News from Andalucia & Costa del Sol
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Week 12th October - 18th October 2006
ANIMAL PLIGHTFunding crunch puts Nerja shelter in critical need of assistance
By Dave Jamieson
A NERJA CHARITY WHICH CARES FOR ABANDONED ANIMALS IS FACING A FINANCIAL CRISIS THAT THREATENS ITS ABILITY TO MAINTAIN THE CURRENT LEVEL OF AID.
The Costa Animal Society (CAS) says that the scale of its operation will have to be scaled down unless it can quickly find extra funding.
CAS was founded in 1986 as a registered charity with the sole purpose of helping abandoned and mistreated animals and has since re-homed hundreds of dogs and cats in the Nerja, Frigiliana, Torrox and Cómpeta areas. In recent years, 500 cats have been neutered, and every day 150 cats and kittens that would otherwise go hungry are fed at eight approved feeding stations in Maro, Nerja and Torrox.
At any one time, CAS has 25 rescued dogs in its care and the number of animals rescued from deplorably cruel conditions is increasing all the time. But now, because of a lack of resources, CAS is unable to take in puppies.
Since Nerja's Sunday car boot sale was moved from the town centre to a new site at Almijara, takings from CAS's stall at the market have dropped by 1,000 euros a week. That's a critical amount, says the group's treasurer, Richard Thorne, because the organisation's costs run at 7,000 euros per month, including 4,500 euros for temporary animal accommodation and 1,000 euros in veterinary fees. The charity was also hit badly by the long, hot summer, when high temperatures reduced turnout for the excursions and day trips organised by CAS to raise money; several outings were half empty and some were cancelled.
APPEAL FOR HELP
Now the group is appealing for help from the public, both in cash and in kind. Financial support is essential and more volunteers are needed to help with fundraising. CAS's president, Wendy Thorne, said: "Our policy is to cease animal suffering in the region, but we desperately need help. There are people out there in their 50s and early 60s who took early retirement and whose wide range of skills and experience would be invaluable. Please come forward so we can continue to help even more abandoned animals."All work undertaken by CAS members is voluntary and the organisation receives no financial aid from local government. Wendy and Richard Thorne can be contacted on 95 203 70 95, or through the CAS office near the Monica Hotel in Nerja on 95 252 36 07.
Tony King scheduled for trial'Holloway Strangler' faces 26 years for Rocío Wanninkhof murder
By Oliver McIntyre
THE TRIAL OF BRITON TONY ALEXANDER KING FOR THE 1999 MURDER OF 19-YEAR-OLD ROCÍO WANNINKHOF IN MIJAS HAS BEEN SCHEDULED FOR NOVEMBER 20 AT THE MÁLAGA PROVINCIAL COURT.
The jury trial is scheduled to last 10 days but could last longer if necessary, according to the judge in the case. King faces a 26-year prison sentence on charges of murder and attempted rape. He is currently serving a 36-year sentence for the 2003 murder of Coín teenager Sonia Carabantes, plus a seven-year sentence for an attempted rape in Benalmádena.
The judge in charge of the Wanninkhof case, José María Muñoz Caparrós, is the same judge that presided over King's trial for the Coín murder. King's lawyers unsuccessfully appealed to have the judge removed from the Wanninkhof trial, arguing that his prior conviction of King for a similar crime could make him biased. In its rejection of the request, the provincial court noted that the judge will not directly rule on King's culpability in the Wanninkhof case because it is being tried by jury.
The announcement of the trial date comes seven years after Rocío Wanninkhof disappeared on October 9, 1999. Her body was discovered several weeks later.
In September 2000 police arrested Dolores Vázquez, an ex-girlfriend of the victim's mother. She was convicted in a jury trial in September 2001 and sentenced to 15 years in prison. In February 2002, the Andalucía Supreme Court overturned the trial on technical grounds and called for a retrial. Sra Vázquez was released from prison and it was while she awaited the retrial that Tony Alexander King was arrested for the murder of Sonia Carabantes in Coín and his DNA was connected to both the Coín and Mijas murder scenes. All charges against Sra Vázquez were subsequently dropped.Tony King was previously known as Tony Bromwich before legally changing his surname, and was also dubbed the 'Holloway Strangler' in the UK when he was convicted in 1986 for a series of sexual assaults on young women in north London in which he choked his victims unconscious.
