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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...

Other sports

22 positive results in re-tests of London Olympics samples

May 27 2016

International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach has vowed to keep the dopers away from Rio after positive tests were returned on 23 athletes who competed at London 2012. The reanalysis of 265 selected doping samples follows work with the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and respective international federations since August 2015. It was mainly focused on athletes who could potentially participate in Rio and seems certain to lead to bans from this summer's Olympics. "These reanalyses show, once again, our determination in the fight against doping," said Bach. "We want to keep the dopers away from the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. This is why we are acting swiftly now. "I have already appointed a disciplinary commission, which has the full power to take all the decisions on behalf of the IOC." The new findings cover five different sports and six international federations, and were all based on intelligence-gathering that began 10 months ago. The IOC says the reanalysis programme is ongoing, with the possibility of more results in the weeks to come. Last week the IOC announced that up to 31 athletes could be banned from competing at Rio 2016 after the reanalysis of 454 samples from the 2008 Games in Beijing. In the meantime, one more sample from Beijing has shown abnormal parameters, which the IOC and the respective international federation will follow up. The IOC says the reanalysis of samples from Beijing and London was performed using the latest scientific methods. The athletes, national Olympic committees and international federations concerned are already being informed, after which the proceedings against the athletes can begin. All athletes found to have infringed the anti-doping rules will be banned from competing at Rio. Doping scandals have plagued the build-up to this summer's Games with Russia under investigation following a report by WADA suggesting systematic doping in that country. Russia has confirmed that 14 of their athletes, including some medallists, figured in the positive Beijing Games reanalysis figures. Track and field athletes from Russia are currently suspended pending an investigation into the scandal. Athletics' world governing body the IAAF will decide on June 17 whether Russia has done enough to clean up its act in order to be readmitted to competition in time for the Rio Olympics, which start on August 5. There is also the prospect of a second major WADA investigation into allegations of state-sponsored doping at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. That inquiry is scheduled to publish its findings in mid-July, and last week Bach suggested it is potentially so damaging that the entire Russian delegation could be excluded from Rio.

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

Rocktalk

Award-winning Tayside song writer Eddie Cairney immortalises Queensferry Crossing in tune

October 25 2017

An award-winning Tayside song writer who immortalised the 50th anniversary of the Tay Road Bridge in music last year has released an EP which pays tribute to the newly opened Queensferry Crossing over the Forth. Perth-born Eddie Cairney, 65, who now lives in Arbroath, has released an album called ‘Sketches o' the QC’ which includes songs dedicated to the “isolated” workers who were employed during construction and contrasts the old Forth Road Bridge to the new crossing with its wind shields designed to keep traffic flowing during storms. Eddie, who delayed the release of the album due to family illness and bereavement, said: “It's just another quirky album like I did for the Tay Road Bridge. https://youtu.be/Z6BblA_Zev4 “As you can probably imagine, how do you write six songs about a bridge? “I usually end up using a process of creative journalism. I get a few facts or even just a single fact and then I let my imagination take over. “With each album early on in the writing process I draw a blank and think there's nothing here I can write about but there's always something to write about. “You just have to hang around long enough and it comes eventually. https://youtu.be/a9NyQAFjDsY “I just took threads from here and there. I was going to call the album The Queensferry Crossing but thought that was a bit boring so I went for Sketches o' the Q.C. “It introduces a bit of ambiguity. If you Google the name you get lots of drawings of court scenes!” Eddie was inspired to write Columba Cannon after reading an article about the general foreman for the foundations and towers. https://youtu.be/y_y1y8oV7vo Eddie said: “It was the name that got me and that gave me the first line of the song "He is a bridge builder wi a missionary zeal" Has to be with a name like Columba!” Fishnet bridge was set in a meditative light, describing the bridge as a “thing of beauty that looks like a big fish net glistening high above the Forth but it is a symbolic fishnet with the song taking the form of an imaginary conversation with the bridge.” https://youtu.be/dJgsl2WQ5G0   “Midday starvation came from an article which highlighted the isolation of the workers working high up on the bridge,” he added. https://youtu.be/Dme-bfCXHRI “If you forget your piece you've had it and you starve for there's no nipping round to the corner shop for a pie. The article also said that a local pizza delivery firm regularly delivered a pallet load of warm pizzas to the bridge so that was "midday salvation"! Meanwhile, The boys frae the cheese is a play on words. https://youtu.be/phtQ2-Xx1I0 He added: “I read an article that said The Forth Estuary Transport Authority (FETA) could have acted sooner and avoided the costly closure of the bridge at the end of 2015.” Eddie is no stranger to music and song influenced by Dundee and wider Scottish history. In 2015 he featured in The Courier for his efforts to put the complete works of Robert Burns to music. With a piano style influenced by Albert Ammons, Champion Jack Dupree and Memphis Slim, and a song-writing style influenced by Matt McGinn, Michael Marra and Randy Newman, the former Perth High School pupil, who wrote the 1984 New Zealand Olympic anthem, has organised a number of projects over the years including the McGonagall Centenary Festival  for Dundee City Council in 2002. Last year’s Tay Road Bridge album included a tribute to 19th century poet William Topas McGonagall and also honoured Hugh Pincott – the first member of the public to cross the Tay Road Bridge in 1966. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y51tixl9GEs Thanks to The Courier, he also became one of the first to cross the Queensferry Crossing  when it opened to the public in the early hours of August 30.

