Edinburgh Napier Knights gear up for return to action amidst COVID-19

 

A new university term has brought with it a new set of risks and none perhaps pose more of a risk than the return of university sports.

In order to ensure there is continued survival and under strict regulations from the Scottish Government, University level sports is gearing up for a return to action.

One such team is the Edinburgh Napier Knights, Edinburgh Napier University’s American football team led by their Head Coach and University lecturer Peter Laird.

One of the many new rules in place ahead of the return of the football season is that clubs must train members of the team and coaching staff to be ‘COVID officers’ whilst current restrictions limit the team to equipment free practices.

“Each sport has to be answerable to the national governing body. So, for instance, the restrictions on American football, and what we’re allowed to do involves, we can’t wear equipment just yet. We’re also only allowed to have a maximum of 20 players on one half of a field”, commented Mr Laird.

Mr Laird further explained that the lack of equipment has the potential to somewhat limit the sport’s appeal.

“There is no equipment, which is partially some of the attraction for people to come along and try it out. They want to put the helmet on and the shoulder pads and feel what it’s like.”

The latest government guidance on COVID-19, states: “Organised outdoor contact sports such as rugby can re-start for people of all ages. For outdoor coaching sessions, there is a limit of 30 on the total number of people who can be coached at any one time.”

Despite having to contend with so many new restrictions Mr Laird feels it is vital that the season, even if it looks a little different, goes ahead in order to ensure the team’s continued survival for years to come.

“My biggest concern going into this year is that if we do nothing, the club just slowly starts to fade away and die, you have to reboot the whole thing a year from now, if things are back to normal. So I’d rather have something.”

With old restrictions now being reintroduced, the Napier Knights, much like many other sports teams both at university level and beyond continue to be left in a state of limbo unsure as to what the future may bring.

Edinburgh tram extension budget rises to over £207 million

(Credit: Edinburgh Council)

The cost of an extension to the Edinburgh tram lines has risen by 25% to £207.3 million.

The proposed 2.8 mile extension to Edinburgh’s trams would go from the city centre to Newhaven. The initial estimation was for a total cost of £165 million.

After a “thorough tendering process” the operation has been allocated a budget of £196 million and with a “significant additional risk allocation” of 6%. The total budget eclipses the previous estimation,  a 25% rise.

The council claims that the project will be funded by future tram fare revenues, with the projected number of passengers for the first year being 16 million. However, the original project to reintroduce trams to Edinburgh cost twice the original estimation and is subject to an ongoing inquiry.

The final business case was tested against previously completed tram projects by the University of Oxford’s Saïd Business School and they found the project is “more likely than not to be delivered within budget” but also recommend an extra £50 million to cover all eventualities.

The soaring budget estimate has had a mixed reaction from the public on Twitter:

The final business case is to be reviewed by councillors in March following the opening of a special data room in the City Chambers today.

Council Leader Adam McVey said: “All Councillors will be taking the opportunity to examine in detail the FBC and associated documents in detail so that we can collectively make as informed a decision as possible come 14 March. If Council moves ahead with this project, we’ll be working hard to make sure we deliver this project on time, on budget.”

Depute Council Leader Cammy Day said: “A tram to Newhaven would not only provide a direct link for the people of Newhaven and Leith to the city centre and out to the airport, but would connect residents and visitors to major employment and travel hubs along the route.

Construction is planned using a “one-dig” approach closing each site only once and opening only when all works are complete. This approach reflects on lessons learned from the previous tram project.”

 

International Insight

Joanna Hampson brings you the latest EN4 international news brief for Tuesday October 23.

Here are today’s top stories.

  • The killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi was allegedly planned days in advance. The Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan revealed he has strong evidence to suggest Khashoggi was killed in a premeditated murder at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on the 2nd of October. In his address this Tuesday, to the MP’s of his ruling party, President Erdogan confirmed that 18 people had been arrested in Saudi Arabia over the case, but is yet to release further information regarding the details of the evidence. For live updates from the investment conference in Saudi Arabia head to the Guardian.

