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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...

Angus & The Mearns

Argentine family ‘deeply grateful’ after Arbroath marine sends Battle of Two Sisters relic back where it belongs

October 30 2015

The identity tag of a fallen Argentine soldier that lay in a former Angus Marine’s drawer for 33 years has been returned to his family. Graham Ellis, from Kirkton of Auchterhouse, removed the tag from the body of Assistant Sergeant Ramon Gumersindo Acosta on the battlefield in the Falkland Islands in 1982. Acosta was killed by a mortar blast following the Battle of Two Sisters, which took place over two days in June as British forces advanced toward Port Stanley. A 20-year-old member of Arbroath-based 45 Commando at the time, Mr Ellis and his unit were ordered to remove the tags from the dead bodies for identification by the Red Cross. Mr Ellis placed the tag in his pocket and only discovered it on his return to Britain. It remained in a drawer until a comrade of Mr Acosta’s saw an article on this website about Mr Ellis’s attempts to return it to the fallen soldier’s family. It was sent back to Argentina and is now with his daughter, with plans for a formal presentation by the Argentine government to take place in the near future. Mr Ellis said he was “very pleased”, while a former comrade of Mr Acosta said the family were “deeply grateful” to Mr Ellis and The Courier. Acosta was a national hero and a street bears his name in his native town of Jess Mara. He had written a letter to his five-year-old son, Diego, eight days before he died. It read: “I write from my position to tell you that two days ago we were in a helicopter which was bombed, the helicopter fell and caught fire, killing several colleagues of mine but I was saved and am now awaiting the final attack. “I saved three comrades from the flames. I tell you so you know you have a father you can be proud of and want you to keep this letter as a document if I do not return: and if I go back tomorrow, when we’re together I will read it at home.”

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.

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

Pregnant southern white rhino could help save related subspecies

May 18 2018

A southern white rhino has become pregnant through artificial insemination at a US zoo, raising hopes that a subspecies of one of the world’s most recognisable animals could be saved, researchers announced.Scientists at San Diego Zoo Safari Park will be watching closely to see if the rhino named Victoria can carry her calf to term over 16 to 18 months of gestation.If she does, researchers hope someday she could serve as a surrogate mother and could give birth to the related northern white rhino, whose population is down to two females after decades of decimation by poachers. The mother and daughter northern white rhinos that live in a Kenya wildlife preserve are not capable of bearing calves.The last northern white male rhino, named Sudan, was euthanised in March at the Kenya preserve because of ailing health related to his old age.Victoria is the first to become pregnant of six female southern white rhinos the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research is testing to determine if they are fit to be surrogate mothers. If they pass the testing, they could carry northern white rhino embryos sometime within the next decade as scientists work to recreate northern white rhino embryos.There are no northern white rhino eggs so creating an embryo would require using genetic technology.The San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research has the cell lines of 12 different northern white rhinos stored in freezing temperatures at its “Frozen Zoo”.Scientists hope to use frozen skin cells from the dead northern white rhinos to transform them into stem cells and eventually sperm and eggs. Then the scientists would use in vitro fertilisation to create embryos that would be put in the six female rhinos.“The confirmation of this pregnancy through artificial insemination represents an historic event for our organisation but also a critical step in our effort to save the northern white rhino,” said Barbara Durrant, director of reproductive Sciences at the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research.But more challenges lie ahead, with artificial insemination of rhinos in zoos rare so far and resulting in only a few births.Victoria is a healthy rhino estimated to be seven years old.She and the other five female rhinos that range in age from four to seven years old were all born in the wild and relocated to San Diego’s Safari Park in 2015. Scientists will be perfecting artificial insemination techniques and embryo transfer techniques on the females, which undergo weekly ultrasounds. Ms Durrant recently spotted the beginning of tiny limbs of Victoria’s baby during her recent ultrasound. She is two months pregnant.“We will know that they have proven themselves to be capable of carrying a foetus to term before we would risk putting a precious northern white rhino embryo into one of these southern white rhinos as a surrogate,” Ms Durrant said.The ultimate goal – which could take decades – is to create a herd of five to 15 northern white rhinos that would be returned to their natural habitat in Africa.Some groups have said in vitro fertilisation is being developed too late to save the northern white rhino, whose natural habitat in Chad, Sudan, Uganda, Congo and Central African Republic has been ravaged by conflicts in the region. They say the efforts should focus on other critically endangered species with a better chance at survival.The southern white rhino and another species, the black rhino, are under heavy pressure from poachers who kill them for their horns to supply illegal markets in parts of Asia.There are about 20,000 southern white rhinos in Africa.

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.

