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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...

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.

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


Holyrood approves James Wolffe and Alison Di Rollo as top legal officers

June 1 2016

MSPs have unanimously approved the appointment of Scotland's top legal officers. Senior lawyer James Wolffe QC, current dean of the Faculty of Advocates in Scotland, was recommended for the post of Lord Advocate by Nicola Sturgeon. The First Minister also put forward Alison Di Rollo, a senior advocate depute and head of the National Sexual Crimes Unit, as the new Solicitor General. Speaking in the Scottish Parliament chamber, Ms Sturgeon paid tribute to former Lord Advocate Frank Mulholland QC and former Solicitor General Lesley Thomson as "truly outstanding public servants". Of Mr Wolffe, she said: "I think it's fair to say that James is also an outstanding legal talent. "He has an extensive and exemplary legal background and experience at all levels including in the House of Lords, the Supreme Court of the UK and the European Court of Human Rights." She added: "I have no doubt that we will all benefit greatly from his wide-ranging professional experience." Ms Sturgeon continued: "Alison has led the ground-breaking work of the National Sexual Crimes Unit first as its deputy and then as its head for over three years. "Her outstanding career and contribution to a new more effective approach to sexual crimes gives me every confidence in recommending her for this new role."

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

Angus & The Mearns

Fundraiser splashes the cash after challenge

August 11 2014

An Angus woman has raised more than £1,200 for charity in memory of her friend by swimming the breadth of the River Tay. Alison Anderson, from Carnoustie, a member of Dundee sporting institution Ye Amphibious Ancients’ Bathing Association, took just over two hours to cross the eight miles from Balmerino in Fife to Broughty Ferry. The 49-year-old mother of four presented Marie Curie Cancer Care, who provide free professional nursing care to the terminally ill at home, with a cheque for £1,245, the proceeds of her sponsored athletic endeavour. That money will now be used in the local postcode area to provide more than 62 hours of free high-quality hands-on care to individuals with a range of terminal conditions, including cancer, at the end of life at home. Presenting the cheque to Hazel Mitchell, the vice-treasurer of the charity’s Dundee Fundraising Group, Alison spoke of her admiration for the free nursing service which allowed her friend the dignity of choice at the end of life. “Marie Curie were absolutely brilliant,” she said. “Roni wanted to be at home at the end and they were wonderful.” And while the family have asked to remain anonymous, Alison knows how much they value her loyalty, friendship and the selfless dedication she demonstrated to achieve such a feat of physical endurance. She said: “Raising money for Marie Curie was a natural choice and I’m really pleased that the money will be used in this area to help another family in need. “I know Roni would be very proud of me and very happy that I’ve managed to do this.” Petra McMillan, the patron for Marie Curie in Dundee and Angus, praised Alison’s efforts in memory of her friend. “We greatly appreciate Alison’s huge personal achievement in memory of Roni. “We know that the majority of people facing a terminal diagnosis would want to be at home at the end and yet most of us still die in hospital, the place we’d least like to be. “Currently we have to turn away one family in two who come to us in their hour of need but, with support from people like Alison, we can reverse that trend.” More than most, Alison knows the value of grabbing life with both hands. Last year she was given the all-clear from her own breast cancer battle which began six years ago. She said: “You’ve got to live every day like it’s your last, you never know what is ahead of you. I thank my lucky stars that I’m here and able to have done this at all.” Visit www.mariecurie.org.uk or contact petramcmillan@sky.com or 07717 810365 for more information about the work of Marie Curie Cancer Care in this area or to support the charity.


Parkinson’s discovery ‘may improve diagnosis for patients’

August 29 2016

Scientists are a step closer to developing a test for early-stage Parkinson's disease. A molecule linked to the brain condition can be detected in samples of spinal fluid, research has shown. The discovery may pave the way to earlier diagnosis of Parkinson's, improving treatment prospects. Parkinson's disease causes the progressive loss of neurons involved in movement, leading to uncontrollable tremors, rigid muscles and poor balance. An estimated 127,000 people in the UK have the disease, most of them over the age of 50. The test molecule is a protein called alpha-synuclein which forms sticky clumps known as Lewy bodies within the brain cells of people with Parkinson's and some types of dementia. Researchers at the University of Edinburgh used highly sensitive technology to differentiate between healthy and harmful forms of the protein. In early studies the technique accurately identified 19 out of 20 samples from Parkinson's patients, as well as three samples from people thought to be at risk of the condition. Dr Alison Green, from the National CJD Research and Surveillance Unit at the University of Edinburgh, said: "We have already used this technique to develop an accurate test for Creutzfeldt Jacob Disease (CJD), another neurodegenerative condition. We hope that with further refinement, our approach will help to improve diagnosis for Parkinson's patients. "We are also interested in whether it could be used to identify people with Parkinson's and Lewy body dementia in the early stages of their illness. These people could then be given the opportunity to take part in trials of new medicines that may slow, or stop, the progression of disease." The findings are published in the journal Annals Of Clinical And Translational Neurology. Dr Beckie Port, from the charity Parkinson's UK, said: "Parkinson's has no definitive diagnostic test - leaving an urgent need for a simple and accurate way of detecting the condition, particularly in the beginning stages. "Although early days, the fact that researchers have developed a new test that is able to detect abnormal alpha-synuclein in the spinal fluid of people with Parkinson's with remarkable specificity and sensitivity, is hugely promising. "Further research is needed to test more samples to see if the results continue to hold true, but this could be a significant development towards a future early diagnostic test for Parkinson's."


