Latest News 104 23-05-2008

Suspected ETA political leader arrested

Spanish and French police have arrested the suspected political leader of ETA in a joint operation. According to Spanish authorities, Javier Lopez Pena, alias "Thierry", was arrested, during a late night raid on May 20th, with three other ETA suspects in Bordeaux, France. Over its 40 year campaign for an independent Basque nation ETA has been responsible for over 820 deaths. A ceasefire was announced in 2006 but was formally ended in June 2007.  The arrest follows Monday’s car bomb attack in Bilbao which killed a police officer and injured four others.

Star-studded line-up for Benicàssim festival

THIS July’s unmissable date for the rocker’s calendar, Benicàssim festival, will feature chart-toppers Mika, Leonard Cohen and Morrisey. Every year, thousands of music-lovers of all ages flock to Spain’s favourite mudbath festival, the FIB Heineken, to watch their favourite stars on stage. From July 17-20, around 45,000 fans are predicted to camp out in Benicàssim. Kate Moss’ controversial ex, Pete Doherty’s band Babyshambles is expected to perform in the 10-million euro festival.

Other, lesser-known acts from all over Europe include Vive la Fête, the Rumble Strips, El Guincho, the New Pornographers and Radio Slave.

Tickets, which include free camping, cost from 155 to 170 euros.

These outlets attract a commission of around five euros.

800 bolts of lightening

More than 800 bolts of lightening were recorded

during a storm lasting just 90 minutes as it passed

across the Valencian Comunidad. The State

Meteorology agency has revealed that as towns and

villages across the region were battered with heavy

rain and hailstorms the lightening activity was

intense. Between 3 and 3.30pm on May 17th the

storm was at its most intense due to cloud build up

over the Mediterranean Sea.

Mayor announces Madonna Concert

The Mayor of Alicante has announced that Madonna is to play a concert in the city to mark the end of the Volvo Ocean Race on September 18th. Mayor, Luis Diaz Alperi, made the announcement following a recent press conference although neither the star’s management nor website have confirmed this date on her tour schedule. Madonna returns to the stage to promote her first album in three years, “Hard Candy” with the "Sticky & Sweet tour". Concerts have been confirmed in London on the 11th and Paris on the 20th, leaving a free date for Spanish fans.

Tornado damages school

A tornado in Onil caused thousands of euros of damage as it tore across the town on May 18th. Although it lasted barely a minute, the gale uprooted fences, destroyed a metal pavilion at the sports centre and felled trees and telephone posts. At the local Institute an air conditioning unit was ripped from the outside of the building, roof tiles smashed to the floor and over sixty blinds were torn from windows. Director of the Institute, Jose Toro, said "we are thankful this happened on a Sunday evening. If it had been a school day, it is possible that many students and teachers could have been seriously injured."



HELP of Denia received over 4000 euros from 40 walkers, who braved the rain to raise a record amount for the charity last Saturday. One special walker raised 118 euros all by himself! Harvey the dog replaced his mistress when she broke her leg and was sponsored to do the walk accompanied by his owner’s husband.  His efforts and those of his human companions made sure that we beat last year’s figure by 1400 euros. A great result and a big thank you to all who walked and all who supported them!

This year the money will be used towards establishing a drop-in centre, to help and assist carers, which is likely to be sited in La Xara. HELP is a volunteer group that provides support in medical emergencies, and for carers. An interpretation team is based at Denia hospital - main entrance, Monday - Friday  11.00 and 14.00pm. They are available through doctors on Saturday/Sunday 10-16.00pm. Medical equipment is available on loan from HELP charity shop, La Xara, near Denia, Mon- Sat. 9.30am - 1.30pm (Sat 1pm). Tel: 96 642 7044 (24 hr ansaphone) HELP general information - ring Pat on 966474589 or David on 966427064 or visit the website .

Dancer goes to Bollywood

Dancer Sara Barbara Mompo, from Ontinyent, has hit the big time in Bollywood working with stars such as Karina Kapoor and Saif Ali Kahn, equivalent to Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt. Sara was chosen from a group of dancers to work in Asia for 3 months.

