Fiddling around with the computer and the Internet and the blogs and the rest of it – changing the printer ink and re-booting the router. How do we do it? Each morning I get up, check the news and the different pages I visit to find contrast for the Business over Tapas reports, and make myself a coffee. But on Wednesday morning, a simple cup of Nescafé just wasn’t enough. Firefox – the browser I use – had suddenly changed its whole design, with wonderful new features that I will never need, and the few things I do use cunningly hidden in interesting places. It was a bit like receiving an early Advent Calendar. And what is behind this door?
Some of my ‘add-ons’ have gone (useful gizmos for this and that) making my working day a little bit longer and more irritating.
The Google tells me I should be wary of using ‘older versions’ of the system so it seems that I must stick with this new thing.
How many times (he asked querulously) must they fiddle with products which work perfectly well? The Facebook, the e-mail, the mobile phone, the cyber-forms one must fill in and the new rules one must abide by? Always changing.
I need another coffee. Lenox dixit.
From La Opinion de Málaga here: ‘Foreign investment returns to the coast thanks to the boost of tourism. The residential business is experiencing a new surge supported by stimuli such as the Golden Visa, which grants automatic citizenship to home buyers of more than 500,000 euros...’.
From Mark Stücklin’s Spanish Property Insight: ‘Spanish housing starts are approaching 75,000 units for this year, 15% more than last year, and increasing sales are expected to further boost development, according to an industry sector report by consultants DBK Informa. The report argues that the upward trend in the Spanish property market will continue over the short term in the main property market segments, driven by the “positive” economic situation...’. More here.
From Spanish Property Insight: ‘House prices in Palma de Mallorca back to boom-time peak, but rest of Spain still a long way off’. More here.
‘UK nationals bought around 2,300 homes in Spain during the third quarter. As has been customary, the most important source of foreign property buyers in Spain was once again the UK, accounting for 14.8 per cent of the quarterly total...’, says Murcia Today here.
‘Andalucía announces record figures for 2017 at the World Travel Market. The region's tourism results for this year will be the best ever, although the industry is warned that Mediterranean competition is reviving’. From Sur in English here.
Turismofobia. ‘Tourism saturation has been the central theme of the World Tourism Organization (WTO) ministerial summit held on 7 November in the framework of the World Travel Market (WTM) in London. During the event, which brought together more than 60 ministers of tourism and leaders of the private sector, it was stressed that social protests are a wake-up call for all stakeholders involved in tourism. To address outbreaks of “tourism-phobia”, experts suggest that the Tourism Sector establish "fluid and better-quality relationships with local communities. They also mentioned community involvement, communication, congestion management, adequate planning and product diversification, among others, as fundamental aspects of the approach to tourist saturation...’. In short: "We can't keep building five-star hotels in three-star societies". See Nexotur for more.
A new kind of business location is called ‘Co-working’. Essentially, it’s sharing an office or business space with various other people. As El Diario says ‘Real estate speculation and new working models lay the groundwork for the co-working boom’.
El Diario looks at the realities of the Government budget in a major study here. The difference between what they say and what they do. Between the years 2012 and 2015, we were about 15% over budget, particularly in defence and social services. We under-spent in research and development, together with aid to small business, tourism and industry.
From Público: ‘The central government's indebtedness surpasses one trillion euros after over-spending by the Rajoy government, from 370,000 million euros in under six years’.
Opel is to build its new Corsa electric car in Spain by 2020. The brand, which now belongs to PSA Peugeot–Citroën, says it will be building only electric cars by 2024. More here.
The renta básica or basic income – a system whereby every deserving citizen and resident would receive a regular (if modest) income from the state (Wiki) – is discussed in El País. The suggested (and, as always in Spain, rather peculiar) sum of 430.27€ per month would cost the State somewhere between 6,000 and 15,000 million euros per annum. El Mundo meanwhile takes us to an area near Badajoz where many labourers subsist on 29€ a day.
Bank transfers to be immediate and free within the European Union from November 21st using the Target Instant Payment Settlement TIPS system (so says Público here).
From Reuters: ‘Over half of Spaniards want early national election: poll. More than half of Spanish voters favour an early national election, a survey showed on Monday, as support waned for a minority government embroiled in the country’s worst political crisis in decades...’.
