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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…


Penninton says Yes campaign’s NHS claims are ‘doubly wrong’

September 9 2014

Claims Scotland’s NHS would be in danger if independence is rejected next week have been slammed as “doubly wrong” by a leading academic. Professor Hugh Pennington hit out at Yes campaign rhetoric as Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon joined forces with Welsh Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood to claim leaving the UK would “protect Scotland’s NHS from Tory cuts”. Professor Pennington said the 2014 Treasury Red Book shows an English NHS budget of £105.5 billion for 2013/14 and £110.4 billion for 2015/16. He added: “‘NHS for Yes’ says that ‘the more Westminster politicians cut NHS spending the lower the Scottish Government’s NHS budget becomes’. “This is doubly wrong; the budget is not being cut, and the Scottish Government sets its own budget for health. “The sum of money that comes to Scotland via the Barnett formula is not ring-fenced; the Scottish government can spend it as it wishes.” Ms Sturgeon and Ms Wood pointed to an estimated 3.6% in real terms cut to health spending in Wales, which Labour First Minister Carwyn Jones and his health minister Mark Drakeford have blamed on Westminster cuts. A letter signed by 66 current and former health and support professionals, which warns against the threat of privatisation of the NHS in England, was also published in a newspaper. Ms Sturgeon said: “As these experts point out, warnings across the UK about the threat to the NHS could not be stronger and Scotland is not immune from this threat.” Ms Wood added: “My message today is simple a Yes vote is the opportunity of a lifetime for the people of Scotland to start building a fairer and more prosperous society.”

UK & World

Tributes flood in for Linkin Park front man Chester Bennington

July 21 2017

The internet has been flooded with tributes to Linkin Park front man, Chester Bennington. Band mates, fellow musicians and fans have expressed their heartbreak after the singer was found dead aged just 41 at his Los Angeles home yesterday. The vocalist was at the forefront of Linkin Park since the late 1990s. He is credited with having one of the most distinct voices of the 2000s. Fellow band member, Mike Shinoda, said he was “shocked and heartbroken” as he took to Twitter to confirm the death of his friend. He said: “It’s true. An official statement will come out as soon as we have one.” Shocked and heartbroken, but it's true. An official statement will come out as soon as we have one. — Mike Shinoda (@mikeshinoda) July 20, 2017 The band’s bassist, Dave Farrell, tweeted just one word: “heartbroken”. Heartbroken — Dave Phoenix Farrell (@phoenixlp) July 20, 2017 Bennington is said to have taken his own life at his home in Palos Verdes Estates. It comes only months after the death of one of his closest friends, fellow musician Chris Cornell. VIDEO: Touching footage shows what is believed to be Chester Bennington’s final Linkin Park performance Bennington even sang Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah at the Audioslave man’s funeral. Cornell’s daughter, Lily, paid tribute to Bennington on Instagram. She said: “I love you so much. Thank you for always being there for me and my family, thank you for being the kindest human being imaginable, and thank you for your legendary voice. There is a gaping hole in the world without you.” i love you so much. thank you for always being there for me and my family, thank you for being the kindest human being imaginable, and thank you for your legendary voice. there is a gaping hole in the world without you. A post shared by Lily Silver (@lilycornellsilver) on Jul 20, 2017 at 7:27pm PDT Linkin Park themselves are yet to issue a statement on the vocalist’s death, however they posted a spine-tingling image of Bennington singing to a crowd of thousands of adoring fans. The photograph has been shared more than 55,000 times and liked by almost one million people. (function(d, s, id) { var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0]; if (d.getElementById(id)) return; js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id; js.src = 'https://connect.facebook.net/en_GB/sdk.js#xfbml=1&version=v2.12'; fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);}(document, 'script', 'facebook-jssdk')); Posted by Linkin Park on Thursday, 20 July 2017 Bennington played his last show with Linkin Park in the UK at Birmingham’s Barclaycard Arena on July 6. Brian May of Queen, Travis Barker of Blink 182, Hayley Williams from Paramore, System of a Down and director Joss Whedon are also among those who have paid tribute online. (function(d, s, id) { var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0]; if (d.getElementById(id)) return; js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id; js.src = 'https://connect.facebook.net/en_GB/sdk.js#xfbml=1&version=v2.12'; fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);}(document, 'script', 'facebook-jssdk')); So shocked and saddened by the news of Chester Bennington's passing. I remember the first time I met Chester. I was in a… Posted by System of a Down on Thursday, 20 July 2017 (function(d, s, id) { var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0]; if (d.getElementById(id)) return; js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id; js.src = 'https://connect.facebook.net/en_GB/sdk.js#xfbml=1&version=v2.12'; fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);}(document, 'script', 'facebook-jssdk')); I will miss Chester Bennington… we worked together at different times the last few years… I will miss his humour (as evident in this pic) and his amazing vocal talents. RIP- Billy Posted by Billy Idol on Thursday, 20 July 2017 (function(d, s, id) { var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0]; if (d.getElementById(id)) return; js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id; js.src = 'https://connect.facebook.net/en_GB/sdk.js#xfbml=1&version=v2.12'; fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);}(document, 'script', 'facebook-jssdk')); Rest in Peace, Chester Bennington. Since it's Friday, here's a flashback to Disturbed & Chester covering "Walk" at Ozzfest 2001. Posted by Pantera on Friday, 21 July 2017 💔 Absolutely heartbroken. I'll cherish every time we hung out or rocked a stage together my friend. Condolences and prayers to friends, family and Linkin Park. So sad 🙏🏻 #RIPCHESTER A post shared by travisbarker (@travisbarker) on Jul 20, 2017 at 4:24pm PDT (function(d, s, id) { var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0]; if (d.getElementById(id)) return; js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id; js.src = 'https://connect.facebook.net/en_GB/sdk.js#xfbml=1&version=v2.12'; fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);}(document, 'script', 'facebook-jssdk')); So sad about Chester. I had the privilege of recording with him. A really cool person RIP brother! Posted by Vince Neil on Thursday, 20 July 2017 I am in tears.Chester just told me how happy he was…..He was such a sweet and talented man……Ifeel so sad for his family,band mates and fans — Nikki Sixx (@NikkiSixx) July 20, 2017 Chester was one of the kindest men I've had on my show. My heart breaks for his family and friends. He will be missed terribly. — Jimmy Kimmel (@jimmykimmel) July 20, 2017 artists are ppl compelled to bring beauty into a world that can be so dark. makes sense then that artists are always conscious of darkness.. — hayley from Paramore (@yelyahwilliams) July 20, 2017 Today we mourn a lost friend. Rest in peace, Chester #Bennington:https://t.co/vYDEocvVzY #RIPChesterBennington pic.twitter.com/1ZmHmLoasL — FC Bayern English (@FCBayernEN) July 21, 2017 "A Thousand Suns" got me through a horribly dark time. I'm indebted. Thank you and RIP Chester Bennington, wish you were here — Joss (@joss) July 20, 2017 RIP Good Man and True – Chester Bennington. Bri https://t.co/1S2RsSAtQ1 — Dr. Brian May (@DrBrianMay) July 21, 2017