Call for solidarity

A solidarity speech was held on May 15th following the death of a police officer in Malaga. Mayors, councillors and residents came together at noon on the 15th in memory of those killed and injured in the latest ETA attack. Guardia Civil officer Juan Manuel Piñuel Villalon was killed in the blast at the Legutiano Guardia civil head quarters in Alava and four others were seriously injured. Piñuel, 41, previously stationed in Llombai in Valencia had requested a transfer to Malaga to be closer to his family.

He was killed when a van containing a bomb went off outside the Civil Guard headquarters. Political forces across the country have come to together to condemn the attack. President, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero declared “democracy will defeat the fanaticism”.   

Consumers complain about new rate

Changes in night time charges will see electricity bills soar by up to 80% .

The abolition of the night time electricity rate on July 1 will affect around one million families who will see their bills rise between 25% and 80%. The Union of Consumer Affairs of Spain (UCE), considers the changes planned by the Government as "unconstitutional". An application has been submitted to the Ombudsman requesting that the night time rate remains in force. “If the Government does not stop the implementation of this rate we will take the Administration to court” said UCE spokes person, Dacia Alonso. There has also been a serious lack of information for customers, many are unaware of the forthcoming changes. Up until now “off peak use”, between 11pm and 7am, was discounted by 55% and a 3% surcharge was applied to the remainder of the day.

Childcare during June and September

Bonavista School in Ontinyent will be running an after school care program during June and September to make life easier for working parents. During June and September local schools hours are reduced to half day, which causes child care problems for working parents. AMPA President Sayo Gandia explained, "these two months are problematic for parents they have come to us for a solution." There are 2 child care programs - the Red program which allows students to have lunch at school and be collected at 3pm or the  Green programme where children can stay until 5pm. A third option available will allow students who require extra tuition a quiet study room with the assistance of a teacher between 4pm and 5pm. Prices are  between 75 and 100 euros per month or parents can pay a daily rate of between 5 and 7 euros for adhoc access.

Jewellery theft

A jewellery shop in Calle Pio XII in Ontinyent has been targeted by thieves for the second time in two months. During the early hours of May 14th thieves broke every display window in the shop and took jewellery and watches worth over 30,000 euros. Neighbours where woken by the sound of breaking glass and watched as three men cleared the display cabinets. Police were unable to apprehend the culprits.

15,500 palms to be quarantined

The threat of red weevil has forced Valencia city council to quarantine 15,500 palm trees in the city following the confirmation of a case in Torrent. Red weevil is a pest that has been ravaging the Comunitat since 2005. Last week Torrent confirmed that trees in the city had been infected by this pest from Egypt. To prevent further problems the Environment councillor, Isidro Ramon Sanchis has stepped up inspections and has quarantined to 15,500 palms in Valencia city. The first infestation was detected in Spain twelve years ago, and so far no effective insecticide has been discovered. The Red Weevil lays its eggs in the trunk of the tree and as the insects hatch they destroy the tree from the inside out in a very short time.

Language School open September

Classes at the official language school in Lliria will begin in September offering studies in English, French, German and Spanish. The school, based at the Instituto Camp de Turia, will offer evening classes for those wishing to learn or improve on their foreign language skills. Culture councilman, Salvador Oliver said “the selection of languages available to study will vary depending on demand.” Once the new Instituto Camp de Turia has been completed the language school will remain on the premises and expand to offer classes during normal school hours.

Hacker arrested

A young student from La Pobla Llarga arrested by National Police is thought to be a member of a group responsible for nearly 21,000 “cyber attacks” including the Izquierda Unida political web page, which was attacked during the lead up to the May elections. The youngster is ranked 5th on a list of internet hackers and he is thought to have gained access to U.S government, Latin American and Asian government sites. Once on a site the hacker replaced the contents of the original home page for another, usually pages of a vindictive nature. Sources close to the group of hackers have said that these youngsters are not regarded as criminals, but “lovers of internet security”. One of the youngsters has published articles related to hacking techniques in computer security forums known world wide and even designed their own exploits and Trojans (malicious programs that exploit security and vulnerabilities of the system). The hacker now faces a three year prison sentence.


