News October

Naked pillion rider assaults policemen
A MAN who attacked two National Police officers after they pulled him over for riding his motorbike in the nude has been sentenced to six months in jail.
After being caught back in May 2006 at around 05.00hrs riding pillion on his moped  through the city of Alicante, and being asked why he was out in public with no clothes on, the accused – identified as J.L.M. - used foul language and asked 'what business it was of theirs' and called the officer rude names.
The two officers asked to see his identification, but he was taken to the police station when he was unable to produce it.
He is then said to have punched the officers' arms and insulted them, telling him he was 'not going anywhere' with them and that he was not obliged to show his identification.
The naked pillion rider told the policemen they should just give him a fine and to 'stick it up their bums'.
Next, he reportedly made obscene gestures at the officers with his penis.
A judge heard that he caused injuries to the officers when they pinned him down and that whilst en route to the police station, he kicked the back seat window of the patrol car several times.
As well as being sentenced to jail, he was ordered to pay a total of 453 euros in fines.
Criminal Code reform could dramatically reduce jail terms
REFORMS to Spain's Criminal Code is likely to see around 3,000 prison sentences reviewed in the Valencia region alone.
The new law, which comes into effect on December 23, will see maximum and minimum sentences altered for certain offences including drug-trafficking, property corruption cases, selling pirate goods, and crimes relating to road safety.
Where the reformed Criminal Code means prisoners would be worse off and have to serve longer sentences, their jail terms will not be altered.
But those prisoners who will benefit from the reform will have their sentences adjusted downwards accordingly.
Most of those who are affected by the Criminal Code reform will be those who have committed traffic offences such as drunk-driving.
Until now, serious offences would lead to a fine, community service, and loss of licence.
But from December 23, only one of the first two sanctions will apply.
Drug-trafficking offences will be penalised according to the quantity and class of the substance, with 750 grams of cocaine being regarded in the same light as 2.5 kilos of marihuana or 300 grams of cocaine.
Sentences will be reduced from the present threshold of between nine and 13 years to between six and nine years.
Those currently serving sentences of nine years or more could see their release date brought forward or even find themselves freed when the Criminal Code reform comes into force.
In the case of sentences for street-sellers peddling pirate goods, they will only be considered as having committed a serious offence if they amass over 400 euros in benefits from their activities.
Some defence lawyers are already attempting to have their clients' court cases postponed until after December 23.
Eyjäfjälljøkull ash cloud costs Valencia airport a quarter of a million euros
VALENCIA airport suffered losses reaching nearly a quarter of a million euros when flights were cancelled across Europe due to the Icelandic volcanic ash cloud.
When the Eyjäfjälljøkull volcano, just south of Rejkjavik, erupted in April, some 29,700 passengers due to fly to and from the Manises terminal were stranded or delayed indefinitely.
Those going away on holiday mainly ended up cancelling their trips, whilst those waiting to return home had to wait until there was a space on a flight after airline authorities declared the atmosphere safe for flying.
It meant that the volcanic ash cost Manises airport alone some 248,000 euros in the month between April 15 and May 17. 

Spanish stockmarket plummets
THE Spanish stockmarket fell by 64,4 points last week, or 0.61 per cent, continuing its annual downward trend.
So far, the year-on-year decrease has reached 12.48 per cent, leading to doom and gloom amongst shareholders.
The week started with slight rises, but very quickly led to losses with Repsol YPF representing the biggest fall after signing its agreement in Brazil with Chinese fuel giant, Sinopec.
Fear over the EU applying new taxes to the sector to finance future economic crises is said to be the main cause of this week's plummeting figures.
But the meeting between European Finance Ministers in Brussels did not reach any concrete conclusions.
The market has also been focusing heavily on the number of new properties for which construction has started in Spain so far in 2010, which has reached a figure of 17,878, or a 0.1 per cent increase.
It was also paying serious attention to the fall in the number of new cars being registered – 26.9 per cent – and Portugal's largest trade union having called a general strike on November 24 in protest over new labour laws.
Valencian government to freeze taxes in 2011
THE Valencian regional government has announced it will freeze taxes in 2011, which will mean savings of 48 million euros for the general public.
Income tax rebates of the past two years will be maintained, and duties on transfer of assets and sale and purchases of property will remain at the same figure.
The regional government estimates that in 2011, a further 18,000 people in the Comunidad Valenciana will be out of a job.
It is working on a 'productive investment' programme for individual towns in order to help create more employment.
The rise in electricity rates cannot be controlled, reveals regional president Francisco Camps, since it is a central government decision.
But he hopes that what he calls an 'erratic' plan by Madrid to claw back public funds can be offset by the tax freeze and avoid further financial burdens for already hard-pressed households.
The central government's radical tax-collection plan includes scrapping the 400-euro income tax benefit, eliminating benefits for renting property, increasing tax on savings, and the controversial IVA increase earlier this year.
Camps says such measures would hit middle-income earners and 'modest' savers hardest.
Zapatero defends labour reform and retirement age increase
SPANISH president José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero claims the country needs 'difficult reforms' to be able to get out of the recession.
He insists that the law that will increase state retirement age to 67 is 'already approved' and will not be amended.
At the same time, he recognises that there will be 'more unemployment in the future' and expects a rise in the number in September.
Just two days after the general strike on Wednesday, September 29, Zapatero was interviewed live on Spanish national radio.
He remained firm in his decision not to amend the proposed labour reform, which he insists is 'totally necessary'.
“It is law. It's been approved, it must come into force, and will produce its results in the medium term.
“It's the best way of guaranteeing social policies for the future,” Zapatero stated on air.
The president says he will re-visit discussions with unions once he has appointed a new minister of work, whose name he would not reveal at this stage.
Ironically – despite the fact that the labour reform will make it easier and cheaper for firms to get rid of staff – Zapatero said: “We cannot resign ourselves to Spain standing out as the country where unemployment increases more than anywhere else whenever there's a recession.
“It has to have something to do with our labour laws.”
Zapatero cited the reforms imposed in Germany y Gerhard Schröder, which included cutting hours and pay before making staff redundant.
He said as a result, Germany is coming out of recession faster than anywhere else in the EU.
The idea of the labour reform, Zapatero stresses, is to create employment and lead to more workers on permanent contracts by 'allowing firms to adapt' to financial crises.
BMW recalls 350,000 cars
GERMAN car manufacturer BMW has recalled 350,000 vehicles all over the world – of which 5,800 belong to the British firm Rolls Royce.
Representatives from BMW say there is a possible fault in the braking system, and has called for purchasers of its Series 5, 6 and 7 models with V8 and V12 engines to take their cars back for a service.
The move affects 198,000 vehicles in the USA and over 10,000 in the UK.
Gas and electricity to go up
GAS bottles have gone up in price by 2.8 per cent, to 12.80 euros from its current 12.45 euros, affecting some 10 million consumers in Spain.
In the past year, gas bottle prices rose by 16.6 per cent – and this latest hike will be the fourth in 2010 alone, and represent a 20-per-cent increase in the past 12 months.
Electricity bills will soon go up by 4.8 per cent, despite the price of the service having rocketed in the past two years.
This said, representatives from the industry say households are still using electricity at a lower price than that which it costs to produce.
And they claim that higher bills will 'make people more responsible' about how much energy they use.

