News from Andalucia & Costa del Sol
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No Gibraltar visit on Royal tour
Charles and Camilla to visit Portugal, Spain and Morocco
By David Eade
THE SPANISH magazine Tiempo first broke the news that Prince Charles and his wife Camilla would be coming to Spain at the end of this month. It went on to state that a row was brewing over the possible inclusion of a visit to Gibraltar. However, on Monday Buckingham Palace issued an official statement on the three-country tour and it is clear Gibraltar is not on the itinerary.
In a statement in the name of the Queen the Palace said: "The British government has asked the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall to undertake official visits to Portugal, Spain and Morocco from 28th March to 6th April 2011."
"The themes of the tour will include highlighting commercial diplomacy (including trade and investment promotion), cooperation on climate change and building a low-carbon economy, faith and minority communities and youth opportunities, the military and cultural links.
"The tour will begin in Lisbon, Portugal, where among other engagements the Prince and the Duchess will celebrate long-standing cooperation between the Portuguese and British navies, support British trade and investment opportunities and highlight the work of the substantial resident British community. The president of Portugal will host an official dinner.
In Spain, the Prince and the Duchess will be received in Madrid by the Prince and Princess of Asturias, attend an official dinner at the Royal Palace and have lunch with Their Majesties the King and Queen of Spain. Again, trade and investment promotion will be to the fore to support the UK economy. Their Royal Highnesses will meet and thank the volunteers who support the large British population in Spain and will also visit Seville, where the Royal Couple will undertake a number of engagements throughout the city.
Court orders re-opening of Torremolinos shelter
Parque Animal filed an appeal against the town hall's closure order and fine
By Oliver McIntyre
A MÁLAGA court last week ordered the re-opening of the Parque Animal shelter in Torremolinos, which the town hall shut down after the centre's director was arrested in November on charges of animal abuse surrounding irregularities in the facility' process of euthanising animals.
The court ruling came after Parque Animal, which has denied any irregularities at the shelter, filed an appeal against the closure order and 15,000-euro fine imposed by the town hall.
The town hall initially ordered the six-month closure in late November, based on a Guardia Civil report that alleged unsafe sanitary and health conditions at the shelter. However, the order was not executed until February, after the town hall rejected two appeals filed by the shelter.
Upon receiving official notification of the court decision last week, the town's mayor, Pedro Fernández Montes, on Friday issued an edict suspending the closure order against the shelter.
Residents rescued from flood in Alhaurín
Mayor says homes are illegal and the decision of residents to continue living in the zone despite the evident danger is "seriously irresponsible."
By Oliver McIntyre
NINE people were rescued after flooding trapped them in their homes in the Santa Amalia zone of Alhaurín de la Torre on Saturday morning.
An elderly foreign-resident couple was airlifted from their home by helicopter while another family of seven, including three children, were rescued by Zodiac boat as firefighters, police, Guardia Civil and other rescuers responded to a call that came into the 112 emergency line shortly after 6am.
Two horses trapped by the floodwaters were also rescued, and one pony died.
An overnight downpour, along with the release of water from the Guadalhorce reservoirs, caused the Río Guadalhorce to burst its banks in zone, the same area that was affected by serious flooding in February of last year
Alhaurín de la Torre's mayor, Joaquín Villanova, says the homes in the zone were built illegally on a flood plain and the town hall has sanction proceedings open against 12 houses there. He said the decision of residents to continue living in the zone despite the evident flood danger is "seriously irresponsible." Nonetheless, the town hall has offered temporary emergency housing to the families whose homes were left uninhabitable by the flooding, he said.
Expats to teach English to ProtecciÓn Civil force
Scheme aimed at improving emergency services for foreign residents and tourists
By Oliver McIntyre
A GROUP of British expats in Benalmádena is set to teach English to the local Protección Civil force to improve its ability to respond to emergencies involving foreign residents or tourists.
The scheme is an offshoot from the popular conversational English courses the expat volunteers offered to Spanish residents of the town last summer in a programme coordinated by the local Foreigners' Department. The Protección Civil classes will focus on medical and anatomical terminology, along with some basic conversational English.
AIR STRIKES OFF
Agreement reached yesterday to be ratified by workers on Tuesday
By Dave Jamieson
MILLIONS of Easter travellers and the Spanish tourism industry breathed a sigh of relief yesterday morning after officials announced a deal to head off the threatened airport workers' strike. However, in another potential blow to Easter tourism, cabin crews on Spain's high-speed AVE trains have now set six strike dates.
Tough negotiations between airports operator Aena and union leaders continued well into Tuesday night but paid off with an agreement that is expected to be ratified by workers on Tuesday, putting an end to the strike actions that were planned for Semana Santa and other dates over the coming months.
The Aena unions had earlier announced 22 days on which maintenance workers and baggage handlers would stop work at all Spanish airports. They fell on critically important dates for Spanish tourism, beginning with the Wednesday and Thursday of Holy Week. The dispute centred on the unions' claims that the government had reneged on its agreement to privatise only 49 per cent of Spanish airports and now plans 100 per cent privatisation.