38 years in prison

A Llutxent resident has been sentenced to 28 years by the Provincial court of Valencia for attempting to poison his wife, mother-in-law and step mother. According to sources the husband had only intended to poison his wife, but on the day in question she had been joined by her mother and step mother for coffee, which had been laced with the poison. All three were hospitalised for 11 days. The man denied putting anything in the coffee and claimed he had no idea how it happened.

 Improvements on the CV-660 Ontinyent- Fontanars?

A new agreement to complete the work on the CV660 between Ontinyent and Fontanars has been announced by the General Director of Public Works, Ismeal Ferrer. The Valencian Government awarded the works contract for the improvement of the road in February 2006 and work commenced in June the same year, but due to economic problems work stopped in October 2007.


80 Punctures since September

The mayor of Llosa de Ranes and three other Popular Party politicians have had their car tyres punctured a combined total of 80 times in recent months by an individual police will only identify M.P aged 65. Last week Local Police planted the Mayors car in a location to catch the culprit. The car was left at midday and 15 minutes later Police discovered the individual by car, having already punctured one tyre and attempting to puncture another. There is no obvious reason for the attacks.  

Assistance for foreigners

La Pobla Llarga has received a grant towards the creation of an Agency for Mediation integration and Social Coexistence (AMICS) which aims to assist foreigners living in the town. Staff at the office can offer advice on health care, education, housing, work and provide help with applications forms for SIP health cards, writing a CV and registering for a school.

Former Mayor convicted

The former mayor of Turis and his son have been found guilty of verbally insulting a member of the PP party in Turis after an election meeting last year. Ex Mayor, Baldomero Gonzalez, and his son, Juan González, admitted to the charge saying they, "considered Miguel Angel Lizard, PSPV, far more suitable for the post of deputy mayor then Rafael Corell." both were fined 90 euros.

750€ fine for leaving sun umbrella and towel on beach

Bathers who ignore the red flag will now receive a 1,500 euros fine. The new law governing beaches and coves in the Comunidad of Alicante also details fines of up to 750 euros for minor nuisance offences caused by animals,  playing bat and ball and loud music. More surprising is that leaving an umbrella and towel unattended to reserve a spot on the beach has also been listed and will incur a 750€ fine. The use of barbecues, making a fire or using a gas bottle on the beach are considered serious infringements and carry a fine of up to 1,500 euros. Beach councillor, Mari Carmen Román, confirmed that the fines "shall apply to those who fail to comply, regardless of the season”.

Guardia Civil return valuable painting

An 18th century painting by the artist Pedro Alexandrino has been returned to Portugal, twelve years after it was stolen. The painting was stolen from a property in Portugal and discovered in an antique market in Madrid in September 2006, since then it has been stored at a museum in the Spanish capital. The painting was finally handed back to Portuguese Police authorities on May 12th. Pedro Alexandrino is a famous painter with many of his works of art being displayed in churches across Portugal. Four Spanish citizens have been arrested in connection with the theft.

Nurses call for better conditions

The Nursing Union SATS have presented a petition to the Health authority requesting more staff and better working conditions. The Unions request that over 55’s are exempt from night duties and call for wages to be brought in line among nursing professionals in primary and specialized care.  More than 10,000 nurses have shown their support for the campaign which was launched in April. The Union announced that they "will continue to collect signatures until the Conselleria listens to its nursing professionals and makes the negotiations and improvements called for."

King Juan Carlos visits Alicante

King Juan Carlos marked the end of his visit to Alicante by participating in the “Trofeo Ciudad de Alicante” boat race.  During his four day visit the King’s vessel Fortuna has been moored at Alicante port. King Juan Carlos met with the crew and technicians of the Telefonica team. During his visit the King also met with the president of the Generalitat Valenciana, Francisco Camps, and the mayor of Alicante, Luis Diaz Alperi.

