Business over Tapas (Nº 329)
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From BoT December 5 2013 (and now with us again): In Spain, we like our fiestas. This Friday is Constitution Day and on Sunday is the Día de la Inmaculada, with an extra day off on Monday in Andalucía, Aragón, Asturias, Castilla y León, Extremadura, Murcia, La Rioja and Ceuta. A four-day weekend. For industry, this can mean two days lost, depending on the region, but for the tourist resorts, it means a well-needed boost. For our friends the traffic police, there will be five million cars on the roads to wave past with a cheery smile. Check to see when your local supermarket and bank is open.
As we wait for Greta Thunberg’s arrival in the capital on Friday, here are the headlines from the 25th UN Climate Change Conference in Madrid.
From El País in English here: ‘Pedro Sánchez at COP25 climate summit in Spain: “Only a handful of fanatics deny the evidence”. Spain’s caretaker government has stepped in to host the event against a global backdrop of weakened environmental leadership’. Extract: ‘...The summit brings together over 25,000 delegates from around 200 countries from December 2 to 13, and seeks to reach agreements to tackle the effects of global warming and keep it within manageable limits...’. Among them, and welcome, is the US Democrat leader Nancy Pelosi: ‘US Congress commits to act on climate crisis, despite Donald Trump. Pelosi tells UN conference in Madrid that commitment is iron-clad’.
There is all to play for: ‘COP25 in Madrid: UN Secretary-General Guterres says planet is 'close to a point of no return'. Found at EuroNews here (with video).
Inevitably, ‘Vox accuses the left of using climate change to change "our way of life"’. An article at El Español here includes the claim from the party that ‘..."We are here because we represent more than 3.5 million people and to keep a close eye on the extreme left, because we all have to pay for this and many dangerous claims are being said for the future of Spain," the Vox spokesperson Iván Espinosa de los Monteros said. He also blamed the left for the summit being held in Madrid and not in Chile...’ (!). Beyond the posturing of Vox, Climate obstructionalism is strong in Spain, says ElDiario.es here: ‘...A new climate denial has found ways to continue filtering its discourse: from boycotting international agreements to taking advantage of bad economic streaks to putting impediments in actions against the global warming of the Earth. Climate discourse is admitted, but not the incorporation of the main measure claimed by science: to cut CO2 emissions...’.
From the financial sector comes The Corner where we read ‘There are two things to watch out for at COP25 (and why climate stocks could benefit)’. These apparently are emission-trading schemes and an expected range of updates to countries’ individual targets, known as nationally determined contributions.
As someone says, ‘If the climate were a bank, they would have saved it already’.
Because there are powerful interests rallied against action against Climate Change (what could be the upside, no one knows), here are thirteen fake news items planted in the public eye on the subject with Maldito Bulo here.
From El Economista comes ‘Housing crosses the red line of financial effort for families’. We read that ‘Access to housing is becoming a social problem in Spain since the difficulties in acquiring a house due to lack of savings, can now be added the problems of paying rent due to high prices. Families allocate on average more than 40% of their salary to pay the rent in Madrid and Barcelona.
According to data from la Sociedad de Tasación, the average effort that families in our country must make to buy a home is 7.3 years of salary, while "the market consensus points to five years as a healthy and reasonable period"...’.
El Boletín is in similar territory here: ‘Home sales plummet ... but prices continue to rise’.
From The New York Times here: ‘House Hunting in the Canary Islands: A villa near the ocean. On the island of Tenerife, the housing market hit bottom about a decade ago. Now tourism and development are bringing it back — but it’s a slow process’.
The Olive Press enthuses about a ‘new sustainable urbanization in Torrox on the Costa del Sol where properties come complete with a health club, 12km of hiking trails, organic orchards and vineyards with a winery where residents can make their own wine’.
From last week’s BoT: ‘Spain’s two largest tourist agencies Globalia and Barceló have merged. They say they won’t close any of their 1,500 offices across Spain. ABC has the details here’. A few days later, El Confidencial Digital says ‘The travel agencies Globalia and Barceló will close a hundred stores (particularly Halcón Viajes agencies) after the merger’. The merger is still under review from La Comisión Nacional de la Competencia.
