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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…

Prince Harry calls for renewed effort to eradicate landmines

December 19 2017

Prince Harry has called on nations to redouble their efforts to eradicate landmines as a tribute to the maimed children his mother said would not be forgotten. Diana, Princess of Wales famously walked through a cleared landmine in Angola to highlight the problem the military munitions cause and Harry spoke of her efforts in a video message screened at an international conference on the issue. The prince told delegates from across the globe meeting in Vienna that during her visit to Africa 20 years ago, “she witnessed first hand the pain and suffering of those whose lives and limbs had been destroyed by landmines.” Prince Harry: It falls to me and all of us to uphold my mother’s promise on landmines. We can free over 60 million people from the threat of landmines for good. See full video here: https://t.co/hvEt1AP7WT#landminefree2025 #16MSP— The HALO Trust (@TheHALOTrust) December 19, 2017 He added: “As she comforted children waiting patiently for their prosthetic legs, parliaments, non-government organisations and campaigners around the world came together to find a way to stop the killing and maiming for good” Diana never saw her work to help outlaw landmines come to fruition as she died in a Paris car crash in August 1997 before the international treaty to ban the military weapons was signed at the end of that year. Signatories of what is informally known as the Ottawa Treaty meet regularly to discuss issues around the implementation of the ban and Harry’s video was broadcast at their latest gathering being held in Vienna. Nearly 30 countries have been declared mine-free in the past 20 years but more than 60 million people are estimated to still live with the daily fear of unexploded munitions. In 2014 the Ottawa treaty signatories agreed to complete clearance of all anti-personnel landmines by 2025 and Harry is supporting a campaign by leading landmine charities, the Halo Trust and Mines Advisory Group (MAG), to make the commitment a reality. Diana, Princess of Wales, tours a minefield in Angola in January 1997 ( John Stillwell/PA) In his pre-recorded message Harry ended by saying: “My mother also visited Bosnia 20 years ago, where she promised two young boys coming to terms with life-changing injuries that they would never be forgotten. These young boys are now men and it falls to me and all of us to uphold her promise. “So on behalf of them and the children she met in Angola, let us recommit today to the Maputo deadline of 2025. Let us not meet again in another 10 years and hear that a new generation of children face being killed or maimed through innocent play.” The Halo Trust and MAG have jointly published a report – State of Play: The Landmine Free 2025 Commitment – which looks at what needs to change to clear the remaining landmines in four key countries – Angola, Cambodia, Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe – before the deadline. The report stated: “Governments and donors attending the conference in Vienna should leave confident that the 2025 goal is still possible, but that it will not implement itself. “Like all conventions, the Ottawa Treaty needs political will, determination and continued support to succeed. “The completion of clearance in Algeria and Mozambique and Sri Lanka’s recent accession are notable successes and clear examples of commitment to implementation. “A change in course and tempo is needed in the next eight years to make a landmine free 2025 a reality. “In 2016, states gave an additional $85.5 million (£64 million) to mine action and just this year the UK’s Department for International Development announced £100 million for landmine clearance. “But where money is spent matters as much as the scale of assistance.” (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 PA Reporters'); ga('pacontentapi.set', 'dimension2', 'cb55a24b-557e-4d79-aa21-25d773ed2693'); ga('pacontentapi.set', 'dimension3', 'paservice:news,paservice:news:uk'); ga('pacontentapi.set', 'dimension6', 'story-enriched'); 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': 'Prince Harry calls for renewed effort to eradicate landmines'});

