NEWS 5th December 2008

PES meeting in Madrid  
Zapatero says that Europe will become stronger if it works on improving employment, education and state Welfare.
The PSOE's Secretary General and President of the Government, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, told the Council of the Party of European Socialists (PES), that Europe will be a weaker entity if it concentrates its efforts on “financial improvement or military power." During his address to prime ministers and European leaders in Madrid, Zapatero said the EU "must be more ambitious" and create an "Employment Agreement". He continued that the European Union should also consider the state of the environment and social security "these create wealth, growth and progress." He hoped that all European social democrats and the world would endeavor to "keep the flame of solidarity alive" and be prepared to combat the first problem of global society, poverty and misery. During his speech he referred to Obama's victory in the U.S. and promised that the European Socialist Party will give its support "to work in full cooperation to achieve peace and understanding of different civilizations and cultures. This is a big challenge for us, "he said.
Duty-free boost
Europeans can now bring twice as much duty-free personal goods into the EU under new European Commission rules. The limit has been raised to 430 euros (£359) from 175 euros for air and sea travellers. Alcohol and tobacco limits have also been changed.
The new limit on beer import is now 16 litres; wine is up to four litres but the limit for spirits remains at one-litre. Member states can choose to reduce the duty-free allowance for tobacco products backing up health policies. The 200-cigarette limit can be cut to just 40 and the 250g limit for tobacco to 50g. EU Taxation and Customs Union Commissioner Laszlo Kovacs said "many of the previous rules, which have been in place since 1969, were no longer relevant to today's world".
Earthquake alarm
The Vall d'Albaida was woken by an earthquake on December 2nd. The quake happened at 8am in Bocairent but was felt by residents in surrounding towns and villages. The National Geographic Institute confirmed that although it was only a small quake, registering just 2.1 on the Richter scale, it may have been felt over 10 kilometres away from the epicenter.
Security concerns at Marina Baixa Hospital
Hospital staff and patients are demanding more security following the increase in thefts.
In the last 10 days there have been two thefts at the hospital. A patient had a bag stolen while visiting the bathroom and a member of staff had their car taken from the hospital car park. Chairman of the Personnel Board, Luis Gimenez stated that security at the Hospital was going "from bad to worse." The hospital grounds only have two security guards per shift but "there is no security system in place to detect who comes and goes," continued Gimenez.


Crazy beach rules
We are all well aware of the crazy rules and regulations brought in by European Governments but Benidorm City Council has taken the biscuit this time. The council has introduced new guidelines for beach user which seem to have one aim, stopping holiday makers and visitors from have good old fashioned fun. Top of the list of craziness is a 120 euro fine for building sandcastles! Yep, that well known past time amongst hooligans and louts. Next, ball games, no kick about on the sand or catch with the kids unless you have bought your cheque book that too has a 120€ fine. But you are going to have to ask your bank manager for a loan if you are caught on the beach between the hours of midnight and 7am – a fine of 750 euros, no less! Councillor Josefa Perez said the fines were for people using the beach ‘in an inappropriate way’. Although one great thing to come out of it is the 1,000 euro fines for swimming while the red flag is flying. All too often people are dragged out of the sea when they have quite clearly been advised it is unsafe to do so. They risk not only their lives but those of the brave Red Cross personnel maybe they’ll think twice now!
Waiting lists
The current waiting time for surgical procedures in the Comunidad is 44 days, 24 less than the national average. According to information from the Ministry of Health the figures are the best since 2003 when the national average was 74 days. A spokes person for the Ministry explained that the figures are particularly impressive when the 10% population increase since 2003 is taken into consideration.
Car crisis
The only good thing to come out of the current economic crisis has been the reduction of traffic on the roads. According to a study conducted by the department of Traffic there were 6% less cars on the road during October 2008 compared with the same period in 2007.
Twenty arrested over property scam
A Fuengirola court has indicted twenty individuals of different nationalities with conspiring to defraud around 200 foreign property investors in a scam estimated to have netted the gang more than €65 million euros. They are accused of selling shares, to Brits in particular, in fictitious construction properties on the Costa del Sol and face charges including fraud, falsifying documents, money-laundering, and tax evasion. Civil Guard Officers arrested the suspects in a series of raids across Málaga province as part of Operation Fuentespina. 
Wobbly air traffic control
The air traffic control tower at El Altet airport in Alicante leans and sways in high winds. A second tower is being built alongside to stop the tower swaying which is reported to be so bad that it makes working for the air traffic controllers extremely difficult. The original tower was only constructed in 1997 at a cost of 3.6 million euros but will now be linked to a new 47 metre high tower.
Woman killed in folding bed
A 73 year old woman was killed after she became trapped inside a folding bed. The victim, identified as P.H. lived near Antequera north of Malaga. Her body was discovered by her daughters after she failed to answer several phone calls. Her family has not ruled out making an official complaint against the shop which sold them the bed.


Eagle spotted
A young spotted eagle has been seen for the first time in the Albufera Natural Park in Valencia. According to park technicians the spotted eagle is a large eagle, in comparison to other birds in the area.
Romanian immigration increased fivefold
They have a reputation as good workers, who take the initiative and have a desire to integrate into the country they choose to live in but many Spaniards connect Romania with crime. The number of Romanians living in Spain has increased fivefold since 2003. The majority of those arriving are aged between 20 and 44 years of age who fled social and economic crisis which worsened following the end of Ceausescu’s reign and the end of his communist dictatorship in 1989. According to a 2008 census there are currently 728,967 Romanians living and working in Spain, almost six hundred thousand more than in 2003.  
 
