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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.

Spain reacts as Los Angeles removes Columbus' statue
13 November 2018

CHRISTOPHER Columbus' statue has been taken down from Los Angeles' Grand Park after 45 years after the city council decided his presence in the California metropolis was 'nothing to celebrate'.

Part of a wider motion that has replaced 'Discovery Day' on October 12 – celebrated in Spain as the 'National Festival' and formerly 'Hispanic Day' – with a new title, 'Indigenous People's Day', the decision to remove Columbus from the park is linked to his being held responsible for what would be considered today a mass genocide.

The statue of Cristóbal Colón, as was his untranslated name, 'rewrites a tainted chapter in history' which is 'charged with false romanticism about the expansion of European empires' and 'exploitation of natural resources and people', says former US secretary of trade and current local government member in Los Angeles, Hilda Solís.

Reactions in Spain have been mixed.



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Spain set for world's highest life expectancy: 11 reasons why
12 November 2018

LIFE expectancy in Spain is already the highest in Europe and the fourth on earth, beaten only by Japan, Singapore and South Korea – the first country expected to break the 90 barrier within the next two decades – but Spaniards are predicted to become the longest-living on earth within the relatively near future.

Outstripping Japan and Singapore, who are on course to have an average life expectancy for men and women of 85.7 by the year 2040 – and possibly exceeding South Korea if its own figure shrinks or fails to grow as predicted – Spain could be the country where people live the longest, with a forecast average of 85.8 years, or 10-and-a-half weeks short of 86.

Exact breakdowns for men and women have not been given, although typically, men in Europe live three fewer years than women, so their life expectancy is likely to be around 84.3 years to women's 87.3 years.


Spaniards 'smoke more but live longer'

A recent article in The Times, which revealed that the UK's life expectancy is forecast to be 2.5 years lower than that of Spain in the year 2040, asked what Spain is 'doing right': “They drink, they smoke, so why are the Spanish living so long?” The report asks.



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Rags to riches: Wealthiest and most hard-up towns revealed
12 November 2018

SPAIN'S wealthiest and poorest towns have been revealed, with similar results to the last study, in August 2016,, which put the Madrid 'celebrity belt' satellite town of Pozuelo de Alarcón as the richest in the country.

Home to footballers, actors, politicians and property tycoons, many of whom live in gated urbanisations – particularly the luxury complex known as La Finca (pictured), the most élite housing estate in the country – each resident in Pozuelo de Alarcón earns a gross average of €72,993 per year.

This is up from €70,298 in 2016, showing the town's inhabitants are not suffering the effects of wage cuts – and, in fact, according to tax office data, not a single person in Pozuelo is registered as unemployed.

Contrast this with the village of Zahínos (second picture) in the far-western land-locked region of Extremadura – sitting in the province of Badajoz just a few kilometres from the Portuguese border, its 2,819 inhabitants live off the coal industy and their gross average income per head is just €11,166 – below the tax threshold, meaning a monthly income of just €863.60 compared with Pozuelo's €4,136.20.


Top 10 wealthiest towns closest to Madrid and Barcelona...except Rocafort (Valencia)

Once again, the wealthiest towns in Spain are those within roughly a 40-kilometre radius of Barcelona and Madrid: Pozuelo is just 27 kilometres north-west of the city, whilst the second-richest town, Matadepera, is 31 kilometres outside of Barcelona with a gross annual per capita income of €54,113, taking over from Majadahonda, 32 kilometres to the north of Madrid, whose annual per-head income has gone down from €56,000 in 2016 to around €51,000 in 2018.



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AP-1 motorway first to go toll-free: No charges after end of November
08 November 2018

THE FIRST of Spain's toll motorways to become free of charge will be the AP-1, starting on December 1 this year, confirms minister of public works José Luis Ábalos.

