Fake News. Bad, right? The Government thinks so and is introducing rules to stop the media from posting fake or manipulated items by setting up a permanent commission against la disinformación - (as they prefer to call it). The commission, says El Español here, is purely PSOE-controlled and without the presence of Podemos (a regular victim of bulos).
These journalistic inventions, as we know, are often used to create anger, disdain or hopelessness in the readers or viewers - for political or economic gain. They are not to be confused with slanted reportage, or even propaganda (using selective facts for manipulative purposes), which happens the whole time, depending on the politics of the media in question. We are talking here about purposely-produced lies.
The current debate is of course whether this is a righteous struggle against these items of hoax news, or simply government censorship (with all the sinister connotations which that supposes).
Some news-services currently use 'fake news' without any particular limit - OKDiario is one of at least a dozen notorious examples. Their recent editorial on the subject at hand says ‘Now it will be Little Franco Sánchez who decides which news is true and which is fake’.
Many more bulos are found in the Social Media (although both Facebook and Twitter have recently taken to some form of ‘fact-checking’ claims published on their platforms).
A local English-language free-sheet famously fired off a hoax news-story last August based on fake interviews with Government ministers. Indeed, it made the pages of Spain’s leading fact-checker here. The point being that fabricated stories like this can cause unnecessary alarm amongst the public.
Fake news is a recognised problem in Brussels, but the EU's strategy against disinformation is ‘aimed towards Russia and China, not as a surveillance of the national media’ (here). Indeed, the official opinion from the European Commission on Spain’s, ah, putative control of fake news is “Any initiative in the field of disinformation must always respect legal certainty and freedom of the press and expression. But we have no reason to think that this has not happened in the case of Spain”.
Maldito Bulo here (the Spanish version of Snopes) is more or less on board with this ‘ambiguous rule’ (yet of the opinion that independent sources – like Maldito Bulo and others – should be the ones to monitor the news and social media), but the press is not at all happy. The AMI (the national association of newspapers) is quoted here as saying 'You can't take away our freedom of expression'
The leader of Vox doesn't like it either: 'The Tyrant Sánchez introduces Censorship', writes Santiago Abascal in a characteristic tweet. Slightly more alarmingly, the Spanish Secret service CNI is also against introducing institutional controls against fake news (for professional reasons, we wonder?).
In short, it is one thing to monitor fake news, but it’s quite another thing to seek to stop it. On the bright side, maybe the threat of fines coupled with disclosure might help cool the jets of our wily fabulists.
‘Five common pitfalls when buying a property in Spain’, from Spanish Property Insight here. No, it’s not always like buying a house in your own country…
Mark Stücklin says on his Spanish Property Insight that ‘Property owners and investors face bigger risk with the hard-left in government’ here. In brief, ‘…Podemos’ goals are to: Stop all evictions; Increase taxes on property; Clamp down on tourist rentals; Remove tax breaks for real estate investment trusts, known in Spain as SOCIMIs, which use tax breaks to encourage investment in rental housing; Penalise owners of empty properties and Fight “vulture funds and housing speculators”, which is how they see most investors…’
From 23 November. International travellers from a country with high-risk coronavirus levels will need to have a PCR and test negative in the 72 hours before travelling. The new ruling comes from the Ministerio de Sanidad here.
The Federación Española de Empresarios de Camping (the camp-site association) is back in the news with fresh efforts to lobby the Government into banning overnight stays in a camper-van away from a campsite. An irate camper on YouTube has the story here.
‘The foreign press warns that in Spain the recovery will take place "in the form of a K"’, which, says El Huff Post here, is not so good. In a V things go down and then they come up again. In a U it’s a bit slower, but still good. A K though means that the rich recover but the poor don’t. They link to the Associated Press here which says ‘In Spain, coronavirus puts the poor at the back of the line’. The AP article returns to ‘…It’s what many experts are describing as a “K-shaped” economic recovery. The affluent are able to recover from the crisis - many working from home - while the most vulnerable lose what economic gains they made since last decade’s financial crisis…’.
The Corner says ‘Euphoria on Monday in a good part of the world’s stock exchanges, after the Pfizer-BioNTech consortium announced an effectiveness of over 90% in its prototype of a vaccine against the coronavirus. This is already in phase III. The US and German companies expect to have the definitive data on the last stage of trials this month. They will then present the registration application to the FDA, the American regulator….’. It later adds ‘…The announcement boosted trading on the European stock exchanges, with important upturns in sectors such as tourism, transport or banks. In Europe, the IBEX 35 took the lead (up 8.5%), as it registered the highest rise in a session in the last 10 years…’.
Naviera Armas, owner of the Transmediterránea ferries between the mainland and the islands, says it is unable to meet its debts. The developing story is at El Confidencial here.
‘Norwegian Air is in bankruptcy proceedings and leaves 1,700 jobs in doubt in Spain’ says El Economista here.
