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Live News From Spain As It Happens

Keep up to date with all the latest news from Spain as it happens. The blog will be updated constantly throughout the day bringing you all the latest stories as they break.

Sorolla, Master of Light: London Tate discovers Spanish Impressionism
25 March 2019

LET’S be honest: how many of you could name one single Spanish Impressionist painter? Monet, Sargent, Rénoir, Délacroix immediately spring to mind when you picture the pastel-coloured, light-reflecting landscapes of post-Enlightenment Europe; classical, Renaissance, cubist and surrealist artists from Spain are not hard to list (Goya, El Greco, Dalí, Picasso, Velázquez, and so on). But Impressionists?

Benlliure and Sorolla are two of the greatest masters of this era and both are from the Valencia area, and were considered some of the most iconic artists of the so-called Generation of ’98, a cultural movement which emerged during a time of financial, political and social crisis at the end of the 19thcentury. The former’s house, complete with the whole family’s works on display, is in Valencia city, and the latter’s eponymous museum is in Madrid, the capital of the region where he died at just 60 years of age in 1923.

Despite his short time on our planet, Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida spent it wisely – in less time than it takes a modern-day human to be born, educated, work and retire, he’d churned out over 2,200 paintings, meaning that the newly-opened exhibition at the London Tate Gallery, sizeable though it is with 58 of his works on the walls, is only a fraction of what he produced over the turn of two centuries.

And although Sorolla was as famous as his French contemporaries, you’ll be hard-pushed to find anything of his on show in any public exhibition in the UK – until now.



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Drug developed to treat ‘most aggressive’ form of lung cancer
25 March 2019

RESEARCHERS in Barcelona have developed a drug which inhibits the key gene in most types of cancerous tumour and which is very active in generating the most aggressive form of lung cancer.

The team at the Vall d’Hebron Oncology Institute (VHIO) has tested the medication, Omomyc, successfully on mice and are hoping to start the first phase of clinical trials on humans in 2020.

Taken in the form of a nasal spray but also suitable for intravenous administration – via drip or injection - Omomyc is ‘well-tolerated’, reduces the size and severity of tumours and blocks their growth, according to the team.

It is suitable for use in non-microcytic lung cancer, the subtype which is most aggressive and has the highest mortality rate, both in men and women.

Led by Dr Laura Soucek, researcher at the Anti-Tumour Therapy in Mice Modelling Group within the VHIO and co-founder and executive director of Peptomyc, S.L., the team says the key gene in the development of most tumours and specifically in the worst form of lung cancer is known as Myc, but that until now, no gene-inhibitor had been found which worked effectively against it.

Dr Soucek has been developing her idea of creating a Myc-inhibitor for 20 years, and has now helped to develop Omomyc, a transgene which does not cause adverse effects and has now been turned into a pharmaceutical drug suitable for administration.

Her team has managed to produce Omomyc in mini-protein form, and in injecting it into the veins of mice or administering it via the nose, they found it stopped tumour growth – a discovery that could allow the researchers to extend it to treat other types of cancer, including those which have metastasised.



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Sarah Ferguson talks to Spanish reporter: “Lady Diana was my sister and best friend”
25 March 2019

DUCHESS of York Sarah Ferguson gave a surprise interview to a Spanish reporter during a visit to Madrid in which she talked frankly about her relationship with the late Lady Diana, Princess of Wales.

The ex-wife of Queen Elizabeth II’s son Prince Andrew and mother of Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie – eighth and ninth in line to the British throne respectively – was in Spain for an event linked to the fight against obesity organised by one of the many charities she supports, is ambassador for, or has founded.

Whilst there, she spoke to presenter Emma García on her programme Viva la Vida.

Lady Diana, Princess of Wales was Sarah Ferguson’s ‘best friend’ and ‘a sister’, she revealed, despite the press having claimed prior to Diana’s death in August 1997 that the sisters-in-law got along ‘very badly’ and had ‘only minimal contact’ with each other.

‘Fergie’ insists this could not be farther from the truth, and that she misses her ‘soul sister’ now ‘every single day’.

At her daughter, Princess Eugenie of York’s wedding in 2018, one of Lady Di’s favourite songs, I Vow To Thee My Country, was played in her memory.

“We were two women who had fallen in love with two incredible princes,” Sarah revealed to Emma García.

She and Prince Andrew have always got along well after their amicable divorce, and Eugenie and Princess Beatrice continue to spend regular time with both of them.

