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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.

Prices fall in Spain for sixth straight month
28 August 2009

MADRID (AFP) - Spanish consumer prices fell for the sixth consecutive month in August, although at a slower rate, dropping 0.8 percent year-on-year, official data showed Friday.
In July, prices plunged 1.4 percent.

That followed falls of 1.0 percent in June, 0.9 percent in May, 0.2 percent in April and 0.1 percent in March, which was the first 12-month drop since the INE statistics office began tracking inflation in 1961.

Spanish inflation, which has generally been higher than the eurozone average over the past decade, is slowing more sharply than the rest of the region as its economy slumps.

However, Spain's socialist government insisted the country is not entering a period of deflation, characterised by a prolonged period of falling prices, which can be harmful to the economy as it can lead consumers and companies to hold back on spending as they wait for even better deals.

"The reduction of six decimal points indicates that the negative inflation we have seen in recent months is not the result of a deflation scenario" but caused by high prices in early 2008, notably of oil, said secretary of state for the economy Jose Manuel Campa.

Spain entered its first recession in 15 years at the end of 2008 and unemployment has soared as the global credit crunch worsened a correction that was already underway in its once booming housing sector.

The figures published Friday by the National Statistics Institute (INE) are provisional. It will release final figures for August on September 11, which will also include the month-on-month change.

Source: Yahoo Finance

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Police capture gang using babies to smuggle drugs
28 August 2009

Spanish Police have prevented a group from smuggling vast amounts of narcotics into the country following a widespread and long-term operation in various locations across the territory.

Guardia Civil agents in Cadiz, Ceuta and Malaga arrested a total of 21 people while a further 13 have also been charged. 

The group had attempted to sneak cocaine and hashish into Spain by hiding the drugs in chocolate bars sent from South America or by storing them in children’s prams.

The group was split into three different sections with each responsible for a different part of the process from sending and collecting the narcotics to stealing the vehicles used to smuggle the drugs by land or sea. As a result of Operation Bedú set up by the Guardia Civil in 2008, authorities have now managed to dismantle one of the most active criminal organisations involved in drug trafficking and stolen vehicles on the Costa del Sol. 

People of five different nationalities were arrested whilst around 300 grams of cocaine and more than 1,600 kilos of hashish were taken. Eleven vehicles, 56,500 euros in cash as well as various electrical appliances like computers were also seized by police.

Source: Gibraltar Chronicle


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American Pie actor Jason Biggs attacked by Gibraltar ape
28 August 2009

The American Pie actor Jason Biggs has cut short his holiday in Europe after being attacked by one of Gibraltar's famous monkeys.

In a scene that could have come from the comedy films that have made him famous, the 31-year-old star fought off the wild animal when he was attacked while sightseeing on the British colony.

He was visiting the disputed territory at the foot of Spain with friend and American Pie co-star Eddie Kaye Thomas when the pair came face to face with one of Gibraltar's mascots.
"Jason and Eddie decided to go on the trip to celebrate the ten-year anniversary of Pie," a source told US media.

"They were hiking in the woods when this monkey suddenly leapt on Jason from a tree and tried to bite his face off.

"Jason's travelling companions managed to fend the beast off and Jason thankfully wasn't seriously hurt, just shaken up."

The actor abruptly ended his holiday as a result of the attack and returned to the US early.

The Gibraltar population of the Barbary macaque - a monkey commonly referred to as the Barbary ape because of its stubby tail - numbers more than 200.

They attract hundreds of tourists every day to the areas around Apes Den and the Siege Tunnels at the top of the Rock.

But signs warn of the dangers of approaching the animals and the threat of attacks on humans and the possibility of the spread of disease has led to authorities ordering regular culls.

British soldiers are thought to have introduced the apes, natives of north Africa, into Gibraltar in the mid-18th century to use for shooting practice.

Local folklore has it that the colony would cease to be British if the monkeys were to leave.

Winston Churchill took it seriously enough to ship extra monkeys from north Africa to Gibraltar during the Second World War.

Source: The Telegraph 

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Spain's economy shrinks 1.1% in second quarter
27 August 2009

MADRID — Spain's recession-hit economy shrank 1.1 percent in the second quarter, official data showed on Thursday, worse than the original estimate of 1.0 percent.

Compared with a year earlier, the economy contracted 4.2 percent, rather than 4.1 percent, according to final figures provided by the National Statistics Institute.

The second quarter marks the fourth consecutive contraction in the once booming economy. It shrank 1.9 percent in the first three months of the year, 1.0 percent in the last quarter of 2008 and 0.3 percent in the third quarter of 2008.

Spain's economy has proved especially vulnerable to the global credit crunch because growth relied heavily on credit-fueled domestic demand and a property boom boosted by easy access to loans.

Copyright © 2009 AFP. All rights reserved 

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Jack Charlton discharged from hospital after taking ill on holiday in Spain
26 August 2009

World Cup winner Jack Charlton has received treatment in hospital after collapsing during a family holiday in Spain. The 74-year-old was taken to a private clinic after falling ill in Mascarat, on the Costa Blanca, complaining of problems with his eyes.

Spanish medics in nearby Benidorm have carried out a series of tests since Friday in a bid to find the cause of the sudden illness. But his family have said MRI and CAT scans and tests on his heart have so far produced no conclusive results.

His son, John Charlton, said the grandfather-of-five was back with his family after being discharged with medication to treat high blood pressure. John said after the 'turn' on Friday his dad had quickly returned to good form and was keen to carry on with the holiday.

He said: "It was a scare at the time and he's been in for three days but he has had more tests and checks than he would have had in the UK. He's been properly looked after.

"His blood pressure is slightly higher than it should be so he has been given some tablets to lower it. He came over on Thursday and the weather has been extremely hot. I don't know whether it was the heat and the travelling or what. He just didn't fell particularly well.

"But he's been to the hospital and had his brain checked, his heart checked. We've just taken all of the right precautions to make sure he's OK and he was well looked after right from the start. He just had a bit of a turn.

"At the time he just felt really unwell and we didn't know what the problem was which is why he went into hospital," John told the Newcastle Evening Chronicle.

Source: The Guardian 

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Fergie and Andrew's Spanish hideaway: The divorced couple summer together at a luxury Spanish villa
25 August 2009

Even by the standards of a woman whose reputation has never fully recovered from the embarrassment of her infamous toe-sucking scandal, the past week has been deeply humiliating for the Duchess of York.

After her much-publicised attempt to give sage advice to a struggling working-class community for a TV programme attracted a barrage of criticism, the Duchess is said to be inconsolable.

Sarah’s documentary, called Duchess On The Estate, featured her patronising attempts to improve the lives of the residents of Northern Moor, near Manchester.

But not all the residents wanted her help – and a critical drubbing was the outcome.

So it can be seen as a measure of her distress that Sarah has turned, as she invariably does when things go drastically wrong in her life, to the one man upon whom she can rely for unwavering support and understanding – her former husband, Prince Andrew.

The divorcees have quietly slipped off together to a secluded mansion near Sotogrande in Spain, a coastal playground for the rich and famous (quite unlike Northern Moor), for what is believed to be their first holiday together without their children.

One stunned royal watcher says: ‘It’s really quite amazing to think that Andrew and Fergie have been holed up together in a six-bedroom house on their own.

'It is absolutely unprecedented. They have never gone away à deux before. This is very peculiar. I don’t know what it means, but it will set tongues wagging.’

Read the rest of the article here

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Man wrecks bar because he doesn’t like the tapas
25 August 2009

A 54-year-old Spanish man wrecked a bar in Gijon because he didn’t like the olives he was served with his drink. Apparently, the man had sat on the terrace and asked for a drink, which was given to him with a plate of olives.

Shortly afterwards, he entered the establishment insulting the manager and shouting that the olives were “shit”. Some customers attempted to calm him down and threatened to call the police.

However, the man started to throw chairs and tables at passing cars, broke bottles and glasses and a blackboard outside the bar. Realising that someone had called the police, he fled the scene, but was arrested shortly afterwards.

Source: Euro Weekly News

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Suck on this, says Ryanair...
24 August 2009

Most travellers have strong opinions about Ryanair, but it is seldom accused of trying to make life more pleasant for its passengers. Now the introduction of a new product on their inflight menus is causing raised eyebrows 30,000 feet up. Alongside the hotdogs and strange sachets of alcohol, stewards wandering the aisles this summer have been flogging packets of "smoke-free cigarettes". They're smokable on the planes, and also in bars and restaurants and - presumably - museums and libraries and gasworks too.

Popular, are they?

The airline won't give out figures but says they're selling much better than expected.

Who uses them?

According to a Ryanair spokesman, they're selling best on flights out of Italy, followed by those from the UK, Germany and France.

And who won't touch them?

They're just not cool in Scandinavia. Flights out of Oslo and Stockholm haven't seen many sales.

Drinking and smoking ... Isn't Ryanair in danger of turning flying into a pleasant experience?

It depends on your idea of a good time. The whole grab-a-seat procedure to the sound of promotional tunes already makes getting onto a plane feel like a stressful game of musical chairs.

I try to avoid Ryanair - can I get them elsewhere?

The spokesman seems to think they're available on some long-haul flights with other airlines, but there have not been reports of the cabin crew advertising them elsewhere. Ryanair really is a pioneer in so many ways.

How much will a pack set me back?

€6. Or the same price as six trips to the loo under plans to start charging passengers for those, too.

Source: The Guardian

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EasyJet attempts to kill off the airport queue with handheld devices
24 August 2009

EasyJet hopes to introduce mobile check-in using handheld devices to reduce queueing at airports.

The budget carrier wants to replace check-in desks with devices that process passenger details and print boarding passes. Queueing at departure gates could also be eliminated, with mobile scanning of boarding passes.

EasyJet is to conduct trials of the system, which The Times understands is called Project Halo, with a view to introducing it from October. The airline will give details to an industry conference in Las Vegas next month in a presentation entitled “EasyJet to Kill off Check-in Desks”.

However, the airline distanced itself yesterday from the notion that it would abandon check-in desks altogether. There was uproar two weeks ago when Ryanair passengers were stranded at Stansted airport because of insufficient check-in desks and, despite the debacle,
Ryanair, easyJet’s great rival, is pressing ahead with plans to remove all its check-in desks in October and require passengers to check-in online instead. Passengers who do not check in online will face a heavy charge to do so at the airport.

According to conference documentation, easyJet will test online check-in as part of a trial at a UK airport this year. Nevertheless, in a statement it said that there would always be a need for desks to process passengers and that it had no plans to charge for check-in at airports.

Airlines are trying to overhaul the check-in process because hiring counters from airport operators is expensive. With yields — the amount made on each ticket — falling because of weak demand, airlines are being forced to be even more aggressive in their cost-cutting.

Doug McVitie, managing director of Arran Aerospace, an aerospace consultancy, said: “Airlines just have to get costs out of the system and, if they can process more passengers with fewer staff using technology, that will lower their costs.

“But there can be a divergence between technology and its application. You still need a human factor and that is why Ryanair has gone too far with removing all its desks. There is little chance that will be adopted as standard among other carriers.”

More advanced check-in systems could allow carriers to generate additional revenue by offering other services. For example, an easyJet employee with a handheld device could approach families to sell the option of sitting together or speedy boarding.

A spokesman for the airline said: “EasyJet has always been a leading innovator in the aviation industry and is constantly looking at the use of the latest technology to further develop its operation and to make flying more pleasant for its customers.”

Source: The Times 

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Europe's tourist spots hit as Britons holiday at home
24 August 2009

Traditional European tourist destinations are suffering their worst summer in recent years as Britons opt to holiday at home as the economic crisis takes its toll.

France, which is the world's favourite tourist destination and usually attracts 80 million each year, has been hit the hardest by the drop in foreign travellers. 

The number of international visitors has fallen by nearly one third between July and August, according to figures released by the government. 

In Spain the number of tourists visiting this summer has fallen by ten per cent compared with last year, government figures show, and visitors are spending less on their holidays than in previous years. 

And Italy's tourism industry is forecasting an 8.3 per cent reduction in foreign visitors between May and October meaning there will be 1.5 million fewer tourists on Italian beaches this summer. 

A recent Gallup poll revealed that 48 per cent of Europeans plan to spend their holidays in their own countries this year, compared to 43 per cent in 2008. 

The fall in the number of tourists from Britain and Germany is said to be the biggest factor behind the figures, as the two countries are Europe's biggest travellers. 

