News update 17/04/09

Consum to donate surplus stock to the homeless
SUPERMARKET chain Consum intends to give away its surplus food stock to the poor and homeless. Spokesman for Consum, Javier Quiles, says staff at many stores in the city of Valencia report people begging them for food left over at closing time, or hanging around the wheelie-bins to collect up discarded stock.
Health councillor for Valencia, Lourdes Bernal, met with Consum’s representatives to discuss the matter last week. Consum reveals it throws away hundreds of euros’ worth of food every year because the goods are about to reach their sell-by date, or have become damaged in transit.  The chain handed out 100,000 euros’ worth of produce to the homeless last year. Lourdes Bernal says she is hoping to convince restaurants and other supermarkets to follow suit. The food will be donated to council-run canteens where the homeless can dine free of charge.

Air passenger figures fall

PASSENGERS flying to and from Valencia have fallen in number by around 20 per cent this year, reports AENA.
In Spain as a whole, flight numbers have gone down by 18 per cent, but Manises terminal has been worse hit than the average.
AENA, the Spanish Airport and Air Navigation board, said 36.5 million people flew in the first quarter of 2009.
Internal flight passenger figures have fallen by 20.5 per cent, with business trips decreasing by 18.2 per cent and international journeys by 16.3 per cent.
The only airports where passenger numbers have increased are Santander, Huesca-Pyrénées, and Reus, in Catalunya.
But AENA says the first quarter of this year’s figures have been slightly skewed because of Easter falling in April rather than March.

British landlord threatens tenants with gun

A BRITISH homeowner threatened his non-paying tenants with a handgun loaded with shot pellets, Local Police revealed this week.
They say the landlord, 64, had let his house on the Orihuela Costa urbanisation Horizonte to a group of British youths.
When they failed to pay their rent, he entered the house using his own set of keys and threatened to shoot them unless they left.
He was arrested when the tenants called the police.

Mother who kidnapped daughter loses custody

A MUM who ran back to her home country with her two-year-old daughter has lost custody of the child to her Spanish husband.
A judge in Sevilla heard that the accused, of Romanian nationality, took the child to her country of origin in August during an access visit, and did not return her to Spain.
The court says the woman blamed ‘bureaucratic problems’, which transpired not to exist, on her failure to return her daughter to the girl’s father.
This week’s verdict claims the mother’s intention was for the child to lose all contact with her dad.
Sevilla-based lawyer Manuel Pérez Peña, acting for the accused, said the woman was living in Valverde del Camino (Huelva) in 2006 when she had a short-term relationship with the girl’s father.
She fell pregnant and the child was born in January 2007.
The woman was awarded custody of the girl, and sought permission in April 2008 to move to Elche for work reasons, and then to visit Romania with her daughter in August of that year.
Once there, she did not return, but applied to a Romanian court for custody of the girl without informing Spanish authorities.
The judge said the mother ‘abused authorities’, since she presented a return airline ticket to Romania to show the court of her plans to return, when her intention was in fact to stay in her home country with the child.
He stated that it would ‘prejudice the girl’s development’ if she were to live in Romania, since she has lived in Spain since birth.
The mother has been ordered to pay 100 euros a month in maintenance to the father and may visit her daughter on alternate weekends.

Catherine Zeta-Jones and Antonio Banderas to film in Alicante

CATHERINE Zeta-Jones and Antonio Banderas are due to play the lead roles in a film about the life of painter Salvador Dalí, to be shot in Alicante’s Ciudad de la Luz studios.
The brainchild of British film director Simon West, the movie about the Catalán artist sees Banderas and Zeta-Jones working together for the first time after their starring parts in The mask of Zorro.
Alicante’s Ciudad de la Luz will be used to film scenes of Dalí in his artist’s studio and also in a New York hotel where the surrealist painter stayed for some months.
The remainder of the film will be shot in London and in Dalí’s home town, Cadaqués, in Cataluña.
Its cost of 14 million euros means this is the most expensive film ever to have been shot in the Alicante studio.
Filming will take place in May and June this year.

Radical overhaul of inheritance law on the cards

CHILDREN who abandon their parents to their fate when they are elderly or ill could be disinherited if a new law is passed in the Comunidad Valenciana.
This includes kids who deliberately lose contact with their mothers and fathers, says minister Serafín Castellano.
At present, a portion of a deceased person’s estate must, by law, be split equally between their surviving children.
But if the new inheritance law is passed, any child who fails to provide adequate care for sick or elderly parents will not see a penny of the estate.
Where a person has one or two children, a quarter of the inheritance will pass to them, and if the deceased has three or more children, a third of the estate will be handed down and divided equally.
The rest of a person’s assets can be left to whomsoever the will-maker chooses.
Castellano says Spanish laws will also be adapted to prevent children from losing out where their parents divorce and remarry.
It means that a person can still choose to leave their entire estate to their children instead of a slice of it automatically being passed on to a husband or wife of a second or subsequent marriage.
In the past, legislation has dictated that the order of succession to a deceased person’s estate is led by the children, followed by parents, partner, and more distant relatives.
This is now set to change with the widowed partner taking priority over the parents.
People will now have the option to leave legitimate beneficiaries out of their wills, but in the event a will is not made, all assets pass to the state.
However, the new law will recognised viva voce wills where there are independent witnesses.
Inheritance laws covering distribution of estates in Spain apply only to Spanish citizens.
Under UK law, even if a will is made in Spain to cover property in the country, the testator may leave his or her assets to whomsoever he or she chooses.

