as part of an International tour. The critically-acclaimed stage adaptation of Alan Warner’s cult Scottish novel The Sopranos, will run at The Rep from June 30 to July 2. Adapted by Lee Hall from the novel The Sopranos by Alan Warner, Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour is a tribute to being young, lost and out of control and was winner of a Scotsman Fringe First Award, a Herald Angel Award and a Stage Ensemble Award. The production is directed by Vicky Feathersone and stars Dundee Rep Ensemble graduate Caroline Deyg, from Carnoustie.

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

Politics

Kezia Dugdale vows to tax the rich

April 16 2016

Scottish Labour would make taxing the rich a key priority in the next parliament, leader Kezia Dugdale has said. Ms Dugdale will focus on her party's plan to use new powers over income tax coming to Holyrood to introduce a 50p rate for top earners during a campaign visit to Rutherglen, South Lanarkshire. She will highlight analysis by think tank IPPR Scotland showing that Labour's tax plans, which also include a 1p increase to the basic rate of income tax, would raise £900 million more than the SNP by 2020/21. The Labour leader said the extra funds would be channelled towards two other key priorities for her party - investing more in education and stopping cuts to public services. Ms Dugdale will campaign with Rutherglen candidate James Kelly and local activists as they launch a new leaflet in partnership with trade unions. Speaking before the visit, she said: "Today I am outlining the three priorities that must define the next Scottish Parliament, and will guide the next Labour Scottish Government. "Those priorities are simple: Tax the rich, invest in education to grow the economy and stop the cuts to public services. "Labour will use the powers to ask the top 1% to pay the most and stop the Scottish Parliament acting as a conveyor belt for Tory austerity. "That's the positive message activists and trade unionists will be making on high streets and doorsteps all across Scotland this weekend. "Labour will set a 50p top rate of tax for those earning over £150,000 a year so we can stop the cuts and invest in education." Meanwhile Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie will join volunteers campaigning in Bridge of Allan, Stirling, and meet voters following his party's manifesto launch on Friday. The Lib Dems' flagship policy, a "penny for education" involves adding 1p to income tax for those earning more than £21,500 to raise around £500 million each year for education. Mr Rennie said: "The Scottish Liberal Democrats' manifesto is a bold and positive programme for the next five years to make Scotland the best again. "Feedback from the doorsteps is that our uplifting message for a transformational investment in education, leading the charge on boosting mental health services, guaranteeing our civil liberties and protecting the environment is translating into votes. "More Liberal Democrats will deliver positive, liberal change. We're back to our best. Now it's Scotland's turn." Elsewhere on the election trail, Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson will visit the south of Scotland to highlight her party's proposals to boost business in the area. She will focus on a manifesto pledge to set up a South of Scotland Enterprise, similar to Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), to grow the economy.

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.

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

Scottish politics

Labour plans to force vote on restoring 50p tax rate for richest earners

June 2 2016

Labour plans to force a Scottish Parliament vote on a higher top rate of tax for Scotland's richest. The party's election campaign set out a policy to restore the 50p tax rate for people earning more than £150,000. The SNP backed the move at the 2015 General Election but Nicola Sturgeon later ruled out a 50p income tax rate for the first year Holyrood has its new powers. The Scottish Government gains control over income tax rates and bands in April 2017, as part of the devolution of new powers in the Scotland Bill. Now Labour has tabled an amendment in a bid to force a vote on the tax issue at Holyrood during a parliamentary debate on Thursday. The Scottish Government motion for debate proposes "creating a fair and prosperous Scotland" and "using the new devolved powers" to tackle inequality, including building 50,000 affordable homes. Labour's amendment adds that the parliament "recognises the need for a higher top rate of tax for the richest earners so that this can be redistributed to tackle wider inequalities" and increases the affordable homes target to 60,000. Scottish Labour deputy leader Alex Rowley said: "This vote is an opportunity for the SNP to make a simple choice - they can work with the centre left parties like Labour to stop the cuts and invest in our public services, or support the Tories to carry on with austerity. "Labour will make the case that we should use the new powers over tax to introduce a 50p top rate of tax on the richest 1% earning over £150,000 a year. "It's the simple priorities we said we would adhere to in this parliament - tax the rich so we can invest in schools and stop the cuts to public services."