Once the toll franchise expires at the end of this month, the motorway between the cathedral city of Burgos in the centre-northern region of Castilla y León and the town of Armiñón in the Basque province of Álava – the capital of which is Vitoria-Gasteiz – will no longer carry a fee.

An idea originally floated by the previous national government, led by the right-wing PP until June, scrapping tolls on motorways was never a plan set in stone, although the then ministry of public works was seriously considering it.

Now, the left-wing socialist government which gained power in June has committed to following through with the promise, which will not only save money for regular travellers but also cut gridlocks and air pollution through small towns and on secondary roads, since lorries and cars will not have to use them to avoid the tolls.

The next two to go will be the AP-4 between Sevilla and Cádiz, and the AP-7 down the east coast.

Starting at the French border at the top of the province of Girona and continuing as far as Cartagena (Murcia), the AP-7 turns into the toll-free A-7 intermittently – between Sagunto, on the Valencia-Castellón province border, and Silla, just south of Valencia, then from San Juan in the south of Alicante province onwards, although if continuing from the latter south along the coast towards Murcia rather than inland towards the Costa del Sol, the AP-7 toll route continues as far as Cartagena.



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'Cheesy Oscars' give three Spanish brands world top 15 ranks
08 November 2018

THREE cheeses produced in Spain have been elected among the top 15 in the world out of nearly 3,500 others from more than 40 countries – and some of them are very affordable indeed.

The Madurat (pictured), created by Formatges Mas El Garet in Tona, Barcelona province came sixth in this year's World Cheese Awards – considered the Oscars of the cheese industry – which took place in Bergen, Norway.

It was beaten by the Norwegian brand Fanaost, and aged gouda made on the small livestock farm of Ostegarden – home to just 12 cows - which made the top slot.

The others which made it ahead of the Madurat from Spain were the Agour Pur Brébis AOP Ossau Iraty, from France; the Helfeit, Brun Geitost, Tinn tradisjøn, by Stordalen Gardsbruk in Norway; the Almnäs Tegel by Almnäs Brukal, Sweden; and the Italian Riserva del Fondatore by Caseificio Il Fiorino.

The Mas El Garet cheese beat Denmark's Lihmskov Grand Fromage; France's Taupinette Jousseaume; and Italy's Baffalo Blu by Caseificio Defendi Luigi and Caciocavallo Azienda by Agricola E Zootecnica Posticchia Sabelli.



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Doctors warned not to prescribe Metamizole to holidaymakers or northern Europeans
07 November 2018

HEALTHCARE professionals in Spain have been warned not to prescribe an everyday painkiller to tourists or anyone of northern European origin after research by a medical interpreter in the province of Alicante found that certain nationalities are at risk of fatal sepsis.

Metamizole, which retails as Nolotil, is taken regularly by Spaniards for mild to moderate pain and no known serious side-effects have ever been reported.

But the drug is banned in the UK, and a small number of mostly British, but also Scandinavian patients have developed life-threatening cases of a plunging white blood cell count, causing a dangerously-suppressed immune system.

Known as Agranulocytosis, the condition produces symptoms including fever, sore throat and stiffness, and leaves the patient extremely vulnerable to infection.

Pneumonia, urinary tract infection and septicaemia are common complications of Agranulocytosis and can appear and progress very rapidly, at times too rapidly to be treated in time to save the patient's life.

Cristina García, from Jávea, who works interpreting for English-speaking expatriates and holidaymakers at hospital and doctor appointments, decided to delve deeper after finding only British and Nordic DNA seem to present a deadly infection risk with Metamizole, and that Spanish patients were not apparently affected.

Now, the Spanish Agency for Medicines and Healthcare Products (AEMPS) has warned medics not to prescribe or recommend Nolotil to holidaymakers of any nationality, or to any members of the 'floating population', such as holiday-home owners visiting the area or the country, especially if they are middle-aged or elderly.



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Speed limits to drop to 90 on secondary roads from January
07 November 2018

SPEED limits on secondary roads will drop from 100 kilometres per hour to 90 from January as part of a battery of measures to cut crash deaths, which have been rising in number over the past four years.

