National News for October (II)

Forest Fire Fight
The Minister for Defence, Carme Chacón, described the huge blaze between Agullent and Ontiyent, in the southern part of the Valencia province, as one of the fiercest of the year. She was visiting the area to see first hand the destruction caused by the fast moving flames.

To make the situation even more unacceptable, it is believed that the fire was started deliberately, “We must make efforts to detain those responsible,” said the Minister.

Seven helicopters and five specialist fire-fighting aeroplanes were tasked to the fire and several villas in Angulient and Ontiyent had to be evacuated. The Mayor of Ontiyent ensured there were rooms available for those who were displaced, and explained that the fire had destroyed a textile factory and a school in her area.

The Military Emergency Response team was despatched to the area, boosting the fire-fighting numbers by 500 and assisting the firemen from Valencia, Castellón and Alicante, their task made all the more difficult by strong winds, which eventually saw several roads in the area having to be completely closed.

Around 1,200 people were evacuated from their homes as the flames closed in on urbanisations in Agullent.

Second US Dismissal
A New York federal judge has dismissed a second claim for damages filed by Spain against the US company certified as ‘suitable’ to transport fuel to the tanker Prestige, which eight years ago caused an ecological disaster off the Galician coast.

Judge Laura Taylor Swain ruled in favour of the company American Bureau of Shipping (ABS). The ruling states that ABS cannot be held legally responsible for the sinking of the tanker, which at the time was owned by Mare Shipping Corporation of Liberia, as she had been chartered by the Swiss company Crown Resources and was sailing under the flag of the Bahamas.

The ruling is in answer to the 2008 appeal made by the Spanish government and any further appeals would ultimately face the same very annoying conclusion, with everyone knowing full well who is responsible for this disaster, but the age old ‘get out’ of sailing your ships under a different national flag and then shifting the blame for any problems.

An interesting question… where would the money for that oil have ended up? Sure as hell it wouldn’t have been Liberia or the Bahamas!

Jack Killer
We all get a bit hot under the collar when confronted with other drivers who quite clearly have no idea how to drive. Of course, we are all perfect drivers. However, an incident in Figueres (Gerona) shows just how far these minor disputes can get out of hand.

Following a minor collision on the N-260 on the entrance to Figueres, the two drivers involved got into a heated argument over the rights and wrongs of the accident. Obviously unhappy that he was losing the verbal battle, one of the drivers grabbed the vehicle jack from the rear of his car and proceeded to club the other driver to death. Then, feeling he had probably made his point, got into his car and drove off.

There were several witnesses to the incident who promptly called the emergency services, and they even tried to resuscitate the victim, but to no avail.

The police were duly furnished with make, model and registration number of the vehicle and given a description of the murderer, and investigations to locate the killer are well under way.

Unemployment Up
According to figures released by the Ministro de Trabajo, unemployment figures in Spain rose just over 61,000 in August, which is the first increase in four months, according to the Minister’s report.The 1.56% rise brings the total number of unemployed to 3,969,661.

The rise is seen as a blow to the previous 4-month figures which showed unemployment falling since April… however, the eight months prior to April saw a massive rise in unemployment across the board.

The figures don’t make very pretty reading, and the Spanish National Institute of Statistics have said that unemployment in the country is now running at 20.09%, by far the highest rate of unemployment in the Euro Zone.

This latest rise has been described by the Finance Ministe,r Elena Salgado, as ‘normal’ as towards the end of the summer there is usually a small increase in unemployment figures as temporary workers in the tourism sector see their temporary contracts come to an end, and of course, there are no new jobs becoming available.

Politically Foreign
How often do you hear foreigners complaining about their Town Halls and how their town is being run? I have certainly had a good moan, and we all know the Ed is partial to a ‘grumpy old man’ whinge. Well, if anyone feels that strongly, why not join the PDEX?

PDEX is a political party for foreigners, based in Alicante, and now boasts some 1,200 members.

This is Spain’s first political party for foreigners and El Partido de los Extranjeros (PDEX), is constituted to defend the rights of immigrants.

With membership now running at 1,200 across the country, and growing, the party now hopes that it will be able to field candidates in the local elections to be held in 2011.