UK announces more aid to clear landmines

December 29 2017

The late Diana, Princess of Wales’s campaign to clear landmines received a boost as the International Development Secretary announced extra British aid to tackle the “hidden, indiscriminate killer”. Penny Mordaunt pledged to match money the British public have donated to the Mine Advisory Group’s (MAG) Christmas appeal, in addition to £100 million already announced at an event with Diana’s son Prince Harry earlier this year. The UK will extend its demining work to save lives in war-ravaged areas in Iraq, Lebanon, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. It will also work in Angola, where Diana famously walked through a minefield wearing body armour in 1997, to highlight the problem caused by military munitions. Twenty years after Princess Diana called for action on landmines, Britain is at the forefront in saving lives in Angola and letting children live without fearhttps://t.co/tvhj3qV7vD pic.twitter.com/iEifBdnlgz— DFID (@DFID_UK) December 29, 2017 Ms Mordaunt said: “Landmines have left a shameful legacy of suffering across the world, and the British public can be proud of their contribution to eradicating this hidden, indiscriminate killer. “These barbaric weapons of war kill innocent people years after a conflict has ended, and have left so many devastated families mourning the loss of loved ones. The thousands that do survive have been left maimed and seriously disabled forever, unable to work, unable to feed their families and suffering from a lifetime of debilitating pain. “Twenty years after Princess Diana’s call for action resonated in every corner of the world, Britain is at the forefront in saving thousands of lives and ensuring that future generations will now have the chance to live without fear of being killed by a weapon from the past.” Diana never saw her work to help outlaw landmines come to fruition as she died in a Paris car crash in August 1997 before the international treaty to ban the military weapons was signed at the end of that year. Nearly 30 countries have been declared mine-free in the past 20 years but more than 60 million people are estimated to still live with the daily fear of unexploded munitions. In 2014 the Ottawa treaty signatories agreed to complete clearance of all anti-personnel landmines by 2025. MAG’s Walk Without Fear appeal on BBC Radio 4 was the station’s most successful ever drive for donations. It raised more than £200,000 from the British public, which will be doubled by UK aid to more than £400,000. This will clear 120,000 square metres of land from landmines and adds to the £100 million commitment over three years made by the Department for International Development in April, which will clear 15 million square metres. (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 PA Reporters'); ga('pacontentapi.set', 'dimension2', '0d30d831-d873-4833-828c-f31dd7925b60'); ga('pacontentapi.set', 'dimension3', 'paservice:news,paservice:news:uk,paservice:news:world'); ga('pacontentapi.set', 'dimension6', 'story-enriched'); 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': 'UK announces more aid to clear landmines'});

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

£3m of aid allocated to save extra 50,000 people from landmines

April 4 2018

Britain is set to help save an extra 50,000 vulnerable people around the world from the threat of landmines.International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt said more children than ever are dying as a result of the “cruel, indiscriminate killers”.UK aid will help save the lives of 50,000 more people in South Sudan, Somalia, Zimbabwe, Burma and Cambodia by clearing mines from more than five million square metres of land – the equivalent of more than 19,000 tennis courts.The £3 million of aid will also pay for an education programme for vulnerable communities about the dangers of landmines.According to the latest figures, 2016 saw more child casualties than ever before and the highest number of total fatalities on record for more than 15 years.More than 8,600 people were injured and more than 2,000 people killed during the year by landmines and other explosive devices left behind by conflict.The announcement has been timed to mark International Mine Awareness Day on Wednesday.“It is unforgivable that more innocent children than ever are being maimed or killed by landmines which have been left behind by decades of devastating wars,” Ms Mordaunt said.“Today we are extending UK aid support to help save an extra 50,000 people in future years by educating them about the dangers of mines and also by decontaminating land littered with the devices.“This will allow the poorest people to grow crops and their children to walk to school in areas which were once off limits.“Landmines are deadly devices, that have no place in today’s world. No one should be forced to live in fear of losing a limb, their life or a child to these cruel, indiscriminate killers.”UK aid has cleared mines from 140 million square metres of contaminated land across the world, including in Syria, Yemen, Iraq, Afghanistan and Sri Lanka.In an event with Prince Harry last year the Department for International Development made a £100 million commitment to make 15 million square metres of land safe again over a three year period.This announcement, of £3 million of UK aid to South Sudan, Somalia, Zimbabwe, Burma and Cambodia for a three-month period, is a new allocation from this support.It will be delivered by the Halo Trust, MAG and Norwegian People’s Aid.