Extent of curry meat scandal revealed

March 11 2013

Indian takeaways and restaurants including four in Fife are routinely substituting cheaper beef for advertised lamb in their curries, it has been reported. Professor Hugh Pennington was speaking after a report, published in a Sunday newspaper, said low quality beef was passed off as lamb in one in three curries tested by the Food Standards Agency. Among those secretly tested were five Fife Indian restaurants and four of the unnamed establishments failed tests carried out. Professor Pennington said he had been aware of the issue for years, adding it was potentially a bigger scandal than the use of horsemeat. The Scottish Food Enforcement Liaison Committee, which is part of the FSA, carried out 129 tests in Indian restaurants and takeaways north of the border. It said cheap beef was passed off as lamb in 46 of those samples. In 33 of those, there was no lamb in the dishes, while the remaining 13 used some lamb and cheap cuts of beef. The report, which was completed at the end of last year, did not identify the premises which had been surveyed. It said: “The results from the survey confirm that a significant proportion of lamb-based curries offered for sale in Indian, and similar style, restaurants and takeaways were falsely described as they contained either no lamb, or a mixture of lamb and other meat.”

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


Fourth Fife patient diagnosed with new strain of C diff

June 13 2013

A new strain of clostridium difficile that was linked to the deaths of three hospital patients in Fife has given rise to a fourth case. NHS Fife have confirmed that a fourth C diff sample has tested positive for the new 332 ribotype. The sample relates to a patient who was treated for C diff infection in April. The patient has recovered fully and has since been discharged home. No other cases of C diff infection with the ribotype 332 have been identified. Dr Gordon Birnie, medical director for the operational division, said: “A routine laboratory look-back exercise has been undertaken in Fife following identification of the new sub-strain, which has involved the testing of all C difficile samples not already ribotyped. “Results from this testing show that only one further sample tested positive for the 332 ribotype, bringing the total number of cases in Fife to four. “This new strain does not change the existing level of risk to the public from C difficile infection and there are no additional precautions or areas of concern.” Last month NHS Fife defended its decision not to go public about a new strain of clostridium difficile linked to the deaths of three hospital patients. The health board said it stalled on confirming rumours that Fife hospitals were at the centre of an outbreak because relatives had to be prepared for the media interest that would follow. The board’s reluctance to release information, or identify the hospitals where the cases occurred, was questioned by Professor Hugh Pennington. He warned that lack of transparency could damage public confidence. News of the new strain of C diff only emerged last month after Health Protection Scotland reported there had been two linked deaths at a Scottish hospital in December and January, and a third death at another hospital within the same NHS board last month. It was the first time the strain, called ribotype 332, had been reported anywhere in the world. NHS Fife later confirmed it was the board in question but did not identify which hospitals had been involved. It refuses to do so on grounds of patient confidentiality.