The Secretary General of PDEX is a lawyer, Giulio Adinolfi, and the party President is Victoria Marchuk, who are proud to point out that the Valencia region is the first in Spain to adopt the ‘Pact for the Integration of the Immigrant Population.

PDEX literature and publicity claim that they stand for integration with the Spanish population, but also demands respect for the traditions of the immigrant population. They believe that immigrants have the right to ‘participate in the social, economic and political management of the country in which they live.’

No Says Zapatero
The tricky subject of Spain’s commitment to the ‘mission’ in Afghanistan came to a head recently with a request for more forces. The request was make during a visit of the NATO General Secretary, Anders Fogh Rasmussen to Madrid.

Spanish Prime Minister, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, has made it quite clear that Spain will not be sending any more Guardia Civil personnel to Afghanistan, despite the aforementioned request. However, he did say that the requested had been noted, and also that he was aware that the training of the Afghan forces is key to the future withdrawal of foreign forces.

The Prime Minister insisted that Spain’s commitment to the mission was firm, and that Spanish personnel would be in situ until the mission is completed.

There should be 40 Guardia Civil on active service in Afghanistan, although there are currently only 26 on duty there.

Illegal Algerians
Yet another small boat was intercepted off the coast of Almería with 18 Algerians on board, 15 miles southeast of Cabo de Gata.

The boat and occupants were taken to Almería port and met by the Emergency Response Team (ERIE) and the Red Cross all ready to assist the 18 Algerian immigrants, however on arrival the occupants of the boat, all adult males, appeared to be in good health, and were given dry clothing, footwear, water and hot drinks.

Just a few days previous to this, 17 migrants were rescued by the cruise ship Disney Magic in the same area and taken to Barcelona. One of the occupants was rescued from the sea by helicopter as their boat had capsized.

The skipper of this particular boat tried to pretend he was one of the migrants, but was identified by the other occupants as the skipper of the boat, and has subsequently been arrested and faces charges of human trafficking. His name has been given solely as BS, a 29-year-old male from Algeria, and will be dealt with through the courts in Barcelona.
All the other occupants of the boat are now being processed in readiness for return to their native country, but were very lucky to have survived the ordeal of being adrift in a rubber dinghy in choppy seas.

Pruned Penis

Most gentlemen readers will, at this point, probably like to cross their legs. A prisoner at Valdemoro prison in Madrid, who was convicted of a violent crime against a woman, decided he really did not want to be extradited to his home country of Kazakhstan.

So, whilst awaiting departure at Barajas airport, he managed to get hold of a sharp instrument and started to hack off his penis. He had almost entirely severed his troublesome todger before he was stopped.

He is now ensconced in the Ramjet Hospital and his condition is said to be ‘serious.’ (Certainly his mental condition is – Ed)

Endangered Med
Over fishing, habitat loss, pollution, the introduction of invasive species and increased temperatures due to climate change are some of the threats facing the biodiversity of the Med and make it one of the world’s most endangered areas.

These are the findings of a study by Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientificas (CSIC), who have revised estimates of the future of the Med and they say that the main problems are, “those associated with climate change and habitat degradation,” says Marta Coll, a researcher at the Institute of Marine Sciences and coordinator of the above study.

The work is part of the Census of Marine Life project, consisting of a global network of researchers, which aims to map the biodiversity of the oceans, and has been divided into 25 areas of study. The developers have devised a table that assigns scores depending on the degree of threat, and the Med appears to be the most threatened ecosystem, closely followed by the Gulf of Mexico and the continental shelf of China. In general, enclosed seas, like the Med, are the most threatened.

The work shows that the Med is one of the most diverse marine seas on the planet, with only three others ahead on the list, namely Australia, Japan and China. But with 17,000 marine species listed to date, it also has areas of high concentration of species with ecological significance.

Bison Baby
The first European bison to be born in Spain for around ten thousand years has come into the world looking healthy and ready to graze, in the European Bison Reserve San Cebrián de Mudá. To date, nobody is even sure if the youngster is male or female as it is rather difficult to get close to a baby bison with several tons of angry mum ready to defend her offspring.
The people of San Cebrián de Mudá are pretty sure that it is a female and want to name her Cyprus.

Originally from Poland, the bison have been introduced to the area and it is the dream of the town that there will be further calves.

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