National Museum celebrates Chinese New Year

The National Museum of Scotland launched its new East Asian Exhibition today as part of a number of events across the Capital celebrating the Chinese New Year.

The exhibition follows Chinese New Year on Tuesday, and is part of a series of celebrations across Edinburgh which culminates with an official concert on Saturday 9th of February.

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The Exploring East Asia, Ancient Egypt Rediscovered and The Art of Ceramics open on the 8th of February, concluding the Museums 15 year long, £80 million redevelopment.

Bruce Minto, Chair of National Museums Scotland said:

“This is a truly historic moment in the life of a great museum. The transformation of this iconic Victorian building on time and on budget is an achievement of which the nation can be rightly proud.”

“Our outstanding collections help us to tell a vast range of diverse and fascinating stories from across the globe highlighting the many Scots involved in invention, innovation and discovery.  These stories have engaged our many supporters who have given generously to help us achieve our ambitions and to whom I am extremely grateful.”

The Celebrations aim to draw in more tourism from China. This comes as Edinburgh City Council decides to back a £2-a-night tourist tax.

Images credit: The National Museum of Scotland.

 

Equine flu brings horse racing world to standstill

The British Horseracing Authority has banned all races in the UK after an outbreak of equine influenza.

The ban has effected Musselburgh Races, which was set to host a fixture on Sunday with eight races and a £160,000 prize – the biggest ever prize pot at The Races.

Musselburgh Racecourse general manager, Bill Farnsworth, said:

“We are naturally disappointed at losing our richest jumps racing fixture this weekend (Sunday 10 Feb) but the racing community is working together to minimise the spread of equine influenza and the decision by the BHA to cancel racing is without doubt the correct one.

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The £160,000 prize fixture will not be going ahead on Sunday. (Credit: Ryan Traynor)

“The industry does prepare for scenarios such as these and I am confident that the stringent procedures which are in place across the UK will ensure that racing is back and up running as soon as it is safe to do so.”

Vaccinated horses typically have mild short lasting symptoms, but this new strain is effecting vaccinated animals. The BHA said that the disease was typically not serious:

“Symptoms may include a raised temperature, a cough and nasal discharge. It is highly contagious. Humans are not at risk from the virus, though can spread the virus on clothes and equipment.”

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All the horses are in quarantine and the stables are deserted. (Credit: Ryan Traynor)

“All of the trainers who had runners at the fixtures at Wolverhampton, Ludlow and Ayr this week have been informed that their yards have been placed under a temporary hold which means that they will not be able to make any declarations until their horses have been tested and cleared.”

Symptoms typically take three days to appear which means that the full extent of the problem won’t be known until Sunday.

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The prestigious race course will lose betting revenue because of the cancellation of Sunday’s event. The BHA say they are sympathetic, but must impose the ban. (Credit: Ryan Traynor)

Bill Farnsworth hoped that the disruption to Musselburgh would be minimal:

“A decision will be taken on Monday by the BHA as to when racing will resume, and if our next meeting scheduled for Wednesday (13 Feb) goes ahead as planned, there will be free admission for all.”

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The disease is airborne, but not harmful to humans. (Credit: Ryan Traynor)

The BHA only makes decisions on race horses but encourages all horse owners to seek professional advice and to get their horses vaccinated if they have concerns.

 

Committee discusses draft budget ahead of deadline

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Edinburgh City Chambers (Photo credits: Ross Cowper-Fraser)

The Edinburgh Council Finance and Resources committee met today to discuss the proposed Edinburgh City council budget.

The council must make £33 million in savings next year before the draft budget can be finalised in three weeks. Areas that could be effected are nursery teachers, Council workers, community police officers and leisure with reports in recent weeks of looming job cuts for up to 300 council employees.

Last night the SNP minority government reached a deal with the Greens to get the budget through the Scottish Parliament. For Edinburgh this deal brought the cuts down from £41 million to £33 million.

Councillors are also in discussions to introduce the UK’s first overnight “Tourist Tax”.

Green Councillor for Fountainbridge and Craiglockhart,Gavin Corbett, gave his thoughts on the deal and draft budget:

“It doesn’t get round the huge and difficult choices that the city council has, but if you ask me is 33 million better than 41 million of course it is.”

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Gavin Corberr, Green Councillor for Fountainbridge/Craiglockhart (Photo credits: Ross Cowper-Fraser)

Under the draft proposals £350,000 will be cut from Edinburgh Leisure and parks, museums and public toilets would all be effected.

A representative From UNISON said that the spending reductions could see 300 jobs lost a year with 1000 in total by 2022/23.

The Education Institute of Scotland (EIS) warned of a knock on effect to children’s education if full time nursery teachers are cut. Alison Murphy the EIS’s Local Association Secretary warned that Schools would be left playing catch up if early years education is disrupted. However members of the  committee were sceptical and noted that some of the best preforming councils in the country don’t have full time nursery teachers.