Fire brings Brit a 10€ million fine
The blaze started after the man lit a fire to attract rescuers when he got lost
By Dave Jamieson
A GRANADA court has fined a 65-year-old British man for over 10 million euros and imposed a prison sentence after he started a countryside fire which took eight days to extinguish. The blaze covered over 3,000 hectares of farm land, two-thirds of which was in the Sierra Nevada national park.
The court heard that the man, accompanied by a French woman, got lost when they were in the area on holiday in 2005. They left their holiday accommodation about midday to walk to Lanjáron but, as it became dark at 7pm, they had to call the emergency services for help. They then decided to light a small fire to help their rescuers find them but this quickly got out of control and the couple made a second emergency call to say they were unable to extinguish it. They were eventually found at 10.30 the same night. Over 270 people were involved in extinguishing the blaze which affected five municipalities in Granada.
Expats who speak Spanish can ward off dementia longer
Learning languages is powerful mental exercise and builds up brain power
By Samantha Kett
USING Spanish in everyday situations and sticking to regular classes can help prevent or delay the onset of Alzheimer's disease, say doctors.
Learning a foreign language could put back the first signs of dementia by at least five years, recent research has shown.
Expatriates in Spain are at a particular advantage, since those who regularly use the language they have learnt are even more likely to fight off Alzheimer's than those who have merely studied one and let it lay dormant.
Whilst crosswords, sudokus and other 'thinking' puzzles have long been lauded as a tool for fighting off memory loss and confusion in old age, experts believe that those who speak two or more languages have even more chance of retaining their mental faculties.
They say learning a language is a more powerful type of mental exercise, and builds up a bank of 'spare' brainpower which helps the mind to keep working for longer and more effectively, slowing down the debilitating effects of Alzheimer's.
Medics behind the research, which took place at York University in Toronto, Canada, say this is rather like keeping a spare battery for your mobile phone or an emergency tank of petrol in your car.
"It means your brain can keep going for longer because there is more in the safety tank," they say.
The part of the brain that controls memory, decision-making, reasoning and expressing oneself in words is made stronger, more flexible and more resistant to damage by learning and using a foreign language.
Doctors claim the sooner a person starts to learn a language, the more beneficial it is for slowing down the process of dementia and age-related confusion.
Researchers found that the average Alzheimer's sufferer began to see the early symptoms of their condition in their mid-70s, or younger, where they only spoke one language.
But those who spoke two or more languages - or were actively learning one - tended to be in their 80s before they were diagnosed with dementia.
Additionally, the process of the mind breaking down - including loss of short-term memory - took hold much more rapidly in monolingual patients.
However, they warn that learning a language will not actually prevent Alzheimer's - it will simply slow down the associated mental deterioration and stop the condition from manifesting itself for much longer.
Activists seek to change law so foreclosure clears debt
Groups are collecting 500,000 signatures to force a motion into Congress
By Oliver McIntyre
CONSUMER groups, unions and associations of affected homeowners plan to go to Congress in an effort to change the law so that mortgage holders whose homes are foreclosed on will have their entire debt cancelled.
Under the slogan ‘Don't let them mortgage your life', the groups are set to launch a nine-month campaign to gather the 500,000 signatures necessary to force Congress to vote on the proposal.
Among those spearheading the effort is the banking consumer group Adicae, whose president Manuel Pardos says Spain's legislation regulating mortgage loans is 150 years old and has not been "adequately" modernised.
Under Spanish law, when a home is foreclosed on and its current value is less than the outstanding loan amount - a situation that has become more common with the property downturn - the owner can be forced to pay off the difference.
Adicae says this situation is causing "enormous social alarm" as the economic crisis sparks a surge in foreclosures, with more than 100,000 last year alone.
The issue was thrust into the public eye recently when a Navarra court ruled in favour of a foreclosed homeowner, saying the bank had to forgive the entire outstanding loan amount once it repossessed the home. However, weeks later a different section of the same Navarra court ruled just the opposite in similar case, saying that Spanish law clearly allows the bank to demand payment of any loan amount not covered by the current value of the home.
An association of progressive judges, Jueces por la Democracia, and the Spanish Federation of Municipalities and Provinces have expressed support for the campaign to change the law. However, the economy minister, Elena Salgado, has cautioned that any abrupt change to the established conditions of mortgage loans would be damaging to the financial sector and could impact the concession of loans in the future.
Congress has recently rejected motions put forward by minority political parties proposing to change mortgage law.
Bodyguard injured in attack on Mourinho
Police have identified possible suspect on airport security camera
By Dave Jamieson
A BODYGUARD was injured during an attempted attack on Real Madrid's manager Jose Mourinho, it was revealed last Friday. The incident took place a week earlier as the team arrived at A Coruña airport.
A large number of Madrid fans had gathered to welcome the squad and Mourinho was signing autographs when one of the guards on security duty close to him felt what he described as a punch. It was not until he saw blood pouring from under his arm that he realised that he had been injured and discovered a four-centimetre wound. He was treated by the club's medical staff while Mourinho and the rest of the team were rushed away on the team coach.