 

  • The world’s longest sea-crossing bridge has finally been opened in Zhuhai, China. Chinese President Xi Jinping has officially opened the bridge, which connects Hong Kong to Macau and the mainland Chinese city of Zhuhai, spanning 55km (34 miles) of water. The $20 billion bridge took nine years to build while incurring major delays and cost overruns. To watch the video ‘flying over the world’s longest sea bridge’ head to the BBC.

 

  • Poland’s first openly gay politician has said progressive policies can win in the countries local elections. After the ruling Law and Justice party suffered setbacks in local elections at the weekend, Robert Biedroń who stepped down as mayor of Słupsk to launch his own pro-European, “pro-democratic” movement, has now said that progressives can win. Biedroń’s own political trajectory, as a young, former LGBT activist who was elected to the Sejm in 2011, strides towards a modern Poland, advancing on the common view of the Catholic country. The Guardian report on the advancements of the upcoming elections in more detail on their website.

 

  • Donald Trump has warned that the US will bolster its nuclear arsenal to put pressure on Russia and China. Speaking to reporters, the President repeated his belief that Russia has violated the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty, which he has threatened to leave. Russia continues to deny these allegations.

In Business

 

  • UK based vacuum cleaner manufacturer, Dyson, is set to build its new electric car in Singapore. The factory will break ground in Singapore later this year with the first car scheduled to roll off the production line in 2021. Dyson has said Singapore was chosen for the project based on the availability of engineering talent, regional supply chains and proximity to some key target markets. With a vast budget of £2 billion committed to the plant, Dyson will be focussing largely on research and development and test track facilities.

 

  • Co-founder of the Benetton clothing firm, Gilberto Benetton, has died at the age of 77. Benetton founded United Colors of Benetton in Italy, with brothers Luciano and Carlo and sister Giuliana, in the 1960s. Considered as one of the most powerful families in Italy, Benetton himself is credited with diversifying the clothing company into a multi-billion euro giant. United Colors of Benetton is known for its provocative advertising campaigns which have previously featured images of prisoners sentenced to death in America and, more recently, displayed images of migrants being rescued from the Mediterranean.

Consumer confidence in Scotland lowest in over a year

Consumer confidence levels in Scotland have dropped to the lowest it has been in over a year, and below the UK-wide average, new research indicates.

According to the latest Deloitte Consumer Tracker, Scotland’s consumer confidence results have dropped to a net balance of  -9%, which is lower than the UK average of -7%.

Scotland’s result has dropped a whole four percentage points since the last quarter. This is the lowest it has been since the second quarter of 2017.

Some local business owners in Bruntsfield, Edinburgh responded to the research, and were surprisingly optimistic about their customers, despite the recent findings.

Gavin Elden, A La Carte owner, said: “Even when times are tough, people just want to have treats, so we haven’t noticed too much of a change.

A La Carte on Bruntsfield Place. Credits to Daisy Smith

“However, there has been a huge change around here, and lots and lots of shops have changed hands.

“It is hard to tell with Brexit. I think the whole country is just uncertain at the moment about everything. It could be fantastic or it could be a disaster.”

Clementine Home and Gifts worker, Monica, said: “I would definitely think Brexit will have an effect. Everyone is talking about it and I will probably be affected because I am from Poland.

Clementine on Bruntsfield Place. Credits to Daisy Smith

“My friends are all concerned and it definitely has an impact on how people view their future here and spending as well because people are saving instead of spending just in case.”

Cat Anderson, Edinburgh Bookshop worker, said: “I was talking to the boss the other day and she is really impressed with how much people are shopping and she puts it down to Brexit.

The Edinburgh Bookshop on Bruntsfield Place. Credits to Daisy Smith

“People are just like we don’t care anymore, we are going to live regardless, we don’t know what is coming next so we might as well just enjoy ourselves.

“I have certainly seen a massive increase in food prices and have changed my shopping habits accordingly. Brexit is definitely having an impact.”

In Scotland, five out of the six measures of confidence dropped compared to the last quarter. The measure which grew in confidence was regarding job opportunities and career progression which rose by four percentage points to -4%.

The main reason for the downfall in consumer confidence was plunging levels of optimism regarding general health and wellbeing. This category dropped 18 percentage points down to -16% since the previous quarter. This was closely followed by a steep drop in levels of confidence around household disposable income which fell to -24%.

