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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

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.

Cross-party group loses bid to secure legal ruling on Brexit

February 6 2018

A cross-party group of parliamentarians has lost an early-stage bid to secure a European court ruling on Brexit.Seven politicians from four parties, not including the Conservatives, believe the UK Parliament could unilaterally halt the Brexit process if the final deal is deemed unacceptable by the Commons.They claim this offers a third option instead of Britain having to choose between a bad deal on the UK’s future relationship with Europe or crashing out of the EU with no deal.The group is ultimately seeking a definitive ruling from the European Court of Justice (CJEU) on whether the withdrawal process triggered under Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union can be revoked by the UK on its own, without first securing the consent of the other 27 EU member states.Their legal team went to the Court of Session in Edinburgh last week to ask a judge to refer the question to the Luxembourg court.On Tuesday, judge Lord Doherty refused to move the case to a full hearing at Scotland’s highest civil court, saying the issue is “hypothetical and academic”, and that he is “not satisfied the application has a real prospect of success”.The politicians have a right to appeal against the decision to the Inner House of the Court of Session.The seven elected representatives who launched the case are Green MSPs Andy Wightman and Ross Greer, MEP Alyn Smith and Joanna Cherry QC MP of the SNP, Labour MEPs David Martin and Catherine Stihler and Liberal Democrat MP Christine Jardine. None were present in court as the judge issued his decision.Aidan O’Neill QC, representing the politicians, previously asked for the case to proceed through the Scottish court, arguing there was a genuine dispute between the two sides as to the proper interpretation of Article 50 which the court required to resolve.David Johnston QC, for the UK Government, insisted the application has no real prospect of success and that there was “no live issue” for the court to address.The policy of the UK Government is that the notification under Article 50 will not be withdrawn, he said.Finding in favour of the Government, Lord Doherty said: “I am mindful that demonstrating a real prospect of success is a low hurdle for an applicant to overcome.“However, I am satisfied that that hurdle has not been surmounted. Indeed, in my opinion, the application’s prospect of success falls very far short of being a real prospect.“In my view, the Government’s stated policy is very clear. It is that the notification under Article 50(2) will not be withdrawn.”He went on: “Given that neither Parliament nor the Government has any wish to withdraw the notification, the central issue which the petitioners ask the court to decide – whether the UK could unilaterally withdraw the Article 50(2) notification – is hypothetical and academic.“In those circumstances it is not a matter which this court, or the CJEU, require to adjudicate upon.”The judge concluded: “I am not satisfied that the application has a real prospect of success … Permission to proceed is refused.”The legal action was launched following a crowdfunding campaign and is backed by the Good Law Project.Project director Jo Maugham QC tweeted after the hearing: “It’s plainly in the national interest that MPs, MEPs and MSPs, who face a choice whether to approve Theresa May’s deal, know what options are open to them if they don’t.“I will support an appeal against this decision – to the Supreme Court if necessary.”

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

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.

Fife

Daughter of country legend Johnny Cash to judge Fife art competition

May 24 2016

Johnny Cash’s daughter is to choose her favourite portrait of her late father from a collection drawn by Fifers, with the help of a world-famous artist. Rosanne Cash, herself an award-winning singer songwriter, is to judge an art competition celebrating the musician’s links to the Falkland area. Sculptor David Mach, who is from Fife, is to select the top six pieces to be sent to her. People have been invited to enter their drawings of the legendary country singer for the inaugural annual art competition of Go Glenrothes. The new organisation has been set up to promote Glenrothes and the surrounding area with the aim of creating a vibrant town. Cash traced his roots to Strathmiglo and nearby Falkland, where there are farms and streets named after the clan. Both he and Rosanne have visited the area and Rosanne wrote the song Good Intent, named after the ship that carried the first Cash across the Atlantic in the 17th Century. Rosanne also played at the 2010 Big Tent Festival at Falkland Estate. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I4coa1ymYbo Go Glenrothes chair Leslie Bain said: “We are delighted that due to some early publicity we caught the attention of Johnny Cash’s daughter Rosanne who has been in touch to give this project her backing and has agreed to judge the top entries which will be sent to her electronically. “We are also delighted to have attracted interest from internationally-renowned artist David Mach.” The competition will be held in Lyon Square, in the Kingdom Shopping Centre, on Friday and Saturday, with Mach to attend on Saturday. It is intended to be one of a series of new events for the area, ahead of Glenrothes’ 70th anniversary in 2018.

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.