British holidaymakers, who have been the mainstay of Spain's tourism industry since the birth of the package holiday in the 1960s, are chief among those staying away. 

The number of British tourists visiting Spain fell 16.3 per cent during the first half of 2009 to 6.1 million, a figure that reflects the fall in the value of the pound against the euro. 

"This is the worst I have ever seen it. There is no one on the beach," said Pedro Hervas, who sells drinks on the beach in Torremolinos, on Spain's Costa del Sol. 

"If you came here last year at this time you would not be able to get around, there would be so many cars and people," said the 57-year-old who has worked on the resort's broadwalk for almost 20 years. 

During the first half of the year Spain received 23.6 million foreign visitors, an 11.4 per cent drop over the same time last year, according to ministry of tourism figures. 

"Every tourist destination is struggling as a result of the economic crisis," admitted Kate Mentink, the councillor of Tourism and Foreign Affairs in Calvia, on the holiday island of Majorca. 

"It's not just a drop in visitor numbers but the fact that those that do come are spending much less than they have in other years. We are facing a shortfall in earnings of at least ten per cent by the end of the year," she said.

Source: The Telegraph

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Spain 3 women die this weekend in Andalusia from swine flu A/H1N1
24 August 2009

Today, a woman of 20 years in Grenada died today from complications arising from influenza A/H1N1, as she suffered from morbid obesity informed the Ministry of Health of Andalusia.

This is the third death from influenza A in the last 24 hours in Andalusia, and the fifteenth fatality in Spain. The woman, who had a history of previous diseases, and suffering from morbid obesity, was admitted last Wednesday, August 19, at the Hospital San Cecilio (Granada), with various symptoms such as high fever, cough, shortness of breath and vomiting.

The woman, a native of the province of Granada, died this morning. This death is in addition to the two recorded yesterday in Andalusia due to complications from influenza A. Specifically, a woman of 39 died at the Hospital of Valme of Seville, where days before she underwent a caesarean section. In this case, women suffered from other risk factors such as hepatitis and also " major obesity."

In addition, another woman of 50 years died yesterday in Hospital, Punta de Europa de Algeciras (Cadiz) from complications from influenza A. she also had "prior history of other diseases."


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Spain to introduce stricter non-smoking laws
18 August 2009

One thing that many expats and Spanish adults have in common is their love for a cigarette with their cup of coffee or tipple of choice.

But all that could be changing in early 2010 Health Minister Trinidad Jiménez said in an interview with Cadena Ser as the government is “assessing the law” which is laced with loopholes and a “certain lack of definition”

Back in January 2006 Spain joined the European non-smoking community by banning smoking in public places, offices, restaurants and pubs. Possibly the pub aspect may have escaped the notice of most as each pub and restaurant smaller than 100 square metres was allowed to choose whether to allow smoking or not. Not surprisingly, very few establishments decided to change their habits of a lifetime and so continued to allow smoking as if nothing had changed in the land of law making. Latest figures suggest that over 55,000 people die from smoking-related diseases in Spain every year and that the non-smoking laws have had very little impact on reducing this number.

However, according to the Spanish Press, Spain’s Health Minister now wants to include all pubs and restaurants in a blanket ban and 70% of the Spanish population are in favour of a total ban on smoking. El Mundo say that only 40,000 of more than 350,000 establishments are presently smoke-free.

Greece and Turkey recently joined the ranks of European nations that have introduced such a ban and if implemented the effects shall be felt deeper away from the Costa Blanca, Calida, del Sol areas. For those that still smoke, our mild weather allows for terrace smoking and drinking year round, while the colder, wetter winters suffered by Madrid, Barcelona and to the north will mean that the effects of such a ban will hit smokers there more than the more popular expat areas of Spain.


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Ryanair bust-up with airport costs 600 jobs
18 August 2009

A bitter war of words broke out yesterday between Ryanair and Manchester Airport as the budget airline pledged to axe nine of its 10 routes and up to 600 jobs.

Despite massive first-quarter profits, the no-frills carrier demanded the airport lower its charges or it would take its flights to "competing, lower-cost" hubs.

In exchange, it offered Manchester an extra 28 weekly flights and 400,000 new passengers, which would have created 400 new jobs.

But airport chiefs rejected the offer saying that their charges were reasonable. Manchester airport's managing director Andrew Cornish said yesterday: "Ryanair made us an offer we could refuse."

A total of 44 weekly Ryanair flights will be lost at Manchester from October 1, with the loss of 60,000 passengers a year and 600 airport jobs.

It means Ryanair's Manchester routes to Barcelona (Girona), Bremen in Germany, Brussels (Charleroi), Cagliari in Sardinia, Dusseldorf (Weeze), Frankfurt (Hahn), Marseille, Milan (Bergamo) and Shannon will cease.

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Most of the flights will be switched to East Midlands, Leeds Bradford and Liverpool airports.

Passengers affected will be emailed directly by Ryanair and given a full refund or the option of flying from an alternative airport. The cuts come despite an 11% rise in Ryanair's passenger numbers in the three months to June.

The firm also boosted profits from £18million in the same period in 2008 to £118million this year.

But the carrier's Stephen McNamara said: "Ryanair had offered new routes, traffic and growth to Manchester airport but since they prefer to preserve their high-cost base, Ryanair will switch/close nine Manchester routes."

A Manchester airport spokesman hit back, saying: "We don't believe charges as low as £3 per passenger are unreasonable. Clearly, Ryanair do and that's regrettable."

Unions vowed to fight the cuts by Ryanair, which has also threatened to close routes at Stansted airport.

But within hours of Ryanair's announcement, rival airline announced plans for three new routes from Manchester, which will create 250 jobs.

250 jobs. will be created by at Manchester with flights to Gran Canaria, Kos and Venice

Source: The Mirror 

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'Pay us €10 and then you will get your lost purse back,' Ryanair tells distraught girl
18 August 2009

A young girl who lost her purse on a Ryanair flight, was shocked when she was forced to pay €10 for its return.

Emma Lally, nine, misplaced her purse while buying presents on a flight home to Dublin from Spain.

Although her father Sean Lally was able to track down the purse after a series of phone calls to Dublin Airport, Emma was left in tears after being told she must pay €10 (£8.50) to reclaim it.

Ryanair uses lost property provider Greencap, which charges a €10 administrative fee.

Dublin Airport Authority charges €6 to reclaim lost items.

Mr Lally was grateful that Ryanair staff had handed in his daughter's purse but is still fuming over the charge, particularly when it invovled a child.

'I was a bit annoyed that I had to pay back money for something that was ours,' Mr Lally told the Belfast Telegraph.

'I was delighted to get it back, but she's only a child.'

Emma had written her personal details inside the purse, which contained €42 in cash which she had saved from her holiday spending money.

Mr Lally said: 'Her name and address were written inside the purse in a child's handwriting.

'It was very obvious that it was a child's purse. She's a good kid and she went away and had a little think about it, and came to me and said she wanted to give me the money.

'Emma was delighted to get it back but she couldn't believe that she had to pay the money. I don't see why it can't be given back without a charge.'

Ryanair did not return MailOnline calls early this evening.

However it is believed that the budget airline uses Greencap because the Dublin Airport Authority does not accept lost and found items from airlines.

'Only items found on the airport premises are administered by the DAA. The DAA and Greencap charge an administration fee for the recording, storing and recovery of lost items,' a spokesman told the Belfast Telegraph.

The DAA rejected that charge, saying it has never refused to accept lost valuables.

Source: The Daily Mail 

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Nudists outraged as naked sunbathing is banned on Cadiz beaches
14 August 2009

Exhibitionists hoping for an all-over tan could face hefty fines for stripping off on beaches in Cadiz, Spain.

The popular holiday resort's Town Hall has decided it wants no more naked bodies on the beach and holidaymakers could now face a fine of up to 750 euros for revealing all.

However, the decision has been slammed by outraged members of the public and the Spanish Naturist Federation who have declared the ruling illegal and unconstitutional.

The vague law has raised questions about whether 'nudism' includes topless sunbathing or if parents would be fined for a naked baby on the beach, as the person responsible for a minor.

In general many bathers questioned said they didn't have a problem with those that wish to frolic about in their birthday suit and disagree with the wholesale banning of the practice.

However, suggestions were made that designated nudist beaches should be assigned in the area.

Stripping off on the beach has been considered legal in Spain for the last two decades and the Naturist Federation claims that the fines could damage the tourism market in the area, as many nudists come from around Europe to enjoy this freedom.

The Spanish Tourist Board estimates that around 1.5million tourists visit Spain every summer with the express aim of practicing naturism.

But Cadiz Town Hall has defended its decision by saying that the beaches are being taken over by nudists, putting off families who use them.

Local police have been passing the message on to sunbathers, but so far no one has been given a fine.

Source: The Daily Mail 

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Owners join waiting list to dump their pets
14 August 2009

“When can I bring my dog in?, sadly this is a question that is regularly being asked at the Malaga dog refuge. With space at a premium there is now a waiting list for people unable or un willing to keep their pet, but at least responsible enough not to dump it by the roadside. It can be 10 or 15 days before a space opens up at the refuge as dogs brought in from the streets by the local authorities have to take precedence. “ Some people react very badly when you say you cannot take their pet.” said José Carlos Cabra. “Sometimes we come back to find they have left it at the gates.”

Sometimes the prospect of vets bills leads people to their doors. “They want us to cure the animal and then they will take it back, but we have to prioritise.” Cabra explained. Vets in the area say that their costs are noticeably lower than in other areas and that insurance schemes are available, but that does not help when money is short.

Source: Sur in English 

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Last minute bookings save the season for the Costa del Sol
14 August 2009

Changes in the habits of holidaymakers are affecting hotel reservations in the same way as they did at Easter.

The season appeared to be heading for disaster until Spanish tourists, who had been waiting for prices to drop, finally made their move, leading the tourism sector to predict a respectable 80% occupancy rate.

In July, bookings were being made from one day to the next: in August, with all special offers at an end, they are being made four or five days in advance.

Foreign tourism is down by about 30%, with visitors to the Costa del Sol spending considerably less than in previous years.

Source: Sur in English 

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Supermarkets combat a new breed of shoplifter
14 August 2009

The shelves are stacked high with everything you need and lots of things you want. All around people are filling their trolleys with the week’s shopping, basic necessities and little treats. But, for many, the contents of their wallets and purses just will not stretch, even to the basics that their family needs for everyday living. The answer? Steal. These are not people who have made a habit of shoplifting, they are not people who would normally even think of taking something without paying, but economic pressures have created a new breed of thief. In general they are not stealing the luxury goods targeted by the professional and opportunist shoplifters, they are taking the basics, maybe just one bag of sugar, a jar of jam and perhaps, a little luxury item. But for the supermarkets and stores the problem is becoming enormous.

Throughout the region supermarkets, such as Carrefour and major stores like El Corte Inglés, are seeing their stock disappear in what they describe as “unknown losses.” Checkpoint, who provide anti-theft solution, have seen an increase of around 15 per cent in the security systems installed by their clients this year. Alongside this the stores have reduced their visible stock of products like alcohol, razors and deodorants which are favourite targets. Security video cameras have been installed and security personnel roam the store. It all costs money, but the stores hope that it will deter the thieves and the costs will eventually balance out.

The Spanish Police Federation say that thefts of this type have increased by 25 per cent in the first six months of 2009 and in Málaga city they have doubled. The Federation identifies two types of theft, that by youths, usually of alcohol or perfume which they may sell on, and, increasingly common, that by parents who are short of money and steal to consume.
However, the view of the supermarkets is that people are not stealing the basics. In hardship cases food cheques provide these, but thieves are taking the little extras that people got used to and now, in more austere times, still want. Shops also face the problem of the organised criminals who, in some areas, are stealing to order for households, who use the crisis to excuse their actions.

Source: Sur in English

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Town Halls bailed out by government fund
14 August 2009

More than half of the province’s largest town have applied for loans to help them balance the books

The economic problems which have hit families and businesses have also left Town Halls throughout the region struggling for cash. Like many families, their income has fallen to the extent that they can no longer meet their bills, a situation that in some districts has existed for over a year. The collapse of the construction industry, a major source of income from licences and planning permissions, has left a considerable gap in budgets. Like local authorities worldwide, Town Halls had planned their expenditure based on budget predictions. Many had taken on contracts for public works and other commitments, but with the fall in income the debts began to pile up.