UK & World

This student took his Tinder profile to the next level by turning it into a PowerPoint presentation

February 21 2018

Standing out from the crowd on Tinder can be tough, but with the help of Microsoft PowerPoint a British student has managed just that – and gone viral in the process.Sam Dixey, a 21-year-old studying at Leeds University, made a six-part slideshow entitled “Why you should swipe right” – using pictures and bullet points to shrewdly persuade potential dates to match with him on the dating app. The slideshow includes discussion of his social life and likes, such as “petting doggos” and “laser tag”, and “other notable qualities and skills” – such as being “not the worst at sex” and “generous when drunk”.It even has reviews mocked up from sources such as “Donald Trump”, “Leonardo Di Capri Sun” and “The Times Guide to Pancakes 2011”.Sam told the Press Association the six-slide presentation only took about 20 minutes to make and “started off as a joke”.However, since being posted to Twitter by fellow Tinder user Gracie Barrow, Sam’s slideshow has been shared tens of thousands of times across social media.So, it’s got the seal of approval form Gracie, but how has the slideshow fared on Tinder? “I’d have to say it has been pretty successful,” Sam said. “Definitely a clear correlation of matches and dates beforehand to afterwards.“Most of the responses tend to revolve around people saying ‘I couldn’t help swipe right 10/10’ but I’ve had some people go the extra mile and message me on Facebook.“Plus some people have recognised me outside, in the library and on dates.”A resounding success.

Motoring news

Join the queue for littlest Audi Q

November 9 2016

Audi’s relentless release of new models continues with the launch of its smallest SUV. The Q2 goes on sale in the UK next week with prices starting at £22,380. There’s an extensive selection of petrol and diesel power trains as well as the option of front or Quattro four-wheel drive. More models will be added to the range later on, including powerful SQ2 and RSQ2 versions. Aimed squarely at a younger audience, the Q2 has bolder, sharper lines and a different shape to Audi’s bigger SUVs, the Q3, Q5 and Q7. Although it’s clearly meant more for buzzing around cities than growling across farmland, cladding and skid plates lend it an aura of ruggedness. Audi is also offering a range of vibrant colours to deepen the Q2’s appeal to youthful buyers. The interior is as plush as you’d expect from Audi, justifying its price hike over similarly sized SUVs like the Nissan Juke and Honda HR-V. The materials are high quality – softtouch plastics, leather on higher spec cars and brushed aluminium trim elements all blended into a smart-looking package. As standard, drivers get a seven-inch infotainment screen on top of the dashboard. It’s operated through Audi’s rotary dial system that’s far more intuitive and easier to use when on the move than rivals’ touchscreen systems. Among the many options is Audi’s excellent Virtual Cockpit – a 12.3in screen that replaces the manual instruments behind the steering wheel. Overall, the Q2 is 4.7in shorter than the A3 hatchback, but Audi says there’s enough leg and headroom for two adult passengers in the back. Boot space comes in at 405 litres – 50 more than you’ll find in the A3 hatchback and rival Nissan Juke, although it trails the Mini Countryman by the same amount. To begin with, the only diesel option is a 1.6 litre with 114bhp, although a more powerful 184bhp 2.0 litre unit will be added to the range soon. Similarly, the petrol engine range is limited for now but will be expanded by the end of the year. The 1.4 litre, 148bhp unit offered now will be joined by 1.0 litre, 114bhp three cylinder turbo and 2.0 litre, 187bhp options – the latter coming with an S-Tronic automatic gearbox. When it arrives the 1.0 litre petrol version will be the cheapest model in the range with a price tag of £20,230. Courier Motoring has yet to get its hands on the car but early reviews have been very positive and Audi looks to have yet another winner on its hands. jmckeown@thecourier.co.uk

UK & World

Which broadband, landline, mobile and pay TV firms receive most complaints?