Licence Laws

Car drivers caught behind the wheel without a valid driving licence could face a 6 month prison sentence from June 1st. The Penal Code will come into effect next month and states that anyone driving must be in possession of a valid licence and be able to present it when asked to do so. Drivers failing to present the relevant licence will face a prison sentence of between 3 and 6 months. Drivers will also be fined 450 euros and will not be able to apply for a new driving license for two years. Anyone found driving without valid insurance will receive a 600€ fine.

Young man fighting for life after prank goes wrong
A SILLY stunt left a young man seriously ill in hospital with head injuries this week.
The victim, 23, from Santa Pola, was admitted to Elche General Hospital last Sunday night, medics reveal. He and a friend were playing a dangerous game that involved one man sitting on the bonnet of a car and the other driving off then slamming on the brakes.
This was intended to fire the person into the air a few metres off the ground.
However, the injured youngster was hurled into the path of an oncoming vehicle.
He was pushed several metres along the road and is said to be critically ill as a result.
Witness statement clears ‘violent’ husband of wife’s death
A WITNESS who claimed to have seen a 54-year-old woman throw herself off a balcony has led to her husband’s release.
The man had been held in custody since his wife’s death last Monday on suspicion of her murder. MP Encarna Llinares revealed the woman had reported her husband for domestic violence on several occasions in the past but had retracted her statement as she did not have the economic means to live without him.
The suspect had also served a prison sentence in 2005 for marital abuse.
National Police, who arrested the victim’s husband on the day of her death, said officers had been called out the night before when a heated argument between the couple turned violent. But the San Sebastián woman, who lived in Benidorm, was seen jumping from the balcony of her 12th-storey flat by a neighbour.
Her husband was released last week but will be questioned in his capacity as a witness.
Missing man plea
A JÁVEA man who has been missing since last Sunday is desperately sought by family and friends. Agustín O., 53, was last seen near the desalination plant in the town where he usually went to pick asparagus from his allotment.
According to the Red Cross, who have been combing this area for him, he was in his brother’s bar dressed in a blue jacket and shirt just before his disappearance.
He is bald with a moustache and is 1.78m (5’11”) tall.
Agustín is ill and needs constant medication, say family members.
Anyone who may have seen him is asked to contact the Guardia Civil or the Red Cross in Jávea.