Seeking public help to celebrate the history of the Dundee jute industry

September 16 2016

As the 20th anniversary of Verdant Works opening is marked, a volunteer at the museum tells MICHAEL ALEXANDER why she is seeking public help to fund a book about the history of Dundee’s former jute industry. Anyone who’s visited Dundee’s Verdant Works museum will know that the city’s 19th century jute mills offered little but drudgery, exhaustion, low wages and constant danger. Now Perth woman Alison Carrie, 32, who works at the museum as a volunteer, is looking for the public’s help to fund a book she is writing about the history of the city’s 60 former mills and how the buildings have adapted following jute’s demise. “If These Wa’s Cuid Talk…” aims to tell tales of 170 years of Dundee’s jute industry and the stories of the more than 50,000 workers who were once employed there. For 18 months, Alison has been researching, supplying her own photography and writing the text which will include new photos, graphics and walking routes for readers to follow round ‘Juteopolis’. But because Alison is running the project on a shoestring, she has now turned to crowd funding to help cover the estimated £4500 costs of printing and publishing. “If These Wa's cuid Talk...they'd tell tales of 170 years of Dundee’s textile industry, and the stories of over 50,000 workers at its peak,” explains Alison. “They'd tell of accidents, fires and explosions; of good times and bad, and how the buildings themselves have outlasted an industry which at one time seemed unstoppable. “Yet 18 months ago I knew next to nothing about Dundee’s jute mills. It’s been a fascinating learning curve which has been ‘my baby’ for 18 months now and means the world to me. I'd love to see all my hard work come to fruition.” A former pupil of Glamis Primary and Webster’s High School, Kirriemuir, Alison’s interest in old buildings was sparked growing up around the James Jones & Sons sawmill at  Ladywell, near Kirriemuir, where her dad Colin still works as a mechanic. The keen cyclist, who left school to train as an apprentice joiner, was “literally surrounded by outstanding buildings”, she says. But it was Dundee’s industrial heritage that captured her imagination. “When you live in Angus, Dundee is the place you go for shopping on Saturdays, “she says. “I always saw these buildings. I knew they were old jute mills but I never knew anything about them. They were just sitting there like sleeping dinosaurs. My mind started wondering what they did and what, if anything, are they used for now? Maybe I’m a nosey kind of person!” she laughs. Alison made contact with Hillcrest Housing Association which gave her access to some of the converted properties they now owned including the old Upper Dens mill on Princes Street. Other former mills had been turned into flats. South Dudhope was occupied by a furniture charity and Verdant was a museum. “My research started to reveal some fascinating stories,” she continues. “At Dura Works I was allowed into the loft and found initials engraved in the wood by the apprentices. “At South Dudhope a mechanic had fallen into and drowned in one of the hot water pools used for cooling water. The wife then threw herself off the Balgay Bridge, leaving seven kids. Her ghost is meant to haunt the bridge to this day! “And one time at the Coffin Mill – the Logie Works – a boiler exploded and blew out the side of the building. To this day you can see where they rebuilt the side of it. Boiler explosions were pretty common in those days, and there was little health and safety.” Alison has found The Courier’s newspaper archives “invaluable” in her research. Another useful resource has been Facebook where she has been able to collate more contemporary memories of life in the mills. And having volunteered as a machine demonstrator  at the Verdant Works  for the past year, it has  also been a great way to find out more about the industry - especially as the museum celebrates its 20th anniversary on September 16. Alison’s book will also be an interactive experience with several walking routes for interested parties to follow around the old mills. She used to go out and walk the routes with her now-deceased Border Collie Ziggy , who passed away in June, aged eight, after contracting cancer - and Alison is set to dedicate the book to his memory. One of the walks begins at The McManus in the city centre, before heading to the Lindsay Street Mill, New South Mills at Brown Street, the Old Mill Complex and Dudhope Works where the scale of the old mills becomes apparent across the roofscape. From Lochee Road, the route heads down Smellies Lane towards the five-storey Meadow Mill, and South Dudhope Mill on the corner of Douglas and Ash Street. The next stop is the iconic Verdant Works, with South Anchor Works sitting opposite. Then it’s Burnside Mill, Douglas Mill, Park Street Mill, the derelict Queen Victoria Works, then onto the Coffin Mill or Logie Works, Milnbank Mill, before heading to Edward Street Works. The final stop is Walton Mill. To find out more about Alison Carrie’s crowd funding project go to www.gofundme.com/ifthesewascuidtalk