Levels of confidence fell in all six categories for the UK-wide results. The sharpest decline was in the category regarding disposable income and personal debt.

Deloitte chief economist Ian Stewart, related the downfall to Brexit and said: “The reality of higher inflation and August’s interest rate rise has dented optimism about spending power.

“Meanwhile uncertainty and the manner in which the UK exits the EU in less than six months’ time is creating an additional headwind for consumers.

He added: “That such consumer-friendly conditions have failed to boost confidence testifies to the headwinds from inflation, interest rate rises and Brexit.”

 The survey was carried out between September 21 and 29 and involved 3105 consumers across the UK, with 371 being in Scotland.

 

Paper Review, Tuesday October 23

Join reporters Joanna Hampson and Olivia Otigbah for a review of today’s papers.

Should we have the right to our own image?

A mind-boggling scenario was brought to light in an Instagram post by Gigi Hadid last week. The model was forced to delete a photo from her Instagram page after her manager informed her that she was being “legally pursued” for posting a photo of herself taken by a paparazzi.

Hadid had found the photo uncredited on Twitter and had posted it to her Instagram account. She even said that she would have given credit to the photographer had they come forward and asked her to. Her frustration was clearly directed at the money-making tendencies of the paparazzi.

The model also shed light on the fact that some of her young fans who have Instagram accounts dedicated to her have had their accounts suspended or have been sued for posting images taken by the paparazzi.

View this post on Instagram

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A post shared by Gigi Hadid (@gigihadid) on

A valiant flock of celebs have rallied by Hadid’s side since her post, describing similar instances where they have been sued for posting their own faces. Kylie Jenner commented: “We’re ‘public figures’ and it’s legal for them to invade our privacy. It’s pretty disappointing. We gotta change this,” whilst Emily Ratajkowski reposted Gigi’s post.

This is a complex issue to come to terms with. The job of the paparazzi is to photograph and circulate images of celebrities in the media, so choosing to sue a celebrity that posts your photo seems backwards and paradoxical. Surely, we should all have the right to post a photo of ourselves no matter who took it, but there is no law in place to make this the case. Anyone, not just the paparazzi, who takes a photo, owns that photo through copyright law and is liable to sue for improper use.

Here is how the law currently stands:

 

Screen Shot 2018-10-21 at 21.39.24

The law surrounding the paparazzi in England changed significantly after Princess Diana’s death in 1997. Despite her death being the result of a car accident, she was being chased by intrusive paparazzi at the time. A Gallup poll from 1997 reveals that 43% of the UK public thought that the photographers were responsible for the collision.

After Diana’s death, the Protection from Harassment Act became an important way for celebrities to arm themselves against the paps; as did the Press Complaints Commission, who carefully reviewed its press regulations.

There have been many more examples of safety being a key worry, both for celebrities and for the paparazzi. In 2013, a paparazzi was killed when he was run over whilst trying to photograph Justin Bieber in his car.

There are also some bizarre examples of copyright law which are now being questioned. In 2015, PETA attempted to sue a photographer for posting a ‘selfie’ that a monkey had taken. They argued that publishing and selling the photographs that the monkey had taken infringed his copyright. Earlier this year it was decided that, as a monkey, Naruto couldn’t own the copyright for the pictures.

However, the issues brought up last week pose a new, contemporary set of problems. These are issues that arise as products of the internet era. They have raised the question of whether traditional copyright rules are perhaps outdated in the time of platforms like Instagram and other photo sharing sites.

The issues raised by Hadid prove that there is a flaw in the law if we don’t even own the rights to photos of our own faces. Perhaps the law now actually acts in favour of paparazzi rather than the subjects of their taunting. The question is, can we fight for the right to have control over unsolicited pictures of our own faces, and what will protect us when fighting for this right?

 

 

 

 

Truth or death? – The harsh reality of journalism

Journalist Jamal Khashoggi has been declared dead but without a body and without facts, one question I want to know is, how many journalists need to die in the name of freedom of speech?  

October 2, 2018, journalist Jamal Khashoggi walked into the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul, Turkey. As his fiancée waited outside, the journalist stepped into the building, never heard from again.

