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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...

UK & World

Are Oasis reforming for Manchester tribute gig?

June 1 2017

Rumours are circulating that Britpop legends Oasis are re-forming for a benefit gig in their home city of Manchester this weekend. The speculation was kick-started by a member of The Black Eyed Peas, who tagged the group in a post about Ariana Grande's One Love Manchester show on Sunday. The concert was organised in the wake of the Manchester Arena terror attack last week, which left 22 dead and a further 64 injured. Free tickets have been offered for Grande fans who attended the concert which was targeted by an alleged suicide bomber. Katy Perry, Take That, Justin Bieber, Coldplay, Pharrell Williams, Miley Cyrus and Usher will all play alongside the US pop star at the concert. Taboo Nawasha, a member of the Black Eyed Peas, tweeted about the gig; tagging all the musicians and bands that will play at the Old Trafford Cricket Grounds. Oasis were included in the original tweet, which was quickly deleted. https://twitter.com/TabBep/status/869907050691608579 https://twitter.com/TabBep/status/869906670436007937?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw&ref_url=http%3A%2F%2Fmetro.co.uk%2F2017%2F05%2F31%2Fwhen-and-how-to-watch-ariana-grandes-one-love-manchester-concert-6675547%2F https://twitter.com/TabBep/status/869907050691608579 Nawasha then posted that he had made a mistake and put the mention of the rock group down to "human error". Classic Oasis single Don't Look Back in Anger rose up the charts last week after the people of Manchester adopted it in the wake of the terror attack. Oasis are among Manchester’s most famous and cherished musical exports, though the band split up in 2009. They are one of the most symbolic groups of the 1990s and the Britpop era. The band was fronted by brothers Liam and Noel Gallagher, who have been at loggerheads since the split. https://www.thecourier.co.uk/fp/news/uk-world/434338/video-beautiful-moment-people-manchester-turn-silent-tribute-oasis-dont-look-back-anger-articleisfree/ However commenting on the rumours on Radio 1, Liam said though he is "up for it" - it wouldn't be possible due to his solo commitments in Germany this weekend.  

UK & World

Several killed as suicide bombers strike in Afghan capital

May 9 2018

Suicide bombers have struck two police stations in Afghanistan’s capital, killing at least five people and wounding 16 others.Interior minister Wais Ahmad Barmak said a total of eight suicide bombers took part in the attacks, one of which was claimed by Islamic State (IS) and the other by the Taliban.In the first attack, in western Kabul, the attackers hurled hand grenades and blew themselves up, setting part of the station on fire, Mr Barmak said, adding that a third suicide bomber was shot and killed by police. He said two police personnel were killed in the attack and two other officers and a civilian were wounded. IS claimed the attack in a brief statement carried by its Aamaq news agency.The second attack unfolded in the city centre, where a suicide bomber struck the entrance to a police station in order to clear the way for another four bombers. Mr Barmak said “two or three” more attackers were holed up in a nearby building, trading fire with security forces. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement sent to media.Public health ministry spokesman Wahid Majroh said a total of seven people were killed and 17 wounded in the attacks, with the toll expected to rise.Both the Taliban and IS frequently target Afghanistan’s Western-backed government and security forces. Twin suicide bombings claimed by IS last week killed at least 25 people, including nine journalists who had rushed to the scene of the first attack. It was the deadliest assault on reporters since the fall of the Taliban in 2001.Elsewhere in Afghanistan, the Taliban advanced on a district compound, officials said, with one reporting the capture of the northern district by the insurgents and another saying heavy fighting was still under way.The battle for the compound in the Bilchirgh district, in the northern Faryab province, came a day after the insurgents captured the district compound in the remote Tala wa Barfak district, in the northern Baghlan province. The Taliban have captured several districts in different parts of the country from Afghan security forces since 2014, when the US and Nato formally concluded their combat mission and shifted to a supporting role.Mohammad Hashim, a member of parliament from Faryab province, said the Taliban captured the district headquarters in Bilchirgh after more than 40 security forces retreated under heavy fire. He said the Taliban also captured several villages nearby. Provincial police spokesman Abdul Karim Yuresh said the fighting is still underway and that government forces still hold the compound.The Taliban issued a statement saying they control the district and claiming to have killed 10 security force officers.The Taliban also attacked a school being used as a voter registration centre, killing eight soldiers in the latest in a series of attacks targeting preparations for elections later this year.

