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El blog de Maria

Your daily Spanish Law reporter. Have it with a cafe con leche.

A wise African woman
29 October 2008

A wise African woman

Anna Tibaijuka

Some recent words by her  on the occasion of World Habitat Day

The current housing finance crisis in the developed world has demonstrated beyond reasonable doubt that in matters of delivering adequate shelter for all, the Government has a key and decisive role to play. It must take the lead both in providing land for affordable housing development, and also in promoting and supervising housing finance systems that are pro-poor and will cater for all income groups. The Government must ensure that the population is financially literate to take on housing loans to avoid widespread fore-closure and the social disorder they unleash, when they happen.

We in the United Nations system have a responsibility to remind all countries, whether rich or poor, that they are not immune from the impacts of poverty. And that is why, as we all worry how the global financial crisis will hit us as ordinary people, we must remind all again that investment in basic urban services and adequate shelter is essential. When we get it right we derive economic, social and health benefits for all.

And specifically on Angola, these words to his President:

Let the money also be used to provide a place where every child finds not only a school but also a playground; let it be used to build a place where young people find not only sporting and recreation centres, but also vending sites to start small businesses; and, yes, a place too where expectant and nursing mothers can easily find health care facilities not too far from home. 

A healthy way to focus our worries far beyond our nose.

By Maria L. de Castro

Like 0        Published at 08:49   Comments (0)

Speech of the 2008 Prince of Asturias Awards Ceremony
25 October 2008

Speech of the 2008 Prince of Asturias Awards Ceremony

Filled with the deep emotion we feel each year when holding our Awards Presentation Ceremony and the satisfaction and joy of having among us people and institutions worthy of the most universal recognition, we meet once more in Oviedo, capital of this beloved land, Asturias. A land and a city that always offers us a warm and generous welcome, and which once more constitute the lighthouse that casts its light on a day such as this over the most generous dreams, the most heartfelt desires for the concord and progress of Earth`s inhabitants.

We offer our most cordial congratulations to our laureates, who, through their work and example, enrich human existence as well as instilling it with hope. Our deepest gratitude goes out to the personalities, representatives of the various institutions and all those who have wished to accompany us here today so that this great cultural celebration may grow in stature.

We also welcome those who have come from abroad to this beautiful Principality of Asturias, home to historical exploits, unique cultural creations and privileged natural landscapes that all Asturians have known how to conserve and enhance.

We also wish to especially thank those who help us to make our aspirations a reality: the Governments of Spain and of Asturias, Oviedo City Council, the Foundation?s Trustees and Patrons, the members of the different Juries, the media, the people of Asturias, who so fondly embrace our initiatives, and so many anonymous people who encourage us in our work, and who feel a sense of solidarity with our noble ideals.

The combination of all these parties has defined the exceptional path that our Foundation and its Awards has followed for almost thirty years now. This success is not a goal for us, regardless of how noble it might be, but rather a stimulus to go even further, because, as Don Quixote said, we prefer to set out even before sunrise. And we have wanted to tread our path already long? humbly, while attempting at all times to be guided by caution, which, as an age-old saying goes, is a light whose clarity never goes out.

Along this path, our Foundation has undergone a change in President. We offer our gratitude to Matías Rodríguez Inciarte for enthusiastically leading us into the future with the confidence with which he admires our past journey. Precisely in this regard, we wish to render tribute and express deep gratitude today to our dear José Ramón Álvarez Rendueles, who, in the footsteps of Plácido Arango and Pedro Masaveu, presided over us for the last twelve years with great dedication, generosity and loyalty.

I would now like to devote a few words to our laureates, who are the true protagonists of this solemn event that our Foundation organises and holds annually, which we see as a factory of dreams that come true to serve Spain, because the grandness of a nation is also measured by what it generously gives to the world to make it a better place, to fight against all that would extinguish hope in humanity and its future.

Music has always been conceived of as one of the higher arts, as possessing great transformational power, not only due to it being the expression of that which is beautiful, but also because it is undoubtedly the art which is closest to harmony, the most sublime medium for conveying feelings and communicating emotions. Since ?as has been said in a thousand different ways? it is so very true that the mission of art transcends the horizon of aesthetics and vigorously projects itself onto other fields such as humanistic education, social promotion and ethical commitment. Good and beauty ?as in the words of Octavio Paz? are inseparable. An example of this is the National Network of Youth and Children Orchestras of Venezuela, which has received the Award for the Arts.

Each day, millions of people the world over experience the beneficial effect of music, its ability to bring us together, to free our hearts ?to move us. These abilities become manifest in these young orchestras. What is more, however, and as their creator, the composer José Antonio Abreu, has stated, the benefits to be reaped from these orchestras ?which extend to society as a whole? are most salient in the young people of Venezuela, through the feelings of solidarity and self-esteem that surge inexorably within them.

And so the "Sistema" (as it is popularly known), which has provided a musical education to hundreds of thousands of children ?many of whom are victims of poverty, alienation and social isolation?, has accomplished the most challenging goals that Maestro Abreu originally set for himself. To recall just one example right now, let us highlight that of Gustavo Dudamel, one of his most outstanding and gifted students, who at the mere age of 27 has already conducted important orchestras worldwide: a veritable symbol of what music and work undertaken with faith, sacrifice and dedication can achieve.

The Award for International Cooperation has been bestowed on four organisations leading the fight against malaria in Africa. These are the Centro de Investigaçao em Saúde de Manhiça, in Mozambique, created and directed by the Spanish doctors, Pedro Alonso, and his wife, Clara Menéndez; the Ifakara Health Research and Development Centre, in Tanzania; the Malaria Research and Training Center, in Mali; and the Kintampo Health Research Centre, in Ghana.

The figures regarding this disease are as resounding as they are shocking: malaria threatens forty per cent of the world?s population and is endemic in over one hundred countries; it is the cause of more than a million deaths each year; its main victims are children; and it is considered one of the major reasons why Africa is underdeveloped. Hence the importance of the work these four organisations carry out in the areas of the African continent that constitute what has been called the "Nation of the Poor"; a nation without geographical frontiers, where hunger, conflicts of all kinds, disease and despair have taken root, and where, by living in such tragic conditions, the freedom for each person to choose their own destiny does not exist.

Poverty can be found on all continents, in all countries worldwide. But, of all these, Africa suffers the most atrocious and the most absurd of poverties. The starving of Africa are dying on a continent that also nurtures lush crops and is home to most of the planet?s energy and mineral resources. The four meritorious organisations we are distinguishing here today with special admiration work together heroically and humbly, "like a small family", as Doctor Pedro Alonso has stated. But we know that they are much more than just that; that they are moved by a sublime ambition: that of eradicating pain and suffering, of conquering a disease which vents its fury on the most vulnerable to overcome once and for all the terrible combination of poverty and disease that thwarts progress ?and even hope? in so many impoverished places in the world.

The Award for Technical and Scientific Research has been conferred on five scientists who are experts in Materials Science and Nanotechnology for their extraordinary merits. This discipline works with matter on an atomic scale to study, design and produce novel devices, materials and systems with unique, controlled properties that are also ?curiously enough? fundamental for the sustainable development of the planet and in fighting poverty and disease. Their work makes a decisive contribution to human health, energy savings and the use of new sources of clean energy, while enabling fascinating challenges to be addressed and technological breakthroughs to be made.

Among the most serious issues Mankind faces are environmental conservation and the fight against climate change. In this respect, reducing our dependence on fossil fuels ?and especially oil? to sustainable levels and putting a brake on the threat of global warming together constitute a major scientific and technological challenge.

The physicist Sumio Iijima?s carbon nanotubes are excellent candidates for safely storing hydrogen, one of the ?green? fuels of the future. Ultralight and ultrastrong, they also find applications in the fields of electronics and computing.