New bridge saves drivers a 20-kilometre hike

DRIVERS will no longer have to go 20 kilometres out of their way on the N-340 – the bridge between Deltebre and Sant Jaume d'Enveja is finally open.
Known as Lo Passador, the bridge across the Ebro river means the two towns are now directly connected, so motorists no longer have to go all the way round the river and through Amposta to get from one to the other.
The president of Catalunya's regional government, José Montilla, said when he cut the red tape that this new bridge was the first step in what would soon be a 'large-scale European connection' which could include the fast train from Castellón to Tarragona and a motorway along the same route.
It has been carefully designed to fit in with the river's natural environment, based upon the architectural projects of two specialists in suspension bridges.
The bridge also includes a cycle lane.
Insurance broker pockets premiums and leaves customers with no cover
AN insurance broker from Benicarló (Castellón) has been arrested after reportedly defrauding 18 people out of a total of 7,000 euros.
The accused, 52, is said to have taken premiums from customers but without incepting their policies.
Guardia Civil officers were alerted by a woman from Peñíscola who paid 234 euros to her broker, only to discover when she had a traffic accident that her motor insurance policy had never been renewed.
It then transpired that others were in the same boat – up to 18 have been uncovered, but police say there could be as many as 60.
Officers have told all those who could be affected by the scam to contact the insurance company, Seguros Helvetia, or the Guardia Civil station in Peñíscola.
Fines for driving or parking in historic quarter of Tarragona
DRIVERS who enter Tarragona's historic quarter without having a residence permit for the area could be fined between 100 and 200 euros.

City councillors have taken this measure in order to pedestrianise the area, known as the Part Alta.

They claim that the fines are 'not a money-making exercise' – but has as yet failed to install the barrier that would prevent anyone without a pass from getting in.

Those caught driving through the area will have to pay 100 euros, and anyone who is caught having parked there will need to stump up 200 euros.

And although local authorities claim they intended to give drivers the first weekend in October to 'get used to the idea', several fines were already handed out on Friday.

Two police officers were also patrolling the area.

To date, over 1,100 people have signed a petition against the council's decision to block off the old town.
Tarragona's new hospital opens
THE new Sant Joan hospital in Tarragona opened its doors on Monday, October 4, with 67 doctors and nurses in situ.

Health authorities say the hospital will open 'progressively' between now and the end of the year, but has already opened seven departments.

These are digestology, pneumonology, internal medicine, surgery, paediatrics, plastic surgery, and cardiology.

Other consultancies will be transferred there, including nursing, diabetes, and anti-coagulant treatment.

And on October 18, dermatology and ophthalmology will move to the new hospital, followed by sports medicine and physiotherapy on November 2

With the opening of in-patient services, the intensive care unit, accident and emergency and the operating theatres, the hospital is expected to be fully up and running by December.
Tiger Mosquito 'rife' on the Costa Daurada
HABITATS of the venomous Tiger Mosquito have been found in 120 towns and villages throughout Catalunya, the regional government's ministry for the environment warns.

At present, Tarragona is one of the least-affeced provinces, although the insect with a sting in its tail has been found in Salou, Cambrils, El Vendrell, Calafell and Torrdembarra.

Staff at the Hospital Lleuger say they have treated double the number of patients on the Costa Daurada this year for Tiger Mosquito bites – a total of 909, compared to last summer's 529.

The insect is particularly difficult to eradicate, because its larvae hatches within just 10 days.

Town councils are working hard to get rid of them, mainly concentrating on riverbanks.

Leaflets have been handed out in schools giving information to parents as to what to do if their children suffer bites.

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