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Business Over Tapas (21st  FEB2014)

Business Over Tapas (21st  FEB2014)

miércoles 22 de octubre de 2014, 11:21h

A digest of this week's Spanish financial, political and social news aimed primarily at Foreign Property Owners: with Lenox Napier and Andrew Brociner.For subscriptions and other information about this site, go to businessovertapas.com - email: [email protected] - Note: Underlined words or phrases are links to the Internet. Right click and press 'Control' on your keyboard to access.

Editorial:

No one seems quite sure what the new 'Ley de la Propiedad Intelectual' could mean for the Internet in Spain. Heavy control and censorship? Perhaps. The idea in the proposed rule is to charge 'aggregators' who supply links to news stories, sites like Google News and Menéame, and share part of the spoils with the AEDE, the Spanish Daily Press Association. But how far will this go? To the television guide? To Business over Tapas? Here, we could continue, with a summary but without supplying links (that's to say, to the Spanish media, not the foreign ones). Or perhaps link without quotes. Or plagiarise (by not supplying the link, so easy). Or then again, pack the dog and move next door to Portugal. Either way, we would lose some stories as they passed 'under the radar'. Perhaps some news outlets would indeed prefer to allow linkage while others will want to charge locally-based reportage (although the law, if passed, would be obligatory), but isn't it useful for the media to receive extra readership (and potential new fans) through precisely these introductions? In short, the whole idea sounds ill-thought out and silly. 

Housing:

So much for the Junta de Andalucía calling for a moratorium on demolishing homes. Here's one they just knocked down in a barrio in Málaga. The householders were Antonio, handicapped, his wife and sixteen month-old daughter. Story and video at La Opinión de Málaga.

The Olive Press is running a useful feature:  'Caveat vendor: A brief guide to selling your home in Spain, part 1'. It begins: 'If you’re planning on selling a property in Spain some time in the near future, here’s a list of things you’ll need to make sure there are no surprises waiting for the buyer, or the seller...'.

'The legal vacuum caused by the new rent law 'Ley de Alquiler', passed in May last year, affects some 15,000 people just in Andalucía alone, including both home-owners and tourist agencies that manage this type of house or apartment rental. Fines are the order of the day...'. The new law, which takes over from the old 'Ley de Arrendamientos Urbanos', has been passed on to the control of the different autonomies, some of which, like Andalucía for example, have yet to publish their own rules. More at Hosteltur here.

Finance:

'Spain's public debt closed 2013 at 961,555 million euros, equal to 94% of GDP, which is the highest level ever, although it is slightly below the goal that the Government had set for the whole of the year (94.21% of GDP)...'. From El Mundo.

'The fund for orderly restructuring of banks (FROB), controlled by the Bank of Spain and the Ministry of Economy, has appointed the investment bank Goldman Sachs to undertake the analysis of the strategy to follow in disinvestment and, therefore, the privatization of Bankia, financial sources have reported. The State thus opts to give the direction of the operation to the same entity that for years helped Greece hide its debt, causing one of the worst crises in the history of the Hellenic country...'. The left-wing Público has the story.

The Catalonians, despite being threatened with possibly being ejected from the EU, and from the European currency, in the event of a successful bid for independence from Spain, have just presented their new Euro coins. It appears that the Generalitat had them secretly made in China. Story and video here.

The 'excesses' of the AVE have been reined in by the Ministry of Planning, says El Mundo, in an article with a map here. One kilometre of AVE track can cost anywhere between 17 and 50 million euros to build. Since 2012, the Government has been attempting to stick with the basic plan and cut back on the non-essentials. The figures mentioned in the article are astronomic: 43,000 million euros spent since 1992, with a further 27,075 million already budgeted for the high speed train. Nevertheless, says the article, building the AVE is still a vote-winner.

'The chairman of Spanish power utility Iberdrola, Ignacio Sánchez Galán, on Wednesday lashed out at the government’s energy policy and announced that his company “will make a testimonial reduction in its investments in Spain in the period 2014-2013” and not invest any more in developing its domestic renewables business, at least until 2016.