El Mundo introduces us to ‘the five Spanish millionaires who accumulate between them 5% of the country's entire wealth’. In truth, just the first one, Amancio Ortega, has 4%… (An earlier version of the story had the five billionaires with 55% of the country’s wealth)
The bank and their commissions. Gone are the days of earning a few centimes on your bank account. Now they charge for the pleasure (and duty) of maintaining your cash in their vault, or at least, in their computer. The Caixa now charges 60€ every quarter unless the client takes out certain services with them. A larger list of bank commissions on current accounts is here.
‘Moneycorp, the well-known British currency operator, has changed plans and will no longer move its headquarters to Spain due to Brexit, as it had suggested three years ago. The final destination will be Ireland, where the company expects to be operational before the end of the year, according to sources consulted by Vozpópuli here’.
‘Hacienda prepares a rule so that inspectors can enter private homes without warning’ says El Economista here. A later article at NIUS claims the opposite: ‘No, Hacienda cannot enter your house without a court order (and also, now it has to notify you)’. At least for the time being.
The latest voting survey found at El Plural here, shows the PP on the rise (surely not because they are moving centre-wards?). The percentages, translated into seats, are PSOE 114; PP 103; Vox 52; UP 28 and C’s at 12. La Razón has one too, which is far too complicated to understand, but with this newspaper all we need to know is that the right is taking votes away from the left.
Pablo Casado is chasing the voters of Ciudadanos says elDiario.es here and has now washed his hands from the search for far-right Vox-leaning supporters. The headline says ‘Casado challenges his partners: he launches himself for the Ciudadanos followers while linking Vox with violence. The PP assumes that the only possibility of beating the left is to destroy the two smaller parties that have divided the conservative electorate, while still allowing them to participate in autonomous and municipal governments’.
‘Pedro Sánchez has sent his congratulations to Joe Biden for winning the US elections and becoming president, and to Kamala Harris, the first female deputy president in the North American nation's history and only the second black American in a position of this calibre, after Barack Obama. Sánchez has wished them both 'lots of luck' and stressed Spain and its government is ready and willing to 'cooperate' with the USA in the face of the 'huge global challenges' the world's population is facing…’. More at Think Spain here.
Pablo Casado attempted to compare Spanish politics with that of the United States when commenting about the American elections in a TV interview on Trece (the channel run by the bishops). Casado explained that "the PP has had a good relationship with both Democratic and Republican presidents." He also wished to emphasize that, in his opinion, "American politics is focused and of course there is no equivalent to the PSOE in Spain".
The journalist Julia Otero (Wiki) from La Sexta here (with video): "The opposition has not lived up to what the country needed in the most difficult moments … in no European country has there been an opposition to the government's management like the one seen in Spain" she says, hoping that Casado, following Vox's recent motion of censure, "has understood that this is not the way to go".
InfoLibre reports that José Luis Martínez-Almeida, the PP mayor of Madrid, considers that the electorate is more worried about the financing of Podemos than the ongoing investigation of King Juan Carlos for money laundering and tax fraud’. Perhaps he’s right.
The Minister of Consumption Alberto Garzón (IU) limits to the maximum advertising of ‘sports bets’ that share hundreds of millions in profits to communication groups and football teams’. Last year, the gambling industry spent 183 million just in Internet advertising. The Times of Casino is unhappy with the move away from gambling-related sponsorship. ‘…The move is not great news at all for Spanish football teams. At present, seventeen La Liga clubs have some form of deal with a gambling company. Seville signed a deal with Marathonbet worth €5 million a season. Valencia has linked up with Bwin in recent years, and such deals are good news for both clubs and sponsors and the fans…’. In other news, attracted by the low tax system now in place, several online gaming companies have moved from Malta to Ceuta says El Confidencial here.
Albert Rivera (ex-leader of Ciudadanos, now a lawyer) has been chosen by Pablo Casado to head up his appeal to the Catalonian rental laws, to be presented to the Constitutional Court in due course. The story is at VoxPópuli here.
‘The Catholic far right prepares its offensive in the streets against both abortion and euthanasia. The Congreso Católicos y Vida Pública (here) announces the return of a part of the Catholic Church to set itself up in opposition to the Government, as happened during the Zapatero Government’. Item from elDiario.es here. It is supported by all the usual suspects.
‘Complications ahead for British expats in Spain, but a deal with happen’. The Olive Press with Ann Hernández from Brexpats in Spain here.
‘Banks should "come clean" on plans for expat customers after Brexit, two former ministers have said, as thousands of overseas Britons face an anxious wait on whether they will be able to send and receive vital payments. Britons living in the EU can send and receive money to the UK using domestic banks under "passporting” rules, but details from the country's largest providers on what will happen to these services in 2021 have been scant There are almost half a million expat British pensioners, according to the Department for Work and Pensions. Most have no idea whether they will have a bank account after December 31…’. Item from The Telegraph (paywall) here. (Thanks John).
Benidorm Seriously brings us the Schengen Calculator for visa-free visitors here.