‘This year we have learned, at last, the exact numbers that make up the so-called parallel administration of the Junta de Andalucía. And we have heard for the first time in the Budget of the Regional Government of Andalucía for 2018, where in the section called ‘Gender Impact Assessment Report on the Budget of the Autonomous Community of Andalucía’ ... we learn that the group of entities (known as ‘agencias’) – public entities and foundations – has a staff of 23,899 people...’. El Demócrata Liberal spills the beans here.
An editorial at Cuarto Poder speaks of the value of the ‘Catalonia Crisis’ for the Administration as it takes the public focus away from other major issues.
Four banks are giving details in the Senate as to why they pardoned a debt of 50 million euros from the PSOE. The Santander, BBVA, Caixa and Kutxabank between them pardoned the socialists. This is part of a larger inquiry by the PP-dominated Senate as to party funding. The Unidos Podemos are under scrutiny as well. More here and here.
Pedro Sánchez says on Cuatro TV that there is no doubt but that the Government has used the Catalonia crisis to avoid talk of the PP corruption. The video and article here. Sánchez also described the Ciudadanos party as being to the right of the Partido Popular (here).
Adu Colau, the mayoress of Barcelona, has broken with her partners the PSC (socialists) following a vote from her party supporters (Barcelona en Comú). She will attempt to run the city hall with just 11 of the 41 councillors. More here.
The Spanish state owns 378 properties abroad, says El Confidencial, including football stadia, cemeteries and some palaces. The oldest one, the Spanish embassy in the Vatican, was bought in 1647. In all, 41 of these possessions are in Morocco and thirty in France. The UK has eight, Germany six.
Gabriel Rufián, a deputy (MP) for the ERC Catalonian Republican Left, arrived in parliament in Madrid on Wednesday with a pair of handcuffs, which he said were for Mariano Rajoy. ‘Some people would like to see me with them on’, he said, ‘but they’re for him’. El País has the story here.
The ex-president of the Madrid region, Ignacio González (PP), was released from jail last week after spending a few months cooling his heels. González, who tearfully pleaded abject poverty while ‘inside’, was picked up at the gate of the Soto del Real prison in a black Jaguar having found a bail of 400,000€ in just 24 hours. ‘All a metaphor’, says Público here.
A donor of the ‘Caja B’ (the black account) at the PP explains how it worked at Cadena Ser here (‘I helped the party and the party helped me’, he explains).
The Caso Poniente – a scam in El Ejido, Almería running between 2002 and 2009 – is slowly working its way through its investigation. The prosecutor says that the intrigue milked around 71.5 million euros for its accused members, numbered at fifty. More here.
Horasur runs a story that the EU considers Andalucía to be the most corrupt region in Spain. In second place is Galicia. The least corrupt is La Rioja.
‘...Madrid is unlikely to be budged, at least not until regional elections are held on December 21, which it hopes will deliver an anti-independence majority. It’s a tall order, especially given the lack of public support for the Rajoy government in Catalonia. In a recent poll by Pew Research, 91% of the Catalans surveyed said they do not trust the government in Madrid. If the gamble doesn’t pay off and in December pro-independence parties are handed another majority, direct rule will be reinstated, Spanish government representatives have warned. In other words, the beatings will continue until morale improves. And if morale doesn’t improve, well, the beatings will continue...’. Wolf Street opinion here.
Mariano Rajoy says that ‘the government has played its part’ by forcing regional elections for Catalonia. Speaking on Cope Radio, Rajoy was asked what would happen if the independence parties won again? He answered “We are going to work so that the pro-independence formations don’t win. I hope there will be massive participation. I ask that everyone votes. But whoever wins will have to comply with the law,” he says...’. The story from El Huff Post here.
Of course, one can’t trust the hackers not to swing the Catalonia election results, says Ciudadanos. El Mundo reports here.
From The Guardian: the Catalonian election of December 21st. Everything you need to know here.
From El Confidencial: 23% of Spaniards admit to avoiding consuming products made in Catalonia. In the event of independence, 49% of Spaniards (i.e. from the rest of Spain) say they would boycott Catalonian goods.