Galán said during the three-year period Iberdrola plans to invest 9.6 billion euros, but will concentrate its efforts on Britain, the United States, Mexico and Brazil. Investment in Spain will be reduced to 15 percent of the total. “Iberdrola feels more British, Mexican and American than Spanish,” he said...'. From El País in English.

Tax

Hacienda is changing the rules for some 300,000 of those self-employed workers (autónomos) who pay tax by a system known as 'módulos' which is a system of estimated income. The system is considered unfair as some of the 700,000 self-employed within the regime evidently earn more than others. Workers from the building trade, from carpentry, plumbing and so on, plus those from transport services, gardening and catering will now be excluded. More at Expansión. 

Corruption

A book (and web-page) called 'Tierra de Saqueo', the land of corruption, has been presented in Valencia. The book deals with the Valencian part of the Gürtel Investigation, and lists some 100 Valencian politicians and businessmen involved here. A short promotional video here. A quote: 'A former President of the Generalitat, four former Vice-Presidents, ten former consellers, a former President of the courts, nine regional deputies, four provincial representatives, mayors of major cities, two former provincial Presidents... All of them being part of the long list of leaders and former leaders of the Valencian PP and senior officials either indicted or convicted of corruption as prepared by Tierra Del Saqueo'.

El Mundo supplies a list of those under investigation in the Gürtel network in Andalucía (mainly centred around the Seville towns of Bormujos and Bolullos) here and here.

White Elephants:

'Criminal waste in the public sector continues. In this case it is from the international airport of Corvera in the community of Murcia, which was practically finished more than two years ago, but which, due to the corruption scandal, continues closed today after a multi-million expenditure. The dreadful politics in regional infrastructure of the PP President Ramón Luis Valcárcel has enabled this disastrous situation in an intricate process of concessions and blatant cronyism. Even so, this reviled and fraudulent politician has not been accused, as he should, by the usual servile justice system'. Indignant editorial from Urbanismo Patas Arriba over a story that appears in El Diario: 'Murcia pays almost 22,000 euros a day for another empty airport'. 

Politics:

A number of articles on the proposed news 'copy and link' law promoted by the 'Culture Minister' Ignacio Wert:  'Euphoria in the world of culture. Ecstasy in journalism. The crisis of the press – pillar of democracy, the rule of law and good manners at the dinner table – is finally holding a miracle cure. Several newspapers dedicate their front pages to this. We have saved ourselves. Or rather, the Government has saved us from... (music of terror) the piracy!...'. From Guerra Eterna. The BBC notes simply that '...Websites can link to freely available content without the permission of the copyright holder, the European Court of Justice says...'. An interview with Internet expert Enrique Dans in La Información includes the gem: 'This Government is completely analfabeto (illiterate) when it comes to the Internet'. Lastly, El Mundo interviews Ricardo Galli, the head of Menéame, a Spanish version of Reddit: 'It will do a lot more damage to the newspapers than it will to us', he says.

Another aspect of the proposed LCI is to charge a canon of 5€ per university student for using technical publications on the Internet (ignoring, once again, the whole point of the Internet, which is that material posted there is freely available). Gizmodo en Español has an interview with Internet lawyer Javier de la Cueva discussing this subject.

'Things have been moving in newspaper circles recently, with the owners expelling their editors (El Mundo, La Vanguardia and now El País), even though these titles are all pro-system, in favour of new apparently more malleable editors. The newspapers themselves are becoming more pro-Government, softening their criticism and reporting Government activities in a more favourable light. The deal seems to be that the newspaper association AEDE can now look forward to becoming protected by the CEDRO (copyright for printed materials) in a way similar to the SGAE, charging and controlling usage under obligation. Will Twitter and Facebook have to pay up?' A Facebook Page here. Of course, many readers come to newspaper articles, directed precisely by aggregators. So, with this rule, readership would fall.

El País has influential shareholders... and so it seems that the director of the newspaper Javier Moreno is to be 'let go' in favour of the Washington correspondent for the paper, Antonio Caño to provide a more pro-Government organ... The story is at El Confidencial. 