To help with the crisis the government relaxed some restrictions and timetables relating to IVA (VAT) and interest repayments and created the “Instituto de Crédíto Oficial” (ICO) to which local authorities could apply for loans to allow them to pay their debts to small and medium sizes businesses and individuals. This lifeline has been taken up by 13 of the 22 largest towns and cities in the province, borrowing a total of 113.2 million euros.

Fuengirola has the dubious honour of being top of the list of borrowers, receiving 58 million, which will go to pay current and old debts. The loan will rise to 72 million with interest and is repayable over six years and, in that period the council believe they will able to balance their books.

At the other end, Torremolinos has requested just 13 million, roughly half of what that currently owed. Just down the coast Benalmádena’s finances are not looking healthy with over 84 million already owed to financial institution and debts of 72.8 million to suppliers and service providers. The council has managed to borrow 6.1 million to clear some of their debts.

In Marbella, keen to show its new colours, the Town Hall has turned down help from the ICO and has drawn up a plan to pay its debts within a three month period. Around the province it would seem that no authority has escaped the fall out from the recession, some have fared better than others, but all have needed to look hard at their financial management, which, in the long run, is possibly no bad thing.

The borrowers
Coín: 5 million
Cártama: 1.5 million
Álora: 900,000
Pizarra: 558,000
Campillos: Unknown
Antequera: 2.3 million
Rincón de la Victoria: 5million
Nerja: 8.5 million
Torrox: 7.4 million
Fuengirola: 58 million
Torremolinos: 13 million
Mijas: 10 million
Benalmádena: 6.1 million

Source: Sur in English

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Spanish Economy Contracted More Than Forecast in Second Quarter
14 August 2009

Spain’s economy contracted more than forecast in the second quarter, suggesting a recovery in Germany and France has yet to reach a country that was once an engine of growth for the euro region. 

Gross domestic product declined 1.0 percent from the previous quarter, when it shrank 1.9 percent, the Madrid-based National Statistics Institute said in an e-mailed statement today. From a year earlier, it contracted 4.1 percent. The Bank of Spain estimated on July 30 that the economy contracted 0.9 percent in the second quarter and 4 percent from a year earlier. 

Spain’s recovery is lagging behind that of other European countries as data yesterday showed the German and French economies both resumed expansion in the second quarter. Battling the highest unemployment rate in Europe at 18 percent, Spain has pumped money into the economy and is putting builders to work on public projects across the country. 

“In the third quarter, you may get another contraction and after that some ups and downs, or flat readings,” said Dominic Bryant, an economist at BNP Paribas in London. “I just don’t think the recovery will gain any traction.” 

Even as the government plans to inject 2.3 percent of GDP into the economy this year and further stimulus in 2010, Spain’s economy will continue to contract next year, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development forecast on June 24. It projects the Spanish economy will contract 4.2 percent this year and 0.9 percent in 2010, which would make it the worst performer of the 30 OECD nations after Hungary and Ireland. 

Boom to Bust 

As well as the global crisis, Spain is suffering from the collapse of a debt-fueled construction boom that has left around 1 million newly built homes unsold. Unemployment has doubled in two years, with construction workers leading the job losses, and Spain accounts for about half of the euro region’s increase in unemployed in the last year, according to Eurostat, the European Union’s statistics office. 

International companies have cited Spanish business as a weak spot. Coca-Cola Co. said on July 21 that it saw weakness in Spain due to “significant macroeconomic challenges,” and Vodafone Group Plc said in May it had an impairment charge of 5.9 billion pounds ($9.7 billion), most of it related to Spain. 

The economic slump has had a political cost as the ruling Socialist Party now trails the opposition in popular support, a poll by the state-run Center for Sociological Research showed on July 27.

Source: Bloomberg


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Missing man arrested in Spain on suspicion of faking his own death
14 August 2009

The only trace police divers found of businessman Jenaro Jiménez Hernández was a single size 11 flipper. For more than a year, his family were convinced he had died in an accident while spearfishing off Spain's Atlantic coast.

But rumours in the Andalucian city of Cádiz persisted that Jiménez had faked his own death and fled abroad to escape heavy debts. Early yesterday morning, 16 months after he disappeared, the gossip was proved correct: Jiménez, 42, was arrested in Madrid on suspicion of fraud after stepping off a plane from São Paulo, Brazil.

Much to the shock of his wife, Anabel, who was eight months pregnant when her husband went missing, police believe he had been hiding in Paraguay all the time. Jiménez was last seen leaving his home at 7am on Sunday 13 April last year to go fishing off Los Alemanes beach, near Tarifa, on the Costa de la Luz.

When he failed to return that afternoon, his wife called the civil guard who found his BMW car abandoned by the coast. His wallet with ID was inside the vehicle, but his scuba suit and fishing gear were missing. A four-day search by land, sea and helicopter failed to find any sign of the businessman, apart from the flipper, discovered by a police diver. Moroccan authorities were contacted in case a body washed up on their shores.

His disappearance left the couple's young son fatherless, and a month later Anabel gave birth to a baby daughter.

But in a case echoing that of John Darwin, the British canoeist who had faked his own death, detectives were not entirely convinced there had been an accident.

Read the rest of the article here 

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Kylie Minogue splashes out on Spanish villa
14 August 2009

POP princess Kylie Minogue has splashed out £450,000 ($890,383) on a luxury villa near the Spanish home owned by the parents of her model boyfriend Andres Velencoso Segura.
The villa is in the Costa Brava resort town of Tossa de Mar, where Segura's parents own a bar and restaurant.

Britain's Daily Star newspaper today said the house purchase could indicate Minogue, 41, is ready to settle down with her 31-year-old lover.

"Buying in Tossa de Mar shows how serious Kylie is about him," a source close to the singer told the newspaper.

Minogue began house hunting in Spain in April.

Source: The Australian 

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Mallorca attack teenager flown home
13 August 2009

A schoolboy who is in a coma after he was attacked while on holiday in Mallorca was being assessed in a British hospital today after being flown home.

Alex Hughes, 16, of Radyr, Cardiff, was attacked by local youths after leaving a nightclub in the resort of Port d'Andratx where he was staying with friends and their parents.
It is understood Alex was hit over the head with a bottle in the assault in the early hours of August 2.

He has been in a coma since having surgery to relieve pressure on his brain and his condition has been described as critical but stable.

Alex's grandfather Les Sims said: "They brought him over from Palma yesterday, but there's no change in his condition at the present moment.

"The medical staff are going to be assessing his condition in the new location (University Hospital of Wales, Cardiff) which could take a couple of days.

"It's a waiting game. We don't know what the outcome will be until they get him back to breathing normally."

Mr Sims said Alex's mother Helen, a nurse, had also flown back from Majorca after making sure he had safely left the island.

"It's been quite a strain on her this last week and a half, but she's coping with it the best she can.

"It's a relief to have him in Cardiff because it was very difficult with him hundreds of miles away.

"Of course you've got the language difficulty in Spain as well, as not everyone at the hospital spoke English.

"We are just hoping and praying for good news eventually."

Spanish police said there were three male suspects for the attack.

Source: The Independent

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Gang of house robbers arrested
13 August 2009

NATIONAL Police officers have disbanded a gang of violent robbers who used to target homes on the Costa del Sol. Sources reveal that the operation ended with four members of the same gang behind bars. All of them lived in Marbella. Police say that the operation began after the gang broke into a home in the Guadalmedina area. They forced the entrance gate and stole a large number of items, including many expensive goods.

Investigations eventually led police to two members of the gang, who were immediately arrested. Officers soon tracked down the other two members of the gang, who also participated in the robbery. Apparently, the latter two used to sell the stolen items on the black market. The gang was very well organised and reaped huge rewards for the items they sold. During the police operation, the police searched two homes and recovered stolen good including computers, TVs, credit cards, mobile telephones and documents.

Unlike many other gangs, the members of this group only broke into empty homes so that they would avoid direct confrontation with the owners. The gang used to break through doors and window bars to gain entry to the houses. All four members of the gang had criminal records for burglary and crimes such as violent robbery and drug trafficking. The defendants were taken before the courts and imprisioned just hours later. This was one of the most feared gangs on the Costa del Sol, especially after they were able to perpetrate a robbery at a house in one of the best protected urbanisations in Marbella. Burglary is becoming one of the most worrying aspects of life for residents all along the coast.

Source: Euro Weekly News 

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Woman fakes kidnapping to meet internet mystery man
13 August 2009

NATIONAL POLICE have arrested a Guatemalan woman who came on holiday to Barcelona to meet a man she had been chatting to on the internet, and then faked her own kidnapping as an excuse to give her husband for prolonging her stay.

The woman, who had arrived in the Spain on July 22, began to send text messages to her husband back in Guatemala the following day, saying that she was in an unknown place and that she and other victims were being forced into having sex with their captor.

The man, concerned for his wife’s safety, contacted the Guatemalan Embassy in Spain and told them that his wife was being held against her will in Barcelona. National Police began to investigate the case with the intention of freeing the women, but finally found her in the city of Barcelona, where she told them she had been able to escape from her captors. She was taken to hospital and found to be uninjured.

Once taken back to the police station, she admitted that she had invented the story about the kidnapping and sexual abuse, and had done so in order to stay in Barcelona for longer than she had planned. She initially said that the man whom she had come to meet had stolen her jewellery, but, later, witnesses testified to having seen her and the unknown internet lover selling the items together.

Source: Euro Weekly News 

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August is feria time on the Costa del Sol
13 August 2009

HUNDREDS of thousands of people from around the province, the region, the country and the world will descend upon the Costa del Sol over the next month or so to partake in what the Spaniards do best: eating, drinking and dancing. With arguably one of the most famous ferias in Europe, Malaga Feria takes centre stage, but for those who are intimidated by its sheer size, there are other equally attractive ferias to choose from in the province’s villages. 

Malaga Feria – August 15 to 23 (see article on page 4)
Coin – August 10 to 15
Campillos – August 13 to 16
Almogia – August 13 to 16
Mollina – August 13 to 16
Algatocin – August 15
Benalmadena Pueblo – August 12 to 16
Archidona – August 15
Benahavis – August 15

In some of the larger towns in the province of Malaga, the ferias are conveniently scheduled for later on in the summer and autumn, allowing feria enthusiasts the opportunity to spend almost every weekend enoying a different one. 

Here are some other notable feria dates for your diary in the coming months:

Antequera – August 25
Mijas Pueblo – September 8
Torremolinos – September 29
Velez-Malaga – September 29
Marbella – October 7
Fuengirola – October 7

Source: Euro Weekly News

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Ryanair to launch new routes from Leeds Bradford
13 August 2009

 The airline will offer a total of 63 weekly return flights from March next year to destinations including popular summer holiday destinations such as Ibiza, Malaga and Malta. 

It will also introduce flights to Palma, Limoges, Montpellier, Nantes, Carcassonne, Pisa, Venice (Treviso), Krakow, Faro, Knock and Murcia. Tickets are available from today. 

The announcement follows the decision last month to add five new routes from Prestwick Airport in Glasgow. 

Ryanair says the move to Leeds Bradford – its 34th European base – will create 1,000 sustainable jobs and will increase the airline’s annual passenger traffic to over one million passengers. 

John Parkin, chief executive at Leeds Bradford, said: “This is a great vote of confidence in the potential of both the airport and our region from Europe's largest airline.” 

Ryanair currently operates three routes from the northern airport, to Alicante, Barcelona (Girona) and Dublin. 

Last month, Telegraph Travel reported that up to 140 routes from Britain to mainland Europe have disappeared during the last year, as airlines seek to make savings in the face of falling passenger numbers and rising costs. 

The frequency of a number of other routes has also been cut. 

Last month, Ryanair scrapped dozens of routes out of Stansted and Dublin, blaming the air taxes imposed by the British and Irish governments. 

However, the recent poor weather across Britain, coupled with the Met Office’s revising its prediction of a barbeque summer, has boosted the number of Britons taking flights to Europe.

Source: The Telegraph

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Spanish youths protest over bullfighting cut backs
13 August 2009

Young people in Spain have protested against budget cuts that have forced summer fiesta organisers to limit the number of bullfights held in the town of Pinto.

Gangs of youths pelted the local town hall with eggs and tomatoes to vent their anger at the decision. As a result of town hall cut backs, the towns of Pinto and Rivas-Vaciamadrid, have scrapped their bullfights. The sport usually forms the highlight of local celebrations during August and September. 