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

Trump arrives in California amid protests over border wall

March 13 2018

President Donald Trump has inspected the prototypes for the “big beautiful border wall” he wants to build to separate the US from Mexico.The president, making his first trip to California as president, appeared engaged as he was briefed on eight border wall designs. He said he preferred a fully concrete wall because it was the hardest to climb, but he noted that it needed to be see-through.President Trump said the first thing he noticed on the drive to view the prototypes was the patched-up holes in part of the existing fence at the border.“We have a lousy wall over here now, but at least it stops 90, 95%,” President Trump said. “When we put up the real wall, we’re going to stop 99%. Maybe more than that.”President Trump’s visit was greeted with peaceful protests by demonstrators both for and against his planned wall. The trip also came amid an escalating battle between his administration and the liberal state, which has refused to help federal agents detain immigrants in the US illegally.The president said Tuesday that the state’s sanctuary policies “put the entire nation at risk.” His Justice Department sued California last week over a trio of the state’s immigration laws.“They’re the best friend of the criminal,” President Trump said. “That’s what exactly is happening. The criminals take refuge in these sanctuary cities and it’s very dangerous for our police and enforcement folks.”Demonstrations were held at the San Ysidro port of entry in San Diego, the nation’s busiest border crossing, where protesters chanted, “No ban! No wall!” as honking cars and buses cheered them on. Protests were also held on the Mexican side, in Tijuana.President Trump was to be briefed on lessons learned from the construction of the prototypes built in San Diego last autumn. He was also to meet with border agents and officers to ask what they need, Homeland Security spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said.San Diego’s Republican mayor criticised Mr Trump’s planned short visit, saying the president will not get a full picture of the city. Kevin Faulconer said a popular cross-border airport terminal connecting San Diego and Tijuana shows that “building bridges has worked wonders”.Mr Faulconer, writing in The San Diego Union-Tribune, also said San Diego police work to protect everyone regardless of immigration status, an apparent dig at Mr Trump’s push to target illegal immigration.

UK & World

Central American asylum seekers stranded at US border for second day

April 30 2018

About 200 Central American asylum seekers are waiting on the Mexican border with San Diego for a second day to turn themselves in to US border inspectors, who said the nation’s busiest crossing facility did not have space to accommodate them.After a month-long journey across Mexico under the Trump administration’s watchful eye, the asylum seekers faced an unexpected twist on Sunday when US Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan said San Diego’s San Ysidro border crossing facility had “reached capacity”.The agency said in a statement on Monday that it had no estimate when the location would accept new asylum application cases.About 50 people, many of them women and children, camped overnight on blankets and backpacks in Tijuana, outside the Mexican entrance to the border crossing. The crowd grew on Monday, assembled behind metal gates that Mexican authorities erected to avoid impeding the flow of others going to the US for work, school and recreation.Another 50 asylum seekers were allowed past a gate controlled by Mexican officials on Sunday to cross a long bridge but were stopped at the entrance to the US inspection facility at the other end.They waited outside the building, technically on Mexican soil, without word of when US officials would let them try to claim asylum.Irineo Mujica, an organiser of the migrant caravan, said asylum-seekers who crossed the bridge remained in a waiting area on Mexican soil on Monday.He alleged that US authorities were refusing entry in an effort to dissuade people from trying.“When they say they reached capacity, it’s just nonsense from (US authorities) so they can abandon, not attend to, and evade their responsibilities in asylum cases,” said Mr Mujica, of the advocacy group Pueblos Sin Fronteras.Customs and Border Protection said on Sunday that it will resume asylum processing at the San Diego crossing when it has more space and resources.The San Ysidro border inspection facility that divides San Diego from Tijuana can hold about 300 people, meaning the bottleneck may be short-lived.The agency processed about 8,000 asylum cases between October and February at the crossing, or about 50 a day.Thousands of Haitians seeking to turn themselves in overwhelmed US border inspectors at the San Diego crossing in 2016, leading to the creation of a ticketing system for them.At one point, Haitians had to wait in Tijuana for more than five weeks for their turn.President Donald Trump has repeatedly criticised the caravan since it started in Mexico on March 25 near the Guatemala border and headed north to Tijuana, telling campaign supporters in an email last week that it had to be stopped.His broadsides came as his administration vowed to end what officials call “legal loopholes” and “catch-and-release” policies that allow people requesting asylum to be released from custody into the US while their claims make their way through the courts, which can take years.“Catch and release is ridiculous,” Mr Trump said Monday at a news conference with Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari.“If they touch our property, if they touch our country, essentially you catch them and you release them into our country. That’s not acceptable to anybody.”

UK & World

Angelina Jolie’s aunt dies of breast cancer

May 27 2013

Actress Angelina Jolie's aunt has died from breast cancer, less than two weeks after the star had a double mastectomy to avoid the disease. Debbie Martin, 61, died in a San Diego, California-area hospital, her husband Ron said. Mrs Martin was the younger sister of Jolie's mother Marcheline Bertrand, whose own death from cancer in 2007 inspired the surgery that Jolie described in a May 14 New York Times article. According to her husband, Mrs Martin had the same defective BRCA1 gene as Jolie, but did not know it until after her 2004 cancer diagnosis. He said had his wife known in advance of her genetic risk, "she would have done exactly what Angelina did". Mrs Martin's death was first reported by E! News.

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