Clayton and Rachael Frewin run a rural hotel in Lubrín called the Casona Granado. They are doing their part, says la Asociación de la Prensa de Almería approvingly, to combat the 'Almería Vaciada' - the forgotten interior.
‘...Foreign investors’ forecasts are positive for the close of this year and the coming year. Foreign investment companies confirm their good performance in 2018 and continue to have favourable forecasts in all the aspects analyzed, including investment, workforce, turnover and exports for 2019 and 2020...’. An item from The Corner here.
‘Families and shopping are the sources of main tax contribution in Spain. Although there was once a time (back in 2007) where companies contributed almost 25% of the annual tax-collection through Corporation Tax, today that percentage has fallen to 11.9%, according to the Agencia Tributaria data referring to the fiscal year 2018...’. From a story at El Boletín titled ‘Those with incomes of less than 60,000 euros already pay twice as much tax as do companies in Spain’.
ElDiario.es is even bleaker here: ‘Legal tricks and tax havens allow Spanish multinationals to pay as little as 1% of Corporation Tax’. Spanish Revolution says that ‘twenty-seven Spanish multinationals with annual profits of 25,000 million euros pay no tax whatsoever’.
From Wolf Street we read that ‘Telefónica, the telecommunications and internet giant headquartered in Spain and with operations in numerous countries and burdened by enormous debts, has announced plans to stage a historic retreat from one of its core markets, Latin America, in a bid to generate much-needed funds...’.
‘Mercadona, the food giant, is ruining Spanish farmers by stocking almost all of their beans, chickpeas and lentils from foreign origins’. Monopolies never pay much for their purchases anyway... El Cierre Digital looks at the countries of origin here.
The parliamentarians have now taken up their seats in the Cortes and the next step will be to vote for the proposed junta of the PSOE and Unidas Podemos. Vote for, against, or abstain.
Ciudadanos proposes, says Cuarto Poder here ‘a three-way agreement with the PSOE and PP to avoid its own inconsequentiality’. The article says: ‘Inés Arrimadas, the spokeswoman for Ciudadanos in the Congress of Deputies and likely the future leader of the party, sent a letter on Monday to the candidate for the Presidency of the Government and acting president, Pedro Sánchez, offering him an agreement between what the she calls "the constitutionalist parties. " That is to say, to create a majority in the face of the investiture that adds up to 221 deputies: the 120 of the PSOE, the 89 of the PP, the 10 of Ciudadanos and the two from Navarra Suma’. All under the orders of Pedro Sánchez. One can dream. The PP leader Pablo Casado meanwhile says he has no interest in pacting with the PSOE and that he anxiously awaits news of Pedro Sánchez political demise.
‘The Turkish foreign minister on Nov. 30 said Spain was a "true friend" which did not withdraw its air-defence systems unlike many European countries that pulled theirs back. ... Çavuşoğlu said the U.S., the Netherlands, Germany and Spain had dispatched their air-defence systems to Turkey following the emergence of the bloody civil war in Syria...’ but while the others had pulled back, says the Hürriyet Daily News here, Spain has continued with its military expertise. (Thanks to Colin for this one)
‘The UK ambassador to Morocco has angered the Gibraltar government about not wanting to ‘have problems with the Spaniards in any trade agreement’. The Olive Press says that Ambassador Thomas Reilly said in a radio interview “the Spanish claim against the territory of Gibraltar could be a stumbling block for trade with the North African country. If we try to forge links between Gibraltar and Morocco, Moroccans will have problems with the Spaniards.”
The College of Architects has archived the complaint for intrusion against the architect Rocío Monasterio because it only investigates its own members, and Rocío isn’t, apparently, an architect after all. In short, the senior Vox politician practiced the profession without a title between the years 2002 and 2009, according to numerous documents and several witnesses’. Thus El País with the story. It seems el Colegio ‘don’t wanna know nothing’.
‘Mariano Rajoy confesses: “Corruption in the PP has been our Achilles heel”. El País introduces us to Rajoy’s memoirs, ‘Una España mejor’, where he reveals that he considered resigning during the motion of censure’.