Downpours leave school in ‘dangerous’ condition
TORRENTIAL rainfall has flooded out a school in Ondara for the fourth time in eight months. The PTA of the Xebic high school say the gym, classrooms and workshops were under water again last weekend. Local Police had to cordon off the area to prevent the walls falling down and 800 pupils from Ondara, Els Poblets and Beniarbeig were unable to go to school. Parents and teachers complain that the roof of the building is in a poor state and lets in water. They are worried that the structure may collapse during the next downpour. Water also enters the electrical system, which may cause a short circuit and lead to a fire. Mums and dads have demanded the education authorities resolve the problem ‘before it is too late’.
They have organised a petition which mayor Ximo Ferrando will present to the regional government. He says the building is slightly lower than the road and has flat roofs, meaning ‘four drops of rain’ is all it takes for the school to flood.
Pego urbanisation plans put off
A TOPICAL urbanisation that has been under construction for four years has been stopped. The ministries of the environment, culture and sports, water, planning and housing have called for a number of full investigations to be carried out before the development can be finished. Pego’s Penya Rotja urbanisation, involving 1,372 houses and a golf course, may not have an adequate water supply for all inhabitants.
The Generalitat has also questioned whether the land, which comprises a number of ancient agricultural trading routes, is suitable for development.
It also wants to see a full archaeological study carried out after a Bronze Age settlement was uncovered in the initial stages of construction.
Promoters and the council have been told to satisfy a total of 12 criteria and re-design the plans before they will be approved.
House-training husbands
WIVES who are fed up with clearing up after their men can send them to a fun workshop in Calpe where they will learn the ropes of cleaning and cooking.
Organised by the council for equality, part of Calpe’s local authority, the courses are being held throughout May. The idea is to help couples share the housework in a fairer manner, preventing arguments and giving women more time to work and relax.
Spanish men are some of Europe’s worst for not getting their hands dirty around the house, research reveals. If your man needs domesticating, call 96 583 51 11. The cost of the course is 10 euros.
Dog-napper arrested
A YOUNG man has been taken into custody on suspicion of stealing two valuable dogs.
The suspect, 25, is believed to have taken the animals from inside their owner’s house in Cullera on Sunday, May 11. Guardia Civil officers arrested him last Tuesday.
Investigations continue but to date the dogs, said to be worth 1,600 euros in total, have not yet been found. The dogs are said to be pedigree Yorkshire Terriers, but no further details about them have been released to date.
Homes facing bulldozer may be saved, says Elche council
RESIDENTS whose homes are under threat from a huge development in Elche are in talks with planning councillors. Local authorities say they are working closely with the ministry for land and housing to ensure as few houses as possible are affected.
The development in the La Marina area of Elche, near the coast, is being redrafted following complaints from homeowners who faced losing all or part of their land or houses. To date, the plans have been postponed and the properties saved from the bulldozer. But the suspension will have to be lifted on July 1, meaning a full council meeting next month will finally decide the fate of the houses.
Town planners want to ensure none of these are affected, and are also anxious to prevent the destruction of a pine forest in the area.
They are holding a series of meetings with property owners in an attempt to reach a satisfactory solution.
Jávea port expansion plans ‘reconsidered’
A CONTROVERSIAL project to extend the port of Jávea is back on the table despite opposition from residents. Councillors are divided over plans to expand the fishing port, with the socialists reserving judgement and the Bloc-Centristes rejecting it altogether.
Although mayor Eduardo Monfort, leader of the Bloc-Centristes, is in favour of plans to improve the quality of the port’s infrastructure and conditions for the fishing community, he is against the idea of increasing its size. But Mario Flores, minister for infrastructures, is adamant that the plans will be given full consideration.
Flores stated, however, that he would seriously consider residents’ concerns about the project before it goes ahead.
Ex-councillor fined two million for tax fraud
A FORMER councillor has been sentenced to three years in prison and fined two million euros in connection with tax fraud dating back 20 years. Leader of the PP in Orihuela, Luis Fernando Cartagena, also had an embargo placed on his assets to ensure he paid up.
This has now been replaced by a 600,000-euro bail.
The ex-councillor for public works, who was forced to resign a decade ago when the case came to light, is being investigated by Orihuela court. Judges are attempting to locate assets in his name, which they say is proving difficult.
If their search does not bear fruit, he will be obliged to sign a document declaring himself insolvent. They say the case dates back to 1988 when the Banco Santander offered a savings product for which they did not disclose the account-holders’ details to the tax authorities. This product was outlawed in 1989.
Although Cartagena held one of these accounts, he failed to declare his earnings on it even though he was by then obliged to by law.
He held the account in the name of an Elche businessman, now deceased, rather than in his own name. Cartagena under-declared his financial investments by 158.5 million pesetas. This meant a total of 83 million pesetas (500,000 euros) in unpaid taxes that he was withholding. Cartagena has now been forced to pay this amount back to the tax authorities in addition to paying a fine equivalent to three times that sum.
He also faces three years in prison.
This is in addition to a four-year sentence he has hanging over him for undue appropriation of assets, for which he has pleaded amnesty.
Kids in La Safor ‘heart attack waiting to happen’

CHILDREN in La Safor have cholesterol levels as high as kids in the USA, warn cardiologists. They say young people in the area are in grave danger of suffering heart attacks in later life.