UK & World

VIDEO: Touching footage shows what is believed to be Chester Bennington’s final Linkin Park performance

July 20 2017

Linkin Park front man Chester Bennington played his last show with the rock band in the UK earlier this month. This footage shows the lead vocalist getting up close with fans at Birmingham’s Barclaycard Arena on July 6, in what is believed to be one of his last live shows. Bennington was found dead at 9am local time in Los Angeles. The footage from Youtube user Кирилл Москалёв shows the band playing an intimate version of classic track, Crawling. Tributes have been flooding in for the singer, who was with Linkin Park since the late 1990s. (function(d, s, id) { var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0]; if (d.getElementById(id)) return; js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id; js.src = 'https://connect.facebook.net/en_GB/sdk.js#xfbml=1&version=v2.12'; fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);}(document, 'script', 'facebook-jssdk')); Thank you Birmingham 🇬🇧 Posted by Linkin Park on Thursday, 6 July 2017 The band were due to embark on a tour of the US and Canada later this month. Linkin Park lead singer dies aged just 41

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


Professor Hugh Pennington says Ninewells Hospital report shows need for hygiene ‘hit teams’

June 15 2011

A world-leading infection control expert has demanded tough sanctions for dirty hospitals following the latest damning report into Ninewells Hospital in Dundee. Microbiologist Professor Hugh Pennington insisted health secretary Nicola Sturgeon must set up “hit teams” to ensure critical inspections are followed up. His comments came after Tayside health bosses were told to clean up their act after two “very concerning” reports in six months criticised areas of hygiene at the hospital. “Whilst I welcome the fact that we now finally have a mandatory independent inspection regime in place, this report raises the question about the utility of a system that inspects but has no sanctions available to the regulator to ensure the rectification of problems,” said Professor Pennington. NHS Tayside has said it will roll out unannounced visits to cover all wards and departments at Ninewells and will publish those details on its website. Ms Sturgeon said she was “disappointed” at the follow-up report and has sought assurances from the board that it will ensure improvements as a matter of the “highest priority.” But Professor Pennington said this was not enough. “I think we need more than just expressions of regret from the minister,” he said. “There is now a strong case for some kind of ‘hit team’ to ensure that inspections are properly followed up and standards are complied with rather than leaving health boards to their own devices. “This latest report has demonstrated that the system hasn’t worked nearly as well as it should have in Ninewells’ case at least.” He said expensive inspections are only worthwhile if they improve standards.’Playing catch-up'”They can be very expensive but if the system is not in place to ensure recommendations are fully acted upon it’s not just money which will be wasted but possibly even lives,” he said. “We need to get back to the situation where Scotland is again a world leader in infection prevention and control, not playing catch-up.” Labour health spokeswoman Jackie Baillie urged Ms Sturgeon to follow Professor Pennington’s advice. “Both these reports came after a number of patients died at Ninewells after contracting clostridium difficile yet there are still clearly major failings at the hospital,” she said. “The Scottish Government needs to seriously consider the idea of following up inspections with support to ensure recommendations are properly enforced rather than simply waiting for the next inspectors’ visit. “If a firm is failing, administrators are appointed to work with management to sort things out, so why can’t we appoint experts to make sure our hospitals are clean and safe?” A spokesman for the Scottish Government insisted the “immediate priority” was for NHS Tayside to implement its improvement plan in response to the Healthcare Environment Inspectorate’s report. “The HEI will undertake further unannounced inspections, similar to the recent follow-up visit, to ensure that any identified improvements are followed through,” he said. “The health secretary met the board chairman last week and sought assurances that the highest priority will be given to ensuring the required improvements are put in place as a matter of urgency,” he added.


‘Academics Together’ warn scientific research under threat from independence

November 4 2013

Scottish independence could jeopardise scientific breakthroughs and curtail the careers of young scientists, according to a bacteriologist who is spearheading a group of academics who will campaign to keep the UK together. Academics Together, a new arm of the pro-UK Better Together campaign, launches today at a cardiovascular research centre in Glasgow that receives nearly a quarter of the British Heart Foundation’s (BHF) entire UK budget. Emeritus professor of bacteriology at Aberdeen University, Professor Hugh Pennington, will give a speech hailing the UK’s “large, highly integrated, internationally renowned UK research base”. Better Together chief Alistair Darling will point out the “disproportionately high share of UK research funding” Scottish facilities receive for a country with less than a tenth of the UK’s population. Ahead of the launch, at the BHF Cardiovascular Research Centre at Glasgow University, Mr Pennington said: “I would hate to see our world-leading reputation for innovation and discovery put at risk. I would hate to see the next big breakthrough jeopardised or see the chances of a young researcher curtailed. “The absence of barriers allows not just funding and people, but ideas and innovation, to flow freely across borders. “I don’t want to put the success of Scotland’s world-leading research at risk. I believe that the best way to build on that success is to continue working together as part of the UK.”