UK & World

Seven dead as more violence erupts in Iraq

June 24 2013

Suicide bombers and a gunman stormed a police station in northern Iraq on Sunday, one of several attacks across the country which left seven dead. They were the latest incidents in a wave of violence which has claimed more than 2,000 lives since the start of April. Militants, building on Sunni discontent with the Shia-led government, appear to have grown stronger in central and northern Iraq. The commander of the army’s 12th division, Brigadier General Mohammed Khalaf, said the assault on the police station near the town of Hawija started with a gunman on foot opening fire on the guards. A suicide bomber with an explosives-laden belt then blew himself up in the reception area and a suicide car bomber rammed his vehicle into the building, Mr Khalaf added. Three policemen were killed and five others wounded. In the nearby city of Tuz Khormato two parked car bombs went off in a residential area, killing one civilian and wounding 27 others. Also yesterday, a mortar round hit a motel in central Baghdad, killing three civilians.

Readers' letters

Properly fund local authority education

March 29 2016

Sir, - Richard Lucas (letters, March 23) deserves to be challenged not because he is having a pop at the Scottish Government but because he is advocating adoption of the old grammar school system of education. As an 11-year-old in 1945 I gained entrance to Morgan Academy via a bursary achieved by high marks in the then 11+ entrance exam. The school also had a fee paying primary department that acted as a feeder to the upper school. Presumably entry to the proposed grammar school system would require a similar selection process to ensure only those with the required intelligence level gained acceptance. He makes a fair point by suggesting there is a genetic influence on intelligence but falls down miserably by claiming academic excellence and intelligence tend to be greater among those from wealthier backgrounds. I had an uncle who, by his own admission, was not the most academically gifted but he did have a natural aptitude for business and he treated his wife and eight children to a very comfortable existence. Morgan Academy had a streaming process allocating first-year secondary pupils into classes A to D in keeping with the marks gained in the 11+. I was allocated to an A class and classes A,B and C were mainly filled by bursary entrants. Fee-paying pupils qualifying through the school’s primary section were also present in these classes, but had the D class all to themselves. This example is given not to denigrate fee-paying pupils; however, the first year dux that year was a wee lass who arrived on a bursary from one of the poorer areas of the city. We should return to a properly funded education system run by the local authority, involving catchment areas to determine the school you attend rather than the depth of your parents’ pocket. It is easy to make any public service appear inadequate by underfunding which is exactly what happened in England under Michael Gove to pave the way for the privatisation of education masquerading as parental choice. Allan A MacDougall, 37 Forth Park, Bridge of Allan. Who needs the West End? Sir , - I just wanted to write to say what a wonderful show Kirriemuir Amateur Operatic Society have put on this week with The Addams Family. I went to the opening night and was thoroughly entertained from start to finish. Who needs the West End when you have this amount of talent on your doorstep. Keep up the great work folks. Can’t wait for next year. Lesley McNeill, Mill of Marcus, Forfar. Swapping UK for EU is ridiculous Sir , - The articles by Alex Bell, Alastair Cameron, Jim Gallagher and Gareth McPherson (March 24) show up the independence ambitions of the SNP as not worth a bag of beans. Apart from a susceptibility to dream, imagined grievance and fantasy, the Scottish people are the canniest in the world and I cannot believe they will fail to recognise the truth of the issues set out in these articles. My hope for Scotland is that it should be the shining jewel in the crown of the union. The latest utterance from Nicola Sturgeon is that, in the event of Brexit by the UK Government, an independent Scotland would join the EU. But a bigger nonsense is, in the quest for “freedom”, why should she wish to exchange what Mr Salmond calls the serfdom of Westminster for the much more onerous serfdom of Brussels. Ranald Noel-Paton, Pitcurran House, Abernethy. Labour’s tax proposals Sir , - Has Scottish Labour fully thought through what its proposed new property tax would mean (March 23)? It will almost certainly entail a revaluation of properties with a good deal of uncertainty over who might be winners and losers. At present those living in the highest property bands can pay no more than three times those who live in the lowest. We need to know just how less regressive the new tax would be and if it will genuinely reflect ability to pay. This is where things become complicated, not least because at present those living alone are entitled to a 25% discount whatever band they are in. The discount applies to water and sewerage charges too those in the lowest bands can save nearly £300 per year, and those in higher ones even more. I hope it has been better thought out than their income tax increase proposals where they suggested that local authorities could administer a rebate for those in lower income categories. The public deserve some answers and Labour candidates and activists should have them before they take to the doorsteps and airwaves for the election campaign. Bob Taylor, 24 Shiel Court, Glenrothes. The UK’s failure