Cyber-sentence is a first for Spain

SPAIN’S first-ever prison sentence for earning money illegally from internet downloads was passed this week.
The accused, 22, from Logroño (La Rioja) is said to have downloaded films and videogames that were protected by copyright and made them available to the public on his own website.
Although he did not charge people for downloading the films and games, the surfer made a profit from the site through paying advertisers.
It meant that the public were able to download pirate copies of films from his website, albeit free of charge.
A judge stressed that file-sharing was legal, but earning money from pirate media was not.
The young man has been sentenced to six months in jail and ordered to pay a fine of 4,900 euros.
However, as a result of his guilty plea and this being a first offence, he will not go to prison unless he reoffends, says the court.
Industry bosses say the case sets an important precedent in terms of violation of copyright law for lucrative means.

Three drinks ‘safe driving limit’, say young motorists

A THIRD of young drivers believe they would be safe behind the wheel after three alcoholic drinks, an alarming study by the RAC shows.
Research in the Comunidad Valenciana has revealed that one in three would take their car out after three mixers or shots, and just over seven per cent consider they would be safe to drive after six.
They also overestimate the blood-alcohol limits, says the RAC.
The maximum permitted by law is 0.25 milligrams of alcohol per litre of blood, which most of the drivers interviewed believe to be two-and-a-half pints of beer, four-and-a-half glasses of wine, five shots or four long drinks.
According to researchers, most of those questioned were unaware that there is a greater concentration of alcohol in spirits.
But they overestimated the accident toll caused by drink-driving, placing this at 60 per cent.
In reality, says the Dirección General de Tráfico, alcohol causes around 12 per cent of road crashes.

Corín Tellado, ‘Spain’s Barbara Cartland’, dies in hospital

SPAIN’S most-read author has died in hospital just short of her 82nd birthday.
Corín Tellado has been hailed as Spain’s answer to Barbara Cartland and her Mills & Boon-style novels – of which she published over 4,000 – were instant bestsellers.
Tellado, who was born in Asturias on April 25, 1927, is said to be the most-read Spanish author after Cervantes.
She suffered a fall when she got up one morning at 07.30hrs, her usual time for rising.
Doctors believe she had either suffered a heart attack or a stroke.
Tellado had undergone a neurological check-up the day before her death on Saturday.
She has been on dialysis three times a week for the past 14 years.
But Tellado continued to write until the day before her death – although she no longer typed her own novels, she dictated them to her daughter-in-law who penned them for her.
She finished her last-ever novel the Wednesday before she died.

Alicante province has highest number of Europeans eligible to vote

ALICANTE has more non-Spanish EU residents with the right to vote in the forthcoming elections than any other province in the country.
Recent figures show that nearly 52,500 Europeans live on the Costa Blanca and in inland parts of the province.
In total, 275,700 EU nationals reside in Spain – more than double the number eligible to vote in the last elections in 2004.
Back then, there were 123,600 Europeans on the census, and in the previous electoral campaign of 1999, this figure was around 55,100.
It effectively means the number of EU citizens eligible to vote more than doubles every five years.
This has been partly skewed by the entry of Romania and Bulgaria into the European Economic Community, since 46,000 Romanians and 8,000 Bulgarians are now able to cast their ballots.
But the highest number of EU residents comes from the UK, with a total of 75,600 across Spain.
After Alicante, Madrid, Málaga and Barcelona have the highest numbers of EU nationals on the census, followed by the Balearics, Valencia, Tenerife, and Almería.
Further down the list are Girona, Castellón, Las Palmas, Murcia and Tarragona.
Those wishing to vote in June’s EU elections must register their intention to do so by April 27.

Supermarket theft on the rise due to recession

SHOPLIFTING in supermarkets has increased dramatically as a result of the financial crisis. A number of stores across the Comunidad Valenciana have reported losses of up to three per cent as a result of staple foodstuffs being stolen.
They say one of the most popular methods is to hide food in babies’ prams and pushchairs. And most of the region’s supermarkets have a bare minimum of staff due to firms cutting costs as a result of the recession.
This means there are fewer people to keep an eye out for customers filching goods.
A leading security association says that in the past, people tended to steal video games, mobile telephones and small electrical appliances.
But now, shoplifters are taking basic food and drink items.
In some cases, customers have even attempted to escape without paying, pushing a full trolley of shopping.

Women live to 83 and a half in Alicante

LIFE expectancy for women in the province of Alicante now exceeds that of men by six years. A female life span in the province is 83.5 years, compared to 77.5 for men.
Already one of the highest in Europe, it has now risen again in the past decade.
For men and women combined, life expectancy is on average 80.38 years.
Statistics show that the population in the province is ageing rapidly, with over-65s becoming more active and living longer, the birth-rate continuing to be stagnant and the influx of retirees from Europe making the Costa Blanca their home.
Around 83,000 foreigners live in the province, a figure that doubles during the summer when part-time residents travel to the Costa to enjoy the sunshine.

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