The engineer Shuji Nakamura?s environmentally-friendly light bulbs, known as LEDs, prevent the burning of millions of tons of coal and are gradually becoming the light source of the future. They currently provide a very practical solution in underdeveloped areas with scant energy resources. These areas can also benefit from ultraviolet LEDs to efficiently and economically purify water, one of the scarcest natural resources in some areas of the planet, and one which is essential for life.

The goal of the engineer, Robert Langer, has been to develop materials for medical purposes. He is a pioneer in what is known as the intelligent, controlled release of drugs. His materials act as messengers that travel around the human body transporting medicine, saving millions of human lives and tackling terrible diseases such as cancer. As the father of tissue engineering, he has also applied his revolutionary biomaterials for the controlled growth of artificial organs.

To the chemist, George Whitesides, we owe ingenious, efficient fabrication techniques in this world of the infinitely small. Emulating Nature, he has found the appropriate conditions for atoms and molecules to self-assemble and for materials to build themselves. Likewise, his soft lithography behaves like a powerful nanopress, also capable of choreographing the subtle dance of atoms and molecules. By means of these techniques, it is now possible ?for the first time? to build significant amounts of materials with surprising novel properties and for very specific purposes.

The use of clean, free, sustainable solar energy requires optimum systems for capturing such energy. The chemist, Tobin Marks, has worked to develop a new generation of organic solar cells which are highly efficient and economical. To him we also owe a wide range of recyclable plastics and environmentally-friendly materials, as well as modulators for efficiently transmitting data and a prototype for the e-paper of the future.

The achievements of these five scientists once again underpin the social dimension of their work, especially when fostering progress even in the world?s most underprivileged areas. They are, in short, a clear example of the passionate, far-reaching role played by science: to understand in greater and greater depth how the material world works, and to improve our lives, making them more pleasant or relieving them from suffering.

Undoubtedly, another important step forward in human progress has been taken by the Internet search engine, "Google", which has received this year?s Award for Communication and Humanities. Conceived by the intelligence, dreams and aspirations of two young men, Sergey Brin and Larry Page, who met at Stanford University, Google has become a fundamental instrument for the development of human culture.

From the remotest of times, we human beings have sought the most efficient and fastest way of communicating with one another. The world?s most beautiful monuments, its legendary libraries, the diverse writing and publishing techniques, the various means of transport are all ways of materialising the yearning to transmit and receive information and knowledge and the longing to explain and understand the world. Google is a new, efficient and extraordinarily fast way of achieving this dream, making an enormous volume of information available to millions of people in only seconds. The creation of Google Earth and Google Book Search is progressively placing within our reach the remotest corners of the Earth and the intellectual production of centuries of civilization.

It is therefore also ?and above all? a useful instrument for fostering development, as has been recognised by the UNESCO, which has started up in conjunction with Google what is known as the Literacy Project. Those in charge of this project have stated ?and rightly so? that they feel great pride in witnessing how Google, which came into being as a result of the wish to help people find information, is also used to share ideas and to facilitate the search for solutions to the lack of culture, ignorance and disinformation.

The Award for Social Sciences has been conferred on the Bulgarian-born, naturalized French writer, Tzvetan Todorov, an excellent linguist, semiotician, historian of ideas and literary theoretician: a true contemporary humanist.

Trained in the best French tradition, he learned to perceive in texts the subtle weave that held them together, that gave sense to them, made up of a long literary tradition that is a mixture of scholarly and popular origin. His infinite curiosity also led him to explore historical terrain, reencountering there one of his other fields of research: signs, communication, the mechanisms of language. Excellent proof of this are his studies on the discovery of America, which he defines as the most amazing encounter in the history of Humanity, the moment at which men discover the entirety of what they form part of.

Outstanding and suggestive too are his studies on that great peak of Western thinking, the Enlightenment, extolling its spirit and lights, situating it in our times and claiming it as a mark of our European identity. An identity that he also states is based on the renouncement of violence, on forgiveness, on reconciliation and on life in common. His condition as a "displaced man", a victim in his country of the long night of totalitarianism, enables him to have a perspective that is far removed from any kind of sectarianism or ideological imposition and to be convinced of the benefits of the proximity of others, of those who do not think in the same way.

Todorov asserts that immigration is always a source of wealth, of dynamism and energy. The phenomenon of emigration is well known in Spain, and particularly so in Asturias, which has been witness to this phenomenon for centuries. But in referring to this reality, we wish to express the deep pain we feel each day as we witness the tragedy of so many women and men attempting to cross frontiers in their flight from extreme poverty, with the hope of finding a better life on the other side, which every human being has a right to.

This constitutes a drama that moves us and causes us anguish and sadness, above all when we see that children often make this journey, sometimes arriving on death?s door, and whose heart, as Camus wrote, may possibly contain the entire pain of the world.

Margaret Atwood, from Canada, considered one of the most important writers of our time, has received the Award for Letters. Poet, narrator, essayist and original speaker, with her mastery of the art of writing, based on a profound knowledge of the classics, she has created extremely beautiful works that are at the same time deeply committed to social reality and the defence of humanism. In her verses she mixes lyrical sentiment with a profound ethical commitment, ever inseparable from great literature; her condition as an extremely keen observer of human relationships can be discerned in her prose, together with her condition as a fighter against social injustice.

A staunch defender of the freedom of expression, she is also a faithful supporter of Nature conservation, which she invokes in pages brimming with intensity and critical force. Particularly important and original are her ideas on feminism, which she has always written about from an independent stance and to which she has devoted highly lucid essays, fostering and celebrating the legitimate, promising conquests of women while warning us against the perils raised by the possibility of these achievements degenerating into clichés.

Her rich literary work, which she has always intended to be crystal clear, entertaining and easily readable, ranges from allegory to parody, from the full expression of poetic sentiment to the well-aimed assault of her sharp wit against intolerance. Her free thinking enables her to face up to injustice in every sphere and to combat it with her subtle and suggestive words, far removed from any form of dogmatism.

For all this, for her intellectual honesty, for the independence of her judgement, she has become a moral reference for many women and men all over the world.

On the morning of the 3rd September last, we received with great joy the news that the Jury had conferred the Award for Sports on Rafael Nadal. On this stage, in previous years, we have presented the award to other sportsmen and women with dazzling careers, accustomed to glory. And we have praised them for their spirit of sacrifice, for their exceptional qualities, but also for their human values. Today, we especially recall, with fondness and concern, Severiano Ballesteros, who, as he himself has said, is playing the game for life itself.

This is what occurs to us with Rafa Nadal, who amazes us every time he wins, because in each and every victory he displays the humility and simplicity that only the greatest are capable of feeling in such a way. But what amazes us even more is that he never forgets those who suffer, those who fight against pain and illness.

Because Rafa Nadal, apart from being a superb tennis player, is a great human being, a grateful young man. He never ceases to stress, with the deepest fondness, the fundamental influence that his family, his grandparents, his parents, his uncles and aunts ?in particular, his uncle Toni, who is much more than just his coach? have had on his life. They have known how to guide him along the always difficult road to success, encouraging him to walk hand in hand with authenticity, simplicity and greatness of spirit.

Rafa has stated that what is important is not to be a good sportsperson, what is important is to be a good person. And he has demonstrated that he is both; since, from his laurelled-crowned summit, he is socially-committed, and always feels happy with the triumphs of his colleagues in other disciplines, as he recently expressed with joy at the Beijing Olympic Games and at the European Soccer Cup and Basketball championships.

His behaviour and feelings are a great example for children and youth, who, as well as enthusiastically following his sporting triumphs, learn from his truly generous sense of fair-play. This may in fact be one of his greatest triumphs, since, from the highest place on the podium, he underlines the most emotive, educational aspects of sport, such as when he says ?with legitimate pride? that being Spanish constitutes an extra motivation for him. "To win," he has stated, "is always much more pleasing when you are playing for your country".