Labour Councillor for Portobello and Craigmillar, Maureen Child, was critical of the consultation process and felt it wan’t representative of the Edinburgh Public:

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Maureen Child, Labour Councillor for Portobello/Craigmillar (Photo credits: Ross Cowper-Fraser)

“If your looking after a vulnerable person you don’t have time to take part in consultations.

“We will have to radically change some of these services, and will have to expect more of our citizens to step up.”

Scottish Government pledges £30,000 to help prevent children going missing

The Scottish government has announced plans to finance a programme to support children and young people at risk of going missing.

Nearly two-thirds of missing person investigations in Scotland involve young people. The new scheme aims to educate this at-risk age-group on the dangers of going missing and how to receive professional help.

The programme has been awarded £30,000 funding by the government to tackle the issue from a preventative position.

Nearly 64%, of all missing person investigations in Scotland involve young people and the charity Missing People, one of two charities involved in the new programme along with Barnardo’s Scotland, say that these figures are likely to be a significant underestimate.

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Credit to missingpeople.org.uk

Only 1 in 20 children who run away from home seek professional help.

Missing Persons Operational Coordinator Yackson Bell from Police Scotland spoke about missing people in the Capital. Yackson estimates that in the Edinburgh about 54% of the 3,000 missing person incidents last year involved children.

Yakson pointed out that young people who run away put themselves at an increased risk of experiencing crime or sexual exploitation:

“We live in fear of that on an almost daily basis.”

“All these risks are heightened if a young person goes missing.”

“If we can raise awareness of that then its something that then we support it 100%.”

You can listen to Yackson Bell talk about the programme here.

 

Fizzy drink health crisis?

A report released by Cancer Research UK revealed children’s shocking fizzy drinks habits, but is this the full story? 

Newspapers are no stranger to doom and gloom,  just today we were told that every day Scottish children consume 600,000 fizzy drinks a day. However this isn’t the full story.

The report released by Cancer Research UK looked at the diets and obesity levels of Scottish children. They found that 1 in 4 were obese, with fizzy drinks being a contributing factor.

Despite consumption of fizzy drinks being high sugary fizzy drink consumption has actually fallen by 21%.

Researchers have been calling on the Scottish Government to further the limit the advertising and sale of junk food special offers. despite the average Scot consuming 12 kilocalories less in fizzy drinks everyday, the consumption of junk food such as confectionery biscuits and cakes has been steadily increasing since 2010.

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Fizzy drinks currently on the market.

There are calls for the Scottish Government to do more when tackling the obesity with suggestions that restrictions on multi-buy offers on junk food and fizzy drinks which could limit children’s intake.

However, the government is holding a consultation for restricting the advertising of unhealthy food. Members of the public have until the 9th of January 2019 to take part.

Sturgeon offers cash injection to combat climate change

Nicola Sturgeon has pledged £200,000 to fight climate change ahead of her appearance at Poland climate change summit.

The money will be given to the Marrakech Partnership for Global Climate Action – the body responsible for enacting the Paris Agreement strategy.

It is hoped that the funding will help all levels of Society to come together to reduce climate change. The first Minster said this about the funding.

“We have a moral responsibility to do what we can to prevent, and mitigate the effects of, global climate change.

“Scotland has been widely praised internationally for our work to tackle climate change, and I am absolutely determined that there will be no let-up in our efforts.”

“It requires everyone in society – individuals, businesses and governments – to play their part in changing behaviours, and I’m pleased that the Scottish Government is able to support the Marrakech Partnership for Global Climate Action in its work.”

David Attenborough kicked off the conference with a speech about climate change being humanities greatest threat.

The conference has came under fire for being hosted in Poland’s coal country with the Polish Government have announced the opening of a new coal mine next year near the conference centre.

The conference will run from the 2nd to the 14th of December.

Fallout 76 Controversy – Game Developer Fails to Fulfil Promises

Fallout 76 – the latest game in the retro-futuristic, post-apocalyptic Fallout series – has left publisher Bethesda with a bit of a fallout on their hands. 

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Expectations VS Reality: The advertisements (right) compared to what was delivered (left).

Bethesda has been forced to backtrack after a canvas bag included in the £175 “Power Armour” edition of the game turned out to be made out of nylon. Bethesda blamed expensive materials on the switch, but it later emerged that they had given the canvas version to YouTubers and journalists reviewing the game.

Some fans called this false advertising and are pursuing a class action lawsuit. Last night it emerged that players with proof of purchase would be given the canvas bag in a surprise turnaround from Bethesda.

This was a particularly surprising development considering the origin of the controversy, an email from Bethesda to a consumer which stated: “We aren’t planning on doing anything about it.”

The game has been mired in controversy since its announcement and has received criticism from the close-knit community for moving away from the series’ story heavy single player roots.  

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The original email, which caused the firestorm after being posted to social news site Reddit.

It’s not just the design decisions that fans are upset about. Bethesda has also been under fire from the community for false advertising and releasing what is essentially a broken game. At launch players found that they were unable to progress in the story when an object they needed to interact with simply couldn’t be clicked on. Also, glitches that were present in Fallout 4 have reared their ugly head again in 76, and this has led some in the community to call the game an ‘asset flip cash grab’. 