"The news has been very badly received in the town and we feel we have been tricked by the local government," said José Antonio Pérez, president of a club for bullfighting aficionados in Pinto, told the Financial Times. "This is the first time in living memory that we have not had a fight." Pinto normally holds bullfights between August 13 and 15 and the fiesta is in honour of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary. But the local council said they were too expensive. 

Juan José Martín, the socialist mayor, told El País newspaper that it had been a "difficult and painful decision". The budget for the fiestas has been slashed from 500,000 ($711,200, £430,400) to 142,000 and the town owes 800 of its municipal staff back pay. 

According to Mr Pérez, the youths attacked Pinto's town hall because they resented the cancellation of the performance of a local 20-year-old apprentice matador. "What youngsters most enjoy is running the bulls through the streets before the bullfight," he added.

Source: The Telegraph

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Recession makes car hire a pain in Spain
13 August 2009

As if the euro exchange rate wasn’t enough to make holidaymakers hot under the collar, sunseekers are now spluttering into their sangria at the soaring cost of hiring a car in many of Europe’s top resorts.

Prices at some resorts in Spain during the peak school holiday period have doubled amid a scarcity of cars and many people arriving at their destinations without having pre-booked are finding that a number of companies have sold out of vehicles.

Experts said that the credit crunch had hit many car hire operators, particularly smaller local companies, which would normally use finance deals to buy new cars and sell their older cars in the second-hand market. The result is a basic model that might have cost £200 last year can now cost as much as £400.

The difficulty of securing finance for new cars and the dearth of buyers for second-hand cars in some countries has resulted in many operators failing to renew their vehicles and ending up with smaller fleets of increasingly decrepit cars. The incidence of firms going out of business has also jumped.

Read the rest of the article here


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Malaga Feria 15th - 23rd August 2009
12 August 2009

The Feria will run from this Saturday August 15 and the following Sunday August 23

MALAGA fair will be in full swing this month with thousands of people expected to arrive from every corner of the province as well as tourists of various nationalities. The Feria starts at noon on Saturday August 15 and runs right through to Sunday August 23.

Typically people descend upon the old town of Malaga City from early lunchtime to enjoy the more traditional aspect of the Feria: dancing in their traditional flamenco outfits, eating tapas and drinking sweet wines (Cartojal and Carpe Diem are popular brands).

The history of Malaga’s fair is 500 years old and is linked to the conquering of the city of Malaga by the Spanish Catholic King and Queen in August 19, 1487.

As early evening arrives, at 6pm as many town centre venues start to close, and the street music stops, the masses start to make their way toward the Malaga Fairground (Recinto Ferial el Real) to continue their fun by going on the many rides available and some more drinking and dancing at the various casetas.

The fairground actually opens between 12 noon and 6am (admission is free).

Each day there are several scheduled events at both the City Centre and the fairground.

For an ‘advance preview’ there will be a fireworks display at the ‘Malagueta’ beach in the city (just past the port) at midnight of Friday August 14 followed by a music festival called ‘Malaga Sol Festival’ that counts with Spanish group Estopa, Kate Ryan and Despitaos.

Feria by day

In the city centre the Feria starts officially at noon on Saturday August 15. Throughout the period of the Feria the scheduled activities normally take place at regular intervals from around noon to 2pm.

These are spread across the old town, but places to check out are Calle Larios (1pm & 2pm), Plaza del Obispo (1:30pm), Plaza de la Merced (1:30pm), and Plaza de las Flores (2pm).

For children there are daily events especially for children at the park between 12 noon and 3:30pm.

Feria by night

At the fairground the activities start after 9pm on most nights with the two main casetas being the Caseta de Juventud (activities 11pm) and the Caseta del Flamenco (activities 11pm).

There will be a horse and carriage parade every day at noon and at 7pm

Source: Euro Weekly News 

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Freak summer rainstorms take Malaga province by surprise
12 August 2009

Yesterday the State Meteorological Agency (AEMET) issued an orange weather warning for the province of Malaga at 3 p.m. which was in force until 10 o'clock last night, because of the high risk of rainstorms. 

The first freak summer rain fell in Ronda mid-afternoon and meant that the 112 emergency services had to be called out several times. Houses and business premises were flooded and four people had to be rescued from their homes. While 32 litres per square metre fell in Ronda, shortly afterwards it was reported that 10 litres per square metre had fallen in an hour in Colmenar.

There was also a storm in Antequera but it lasted for little more than half an hour and the worst affected place was La Azucarera industrial estate where water got into some warehouses.

In Marbella sunbathers were forced to abandon their sunbeds as huge waves crept up the beach in the early evening.

In contrast, in Yunquera a forest fire broke out which destroyed an as yet undetermined pine wooded area and took an hour and a half to be brought under control by the fire fighting services.

Source: Sur in English


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Fewer Spanish towns stage bullfights due to recession
12 August 2009

Tight budgets have forced local councils to cancel or scale back their annual bullfighting fiestas which can amount to hundreds of thousands of euros.

Madrid – Spain's steep recession has led dozens of cash-strapped local councils to scrap their annual bullfighting fiestas to save public money, official figures and bullfighting entrepreneurs said Tuesday.

The Madrid regional government said it had granted authorisations for 401 bullfighting festivals as of the beginning of August, a 20 percent drop over the same time last year due mainly to the economic slowdown.

Nearly 30 percent fewer bullfights have been staged across Spain this year, with the drop coming mostly in small towns where lesser known matadors perform, said former French bullfighter Simon Casas, one of Europe's biggest bullfighting impresarios.

Read the full article here

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Torrevieja twins with Oviedo
12 August 2009

Torrevieja’s Town flag was proudly waving in the wind in Oviedo, the capital city of the Asturias region of Spain.
Town twinning is a mystery to most of us, but it’s based on the premise that by doing so both towns shall endeavour to promote each other, offer each other opportunities, develop ties between the sister towns, to the benefit of all. It’s unusual for Twin Towns to be in the same country but on Tuesday, Torrevieja’s Town flag was proudly waving in the wind in Oviedo, the capital city of the Asturias region of Spain to celebrate a gift from Torrevieja, with whom the city has been twinned since January 2nd, 2004. 

A delegation headed by the mayor, Pedro Hernandez Mateo, unveiled a plaque and toured the city. He also visited what is a familiar sight to those that like to stroll along Torrevieja’s seafront, the sculpture donated by the city of Torrevieja to Oviedo, of Bella Lola which has already been installed on a bench in the Plaza Fontan, in the heart of the Asturian town Torrevieja has close ties with Asturias and is already twinned with another town in the region, Villa de Siero, who are also regular visitors for the Habaneras Competition each year.  



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AVE trains running again after storm in Toledo
12 August 2009

Renfe have commented on the movement of high-speed trains (AVE) connecting Madrid to Seville, after 20 hours without service due to the cutting of the track system by heavy rainfall on Monday on the stretch around Yeles La Sagra (Toledo).

Estimates are that up to 50 litres per square meter fell in just in two hours, which inundated two kilometres of the route. More than 8,000 passengers were affected by the cutting of services, according to the company. In total, 70 trains were cancelled.

The closure of the track, which took place at 9.15 pm., lasted nearly 20 hours; the amount of time it took Adif, the company that manages the railway infrastructure to make repairs.

Adif attributed the cut to the abnormal storm and the company explained in a statement that the rain flooded the track and washed stones onto the tracks nearly covering them.

While the service was interrupted, Renfe enabled its emergency bus service in both directions between the Madrid and Toledo.

Source: Spanish News 

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Madrid-Malaga AVE trains cancelled due to storms
11 August 2009

While half of Spain basks in the summer sun, the other half is dealing with unseasonable hail storms and downpours. One such rainstorm which affected the provinces of Toledo and Ciudad Real on Monday night caused Renfe to cancel four trains on the Malaga-Madrid service. 

One of them was the Cordoba-Malaga bound AVE 2212 train from Madrid which should have left at 9.30 p.m., and the other three, one due in Malaga at 11.30 p.m., and two which were scheduled to leave María Zambrano station at 8 p.m. and 9 p.m., were cancelled due to the lines between Yeles and La Sagra (Toledo) being flooded. 
Renfe expects all services to be resumed this afternoon.

Source: Sur in English


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Drugs Raids: Police Bust International Gang
11 August 2009

 More than 30 people have been arrested in the UK as part of a major drugs operation between British and Spanish police.

Cocaine worth £10.5m headed for Britain was seized on a yacht in the Atlantic off the Spanish coast.

Officers found 250kg of the drug stashed below decks when the vessel was stopped off Vigo on the northwest tip of Spain.

The crew of two, who were sailing from the Dutch Antilles in the Caribbean to the UK, were arrested.

Detectives also moved in on members of an international gang allegedly behind the smuggling attempt in a series of raids on the Costa del Sol.

A Briton was among six suspects detained on the southern Spanish holiday coast. Others held were from Spain, Colombia, the Netherlands and Italy.

Police also seized firearms and a large quantity of cash in the raids, a senior officer at the Spanish national police headquarters in Madrid said.

The raids were a collaboration codenamed Candlelight between Spanish police and Britain's Serious Organised Crime Agency.

A Spanish police statement said that in the UK officers from SOCA had arrested 39 suspects and seized 500kg of cocaine, 39kg of heroin and three tonnes of cannabis.

No-one from SOCA could be contacted for comment, but in Spain the British haul is estimated to be worth more than £31m at street level.

Among premises raided on the Costa del Sol were ten homes, a restaurant on the seafront in Marbella, a cafe on the promenade at Fuengirola, and a second-hand car dealership, police said.

Seizures made by police on the holiday coast included 18 luxury cars and 300,000 euros (£255,000).

Source: Sky News


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Spain Records 9th Death From Swine Flu
11 August 2009

A 28-year-old woman has died of swine flu in Spain, bringing the total number of confirmed deaths from the disease in the country to nine, the health ministry said Monday.

The woman died in a hospital in the eastern city of Valencia from "complications linked to the (A/H1N1) flu," the ministry said, without giving further details.

On June 30, a 20-year-old Moroccan woman who was seven months pregnant became the first person to die of swine flu in Spain.

The health ministry said Friday that 12,270 people, mostly teenagers and young adults, contracted swine flu in the country between July 27 and Aug. 2.

The ministry no longer gives a total number of confirmed cases of the A/H1N1 virus, providing instead an estimate of new cases based on medical reports from a representative sample of the population.

More than 1,000 people have died around the world by the A/H1N1 virus, which first surfaced in Mexico in April, and the World Health OrganiZation has warned that the pandemic is now unstoppable, having spread to most countries.
Source: The Wall Street Journal 

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Spain a second home for Gwyneth Paltrow
10 August 2009

The Oscar-winning actress professed her love for Spain in a recent interview, and managed to diss American culture in general and New Yorkers in particular.

"Spain has become a second home," Paltrow said. "Here in the United States an old building is about 17 (years old), and over there it's from 500 B.C. It's incredible.

"Also, the way people live over there. They seem to enjoy life a little bit more. They aren't running around as much as in New York.

"They enjoy time with the family. They don't always have their BlackBerries on."

Paltrow lived in Spain briefly as a teen and is fluent in Spanish.

The 36-year-old star, who is married to Coldplay singer Chris Martin, wants her two kids, Apple and Moses, to speak Spanish as well.

She said she would love to act in her second tongue as well.

"I haven't found the script yet," she said, "but the first (movie) would have to be a small role, not very important, because I imagine I would have to get used to acting in Spanish."

Source: NY Daily News

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Man reappears after 30 years and kills wife's current husband
10 August 2009

Police arrested a 66-year-old man in Palma de Mallorca on Friday who reappeared after 30 years and presumably killed his wife's current husband.

According to police, the suspect, who had been arrested on 30 other occasions and was identified only as Miguel S.B., abandoned his wife and two children - whom he hardly knows - three decades ago and was never heard from again, leading the woman to assume that he had died.

Early on Monday, he allegedly attacked her husband, identified as J.M.M., 59, striking him twice in the head with an iron bar while the victim was getting into his car.

The police report noted that several neighbors witnessed the attack, one of whom went outside and pursued the attacker down several streets.

Miguel S.B. then allegedly went after his pursuer with a large knife and threatened to kill him if he did not stop following him, but soon afterwards a police patrol arrested the assailant.

Source: Sur in English 

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Consumer takes on the Telefónica Goliath and wins
10 August 2009

Telefónica have been heavily criticised by a Judge who ordered the payment of 700 euros to a client who had cancelled her internet connection, but over the next 18 months had continued to have money debited from her bank account.