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.

UK & World

Her legacy lives on: Sport stars pay tribute to Dame Tessa Jowell

May 13 2018

Some of the biggest names in British sport have remembered Dame Tessa Jowell for her key role in bringing the Olympics to London.Lord Sebastian Coe, former chairman of the London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games, said there would not have been a London 2012 without the contributions of Dame Tessa.He said: “Tessa was not just a close friend, she was a life enhancer.“Her contribution to the Olympic and Paralympic Games is easily defined – without Tessa there would have been no London 2012, and without Tessa they would not have been the success they were.”Four-time Olympic gold medal-winning rower Matthew Pinsent said: “RIP Tessa Jowell – absolutely central to the effort to win and stage the Olympics and Paralympics in 2012. Her determination and sense of humour surrounding them was infectious.”Chairman of the British Olympic Association Hugh Robertson explained that not only was Dame Tessa pivotal in bringing the Games to London, she was determined that it should be a force for regeneration in some of London’s most deprived areas.He told the Press Association: “She did two things which were really important in that early stage.“The first was she corralled the whole of the government behind the bid. She got the Treasury to agree to it, she got the Department of Media, Culture and Sport to do the work, she got the Transport Department to sign off the transport plans and so on – that in itself is a very considerable achievement.“Related to that, she also raised the bar on the whole thing because we didn’t go for the simple solution, which would have been to bid with all of those stadia in the west of London, we could have used Twickenham, Wembley, Earls Court and probably Lords.“She corralled government behind an east of London bid, she had to do that to get the support of the Mayor (of London), but actually the success of London in terms of regenerating Stratford directly comes from that decision. So that was a really key contribution.“The second crucial thing she did when Labour were in power was setting the structure which delivered the Games, got the organising committee correctly set up and later on in the process put the Olympic Park legacy into place.“It was a difficult enough process at the best of times, but that structure she put in place then weathered the financial crisis (of 2008) and then allowed us in the end to still deliver the Olympics on time and under budget.”Olympic rower and UK Sport chairman Dame Katherine Grainger said: “This is incredibly sad news. As with every other aspect of her life, Tessa was a much respected and loved figure within British sport.“Her accomplishments are enormous but just as impressive is how she achieved them: with decency, determination, guts and grace.“Others have already noted how there would have been no London 2012 without Tessa’s vision and drive.“Tessa was a true believer in the power and inspiration of sport, for which all of us who benefited from her support and conviction will be eternally grateful. Her legacy lives on.”

UK & World

Plea postponed for man accused of PC Gordon Semple murder

June 29 2016

The plea has been postponed in the case of a man accused of strangling and dismembering a police officer he met on gay dating website Grindr. Italian Stefano Brizzi, 50, allegedly murdered 59-year-old PC Gordon Semple at his London flat some time between April 1 and April 7. Mr Semple was originally from Inverness in Scotland and had been with the Metropolitan Police for 30 years. He went missing on April 1 and his remains were discovered a week later after a neighbour alerted Scotland Yard to a "smell of death" coming from a property on the Peabody Estate in Southwark Street, south London. Recorder of London Nicholas Hilliard QC has already set a provisional date for Brizzi to face trial on October 18. The defendant appeared before the Old Bailey judge by video link from top-security Belmarsh prison. Wearing sunglasses and a white and beige tracksuit, he spoke only to confirm his name. Prosecutor Crispin Aylett QC asked for the plea hearing to be put back to September 9. Judge Hilliard agreed the new timetable and remanded Brizzi in custody until the next hearing.