One dead and seven injured in fires
Three fires in the Comunidad have killed a man and injured seven people. In Vila-Real a 45 year old man died after becoming trapped on the top floor of an apartment block. Friends of the victim tried to save him but were beaten back by flames. In Alzira a man attempted to escape the fire by climbing down a cable attached to the outside of the building. National Police officers were able to rescue a woman from the property who was treated at the Burns Unit of La Fe Hospital in Valencia. Four officers needed treatment for smoke inhalation. In Benidorm an 80 year old man needed treatment for smoke inhalation after an apartment block caught fire. His 72 year old wife, four children and a number of people trapped in a lift were also rescued by fire crews. Local business owner, Wang Jianhai, said he lost Christmas stock worth over 400,000 in the fire and has not ruled out the possibility the fire had been started deliberately.
Children abused by lunch monitors
Four lunch monitors at an infants' school in Campello, Alicante have been arrested by Guardia Civil officers following sexual abuse allegations. An investigation began two weeks ago after a parent made an official complaint stating her 5 year old daughter had been abused during lunch at the Colegio Público Rafael Altamira. Officers have since taken several statements from other children all who have confirmed that they were punished if they refused to play a game called ‘Juego del pirulo' - touching the lolly. A doctor was unable to confirm physical abuse but did express concerns over the game described. The four supervisors were released and await the decision of a magistrate following further investigation. Many parents at the school have since removed their children from school lunch and are calling for the director to offer an explanation. As yet the school has not made an official statement.
 
Women Only
The first female only sex shop has opened in Valencia.
The store, in Benimaclet in Valencia, will only allow men in the store if they are accompanied by a woman. 'La Conchita Alegre' owners Rakel and Elena explained that the idea of the shop "comes from the need to create a shop where women can feel comfortable surrounded by erotic toys but, above all a space where the needs and interests of women is key." They continued that, "it is obvious there is much confusion and in the twenty-first century many women do not take charge of their sexuality."

Connections to the Italian Mafia
The Mossos d'Esquadra – Catalonia Civil Police - has arrested two men believed to have links with organized crime and the Italian Mafia. The men were wanted in connection with 18 bank robberies in Valencia, Catalonia and Madrid.

Road Safety Campaign
The DGT has launched a new campaign to remind parents of the importance of using suitable child seatbelts. One in four children killed in traffic accidents during 2008 were not wearing seat belts. According to data from the DGT 20% of children were not using suitable car seats or seat belt restraints. Between January and October 159 children from 0 to 13 years were killed on the roads. Drivers failing to ensure children are correctly seated could face a 150 euro fine and 3 points off their licence.
Master Slicer
Champion meat slicer, Nicolas Jimenez has cut his way into the Guinness Book of Records. Jimenez cut a 19 metre continuous slice of Iberico ham which weighed in at nearly 6 kilos. The record breaking attempt was held in Torrevieja and beat the previous record by 5 centimetres. The current World and Spain ham cutting champion took just over 75 minutes to cut the 19.25 metre slice. 


Anorexia on the rise
Cases of anorexia and bulimia are on the increase in preteen girls. The Ministry of Health report that not only have more cases been detected in girls aged between 9 and 10 but they expect more men to suffer from the illness in the future. Anorexia is mainly suffered by young people aged between 14 and 15. Bulimia is more common in women aged 18 to 20.
Woman lived with husband’s body for three days
An elderly woman suffering with Alzheimer's disease spent three days with the dead body of her husband in their home in Valencia. Police officers and fire crews broke the door down and discovered the 84 year old woman in a state of confusion and her 85 year old husband’s body on the bedroom floor. Neighbours said they had called at the house several times “but no-one answered the door. We alerted their sons immediately”. "Her son came and spoke with his mother through the door but she would not open the door to anyone”. A post mortem revealed the man died of natural causes.
Child pornography arrests
A teacher, businessman and police officer have been arrested in connection with the illegal distribution of child pornography. Operation ‘Ninja’ arrested 40 individuals, aged between 19 and 70, in 27 provinces. Officers searched 59 properties and seizing twelve laptops containing over 25,000 photographs and 9,000 videos. The operation was launched last February, following a complaint from an internet user who mistakenly downloaded pornographic images. Police have confirmed that among those arrested were also a doctor based in Madrid, a tour operator and several officials. All detainees will appear before the magistrate's court.

 Man shot on Torrevieja street
An Ecuadorian man died in a Torrevieja street after shooting himself with a police officers gun. The 32 year man flagged down a patrol car but as the car stopped he lent in the window and held kitchen knife to one of the officer’s throat. A struggle broke out between the pair and the knife was dropped inside the car. The officer continued to attempt to detain the man but lost his gun from his utility belt. The young man grabbed the gun and shot himself.
Multilingual teaching
Teachers association, Escola Valenciana has presented the Ministry of Education with a "study paper" which proposes 14 essential recommendations for the implementation of a multilingual education system - Castilian, Valencian and English. Demands include the employment of over 3,000 trilingual infant and primary teachers as well as increased teacher training. The document also requests a meeting with Education Minister, Alejandro Font de Mora. The association, formed by 24 municipal associations, represents the demands of 700 schools in Valencia. Schools in the region currently have an average of two trilingual teachers each; a figure which the association says is an "unthinkable" way to approach to multilingualism.



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