The Guy Hedgecoe Blog answers the question posed by El País last week regarding the condescending Anglo-Saxon viewpoint of Spain in an article here (thanks to Colin).
Business over Tapas:
The Facebook page for Business over Tapas is here.
The Facebook page for Hard Spanish News (viñetas, cartoons and whimsy) is here.
‘Parliament to have 'take-it-or-leave-it' vote on final Brexit deal, Davis says. MPs and peers will vote on agreement, but will have no say in case of no-deal Brexit, will not be able to reverse decision and will not be able to reopen talks’. From The Guardian.
Well, here’s some propaganda slanted the other way: ‘Earlier this week, I and a group of cross-party colleagues from the Exiting the European Select Committee visited Brussels for a series of meetings. We met Michel Barnier, the EU’s Chief Brexit Negotiator; Guy Verhofstadt MEP, Chair of the European Parliament’s Brexit Steering Group; and several other senior MEPs. Having heard what they had to say, I’m afraid I’ve come to the conclusion that the only Brexit deal being offered to us from Brussels would be far worse for the UK than leaving without a deal in March 2019...’. The article is from Brexit Central and comes from the impartial pen of Christopher Chope MP, who ‘currently serves on the Exiting the European Union Select Committee’.
The national television TVE broadcast a story about the financing of Unidos Podemos, but oddly failed to do another on the financing of the Partido Popular. VerTele has the story here.
In a similar vein, El País (here El País in English) surprises nobody with its editorial titled ‘Podemos and its dark origins. There are clear ties between some of the party’s driving members and the Venezuelan and Iranian regimes’.
VerTele has some fun with Informe Semanal, the TVE flagship news program, as it adds some music – the theme from The Exorcist actually – while discussing Carles Puigdemont.
A piece from MIT Technology Review (en castellano) here on manipulation: titled ‘Technology to manipulate content threatens to bring us back to twentieth century news’. The article begins: ‘Artificial intelligence is promoting the creation of extremely convincing fake videos. If it continues to move forward, society may have to get used to consuming information as it did 100 years ago, according to Google scientific researcher Brain Ian Goodfellow...’.
From El País in English, Fighting Russian manipulation (different articles from the site as collected on Tuesday):
*‘EU agrees to dedicate more resources to fight Russian propaganda. Interference from Russia in the Catalan independence crisis has spiked concerns about the manipulation of public opinion’. Here.
*‘How the Russian meddling machine won the online battle of the illegal referendum’. Here
*‘Government confirms intervention of Russian hackers in Catalan crisis’. Here.
*‘The zombies of disinformation. The global financial crisis and the information technology revolution have created a perfect storm. Governments must act’. Editorial. Here.
*‘Romanian euro-deputy: “Catalonia is another case of malicious Russian meddling”. Here.
*‘Crisis in Catalonia. “Spain needs to take the Russian threat very seriously’. Here.
*‘European Union fights the Kremlin’s propaganda machine. Team that detects and fights Russian cyber-attacks warns of campaign to aggravate Catalan crisis’. Here.
...and of course: *‘Spanish minister links Julian Assange meeting to Catalan independence drive’ Here.
Oddly, on the same day, there were no stories in the parent paper referring to either manipulation or the Russians! The cartoon above more or less says – these days, it’s hard to tell the difference between the serious and the satirical press. The Kremlin says there is no proof of these allegations of Russian interference in Catalonia, according to El Mundo here.
José Luis Cebrián, executive president of Prisa (owner of El País and the Radio Ser), has finally been removed from his position by Amber Capital the main shareholder in the company. His position will be taken by Manuel Polanco, son of the founder Jesús de Polanco. The story is covered at El Mundo here.
The Catalonian newspaper El Punt Avui has been forced to lay-off 40% of its staff as ‘it no longer receives hardly any institutional advertising following the implementation of Article 155’. Around 90 employees will become redundant. The story here.
The eight AVE stations with less than 150 passengers a day. Tardienta in Huesca takes the biscuit at just 1.5 passengers a day. The story at El Independiente here.
The list of major planned but still to be built infrastructures for Spain. An interesting report is at El Mundo here.