The Government, regional governments, diputaciones and even local councils can give, or withhold, support to newspapers and radios according to their own inclinations. This type of advertising is called 'publicidad institucional' and millions are spent in this area. Check your local provincial newspaper, there'll be at least one full page advert from the autonomous government, every day. Unless it's one of those foreign-language papers, of course (who cares?). So, what happens if the advertising stops? El Plural considers the implicit threat adding that IBEX 30 companies will also, in accordance with government suggestions, control the distribution of their advertising to particular titles.

Courts

ABC has a full investigation into the slowness and politicisation of Spanish justice. A taste: 'Today the common suspicion remains that to file a lawsuit is like entering an untamed forest simply because "everything is a lottery and the end result of a process depends on the judge who you get". This is the kind of comment one often hears from lawyers. But it's as real as life itself'. One reason for the tardiness of the Spanish system: there is an average of 10.2 judges per 100,000 people in Spain, against the European figure of 21.3 judges. Spanish courthouses receive something like 8,973,000 cases per year (2012), then that's 1,765 cases per judge...

Various:

'The UK government is scrapping the winter fuel allowance for ex-pats from 2015 in a move to cut costs. £21million went to providing almost 49,500 ex-pats with the allowance in the winter of 2012-13, up from £12.8million the previous year. This was due to a European Court ruling that anyone with a ‘sufficient link’ to Britain could claim the £200-£300 allowance. The new rules, which should save the Government £8.85million, will apply to places where the average winter temperature is higher than the warmest part of the UK which is 5.6C in South-West England...'. From The Olive Press.

Jávea. Wednesday, January 12, 2014. Jávea Town Council has started to show their opposition to the authorization granted by the Government to an oil company for drilling in the Mediterranean Sea, in an area between the coast of Valencia and the Balearic Islands. The mayor, José Chulvi, met with the spokesmen of all political parties at a meeting last Friday to agree a claim on behalf of the Town Hall against EIA oil project Cairn Energy, which is on display to the public until February 21.

Once finalised, the Town Hall's rationale aims to collect maximum adherence to the complaint through a public petition. As for social mobilization, a Facebook page has been opened with the slogan "Xàbia diu no", where all efforts will be coordinated. Also specific artwork to support the mobilization on social networks is being prepared. The Town Hall expects the participation of the local community, schools and associations to Jávea’s opposition of the fracking project for maximum impact. (Press Release). A similar story: 'Oil prospectors make Balearic bid: residents and politicians are alarmed at plans to start drilling in the Mediterranean' at El País in English:

A laconic report from the BBC: 'EU officials say they will ask Spain to explain why police fired rubber bullets at migrants trying to swim to the Spanish territory of Ceuta.

Spain admitted that rubber bullets were fired, but said nobody was injured. At least 14 people drowned on 6 February as hundreds of migrants attempted to reach the North African enclave from Morocco...'. '…“If the [people who died] were white, Spanish and with an identity card somebody would not have gone to their job today,” said the PSOE secretary for institutional relations, Antonio Hernando. "After listening to the interior minister [on Wednesday] I can’t help thinking that if the 14 people killed were not black, poor and undocumented somebody would have resigned already."...' Excerpt from El País in English.

Following fourteen deaths on the frontier with Ceuta last week, either at the hands of the security forces or as a tragic accident (rubber bullets were fired as a dissuasive measure), and the successful entry of 150 African migrants into Melilla on Sunday, an extreme right-wing group of vigilantes wants to patrol the Melilla frontier armed and dangerous 'like something out of an Arizona wet-back movie'. Shudder! Meanwhile, El País in English reports in an article criticised elsewhere as being 'fear-mongering' that 'Around 30,000 would-be migrants from sub-Saharan Africa are camped out in Morocco, hoping to enter Spain via its North African enclaves, Ceuta and Melilla. That's according to police sources, who all point to the "enormous migratory pressure" that the two cities are under...'.

'Remarkable new figures from Spain's grid operator have revealed that greenhouse gas emissions from the country's power sector are likely to have fallen 23.1% last year, as power generation from wind farms and hydroelectric plants soared.