What can consumers do who feel swindled by this horror show? There are some options. Bethesda have decided to make a dedicated launcher for their games, meaning that most PC gamers bought 76 directly from Bethesda – as opposed to distribution platform Steam, the source for most PC games. 

Steam has an under two-hour refund policy meaning if a player has played a game and quickly decided they don’t like it then they can get a refund, but Bethesda considers even downloading the game files using the game meaning even players who downloaded the game and couldn’t get it to work may not be eligible for a refund. 

Some gamers have suggested making a charge back claim with their bank. This is when a bank takes the funds out of a merchant’s account, and investigates if consumer protection/advertising standards have been breached. Be aware however that doing this will almost certainly get your Bethesda account banned, and if you brought Fallout 76 from a third party retailer they are likely to put the funds to collection. So this option might be more hassle than it’s worth. In more positive news, some gamers have reported limited success with getting a refund from Amazon.  

Gamers who received the nylon bag have until the end of January to claim the bag originally advertised.  

Click here to view the Fallout 76 trailer.

Edinburgh, Electric Cars and You

The UK Government announced earlier this week that it would be bringing their proposed ban on the sale of petrol and diesel cars forward by 8 years to 2032 – the same year proposed by the Scottish Government.

This means that any cars purchased after this date must be ‘effectively zero emission’; one solution for this is the use of electric cars.

But is Edinburgh ready for an electric revolution?

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map2Asset 16@6x-100If you can’t charge at home you can use a charging point.

These are dotted around the country and are easy to find with services such as Zap Map that give you a run down of the charging options available in your area.

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Edinburgh isn’t exactly short on chargers. There are around 20 sites within three miles of the centre, almost double the amount of petrol stations.

But there’s a catch.

This is how long it takes to refill the different types of vehicle

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and when you consider that in Edinburgh,

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twenty charging points might not be enough.

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After the Department of Transport announced that the electric car subsidy was being cut by £1000 in November, a surge of last minute applicants has left the fund ‘days away’ from running out.

If electric cars are to be the future then Edinburgh Council, Holyrood and Westminster have a long way to go to reach the 2032 deadline.

Women in sport – it is for life, not just for the week

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This week is the second ever Scottish Women and Girls in Sports Week. It aims to get women participating more in sport by giving them positive role models across all levels of the industry.

For years Scottish women have participated less in sports and physical activity than their male counterparts.

Between 2011 to 2017 sports such as karate, dodgeball and cross-country were the fastest growing sports for girls. This seems drastically different from the landscape of men’s sports which is dominated by football, rugby and golf.

Maureen McGonigle, the chief executive of the Scottish Women in Sports charity spoke about what the week aims to achieve. She said that the strength of the sports week is that everyone sends out the same unified message across social media.

“It’s been easier in the past for women to go into non-traditional sports as these haven’t been male dominated” said McGonigle.

“We are trying to dismiss this feeling that there are women and men’s sports.”

However, a boost was given to women’s football  last week when it was announced that the women’s national team would receive government funding to train for the 2019 World Cup in France.

“The Women’s national team had funding for UEFA last year but it’s going to benefit the minority as most of the squad is playing outside Scotland. The question is why we can’t get commercial funding so they can train more often in the country?” asked McGonigle.

Funding and commercial viability is a common theme in the discussion of women’s sports. Earlier this week the Scottish Women’s football chair Vivienne MacLaren said that Scottish Women’s football will never accept deals from alcohol or gambling companies, despite receiving offers.

But McGonigle believes losing out on this money won’t harm women’s football; she thinks it will improve it: “This won’t impact commercial viability, it’s the lack of coverage, [people] don’t get to see how good women playing the sport are.”

One of the fastest growing areas for women and girls was martial arts, with karate being the fastest growing sport for girls between 2011 and 2018.

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Linn Haraldsvik is a Krav Maga instructor who runs Rencounter, a school where she teaches both kids and adults self-defence through martial arts. She spoke about why martial arts have been popular with Scottish girls.

“I’ve seen a big increase of girls and women in Krav Maga definitely in the last few years… I’m a female instructor which I think makes a big difference,” she said.

“It’s about being able to identify with the instructor they think if she can do it I can do it. When women see I can do it they think they just need to practice it’s not impossible.”

“Society is changing, it’s more normal for girls to do things like martial arts and to be more physically active.”

One of the main concerns for the women and girls in sports advisory board is not just getting girls into sport but keeping up with it their whole lives. This is something Linn from Rencounter has recognised as well

“Encouraging women and girls to have the confidence to keep doing things is important. Especially for girls, once they hit puberty they get very body conscious…we need to be improving their self-confidence by teaching them that it is OK to make mistakes.”

Women and Girls in Sports week runs from the 30th of September to the 5th of October. You can get involved too by using the hashtag #SheCanSheWill.

By Ryan Traynor

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