News from Andalucia & Costa del Sol
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Hundreds of medicines go full-priceGovernment publishes list of 417 pharmaceuticals to be dropped from Social Security
By Dave Jamieson
LAST Friday, the government published a list of the medicines which will no longer attract Social Security subsidies, starting on September 1. The government says that asking patients to pay the full price for hundreds of medications will save 458 million euros every year.
The government says the great majority of the 417 products which will be excluded are those used in the treatment of minor symptoms, such as skin irritation, coughs, diarrhoea and constipation. Well-known treatments, such as Almax for anti-acid, the laxatives Emportal and Duphalac, and the antidiarrhoeal Fortasec were listed in Friday's official State Bulletin. However, patients suffering from certain conditions - generally serious or chronic ailments - will still be able to buy 95 named medications at reduced prices when the new rules come into effect.
The Health Ministry adds that all the drugs on the list published in the State Bulletin can and should continue to prescribed when the doctor deems them to be appropriate, although the patient will have to pay the full cost.
VÉlez council to help farmers battle fruit and veg theftsTown hall initiative coincides with the start of the mango harvest
By Dave Jamieson
NEW measures are being put in place in Vélez-Málaga to tackle the problem of thefts of fruit and vegetable from farmers' fields.
The initiative, announced last week by mayor Francisco Delgado Bonilla, coincides with the beginning of the mango harvest.
The mayor said the plan would involve the co-operation of local growers who should report suspicious activity to the police, at any time of the day or night.
He said such information would be treated confidentially and would allow surveillance to be increased.
Animal abuse alleged at MÁlaga fairAlmería is the only province in the region with legislation outlawing the ponies use in this way
By Dave Jamieson
THE ANDALUCIAN Collective against Animal Abuse, CACMA, has staged a protest about the use of live animals in two attractions on Málaga's fairground this month.
The group says that owners of ponies which were employed on roundabouts were exploiting animals, as well as violating animal welfare legislation.
CACMA described the attractions as a "tragedy which few people are aware of" and urged visitors to the fair to patronise other stalls which do not use live animals.
It says the ponies were working from 7.30pm to 3am every day without a break, and alleged that the saddles used were inadequate and could lead to curvature of the spine.
CACMA also alleged that the attraction posed a health risk as there was a lack of effective cleaning and disinfection while the rides were open.
Thieves make off with valuable carpetsPolice believe the robbery was carried out by an itinerant gang of specialists
By David Eade
THIEVES have stolen Persian carpets worth over 500,000 euros from a showroom in Marbella. If this was a fairytale they would have made their escape by flying over the rooftops of the jet set resort on the carpets but it is more likely they removed their booty in a van.
The raid was perfectly planned and the target was Marbella Carpets, which specialises in luxury goods, on the Bulevar Príncipe Alfonso Von Hohenlohe, in the town's Golden Mile area. At press time a full inventory of what is missing had not been produced but the value of the stolen items is said to exceed 500,000 euros.
The robbery took place overnight, between Friday and Saturday. The thieves forced the main doors of the shop and disengaged the alarm. Sources at Marbella Carpets say the culprits made off with carpets, many of which were unique in the world. The owner of the business had made a great investment to bring together a fine collection of rare carpets for his clients: and now they have flown.
Once the robbery was discovered the owner called the National Police who have opened an investigation. Forensic teams have visited the premises and photographs of the carpets are being collated so they can be checked if they show up on the black market.
PHOTO CALLBenefit show held for mugged Irish photographer
By Oliver McIntyre
AN Irish photographer who lives in Málaga has received an outpouring of support from friends after he was recently mugged in the city and had his beloved camera stolen, along with his wallet and other items.
In the August 4 attack, Philip Magee was knocked unconscious as he was walking home in the early hours of the morning.
Now local friends of the Dublin native - who has lived in Málaga for 12 years - have organised a benefit exhibition of his photography to raise money to replace his camera.
The photographer's work includes thousands of images of Málaga and its traditions and festivals, including Semana Santa and the local feria. "However, what stands out in his work is not just the typical scenes of these events but what is happening in the surroundings - how people interact, behave and really live the moment," say organisers of the exhibition.
Mr Magee is a member of the photography blog www.andaluz-fotografias.blogspot.co.uk and of the artists' group Artistas Internacionales de Andalucía.
The benefit exhibition of his work is to be held on Saturday, August 25 at the El Compas bar in Málaga's Calle Compás de la Victoria, opposite the Iglesia de la Victoria church, from 8.30pm to midnight. Works on sale will range in price from 20 to 160 euros. For more information, or to make a donation, call Kay Farrell on 606 978 513.