Red Eléctrica de España (REE) released a preliminary report on the country's power system late last month, revealing that for "the first time ever, [wind power] contributed most to the annual electricity demand coverage". According to the figures, wind turbines met 21.1% of electricity demand on the Spanish peninsular, narrowly beating the region's fleet of nuclear reactors, which provided 21% of power...'. From The Guardian (January 2014) 

Hacienda inspectors want funds from the Government to pay off 'stool-pigeons' for confidential information. Presumably in cash. The IHE, the 'Organización Profesional de Inspectores de Hacienda del Estado', also proposes publicly publishing the names and amounts of debtors and fraudsters. Lastly, the association wants to keep a proportion of the money it collects, to spend on its own expansion. El Mundo has the story.

Spain to change its hours and habits? According to Slate, readers of The New York Times doesn't think so: '...And if 10pm seems like way too late for dinner, keep in mind that, because of Spain’s high latitude and its idiosyncratic time zone, the sun usually doesn’t set there until 9 or 10pm. In other words, the land of 10pm dinners actually knows what its doing. Spain shouldn’t change its routine. We should change ours'.

A plug-in is now available for Firefox users to block all Spanish newspapers which are members of the AEDE, Asociación de Editores de Diarios Españoles, apologists for the proposed new Ley de Propiedad Intelectual. Another case of The People versus The Establishment? Find it at Hackingaround here.

Letters

Thanks again of another excellent compilation Lenox.

This UK TV channels-loss issue is really annoying when you think that once again the Brits get the rough end of the stick here;  German ex-pats can watch every single one of their dozens of terrestrial and sat channels in this country with no special measures like having to buy a massive parabola;  a bar has recently opened on the beach here - seven-euro-fifty for two glasses of beer - to cater for the hordes of incandescently-attired Belgian push-bikers who in-between clogging up our roads can drink authentic bottled Belgian beer whilst hearing their own Belgian radio and watching their own TV channels in there, and the same applies to the Dutch, French and Italian ex-pats in Spain.  All still watching their home-country's TV.

But the Brits ?

After decades of seamless satellite reception of radio & TV from home, they're now stuck with indifferent internet-streaming computer applications that result in juddery gappy playback in poor definition, with only Murdoch's Evil-Vision channels still blazing through from the original Astra transponder in HD quality peddling full-strength Tory Party propaganda.  Remember it was a Sky News team that deliberately shanghaied Gordon Brown over the "bigoted woman" incident and thus burnt the Labour Party. 

It's particularly unfortunate when you see that the alternative - Spanish TV - is such unadulterated crap - channels entirely at the beck and call of whichever politicians run this benighted society, overly commercialised and money-grubbing, churning out a non-stop diet of even-more-mindless game and quiz shows that sink far below the lowest that the Beeb has ever sunk to, and spewing out a stream of dubbed tracks of crappy US films and dramas using the same five Spanish voice-over people as have been comfortably ensconced in the job for decades, interspersed with spot break stop-sets that can last 10 minutes.  You only need to walk into any busy bar here to observe the average Spaniard's attitude to their own TV service.  It's pounding away mutely from usually 2 different HD LED black-giants screwed to the walls, with hardly a soul in the bar casting a glance in the TV's direction.

Indeed, TV here is now a scandal on all counts.  No wonder several Brits to my knowledge regard the loss of professionally-produced authoritative TV as the straw that has broken the camel's back;  as a result, added to blatant endemic corruption in this society which is painful for most fair-minded Brits to observe,  plus ever more aggressively discriminatory moves by the authorities now busy biting the hands that have fed them for decades and indeed actively attacking those English-speaking foreigners who perhaps have actually rescued this failing corrupt nation in the past,  and finally those same ex-pats are now suffering the loss of the only decent-quality TV entertainment available to them here in their own language -

So yes, they're OFF !!

Ernest, Mojácar Playa

John writes from the Costa Blanca, and says that '...the cut-off concerns Andalucía and virtually nobody else. The Costa Blanca (Alicante northwards) is completely untouched!!'.

Finally:

'Empuriabrava is an unusual town on the coast of Girona, the Costa Brava in Spain. It is one of the largest residential marina in the world with more than 40 km of navigable canals, 5,000 boat moorings and home to 7,800 local residents, which swells to 80,000 at the height of the summer season. Empuriabrava is often called the Venice of Spain...'. Pictures and text  from Amusing Planet here.

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