A scurrilous rumour from Diario 16: the fall of the Banco Popular was orchestrated by interested parties. The point was, it says, to save the Santander. The news-site has documents to back up its claim. It appears to hint that the Sabadell could be next to fall...
El Español has found that some fisheries paint their tuna red with beetroot juice. The price rises from 12 to 30€ a kilo when the tuna is red. What colour is yours?
From Público: ‘The "labour humiliation" of the packaging workers in Almeria. Twenty thousand women in Almería are facing tears, humiliation and job insecurity in the fruit and vegetable packaging sector. Sixty per cent of women workers are obliged to change warehouses each season for lack of stable contracts’. Depressing reading.
The Costa del Sol will be the epicentre of language tourism in January (7 – 14) thanks to Málaga Education Week. Language tourism brought over 30,000 people to the province last year says a press release from the provincial diputación here.
Stuart’s Vlog: Is the crisis over or not? Here at YouTube 11 minutes. (Thanks Jake)
‘We need to talk about Ex-Pat depression. This is a common problem that I was not aware of when I first moved to Spain, like everywhere, depression is a subject not openly discussed. You have to remember that however far you travel you will always bring your own personal problems with you, moving abroad is not a magical fix it, far from it. You will still feel anger, sadness, and frustration, but will feel you need to suppress these feelings, because after all, you are now in your dream home living your dream life...’. More on this at Eye on Spain here.
‘Spain’s more than 220 new ‘super’ roadside cameras can detect seat belt offenders – with fines of €200’. From The Olive Press here.
Following from last week, El Mundo reveals that some 200 agents escort (protect) certain ex-senior figures – a situation which is reviewed by the Government twice a year.
From The Washington Post: A chart shows the best and worst countries for women in the world today. Spain, we discover, lies in fifth place.
The strangest legends of Spain, as collected by Europa Press here. The excommunicated village of Trasmoz (featured last week in BoT); the fabulous island of San Borondón; the red-hot crown of the abbot; the son of Guzmán el Bueno and so on...
The International Rights of Nature Tribunal has ordered the cessation of water extraction from the Río Aguas in Almería. Story at El Diario here.
‘High hopes for 2020 closure of Mallorca’s most polluting power station. The minister of land and energy Marc Pons will be in Madrid on Monday to ensure support from above for a swift closure of the Murterar power plant’. From The Olive Press here.
‘Ten of the best autumn travel destinations in Spain. Spain is justly famous for its long hot summers and amazing beach holidays, but that doesn't mean the country shuts down for the rest of the year. Indeed, much of the best travelling in the country happens after the crowds head home. Autumn is more intimate; a chance to explore quieter corners and see what Spain gets up to when people aren't looking. From incredible hiking in the Pyrenees to subtropical forest in the Canary Islands, The Local has put together a list of the country's best autumn getaways’. Here.
Bilbao is chosen at the Best European City 2018. The EITB has the story with videos here.
Dear Mr Verhofstadt,
Many thanks for your support for the many millions of Europeans who are living (and often working) in another EU country.
I'm in Spain, and I can tell you that many of us ex-pats, devastated by the threat of Brexit, are looking to you as our leader.
Un saludo, Lenox Napier
First of all, let me thank you for your support. In this difficult negotiating process, it is good to know that citizens are on our side.
I fully understand your worries and the uncertainty you feel because of Brexit. One cannot hide from the fact that the withdrawal of the UK from the EU may have negative consequences for citizens. Safeguarding citizens’ rights is a priority for the EU in its talks with the UK, and the European Parliament has made it very clear from the beginning that it is citizens first. I can assure you that we will continue to push for full rights not only for EU citizens in the UK, but also UK citizens who, like you, live in the EU.
From the moment this process started, I have been convinced that some sort of special solution needs to be found for individual citizens, like you, who want to maintain their ties with the European Union.
However, I have to say that this will be difficult, but what I will promise is that I will do everything I can for people like you who feel European. You are not alone and your voice is being heard.
Kind regards, Guy Verhofstadt
Juan Tamariz is Spain’s best magician. A wonderful man worth following. Here in a video, he shows a couple of card tricks while he tells the viewers that there is some magic he just can’t do – like how the Partido Popular mysteriously funds itself...