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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...

Dundee

Dundee smokers needed for university’s vaping study

January 27 2017

Smokers in Dundee are being recruited for a new study that will examine the potential health risks of vaping. Researchers at Dundee University are looking for 135 volunteers who have been smoking for at least two years and who smoke more than 15 tobacco cigarettes a day, or the equivalent amount of rolling tobacco, for the vital research. The effects of smoking on blood vessels will then be compared to the blood vessels of those who use e-cigarettes. The VESUVIUS study is being funded by the British Heart Foundation who say more work is needed to understand the potential impact of vaping on heart and circulatory health. Smokers who sign up for the study will be put into one of three possible treatment groups: continuing with tobacco cigarettes, switching to e-cigarettes with nicotine or e-cigarettes without nicotine. Dr Jacob George, who is leading the study, said: "Many people are using e-cigarettes to help them stop smoking and they are sold on the principle that they're a much safer alternative to traditional cigarettes because they don't contain harmful substances like tobacco and tar. "But just like traditional cigarettes, most of the do contain nicotine, which can be harmful to blood vessels. "So it's essential to know how much safer they really are, compared to tobacco cigarettes." Participants will have to make two visits to Ninewells Hosptial, four weeks apart. There, they will provide blood and breath samples as well as receiving a blood pressure check and undergoing a non-invasive ultrasound examination of blood vessels in their arm. British Heart Foundation Scotland director James Cant said: "We all know that smoking tobacco raises our risk of suffering from cardiovascular disease. "E-cigs have been hailed by some as a great way to help smokers quit but little is actually known about their impact on our heart and circulatory system. That's why we're delighted to funding this important research." Anyone who wants to take part should contact trial manager Pippa Hopkinson on 01382 383195 or 07850 540230. Alternatively, they can email vesuvius@dundee.ac.uk

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

Scotland

“There was a really nasty atmosphere” – Police board easyJet plane at Edinburgh Airport

August 11 2016

Police boarded an easyJet plane at Edinburgh Airport in a row over smoking. A fracas erupted on the flight to Hamburg after two men were reported for having a cigarette on the runway. It was alleged that the pair, thought to be part of a stag party, became abusive and refused to put out their cigarettes when told to by staff. Four police officers went on to the plane just before it was due to take off at 3pm on Thursday. One Tayside passenger said police had asked members of the group to identify the smokers, but they insisted the offence didn't happen. "There was a really nasty atmosphere," said the passenger, who declined to be named. "There was a lot of hostility towards the police. People were shouting down the plane at them, calling them bullies." A man with a blonde wig, thought to be the stag of the group, was seen speaking with police. A Police Scotland spokeswoman said: “Police at Edinburgh Airport were made aware of concerns that two passengers were smoking in the air bridge as they headed to board a commercial flight. “Officers attended and spoke to a group of men regarding their conduct. In consultation with cabin crew, the group were permitted to travel following advice." She added: “No one was removed from the aircraft on this occasion and the flight was slightly delayed as a result." A spokeswoman for easyJet said: "We had a report that a passenger was seen smoking on his way on to the plane. "Police were called to investigate and spoke with the passengers. No one was removed and the flight was able to go ahead." An Edinburgh Airport spokesman confirmed that an incident had taken place, but referred enquiries to police.   The plane set off about half an hour later than scheduled.

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.

Angus & The Mearns

Smokers encouraged to stub out at home

October 30 2013

Smokers are being encouraged to stub it out at home as a Smoke Free Homes initiative launches across Tayside. The new scheme, which got under way at an Angus primary school, aims to get smokers to acknowledge the effect their habit has on others and encourages them to sign up to make their home smoke free. Smoke-free project worker Tracey Furness said: “By keeping the house smoke free, this not only protects children but provides a healthier and cleaner home environment and eliminates potential fire hazards.” Children who are exposed to smoking are more likely to experience coughing and wheezing, asthma and ear and chest infections, such as pneumonia and bronchitis. Ingredients used in ant poison, rocket fuel and floor cleaner are among the 4,000 chemicals in cigarette smoke. Under the new initiative, smokers will be asked to sign either a gold promise for a smoke-free home, or a silver pledge that only one room will be used for smoking but never in front of children. Tracey added: “It is not that hard to do. People can easily smoke outside, or keep a room aside for smoking, so that it is away from children. “Even non-smokers can sign up to the scheme, so that when friends of family come round, they can respect the Smoke Free Home status. “This enables householders to deal with the issue of smoking within the home in a non-confrontational and non-judgemental way.” NHS Tayside smoking cessation teams are taking part in a series of events across the region this week to inform people about the scheme. They got under way at Ladyloan Primary School in Arbroath, before experts also spoke to the public at the town’s ACCESS office. Visits are also planned at a number of schools in the Angus area, including Langlands in Forfar, Andover, Brechin, and Montrose’s Southesk Primary. The fire service is also attending the Smoke Free Homes events at the primary schools in Angus. Information on the programme will also be available at the main concourse of Ninewells Hospital in Dundee on Friday between 10am and 4pm. For more information on Smoke Free Homes, contact 07554 333314.