After his fiancée raised the alarm, Turkish forces began an investigation, finding evidence of torture, prompting several reports of Khashoggi’s fingers and head being cut off.

Khashoggi, by all accounts, was a courageous journalist, fuelled by a desire to see a modern progression of the Saudi regime. Deliberately choosing self-imposed exile he continued his dedication to change, through the Washington Post.

Eagerly awaiting his return, fellow journalist Karen Attiah recounts how colleagues at the Post had hoped Khashoggi would be able to submit his weekly column, which she said “captures his passion and commitment to freedom of speech in the Arab world.”

“This is the last piece of his I will edit for the Post. This column perfectly captures his commitment and passion for freedom in the Arab world” – Karen Attiah, Global Opinions Editor, Washington Post

Sadly, Khashoggi would never return.

So far, Saudi have officially “plead the fifth” recounting a botched fist-fight, while maintaining Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman is innocent. Whether this is to be believed from a country who still indulges in medieval punishment, is out for jury.

According to data collected from Committee to Protect Journalists, 48 reporters have died this year with, 47 in 2017 and a total of 1,323 since 1992. In 2017, 262 were also imprisoned, with most of these being in Arab countries.

Olivia O - Saudi Journalists

1,323 journalists have been killed since 1992.

The evasive and global response from governments, sheds light on the perceived value of a journalist’s honour to the truth. The disposal of journalists seems like a more viable option for corrupt governments and organisations than to deal with the publication of facts.

“Those who rule by fear, and fear to explain their rule, fear questions. They kill messengers.” – Jamal Khashoggi

The topic of a journalist’s safety is rarely addressed by public figures, instead dismissed as part of the job.  U.S President Donald Trump was recently cited praising congressman Greg Gianforte as “his guy” for an attack on a Guardian journalist, further highlighting the divide between the media and the state.

Unfortunately, this isn’t anything new. Even with the threat of vast media coverage the immediate threat to a journalist’s freedom is still very much active. After the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, is the hatred towards journalists accepted as the new normal?

 

New Stadium could give Edinburgh a Fortress to Defend

 

A new stadium planned to be built next to the Scottish national Stadium, Murrayfield, has been given the go-ahead by Edinburgh council.

It is hoped that the new build will be completed next year in time for Edinburgh Rugby to make it their new home.

With just under 8,000 seats it is hoped that sell-out crowds will gather to watch a revitalised capital side. With significantly less seats to fill than Murrayfield’s 67,000.

Less seats mean a more intense atmosphere can be achieved making Edinburgh a more daunting opponent, allowing them to build a club identity and creating a closer connection with fans.

Edinburgh forward, Rory Sutherland said:

“We would like somewhere we can call a home.

“It’s going to be important for creating an atmosphere, getting the support in … it can make a big difference.”

Head Coach Richard Cockerel added:

“It’s great to have your own home. we had over 7,000 here at the weekend and with the new stadium holding 7,800, we can start to get sell-out crowds like they have at Scotstoun.

“It then becomes our own atmosphere, our own pitch, our own stadium, our own branding, all those things. We can build our own identity and move forward.

“Edinburgh will have a permanent home that we can build a team and a club around.”

 

Report reveals gender pay gap in City of Edinburgh Council

The City of Edinburgh Council will address a gender pay gap issue that has surfaced since a report revealed that male staff are paid more than women.

The pay gap ranges from 5% difference for staff and 20% difference for part-time employees within the City of Edinburgh Council, where roughly 70% of staff are women. Men are paid on average £13.47, while women earn on average £12.79 — a difference of 68p an hour.

Labour Councillor and member of the Finance and Resources Committee, Mandy Watt, said:

“Work that is done mainly by female employees is not properly valued by society. Women are expected to ‘break the glass ceiling’ if they want the gender pay gap to be closed. It would be fairer to simply pay more for the work that women do now. If the Council was not constrained by austerity, I would want this to be considered as a policy proposal.”

Edinburgh Councillors seem to agree that measures need to be put in place for the pay gap to end. 