Sport

RB Leipzig battle back to claim first-ever win over Bayern Munich

March 19 2018

Substitute Timo Werner scored a 56th-minute winner as RB Leipzig claimed their first win over Bayern Munich at the fifth attempt.Bayern looked set to consolidate their status as runaway Bundesliga leaders when Sandro Wagner headed the opener with just 12 minutes on the clock.But a stirring performance by the home side led to Naby Keita levelling just before half-time before Werner’s winner ended Leipzig’s luckless record against their would-be title rivals.The home side were on the front foot almost immediately in a frantic opening exchange, with Yussuf Poulsen firing high and wide with just five minutes gone.In what appeared to be a blow for the home side, Marcel Sabitzer was forced off injured after just 10 minutes and replaced by Werner, and Leipzig fell behind two minutes later.James Rodriguez sent in a superb deep cross and Wagner connected firmly to head the ball back across goal and beyond home keeper Peter Gulacsi.Bayern keeper Sven Ulreich had to make a superb double save to deny Poulsen two minutes later, and as Leipzig continued to press for a leveller, Ulreich was back in action to tip a Bruma free-kick over the bar.Niklas Sule booted a Werner effort off the line from the resulting corner, and the home side’s increasingly inevitable leveller came in the 37th minute, when Konrad Laimer sent in Keita who lashed past Ulreich at the second attempt.Keita missed another great chance on the stroke of half-time when the unmarked Werner would surely have done better, but the striker got his opportunity in the 56th minute as Leipzig grabbed the lead.This time Keita did find his team-mate who shrugged off the attention of Mats Hummels and raced clear to fire low past Ulreich.Bayern were not finished and Hummels almost atoned for his earlier error when he brought a fine save out of Gulacsi on the hour, before Laimer went close to extending Leipzig’s lead.The visitors’ best chance of equalising came 10 minutes from time when Hummels headed over the bar from a Franck Ribery cross.But Leipzig, who had gone into the game without a Bundesliga win in five and seemingly slipping out of European contention, were not to be denied.

Politics

Ruth Davidson insists the Conservative manifesto will be bursting with ideas

March 29 2016

Conservative leader Ruth Davidson has pledged to unveil a manifesto "bursting with ideas" following internal party allegations that she has not presented any detailed policies. Jim Terras, chairman of the Selkirk Conservative and Unionist Club, has called for "policies or a detailed manifesto" and said Ms Davidson's performance in the first televised election debate was "very poor" in a steady stream of criticism on social media. Mr Terras has also pointed to several demands for detail on the ConservativeHome website, in response to Ms Davidson's article defending the UK Government's tax decisions and criticising those of her Scottish opponents. It follows a leak of an internal party document which claimed the manifesto will not present the Conservative plan for Scotland, but will outline how the party has changed and "what we will pressure the Scottish Government on in the next parliament". Ms Davidson rebuffed claims that her party has been silent on policy, insisting she has pledged to build 100,000 new homes, hand colleges £60 million, reform education from pre-school to post-secondary, reform Police Scotland and the courts, address the "target culture" in the NHS and invest in roads and digital infrastructure. She told the Press Association: "Maybe Jim doesn't read the papers but I can't say that we haven't been putting a lot of ideas out there. "We will have a full manifesto bursting with ideas. We have been the only people holding the Government to account on some of this stuff for months." Ms Davidson said she had not seen the leaked paper until it was published in the Daily Record, but said its central claim that "the manifesto will not be presented as Our Plan for Scotland" is "clearly false". She added: "A manifesto is all about policies and ideas, and that is exactly what ours is going to be as it has been at every other election." The Edinburgh Central candidate visited Little Learners Nursery in the south of the city to support Save the Children's Read On, Get On campaign and outline her education policies. "We have seen literacy and numeracy fall in Scotland," she said. "We also see a really big gap in young people from poorer communities and the better off and that gap grows as they progress through school, so it's something that you need to address. "We need to empower teachers more within our schools, so we want to have greater decision-making power for our headteachers and school leaders, such as hiring of staff, budgets and allocations. "Of the money that is designated to schools by the Scottish Government, 20% never reaches it to the school gates. It is spent and kept by councils. "Some of it is spent very well but we think some of it would be better spent by teachers." She called for a significant proportion of the £650 million coming to Scotland from the Chancellor's Budget to be spent on schools. Ms Davidson also highlighted the opposition of the education sector to the Scottish Government's plan to appoint a "named person" from health and social care to monitor the wellbeing of every child in Scotland. She said the Educational Institute of Scotland, the Scottish Parent Teacher Council and the Association of Heads and Deputy Heads have raised concerns about the scheme, as have the Association of Scottish Social Workers, Police Scotland, the Law Society of Scotland and senior social workers. In her article for ConservativeHome, Ms Davidson said “middle earners in Scotland will be forced to pay £3,000 more in tax than people in England over the next five years” under the SNP’s income tax plans. “By the turn of the decade, the difference in take home pay for someone touching £50,000 will be £800 a year,” she said. “And, secondly, the additional rate may go up too.” She added: “Our message in this campaign will be that we will fight to keep people’s taxes as low as possible, not just because workers deserve to keep more of their own money - and they do - but also because it is good for Scotland. “I want to deliver the kind of balanced parliament that will make better decisions for all of us.” She said a Labour opposition will leave Scotland “on a high tax escalator” with “a high tax first minister being told by a high tax opposition leader that taxes aren’t high enough”. She added: “It is only the Scottish Conservatives which can stop that escalator in its tracks.”