The cop who fabricated the false documents known as the Pisa Informe against Pablo Iglesias here (business leaders were afraid of the Podemos leader’s political chances back in 2016), has been awarded with command of a police commissary in Madrid says El País.
Telefónica likes to repair its own Movistar lines before addressing other users. Vodafone, Orange and others have successfully complained about this practice and the company has now been obliged to pay a six million euro fine. The story is here.
‘Britons living in EU countries ‘denied democracy’ in UK ‘Brexit election’’, says Euronews here. ‘...Hundreds of thousands of people – more than 60% of all British residents in EU countries – are thought to be deprived of a vote because of the 15-year rule. The UK’s failure to change the law has sparked an outcry...’. The article also makes the point that the British diaspora is so unimportant to Westminster, that they have not the least idea even as to how many we are.
How much to journalists and writers earn? Not much is the gloomy answer. ElDiario.es explores the low wages of those who, contrarily, are often assigned to pen items about the high wages of our politicians, sports-folk and titans of industry. Articles by freelancers are often paid at just 70€ or 80€ (Lenox is rarely paid for his, but manfully holds out for 50€).
Spain is apparently one of the countries in Europe that least copies (‘pirates’) films, music, games and programs, says ADSLZone here.
‘Dozens of companies have announced they will no longer be advertising on the Spanish version of the TV reality show Big Brother (it’s on Telecinco) after it emerged that a contestant had been shown footage of her alleged on-show rape. Carlota Prado was sent to the diary room to watch a video of how a fellow contestant apparently had sex with her when she was unconscious after drinking...’. The Telegraph has the story here.
The media lives, in part, from advertising contracts. The understood quid pro quo being that one does not bite the hand that feeds one. Thus the senior ex-Ciudadanos (now PP) Silvia Clemente (wiki), while president of the Castilla y León region, spent 3.6 million euros during her four-year legislature there on institutional advertising. More here.
‘The effects of longer summers in Spain: Temperature rises of up to two degrees in cities, uncontrolled CO2 emissions, disappearance of glaciers, changes in species distribution, the appearance of invasive exotic animals and plants or alterations in bird migrations, among other effects, show Spain's high degree of vulnerability to climate change, says the Sustainability Observatory in a complete study presented last week...’. From El País here.
The coastline of Almería stands to be affected by climate change, says the local paper, with an average loss of two metres of beach within the next twenty years, taking away some 440 square kilometres of playa from the province.
Endesa, Spain’s leading polluter, bought the front pages of the main national newspapers on Monday, the first day of the COP25. From El Salto Diario here: ‘"Endesa presents, at the COP25 in Madrid, its solutions for an emission-free society." The same title ran above the fold of the printed editions of newspapers such as ABC, El País, El Mundo, La Vanguardia, El Correo, Expansión, La Voz de Galicia and 20 Minutos among others. Whether oriented to the centre or rather towards the right, all those newspaper editors coincidentally decided on the same story for their leaders on the first day of the 25th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Coincidence? Free-choice? Worthy news? Corporate sponsors? (A reader from Granada tells us that his local paper there also had the Endesa story writ large).
From VozPópuli (and more seriously), we find: ‘The adjustment for climate change costs the leading power companies 10,200 million euros. In less than 18 months, Naturgy, Endesa and Repsol have reviewed the value of their most polluting assets to adapt their portfolio to the energy transition’.
Much has been written about the dying Mar Menor (Murcia) (where heavy rain this week will only exacerbate the fertiliser run-off problem), but what of the Valencian Albufuera? From LaSexta TV, with video: ‘Experts warn that the historic Valencian wetlands are heading for extinction. Human action is behind the environmental catastrophe that ends this wonder of nature: a light that will be extinguished if we do not act now’.