In her autobiography, Sarah Ferguson revealed that Prince Andrew’s constantly being away on duty with the Royal Navy was what put a strain on their marriage and eventually ended it after 10 years.



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Highest-altitude prehistoric cave art found in Pyrénées
22 March 2019

PREHISTORIC cave art has been found at the highest-known altitude in Spain so far – at 2,200 metres (7,218 feet) above sea-level.

Also the northernmost cave drawings ever discovered in the country, they were unearthed inside two niches in the mountains of the Góriz Valley – part of the Ordesa and Monte Perdido National Park in the province of Huesca, Aragón, in the Spanish Pyrénées.

Co-director of the archaeological project, Javier Rey, says the coloured carvings date back to the Neolithic era, meaning they are about 7,000 years old.

They would have been created between the years 4,000 and 5,000 BC.

Rey says the drawings are in keeping with what is known as ‘schematic Iberian art’, which typically features very simple symbols depicting typical scenes from the authors’ life and economic activity.

In these, the human figure and animals are the main subjects, and are shown in hunting and livestock-herding scenes.

According to the details of the paintings studied by the archaeological team – which includes members of the High Council for Scientific Research (CSIC) and Barcelona Autonomous University (UAB) – the original artists were probably shepherds who were in the cave area in summer when they could take advantage of the lush grass for grazing.

Given the altitude, permanent year-round settlements in Pyrénéen caves would have been impossible, as it was too cold and the grass was too sparse for animals to feed off.



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Aragón firm invents ‘smart’ inner soles to correct foot problems
22 March 2019

’SMART’ inner soles for shoes that correct the foot position and prevent serious limb problems have been invented by a company in Aragón, and are likely to be on the market within less than six months.

Podoactiva, a firm that specialises in podiatry and digital engineering, says this pioneering invention generates ‘big data’ about how the foot ‘behaves’ in ‘thousands of patients in real life’, through the way they move and the pressure of their step, and the relationship between these aspects and a long list of injuries affecting the feet, legs, hips and back.

According to Zaragoza University’s engineering professor Roberto Casas, who was a member of the design and development team, the ‘Smart Insole Podoactiva’ is capable of measuring ‘500 datum per second in real time’ whilst the wearer goes about his or her daily life, thanks to the Force Sensor Resistor (FSR) implants, an electronic motherboard, a battery with an IMU module, and Bluetooth technology which allows the information gathered to be sent to a mobile phone.

They are recommended for literally anyone who wears shoes – not just sportspeople or those with existing foot conditions, says head of engineering at Podoactiva, Ángel Peguero, who calls them a ‘real challenge’ in his profession.

“Knowing what is going on with a patient’s foot in between podiatrist visits is a real revolution in the field of biomechanics, since it allows us to learn about how our patients walk and step in a real-life environment,” said technical director of Podoactiva, Javier Alfaro, during a conference at the Global Sports Innovation Centre at Madrid’s Microsoft headquarters.



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Valencia researchers discover ‘sudden death’ heart failure gene
22 March 2019

RESEARCHERS at Valencia’s La Fe Hospital have discovered the gene behind the most common hereditary heart condition – one which causes ‘sudden death’ and often affects children and teenagers as they are playing sports.

After sequencing the DNA of 7,000 individuals and selecting a number of families with a history of hypertrophic myocardiopathy via 40 different hospitals, and tracking them over a three-year period, the Institute of Health Research (IIS) at La Fe pinpointed a link between the gene FH0D3 and the condition.

Published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology (JACC), the report details how patients with a family history of hypertrophic myocardiopathy were able to benefit from more accurate diagnoses allowing them to manage and monitor their conditions.

The discovery of the link between the disorder and gene FH0D3 also opens the door to potential new treatments which could suppress the action of the gene in question.

Hypertrophic myocardiopathy is the most frequent inherited heart condition, affecting one in 500 people, and is associated with a greater risk of ‘sudden death’ and chronic heart failure, as well as a reduction in quality of life for patients because of the symptoms it generates, says the Family Cardiopathies Research Group (CaFaMuSMe) of the IIS.

It occurs when mutations – or changes in DNA levels – in the genes responsible for developing heart muscle are present, meaning the heart becomes enlarged, a condition known as left ventricular hypertrophy.