For his serene patriotism, for his fortitude under duress, for his triumphs, for his humility and for his example, Rafa Nadal has forever gained admiration both in Spain and abroad.

Today we feel with emotion the immense relief and joy that moved us back in the month of July when we heard the news of the end to the long and tortuous captivity of Ingrid Betancourt. On presenting her today with the Award for Concord, we recognise in her, a person who, as the minutes of the conferral of the award states, "personifies all those people in the world deprived of their freedom for defending human rights and for fighting terrorist violence, corruption and drug trafficking". Thousands of people who, in whatever corner of the planet, live with their backs turned to the inexcusable good of being free and whom we remember today as we join in Ingrid Betancourt?s prayers that hope should never abandon them.

Ingrid Betancourt, who has been subjected to extremely harsh trials, suddenly faced with vulnerability, humiliation and physical and mental pain, now fights to definitively leave behind those years of suffering and fear, and tells us that the answer to vengeance is compassion; that one may respond to wrong with right, that hope and love of life manage to overcome the most fearsome barriers of cruelty and hate.
As the beautiful verses of Salvador Espríu go:
Men cannot
ever be
unless they are free,

It is so: we human beings cannot live without freedom. We survive without it, but we do not live life to the full. This is the most profound lesson that we can extract from Ingrid Betancourt?s experience. And those of us who have the fortune to be able to denounce such unjust, such harsh situations, have the duty to defend dignity, happiness and the welfare of free human beings. For all this, we recognise here this evening her heroic resistance, her victory, the exquisite absence of spite in her heart, the greatness of her spirit.
We likewise wish to fondly remember the fourteen people who shared in her release, impeccably and courageously carried out by the Colombian Armed Forces, whom we congratulate and encourage in their long-suffering work fraught with perils. We also spur on those governments which, like that of our sister country, Colombia, work to consolidate democracy, civil liberties, peaceful coexistence and the definitive end to political and social problems of such injustice and gravity for security and health, for regional stability and the needs for economic and social development.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
Throughout these years, many of our laureates have warned us of the challenges that Humanity faces at the beginning of the 21st century. Many have spoken lucidly and with concern about different aspects of a process in which we have been immersed for several decades now: Globalization, a process which has driven the inexorable rapprochement of Nations until forming a truly global village, in which we share ?now more than ever? the future of our destinies and the consequences of our deeds.

Within this framework, we make the most of the opportunities provided by universal access to communication and knowledge transmission systems. Let us work together to stabilise and heal the international financial system as soon as possible. Let us all seek to suitably channel the pressure of human development on our planet?s environment. Let us act as a solid front when faced with natural disasters and major catastrophes. And let us join forces to fight efficiently by means of the instruments of the Rule of Law against terrorism and all forms of organised crime.

These global realities of the interdependent world in which we live affect essential aspects of our existence and condition our freedom, progress and welfare, which, for the time being, still await effective global solutions. From this very stage, we have heard demands for united responses to many of the aforementioned challenges. However, despite their importance and, whilst recognising the value and effort of many initiatives of different kinds and origins, these challenges have not been addressed with the necessary conviction, celerity or forcefulness.

The recent financial crisis has highlighted both the true breadth and depth of this process and the urgent need to overcome the great perils and challenges that this global community which we are building present us with. It reveals how essential it is for societies and states to become aware of the need for institutions to put order in and regulate globalisation; in short, to offer greater confidence and hope to all the planet?s inhabitants.

This process needs to be managed by means of a great cooperative effort and worldwide agreement. It requires a balanced impetus that, while respectful of the responsibilities of the different states, is also audacious, so that we can face up to these challenges with resolve and a view to the future. For this to be so, we must exploit all the advantages this new world scenario provides.

The last three decades have evidenced Spain?s will to build its future on the solid basis of democratic values and to take up a proactive position on the international stage. I am convinced that Spain is determined to contribute, on the basis of these foundations, to this great multilateral effort in channelling the process of globalisation.

For that reason, and on speaking of our country, I would like to conclude by evoking other important events that also changed the course of our history forever and which had a major influence on many places in the world. This year we commemorate the bicentenary of the War of Independence and the 30th anniversary of our current Constitution. In addition, we are presently preparing the bicentenaries of the Independence of the sister republics in America and of the Constitution of Cadiz, the first liberal constitution in all of what we nowadays call Latin America.

All these ?either peacefully or through truly difficult sacrifices? were paths that sought freedom and justice, momentous steps in the evolution towards an advanced, democratic society, governed by the Rule of Law. They are also, like all great historical events, examples for the future. The Spanish people, and above all the youngest among us, must ponder these events and learn from these mistakes, failures, glories and achievements so as never to repeat what should never have occurred and to extol all that is good in them, all that has transformed us into a great nation: into a Spain that is democratic, diverse, fully integrated in Europe, in control of its destiny? a nation of which we feel so proud.

Spain exists in its yesterday, in its great history, but above all in its tomorrow. For that reason, these lessons from the past and the mists that usually obscure our view of the future, cannot stop us from clearly seeing that we are facing a new world, a very different one from that of the 20th century, one that is broader and more complex, with powerful new voices, which announce profound modifications in the way in which we have conceived, experienced and administered our world.

As in every period of transition and of such rapid and profound changes, the current period is full of risk and uncertainty, but also of opportunities and hope. The journey we have before us is not mundane. To venture forward into these new times requires ?more than ever before? skilfully choosing the course and firmly holding to it, and demands a determined, shared will, based on solidarity among all the people of Spain, that bolsters their hopes, confidence and security. It is a journey in which it is essential for all this effort to drink from the wells of humanism and ethics, which foster the best of human life.

History also taught us that one of the keys to the progress of mankind is the capacity of people and societies to adapt to technological changes. For that reason, we have to be aware that the education of our young people and citizens constitutes one of the main pillars of our future wellbeing; an education that is continually brought up to date, with a universal outlook based on effort, work well done and which is successfully connected with the working world.

Likewise, innovation, scientific research and the new technologies must constitute the very core of our productive fabric, ensuring the competitiveness of our businesses in the global market in which they currently carry out their activities. Only thus, in this Knowledge Society in which we now live, will wealth be created and distributed and employment be created, which is one of the major concerns of the Spanish people.

This is hence ?more than ever before? the moment to stand our ground firmly on the great principles and values that are the soul and raison d'être of our Awards. Those principles and values that support our faith in the future and underpin our determination to build a world which we want to be more prosperous, but, above all, more sustainable and more socially committed, more just and always free.

Each year, our laureates enrich our ideas and remind us of the importance of serving as an example through their own personal history. We shall thus continue to recognise in these awards those who seek truth and beauty, those who work for peace and the wellbeing and freedom of all, those who ?in short? help build this forever unfinished city of a better world.

Thank you.


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Values for the fridge
25 October 2008

To make a virtue of necessity ( Hacer de la necesidad virtud)

It has been interesting to learn today ( so early in the morning in a Saturday), that this phrase that we use in Spain has actually an english origin by Chaucer and Shakespeare.

It made me  think of a fun game: I do not want to write on crisis and recession. We already have enough.

In these clearly difficult or let´s call them  "different" times, let´s  play a game together:

Let´s start moving ahead and choose some values to substitute the old fashioned and useless: consumerism, individualism, and ultra-competitiveness.

Every family  can pick one of these values to think of, read about and start practising every month ( this is actually the method I learnt in my primary and secondary school in Algeciras). We can think of  two or three  ways to pratise them on a daily basis. Fun needed, no boring shedules please.

By today, we could maybe start by substituting the seedy pizza-shops, and all-the-shops magnets on our fridge and create a colourful values chart  in substitution. 

New fridge decoration based on  some stylish, refreshing and thoughtful literature.