The case was a last resort for Bente Ruth B.J. whose lawyer, speaking after the decision, said that it was not about the money, but about the rights of the consumer and putting an end to the abuse of power by large companies. In her case a request to discontinue the ASDL service was made in 2004 after the death of her husband. Despite calling, faxing and making personal visits, the service was not stopped for many months. Telefónica argued that the widow had not produced a death certificate for the husband, in whose name the line was held.

It is not often that these cases reach the courts, most are settled before that point. Where they cannot be settled by negotiation between the client and the company, there is the Consumer Arbitration Service, which is free, relatively quick and can avoid going to court.

In the case of Telefónica most requests for refunds relate to incorrect invoices or disagreement over the time of a requested for disconnection. Over 90 per cent of these cases are found in favour of the customer.

Source: Sur in English 

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Three in court over island attack
10 August 2009

Three teenagers have appeared before a judge on the Spanish island of Majorca after an attack on a 16-year-old boy.

Alex Hughes, from Radyr, Cardiff, has been in hospital in a coma after a brain haemorrhage over a week ago.

His family say he was hit over the head with a bottle as he left a nightclub in the Port d'Andratx resort.

The teenagers, who are all aged under 18, have been placed in their parents' custody at home while the investigating judge decides what to do.

They have been implicated in the incident but there are no specific charges against the three questioned. The charges will depend on Alex's condition and if he recovers.

The three could be ordered eventually to stand trial at the island's juvenile court, but charges will not be decided for some time.

Alternatively, the judge could send the trio into custody for a set period at a remand centre.
It must be a very harrowing time for his parents. It's your worst nightmare.
Margaret Lloyd, chair of governors

Alex, who has recently taken his GCSEs at Radyr Comprehensive School, was staying with three friends and their parents on the island when the attack happened during a night out.

His grandmother said he remained "critical but stable" in hospital.

"We are just praying that he will make it," said Pauline Simms, of Aberdare, in the Cynon Valley.

"He was over on holidays with friends and their parents for a nice break after doing their GCSEs.

"They went to a little nightclub which was (in) a very quiet resort in Majorca and these Spanish boys set upon them after they came out from the nightclub on their way home.

"Alex was the unlucky one to be hit on the head with a bottle."

Mrs Simms said a parent of one of his friends had been waiting up for them to return, and called paramedics who took Alex to hospital in Palma.

"They decided immediately to operate on him and at the moment it is still a very serious situation," added his grandmother.

Earlier, the Spanish Civil Guard said there were three male suspects in the case.

The Sun newspaper said the attackers targeted Alex and his friends because they had been dancing with local girls.

Alex's father, Dr Dermot Hughes, a consultant anaesthetist in neurosurgery, and his mother Helen flew out to be at their son's bedside.

Margaret Lloyd, chair of governors at Radyr Comprehensive, said: "We're very shocked and we feel a great deal of sympathy for his parents and good wishes go out to him for a full and speedy recovery.

"It must be a very harrowing time for his parents. It's your worst nightmare, you send your child on holiday and hope they're having a good time but never think it's going to happen to you."

Source: BBC News 

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Car hire shortage in Spain
10 August 2009

British tourists heading to Spain may have trouble hiring cars due to a country-wide shortage of vehicles.

Hire companies in Spain have warned that unless holidaymakers have pre-booked cars it is unlikely they will be able to rent one, particularly from popular arrival destinations like Malaga airport.

The alarming shortage could not only leave many British visitors without cars but also push up the price of rental at a time when holidaymakers are trying to avoid spending too much.

The country, usually well known for its reasonable car hire prices, is experiencing problems as the recession has dramatically affected hire firms' ability to lease cars from manufacturers.  

A lack of available credit has meant that car rental firms do not have the money to lease the amount of cars they need to cover the summer demand.

Fleets were also reduced as hire companies predicted a substantial decrease in summer visitors to Spain based on the recorded 18 per cent drop over the winter period.

However, tempting offers and poor weather in the UK have led to a surge in last-minute beach breaks to Spain, increasing demand for cars.

Andy Lewis, head of marketing and e-commerce for Budget Rent-a-Car, said: 'It is true that rental vehicles in Spain are generally in short supply across the industry this summer. We therefore highly recommend that rental bookings are made well in advance of travel to avoid disappointment.'

Source: The Daily Mail 

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Ryanair more expensive than BA on some flights
09 August 2009

Ryanair and other low-cost airlines are now more expensive on some short-haul routes than British Airways, an investigation by The Sunday Times has found.

A survey of flights to popular European destinations identified 10 on which it is more expensive to fly with Ryanair than British Airways, because BA includes as standard many of the services for which the low-cost airline charges extra.

In three cases BA flights were cheaper outright. In the seven others extra fees, such as charges for checking in a bag or processing payments, made Ryanair’s prices up to 50% higher if a passenger chose those services. EasyJet was more expensive than BA on four of the journeys.

While for most routes low-cost airlines remain the cheaper option, the survey suggests full-service airlines are beginning to fight back. Budget airlines now have so many extra charges for basic services that they can add up to far more than the advertised ticket price.

A passenger checking in 20kg of luggage for a return flight with Ryanair, paying for priority boarding and buying a snack and drink would pay an extra £194. EasyJet, by contrast, provides the same services for an extra £31, while British Airways includes the cost of checking in a 23kg bag, reserving seats, debit-card booking and snacks and refreshments.

Read the rest of the article here 

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EasyJet strike for North sunseekers
09 August 2009

THOUSANDS of North sunseekers are facing holiday misery after airport baggage handlers agreed to strike.

EasyJet ground staff at four Spanish airports are set to walk out on three Saturdays this month, starting next Saturday.

Unions in Spain who have called for the 24-hour action say as many as 100 flights a day could be affected, including 11 flights to and from Newcastle International Airport.

In total 33 flights to and from the city could be effected over the three days, potentially causing chaos for more than 6600 holidaymakers destined to travel between the popular resorts.

They include six daily flights – two each bound for Alicante, Palma in Majorca and Malaga – while five easyJet flights are set to depart the three destinations on August 15, August 22 and August 29.

The action has been sparked by ground workers at the airports, who are unhappy about their wages, hours, rest periods and holidays.

Negotiations between the Comisiones Obreras union and easyJet have been going on for 18 months but the issues are no nearer being settled.

Andrew McConnell, communications manager for easyJet, said: “The company has been notified of a call for industrial action by its ground handling agents in several Spanish airports.

“Check-in agents as well as easyJet pilots and cabin crew members are not involved in this possible industrial action.

“easyJet is working hard to minimise the impact any action may have on its customers.”

A Newcastle International Airport spokeswoman said disruption for outgoing passengers should not be a problem, but they could not provide a picture of the disruption which could meet them on the Continent.

She said: “We’re confident passengers will get away on the flights as normal.”

The possible disruption follows the travel chaos which followed a terrorist attack in Majorca 10 days ago.

A car bomb, which killed two police officers, caused authorities to shut-down the holiday island in a bid to catch the fleeing terrorists.

Flights were grounded, leaving tourists trapped in the departure lounge.

Source: The Sunday Sun 

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Majorca bar 'hit by bomb blast'
09 August 2009

A bomb has exploded in a bar on the Spanish island of Majorca, officials say.

Spanish media reports say a telephone call warned of the bomb. It is not known if there are any casualties.

The blast happened in the island's capital city, Palma-de-Majorca, the Spanish news agency Efe reported.

On Sunday, the Basque separatist group Eta admitted responsibility for a bomb attack in Majorca last month which killed two Civil Guard officers.

Spanish National Radio said the bomb on Sunday exploded in the toilet of a bar called La Rigoletta, in el Paseo del Portitxol, in front of a beach called Playa de Can Tere Antoni, in Palma.

As a result of the warning the area had been evacuated, reports say.

Source: BBC News 

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Eta responsible for police deaths
09 August 2009

The Basque separatist group, Eta, has claimed responsibility for a series of recent bombings in Spain, including one which killed two Civil Guards in July.

In a statement sent to the Basque newspaper, Gara, Eta said it was also behind a car bomb attack which killed a police inspector two months ago.

It said the policeman, Eduardo Puelles Garcia, was a "despicable torturer".

Eta has been blamed for more than 820 deaths during its campaign for an independent Basque homeland in Spain.

The most recent bombings, on the island of Majorca and the northern town of Burgos, came ahead of the 50th anniversary of its founding.

'Political solution'

The two Civil Guards who were killed in the Majorcan resort town of Palmanova on 30 July, Diego Salva and Carlos Saenz de Tejada, had been inside a patrol car parked outside their barracks when a bomb planted underneath it exploded.

Several people were also injured by the powerful blast on the busy road, which sent the vehicle flying through the air and set it on fire.

The attack was the deadliest since two Spanish undercover policemen were shot during an operation in France in December 2007.

Source: BBC News 

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Spanish yobs put Brit lad in coma
08 August 2009

A BRITISH schoolboy was in a coma last night after Spanish yobs attacked him for dancing with local girls. Mild-mannered Alex Hughes, 16, suffered a brain haemorrhage after one of the louts smashed a bottle over his head. He was on holiday in Majorca with three pals and their parents in the quiet family resort of Port d'Andratx. The four teenagers were attacked by three thugs who were laying in wait as they left a nightclub at 3am.

Yesterday Alex was in intensive care in the Spanish island's capital Palma with swelling on the brain. His dad Dr Dermot Hughes, 47, a consultant anaesthetist in neurosurgery, and nurse mum Helen, 43, have flown out to be at his bedside.

Dermot said: "All we can do is wait with our fingers crossed and pray he comes out of his coma."

Alex, of Radyr, near Cardiff, joined friends from Pentyrch Rugby Club for the two-week trip.

But in the nightclub they were jostled by three known troublemakers angry that they were mixing with "their" Spanish girls.

Dermot said: "The bouncers knew them and ejected them.

"Unfortunately for our boys they waited for them to leave, drove up in a car and attacked them.

"Alex was trying to escape but was hit on the head with a bottle.

"He began to feel unwell as he walked back to the apartment. He was taken to hospital and underwent an operation.

"Alex is a lover not a fighter. He has a quiet manner but is quick-witted - a lovely boy."

Family friend Neil MacInnes, 40, said: "Dermot has been looking at the scans on his son - and it has been quite distressing for him as the prognosis does not look good."

He added that rugby fan Alex "would not say boo to a goose".

Dermot - divorced from Helen - had just returned to work in his native Dublin after leaving Royal Gwent Hospital in Newport, South Wales. Helen works at Cardiff's University Hospital. Pals at Radyr Comprehensive School have set up a Facebook site in support of Alex, who has two sisters - Ciara, 12, and Jessica, 19. Spanish police said yesterday they were due to arrest a number of local teenagers.

Source: The Sun

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Holiday lottery rules 'not clear'
08 August 2009

National Lottery operator Camelot has been criticised for allowing people to buy tickets online while abroad despite them being unable to win any money. In countries including Spain and the US it is illegal for Britons to play the UK lottery, making their tickets void. But Camelot's website does not stop them buying tickets and consumer body Which? said the rules were not clear.

Camelot said it does warn people who buy online, but cannot provide a list of countries where playing is banned. The National Lottery website can be accessed from anywhere in the world, but in much of Europe, for example, local laws bar people from taking part in foreign lottery draws while on holiday there.

One Briton, Chris Jones, from Tyne and Wear, told the website that he lost out on more than £5,000 in prize money after buying a National Lottery ticket online while in Majorca.

"What annoys me is that they still accepted my money," he said.

Stephen McGlade, from Which?, said Camelot must do more to prevent such situations occurring.
"What we'd like Camelot to do is to invest more in the website so it makes it clear to people playing the lottery abroad that it is void with tickets if they purchased them abroad," he told the BBC.

"Secondly, there should be measures in place so that if I am in Spain and I play the lottery, I'm barred from doing so."

Camelot said it sent warning e-mails to its online players several times a year explaining the situation. Its website also warns that any ticket bought in a country where playing the lottery online is banned will not be valid, but Camelot said it would be impossible to provide a complete list of countries as local laws changed on a regular basis.

Read the full article here

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Ministry of Health is to ban smoking in all public places in Spain
08 August 2009

The Ministry of Health is expanding the first Anti Smoking Act to prohibit smoking in all public places including bars and entertainment venues, announced Trinidad Jimenez
Spain News The Ministry of Health is to ban smoking in all public places

The Ministry of Health is expanding the first Anti Smoking Act to prohibit smoking in all public places including bars and entertainment venues, announced Trinidad Jimenez. "We are prepared to consider extending the terms, for implementing the law," said the minister.