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Sánchez to Theresa May: “You need a clear plan before we agree Brexit extension”
21 March 2019

SPANISH president Pedro Sánchez has warned his British counterpart Theresa May that if she wants to extend the deadline for Brexit, she needs to have a clear plan.

“You can’t go forward by going around in circles; that’s not the solution,” Sánchez said.

He stressed that Mrs May’s deal is the ‘best possible’ and the ‘only viable option’ if the UK wants to leave the European Union and that no better deal is available if Brexit proceeds, but stressed that Spain will ‘always provide constructive solutions’ to promote ‘an orderly exit’ from the EU.

If the deal, which has been voted down twice, does not get through Parliament within the next nine days, the UK wants an extension to Article 50 so as to avoid crashing out without a deal, which experts say would be disastrous for Britain and cause financial loss to its trading partners in the EU.

Spain will ‘listen to the UK’s proposals’, says Sánchez, but has made it clear that if Mrs May wants an extension, she ‘needs to make it clear what it is for and for how long’.

She was expecting to ask the Council of Europe – made up of the national leaders of all 28 countries, including herself – for a three-month ‘technical extension’ if her deal had been approved by UK Parliament, or longer if it had not.

The British prime minister wanted a third vote on her deal before the European Union leaders’ summit, due this Thursday, but Parliament will not agree to a further vote unless there are changes in the deal.

And the EU has refused to agree any changes.

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Pedro Duque: Spaceship take-off is less noisy than Valencia’s ‘mascletaes’
19 March 2019

VIBRATIONS and noise generated by the mascletà during the Fallas in Valencia city are even greater than those felt when you are about to take off for outer space – it’s official.

Science minister Pedro Duque – Spain’s first man on the moon, a seasoned space traveller and national hero among kids born in the 1990s – joined the fiesta queens or falleras mayores and regional president Ximo Puig on the city hall balcony for one of the mascletaes, the last of which for this year was let off at 14.00 today (Tuesday).

His facial expression in the above photograph says it all – the ground-trembling experience and earth-shattering roar go above and beyond what Duque remembers from his days as an astronaut.

This is not the first time he has watched the spectacle from the city hall balcony, however – he did so many years ago, and has noticed how the ‘complexity’ of Valencia’s mascletaes has improved ‘considerably’, especially now computerised and electronic equipment is used.

Mascletaes normally just produce grey smoke, especially in other towns in the region which celebrate the Fallas, but the ones in Valencia include clouds of red, yellow and blue, in the colours of the Senyera, as the regional flag is known.

Duque said he found the experience ‘emotional’ and ‘exciting’, and that ‘everyone feels it’.



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Bristol boy missing after Spanish father’s access visit
18 March 2019

POLICE in Spain are working with British authorities to trace an eight-year-old boy believed to have been abducted by his father, who is originally from Puente Genil (Córdoba province).

The child, Angelo Jurado-Marmolejo, lives with his mother in Bristol, UK, and his father Rafael Cabello, 43, did not bring him home after a scheduled access visit on March 2.

Avon and Somerset Police, who produced the above photograph, are concerned Cabello may have taken his son to Córdoba.

The last time the boy was seen, he was wearing a red coat and carrying a blue rucksack.

His father is described as thin with dark hair.

Cabello’s family filed a missing persons report after he did not return to his home in Córdoba after leaving Bristol with his son.



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Fallas making you hungry? What to eat in the Valencia region
18 March 2019

HOOFING it round the fallas this week in the Valencia region is sure to help you work up an appetite – and luckily, these three Mediterranean provinces are not short of restaurants serving traditional dishes bursting with flavour.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re in Valencia city itself – the third-largest in Spain and home to over 750,000 people – or in a smaller town in its eponymous province or those of Castellón or Alicante; eating out is never expensive, the food is of excellent quality, and you’ll find everything from a low-key corner bar to a Michelin-starred restaurant within walking distance of the nearest falla monument.

If you’re visiting the area, you’ll want to eat like a local – so here are a few ideas of what you shouldn’t leave the area without trying.



When thinking of Spanish food in general, paella is what tends to spring to mind unless you’re familiar with the huge variety of local and regional dishes that are incredibly diverse and, in some cases, even vary from town to town. But paella was invented in the Valencia region and is, probably, one of its best-known exports, other than oranges. It helps that the provinces of Valencia and Alicante grow their own rice, too – the marshland in Pego (Alicante) and between Xeraco (Valencia) and Valencia city are home to vast swathes of paddy fields.



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