A conference in Gandia last week, attended by 300 heart specialists from all over the Comunidad Valenciana, the subject of child obesity and its health risks was discussed at length. A cardiologist from the Francesc de Borja hospital said kids in Oliva, Gandia and surrounding areas have cholesterol levels equivalent to those of children in the States, the country with the world’s greatest child obesity problem.

They say the decline of the traditional Mediterranean diet in favour of fry-ups and fast food is taking its toll on children in the area.  Ischemic heart conditions are more likely to strike men over 45 and women over 60, but with 27 per cent of 10- to 18-year-olds in the region being overweight, the next generation could suffer from it much earlier.

This figure, revealed following research by a school in Algemesí, is double the national average of 13.9 per cent of children of the same age suffering from excess weight.

No sign of Alicante airport

ALICANTE airport is nearly impossible to find until you reach it, complains a leading tourism body based in Benidorm. HOSBEC, the Costa Blanca’s hostelry association, says numerous holidaymakers have complained to them of the difficulty in finding El Altet airport. The confusion is partly due to the new Alicante bypass which opened some months ago. Lack of signposts mean many continue to follow the AP-7 and find themselves having to double back, driving 40 kilometres out of their way.

In practice, drivers should turn off at the sign for the A-70 and Sant Joan d’Alacant, although even this close to the terminal there is no indication where the airport is.

From Benidorm, there is no sign suggesting which road to take to head for the airport.

Jungle man ‘did not know it was a crime’ to sleep with girl of 12

A MAN on trial for a child abuse charge has had his sentence reduced because he was unaware that his actions were against the law.

He and the girl had both grown up in a tribe in the Ecuadorian jungle, where it is normal to marry and have children at the age of 10.

A Valencia court heard this week that the accused, 24, had been having a sexual relationship with a 12-year-old girl.

The girl, who is said to be ‘streetwise’ and ‘mature for her years’, consented to the union, but this was considered invalid because she was under 13 at the time.

She also believed she was pregnant by her older boyfriend, whom she had asked to take her to live in Madrid as she feared her parents would hit her if she told them.

Although prosecutors had called for an eight-year prison sentence, the 12-year-old’s boyfriend was awarded two years behind bars.

He says he is not a paedophile and did not know it was against the law.

The girl’s mother, also from the jungle but now living in Valencia, got married at 15.

She said she was surprised at the verdict.

According to the mother, youngsters of her daughter’s age frequently have husbands and children in their society.

Young graffiti artists to paint the town red

GRAFFITI artists are being taken on by Alicante council to paint their stamp on the city. Some 15 teenagers have signed up for the Mur-Art project, where they are let loose on a number of walls previously selected in degraded areas of town.

The participants, aged between 14 and 18, are being encouraged to channel their desire to cover walls with graffiti into art rather than vandalism.

They firstly painted the walls of the La Albufereta primary school, then those of San Agust­ín park, on May 17. Next, on June 7 and 14 they will decorate the walls of the ­Óscar Esplá primary school and the entrance to Alicante from Villafranqueza, in Virgen del Remedio. Cleaning up graffiti costs the city council in region of 320,000 euros a year.

Property rental costs rise

The average price of renting a property in the Valencia region rose 3.9% during April, four tenths below the national increase, which stood at 4.3 per cent, according to data from the National Statistics Institute (INE). The highest increase was seen in Cantabria, up 6.2%, Aragon 5.7% and the Comunidad de Madrid saw an increase of 5%. The Balearic Islands, Valencia (+3.9%) and the Canary Islands (+3.6%) were amongst those that below the national average.

Work related deaths down.

Work related accidents in the Valencia Province fell during the first quarter of 2008 compared with the same period in 2007. A total of 21,200 work related accidents were recorded during the first three months of this year and 23 people died. In Cataluña there were 39,376 work related accidents and 26 deaths. Andalucia recorded 37,791 accidents and 48 deaths and in Madrid there were 33,853 accidents and 20 deaths recorded. The National total of 293 deaths is down 7,6% on 2007 when 317 people were killed at work.