Jimenez explained that the Act is in its "assessment phase" to see what degree of success it has in in its implementation, and added that following its assessment it will be proposed to extend smoke free areas.

The minister has acknowledged that the law against tobacco has proved "very beneficial in its time", since its inception, it has encouraged over more than one million people to give up the habit.
Jimenez stressed that "the ban on smoking in public spaces has been extended to virtually all European countries" including places, like Turkey, which have "a tradition of high tobacco consumption."

The reasons he has cited to expand smoke-free environments are that smoking is a public health problem "and that it is also necessary to ensure" the smooth functioning and the rational use of health services. People who smoke use more health services and consume more drugs, which increases the cost of the health service" he asserted.

In his view, a "clear message" has to sent to people about this problem and "our society is ever more ready to receive that message: the seriousness of the use of tobacco."

He has indicated that "very soon" new symbols will be incorporated onto packets of tobacco to discourage the habit, which, predictably, include destroyed lungs , tumours or rotten teeth. On June 18, Congress urged the Government to toughen the Anti Smoking Act, "and to progress in the expansion of smoke-free spaces in a progressive manner."

Source: Barcelona Reporter

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Was Madeleine McCann Sold in Spain
07 August 2009

THE family of missing Madeleine McCann fear she could have been sold to a ‘Victoria Beckham’ lookalike in Barcelona. A new witness has come forward revealing how a woman approached him anxiously asking him: “Have you got the child?” just three days after she went missing.

The Briton, who had been on holiday in Barcelona at the time, was asked by the frantic woman: “Have you got her? Have you got my new daughter?”. Said to have a close likeness to former Spice Girl star Victoria Beckham (wife of footballer David Beckham), she approached the startled tourist in the Rey de la Gamba marina area of the city.

With an Australian accent, she had been walking up and down the quay getting increasingly agitated, when the Briton approached her. Asking to see if she was OK, she straight away blurted out that she was looking for her “new child”.

The news emerged at a sensational press conference in London yesterday, where the family released a photo-fit of the suspect. Detectives now fear that Madeleine could have taken from Portugal, where she was snatched, to Barcelona by ship. Maddie had been on holiday with her parents in the sleepy town of Praia de Luz in May 2007, when she suddenly went missing.

“It’s a strong lead. Madeleine could have been in Barcelona by this point,” said former Detective Inspector Dave Edgar.
“The fact that the conversation took place near the marina could be significant. It is something we are looking at.”

The witness – described as a “credible” 41-year-old in a senior management job – has only just stepped forward.

He reportedly did not want his wife to think he was flirting with another girl during a weekend stag party.

Edgar explained: “He’s a credible witness. He had been drinking but was not drunk. The account he has given is precise.

“He didn’t come forward earlier for personal reasons and I am satisfied with those personal reasons. I think he now wishes that he had come forward sooner.”

Both Edgar and colleague ex-detective Sergeant Arthur Cowley believe Madeline may have been snatched on May 3 2007 and smuggled onto a nearby boat. She then could have embarked on an 800-mile trip round the Iberian peninsula destined for Barcelona. Spokesman for the McCanns, Clarence Mitchell, explained the witness had a short conversation with the suspect at 2am who later had an angry exchange in fluent Spanish with a man who knocked her seat.

“The woman was last seen walking away in the direction of a hospital and the more distant ferry and cruise ship terminals,” added Mitchell.

Source: The Olive Press 

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Costa del Sol still the most popular place to live
07 August 2009

It has never been a secret that Malaga and the Costa del Sol are the places where half of Europe would like to come and live, but the results of a recent study by the La Caixa banking group, which has produced demographic statistics for the last five years, clearly identifies the growth areas.

The figures, which are based on the numbers officially registered with the authorities, show that between 2003 and 2008 Mijas, Benalmádena and Estepona have seen increases of more than 30 per cent, while Manilva has jumped by 82 per cent and Benahavís by 60 per cent. Inland areas such as Cártama and La Viñuela have also risen steeply.
Other more remote areas, perhaps less attractive to foreign immigrants, have fallen. Teba, Cuevas del Becerro, Alfarnate and Cañete la Real have all lost between two and three per cent of their population.

In the same period the overall population of Spain has risen by just over eight per cent, proving once and for all that Andalucía and in particular the Costa del Sol is the only place to be.

Source: Sur in English

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Sixty arrested in pay TV piracy round-up
07 August 2009

Spanish police have arrested 60 individuals this week, among them hotel managers and presidents of communities of residents in several provinces, mainly in Andalucía and the Canaries, in connection with the pirating of pay-TV channels.

Also arrested were the administrators of two websites that illegally uploaded the signal, mainly for football matches, from a digital television platform.

The operation has also uncovered a number of cable networks in Tenerife, Malaga, Cadiz, Cordoba and Granada, that charged subscriptions for providing an unauthorised signal to private homes and hotel rooms.

Some of those arrested worked with people based in the UK who provided the necessary documentation to allow them to draw up false contracts with the British TV companies.

Police have seized tens of thousands of false contracts and invoices that amount to a fraud to the tune of several million euros, as well as decoders and smart-cards.

Source: Sur in English 

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BA Confirms held merger talks with Iberia
07 August 2009

British Airways PLC (BAY.LN) and Spanish airline Iberia Lineas Aereas de Espana SA (IBLA.MC) this week held more talks in London about their planned merger, a spokesman for the U.K. flag carrier confirmed Friday.

Talks are due to continue, the spokesman added, signaling that no agreement had been reached. The two sides outlined the terms of a tie-up more than a year ago, but a final deal has snagged as the two companies have been unable to agree on the size of the stakes each would get in a combined entity.

Another contentious issue has been the size of BA's pension liabilities.

The confirmation from BA comes after Spanish local newspaper ABC reported Friday that Iberia executives including Chairman Antonio Vazquez and Chief Executive Rafael Sanchez Lozano would meet next week with BA representatives.

An Iberia spokeswoman couldn't immediately comment on the report.

Source: Wall Street Journal 

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Spain is feeling the pinch of a drop in tourists
07 August 2009

Spain is feeling the pinch of a drop in visitors, especially from Britain, its main source of tourists, as the recession leads northern European sunseekers to take their holidays at home this year or choose cheaper beach destinations like Egypt or Turkey.

The drop in the pound to near parity with the euro has fueled the decline in the number of British tourists, who account for one-quarter of all visitors to Spain, as it has made spending a few days in the sun at Mediterranean resorts like Torremolinos, Benidorm and Ibiza more expensive.

Usually during the height of the summer tourist season the main beach at Torremolinos on Spain's Costa del Sol (Milan: SOL.MI - news) is packed with sunseekers.

But despite the clear skies and soaring temperatures, row after row of sun beds this year lie empty.

Above the beach, business at the bars, restaurants and stores selling bright red souvenir flamenco dresses and Real Madrid jerseys that line the boardwalk is slow with many outdoor patios deserted. Some shops are closed for repairs.

"This is the worst I have ever seen it. There is no one on the beach," said Pedro Hervas who has sold freshly squeezed orange juice from a stand in the shape of a large orange installed on the boardwalk for the past two decades.

Read the full article here


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Malaga pools fail safety checks
07 August 2009

AROUND half of all swimming pools in Malaga have failed to meet safety standards. In a recent investigation, 48 per cent of pools did not meet acceptable health and safety standards. Serious problems include poor quality of water, a failure to ensure the use of anti-slip surfaces around the pool and – most alarmingly – the absence of lifeguards.

The findings come as a worry to the Federation of Life Saving, with the failure to follow legal safety procedures a danger for those using swimming pools. The Federation alleges that many pools attempt to cut costs by claiming that maintenance staff are also trained lifeguards.

Poor practice and the irresponsible behaviour of lifeguards has led to the Federation receiving over 300 complaints from those worried about safety standards. Of the 3,480 registered swimming pools in Malaga province, most were exempt from inspection due to their size or being used by a single household.

Source: The Olive Press 

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EasyJet lifts July traffic
07 August 2009

Budget airline EasyJet crammed more passengers onto its planes and lifted traffic in July as demand for cheap flights held up in the recession. 

The group flew 4.66m passengers during the month, compared with 4.47m over the same month the previous year. Load factor, a measure of how full the planes were, climbed to 90.3% from 89.3%. 

The difference between how budget and standard airlines are performing in the current climate was underlined yesterday when BA and EasyJet’s no-frills rival Ryanair also posted July traffic figures. 

Ryanair, which saw its traffic rise to a monthly record of 6.7m passengers in July, said its continued growth shows that passengers are switching from high fair and fuel surcharging carriers to its low cost offering. The firms load factor was flat at 89%. 

BA’s passenger numbers fell 1.2% to 3.2m but its load factor increased 3.1 points versus last year to 84.6%. Passenger capacity, measured in Available Seat Kilometres, was 2.7% below July 2008.

Source: Sharecast 

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Spain arrests 'Eta police killer'
06 August 2009

 A suspected member of the Basque separatist group Eta has been arrested at Madrid airport after being deported from Mexico. Juan Manuel Inciarte, 55, is suspected of having killed six people - five of them policeman, the sixth the pregnant wife of one of the officers. Mr Inciarte had been living in Mexico illegally, officials said. 

Eta is blamed for more than 820 deaths during its campaign for an independent homeland in Spain's Basque region. Last week was the 50th anniversary of Eta's founding. The group was blamed for two attacks in the run-up to the anniversary. The first was a massive bomb attack on a Civil Guards barracks in Burgos, northern Spain, that destroyed some of the building, injured dozens of people, but caused no fatalities. The second was a bomb attack on a Civil Guards building on the island of Majorca, which killed two officers. There have been no arrests in connection with those attacks. 

Mr Inciarte had reportedly been identified by an anonymous informant in Mexico City. The Mexican authorities then put him on a plane to Spain, where the police were waiting. In a detailed statement, Spain's interior ministry said the suspect was wanted in connection with the murders of five police officers and a pregnant woman between 1983 and 1985. 

He was also wanted over two further attacks on police stations. All the attacks were attributed to Eta at the height of the group's campaign of violence. A warrant was issued for Mr Inciarte's arrest in 1991, though by then he was thought to be living in Nicaragua. Eta called a short-lived ceasefire in 2006, but broke it in December of that year with a fatal car bomb attack at Madrid airport.

Source: bbc news 

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Leonardo DiCaprio makes a splash in Ibiza
06 August 2009

It could almost have been a scene from his thriller The Beach as Leonardo DiCaprio waded through the sea in Ibiza. It was the ideal way to cool off for the actor, who is enjoying a sunshine break on the Spanish island with a group of friends.

With the promo work on his new film Shutter Island - which will hit screens in October - due to start after the summer, it seems the 34-year-old star is making the most of his free time and enjoying the chance to take a holiday.

Leo has been the focus of attention this week on the Mediterranean party isle, with scores of bikini-clad beauties lining up to talk to him.

He's currently single, after his recent split from Israeli model Bar Refaeli. Since the couple went their separate ways the actor has been spotted on dates with his Gangs Of New York co-star Cameron Diaz and Pussycat Doll Ashley Roberts in London.

Bar has also moved on – she's now seeing multi-millionaire Teddy Sagi. The 24-year-old beauty has been dating the gambling company founder for a few months.


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New Malaga Airport terminal ready in time for Easter
06 August 2009

THE Public Works Secretary, Concepcion Gutierrez, has announced that the new terminal at Malaga Airport will be ready for Easter next year, which falls at the end of March. Construction of the infrastructure is expected to be finished by the end of this year.

Gutierrez revealed the news during a visit to the site along with the Junta de Andalucia’s Tourism Delegate and the president of the Spanish Airports Authority (AENA), Juan Ignacio Lema. Gutierrez described the new terminal as ‘spectacular’.

“With this expansion, the airport almost trebles its capacity and places itself in line with other European airports,” she told journalists. The secretary also described Malaga Airport as the airport with the highest priority after Madrid’s Barajas Airport and Barcelona’s El Prat.

Lema explained that Malaga Airport will be ideally placed for airlines to use for key connections to and from within Europe. Ironically, this comes at a time when Delta Airlines plans to withdraw its Malaga-New York service just over a year since it started. Malaga Town Hall plans to formally request that the airline maintains its intercontinental service, presumably by offering them some form of financial incentive.