From El País here: ‘The best kept secret of the Church (and the State). The Ministry of Justice takes the Consejo de Transparencia to court so as not to reveal the thousands of assets that the bishops have registered in their name’. We read that ‘Churches, hermitages, cathedrals... but also squares, parish houses, façades, plots, estates and cemeteries. The Catholic Church has registered tens of thousands of properties in its name ever since the 1946 mortgage law allowed first-time registration of any plot or building without presenting documentation proving its ownership, merely with a bishop’s signature. Between 1998 and 2015 alone, the Church registered more than 30,000 estates, according to the list that the College of Registrars delivered to the Government in February 2018...’. More about this...? You’ll have to persuade the Ministry to lighten up and open their files, because there will be many demands and law-suits to come.
The Opus Dei is in a video from EITB here (go to ‘Full Screen’). Religion and power.
A Spanish woman, born in the Islamic faith, abandons her religion. This is evidently not an easy path to take. Las Razón talks to Najat El Hachmi, who has written several books including ‘Siempre han hablado por nosotras’ here.
ElDiario.es explores the immigrant who ‘takes our jobs, yet is lazy and lives off social security and government handouts’.
From Truthout here, a story of the USA: ‘Doctors group owned by a private equity firm repeatedly sued the poor’. And who owns TeamHealth, the equity firm in question? Step forward our old chum the fondo buitre (‘vulture fund’) and largest private home-owner in Spain, The Blackstone Group (wiki).
Basque, Euskera, is an odd language, but several of its words have found their way into Spanish, including izquierda (whatever did they use before?), chabola, bacalao, chatarra, guiri (!) and muñeca.
A group of researchers from the University of Jáen has discovered that bacteria found in table olives sequester toxic metals during the digestion process. The olive fermentation process gives this fruit properties to trap and eliminate mercury or cadmium from the intestine’ says DICYT in an article here.
The Local has ‘Six articles you need to read about living in Spain’ here. Useful stuff.
‘Want to learn Spanish? Seven tips on how to go native’ (we agree with them!). Article at Eye on Spain here. In short, dive in!
The different cuts of beef at the butcher’s are explained at Eye on Spain here.
Tráfico has issued the new laws on those electric scooties (patinetes eléctricos) the kids use. It was fun while it lasted...
Emma Randal lives in a slum in Almería City called La Chanca. Here in her blog she meets the local resident and singer Sensi Falan. A YouTube moment for Sensi Falan here with her song Mi Estrella Fugaz.
We don’t normally examine sucesos – single events – but the police found and later destroyed a packet-bomb in a residence for foreign minors in Madrid on Wednesday. It came with a message: ‘This is the beginning of a New Spain’. Worrying.
Extra GoodShit brings us ‘Lost and Found in Hemingway’s Spain’ – the writer becomes lost in the Guadarrama National Park.
Nativity in Spain – How did the tradition began, and Where to see Belenes in Andalucía, with Molly’s Piccavey here.
The saga continues with... Fifteen new Pueblos Más Bonitos de España. Joining the erstwhile list of 79 beautiful villages (wiki) from January 1st, please welcome Alcudia (Baleares), Atienza (Guadalajara), Betancuria (Fuerteventura), Castellar de la Frontera (Cádiz), Castrillo de los Polvazares (León), Culla (Castellón), Mogrovejo (Cantabria), Monteagudo de las Vicarías (Soria), Olivenza (Badajoz), Pastrana (Guadalajara), Pollença (Baleares), Ponte Maceira (Coruña), Robledillo de Gata (Cáceres), Teguise (Lanzarote) and Vinuesa (Soria). Gallery and story here.
It's long been a truism that, despite millions of English-speakers living in Spain (some of whom have a basic knowledge of the language), Officialdom prefers to either use the services of either Google-fish or, better still, Cousin Bertín, who once spent two weeks in Dublin. We find 'This Establishement (sic) has complaint-sheets' signs all over Almería for example, we come across the standard 'My tailor is very rich' English in tourist departments across Spain, then there’s the remarkable Pacientes: Sala de Espera sign in our local hospital obligingly translated as ‘Patients: Charning Room' (!) and now, from the Government-funded Global Spain, and referring to a video and article at El Nacional here, we extend a brotherly message (and spelling error) to the Americans: ‘Happy Thanskgiving'.
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