Telephone contract scam uncovered
By Suzan Davenport
The Guardia Civil accused 115 people on Monday of allegedly forging signatures and cheating consumers into changing telephone companies in order to increase their commission-based earnings. All those implicated worked for a business that sold telephone products for an important telecommunications company.
The investigation, which was launched in October 2005, was sparked by a spate of complaints to Spanish consumers' organisations, after those affected found they were being charged for telephone services they hadn't contracted.
It was after one such complaint to the police courts in Barcelona that the telecommunications company involved brought a law suit against the business implicated, giving the court access to 851 pre-assigned telephone contracts, taken out between 2003 and 2004 that it suspected could be part of the fraud.
So far 352 of the 851 contracts analysed by the Guardia Civil have been found to be irregular - 166 of them have forged signatures while 186 were signed by victims under false pretences.
Many of those targeted were pensioners who were asked for details of their current phone bills in order to use the personal data to change telephone companies. In many cases the fraudsters lied to convince victims or, failing that, allegedly forged their signatures.According to the Guardia Civil, the employees accused of the scam acted of their own accord in order to increase their salaries, which were based on the number of contracts they obtained.
Man arrested for causing Ojén fireWeekend blaze burned nearly 170 hectares and damaged homes
By David Eade
HUMAN NEGLIGENCE HAS BEEN BLAMED FOR A WEEKEND FIRE THAT TOTALLY DESTROYED 168 HECTARES OF SCRUBLAND AND PINE FOREST IN OJÉN AND PARTS OF MONDA.
The police acted swiftly to arrest a 50-year-old man from Marbella who allegedly caused the blaze, which started at around 14.00 Saturday at Puerto Ojén and was not fully extinguished until 10.00 Sunday morning.
Investigators from the Infoca fire team identified the starting point of the fire in a patch of vegetation that showed signs of having been cut with a machine. They believe the blaze was caused by a spark from the machine the arrested man was using to clear the area. The accused denies the charges but police say that he was working in the area alone and had taken no security measures. It is not yet known whether he had permission to carry out the work. He is also alleged to have abandoned the scene and failed to call for help when the fire started.
According to the Junta de Andalucía's environment representative in the province, Ignacio Trillo, the fire not only caused severe harm to the mountain zone but also damaged some rural homes and caused injuries to two members of the fire crew, who were taken to the Costa del Sol Hospital for treatment.
The town councillor for the environment in Ojén, Juan Antonio Sánchez, who surveyed the blaze damage, stated that the area was of important ecological value and that important reforestation work had been carried out there. At the time of the fire, Ojén was celebrating the feast in honour of its patron saint but the scene viewed by local people on Sunday was one of desolation.Some 200 people were involved in fighting the inferno with the aid of seven fire engines and 14 aircraft. Sr Trillo stated that the Infoca team and local fire brigades had managed to prevent the blaze spreading to the Monda cork oak forests and the Sierra Blanca thanks in part to the main road, which acted as a fire break.
Gibraltar to introduce biometric passports
By David Eade
Gibraltar is shortly to introduce the biometric passport that is now standard for newly issued passports in the UK. The new travel document will also comply with the requirements of the EU and the International Civil Aviation Organisation, as well as with the current United States Visa Waiver Programme, allowing visa-free travel to that country.
The new passport will be identical to the biometric passport now being issued by the UK. The only difference is that it retains the current markings, which identify Gibraltar as the issuing authority.
A Gibraltar government spokesperson stated: "The passport section of the Civil Status and Registration Office has endeavoured to change over from the previous passport issuing system to the new biometric issuing system with the minimum inconvenience to the public. This has now been achieved and all British passports issued in Gibraltar will, as from next week, be in the biometric format."Old-style British passports will be valid until their expiry dates. Also, British citizens who currently hold Gibraltar-issued machine-readable passports with a digital photo image are eligible for the US Visa Waiver Programme.