With the completion of the new terminal, the airport will be capable of handling 9,000 passengers an hour and 30 million passengers a year. Public and private connections to and from the airport will also be enhanced, including a two-way underground local train station, and future plans for a high- speed AVE connection.

The new and enlarged Malaga Airport is expected to generate up to 150,000 direct and indirect jobs. One must also remember that if the airport is successful in attracting new direct international routes, it may well open up fresh tourist markets for the Costa del Sol.

Source: Euro Weekly News 

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How tourism slump is playing out across Europe
06 August 2009

The U.N. World Tourism Organization says international tourist arrivals in the first four months of the year have dropped by 10 percent in Europe, one of the worst hit areas in the world and the destination for half of the world's travelers. A look at some numbers country by country:

FRANCE: The world's No. 1 tourist destination, which derives 6 percent of GDP from tourism, reported the number of foreign visitors dipped 4 percent in June compared with a year earlier and could fall up to 30 percent when June and July numbers are in. Officials say French demand will make up for foreign demand.

SPAIN: Spain is ranked No. 3, with tourism representing 11 percent of GDP and employing some 2 million people. Government figures released last month showed tourist arrivals in Spain for the first half are down 11.4 percent to 24 million compared to 2008.

ITALY: Italian cities are empty, its beaches and highways full, as 18.3 million Italians head on summer vacation in Italy and another 7.7 million go abroad. The Italian Tourism Ministry says the summer vacation period could see an increase of 11 percent in domestic and foreign tourists — albeit for shorter stays. Eleven percent of Italian GDP is from tourism.

GREECE: Government and industry bodies say tourism arrivals are down 10 percent in the first two months of the year compared with 2008, and the figure is expected to remain steady for the year. Islands like Rhodes, and to a lesser extent Crete, are weathering the downturn with low-cost packages.

BRITAIN: The decline in the value of the pound has been a boon to UK travel industry, while fewer Britons have been traveling overseas. According to figures from the London tourism board, visitors in the first three months of 2009 from France, Germany, Italy, Holland and the Nordic states were all up from the same period a year ago.

GERMANY: Germans are showing some hesitation in booking their holidays, favoring last-minute package tours. Berlin tourism officials say arrivals in the capital were up 1.3 percent in the January-May period, to 3 million, two-thirds of those Germans.

Read the rest of the article here 

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Brazil backs Spain's inclusion in G-20
06 August 2009

President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva offered his full support in Brasilia on Wednesday for Spain's bid to become a permanent member of the G-20 organization that comprises the world's leading developed and developing nations.

Spain's deputy prime minister, María Teresa Fernández de la Vega, thanked Lula for his support when she met with him in Brasilia at the end of her visit to the giant South American nation.

The international economy and prospects for September's G-20 summit in Pittsburgh dominated her discussions with the president, Fernández de la Vega said at a press conference.

She cited Brazil's backing for Spain's presence at last November's G-20 gathering in Washington and at the group's April meeting in London, as well as Lula's endorsement for making the Iberian nation a full-fledged member.

Read full article here


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Ladbrokes moves online ops to Gibraltar
06 August 2009

U.K. betting group Ladbrokes PLC (LAD.LN) said Thursday that it will move its online sportsbook operations to Gibraltar to cut its tax bill, two days after rival William Hill PLC (WMH.LN) announced a similar move.

Ladbrokes, the U.K.'s largest gaming company by revenue, also reported a sharp fall in first-half earnings due to customers claiming big winnings as well as costs related to its online gaming operations. It said it would cut its dividend by 31%.

Chief Executive Chris Bell said the group's online sportsbook business "faces aggressive competition from offshore operators, who hold very significant cost advantages by operating from low tax jurisdictions."

"Operating from the U.K. has become unsustainable and we will relocate by the year end," he said in a statement.

Gibraltar is already the home of pure online gaming companies such as PartyGaming PLC (PRTY.LN) and 32 Red PLC (TTR.LN), and Ladbrokes' gaming products are already based there. The company, which which operates about 2,100 betting shops in the U.K., expects to save GBP7 million-plus annually from the move, which will result in a "handful" of local jobs being lost, CEO Bell told reporters on a conference call. William Hill is expected to save GBP10 million annually after moving, according to analysts.

 Read the full article here

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Penelope Cruz reportedly pregnant
05 August 2009

Penelope Cruz is four months pregnant with her first child, according to reports. The Oscar-winning actress and her longtime partner Javier Bardem are said to be delighted about their impending parenthood.

“Penelope is about four months pregnant,” a source close to the Spanish actress told Just Jared. “She’s really healthy now and will be a great mother.”

Cruz, 35, recently told the UK’s Psychologies magazine that she’s keen to settle down and have kids.

“I want to have babies one day but not right now. When I do it I want to do it really well. I want it to be my best project in life,” she said. “I don’t know if I believe in marriage. I believe in family, love and children.”

“I have a tendency to become a mother to everyone around me,” she added. “My brother and sister are always complaining that I’m too protective.”

Of Bardem, she said, “He’s a wonderful man, a great actor.”


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Bookings up sharply on overseas holidays
05 August 2009

Monarch Flights and Holidays are reporting a rise of 32 per cent in overseas bookings since school holidays began, as compared with last year at the same time. The travel group has said that Spain’s Costa Blanca is the most popular destination abroad this summer, with sales up by 216 per cent, year-on-year. Much of the increase in bookings is attributed to the gloomy UK weather, which is not warm and sunny as the Met Office had earlier promised.

In addition to the Costa Blanca, the group has seen a major rise in bookings to other warm and sunny destinations, including Crete, with an increase of 188 per cent; Sharm el Sheikh, up by 143 per cent; Kenya, seeing a rise of 133 per cent; and Fuerteventura, up by 112 per cent. The travel company has noted a strong demand for scheduled flights as well, with 260,000 Britons departing on overseas flights at the start of the school holidays, and airlines seeing a 1.39 per cent rise in load factors for July – as compared with the same month last year.

Among the most popular flight-only holiday destinations are Malaga, on the Costa del Sol in Spain, Faro in Portugal’s Algarve and Alicante, on Spain’s Costa Blanca. The managing director of Monarch Flights and Holidays, Liz Savage, said: “We are seeing strong demand for both flights and holidays this summer, which has been assisted by the dismal weather in the UK and the bleak August forecast sending fed up Brits looking for warmer climes.”


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Easyjet strike action this August in Spain
05 August 2009

The strike will affect Easyjet hundreds of passengers travelling on August 15, 22 and 29

TWO workers syndicates that operate two airlines in Spain, Easyjet and Spanair have announced plans for strike action this August in protest against senior management in both companies. Apparently the Easyjet strike will affect flights, but not the Spanair one. The two workers unions based in Spain, the CCOO and the USO announced they call for 24-hour strike action of all Easyjet maintenance staff in Malaga, Palma de Mallorca, Alicante and Tenerife on August 15, 22 and 29.

The strike will affect 34 flights in Malaga, 20 in Alicante and 27 in Mallorca, although the effect on the Tenerife flights on these dates has not been revealed. According to the report, the flights will affect many British tourists.

Source: Euro Weekly News

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Swine flu in Spain - eighth victim dies
05 August 2009

A 35 year-old female died on Monday, as a consequence of the swine flu virus, A/H1N1. The female was the eight mortal victim of the swine flu virus in Spain, the first in Catalonia. The Ministry of Health informed of the death, citing respiratory complication related to the swine flu virus. The Lloret de Mar resident, was admitted to the Hospital Josep Trueta in Girona on August 2nd. The patient had a variety of cronic illnesses previous to becoming infected with the virus.

The first swine flu victim in Spain, was a Morroccan woman called Dalilah, which died June 30th after undergoing a emergency caesarean at the Gregorio Marañon Hospital in Madrid.

The second death came on July 9th, when a 41 year-old died in the Hospital Clinico de Gran Canaria Doctor Negrin.

The third swine flu death was a nigerian woman, aged 33, who died in the Son Llatzer de Palma de Mallorca Hospital as a result of complications experienced due to the new flu virus

The fourth victim was a 71 year-old who died in the Hospital Universitario de la Paz in Madrid,.

The fifth victim was a 45 year-old male, which died in Teulada, in the province of Alicante on July 20th.  

The sixth death caused by the swine flu virus was a 53 year old man, who was admitted to Hospital de la Riber in Alzira, Valencia.

The seventh victim, was a 34 year old male, who died on July 29th at the Hospital General de Villarrobledo in Albacete.

The Ministry of Health has informed the public, that from Autumn onwards there will be vaccines against the A/H1N1 virus for 40 per cent of the population, with preference to be given to health workers, pregnant women and those younger than 14 years-old.

Source: Spanish News


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Public works programme helps fall in Spain jobless
05 August 2009

 A huge public works programme in Spain slowed further layoffs in the beleaguered construction sector and helped unemployment claims to fall for the third straight month, the government said on Tuesday.

The number of jobless fell 20,794 in July after a 55,250 decline in June, cutting the total number of unemployment benefit claimants to 3.54 million, still the highest among much larger European economies such as Germany.

Registered jobless in the construction industry, paralysed by a punctured housing bubble, fell by 7,282, or 1.1 percent, while industry saw jobless drop by 6,911 people, or 1.4 percent.

The number of jobless in the service sector fell by 13,885 people, or 0.7 percent, as the vacation period moved in to full swing and holiday spots hired to run restaurants and hotels.

'No one can deny the seasonal effect, but it obvious too that job destruction in construction and industry is much less than it was,' said Secretary of State for Social Security Octavio Granados during a radio interview.

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Spain's La Palma island forest fire under control
05 August 2009

 A forest fire on the Canary Island of La Palma was brought under control Tuesday and another that raged for two weeks in Spain's northern Catalonia region has been extinguished, an emergency official said.

The La Palma fire, which started last Friday in the southern part of the island, destroyed some 3,000 hectares (7,400 acres) and burned some 50 houses. La Palma is one of the least developed and greenest of the seven Canary Islands off northwest Africa, and was celebrated by pop star Madonna in her song "La Isla Bonita."

"There are no prospects of the fire (on La Palma) spreading. It's now in a controlled area and all that is left to do is put it out," said island security official Jose Miguel Ruano.

La Palma is also home to some of the world's most powerful observatories, including the recently opened euro130 million ($185 million) Gran Telescopio Canarias reflecting mirror telescope atop an extinct volcano. The telescope's location above cloud cover was selected to take advantage of La Palma's normally pristine skies

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British teenager dies in mountain accident in Spain
04 August 2009

 The 17 year-old from Lincolnshire plummeted nearly 3,300 feet (1,000 metres) into a steep gorge after he slipped from a mountain path at a popular beauty spot. He was camping with a group of seven other British youngsters accompanied by several adult supervisors in the mountainous nature reserve. The group had set up camp next to a mountain refuge at the picturesque Collado Jermoso and had just finished an evening meal when the accident happened last Thursday evening. It is thought Mr Lucas tripped and fell after wandering away from his companions to photograph the sunset from a vantage point more than 6,000 feet (1820 metres) above sea level. 

His friends heard his fall and rushed to the mountain refuge to get help but he was already dead by the time a rescue team reached him. A spokesman for the Civil Guard in Leon, where the body was taken awaiting repatriation on Wednesday, said: “It was a tragic accident. The boy separated from his group and it seems he lost his footing as he admired the sun setting over the mountains.” Mountain rescue teams are frequently called to the area which is marked by high peaks, steep ravines and often narrow rocky paths. 

”Unfortunately such accidents are quite common in this area,” said the Civil Guard. “It has beautiful scenery but the terrain can be treacherous especially in bad weather which can come in very quickly even in summer.” 

A worker at the refuge, who asked not to be named, added: “Several members of the group came running to ask for help. 

”They were obviously very traumatised. 

”They were camping next to the refuge because we were full at the time. 

”As far as I know they were hillwalking in the area and had trekked from the nearest village four hours away the day of the tragedy before setting up camp. 

”They had just finished dinner when it happened and were admiring the sunset.”


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Public works scheme boosts Spanish jobs
04 August 2009

The number of registered unemployed in Spain fell for the third month running in July, largely thanks to a government public works programme designed to create jobs and the seasonal increase in employment in the tourism industry. Jobless claims fell 20,794 in July to 3.54m, but with nearly 18 per cent of the workforce unemployed, Spain still has the highest jobless rate in the European Union. Compared with July last year, unemployment was up by more than 1m, or 46 per cent. Spain’s socialist government, which is suffering in opinion polls as a result of the economic crisis, took some comfort from what it called the “good news” in the latest statistics.