Credit cards will do nicely thank youFuengirola to promote bank card payments in taxis, markets and Zona Azul meter parking
By Suzan Davenport and David Eade
FUENGIROLA council is to change current bylaws to enable taxis and market stall holders to use dataphone machines to charge clients' bank cards said the town's mayor Esperanza Oña last week.
Mayor Oña said that the council is also considering how credit cards could be used to pay Blue Zone meter parking as well as the possibility of extending parking ticket times using mobile phones.
She went on to say that the objective, is to improve the services available in the town and at the same time make life easier for customers. The measure would affect all three markets, including the second-hand goods one.
Sra Oña went on to explain that not having to carry cash around would be an advantage to many people. "The fact that shoppers will be able to pay either in cash or with a bank card at any of the markets' establishments is good news", she said, "and it will benefit the market businesses which sometimes lose customers who want to buy but can't because they don't have any cash on them."
Outcry forces rethink on health care quota systemThe new 'convenio especial' is due to come into effect on September 1st
By Dave Jamieson and Tom Cain
The government is rethinking plans to deny illegal immigrants free health care after a public backlash last week.
Groups representing an estimated 150,000 immigrants had labelled the plans unreasonable and claimed they were being made a scapegoat.
They said that paperless immigrants support the system through indirect taxes and feared that some may have resorted to self-medication.
The Society of Family and Community Medicine described the government's plans as an, "attack against life and dignity."
The move also proved controversial with regional governments in Andalucía, the Basque Country, Cataluña and Asturias, with all voicing their opposition to implementing a scheme regionally with parameters set by central government.
Many doctors objected, saying they would continue to offer free treatment.
The government had announced that people living in the country who are not entitled to use the public healthcare system would only be allowed to use it if they paid an average €59.20 a month, which equates to a yearly payment of around €710 for those under 65, rising for over 65s to 1,864.80 euros.
Minors, pregnant women, asylum seekers and the victims of ill-treatment were to be excluded from the need to pay, while emergency treatment for all immigrants would be maintained.
Al-Qaida planned model aircraft bombing attackPolice have released photos and a video showing how the suspected terrorists planned to transport the explosives
By David Eade
THE MINISTRY of the Interior has issued photographs of the hidden cache, which contained explosives, in the house of one of the three assumed al-Qaida suspects recently detained (CDSN August 9-16). It also included photos of a video showing the flight by a model aircraft which the government believes was the practice run for a bomb attack.
The video was found at the house of the Turkish national arrested in La Línea, Cenzig Yalcin. Investigators believe that the three terrorists intended to use the aircraft to carry out a bombing of the Puerta de Europa commercial centre in Algeciras.
The model aircraft had a wing span of two metres and the capacity to carry a kilo of explosives.
The photographs and video released by the ministry are of poor quality but appear to show the aircraft undergoing a test flight with one of the arrested men in attendance.
Local police officer gunned down in Madrid
A man, believed to have driven the thieves' car, was arrested four days after the killing
By Dave Jamieson
POLICE in Madrid investigating the death of a 62-year-old female officer during a raid on a post office arrested a 42-year-old man on Sunday.
The municipal officer was shot in the chest, injuring her fatally. A second officer was shot in the shoulder and is recovering in hospital.
Witnesses to the attack, which took place around midday last Wednesday in the Utera district of the capital, said that between three and five shots were heard before the raiders escaped in a Citroen Berlingo van.
The police patrol had tried to intercept the van which was travelling at speed after being reported to have been involved in the post office robbery.
However, police sources said that the occupants of the van started shooting indiscriminately, before the speeding off.
The arrested man, who had cut his hair and was wearing a cap in an effort to disguise himself, was detained near his home at around 10am on Sunday.
Counterfeiters on the rack
A police spokesman said that counterfeit notes had increased in recent years
By Nuria Pérez
MORE than 19 million euros in fake banknotes have been seized in the last three years by the National Police's special unit against forgery (BIBE).
The unit is coordinated by the Bank of Spain and collaborates with Europol, the Guardia Civil and regional and local police forces.
In the latest operation around 60,000 euros in fake 100-euro banknotes were seized.
A National Police spokesman said that counterfeit notes had increased in recent years.
As a result of the crackdown, BIBE officers have detained around 35 international gangs printing and distributing all sort of banknotes.
According to the spokesman, one of the most professional gangs was based in Murcia.
"The gang had set up in an industrial premises and they were printing one of the best fake 50-euro banknotes," he said.
More fake euro printers have been dismantled around the country - and even in Bogotá, Colombia.
"International collaboration among police forces is crucial to stop forgery."