April 18 2018

TalkTalk is the most complained about home broadband and landline provider, while BT and Vodafone drew the most complaints for their mobile services, figures show.BT is also the most complained about pay TV provider, according to the latest quarterly league tables of complaints made to Ofcom from October to December.Faults and other problems with TalkTalk’s broadband and landline services led its customers to send it to the top of both complaints tables.TalkTalk drew 31 complaints per 100,000 customers, followed by BT and Plusnet on 27 – all well above the industry average of 18.TalkTalk also attracted 23 complaints per 100,000 customers for its landline service, again well above the industry average of 13.In a poor quarter for BT, problems with its complaints handling, billing and charges for both its mobile and pay TV services saw it top the league tables for both – tying with Vodafone for complaints about mobile services with 11 complaints per 100,000 customers for mobile compared with an industry average of five.BT’s pay TV offer drew 18 complaints per 100,000 customers, above the industry average of five and best performer Sky’s two.Broadband and landline services continued to generate the most complaints, but the overall volume remained broadly in line with the previous quarter, the regulator said.Jane Rumble, Ofcom’s director of consumer policy, said: “These figures give people the information they need to shop around and compare providers’ performance.“The scorecards also motivate companies to improve their performance, and we want to see them follow through on their promises to give customers better service.”A TalkTalk spokesman said: “We always strive to provide the best possible experience and are disappointed by these results.“Ofcom’s historical data reflects a short period last year which coincided with the closure of our contact centre in India.“The move was part of a major investment to improve our services but caused some temporary disruption for customers.”A BT spokesman said: “We’re really disappointed that complaints have increased this quarter.“We know we can do better, which is why we’re investing heavily to improve our customer service.”The best and worst providers by service, according to number of complaints per 100,000 customers, are:Broadband:TalkTalk (31)Sky (7)Landline:TalkTalk (23)Sky (6)Mobile:BT (11)Tesco (1)Pay TV:BT (18)Sky (2)

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.

Perth & Kinross

Culinary dimension added to Perth Show

July 28 2016

For more than 150 years Perth Show has been a popular, once a year meeting point for the people of the city and the farming community. The show – now the third largest of its type in Scotland – remains as always a showcase for champion livestock but this year holds a much wider appeal for visitors. To be held on Friday and Saturday August 5 and 6 on the South Inch, throughout the two days, trade stands, sideshows, entertainment, activities, music and parades all add to the vibrancy of the show along with a new culinary direction. “For the first time, Perth Show is set to feature a cookery theatre and food and drink marquee,” said show secretary Neil Forbes. “This will bring a new and popular dimension to the visitor attraction. “Perth Show 2016 is also delighted to welcome Perthshire On A Plate (POAP) – a major food festival, celebrating the very best in local produce and culinary talent. “Organised by Perthshire Chamber of Commerce, the two-day festival will run as part of the show and feature celebrity and local chefs, demonstrations and tastings, book signings, food and drink related trade stands, fun-filled activities for ‘kitchen kids’ and a large dining area and pop-up restaurants in a double celebration of food and farming.” Heading the celebrity chef line-up are television favourite Rosemary Shrager (Friday) and spice king Tony Singh (Saturday), backed by a host of talented local chefs including Graeme Pallister (63 Tay Street) and Grant MacNicol (Fonab Castle). The cookery theatre, supported by Quality Meat Scotland, will also stage a fun cookery challenge between students from Perth College and the ladies of the SWI. A range of pop-up restaurants featuring taster dishes from some of the area’s best known eating places will allow visitors to sample local produce as they relax in the show’s new POAP dining area. “We’re trying to create a wide and varied programme of entertainment,” said Mr Forbes. “Late afternoon on Friday will see the It’s A Knockout  challenge with teams from businesses throughout Perth and Perthshire competing against each other. “And the first day’s programme will end with a beer, wine and spirit festival where teams can celebrate their achievements and visitors can sample a wide range of locally produced drinks.” This year will also see the reintroduction of showjumping at Perth Show on the Saturday afternoon.