Nerja projects go ahead
By Dave Jamieson
Nerja is preparing to spend more than 4.2 million euros on two environmental projects. Twenty-two businesses have expressed interest in the contract to perform work on the Chillar River, the first phase of which will involve earth moving and the creation of a breakwater. A quarter of the cost of 2.76 million euros is being met by the town hall, with the Junta de Andalucía funding the remainder. Sr Armijo said he hoped that work would begin in early November on a one-kilometre stretch between the N-340 bridge and the mouth of the river.
The second project is a greenbelt which the town hall intends to create on 37,000 square metres of land between the municipal sports ground and Burriana beach, in the area which was once home to a nine-hole golf course. The course was designed by two experts - Ryder Cup players Peter Alliss and Dave Thomas. It opened in the 1980s and was playable for just four or five years before the business partnership between the club's promoter and owner began to collapse. Now, a botanical garden and walkways are to be created on the site, along with a seven-a-side football pitch, skating rink and other sports facilities. An open-air six-lane bowling alley is also under consideration. The budget for the project is estimated at almost 1.6 million euros.
Slow fire response in Alhaurín spark investigation
By Oliver McIntyre
ALHAURÍN DE LA TORRE TOWN HALL HAS OPENED AN INVESTIGATION INTO THE ALLEGEDLY SLOW RESPONSE OF FIREFIGHTERS TO A BLAZE IN VIÑAGRANDE LAST WEEK THAT SCORCHED FIVE CARS, TWO MOTORCYCLES AND PART OF A HOME.
Residents told officials that they had to put out the fire themselves using extinguishers and garden hoses. "Thanks to the rapid action of the residents, the damage wasn't greater," said the town hall in a statement.
Residents called the 112 emergency line operated by the regional government when they heard an explosion at 02.30 on Tuesday morning and came out to see the cars ablaze. Alhaurín's fire department operates only during the day, so the call was dispatched to the department in Coín. The town hall says Alhaurín's local police were also notified and arrived at the scene "immediately." Municipal officials say they have requested incident reports from the local police and the 112 emergency service in order to assess how the call was coordinated and what caused the delayed arrival of the firefighters.
NEW STATION APPROVED BUT NO FUNDS AVAILABLE YET
The town hall says it has been trying for several years establish a full-time fire department in the town. It has reached an agreement with the provincial and regional governments for the creation of a station, but the necessary regional-government funding has not yet been made available, say officials. The site earmarked for the fire station is in Viñagrande. The cause of last week's fire is under investigation but initial theories point to vandalism.
Vélez tram takes to the tracks
By Dave Jamieson
VÉLEZ-MÁLAGA'S NEW LIGHT TRANSPORT SYSTEM, THE FIRST OF ITS KIND IN ANDALUCÍA, WAS DUE TO GO INTO SERVICE YESTERDAY.
The 'tranvía', which provides a unique link between Vélez and Torre del Mar, is operating free of charge until next week when a flat rate fare of one euro will be charged. The 4.6 kilometres of tracks run from the Parque Jurado Lorca in Vélez to the San Andrés de Torre Church in Torre del Mar with seven intermediary stops. The journey time is 17 minutes, about half the time taken by the existing bus service which links the two town centres. A second phase, now under construction and likely to open in May, will extend the service a further 1.3 kilometres from the present Vélez terminal to the old railway station, while a project is now being developed to continue the tramline west from Torre del Mar. If the proposals go ahead, it would travel as far as Rincón de la Victoria terminating at a common interchange with Line 3 of Málaga's future metro system.
There are presently two tram units running between Vélez and Torre del Mar, with a third unit having been delivered last week. Each is about 31 metres long and can travel at up to 70 kilometres per hour, although in urban areas, the maximum operating speed will be 50 kilometres per hour. Each unit can carry 54 seated passengers and 148 standing. The system is monitored from a control centre at the El Ingenio commercial centre where operators can monitor pictures from 28 cameras along the route. Messages to passengers about arrival times are displayed on information boards at each stop.The one euro fare will remain in place until a range of season tickets becomes available to passengers, after which it will increase to 1.30 euros. These will include a month's unlimited travel for 30 euros, ten journeys for ten euros or eight euros for young people, and a special 65 cents ticket for pensioners.
Coín opposes Río Grande dam
NEWS Staff Reporter
Residents and officials in Coín have expressed opposition to an Environment Ministry plan to dam the Río Grande in order to store water for transfer to Málaga city. The reservoir is to be located in Cerro Blanco, near the border between Coín and Guaro.