New MRI techniques detect brain tumours

New techniques enable MRI scans to diagnose brain tumors and the early detection of Alzheimer's, according to a report by the Scientific Advisory Board of the College of Physicians of Valencia. Doctors Carlos Paredes and Vicente Belloch explained how new applications allow a "more comprehensive" look into the functions of the brain and heart, which has led to "a breakthrough in early detection of diseases and abnormalities."

Smells to be treated with hydrogen peroxide

Council technicians in Valencia are working round the clock to rid the city of a lingering stench, ahead of race day. Around 112,000 Formula fans are expected on race day, many will be seated on bleachers close to the Groa where the problem is located.

Council Technicians are cleaning and installing new drains in a bid to rid the area of the stink ahead of race day on August 24th. Residents in parts of the city have complained about the increase of  number of rats on the streets as building have been demolished to make way for the street circuit.

Flooding a real concern

The Emergency Coordination Centre (CEC) has declared a state of pre emergency along the coast, south of Valencia and north of Alicante following the recent heavy rains. According to sources from the Generalitat the recent wet weather has increased the risk of flooding many areas.

Sperm frozen for the next generation

Spanish soldiers serving in Afghanistan, Lebanon and the Balkans opt to have their frozen semen samples stored at the Bernabeu Institute of Alicante.

Institute Director, Rafael Bernabeu, there are growing numbers who now opt to freeze sperm. Most donors are middle management or officers over 30, who have plans to start a family. The first case of a soldier who opted for sperm freezing at the Alicante clinic was in 1990 during the first Gulf War. Bernabeu explained that, fortunately, so far there has been no cause to thaw samples for use.  Soldiers using the service are required to sign documentation before a notary giving consent for the sample to be used for artificial insemination should they be killed. Current legislation states that sperm must be frozen at -196 degrees centigrade throughout the life of man, and can be kept for up to six months after death.

South Africa to protect migrants

The Government in South Africa has promised to protect foreigners as a recent outbreak of violence forces 13,000 to flee their homes. Attacks began a week ago north of Johannesburg as mobs roamed the area seeking out foreigners who they believe are taking all the jobs and contributing to crime in the area. Officials have said they will not deport illegal immigrants during the current period. Around 23 people have been killed and 250 people have been arrested. Minister for Safety and Security Charles Nqakula has promised protection and temporary accommodation for foreigners. He confirmed there would be tough law enforcement and no more foreigners should be harassed.

One dead as bus crashes into tree

A 23 year old woman was killed in central London when branches torn from a tree by a passing bus landed on top of her. The accident happened in Tower Bridge Road on May 20th injuring eighteen people, four of them seriously. The number 188 bus was running between Russell Square and North Greenwich when it hit a tree near the junction with Tanner Street in Bermondsey. A Metropolitan Police spokesman said: "One woman was pronounced dead at the scene. "She is believed to have been hit by falling branches."

A full investigation has been launched by Transport for London (TfL). A spokesman said: "Trees along this section of
Tower Bridge Road
are owned and maintained by TfL and are included in our rigorous tree maintenance programme."

£15,500 for Oxfam book

A book which contains the first Sherlock Holmes stories has sold £15,500 after being handed into an Oxfam shop. “Study in Scarlet” was donated to a Harrogate, North Yorkshire, branch of the charity. The guide price for the book, which features Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's first two Holmes tales, was £9,000 but this was beaten during an auction of books given to Oxfam stores at Bonhams in Oxford. The money raised from the auction will go to fund Oxfam's work around the world.

Kennedy has brain tumour

Doctors at Massachusetts General Hospital have revealed that US Democratic Senator Edward Kennedy is suffering from a malignant brain tumour. The youngest brother of assassinated President John F Kennedy was flown from Cape Cod to the hospital in Boston last weekend after suffering a seizure. A statement released by doctors Lee Schwamm and Larry Ronan states "Preliminary results from a biopsy of the brain identified the cause of the seizure as a malignant glioma in the left parietal lobe."

