News from Andalucia & Costa del Sol
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Málaga hosts Spain's Armed Forces Day celebration
Thousands turn out for spectacular air show and other military events
By Dave Jamiesown
TENS of thousands of people in Málaga were entertained by displays by the Spanish army, navy and air force last weekend as the city hosted the country's annual celebration of Armed Forces Day. On Sunday, King Juan Carlos led the formal events to honour the flag and the fallen.
Málaga town hall estimated that over 60,000 people gathered around La Malagueta beach on Saturday to watch the enactment of a simulation in which a number of UN observers were rescued after being taken hostage by an armed gang. The aircraft carrier Prince of the Asturias was anchored in the bay along with a number of other vessels, as amphibious landing craft came out of the water, filled with armed troops.
The scene was preceded and followed by aerial displays including one by the Águilla patrol, whose seven aircraft left trails of red and yellow smoke to create a huge Spanish flag hanging in the sky over the city.
Junta launches expropriations in Cártama and Alhaurín
Land to be used for sewage network to prevent contamination of Guadalhorce river
By Oliver McIntyre
THE JUNTA de Andalucía will next week launch the process of expropriating land necessary for the sewage treatment network the will serve Alhaurín el Grande and Cártama. The expropriations will affect around 400 properties.
While the formal process will get underway next week - with owners of affected properties in Cártama scheduled to meet with Junta representatives between June 6 and 14, and owners in Alhaurín to do so from June 15 to 24 - the move has been a long time coming.
The work to install the sewage network, which will carry wastewater from the two towns to a treatment plant in Málaga, was contracted out in January 2007 but has yet to get underway following a series of delays. One of the hold-ups was related directly to the expropriations; after the first stages of the process began, Junta technicians discovered a number of errors in the properties that had been identified, due to "differences between the maps and the geographic reality of the terrain."
Some 70 properties that were originally to be affected were removed from the list while around 70 others were added.
The installation of the sewage system to serve Alhaurín and Cártama is part of a wider scheme for sewage treatment in the Guadalhorce valley, where a number of towns still pump sewage into the Guadalhorce river system. The plan also includes the construction of a treatment plant to serve Álora and Pizarra, along with a sewage network to connect the two towns to the plant. The work on that project was also contracted out in 2007 but has yet to get underway, though the land expropriations have been carried out.
22 Costa beaches score Blue Flags
Málaga retakes its position as top blue-flag province in Andalucía
By Oliver McIntyre
TWENTY-TWO beaches in Málaga province will fly the quality-conferring Blue Flag this summer, one more than last year. The province retakes its spot at first-place in Andalucía for number of Blue Flag beaches, an honour it lost last year to Cádiz, which this summer has 20, down from 24 last year.
The Blue Flags, awarded by the Foundation for Environment Education (FEE), were announced last week by its Spanish affiliate, Adeac.
The biggest boost this year came in Benalmádena, which scored four flags, compared to just one last year. It retains the flag at Carvajal beach and adds new ones at Fuente de la Salud, Malapesquera-Santa Ana and Torrevigia.
The biggest loser was Fuengirola, which dropped from seven flags last year to three this year - at Santa Amalia, San Francisco and Los Boliches-Las Gaviotas.
Spain's produce sector crushed as cucumbers wrongfully blamed for Germany's deadly E. coli outbreak
By Dave Jamieson
ANDALUCÍA'S farmers and growers have been counting the multimillion-euro cost of a ban on fresh Spanish produce imposed by a number of countries after Germany falsely accused cucumbers from Spain as the cause of a deadly E. coli outbreak.
The regional and national governments have expressed barely-concealed ire towards Germany, which wrongly claimed Spanish produce was the source of an epidemic which has taken at least 16 lives.
Last Thursday, health authorities in Hamburg blamed cucumbers from Andalucía sold at the city's market as the possible source of the outbreak. As well as the fatalities, the bacterium has been responsible for hospitalising several hundred people in the country, as well a number who had travelled from Germany to other countries, including Spain, in recent days. The German authorities named two suppliers in Málaga and Almería as the source of the suspect cucumbers.
The announcement sparked a major health alert and by the start of this week, Austria, the Czech Republic, Russia, Belgium and France had joined Germany in refusing all fresh produce from Spain. As the crisis grew, the director general of the Spanish Federation of Fruit and Vegetable Exporters, José María Pozancos, said losses could run as high as 200 million euros per week. He insisted that Spain complies with all the health and safety regulations and that the German government should compensate Spanish farmers for the damage to their reputation and credibility. The Málaga firm involved, Frunet Bio of Algarrobo, said on Monday that its produce was healthy and claimed that the batch being blamed by Germany had been delivered after the first E. coli patients were diagnosed.