Conservative Councillor Graham Hutchison said:

“As is the case in any organisation, the Council’s employees are our most valuable resource and are critical in terms of delivering frontline services to the citizens of Edinburgh.  It is worth noting that the gender pay gap in the Council is comparatively low but with women making up some 70% of our workforce it is an issue which must be promptly addressed.  A report on the Gender Pay Gap to the last meeting of the Finance and Resources Committee, on which I sit, was approved unanimously by all members showing the commitment of Councillors of all political stripes to eliminate the pay gap entirely.”

There is a difference between the gender pay gap and equal pay (which is to pay the same amount of money for the same work, without regard for gender). Equal pay has been achieved in the City of Edinburgh Council.

The city council will continue to investigate several other issues in the workplace, such as occupational segregation (when men and women tend to take on particular roles) and the male to female ratio in regards to senior positions.

Gender Pay gap

 

 

Edinburgh Waverley station worst in Scotland for delays and cancellations

As an experienced train commuter, Michaella Wheatley gives an insight into how train delays from Edinburgh Waverley can impact everyday lives.

“The 15:35 service to Stirling has been delayed. Please listen for further announcements.”

The sigh that escaped my mouth was echoed across the platform. A quick glance around, and it became obvious that this was the last thing anyone wanted to hear. Frowns were plastered to almost all faces on platform 14 – and those who did not wear a frown wore a blank expression instead.

It was not that much of a surprise to hear my train was delayed. Unpleasant and disappointing? Yes, but shocking? No.

At least one train a week, out of the three Edinburgh to Stirling services I took, ended up being slightly delayed. This varied from the train being a minute late to arriving at the platform roughly a quarter of an hour after its scheduled time. For me, this meant waiting on the platform for longer, then being home a little later than planned.

It might not seem like a long time to me, but for those who had to catch another train, it was inconvenient. These are the commuters who are always hit the hardest when trains fail to run on time — the domino-effect of one delayed train, leading to missing the next train, and so on, is likely to ruin their plans completely.

Judging from some of the reactions to this announcement around me, it was easy to spot who would be missing their next train home.

In light of the importance of reliable train services and why they are important to commuters, consumer group Which? has uncovered the percentage of delayed and cancelled services for stations across the UK.

The company looked at the 20 busiest train stations outside of London and the ten busiest London stations from the beginning of this year to September 30, 2018, using data from the rail-performance tracking website On Time Trains.

Michaella W 3

42% of all Edinburgh Waverley services end up delayed by more than a minute.

Three of Scotland’s train stations made the top 20 busiest stations in the UK: Edinburgh Waverley, Glasgow Queen Street, and Glasgow Central. Most services ran smoothly for both Glasgow stations, with Queen Street reaching only 39% of delays and Central on second place with 34%. The two Glasgow stations reported a 3% in cancellations on all services.

Edinburgh was ranked the worst station in Scotland, the 16th worst outside of London, even though it is the second busiest Scottish station after Glasgow Central.

Last week, Which? reported that 42% of all train services from Edinburgh Waverley are delayed, by one minute or more, or cancelled. The station’s cancellation rate was stated to be 4%.

However, since the end of September, these statistics have changed slightly.

The table below, including statistics from On Time Trains about Edinburgh Waverley’s performance over the past six months, reports the current percentage of delays and cancellations.

Edinburgh Waverley Station Performance

It is hoped that rail companies, as well as the government, will take notice of this report.

Alex Hayman, who is the Managing Director of Public Markets at Which?, said: “Passengers have told us reliability is hugely important to them. People have been left deeply frustrated at the unacceptably high levels of delays and cancellations which impact on their everyday lives.

“Passengers must be at the centre of the forthcoming Government rail review, it must look at performance targets to drive improvements in punctuality and reliability for passengers.

“The review must not be used as an excuse to delay real action to improve passengers’ experiences on the trains today. As a first step, the Government must introduce fully automatic compensation, ensuring more passengers get the money they are owed.”

In the Which? report, it is found that only eight train operating companies offer Delay Repay, and ScotRail is one of them.

This report from Which? comes a few weeks after ScotRail announced major changes to the train timetables, which will take effect in December, and are hoped to combat criticism from passengers about over-crowding trains during rush hour. The changes include faster journey times, more services, and more seats have been promised, but failed to announce how this would affect the punctuality of Scotland’s train, which is, at the end of the day, the biggest problem at hand.

 

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