Rugby

Depleted Scotland shuffle the deck without Dunbar

March 13 2015

Vern Cotter is swiftly becoming acquainted with the sheer magnitude of his task in knocking Scotland into some sort of competitive shape as he lost his second key figure of this star-crossed RBS 6 Nations campaign. Alex Dunbar may not be as visible as Richie Gray but he’s every bit as crucial to Scotland’s game plan, and the best that can be said now that the centre is out for the season after a simple accident in light training yesterday morning is that at least we’re more than accustomed to heading to Twickenham with zero expectations. There is a quality replacement for Dunbar in Matt Scott, but the Edinburgh centre’s taken something of a step back this year after a prolonged spell out after shoulder surgery. His missed tackle on Jonathan Davies when on as a replacement in the Wales match was crucial in the Lions centre’s key try in that game, and although Scott did show something of his best form for his club at the weekend with two tries, that was against Treviso’s seconds. Cotter was already shuffling partly through necessity. Jim Hamilton, thought by many to be on the cusp of being omitted altogether and he probably would have been had Grant Gilchrist and Gray been fit gets a recall for his extra oomph, experience and knowledge of the English forwards. David Denton also brings greater ball-carrying presence to No 8, although one suspects Cotter would really prefer Adam Ashe, who is only on the bench after passing a fitness test yesterday morning. Ross Ford passed a morning fitness test as well, indicating the patched-up nature of the pack, but the changes in the backs Finn Russell returning after suspension and Dougie Fife instead of Tim Visser for another casualty, Sean Lamont were straightforward. They have gone for a 6-2 forwards-backs arrangement among the replacements meaning that three injuries there will probably result in Johnnie Beattie relegated to the bench - lining up in the centre. Don’t laugh, worst-case scenarios have to be taken seriously with Scotland right now. “Johnnie could be marking Billy Twelvetrees or Billy Vunipola,” admitted Cotter. “We want to have some physical intensity and some experience at the end of the match “Johnnie and Adam Ashe, who has come back and has aggressive defence and is good on the ball, are there to put pressure on England. We want to stay close and finish this game strongly.” However, the magnitude of the task requires no further illustration. “England are a big physical team and they play a very percentage-orientated game, based on occupation, field position and a strong pack,” said Cotter. ‘They also have very good finishers in their team, strong runners, line breakers. So they are a team based around their power, their line-out and their scrum. We’ve been looking at trying to compete and put them under pressure in what they consider to be their strong points. “If we can contest there and keep the game as tight as possible for as long as possible, you never know.” Reports of Cotter being “brutal” at reviews of the Italy match were overstated, he said. “Those things are always a little exaggerated,” he said. “We were just very clear on what we want to see and what we expect. We need to learn from certain things, that was the theme behind this week’s training. “But we were two minutes away from lauding the character of a young team for getting out of a tough situation. In some ways it has been a bit of a blessing because we can really look in depth at things that may have been ignored. “We have had a good look at ourselves. The coaches, the players, everybody.” The occasion, and a reaction from two weeks ago, should provide the necessary motivation, he continued. “There is the Calcutta Cup and the result two weeks ago, and there has been more of an edge to training,” he said. “It is always nice to have an objective. We are two days away from playing for something that we could bring home. “It has been a few years (since Scotland won at Twickenham). No one is giving us much of a chance. “I can understand that, but we will be measuring our improvements from two weeks ago and those things will help us develop our game and become more competitive.” Denton will make his first start for Scotland since the Cardiff rout at the end of last year’s 6 Nations due to a mixture of concussion, hamstring and calf injuries. Fife again gets the call for an away match he’s yet to be capped at Murrayfield but it’s due reward for “energy and enthusiasm” as well as his superior play under the high ball. Sean Maitland did rejoin the squad this week but was ruled out of contention earlier in the week. Team: Stuart Hogg (Glasgow Warriors); Dougie Fife (Edinburgh Rugby), Mark Bennett (Glasgow Warriors), Matt Scott (Edinburgh Rugby), Tommy Seymour (Glasgow Warriors); Finn Russell (Glasgow Warriors), Greig Laidlaw (Gloucester, capt); AQlasdair Dickinson, Ross Ford (both Edinburgh Rugby), Euan Murray (Glasgow Warriors); Jim Hamilton (Saracens), Jonny Gray (Glasgow Warriors); Rob Harley (Glasgow Warriors), Blair Cowan (London Irish), David Denton (Edinburgh Rugby). Replacements: Fraser Brown, Ryan Grant (both Glasgow Warriors), Geoff Cross (London Irish), Tim Swinson, Adam Ashe (both Glasgow Warriors), Johnnie Beattie (Castres Olympique), Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, Greig Tonks (both Edinburgh Rugby).

Angus & The Mearns

Man sacked for attending gin festival while off sick with stress

January 9 2018

A Dundee man was sacked while on sick leave following the murder of one of his friends and the disappearance of a close friend's son when his bosses found out he had gone to a gin festival. Stan Reid was off work due to stress associated with the hunt for teenager Ralph Smith, who had fallen from cliffs near Arbroath, and the subsequent killings of Julie McCash and David Sorrie following a vigil at the teenager's family home in Whitfield. However, bosses at the city's Michelin factory learned he had attended a gin festival  and fired him for gross misconduct. An employment tribunal in Dundee yesterday heard the company was alerted to a Facebook post, in which Mr Reid was tagged, that suggested he was at the event in Glasgow. A comment from him, stating "I'm not there", was followed by a comment from his girlfriend which said "shhh...." The factory's production manager and joint disciplinary committee (JDC) chairman David Ashforth said the messages suggested Mr Reid was not as sick as his employers had been led to believe. He said: "For me and the panel, we felt that if he could go to a gin festival then he could go to his work. "I understand the circumstances around this were difficult but why was going to a gin festival a good idea?" The tribunal, heard by Peter Wallington QC, was told Mr Reid had been certified as sick due to stress as a result of the disappearance and murders. Mr Reid was a major part of the search effort for 18-year-old Ralph Smith— who he had known since his birth — in circumstances described by his solicitor Ryan Russell as "incredibly distressful." The tragedy was compounded when Ms McCash and Mr Sorrie were murdered. One month later, Ralph's death was confirmed after his body washed up on the town's Victoria Park. A second witness, Michelin's development manager Stuart Duncan, said he did not believe Mr Reid was sick but did not question the authenticity of his certification. Mr Russell questioned this rationale and  criticised Mr Duncan's failure to follow company procedure when he dismissed Mr Reid. Mr Duncan said he had already made the decision to dismiss him following the JDC, despite Mr Reid being told he would be given the opportunity to argue his case. Mr Russel said: "I would put it to you that this is shocking. "It's a complete and utter disregard for all proper process. You just dismissed Mr Reid before he had even uttered a word. He was not given a fair crack of the whip." Mr Duncan responded that his understanding was that the meeting was simply to "deliver my decision". The tribunal continues today.

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