By Maria L. de Castro

Values Sampler ( from

Personal Values Cultural Values Social Values Work Values
Caring Celebration of Diversity Altruism Autonomy
Courage Ethnic roots Diversity Competitiveness
Creativity Faith Eco-consciousness Conscientiousness
Friendliness Linguistic ties Equality Dedication
Honesty National ties Fairness Equanimity/Ethics
Honour Regional ties Family closeness Loyalty
Independence Tradition Lovingness Professionalism
Integrity   Morality Punctuality
Spirituality   Reliability Remunerative worth
      Team player

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The Emperor´s new cloth
24 October 2008

A very good colleague of mine, Lawyer in Fuengirola (Malaga)  working on the side of consumers in the Real Estate  and the Costaluzlawyers team met in a  Law Conference yesterday. It was in Marbella. 

Too many ties and grey/blue jackets by the way. Too boring in terms of attire.

We laughed, discussed and had lunch with our teams... we concluded that many Lawyers and Judges´ position regarding Consumers Law in the Real Estate field in Spain is exactly that of the "general public" in the famous danish fairy tale.

There is still very few shouting: " He has no cloth"

 By the way, he is married with a Danish woman, like Andersen.


By Maria L. de Castro

(A link from the Hans Christian Andersen Center :

And theinformation contained in Wikipedia:

The Emperor's New Clothes

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Jump to: navigation, search
Andersen, 1862.
Andersen, 1862.

"The Emperor's New Clothes" (Keiserens nye Klæder) is a fairy tale by Danish poet and author Hans Christian Andersen about an emperor who unwittingly hires two swindlers to create a new suit of clothes for him. The tale was first published in 1837 as part of Eventyr, fortalte for Børn (Fairy Tales, Told for Children).

The tale is one of Andersen's most popular. It appears often in selected tales collections of his work and is frequently published in illustrated storybook editions for children. The tale has seen adaptations in animated film, and television drama.



[edit] Plot summary

Vilhelm Pedersen illustration.
Vilhelm Pedersen illustration.

An emperor who cares too much about clothes hires two swindlers who promise him the finest suit of clothes from the most beautiful cloth. This cloth, they tell him, is invisible to anyone who was either stupid or unfit for his position. The Emperor cannot see the (non-existent) cloth, but pretends that he can for fear of appearing stupid; his ministers do the same. When the swindlers report that the suit is finished, they dress him in mime. The Emperor then goes on a procession through the capital showing off his new "clothes". During the course of the procession, a small child cries out, "But he has nothing on!" The crowd realizes the child is telling the truth. The Emperor, however, holds his head high and continues the procession.

[edit] Adaptations

Vilhelm Pedersen illustration
Vilhelm Pedersen illustration

The story has been parodied numerous times, including one story in the animated television series Alftales where Alf plays a frustrated tailor of comfortable casual clothes who pulls the trick on the uninterested emperor who refused his usual goods. At the end, when the emperor's pretension is exposed by a girl who makes some sarcastic comments about his state of undress, Alf's character supplies the ruler some of his usual wares which the emperor finds agreeable. However, the story ends with the emperor making the best of his humiliation by indulging in his one opportunity to go streaking.

The Emperor's New Clothes is the title of a fanciful 2001 film starring Ian Holm as Napoleon, and a 1996 play by playwright Eric Coble.

The 1990 song "The Emperor's New Clothes" by recording artist Sinéad O'Connor has the same general message as the original fairytale. The song ends with the lines, "through their own words / they will be exposed / they've got a severe case of / the emperor's new clothes."

In the 1952 film musical Hans Christian Andersen based on the life of the Danish poet and story-teller Hans Christian Andersen, starring Danny Kaye, the story of The Emperor's New Clothes is told in The King's New Clothes as one of the film's eight songs.

In The Romans, a 1965 episode of Doctor Who, the Doctor convinces Emperor Nero that he can play the lyre by announcing before his performance that "the music is so soft, so delicate, that only those with keen, perceptive hearing will be able to distinguish this melodious charm of music". He then pretends to play, making no actual sound, and at the end of his performance he receives cheers and applause from the other guests at the banquet. He later boasts to one of his companions that he gave the idea to Hans Christian Andersen.

The tale itself was adapted as an episode of the 2008 series Fairy Tales.

An episode in the fourth series of the British TV show Hustle, A Designer's Paradise, bases a confidence trick around the story of The Emperor's New Clothes.

The Emperor's New Mind by Roger Penrose is a book about physics and complexity theory. Penrose concludes that computers, although they appear to think, cannot think as we experience it. He attempts to prove this hypothesis by examining all physics as we know it in a small amount of detail.

The novel Naked Empire by Terry Goodkind makes an allusion to the tale with its title and the book deals with similar themes.

Another book that alludes to the tale is "The Empire's Old Clothes: What the Lone Ranger, Babar, and Other Innocent Heroes Do to Our Minds," by Ariel Dorfman, the Chilean novelist, playwright, essayist, academic, and human rights activist.

The Chinese novelist Ye Sheng Tao continued the story which Andersen had left off; it is also titled, The Emperor's New Clothes.

The PBS series Sagwa also aired an adaptation of this classic tale.

[edit] Cultural references

  • The Barenaked Ladies included the lyrics "I felt a chill because I was still wearing the emperor's new clothes" in the song "The Humour of the Situation".
  • The games The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker and The Legend of Zelda: The Phantom Hourglass contains a similar item called "Hero's New Clothes," a set of clothes that does not actually exist.
  • Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi tried out a T-shirt at the opening of a boutique in Kuala Lumpur named "The Emperor's New Clothes".
  • The title of the animated film The Emperor's New Groove comes from this fairytale.
  • The book The Emperor's New Clothes: An (Un)popular Account of the Origins of Christianity by Bill Johnston published in 2008 examines the pagan content of Christianity, and casts doubt on the reliability of the New Testament accounts.

[edit] See also

[edit] References


[edit] External links

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Principe de Asturias Awards 2008. Letters. Margaret Atwood
23 October 2008

Margaret Atwood

Margaret Atwood
Margaret Atwood

2008 Award Winners

Letters Award Winners

José Hierro 

Margaret Atwood
Considered one of the most outstanding novelists and poets on the contemporary scene, Margaret Atwood was born in 1939 in Ottawa (Ontario, Canada). A book lover since very young, she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree from Victoria College, University of Toronto, and then went on to pursue postgraduate studies at Radcliff College, Cambridge (Massachusetts) and at the University of Harvard. She has lectured in English Literature at a number of Canadian universities, including the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Sir George Williams University in Montreal and York University in Toronto. A full-time writer since 1972, she has chaired the Writers´ Union of Canada (1981-1982) and the Canadian chapter of the International PEN Club for Writers (1984-1986).

A truly prolific author, she obtained international recognition with the publication of her novel The Edible Woman (1969), which was followed by Surfacing (1972), Lady Oracle (1976), Life Before Man (1980), Cat´s Eye (1988) and The Robber Bride (1993). The plot of her novels frequently focuses on the figure of women, their maturity and changes in sexual roles.

She is also a consummate poet. Her poetry (a genre in which she started writing at the age of nineteen) incorporates mythological, cultural, literary and pictorial references, as in Double Persephone (1961), The Circle Game (1964) and Procedures for Underground (1970). In You are Happy (1974) and Two-Headed Poems (1978), she revealed her interest in social literature: in the former she explores women´s oppression and in the latter, the latent conflict existing in Canada between two cultures and two languages. These concerns were to newly emerge in True Stories (1981), Interlunar (1984) and Morning in the Burned House (1995).

Some of her novels have also been adapted for the cinema and the theatre, such as The Edible Woman (1969), The Handmaid´s Tale (1985) "also staged as an opera", Alias Grace (1996) and The Blind Assassin (2000). Her latest works include the novel Oryx and Crake (2003), the collection of short stories The Tent (2006), and the book of poetry The Door (2007). Ms. Atwood´s work has been published in more than thirty languages, including Farsi, Japanese, Turkish, Finnish, Korean, Icelandic and Estonian.