within the EU Sir , - Born to a war widowed mother, just after the Second World War we slept rough and almost starved to death on several occasions, like hundreds of others at that time, roaming the streets in our rags and jutting bones. After nine years we had a permanent roof over our heads and I attended school for the first time. So I knew the austerity of the 40s and 50s first hand and found how wonderful the 60s were. That prosperity started to plunge when we joined the EU. Dundee, once a hive of industry, started to lose this to rationalisation, a process whereby Dundee firms of long standing were bought up by European firms and closed down and sent to England. Now our once public power generating industries are European owned. I cannot understand how this partnership benefits us in any way, and as to it somehow avoiding wars, well, for that we’ve got Trident. Leslie Isles Milligan, Myrtlehall Gardens, Dundee. Tackling the terrorist mind Sir , - Following the latest atrocities in Brussels, one of the questions being asked is what kind of people could be so cold-hearted and destructive and be willing to give up their own lives in the process? It’s important to recognise that terrorism is created it’s not human nature. Suicide bombers are made they are not born. Ultimately, terrorism is the product of madmen bent on destruction, and these madmen are typically the result of psychiatric or psychological techniques aimed at mind and behavioural control. Suicide bombers are not rational they are weak and pliant individuals psychologically indoctrinated to murder innocent people without compassion, with no concern for the value of their own lives. They are manufactured assassins. Part of the process involves the use of mind-altering psychiatric drugs. It has been reported that psychiatric drugs were used to brainwash young men in Iraq to create suicide bombers. Terrorists are also created by psychological methods that destroy individualism, moral judgment and personal responsibility. This gives an understanding of why a person would do something so destructive. Publicly exposing this destructive source behind terrorism provides insight and solutions to an otherwise incomprehensible and devastating phenomenon. Brian Daniels, Citizens Commission on Human Rights (UK), East Grinstead Fundraising thank-you Sir , - May I, through your publication, publicly thank all those who came to my non-surprise 70th birthday bash on Saturday 12th March (it can’t be a surprise when you organise it yourself!) but also to anyone who, for medical reasons, was unable to attend and still sent donations for Chest Heart and Stroke Scotland in lieu of presents. The event raised £750.20. The total raised excelled my wildest dreams. I cannot say thank you enough. At present charities such as Chest Heart and Stroke Scotland along with similar health charities can claim 25% of gift aid donations by UK tax paying donors, but from this “caring UK Government” recent rumours hint that such funding is to be discontinued. At a stroke, if you’ll excuse the pun, such valuable funding will stop. I for one sincerely hope it remains a rumour, and not become a fact. Time will tell! At this juncture to return to the fund-raising, I wish to publicly thank the following: the girls (Sandra and Janine) at Crieff Chest Heart and Stroke shop for permitting me the use of their logo on my invitation cards. The committee of Crieff Bowling Club for the use of clubrooms, Gaza for music/disco. Davie Spiers and Tam Smith for the buffet, Fionna for my birthday cake, and to all who attended. Thank you all. Raymond Keay, 18 Millar Street, Crieff Windfarm the size of Fife needed Sir,- Further to John Shiels’ letter (March 24). Holyrood’s preference has always been to replace fossil fuels with windfarms. It is clear, however, that the politicians and wind energy advocates have not considered the ramifications of replacing Longannet’s 2.4GW of generation capacity. I found that the numbers run as follows: Windfarms generate an average of around 30% of capacity over a year. Longannet rarely ran at full capacity and was more typically run at 50-60% over the last several years. It is clear therefore that we need at least twice the capacity of Longannet 4.8GW to replace it with wind. US Wind Energy Association figures point out that due to spacing requirements wind generation capacity is limited to ca 10MW per square mile. We therefore require 480 sq miles of windfarm to replace Longannet. The land area of Fife is 487 sq miles. In sum, then, to replace Longannet we need a windfarm the size of Fife at least. Surely this merits serious journalistic investigation? Has anyone at Holyrood actually run the numbers? Does anyone care? Alan G Melville, 23 Shaw’s Street, Edinburgh.


Suicide attack leaves 15 dead in Iraq

February 4 2013

A suicide car bomber joined by other suicide attackers on foot assaulted a provincial police headquarters in a disputed northern Iraqi city on Sunday, killing at least 15 people and wounding 90 others, officials said. The blast in Kirkuk appeared to be a fresh attack by militants seeking to undermine government efforts in maintaining security nationwide. A police officer said the car bomber drove his vehicle into the Kirkuk headquarters, followed by suicide attackers on foot armed with machine guns and grenades. He said police killed all the militants before they could enter the building. The police officer did not specify how many attackers there were in total. The officer spoke on condition of anonymity as he was not authorised to release information. The head of the provincial health directorate, Sidiq Omar Rasool, confirmed the casualty figures.