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

Readers' letters

Lies, damned lies and barrels of bad data

November 22 2013

Sir, I note your leader column (Tuesday’s Courier) about the Institute of Fiscal Studies (IFS) report on Scotland’s economy. The report is a case of “bad data in” equals “bad data out” and bad conclusions. The IFS has used oil price projections from the UK Office of Budget Responsibility (OBR), set up by Chancellor George Osborne, and, like the IFS, it is by no means neutral. It is staffed by City-trained and London-centric top-down, neo-classical, laissez-faire economists just likethe Treasury (HMT). The OBR and HMT have a reputation for forecasts that suit London’s short-term agenda by overestimating UK growth to help the Westminster Government and, in particular, underestimating North Sea oil prices. The other problem with using OBR data is that it forecasts Scottish oil and gas industry revenues by using what’s known in statistical analysis as an outlier, a statistical anomaly that is markedly different from others in a sample. Normally, when projecting economic data based on market prices, you would not use an outlier but a mean figure or one more representative of the whole sample. The OBR oil forecast is for an oil price of $98.00 per barrel but the Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), a well-respected multilateral financial organisation, takes data from the 28 most-developed economies in order to make projections and it is predicting an oil price of $190 per barrel in 2020. This means there is almost a $100 per barrel gap between outliers and instead of using a median figure, the IFS used the lowest outlier. Plug in the OECD upper outlier figure or the UK Government’s own Department of Environment and Climate Change’s forecast metric or the Scottish Government’s conservative projections and you get to a clear picture of Scotland as an economic powerhouse. Jim Duthie. 74b Gray Street, Broughty Ferry, Dundee. Mr Salmond is no Mandela Sir, Dudley Treffry mentioned that independence served to create kleptomaniac leaders who served themselves, not their people (The Courier, 11/11). I lived and worked in South Africa, which during apartheid and afterwards was ruled by one political party both the white and black governments abused their power for their own benefit. President Nelson Mandela was a very special type of person who fully believed and practised reconciliation as far as possible. The ANC did not follow his lead. The SNP appears to be heading in the same direction. They have already overturned decisions made by local councils. A “yes” vote will see them with little opposition and they will soon forget any promises made. Mr Salmond does not have the attributes of President Mandela. Mike Wood. 10 Graham Court, Dundee. Clocking the difference Sir, Jack McKeown’s article on the swastika in The Courier (13/11) failed to mention one of the most important aspects of this symbol. There are two, distinct types of swastika: the holy symbol that has been used peacefully for centuries and the adapted version used by the Nazis. The former has outer legs which point in an anti-clockwise direction, while the Nazi version has outer legs which point clockwise. In the picture with the article, the swastika on the lad’s hand is the Nazi version. With this lack of appreciation of the difference between the two symbols it is possible that those who display the original version for peaceful or religious reasons may be vilified by those who are ignorant of the difference. Dave Forsyth. 112 Garvock Hill, Dunfermline. Long fall from hill to knoll Sir, It may surprise those raised on the Camelot myth but the news from Dallas 50 years ago tomorrow provoked a mixed reaction in the Californian college where I was astudent. Classes continued, after which I went surfing at Malibu and I only became aware of the reaction elsewhere in the US and in Europe when my father phoned from the UK. Before 24-hour news and the internet America was loosely connected but Californians were aware of JFK’s womanising, Marilyn Monroe and his father’s mob connections. Our student newspaper often mocked his oratory: a bombastic inauguration speech which led to the Cuban fiasco and his assurance to Berliners that he was a jam doughnut. The fact is his presidency was stalled, especially on civil rights, and my black pals were hoping for a future White House with Lyndon Johnson or Hubert Humphrey. But as occurred after the death of Princess Diana, television swept the nation up in a tsunami of maudlin nostalgia for a wholly illusory loss of hope and innocence. Dr John Cameron. 10 Howard Place, St Andrews.

News

Angry spat over future of Fife base RAF Leuchars

April 11 2011

A furious war of words has broken out in North East Fife, after Liberal Democrat candidate Iain Smith was accused of "blatant double standards." His SNP rival Rod Campbell hit out as the emotive issue of RAF Leuchars' future began to dominate the local campaign trail. Mr Campbell insisted the Lib Dem candidate had been "less than straight" with voters in a new campaign leaflet. "The latest Lib Dem leaflet tries to take credit for changes in taxation by reminding voters that the UK Government is a Tory/Lib Dem coalition," Mr Campbell said. "The changes in question were introduced by George Osborne in his recent Budget and Iain Smith seems happy in this case to be associated with the Conservatives in London. "However, right next to the article on taxation is one about the threat to RAF Leuchars. It posts Mr Smith as champion of the campaign to save the airbase. "Nowhere does this article recognise that it is the Lib Dem/Tory coalition that threatens Scottish defence facilities, not least RAF Leuchars. "When Iain Smith likes the actions of the London coalition, he claims credit for his party. "When it comes to RAF Leuchars, he pretends that he has nothing to do with Nick Clegg and the actions of the London government. However, Mr Smith was happy to laugh off the SNP missive. "This is typically laughable bluster from the SNP," he said. "Yes, thanks to the Liberal Democrats thousands of Fifers will pay no tax from this month and around 180,000 will have a tax cut and, yes, Sir Menzies Campbell MP and Ialong with members of the local community and the RAF Leuchars task forceare campaigning vigorously to save the base. "I am a campaigner for my community and RAF Leuchars is vital to our social fabric, local economy and defence of the UK. "The MoD have repeatedly said that no decisions have been made on the future of RAF bases, but that does not stop us from making the case for its retention. "Sadly, the SNP candidate has yet again undermined the efforts of those fighting hard to save the base."

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