Winner of the 2000 Booker Prize, the highest award for literature in the English language, she has also received the Canadian Governor General´s Literary Award (1966 and 1986), the Canadian Booksellers Association Award (1977, 1989 and 1996), the Toronto Book Award (1977 and 1989), the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Fiction (1986), the Welsh Arts Council International Writer´s Prize (UK, 1982), the Arthur C. Clarke Award (UK, 1987), the Canadian Authors´ Association Novel of the Year (1993), the Sunday Times Award for Literary Excellence (UK, 1994), the Giller Prize (Canada, 1996), the Premio Mondello (Italy, 1997), the London Literature Award (1999) and the Crime Writers´ Association Dashiell Hammett Award (USA, 2001). She has received honorary doctorates from several universities, such as Cambridge, Oxford, Leeds, Toronto and Montreal, is Chevalier of the French Order of Arts and Literature, as well as a Companion of the Order of Canada. She has likewise been awarded the Order of Ontario and the Norwegian Order of Literary Merit and is a member of the Royal Society of Canada.

Information from Principe de Asturias Foundation website

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Blue Ocean Strategy
22 October 2008


How blue is your ocean?®

Are you true blue or bloody red?


how blue are you
  • Is your company facing heightened competition from domestic and international rivals?
  • Do your sales representatives increasingly argue they need to offer deeper and deeper price discounts to make sales? 
  • Are you finding you need to advertise more to get noticed in the marketplace, yet the impact of each advertising dollar spent is falling?
  • Is your company focused more on cost cutting, quality control, and brand management at the expense of growth, innovation, and brand creation?
  • Do you blame your slow growth on your market?
  • Do you see outsourcing to low cost companies or countries as a principal prerequisite to regain competitiveness?
  • Are mergers and acquisitions the principal means your company sees to grow?
  • Is it easier to get funding to match a strategic move made by your competitor than it is to get internal funding to support a strategic move that allows you to break away from the competition?
  • Is commoditization of offerings a frequent worry of your company?
  • List your key competitive factors; now list your competition’s. Are they largely the same?


If you answered yes to a majority of these questions, then your company is stuck in the red ocean.

Blue Ocean Strategy offers you a way to swim out of the red ocean filled with sharks. It presents a theory, tools, and frameworks to allow your company to break away from the competition and create a blue ocean of new market space.


By Maria L. de Castro



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To help us think into the future
22 October 2008

 A picture

 A couple of books

   An a paper on the future of financial services regulation.  

To help us think into the future.


By Maria L. de Castro

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Stiglitz.. who is that man?
21 October 2008

 Another author to explore  of these days.

Stiglitz holds a part-time appointment at the University of Manchester as Chair of the Management Board and Director of Graduate Summer Programs at the Brooks World Poverty Institute


By Maria L. de Castro

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First International Congress of Fashion in Madrid
18 October 2008

A fun, interesting event on Fashion as a socio,cultural and humanistic reality.


By Maria L. de Castro


First Session

  •   9.00 Congress Registration
  •   9.45 Opening Ceremony
  • 10.00 Inaugural Conference. Fashion and luxury in age of hypermodernity. Gilles Lipovetsky, French sociologist, expert  in fashion theory in contemporary era. 
  • 11.15 Coffee Break
  • 11.45 Lecture: Creativity of Fashion. Omar Calabresse, Italian semiologist, researcher in the topics related to semiotic application to art and culture.
  • 12.45 First Communication
  • 13.15 Second Communication

Second Session

  • 16.30 Lecture: Fashion as a cultural metronome. Jorge Lozano,  theoretical  specialized in Fashion and Culture semiotic.
  • 17.30 Third Communication
  • 18.00 Fourth Communication
  • 18.30 Poster Session
  • 19.00 Round Table: Socio-Cultural Dimension of Fashion.
    Gilles Lipovetsky, Omar Calabresse, Jorge Lozano, Pedro Narváez
    Moderator: Enrique Loewe
  • 21.00 Welcome Dinner

Third Session

  •   9.00 Lecture: Social Corporative Responsibility in Fashion. Ignacio Sierra, Corporate Director  form CORTEFIEL Group. Xavier Carbonell, Director of  SCR from MANGO Group.
  • 10.00 Fifth Communication
  • 10.30 Sixth Communication
  • 11.00 Coffee Break
  • 11.30 Lecture: The humanistic function of fashion. Alfredo Cruz, Doctor in Philosophy, Professor in the University of Navarra
  • 12.30 Seventh Communication
  • 13.00 Eighth Communication
  • 13.30 Act of Presentation by the Post and Telegraphs State Society of the Stamp dedicated to Spanish Fashion taking place as the first day of emission.

Fourth Session

  • 16.30 Lecture: Fashion Market and Design. Modesto Lomba, Fashion designer, creator of the fashion firm Devota & Lomba. President of the spanish Fashion Creators Association.
  • 17.30 Ninth Communication
  • 18.00 Tenth Communication
  • 18.30 Extraordinary Conference about Spanish Fashion designer: Elio Berhanyer. Pedro Mansilla, sociologist, journalist and fashion critic.
  • 19.30 Guide visit to the temporary Exhibition of the Fashion Museum: Elio Berhanyer: 50 years of Spanish Fashion

Fifth Session

  •   9.00 Lecture: Technology and Innovation in Fashion. LECTRA Systems.
  • 10.00 Coffee Break
  • 10.30 Lecture: Fashion: Economic Dimensions, Communication and Marketing. Veronica Manlow, sociologist , expert  in fashion , industry and market relations.
  • 11.30 Round Table: Fashion promotion and diffusion.
    Veronica Manlow; Diego Copado, Director de Relaciones Externas de EL CORTE INGLÉS; Juan Carlos Santos; Ana Locking, diseñadora; Ignacio Sierra, Grupo CORTEFIEL
    Moderator: Angel Asensio, Presidente de la Federación Española de Empresas de Confección (FEDECON)
  • 13.30 Closing Conference: Manfredi Ricca, Director of INTERBRAND Milán.
  • 14.15 Closing Act
  • 14.30 Farewell toast with Spanish wine


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17 October 2008

I am confident that "co-" is the prefix of the future.

Best weekend,



By Maria L. de Castro


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Jump to: navigation, search

Coworking is an emerging trend for a new pattern for working. Typically work-at-home professionals or independent contractors or people who travel frequently end up working in relative isolation.[1] Coworking is the social gathering of a group of people, who are still working independently, but who share values[2] and who are interested in the synergy that can happen from working with talented people in the same space.[3][4]

Some coworking spaces were developed by nomadic internet entrepreneurs seeking an alternative to working in coffeeshops and cafes, or to isolation in independent or home offices.[5][6][7]

Business accelerators, business incubators and executive suites do not seem to fit into the coworking model, because they often miss the social, collaborative, and informal[8] aspects of the process, with management practices closer to that of a Cooperative, including a focus on community[9] rather than profit.[10] Many of the coworking participants are also participants in BarCamp[11] and other related open source technology activities.[12][13][14]