Earthquake toll reaches 40,000

More than 40,000 people were killed during the massive earthquake that hit south-west China nearly two weeks ago. Foreign medical teams are arriving in the area but Chinese aid workers are struggling to find shelter for millions who lost their homes. The death toll is expected to rise as tens of thousands are still missing and as each day passes the chances of finding survivors in dwindling. Chinese media have reported that a woman was pulled from the rubble 195 hours after the disaster struck.  Now, providing food, shelter and drinking water for the millions of people affected by the 7.9 magnitude earthquake in Sichuan province is proving to be a massive task for aid workers. China observed a three-day period of mourning for victims of the earthquake. Dozens of aftershocks, some measuring up to 6.1 on the Richter scale, have continued to rattled the area.

Aid for Burmese victims

Nine UN World Food Programme helicopters have been allowed to deliver aid to remote cyclone-hit areas of Burma, according to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. Aid had reached only a quarter of those in need following the 2 May storm which killed tens of thousands. The Burmese military has relaxed restrictions on foreign relief teams allowing Asian aid workers into the country. Mr Ban told reporters at the UN Headquarters in New York "I want to see the conditions under which relief teams are working, and I intend to do all I can to reinforce their efforts, in co-ordination with the Myanmar [Burma] authorities and international aid agencies." According to official Burma sources around 78,000 people were killed by the cyclone and another 56,000 are missing. UN figures suggest that up to 2.4 million people have been severely affected by the cyclone.

Counterfeit arrests

With the number of cases of fraudulent goods seized last year soaring counterfeiting is becoming a "growing problem" in Europe. According to a report by The European the number of interceptions made by customs officials at EU borders rose 17% last year with cases of counterfeit medicines alone up 50%. China was highlighted as the main source of counterfeit goods, accounting for 60% of all items. More than two-thirds of all toys sold in the EU are manufactured in China. There has been a significant increase in the number of counterfeit goods which pose health risks to consumers including razor blades, moisturising creams, medicines, toys, computers and electrical equipment.

Drinkers killed by illegal alcohol

At least 87 people have been killed after drinking poisonous illegal alcohol in two southern Indian states. Forty three people were killed in Bangalore, 19 in Kolar and 25 in Tamil Nadu as bootleggers sell cheap alcohol in a district on the border between the states of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. Deaths from illegally brewed alcohol are common in South Asia and most of the victims are poor, migrant workers.

Record number take UK citizenship

Government figures have shown that a record 164,635 people were granted British citizenship last year, with almost one third of the new citizens coming from Africa and 22% from Asia. Home Office figures show the number of asylum applications during the first three months of 2008 rose 16% to 6,595, on the same period in 2007. The number of Eastern Europeans applying for work in the UK has fallen in the first quarter to 45,000, down from 52,000 in 2007. Shadow immigration minister Damian Green said: "Given the government's ineptitude, how can they guarantee [passports] are being granted to suitable people? This shows why it is essential our border controls are tightened."

Squirrel sets house alight

A flat in Northampton caught fire after a squirrel chewed through electric cables in the roof of the property. Fire crews were called to the property in Kingsthorpe after a passer by spotted the fire. The roof was severely damaged and there was smoke damage to the rest of the flat. "It is not unusual for rodents to do this. The likelihood is that the animal died" commented a fire spokes person. The property was believed to have been empty.

Belt Up

Police were stunned when they pulled over an Australian driver to find he had put a seatbelt around a crate of beer but his five-year-old was travelling in the car unrestrained.

Constable Wayne Burnett, of Alice Spring Police said 30 cans of beer were buckled in while the child sat on the floor "I haven't ever seen something like this before," he said.

"There were four adults in the car, two in the front seat and two in the back seats and in between those adults there was the carton of beer strapped in with the belt," he said. "The child was sitting in the lump in the centre, unrestrained." The driver was fined 750 dollars failing to ensure a child was wearing a seatbelt and for driving an unregistered, uninsured vehicle.


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