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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

UK & World

Ex-watchdog: Returning fighters are ‘potentially very dangerous’

January 30 2018

Britons who return after fighting alongside Islamic State should be regarded as “potentially very dangerous”, a former terror laws watchdog has said. David Anderson QC suggested security agencies should take a “sceptical” approach towards UK nationals who have been living in territory controlled by the group for several years. His remarks come amid fierce debate over how battle-hardened extremists should be managed if they seek to come back. Mr Anderson told MPs that where possible returnees should be prosecuted – but noted there are difficulties securing convictions for offences committed in Syria. We are now live taking evidence from David Anderson QC following his recent oversight of the police and MI5's internal reviews into the 2017 terrorist attacks. Watch live: https://t.co/7bo3kS27Qh— Home Affairs Cttee (@CommonsHomeAffs) January 30, 2018 On  those who cannot be pursued through the courts, the barrister said: “All these people need to be looked at very carefully indeed. “My first reaction would not be to look at them in a particularly generous spirit. “I think the starting point has to be that these are potentially very dangerous people.” The Government estimates that approximately 850 UK-linked individuals “of national security concern” have travelled to engage with the Syrian conflict. Just under half, or around 400, have returned, while 15% are believed to have died. Mr Anderson, who was Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation from 2011 to 2017 , suggested authorities were not currently dealing with a major influx of returnees but he noted that a number have come back in the past. He told the Commons Home Affairs Committee: “If you talk to the security services what they will tend to tell you is the ones who have come back tend to be the ones who went in the early days. “Maybe they went out there as charitable workers and then they stayed, or they got in with the wrong crowd, or they went out of curiosity, or they went to get married to somebody or to live in an ideal state. “Some of those people were disillusioned and do need to be treated sensitively when they come back. “The ones who stayed out there past the beheadings of 2014, past the battles and so on, one has to be quite sceptical. “That’s not to say they are all evil, human beings are very complicated.” For cases where prosecution is not possible, Mr Anderson said authorities have a number of options including terrorism prevention orders, surveillance and the Prevent anti-extremism programme. Questions over how returning jihadis are managed by the counter-terrorism agencies have intensified as IS comes under fierce military pressure. Last year Mr Anderson’s successor as Independent Reviewer Max Hill QC called for a focus on “reintegration” in cases where authorities have decided individuals who return should not face prosecution. Mr Hill said it was right that security services have left space for those who travelled out of a sense of naivety, at a young age and who return in a “state of utter disillusionment” to be diverted away from the criminal courts. In December Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson argued that everything should be done to “destroy and eliminate” the threat from returning fighters, adding: “A dead terrorist can’t cause any harm to Britain.” Elsewhere in a wide-ranging evidence session, Mr Anderson told the committee he sensed that technology companies are “doing more than they did” to tackle terrorist or extremist content online. But he added: “There are whole areas where they are not doing anything.” (function(i,s,o,g,r,a,m){i['GoogleAnalyticsObject']=r;i[r]=i[r]||function(){ (i[r].q=i[r].q||[]).push(arguments)},i[r].l=1*new Date();a=s.createElement(o), m=s.getElementsByTagName(o)[0];a.async=1;a.src=g;m.parentNode.insertBefore(a,m) })(window,document,'script','//www.google-analytics.com/analytics.js','ga'); ga('create', 'UA-72310761-1', 'auto', {'name': 'pacontentapi'}); ga('pacontentapi.set', 'referrer', location.origin); ga('pacontentapi.set', 'dimension1', 'By Hayden Smith, Press Association Home Affairs Correspondent'); ga('pacontentapi.set', 'dimension2', '9117e69d-2797-4504-83d0-07690031a7d1'); ga('pacontentapi.set', 'dimension3', 'paservice:news,paservice:news:uk'); ga('pacontentapi.set', 'dimension6', 'story'); ga('pacontentapi.set', 'dimension7', 'composite'); ga('pacontentapi.set', 'dimension8', null); ga('pacontentapi.set', 'dimension9', null); ga('pacontentapi.send', 'pageview', { 'location': location.href, 'page': (location.pathname + location.search + location.hash), 'title': 'Ex-watchdog: Returning fighters are u2018potentially very dangerousu2019'});