[edit] References

  1. ^ Butler, Kiera (2008-01-01), "Works Well With Others", Mother Jones, <> 
  2. ^ DeBare, Ilana (2008-02-19), "Shared work spaces a wave of the future", San Francisco Chronicle, <> 
  3. ^ Miller, Kerry (2007-02-26), "Where the Coffee Shop Meets the Cubicle", Business Week, <> 
  4. ^ Farby, Julie (2007-03-13), "The Hive Hopes To Revolutionize Traditional Office Space By Creating Coworking Space", All Headline News, <> 
  5. ^ Fost, Dan (2007-03-11), "WHERE NEO-NOMADS' IDEAS PERCOLATE: New 'bedouins' transform a laptop, cell phone and coffeehouse into their office", San Francisco Chronicle, <> 
  6. ^ Von Bergen, Jane (2007-08-19), "A Step Up From Working In PJ's", Philadelphia Inquirer, <> 
  7. ^ Williamson, Kate (2007-10-02), "Shared offices growing in S.F., Peninsula", San Francisco Examiner, <> 
  8. ^ Reed, Brad (2007-10-23), "Co-working: the ultimate in teleworking flexibility", Network World, <> 
  9. ^ Fost, Dan (2008-02-20), "Inspiration Strikes Only a Desk Away", New York Times, <> 
  10. ^ Fost, Dan (2008-02-20), "They’re Working on Their Own, Just Side by Side", New York Times, <> 
  11. ^ Clark, Jessica (2007-10-01), "Coworkers of the World, Unite!", American Prospect, <> 
  12. ^ Horowitz, Etan (2007-09-27), "Co-working can solve non-traditional office issues", Orlando Sentinel, <,0,4868019.story?coll=orl_tab03_layout> 
  13. ^ Reed, Brad (2007-10-23), "Co-working: the ultimate in teleworking flexibility", Network World, <> 
  14. ^ Berve, Anette (2008-04-25), "In Search of Colleagues", The Argentimes, <> 

[edit] See also

[edit] External links

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Horton hears a who!
17 October 2008

For brighter days... Now in DVD

"Horton hears a who"



By Maria L. de Castro

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Strategic Direction
15 October 2008

" A business can tolerate a truly enormous number of errors in detail- if the strategic direction is relevant and correct"

Mr. Richard S. Sloma

Really love that quotation!


By Maria L. de Castro

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An author to explore: Gilles Lipovetsky
15 October 2008



Lipovetsky, Gilles

2 articles of this author have been cited in the European Press Review so far.

El Mundo - Spain | 14/11/2007

Gilles Lipovetsky describes a commercial paradise

The French sociologist and philosopher Gilles Lipovetsky analyses consumer society in an interview conducted by Lourdes Ventura to mark the publication in Spanish of his book 'Paradoxical Happiness'. "In a society dominated by leisure there is a cohabitation of daily difficulties and the well-being which results from the democratisation of pleasure generating elements previously reserved for the lucky few. ... In bygone days, people sought refuge from crises in the Church. Now they flock to shopping centres. To fight anxiety, societies used to count on the consolation offered by religion. Hypermodernity promises paradise through all sorts of things: we are invited to travel, to drink good wine, to buy technology, to consume culture, to go to huge parties... All this to avoid being demoralised."

Le Soir - Belgium | 03/04/2006

Gilles Lipovetsky on the citizen as a consumer

French sociologist and philosopher Gilles Lipovetsky has published a book entitled "Le bonheur paradoxal" (Paradoxal Happiness), which defines a new phase of capitalism. He terms it "hyperconsumerism". In an interview with the critic William Bourton, he argues that the consumer mindset has modified attitudes to politics. "Although citizens are not consumers through and through, there are clear parallels in their political choices. Identities used to be much forcefully asserted. People would vote for the same political family from generation to generation. Today you can switch in the space of two weeks, like consumers switch products because they're fed up with the one they tried previously. The hyperconsumer society outweighs the power of logos and brands. It is about the rise of the 'homo cosumans' model in all walks of life."

» Index of Authors


By Maria L. de Castro


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Internet use " good for the brain"
15 October 2008

Internet use 'good for the brain'

Brain activity in an experienced internet user when carrying out simple reading task
Areas activated by reading a book in the brain of an experienced web user

For middle aged and older people at least, using the internet helps boost brain power, research suggests.

A University of California Los Angeles team found searching the web stimulates centres in the brain that control decision-making and complex reasoning.

The researchers say this might even help to counter-act the age-related physiological changes that cause the brain to slow down.

The study features in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry.

A simple, everyday task like searching the web appears to enhance brain circuitry in older adults
Professor Gary Small
University of California Los Angeles


As the brain ages, a number of changes occur, including shrinkage and reductions in cell activity, which can impact on performance.

It has long been thought that activities which keep the brain active, such as crossword puzzles, may help minimise the impact - and the latest study suggests that surfing the web can be added to the list.

Brain activity in an experienced internet user when searching the web
Web use stimulates much more activity in the same brain


Lead researcher Professor Gary Small said: "The study results are encouraging, that emerging computerized technologies may have physiological effects and potential benefits for middle-aged and older adults.

"Internet searching engages complicated brain activity, which may help exercise and improve brain function."

The latest study was based on 24 volunteers aged between 55 and 76. Half were experienced internet users, the rest were not.

Compared with reading

Each volunteer underwent a brain scan while performing web searches and book-reading tasks.

Both types of task produced evidence of significant activity in regions of the brain controlling language, reading, memory and visual abilities.

However, the web search task produced significant additional activity in separate areas of the brain which control decision-making and complex reasoning - but only in those who were experienced web users.

Brain activity in a personal not used to using the web while reading
Brain activity in web newcomers: similar for reading and internet use


The researchers said that compared with simple reading, the internet's wealth of choices requires that people make decisions about what to click on in order to get the relevant information.

However, they suggested that newcomers to the web had not quite grasped the strategies needed to successfully carry out a web search.

Professor Smith said: "A simple, everyday task like searching the web appears to enhance brain circuitry in older adults, demonstrating that our brains are sensitive and can continue to learn as we grow older."

Rebecca Wood, chief executive of the Alzheimer’s Research Trust, said: "These fascinating findings add to previous research suggesting that middle-aged and older people can reduce their risk of dementia by taking part in regular mentally stimulating activities.

"Older web users - 'silver surfers' - are doing precisely this.

"Frequent social interactions, regular exercise and maintaining a balanced diet can also reduce dementia risk."

Dr Susanne Sorensen, head of research at the Alzheimer's Society, said: "Use it or lose it may well be a positive message to keep people active but there is very little real evidence that keeping the brain exercised with puzzles, games or other activities can promote cognitive health and reduce the risk of dementia."



By Maria L. de Castro

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A book for Christmas
13 October 2008

Poems New and CollectedThis is the book I want for Christmas. Wislawa Szymborska. 


By Maria L. de Castro

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Dia de la Hispanidad
13 October 2008


It is usually well waited by Spanish people as it is the first " puente"  ( long weekend) after the summer vacations. This year, as 12th in October is Sunday, we have moved the bank holiday to tomorrow ( the 13th) and are having our traditional Puente.

You can find wikinformation below:

Hispanic Day

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Jump to: navigation, search
The EA's Patrol Eagle drawing the national flag in the Hispanic Day's Parade.
The EA's Patrol Eagle drawing the national flag in the Hispanic Day's Parade.

The National Holiday of Spain or Hispanic Day (Fiesta Nacional de España or Día de la Hispanidad, in Spanish; Festa Nacional d'Espanya or Dia de la Hispanitat, in Catalan/Valencian; Festa Nacional de España or Día da Hispanidade, in Galician; Espainiako Jai Nazionala or Hispanitate Eguna, in Basque) is the national day of Spain. It is held annually on October 12 and is a national holiday which commemorates the exact date of 1492 when Christopher Columbus first set a foot in America.

To commemorate it, there is a parade led by the military (usually held in Madrid) presided by the Spanish King, who is the Head of State, since Spain is politically organized as a constitutional monarchy. The Presidente del Gobierno has also a special role in the ceremony, only second to the King. Then a wide array of authorities, from foreign diplomats deployed in Spain to members of the Autonomous governments, are invited to attend the parade and aerobatics performed by the Spanish Armed Forces.

In the Autonomous Community of Aragon, this date also commemorates Our Lady of the Pillar (their patroness). It is also observed by the Civil Guard.