Motoring news

Form an orderly Q for Audi SUV

August 10 2016

First there was the Q7. Then the Q5 and Q3. All have been a phenomenal success for Audi. I’d be surprised if that script changes when the Q2 arrives in November. Audi’s baby SUV is available to order now with prices starting at £22,380. Can’t quite stretch to that? Don’t worry, an entry level three-cylinder 1.0 litre version will be available later this year with a cover tag of £20,230. From launch, there are three trim levels available for the Q2 called SE, Sport and S Line. The range-topping Edition #1 model will be available to order from next month priced from £31,170. While the entry-level 113bhp 1.0-litre unit isn’t available right away, engines you can order now include a 113bhp 1.6-litre diesel and 148bhp 1.4-litre petrol unit, both with manual or S tronic automatic transmissions. Also joining the Q2 line-up from September is the 2.0-litre TDI diesel with 148bhp or 187bhp. This unit comes with optional Quattro all-wheel drive. A 2.0 litre petrol with Quattro and S tronic joins the range next year. Standard equipment for the new Audi Q2 includes a multimedia infotainment system with rotary/push-button controls, supported with sat-nav. Audi’s smartphone-friendly interface, 16in alloy wheels, Bluetooth connectivity and heated and electric mirrors are all also standard for the Audi. Along with the optional Audi virtual cockpit and the head-up display, the driver assistance systems for the Audi Q2 also come from the larger Audi models – including the Audi pre sense front with pedestrian recognition that is standard. The system recognises critical situations with other vehicles as well as pedestrians crossing in front of the vehicle, and if necessary it can initiate hard braking – to a standstill at low speeds. Other systems in the line-up include adaptive cruise control with Stop & Go function, traffic jam assist, the lane-departure warning system Audi side assist, the lane-keeping assistant Audi active lane assist, traffic sign recognition and rear cross-traffic assist.

UK & World

PM’s former Oxford college launches inquiry into sexual harassment claims

April 12 2018

An independent inquiry is being launched into allegations of misconduct and sexual harassment at the Prime Minister’s former Oxford college.St Hugh’s has confirmed that its governing body commissioned the investigation following claims about the behaviour of a now-deceased Fellow.It is understood the Fellow is Professor David Robertson, who died in August last year.The inquiry was set up after author Mel McGrath wrote an article on the website The Pool, accusing Professor Robertson of “doing a Weinstein on me” – a reference to Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein – when she was an undergraduate in the 1980s.The inquiry will be chaired by Alison Levitt QC, who carried out a review into the crimes of the late Jimmy Savile and who has been tipped to become the new director of public prosecutions.Ms McGrath wrote: “David, who was my tutor, held tutorials in his flat on college grounds and had an uncanny knack for scheduling a shower, at whatever time of day, just before I arrived.“He’d open the door – as if innocently – dressed in his bathrobe and, one time, in a tiny towel.“For the next hour I would have to undergo the humiliating experience of reading my essay, on which I had laboured hard and with serious intent, while David sat opposite, half-naked and man spreading, often smelling of alcohol and sipping from a mug of what was never tea or coffee.”Ms McGrath was also critical of St Hugh’s, saying that if the authorities at the time had not heard the rumours about Prof Robertson’s alleged behaviour “they couldn’t have been listening very hard”.The college confirmed that an investigation had been launched and released its terms of reference, but a spokeswoman said it would be inappropriate to comment until the investigation was complete.The terms of reference given to Ms Levitt read: “The College has recently received allegations of historic misconduct and sexual harassment about a now deceased Fellow from two former students.“The College requests you to carry out an independent investigation about these allegations and whether the circumstances of these or of similar allegations were known to the members of governing body or management staff of the College.“If so, to report on the adequacy and appropriateness of the College’s responses and any action taken in respect of such allegations or circumstances, with any recommendations for action.”St Hugh’s was founded in 1886 “to open up the opportunities of an Oxford education to poorer women”. It accepted its first male students in 1987.Former students include the Prime Minister Theresa May, Burmese politician Aung San Suu Kyi, Amal Clooney and suffragette Emily Davison.