Politicians join forces in bid to discover if UK can change mind over Brexit

November 30 2017

Green MSPs have united with MEPs from Labour and the SNP in a bid to discover if the UK can legally change its mind on Brexit and stay part of the European Union. The four politicians – Greens Andy Wightman and Ross Greer, together with the SNP’s Alyn Smith and David Martin of Labour – are seeking to find out if the UK can unilaterally revoke the Article 50 letter. That was submitted by Theresa May in March this year, formally marking the start of Britain’s two-year withdrawal process from the EU. But the four politicians are seeking to petition the Court of Session in Edinburgh, urging judges there to refer the matter on to the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg. A crowdfunding appeal has been launched to cover the legal costs, with the group seeking to raise £50,000 by December 29. Within 12 hours of the appeal going live, they had raised almost £10,000. In a letter sent to Brexit Secretary David Davis and Lord Keen QC, the Advocate General for Scotland, the politicians insist that the UK Government’s interpretation of Article 50 is “wrong as a matter of law”. It argues that if Article 50 is “properly interpreted as a matter of EU law and public international law, the Article 50 notification by any member state may in fact unilaterally be withdrawn by the member state at any point within the two year period”. Jo Maugham QC, a leading lawyer involved in the case said the “key thing to recognise is contrary to what Theresa May said the die was not cast on March 29 2017” when the UK’s Article 50 letter was submitted. He told BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland the case was seeking to make clear that the UK does not require the consent of the other 27 European member states to pull out of the Brexit process. Mr Maugham said: “We seek to say that Article 50 can be revoked, the notice can be withdrawn, without needing permission. “That’s a question that only the Court of Justice in Luxembourg can answer and so this group of cross party MSPs and MEPs have got together to bring a case in the court of session to seek to persuade that court to refer this questions to Luxembourg.” He added: “The question of whether it can be unilaterally revoked is not one that has a definitive answer and it won’t have a definitive answer until the Court of Justice, which is the only decision maker, speaks upon that question.” The lawyer also stated the Brexit referendum in June 2016 was only an advisory vote, and the UK Parliament did not need to be bound by the result of the ballot.

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.

Business news

Fife paper bag supplier ‘lovin’ it’ after winning £35m McDonald’s deal

May 31 2017

An historic Fife manufacturing company which produces more than two billion paper bags each year has secured a £35 million contract with McDonald’s. Kirkcaldy based Smith Anderson Group is the fast food giant’s oldest UK-based supplier, having first provided the burger chain with bags in the mid-1970s. The company is now celebrating after agreeing to extend its supply relationship with McDonald’s for another three years following a competitive tender process. The group – which has been operating for 158 years and remains in private hands – produces more than 10 million paper bags ever single day at its purpose built headquarters at Rosslyn Commerce Park, Mitchleston Industrial Estate, Fife. Over half that number – more than five million in total – are bound for McDonald’s, although the company also supplies bags for a number of other well known brands including ASDA, Caffe Nero, Starbucks, Pret a Manger, KFC and Burger King. Chief executive Michael Longstaffe said he was delighted Smith Anderson’s long relationship with McDonald’s was to continue till at least 2020. © SuppliedSmith Anderson group chief executive Michael Longstaffe In addition to the UK, bags produced by Smith Anderson are also supplied into Ireland, the Netherlands and a number of other small European markets. The new contract will extend that reach further, with Fife-manufactured bags also being supplied into McDonald’s operations in Poland and in surrounding central eastern European countries. In addition, McDonald’s Europe has agreed to support a new joint venture that Smith Anderson has sought out with a major packaging supplier. The venture will be based in the south of Poland and staff taken on to man the new facility will be trained up in Kirkcaldy. The group said the expansion of its operations in eastern Europe will add an additional £2m to its annual revenue base. Mr Longstaffe said Smith Anderson was pleased to have reached a successful conclusion to a “complex” negotiation that first started last year. © SuppliedSome of McDonalds bag range supplied by Smith Anderson “This agreement was a great deal more complex than in previous years and McDonald’s are ever more demanding of their top flight supply chain,” Mr Longstaffe said. “Smith Anderson is thrilled to have secured this contract, most especially the European expansion and the benefits these deliver to shareholders and all of our 205 hardworking staff into 2020.” While the McDonald’s contract is positive news, the group said it continued to face challenges. It highlighted legacy costs in relation to its now closed defined benefit pension scheme and the uplift to pay packets from the introduction of the National Living Wage among the issues it was having to deal with. However, Mr Longstaffe said he was confident of the firm’s outlook in the medium term. “The future looks ever brighter for Smith Anderson, who in partnership with Barclays, have bought forward on a number of positive foreign exchange positions, to secure hard fought margin within recently won international contracts as far forward as 2019,” he said. “We are not looking for ‘quick wins’, but longer term secure and sustainable growth, from which we will all benefit.”

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

Fife

St Andrews headstone will finally mark the last resting place of three times Open Champion Jamie Anderson