In many other parts of Spain the day is observed by groups of ultra-nationalists and neonazis who commemorate Franco's figure and heritage.

See Columbus Day for more details.

By Maria L. de Castro



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Mediterranean: A Cultural Landscape
12 October 2008

Mediterranean: A Cultural Landscape

Mediterraneo: De Algeciras a Estambul. Those essences that you like. For a better understanding of our soul.


By Maria L. de Castro

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Banks are now the "desperate",cheap and easy sellers
10 October 2008

To buy cheap houses from the Bank

They are now the owners-sellers of all those apartments they financed at such a high and impossible-to-pay interest rate

To buy a house from the Bank has the big one advantage that they are open to price reductions and negotiations.

In Madrid, the number of Public Auctions of Houses is 1005 so far this year. Highest number of the last 5 years.

Some banks that are selling properties: Banesto, BBVA, CAM, Caja Cantabria, Ibercaja, Unicaja, Caja España, Caja Murcia, Caja Granada, Caja de Castilla La Mancha, Caja Duero, Caixa Tarragona, Grupo Santander, Caja Sol o Caja de Extremadura. You can find their offers in their websites, showing surfaces, location, prices…

Additional payments to the price of the house would be: Notary deeds, Registration in the Land Registry, Local Increase Value Tax, Transfer Tax or VAT.

Properties are sold by the Bank with  existing legal, planning and registry conditions… Banks are not liable for any loan or encumbrance the apartment may have so.... it is important to have a legal advisor for the check of the legal status of the unit. These charges or legal issues can also be a way to negotiate the price down in your favour.

Banks usually have Real Estate agents to show the properties, in order to formalise the offer after the visit, Banks generally have a simple form that is generally available in their websites.

The properties that Banks are trying to sell come from two different ways:

1) Failed public auctions: if a property cannot be sold in public auction for more than the 70% of the market price, the Bank can keep it for the 50% of this.

2) Individuals who give flats to the Banks as payment for the remaining mortgage loan. Once the apartment is sold, Bank gives back to the consumer the part of the mortgage loan that he had already paid.

By Maria L. de Castro

"There is no avarice without penalty" (Seneca). 

Seneca in English (Poets in Translation, Penguin)



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UK will lead financial conversations in 2009
09 October 2008


US calls for special meeting of G20 amid global crisis
9 Oct, 2008, 0308 hrs IST, AGENCIES

WASHINGTON: US Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson called on Wednesday for a special meeting of the Group of 20 advanced and emerging countries to disc
uss ways to combat the financial crisis.

"In consultation with Brazil, the G-20 president, I am calling for a special meeting of the G20 that will include senior finance officials, central bankers, and regulators from key emerging economies to discuss how we might coordinate to lessen the effects of global market turmoil and the economic slowdown on all of our countries," Paulson said at a news conference

For more information on G20:   G20  United Kingdom will be the chair country of this organization in 2009. Why do not you start proposing some participation of civil society ( citizenship) in these conferences? Why do not you start preparing to lobby the G20, specially when next year, 2009 you are going to be leading?


By Maria L. de Castro

Like 0        Published at 08:28   Comments (0) qué?
08 October 2008

My bet is not for blind optimism but for taking reality on and:

- Learn from errors
- Getting passionate about solving them
- Gathering the necessary knowledge and tools
- Invest energies, imagination, generosity and joy in the work

so things will be not that worse next time, 

to offer our  small but genuine contribution to the history

to  dignify oursleves in the process

Is not that better and more fun that watching a devastating spectacle and just think:

We should  have done this or that... we should have reacted in a different way.... there is nothing else to do but regretting and shocking our heads against the wall

Have you read this book?:

Man's Search For Meaning


By Maria L. de Castro

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Frankl´s on meaning... a book for a search
08 October 2008

Man's Search For MeaningA fascinating book for these crazy times.


By Maria L. de Castro

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The Instant Era
08 October 2008

As global communciation happens now in 10 seconds against:

- 10 days of 10 years ago
- 10 months of 100 years ago
- 10 years of 1000 years ago

Global crisis and reactions happens now .... proportionately and  increasedly faster than 10 ,100  and 1000 years ago... So, this is not the " End of the World" but a new era for everything: 

The Instant Era: Instant communications: Instant spread or knowledge and images: Instant information.....

Instant crisis and instant reactions.

We can master it...

Best wishes,



By Maria L. de Castro

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Spanish Deposit Guarantee Fund in English
07 October 2008

I have just found a wonderful English version of the Fondo de Garantías de Depósitos ( Deposit Guarantee Fund)

I feel so happy everytime I find official information in English.

Have a good evening,



By Maria L. de Castro

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Look Zapatero and bank directors having fun together...
07 October 2008

Zapatero announces bankers on the extension of guarantees for savers.
(Our comments are in pink)

The goal of the measure is to increase confidence of  citizens, savers and companies in Spain ( much needed) 

Attending the meeting with Zapatero: Presidents of  BBVA, Banco Popular, La Caixa, Caja Madrid y Unicaja.  Emilio Botín ( president of Santander Bank did not attend and sent a managing director... hum! Can you wonder why? ) 

Bankers remarked on the strength of the Spanish financial system due to strond measures taken by Bank of Spain in the 90´s and during periods of financial prosperity. Bank of Spain have had strong restrictions of structured products  and out  balance ones.  Good to know, at least we have got a good, high quality rubber ring. I wish we had never fallen into the tempest though.

Zapatero is also going to meet with representatives of the so called "social agents" ( trade unions and Employers National Association). Let´s open a list of other " social agents" Zapatero should meet with too:

- Universities
- Journalists
- Lawyers
Please add your preferences

You canpractise your Spanish and, by chance, read this new in Spanish from "El Economista" below:

Zapatero comunica a los banqueros que incrementará las garantías para los depósitos de los ciudadanos en los bancos | 12:06 - 6/10/2008 Actualizado: 20:28 - 6/10/08
Aumentar el textoDisminuir el texto
Puntúa la noticia :
Nota de los usuarios: 7.7 (7 votos)


El presidente del Gobierno, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, informó a los representantes de seis entidades financieras con los que se reunió en el Palacio de la Moncloa de las medidas que el Ejecutivo adoptará "inmediatamente" para incrementar las garantías de los depósitos en las entidades financieras. El objetivo es reforzar la confianza de los ciudadanos, los depositantes y las empresas en el sistema financiero español, según fuentes de Moncloa.


A la cita, que ha tenido lugar a las 17:00 horas, no ha asistido el verdadero protagonista del sistema bancario español, Emilio Botín, presidente del Banco Santander. En su lugar ha acudido el consejero delegado de la entidad, Alfredo Sáenz. También han acudido los presidentes del BBVA y Banco Popular, Francisco González y Ángel Ron. Han asistido también los presidentes de La Caixa, Isidre Fainé; Caja Madrid, Miguel Blesa y Unicaja, Braulio Medel.

Una reunión "fructífera"

Los directivos consideraron hoy "positiva y fructífera" la reunión con el presidente del Gobierno, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, con quien analizaron la situación de incertidumbre creada por las turbulencias de los mercados y a quien trasladaron un mensaje de confianza en la solvencia del sistema financiero español.

Tras analizar la situación de incertidumbre creada en los mercados internacionales con la quiebra y rescate de diversas entidades, primero en Estados Unidos y después en Europa, los representantes del sector financiero incidieron en la salud y solvencia del sistema financiero español, gracias, en gran medida, a la labor del Banco de España de exigir fuertes provisiones, aún en periodo de bonanza económica, y de no permitir la proliferación de productos estructurados ni fuera de balance.

Las mismas fuentes explicaron que el aumento del fondo tiene como objetivo "reforzar" la confianza de los ciudadanos, los depositarios de cuentas y los empresarios en el sistema financiero español.