Coín's mayor, Gabriel Clavijo, complained last week that the plan calls for the water to be pumped to Málaga with complete disregard for the towns in the Guadalhorce Valley. "The Guadalhorce cannot serve as Málaga's drinking glass," he said. Concerned residents and environmentalists have formed a group, the Río Grande Defence Committee, to fight against the planned dam. A spokesman for the group says the 38-kilometre pipeline needed to carry the water to Málaga would affect some 500 landowners.
The group also highlights the importance of the Río Grande as a bird habitat, citing a rich diversity of birdlife, including protected species like the black stork. The river represents "an extremely important ecological corridor from the Sierra de las Nieves to the Guadalhorce River," says the group. Mayor Clavijo said last week that the Environment Ministry had informed him that the project, budgeted at 54 million euros, is already being put out to tender. He is working with representatives from all the political parties on the town council in order to determine an official stance and course of action, he said. Members of the Río Grande Defence Committee have threatened to stage protests if the ministry moves forward with the plan.
Parents brush off free dental care for kids
Health officials fighting uphill battle to promote preventive care
By Oliver McIntyre
ONLY 30 PER CENT OF CHILDREN IN MÁLAGA PROVINCE TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE FREE ANNUAL DENTAL CHECK-UPS OFFERED BY THE ANDALUCÍA HEALTH SERVICE (SAS).
As part of a programme launched four years ago, kids aged six to 13 are eligible for the free service which includes cavity repairs, tooth extractions, oral surgeries and the replacement of permanent teeth lost or damaged in accidents. It does not include orthodontic correctional devices such as braces.
This year 105,000 children in the province are eligible for the programme, but so far only 21,000 have been brought in by their parents for a dental exam, according to officials. Last year a total of 19,067 children had the exams.
Despite efforts by health officials to promote preventive care, parents are still in the habit of seeking a dentist only when their children have a problem, according to Alejandro Garnés, head of SAS’s Health Planning Department in Málaga. “This is a highly preventive programme,” he said, explaining that it is aimed at ensuring that children start out with healthy teeth and maintain routine care to avoid problems later on.
In an effort to increase participation, health officials have launched a dental-care promotional campaign aimed directly at children. A special puppet-show bus is currently touring schools in Málaga city and a variety of towns across the province. It will make 28 stops in all, delivering its dental-care message to 2,600 children, say officials.Parents with children eligible to receive the free dental exams are sent a voucher each January. It can be used at their health centre or at a selection of approved private dentists. Those who have not received the voucher in the mail by February should request one at their health centre, which will provide it within 15 days, say officials.
Around 6,000 youths take cocaine daily
By David Eade
SPAIN’S MINISTER FOR HEALTH, ELENA SALGADO, HAS REVEALED THAT AROUND 5,900 ADOLESCENTS AGED BETWEEN 14 AND 18 YEARS INHALE COCAINE EVERY DAY.
In addition some 29,000 use cannabis also on a daily basis. The minister said there has been a steady increase in the use of drugs since 1995 but especially among this young age group.
The consumption of cannabis has increased by 50 per cent between 1995 and 2003 amongst those aged from 15 to 64 years. Over the same period there had been a quadrupling of cocaine use. The use of cocaine among young people is very alarming with 164,000 said to have used it in the last 12 months which is 7.2 per cent compared with 1.8 per cent in 1994. Around 36,000 say they have used the drug in the past month and 5,900 admit to its use on a daily basis.
Cannabis remains the most widely used drug in Spain with 830,000 adolescents saying they have smoked it in the last 12 months. That puts the percentage level at 36.6 per cent compared with just 18.2 in 1994. In the last month 570,000 say they have used cannabis whilst 29,000 say they use it on a daily basis.Salgado stated that the government was seeking a solution to the problem of drug use especially amongst minors. However she seemed to rule out bringing in legislation similar to that regulating underage drinking. The minister stated that trafficking and distribution of drugs were already a crime and public consumption was also an offence. A prevention campaign is the more likely route specially aimed at their widespread use close to educational and leisure centres.