From the British NHS (National Health Service) here: ‘How to apply for a free European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). A European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) gives you the right to access state-provided healthcare during a temporary stay in another EU country, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein or Switzerland’.
The Government has agreed to lower IVA on face-masks from 21% to 4% from Tuesday.
Mind you, in Madrid, things are different… From El País here: The Madrid exception: the party doesn’t stop, even for the pandemic. While half of Europe closes bars and discos, Madrid allows them to open with rules that favour excess’. It begins – ‘The deejay turns off the music to make an announcement. “Please can everyone go to their table and put on their face-masks. The police are about to enter and there are journalists outside”…’.
Confinement in Andalucía (For Brits Too): my article at Spanish Shilling here.
‘Last year, Hacienda detected 845 “opaque cards” similar to the one used by Juan Carlos I’. The credit cards are from offshore banks and their use in Spain is illegal. NIUS reports here.
The, ah, ‘former director of the Catalonian antifraud unit (between 2011 and 2016) collected more than 300,000 euros improperly’ says El País here.
El Salto Diario also looks at the issues around getting an appointment at Extranjería.
Now that Luis Bárcenas’ wife is (finally) in prison, the ex-treasurer of the PP is apparently ready to sing, says ECD here. Furthermore, says La Información here, Bárcenas’ erstwhile chauffeur Sergio Ríos Esgueva, who was in the pay of the past Ministry of the Interior to spy on his boss, has asked to come clean in an interview with the judge in the Villarejo Case. ‘…The petition also occurs in the midst of the political intrigue that has led the judge to agree to a confrontation for this Friday between the former interior minister Jorge Fernández Díaz and his number two, Francisco Martínez…’.
RTVE documentary: ‘La cara oculta de las energías renovables (La noche temática 2020)’ on YouTube here. The introduction: ‘Climate change has become a global concern. Citizens demand from their representatives specific solutions to fight against air pollution and rising temperatures. The era of "oil is king" is turned upside down and paves the way for clean technologies like wind power and solar panels. An energy transition takes us away from fossil fuels, but it is one that has begun to generate environmental changes and both industrial and political conflicts’.
From elDiario.es here: ‘The fifteen geo-parks of Spain, where the earth tells us its history. The UNESCO recognizes these fifteen Spanish natural spaces for their valuable world geological heritage’.
‘The 2002 Kazakhstan hunt and five million euros in a suitcase’. Another black star in the ex-king’s reputation is revealed by elDiario.es here.
‘The violent conspiracy group QAnon enters the US Congress. QAnon "is a unique opportunity to expel this global clique of Satan-worshiping paedophiles," says a Republican candidate who has won a seat in the House of Representatives’. ElDiario.es warns that the craziness has come to Spain too with QAnon flags being seen in a recent negacionista (Covid-19 is a hoax etc) protest in Madrid.
The General Secretary of the Polisario Front declared this Saturday a state of war in the entire Sahrawi Republic (the old Spanish Sahara) amid the escalation with Morocco in the illegal gap in El Guerguerat, a region that, although controlled by the Saharawi movement, operates illegally as a border crossing between the territories that Morocco occupies and Mauritania…’. The story is at Ecsaharaui here. An update is here.
‘Prisons here in Spain are like the Hilton compared to American ones’, says John McAfee, currently in clink in Catalonia.
Ninety nine graffiti ‘artists’ have been arrested for causing 22 million euros of damage to trains says 20Minutos here.
‘A Trim Little Number in Yellow’ – stood on the side of the road wearing a fluorescent yellow jacket at Spanish Shilling here.
From January, Tráfico is putting up more finable offences says 20Minutos here: These include the use of a mobile phone at the wheel going up to six points off one’s driving licence. The use of radar detectors will be fined at 500€ and 3 points (whether in use or not).
The good people of Jabaloyas (Teruel) have defenestrated their mayor in a moción de censura for closing down the community’s only bar. El Mundo has the story here. We hope that the new mayor opens the bar forthwith!
ElDiario.es interviews gentleman farmer Chris Stewart (with video) here.
The Flat Earth Football Club is a third division club from Móstoles, Madrid (And I've finally developed an interest in soccer). The story is here.
From Think Spain here: ‘November flowers: What blossoms in Spain when the sun takes its hat off’.
‘Asturias, a region in northwest Spain that’s separated from the Castilian Plateau by the Cantabrian Mountains, is a land of contrasts. Once an industrial and mining powerhouse, the area has earned its nickname, Natural Paradise; a third of its territory is now environmentally protected…’ says The New York Times in a well-illustrated article here.
The only desert in Europe… is in Spain says La Vanguardia. It’s the desert around Tabernas, in Almería.
Molly from Piccavey writes of great local dishes, and takes us to the best restaurants in Salamanca here.
From Architectural Digest here we find: ‘This Medieval Spanish Boutique Was Transformed in Just Six Months’. Nice pictures from Peratallada, Gerona.
Thank you Lenox,
Congratulations for your accurate and useful weekly information and thoughtful opinions.