December 4 2017

He was the 19th century professional golfer from St Andrews who won the Open Championship three times yet died destitute in the Thornton Poorhouse before being buried in an unmarked St Andrews grave. Now award-winning St Andrews-based author and golf historian Roger McStravick has secured permission for a headstone to be placed at Jamie Anderson’s burial site within St Andrews Cathedral. Roger, who wrote about Jamie in his recent book St Andrews In the Footsteps of Old Tom Morris, has been liaising with Historic Scotland for three years to have a stone erected. Having received “very generous” support from local golf clubs, he is now approaching private individuals in a bid to raise £8000 via www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/jamieanderson © Michael AlexanderRoger McStravick in St Andrews Cathedral Born in 1842, and a peer of Old Tom and Young Tommy Morris, Jamie was brought up at Auld Daw’s house at 43 North Street, St Andrews, and was a prominent member of The St Andrews Golf Club and the Rose Golf Club. The father of 11, who won the Open Championship in 1877, 1878 and 1879, had a small headstone made when his son David died aged eight months in 1863. © SuppliedJamie Anderson However, while Jamie, who died in 1905, his wife Janet, his sister Elspeth and father Auld Daw were all buried in the same lair some years later, no other headstone was ever added. It’s a story which Mr McStravick found difficult to write about in his book without feeling a “heartfelt sense of profound loss, sadness and simply frustration at a life stolen from one so gifted.” © SuppliedTom Morris, Allan Robertson and Jamie Anderson pictured on the Old Course at the Swilcan Bridge in the 1850s “He was born with a truly rare talent for golf,” said Roger. “To this day, Jamie still remarkably figures in most golf magazines’ Top 100 Golfers. “Jamie had it all, including fame, money and a solid business in St Andrews. He would go from golf challenger to the dominant Tommy Morris and Davie Strath, to the very top of the golfing world when Tommy died. “Sadly from such great heights, his life would descend to the very lowest depths that would see him arrested in St Andrews for being drunk and incapable, die in the Dysart Combination Poorhouse on the east of the village of Thornton, about 20 miles from St Andrews, and also the final ignominy – buried in an unmarked grave in St Andrews cemetery. © Michael AlexanderAuthor Roger McStravick next to the Old Course “However, most historians and writers to date have told the story of Jamie as a drunkard who lost everything to drink. The truth may be a little less dramatic and a tad all too human.” Roger said the proposed headstone is an absolute replica shape wise, albeit larger, of the one Jamie himself picked for his own son David, who died aged one. The stone will be as close to the Nydie stone that Jamie’s son’s headstone is made of. © SuppliedJamie Anderson from In the Footsteps of Tom Morris The two graves side by side will look in keeping with one another – father and son. “The writing on the headstone is deliberately meant to look as if penned in the early 20th century,” added Roger.. “It is 140 years since Jamie won his first Open and hopefully we will celebrate his remarkable life with this headstone.”

Perth & Kinross

Perth man jailed for killing girlfriend

September 29 2016

A killer who choked his lover to death has been locked up for six years. David Anderson strangled Louise O’Brien then texted her young son pretending she was still alive. Anderson snapped after a row because Louise had wanted to make some food. The 36 year-old was discovered dead on a bed at their flat in Perth with a heart-shaped chocolate beside her. Anderson, who had faced a murder allegation, returned to the High Court in Glasgow after admitting the reduced charge of culpable homicide. Lord Boyd said Anderson was “clearly in love” with Louise and that only he knew “what exactly happened” between the couple that night. The judge added he found it “chilling” Anderson used his dead partner’s phone to message her son after the attack. The couple were together for around a year before the killing. They had fall-outs, but Anderson was described by one person as the “best boyfriend” Louise had met. However, call centre worker Anderson later told a colleague he was going to leave his lover and move to Dundee. Prosecutor Bernard Ablett said the exact date of the killing was not known. Former bar worker Louise was last spotted on April 24 this year before her corpse was discovered four days later. During that time, Anderson called in sick to work claiming he had an upset stomach. He was described as “sounding lost” and not his usual “chirpy self”. Anderson was also spotted appearing “down” and walking alone in Perth city centre. The killer made a series of web searches including: “if you are accused of murder, are you automatically put in prison?” On April 28 Anderson contacted his mother to tell her: “I’ve done something terrible and I’ve been unable to deal with it mentally for days. “I tried to hurt myself because I could not deal with it. “I don’t want to tell you, but it’ll come out anyway. I have broken the law. It is very serious.” Police were alerted and officers went on to discover Louise’s body in a bedroom. Mr Ablett told the court: “A chocolate sweet wrapped in red foil and in the shape of a heart was found on the bed beside the body.” Louise’s mobile phone was later checked and a number of messages to her son were found. The advocate depute said: “It is suspected that Anderson was responsible for sending these texts to give the appearance that Louise was still alive.” The court was told the exact cause of death was “less clear”, but that the mum had injuries consistent with “manual strangulation”. Mr Ablett explained: “The pathologists consider it more likely that there was a firm grip maintained until death. “This could have occurred as soon as 15 seconds after the pressure was applied.” It emerged Louise’s family were “too upset” to complete a victim impact statement for the court. Anderson’s lawyer said the case was a “tragedy” for all concerned. Brian McConnachie, defending, said there had been a row prior the killing after they had returned from separate nights-out. The QC added: “Miss O’Brien wanted to make something to eat…he did not want to and an argument ensued.” The court heard Anderson went into a spare room, she confronted him before the killing occurred. Lord Boyd said the jail-term would have been nine years, but for the guilty plea.

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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