“The July data confirm that the growth of unemployment continues to ease in line with what started in April, and they show the biggest fall in unemployment in any July since 2004,” said Maravillas Rojo, secretary general for employment.

However, she warned that it was too early to talk of a permanent change of direction and admitted that the number of unemployed could start to rise again, “but if it does rise we don’t expect it to do so at the same rate as it did towards the end of last year”. As in the rest of Europe, there are some early signs of possible economic recovery in Spain. Consumer confidence rose to a 17-month high last month and car sales have improved.

But much of the recovery in employment is the result of a hurriedly implemented €11bn ($16bn) public works programme – installing new street lights on suburban streets, for example – that has contributed to a rising budget deficit and is unlikely to be sustained for more than a few months. Economists predict that Spanish unemployment will rise above 20 per cent of the workforce before it starts to decline again.


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William Hill online moves to Gibraltar
04 August 2009

 William Hill PLC (LSE: WMH) (William Hill or the Group) announces that its online betting and gaming business, William Hill Online, will be moving its online betting service, Sportsbook, and online fixed-odds games from the UK to Gibraltar, the headquarters of its online operation. Thereafter, the Sportsbook and Games will be operating under a Gibraltar licence.

The transfer of the Sportsbook and fixed-odds games is part of the ongoing integration of William Hill Online. William Hill Online was created in December 2008 through the combination of William Hill’s existing interactive business with assets acquired from Playtech Limited.

Gibraltar is a leading centre for online betting and gaming companies, offering access to skilled employees, an established regulatory environment and a competitive tax regime. William Hill Online’s headquarters and core gaming operations are already based in Gibraltar. Approximately 75 employees have relocated from William Hill’s UK operations to join William Hill Online in Gibraltar.

As a result of the move, William Hill Online will benefit from cost savings already being achieved by other offshore operators, which have previously put it at a commercial disadvantage. William Hill continues to have a substantial presence in the UK and Ireland, including 2,300 licensed betting offices and around 16,000 employees. It paid almost £300m in UK taxes and levies in 2008.

Ralph Topping, Chief Executive of William Hill, commented:

“We are ambitious for William Hill Online to be a successful online betting and gaming business on the international stage. Having acquired European-focused websites, global marketing and multi-lingual customer services capabilities, this is the logical next step in our development of this business. William Hill Online has an increasingly international customer base and this move will ensure we are well positioned to compete on an international stage.”

Source: William Hill

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Spanish jobless falls 20,794 in July
04 August 2009

The number of unemployed registered at employment services fell by 20,794 in July after a 55,250 decline in June, registering its third monthly decline after 14 consecutive increases. This marks the best July since 2004.  As reported today by the Ministry of Labor, the total number of unemployed stands at 3,544,095 people.

Source: El Pais 

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Jordan jets off to Marbella with new lover
04 August 2009

Katie Price has whisked her new cage fighter lover off on holiday leaving her kids at home with estranged hubby Peter Andre. The glamour model, 31, decided to jet off to Spain with Alex Reid, 34, at the last minute and was so desperate to escape that she didn't even tell her children where she was going, claim reports. Lovers Price and Reid have now locked themselves away for three days of passion at a private villa in Puerto Banus, near Marbella.

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Port arrests in Spain
04 August 2009

Guardia Civil agents in two of Andalusia’s biggest ferry ports have stopped around 70 kilograms of cannabis from sneaking through into Spain. Four people have been arrested as a result of the operation in Algeciras and Tarifa on boats coming from Tangier. According to Military sources, 46 kilos were found on the Algeciras service. Officers managed to detect 18 kilos of cannabis in the boot while the other 28 were located in the fuel tank of a second vehicle. Meanwhile a little further up the coast 24.6 kilos were found in the boot and the battery of two further vehicles in Tarifa. As a result two Spaniards, one from Cordoba and the other from Ceuta and two Moroccans were arrested before they are scheduled to appear before the Courts.

Source: Gibraltar Chronicle 

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Three-year-old drowns on family holiday in Spain
04 August 2009

Roisin Fisher, described by her parents as a 'little princess', was found by her father Roy in the pool near the village of Competa on the Costa del Sol in Spain. Mr Fisher he told an inquest he had walked back inside the villa to wash up dishes after a barbecue. His wife Karen was on a patio with their baby son Kieran. Mr Fisher, 43, a joiner from Eccles. Salford, Greater Manchester told how he tried to revive Roisin before ambulances and a helicopter were called, but she was pronounced dead at the scene. The family, who have six other children, issued a warning to holidaying families about the dangers of swimming pools after a coroner recorded a verdict of accidental death.

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Ford to Cut 600 Jobs in Spain
04 August 2009

 Ford told unions on July 31 it plans to cut 600 jobs from its plant in eastern Spain due to weakening demand.


The company said it would go from "three to two production shifts" at the plant at Almussafes, near Valencia. It said the layoffs would be on a voluntary basis.


Ford said it was forced to make the decision by declining sales in Spain and the rest of Europe amid the economic crisis.


Spain's auto manufacturing sector is the third-biggest in Europe and accounts for just under 10% of the country's economic output and 15% of exports.

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Spain’s government pledges aid to Canaries
03 August 2009

Strong winds are continuing to fan forest fires on the Spanish Canary Island of La Palma.

About 500 firemen have spent the weekend battling to contain the blazes which began on Friday, but they have now been forced to retreat as flames raged close to two towns in the south. The main tactic left is to try and douse the fires with water from the air.

Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, who began his holiday on the island of Lanzarote, flew to La Palma to see the devastation for himself.

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Spanish federation writes to FIA over Renault ban
03 August 2009

Spain's sports federation RFEA has written to the FIA's International Court of Appeal to defend the interests of Fernando Alonso and the forthcoming European Grand Prix.

According to the Spanish news agency EFE, the letter follows Renault's suspension from the Valencia race for an incident that involved Alonso's wheel falling off in Hungary late last month.

The FIA issued the sanction after reviewing radio transmissions and video from Alonso's pit stop, declaring that the team had "knowingly" allowed the Spanish driver to rejoin the race despite a loose nut holding the right front wheel.

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Britain’s most wanted thought to be living in south Spain
03 August 2009

AT six foot five inches tall and a scar on his face he shouldn´t be that hard to spot on the Spanish costas. But British police are taking no chances and have stumped up a 25,000 euro reward to catch Britain´s Most Wanted Kevin Parle. The 29-year-old redhead, who comes from Liverpool, is likely to be living in the south of Spain, believe detectives, after fleeing from his previous hideout near Torrevieja. He is wanted for two murders, including the horrific shooting of young mother Lucy Hargreaves in Liverpool four years ago.

Her father Kenny said: “If people out there know him they should think of their own families and call the police.

“That man is a monster and should be brought back to Britain to face justice.

“What happened to my daughter was beyond belief. She was a completely innocent young mum who was devoted to her three children.”

Lucy, 22, was killed when three men burst into her home looking for her boyfriend Gary Campbell. They stumbled across her asleep on a sofa downstairs and shot her three times, then doused her body in petrol and set it alight. Mr Campbell, who was sleeping upstairs, escaped the blaze with one of the couple’s children. Parle flew to Spain, with a false passport, soon after the murder and police believe he has been here ever since. Initially, he lived in the Torrevieja area and frequented the bar Mi Sol holiday complex.

Staff there remembered him clearly as a “gentle giant”, revealing that he had not been seen for a long time. Privately-educated Parle – who also goes by the name Joseph or the nickname Hemp – is also suspected of blasting Liam Kelly, 16, in Liverpool the year before.

Source: The Olive Press 

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La Palma fires lay waste to hundreds of homes
03 August 2009

A massive forest fire in the Canary Island of La Palma was still raging on Monday morning and believed to have destroyed hundreds of homes. 

However, the local authorities on the island said that firefighters had made progress in tackling the blaze for the first time since it broke out late on Friday night, forcing 4,000 people to be removed from their homes in Mazo and Fuencaliente in the southeast of the island. 

The fire was still out of control in part of the district of Mazo — in La Sabina and Tigalate and wind has eased, helping firefighters. Elsewhere the fire is described as under control.

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Japanese man on course to be matador in Spain
03 August 2009

TORREMOLINOS, Spain — A Japanese man moved closer to achieving his goal of becoming his country's first full-fledged professional matador by taking part in his first bullfight involving mounted lancers.

Taira Nono slayed two young bulls at the bullring in the southern Spanish resort town of Torremolinos on Sunday after a picador, a bullfighter on horseback, goaded the animals with steel-pointed lances which weaken their shoulder muscles.

"I am very happy and have a real desire to succeed. I love the bullfighting world and am in Spain to become the first matador in Japanese history," the soft-spoken 35-year-old told reporters before entering the ring.

Since he moved to Spain from Tokyo 12 years ago to pursue his dream of becoming a matador, Nono has up until now only participated in simpler bullfights that did not involve picadors.

To become a matador he must undergo the "alternativa", a ceremony that separates amateurs from professionals in which a novice or "novillero" is proposed and seconded by two other matadors.

Until then he can only take part in bullfights with bulls aged at least three years old, whereas matadors face bulls aged at least four years which can weigh between 480 and 600 kilos (1,060 to 1,320 pounds).

Audiences judge bullfighters according to their skill, grace and daring and the sparse crowd of around 300 people which turned out to watch Nono's debut with mounted lancers was sympathetic to his efforts in the ring.

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Spanish July consumer confidence hits 17-mth-high
03 August 2009

MADRID, Aug 3 (Reuters) - Spanish consumer confidence rose to a 17-month high in July amid improved sentiment about the state of the economy, official data showed on Monday.

The confidence index rose to 76.1 points in July compared to 66.4 points in June, the Official Credit Institute said, much higher than a record low of 46.3 in July last year.

'While figures on the labour market remain negative, signs the deterioration is slowing, together with the government's anti-crisis measures, could explain the recovery in confidence in July,' the Institute said.

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Spanish car sales fall 10.9 pct in July
03 August 2009

MADRID, Aug 3 (Reuters) - Spanish car sales fell 10.9 percent in July compared to the same month a year ago, the country's car maker group ANFAC said on Monday.

New car sales were 108,222 units in July compared 96,706 units in June, when sales were 15.9 percent lower than a year earlier, car manufacturers' association Anfac said in a statement.

In May, Spain began offering 2,000 euro subsidies to new car buyers struggling to counter credit restrictions and soaring unemployment.

ANFAC expects the 200 million euro ($284.9 million) subsidy plan to boost 2009 sales by 100,000 units.

The programme is in addition to the government's 700-million euro Plan-Vive, which subsidises the acquisition of energy-efficient cars and replacement of old vehicles.

(Reporting by Paul Day; editing by Judy MacInnes) ($1=.7019 Euro)

Source: Reuters

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Thousands turn out on island of Mallorca in show of solidarity against ETA bombing
03 August 2009

Thousands on the Spanish island of Majorca held a rally to show their rejection at what is believed to be the latest attack by the Basque separatists, ETA. 

The deaths of two civil guards on Thursday in a car bombing appear to have united many in their anger at the violence – similar rallies have been held across the country. 

Spain’s Royal family who holiday on Mallorca attended the ceremony offering their support to the bereaved. The two officers aged 27 and 28 were buried with full honours in Palma Cathedral. 

King Juan Carlos, speaking in Madeira, added his words of support: "With the strongest rejection and condemnation we want to send our deepest condolences to their families, friends and colleagues as well as solidarity with those affected".

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ETA attacks: the farewell push?
03 August 2009

THE two bombs that left two dead and over 60 people injured this week have taken Spain by surprise.


While the Spanish government had feared some activity to mark the 50th anniversary of the formation of Basque separatist group Eusakdi ta Askatasuna (Basque Homeland and Freedom), the attacks nonetheless came as a shock.

This is largely as the regime seemed to be faltering, losing support among followers and finding it increasingly difficult to generate fear across the nation.

It was 50 years on Friday since a group of left wing radicals broke-off from the Basque Nationalist Party to establish the more militant ETA.

Born under the shadow of General Franco, the group’s original fight was to protect the region’s culture and language from the brutal encroachment of the fascist dictator.

Since then, the mission has expanded as the group has fought long and hard at securing independence for the Basque region, an area with a population of over two million people sitting between France and Spain.

The battle has left over 800 people dead.

Read the rest of the article at The olive Press

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