Un sistema del que tanto Zapatero como los dirigentes de los bancos y cajas españoles coincidieron en subrayar su "solvencia y fortaleza" durante esta reunión, en la que ambas partes confirmaron su "compromiso de protección a los ahorradores e inversores", señalaron desde Moncloa.

Reunión con Rajoy

La reunión de hoy se suma a otras que el presidente del Gobierno pretende mantener en los próximos días para analizar la evolución de la crisis económica. En concreto, Zapatero tiene pendiente una entrevista con el líder del Partido Popular, Mariano Rajoy, que se concretará tras los contactos previos que están manteniendo el vicepresidente segundo y ministro de Economía, Pedro Solbes, y el responsable económico del PP, Cristóbal Montoro.

Además, el presidente del Gobierno tiene intención de mantener otra reunión con los representantes de los agentes sociales.


By Maria L. de Castro

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New financial guarantees in the UK: 50.000 pounds
06 October 2008


Savings guarantee to be £50,000

Sterling bank notes
The changes will come into effect on Tuesday

The Financial Services Authority (FSA) has raised the limit to the amount of deposits that are guaranteed should a bank go bust to £50,000.

The new limit will come into effect on Tuesday 7 October. Previously, the first £35,000 of savers' deposits had been protected.

The FSA will now consult on whether the limit should be raised even higher.

Chancellor Alistair Darling said the increase meant 98% of account holders would have all their savings protected.

The new UK limit is for each customer so joint accounts will be guaranteed up to £100,000.

Mr Darling said the increase would "go a long way to assuring people that their deposits are safe".

Earlier this week, Ireland introduced an unlimited guarantee covering bank deposits.

Banks in the UK have been concerned that savers would move their money to Ireland to take advantage of the 100% protection.

Banks covered

Payments will be made through the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) and the FSA has said that it is to look into reforms that will allow compensation to be paid faster.

It is appropriate given the consolidation that has taken place in the banking sector
Hector Sants, chief executive, FSA


The FSCS covers all UK banks, building societies and credit unions.

Banks from outside Europe also contribute to the scheme and so their depositors are also protected.

European banks may be covered by their own schemes and customers may be covered for only 20,000 euros (£15,600).

The FSA is also to consider whether accounts with different banks that are owned by the same parent company should be covered.

At the moment, customers are only covered for one account under each banking licence so if you have two accounts with banks that are owned by the same parent company you will only have a total of £50,000 guaranteed.

"This change ties in with the introduction of the government's Banking Bill in Parliament, which is due next week," said FSA chief executive Hector Sants.

"It is also appropriate given the consolidation that has taken place in the banking sector."

New from the BBC News


By Maria L. de Castro

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San Roque and Pinar del Rey
05 October 2008

Went today with my family and Fernando´s ( a colleague in the Law Firm) family to have an open air day in Pinar del Rey, San Roque, a great and huge  pinewood where children can run and run and run within a forest atmosphere. A great day in the nature.

Come and visit San Roque. It is a wonderful, historic town with a very spanish taste. Great people: warm and near.

Hope the week will bring progress in the human environment of our workplaces. That is much more rewarding that huge benefits... and bring great results in the accountings too.

Love from Spain,


By Maria L. de Castro

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A bank is...
03 October 2008

"A bank is a place where they lend you an umbrella in fair weather and ask for it back when it begins to rain."
Robert Frost (1874-1963)   

I found this great quotation today.



By Maria L. de Castro

Ps.- Community,  systems and organizations that are person oriented .... would these bring some colours to our grey horizon, the one that banks created....? 

Reality, essence, nature... words to chew calmly this weekend.

Hey... I am not a communist... ideologies are old fashioned.

I am a lover of free thinking-feeling-experiencing  and  a practiser of creative philosophy...  a   seeker of solutions.

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Brussels suggests to extend Maternity leave up to 18 weeks
03 October 2008

Brussels suggests to extend Maternity leave up to 18 weeks

This measure that will be proposed by the European Commission tries to improve the family-work conciliation and to increase women´s acces to work.

It will also be proposed for women to receive full salary during this leave period.

There will also contain measures to increase the number of self-employed women and to improve nursery services.

You can read the new in Spanish!! :) below, from " El Economista".

Bruselas propone ampliar la baja por maternidad hasta 18 semanas

Agencias | 7:07 - 3/10/2008


La Comisión Europea propondrá mañana ampliar de 14 a 18 semanas la duración mínima en toda la UE de la baja por maternidad con el objetivo de mejorar la conciliación entre la vida familiar y profesional de las mujeres que acaban de dar a luz y de aumentar la tasa de empleo femenino.


El Ejecutivo comunitario quiere además que, como regla general, las mujeres que estén de baja por maternidad sigan recibiendo su salario mensual completo. No obstante, esta disposición no será obligatoria y los Estados miembros podrán fijar determinados límites, siempre que el importe final no sea inferior a la prestación por enfermedad.

Diferencias entre estados

En la actualidad, la duración de la baja por maternidad varía entre las 14 semanas en un pequeño número de Estados miembros como Alemania y las 28 semanas en otros como República Checa. En algunas circunstancias, puede alcanzar las 52 semanas, aunque sólo una parte de este periodo está remunerado.

Bruselas considera que una extensión de la baja por maternidad tendrá un impacto positivo sobre el estado de salud de las madres, ya que les permitirá recuperarse más rápidamente del parto y establecer una "relación sólida" con su hijo. Además, para las mujeres será más fácil volver al trabajo cuando su hijo sea más mayor, lo que hará que recurran en menor medida a los permisos parentales.

La iniciativa servirá también, según el Ejecutivo comunitario, para garantizar mejor la igualdad entre hombres y mujeres y para que no se penalice financieramente a las mujeres que tienen hijos. Y beneficiará a los empresarios, que tendrán "una idea más precisa de la duración de la ausencia de sus asalariadas, ya que éstas recurrirán menos a los permisos parentales".

Objetivo, las guarderías

La propuesta para ampliar la duración de la baja por maternidad forma parte de un paquete más amplio de medidas que presentará la Comisión este viernes para mejorar la conciliación entre vida profesional y laboral. En este paquete se encuentra también una iniciativa para mejorar la protección de las mujeres que trabajan como autónomas. El objetivo es aumentar el número de mujeres que crean empresas en Europa y ayudarlas a que sigan en activo, independientemente de sus responsabilidades familiares.

Finalmente, el Ejecutivo comunitario publicará un informe sobre los servicios de guarderías en los Estados miembros. En la cumbre de Barcelona, los líderes europeos se fijaron como objetivos a lograr de aquí a 2010 que las guarderías cubran al menos al 90% de los niños entre tres años y la edad de escolarización obligatoria y al 33% de los niños menores de tres años. El informe de Bruselas señala que España cumple con lo acordado.


By Maria L. de Castro

Like 0        Published at 10:47   Comments (2)

Have you read...?
01 October 2008

The Crisis of Global Capitalism: Open Society EndangeredHave any of you read this book?


By Maria L. de Castro

Like 0        Published at 19:52   Comments (2)

My White Towns
01 October 2008


  (White towns are magic villages in Cadiz...) Come... See... Live... Rest.... Enjoy.... Share....Integrate

(Gaditan Highlands)  By Antonio Murciano



Towns of deep time and loneliness,

Upright Arcos, peaceful Espera,

Bornos, Villamartín…and who walks on

--Puerto Serrano—birds and flowers?

Green El Bosque, Ubrique and its many


From Olvera to Algodonales, ¿who is willing

to go on?

Benamahoma, Benaocaz my soul

--Setenil— glows with happiness.


Zahara, Algar, Alcalá, Gastor, Batanes,

Grazalema, a flower of the highlands

Spreading dreams like bread.

Here, among scrubs, clouds and cliffs,

The future of a new Andalusia lives:

The one of the route of the white towns.



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