On Tuesday Germany backtracked, saying that tests on the suspect cucumbers showed that they were not the cause of the outbreak. In Madrid, the secretary of state for the environment, Josep Puxeu, said Spain had filed a formal complaint with Germany and the EU over the handling of the case. Andalucía's agriculture commissioner, Rosa Aguilera, said the Junta is "indignant" about Germany's "irresponsibility" in linking the infection to vegetables from the region, and triggering a major health alert which directly affected Andalucía's fruit and vegetable production.
Shelter pleas for help after major flood damage
Eleven dogs drowned as ACE is swept away
By David Eade
The ACE animal shelter in La Cala de Mijas has issued a plea for help as it struggles to recover from flooding that heavily damaged its facilities and killed nearly a dozen of its dogs.
For over 11 years ACE has been rescuing and caring for abandoned animals on the Costa del Sol. Two weeks ago, when the massive storms hit Estepona, they also washed way the ACE refuge in La Cala de Mijas, drowning dogs in the deep mud and water. The facility's entrance was destroyed along with the walkways and the kennels.
When the storm struck without warning there were two people at the refuge. Tutu Lahiri told the Costa del Sol News: "They managed to call and get a few friends and family members over to help. They dug out the dogs and worked four nights and days till late and are now struggling to keep the refuge together."
Tragically 11 dogs drowned in the mud and water as ACE president Fabienne Paques and her few helpers could not pull them out in time. Ms Lahiri explained: "There were 289 dogs that still had to be helped and fortunately they were. Some have been re-housed but it is impossible to re-house so many animals at such short notice - our few saved kennels are packed at the moment. Fabienne's own house is home to 40 dogs."
So what can you do to help ACE and the dogs in their hour of need? They need cement, building materials, and dog food, as 2,500 euros' worth of Compy from Mercadona was washed away in the floods. One of the shelter's dogs alone eats 10 kilos of food a month.
Ms Lahiri also appealed for hands-on help for rebuilding, dog walking, help with kennelling and caring for the dogs; some of them are now being treated for chills.
Anybody interested in helping is asked to contact ACE at 610 752 350. Those wishing to donate cash can do so by depositing money in ACE's account at Solbank-Banco Sabadell (0081-0619-58-0001457846).
Human error blamed for Spanair crash
2008 accident at Madrid's Barajas airport killed 154 people
By Dave Jamieson
AN independent investigation into the crash of a Spanair flight three years ago that killed 154 people has concluded that human error was the primary cause. The study, which was ordered by the judge investigating the crash of flight JK5022 at Madrid's Barajas airport on August 20, 2008, and was published last week, says that Boeing and aviation authorities also contributed to the disaster.
It says that maintenance personnel did not identify the cause of the fault in an exterior heat sensor and dispatched the aircraft incorrectly. However, it added that the aircraft manual is written in such a way as to "induce error".
The Boeing MD-82 detected a fault in the sensor and the crew steered it back to the terminal. There a Spanair mechanic found that a heater, designed to prevent ice forming on the sensor, was active. Following guidance in the manual, he disconnected it, and the airplane was cleared for takeoff.
A Civil Aviation Accident Investigation Commission report published in 2009 noted that, in addition to this fault, the pilots failed to carry out the proper checks prior to takeoff, did not correctly deploy the wing flaps, and that a warning system also malfunctioned.
The new report also stated that the history of accidents caused by the inadequate configuration for takeoff had not been addressed before the 2008 accident. It claims that sufficient corrective measures to solve the problem had been taken by neither the Spanish and EU aviation authorities nor the manufacturer.
Royal Society named for Principe de Asturias award
Jury of ‘Spanish Nobel' cites the scientific institution's contributions to humanity'
By Oliver McIntyre
BRITAIN'S Royal Society was named last week for the prestigious Principe de Asturias Award for Communication and Humanities.
The Principe de Asturias - Spain's equivalent to the Nobel Prize - was granted in recognition of the Royal Society's standing as "the oldest scientific community in the world" and its commitment to "the fostering of scientific research and the dissemination of knowledge for the benefit of humanity," according to the jury's statement.
The jury also underscored the "multidisciplinary nature of the institution, in which the links between science, humanities, society and politics are made evident."
Further, it highlighted the scientific excellence the Royal Society's roughly 1,500 fellows, who include some 75 Nobel Prize Laureates and nine Principe de Asturias Award winners. Among its past fellows are such scientific luminaries as Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, Benjamin Franklin and Alfred Einstein.
Sir Paul Nurse, president of the Royal Society, welcomed the news saying: "The Royal Society is honoured to be awarded so prestigious a prize as the Prince of Asturias Award.
"As we celebrated our 350th anniversary last year, one of our goals was to inspire people to see the wonder of the world around them and the enlightenment and advancement that science can offer. This prize offers a clear endorsement of our goal and our success in achieving it."