Fife

Man murdered brother in “wicked” crime that also left Fife woman with life-threatening burns

July 21 2017

A man has admitted murdering his brother and attempting to murder his brother’s girlfriend in a New Year’s Day house fire. Blair Logan poured petrol on his younger brother Cameron, 23, and the bed he was sharing with Rebecca Williams as they slept at their family home in Milngavie, East Dunbartonshire, in the early hours of January 1 this year. Ms Williams was rescued from the fire and treated in hospital, while Logan’s parents were treated for smoke inhalation. Logan, 27, pleaded guilty to a charge of murder and attempted murder at the High Court in Glasgow on Friday. He had been arrested two weeks after the fire amid a major Police Scotland investigation. The family dog, Gomez, was also killed in the fire. Defence lawyer Shelagh McCall QC said Logan showed “wicked recklessness” but did not intend to kill his brother. He was said to have “felt physically sick at the whole thing”. Logan has been subject to two psychiatric reports which concluded there was not sufficient evidence for a plea of diminished responsibility. Ms McCall said there were “unusual traits” in Logan’s personality and that he had a lack of understanding of the impact of his actions on other people. Lady Scott asked for a social worker report and set a sentencing date for August 11 at the High Court in Livingston.

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

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.

UK & World

Corbyn says no excuse for anti-Semitism and praises bravery of abused MPs

April 18 2018

Jeremy Corbyn has said there can be “no excuse” for abuse as he praised the bravery of MPs who spoke out about the anti-Semitic attacks they have suffered.A series of Labour MPs spoke in the Commons about the abuse they had received from people who purported to be supporters of Mr Corbyn.In an emotional Commons debate, Luciana Berger said Labour must expel those with anti-Semitic views, and criticised people who attacked her for speaking out on the issue while claiming to be both party members and supporters of the #JC4PM – Jeremy Corbyn for prime minister – campaign.A standing ovation – in defiance of parliamentary convention – followed Ruth Smeeth’s speech, in which the Labour MP for Stoke-on-Trent North read a sample of the abuse aimed at her and insisted: “Enough really is enough.”Labour former minister Dame Margaret Hodge was applauded after a speech in which she said it felt as if her party hasd “given permission for anti-Semitism to go unchallenged”, while John Mann said he had been targeted by campaign group Momentum for showing solidarity with Jewish Labour members – with his wife “threatened with rape” by a “leftist anti-Semite”.Mr Corbyn responded to the debate on Twitter, saying the “harrowing experiences” shared in the Commons showed the “urgent need to eradicate anti-Semitism from politics and society”.But he made no explicit reference to the concerns raised by Labour MPs about problems within the party.He said: “I pay tribute to MPs who spoke in yesterday’s anti-Semitism debate, whose harrowing experiences remind us of the urgent need to eradicate anti-Semitism from politics and society.“There is no excuse for abuse of any kind, and I want to thank them for their bravery in speaking out.”During Tuesday’s debate, Ms Berger (Liverpool Wavertree) and other MPs backed calls to expel Ken Livingstone from the Labour Party, with former minister Ian Austin saying the ex-London mayor had been “comparing, claiming that Hitler was a Zionist” – labelling this as anti-Semitism “pure and simple”.Ms Berger was also applauded by MPs from all sides after she detailed the anti-Semitic abuse she has faced, which she said began when she was 19 and described her as a “dirty Zionist pig”.Following Ms Berger’s speech, Ms Smeeth (Stoke-on-Trent North) could be seen crying and was comforted by party colleague Wes Streeting (Ilford North).In her own speech, Ms Smeeth read out abuse before saying: “I stand here today to say that we will not be bullied out of political engagement, we are going nowhere and we stand and will keep fighting until the evils of anti-Semitism have been removed from our society.”Mr Corbyn was in the Commons for large parts of the debate, with Communities Secretary Sajid Javid accusing the Labour leader of a “deeply worrying lack of leadership and moral clarity” on anti-Semitism.

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