Wilson and Hancock star in Málaga Jazz Festival
By Dave Jamieson
Málaga’s 21st Jazz Festival will open next month with a concert by Grammy award-winning singer Cassandra Wilson. Announcing this year’s programme, the event’s coordinator, Javier Domínguez, described Wilson as “an extraordinary woman and an example of vocal and physical sensuality.” The 50-year-old singer from Jackson, Mississippi, has two chart-topping jazz albums to her credit. She will perform at Málaga’s Teatro Cervantes on the Festival’s opening night, November 6.
The following evening, a veritable jazz icon visits the city. Now 66, Herbie Hancock is regarded as an important and influential musician and composer who has embraced elements of rock, funk, and soul mixed with freer stylistic elements from jazz. His concert in Málaga will feature the legendary pianist as part of a trio, with drums and guitar supporting.
Wednesday, November 8, features three concerts, beginning at 20.30 and lasting an hour each. First up is saxophonist Kike Perdomo and his quartet, which includes Málaga bassist Francis Posé. They will be followed by the Málaga Jazz Groove and finally the Brain Storming Jazz Quartet, who won great acclaim at the recent Marbella Jazz Festival.
Martirio, known as much for her huge sunglasses as her flamenco-based jazz rhythms, performs on Friday, November 10, accompanied by the Kenny Drew Trio, while Saturday November 11 sees the return of jazz pianist Kenny Barron and his trio.
The band Oregon, whose members have worked together since the 1970s and who blend Indian and Western classical music with jazz, appear on Tuesday November 14. The final concert of the festival, on Wednesday November 15, features Willy DeVille. DeVille had a huge 1978 hit with “Spanish Stroll” and his music mixes Latin rhythms and blues riffs with a country influence.All the concerts take place at Málaga’s Teatro Cervantes, with ticket prices ranging from seven to 26 euros.
Minister gives Cádiz bridge reassurances
By David Eade
THE MINISTER FOR PUBLIC WORKS, MAGDALENA ÁLVAREZ, VISITED CÁDIZ RECENTLY TO REASSURE THE PUBLIC THAT THE SECOND BRIDGE ACROSS THE BAY WILL BE COMPLETED AND THAT THE SCHEME WILL NOT RUN OUT OF MONEY.
She insisted that she personally will lay the first stone in April next year, and in her 30- minute speech in the Ateneo she made several references which were considered by many to be attacks on the local council and its mayor, Teófila Mártinez, although she did not name her.
Last week the mayor was quick to criticise the government’s decision to allocate only 3.7 million euros to the bridge project next year, something she described as “an insult to the people of Cádiz”, but Magdalena Álvarez dismissed her comments by insisting that the money was the amount which would be needed for the project during the first year of the works, when the costs are not as high as later on.The war of words continued on Tuesday, however, when Teófila Mártinez claimed that nobody in their right mind would have decided on such a small amount of money for the first year of the project. She also suggested that the minister’s intention was to come to Cádiz to lay the first stone of the bridge and then lose interest for the rest of the year. Both the mayor and the provincial president of the Partido Popular in Cádiz told the press that the socialists had not wanted a second bridge to be built across the Bay, and that the project would not exist if it were not for the efforts of the Partido Popular.
Spain and US reach agreement on nuclear cleanup
NEWS Staff Reporter
Spain and the USA have reached an agreement to clean up the radioactive fallout at the Almeria fishing village of Palomares. The clean up accord was reached last month after a meeting between the US Department of Energy and Spain’s centre for energy and environmental investigation (CIEMAT).
Palomares was contaminated 40 year’s ago on January 17, 1966 when a B-52 bomber carrying hydrogen bombs collided with a flying tanker while refuelling over the area. The aircraft released all four of the bombs it was carrying in the explosion that accompanied the collision.
Of the four bombs one landed intact and another crashed in to the Mediterranean and was later recovered by the US military. The concern is over the other two bombs which detonated on impact spreading radioactive material over a wide area of the countryside.In 2001 CIEMAT did detect higher than average levels of plutonium, uranium and americium over ten hectares of land in Palomares.
CIEMAT’s director general, Juan Antonio Rubio, stated: “Not even the Americans know what is there. There could be nothing, but there could be a problem and if there is, it will be solved.”
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