UK & World

Three charged with terror offences in Belgium

March 28 2016

Three people have been held on charges of participating in terrorist group activities, Belgian prosecutors said. They were among four people detained during searches in Brussels and the northern cities of Mechelen and Duffel on Sunday. Belgian prosecutors did not release details on the alleged terrorist actions or whether they were linked to the March 22 suicide bombings at Brussels airport and the Metro. The fourth person has been released without charge, according to a statement from the Belgian Federal Prosecutor's Office. Those charged by the investigating magistrate were identified only as Yassine A., Mohamed B. and Aboubaker O. The charges came as Brussels Airport was due to test its capacity to partially resume passenger service. But an airport official said it was still too early to say when the airport might reopen. Florence Muls, the airport's external communications manager, said 800 staff members on Tuesday will test temporary infrastructure and new arrangements designed for passenger check-in. The Belgian government must approve the new system, he said, before Brussels Airport can resume handling passenger traffic. Two suicide bombers on March 22 damaged the airport's departure hall, and along with another suicide bomber who blew himself up on a Brussels Metro train, killed at least 34 people and injured another 270.

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


Ninewells Hospital manager Brian Main urges hospitals to improve security

February 1 2011

NHS Tayside is taking steps to protect patients, staff and buildings from terrorist attack. Ninewells Hospital's site manager, Brian Main, said an attack like the one on Glasgow Airport could happen at the hospital, and health boards across Scotland are being urged to step up security. Areas of Ninewells already have the capability to "lock down," sealing off areas in a crisis a capability the hospital is looking to extend. Mr Main said the balance is always between keeping people safe and allowing patients and visitors easy access to NHS buildings and services. NHS Tayside was the first health board in Scotland to hold an "Argus" (area reinforcement using scenarios) event, organised by police specialising in counter-terrorism last autumn. Such events help organisations prepare for a terrorist attack, consider how they would deal with such an attack and recover from it.Airport attackMr Main confirmed an attack such as the one at Glasgow Airport, in which suicide bombers rammed the front of the terminal building, setting it and themselves on fire, could happen at Ninewells. Counter-terrorism specialists from Tayside Police have been working with NHS Tayside, challenging the organisation to think how it would respond to a terrorist attack. "We were shown a DVD of a terrorist bombing in a bus station," said Mr Main."One of the suicide bombers didn't go off and was a casualty, brought into hospital in an ambulance with the bomb still in his rucksack. "All of a sudden you've got another problem." Mr Main said the scenario was fictitious, but was designed to make people think what could happen. Asked if people should report unattended bags left around hospitals and health centres, he said, "I would do that anywhere. If I was in a hotel and saw such things, I would be at reception telling them." He said NHS Tayside would be working to increase awareness of the issues in coming months and take steps to improve security.

UK & World

Army officer on bombed Tube train ‘expected to see suicide bomber’

March 8 2018

An army officer on board the bombed Parsons Green Tube expected to find a “suicide bomber” near the site of the explosion, a court heard.Craig Palmer was on the opposite end of the District Line train when he noticed a commotion in the penultimate carriage, the Old Bailey was told.Giving evidence on Thursday he described how after seeing a wall of people rush past him in terror, his training kicked in and he moved towards the blast site to see what had happened.Mr Palmer said: “There was a kind of a wall of people coming through the train. I turned to face that end of the carriage, that is my instinct, that is my training.”Jurors heard that wanting to know what had happened, Mr Palmer walked down the platform towards where the home-made device had partially detonated.He said: “I was conscious that there was probably a couple of people that rushed past me, and I had a seen the wall of faces in terror who rushed past me.“There was personal debris, bags, shoes, all this sort of stuff. I could see something in the corner of the train, it was burning.“There was smoke billowing out of it and the carriage was filling up with grey smoke.“I could smell, at that point, something I categorise as being explosives.” Mr Palmer continued: “First things first, I was looking in the vicinity and in my details of surveillance of the area, and I was looking for a person. I couldn’t see a person, I couldn’t see any hostiles.“I couldn’t see any parts of a person and expected there to be a suicide bomber, or parts of a bomber.”The court heard that on closer examination of the bomb, Mr Palmer became more convinced that it was an “improvised explosive device” and that he took photos of it from various angles which he shared with special officers who arrived at the scene.Mr Palmer was giving evidence at the trial of 18-year-old Ahmed Hassan who is accused of planting the bomb on the rush hour Tube on September 15 last year.He denies attempted murder and using the chemical compound TATP to cause an explosion that was likely to endanger life.