Spain's General Directorate of Traffic (DGT), part of the ministry of public works and infrastructure, recalls that only around two in 10 fatal accidents happen on motorways, with the rest being on back roads, in built-up areas and on secondary highways or non-motorway trunk roads.

The vast majority are on 'B-roads', where speed limits vary but, where otherwise unstated, sit at 100 kilometres per hour.

New Year's Day will be a stay of grace, but from January 2 onwards, cars and motorbikes will have to stick to 90 kilometres per hour or less on 'B-roads', and vans, lorries, buses and coaches to 80 kilometres per hour.

At the moment, the limits are 100 for cars and motorbikes, 90 for buses and vans, 80 for lorries on roads with hard shoulders of at least 1.5 metres (4'11”) or at least dual carriageways, and then 90, 80 and 70 respectively on smaller, narrower roads.

The DGT says a 10-kilometre-per-hour drop will translate to a reduction in road deaths of 10%.



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Amazon Spain delivery staff to strike over Black Friday and Christmas
06 November 2018

AMAZON packaging and delivery staff in Madrid have announced strikes affecting 'Black Friday', the December bank holiday, Christmas and the New Year as negotiations over their working conditions and pay have stalled.

Employees at the logistics centre in San Fernando de Henares have been in ongoing disputes with Amazon, through their unions, since March when the firm 'unilaterally imposed' a new and more restrictive working conditions collective agreement after the previous one expired.

The sector-wide agreement which came up for renewal and renegotiation in March included guaranteed pay increases, sick-pay top-ups so that employees off ill would still get their full wages, and more favourable overtime rates and job titles.

Spanish labour law dictates that new working conditions and salary rates cannot be implemented when they are worse than those currently in existence, without a majority vote in favour by employees and their unions.

And no further progress has been made since the San Fernando logistics centre – one of two of these in Spain – went on strike over 'Prime Day' in July.



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Julio Iglesias paternity suit continues: singer's children asked for DNA samples
06 November 2018

A MAN who claims to be the illegitimate son of veteran crooner Julio Iglesias has summoned the singer's other children to provide a DNA sample in his quest to prove paternity.

Javier Sánchez Santos, from Valencia, put private detectives on his case and tissues used by the artist were 'rescued' from a waste-paper bin.

They showed a DNA match of 99.9% with Javier – the closest any test will ever show.

Osuna solicitors, acting for Javier, wrote to Iglesias giving him 10 days to agree to provide a voluntary sample of DNA, but the singer refused, saying the evidence gathered so far was not 'legitimate' as it had been obtained without permission.

According to Javier, Julio Iglesias had admitted to being his father back in 1992, and this was made official by a Valencia court ruling.

But a provincial and then Supreme Court verdict overturned this on appeal, stating that a verbal declaration without DNA as proof was not binding.



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Sevilla mum searches for motorcyclist who saved her baby's life
05 November 2018

A MUM from Sevilla is searching for her 'guardian angel' who probably saved her six-week-old baby's life when she was rushing him to hospital.

Lolí Martín López says her son became gravely ill two weeks ago on Saturday and she jumped in the car with him to take him to A&E, fearing an ambulance would not reach her in time.

But she ran into a gridlock at the Tamarguillo roundabout in the Andalucía city at around 15.00.

Despite waving a scarf from her window, putting on her four-way hazard lights and hooting, calling for cars to let her past so she could continue towards the hospital, nobody moved.

Then, a man on a 125cc motorbike appeared out of the blue, pushed past and blocked the traffic so Lolí could get through.

He got off his bike and stood in the way of the other cars until the mum had managed to get to the front of the queue, 'putting his own life at risk', Lolí said.

Lolí got to Sevilla's Virgen del Rocío University Hospital in the nick of time and emergency doctors saved her 38-day-old baby's life.

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