Farming news

Aberdeen-Angus DNA test hailed by Victor Wallace

February 13 2015

The adoption of a new DNA test to authenticate the pedigree of all Aberdeen-Angus calves will put the breed in the vanguard of genomic technology, retiring Aberdeen-Angus Cattle Society president, Victor Wallace, told a packed annual at Stirling. The society has decided to collect blood samples using special ear tags which incorporate a small uniquely identified receptacle. As the tag is inserted soon after birth the small amount of displaced tissue and blood is captured ready for future DNA testing. Responding to criticism of the society’s decision to use only one company, Caisley, for the collection of samples, Mr Wallace insisted Caisley was the only ear tag company which had the technology to meet the society’s required specification. “We invited a number of ear tag companies to tender and some didn’t bother to reply while others couldn’t meet the spec,” said Mr Wallace. “It is a simple and inexpensive system which most breeders are finding easy to use.” The aim is to collect blood samples from all bull calves to enable the sire of all calves to be verified in the case of any uncertainty or dispute and to authenticate beef being sold as Aberdeen-Angus.” The move by the society has been welcomed by major supermarkets selling Aberdeen-Angus beef. Mr Wallace added: “This process was extensively and rigorously tested with management and council visits to the manufacturers in Germany and the completion of field trials. After this process it was brought back to council and unanimously approved. “Like all changes, there has been some resistance but I am convinced that putting the society in a position to be leading in genomic testing can only be a good one. “We should be leaders, not followers.” Mr Wallace admitted that a £34,000 re-branding exercise carried out over the past year, which included the dropping of the society’s long-established black, green and yellow colours, left room for “significant improvement”. The issue, particularly improvement to the website, would, he said, be addressed in the coming year. The decision to prop up the pension fund of chief executive, Ron McHattie, by £120,000 in four tranches was defended by new president, David Evans, who explained that it was a “catching up” operation as the funding of the pension had not been addressed for 11 years and annuity rates had halved in that time. Mr Evans, who works as a financial adviser, runs a 60-cow pedigree herd in Cleveland with his wife, Penny, and has been chairman of the society’s breed promotion committee. He is planning a series of open days throughout the country this year to promote the commercial attributes of the Aberdeen-Angus breed. “There is a huge and growing demand for certified Aberdeen-Angus beef with the active involvement of most of the leading supermarkets in the UK and registrations in the Herd Book are at a record level and continuing to increase,” said Mr Evans. “But we can’t stand still and it is important that the breed adopts all the latest technology to take the breed forward in the future.” New senior vice-president is Tom Arnott, Haymount, Kelso, while Alex Sanger, Prettycur, Montrose, was appointed junior vice-president.

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