Now there’s a headline we never expected to see: ‘Tobacco firm Philip Morris calls for ban on cigarettes within decade’.
That’s the Marlboro people talking! When big-business, the government and the charities all agree on something, then there will be some changes coming.
There’ll come a time when the only agency that wants people to continue to smoke will be the tax-people. In Spain, 77% of a smoke ends up in taxes, that’s 9,000 million euros – or 4% of all tax-revenue in Spain. 43,000 people work in the sector – planting, rolling or selling them. In Spain, around 22% of adults are daily-smokers while another 25% claim to be ex-smokers says the World Health Organisation (May 31 2021).
We used to smoke in restaurants, in hospitals, in the airplane, in the cinema, in the lift, after sex and before breakfast. For a long while there, smoking was considered attractive (or manly), for which we can thank Madison Avenue and its equivalents elsewhere. In those days, cool and groovy people smoked, as the doctors looked on approvingly.
It was certainly a fun and daring thing to do at school (behind the lavatories).
Nowadays, we must not smoke in our car or on the beach. There’s now a designated place some five metres outside the front door of an office where people huddle, in all weather, for a fag. It must surely becoming ever-more clear to them that this is no longer a pleasurable pause, but an uncomfortable addiction, to say nothing of their promotion chances.
Eventually we smokers became short of breath and our clothes smelled. We gave up, or in some – many – cases, it gave us up. Joe Camel stopped being cool. He became a killer.
Don’t smoke, don’t drink, don’t drive fast, don’t say this, don’t do that.
In the future, as we behave ourselves more and more, keeping within the narrow bounds of the limits set by society, we will probably live longer, only to finally expire of boredom in front of our tellies.
Excerpt from an interview at El Confidencial here with the British urban architect Richard Sennet (who together with Pablo Sendra has written the book ‘Diseñar el Desórden’):
‘…The functional life of a building, in terms of materials and uses, ideally lasts the same as the mortgage on it. Investors make a correlation between the length of the mortgage and the durability, because they are not interested in the building surviving the mortgage. Until the middle of the 20th century, the idea was that buildings should last longer than their owners. The problem was the landing of multinational investment firms. It is now cheaper to tear down an old building and erect a new one than to adapt it to new needs…’.
From Sur in English here: ‘Why do the Spanish all live in flats? Only 34 per cent of people in France live in apartment blocks, while in Spain the figure is almost double. A combination of factors explains the trend’ it says.
Making holiday-rentals even more bothersome for owners out for some extra income, one now needs an energy certificate for the house or apartment. Spanish Property Insight has the details here.
Spain is about to completely mark off the coastal area safe from urbanization says elDiario.es here, itemising which land falls into the public domain. It quotes the Ministry of Ecology as saying ‘Integrity is guaranteed by preventing new constructions, homes or hotels of any kind’.
From El País in English here: ‘The migrants bringing small rural communities back to life in Spain. Several projects run by non-profits are helping asylum seekers find jobs and housing in villages at risk of disappearing due to population exodus, such as Brañuelos in León province’.
‘The German government has downgraded Spain on its travel list, categorising it as a ‘high incidence area’ amid rising infection rates across the peninsula and islands. The Robert Koch institute announced the change on Friday meaning that travellers returning to Germany from anywhere in Spain face new rules and restrictions’. The Olive Press here.
Pedro Sánchez was in the USA last week on a three-day visit to promote Spanish business. Here he is on MSNBC on a program called Morning Joe (video).
From El País in English here: ‘The Spanish economy is forecast to bounce back to pre-pandemic levels in 2022. Spain will also experience the biggest economic expansion of advanced nations next year, but it comes on the back of a record decline of nearly 11% in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic’
A Lawyer writes about the European Court of Justice’ view of the large fines that can come from failure by Spanish residents to declare major investments abroad (the Modelo 720).
From a reader: ‘There is an advert posted by Blacktower Financial Management Group in the current CB News, and possibly other journals, that should be of interest and, to some, concern.
It warns that Hacienda will be conducting a “pensions” audit on, as it states “all UK Expatriates who have pensions as part of the drive to prevent tax fraud”. The audit, as stated, is to cover UK Civil Service (Crown, etc.) pensions from any level of government, to ensure that all income has been declared in Spain, whether or not tax was paid in the UK, as the income should also have been declared in Spain. Second, the review will study pension annuities, temporary and lifetime, as reported or otherwise. The tax office will be looking at the years 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020; that is, covering all the fiscal years that are now open for inspection.
The article sets out the documentation that may be required by the tax offices, accompanied by translations certified by a “sworn” translator, bearing the Hague Apostille (here) - all within ten days of being demanded by the tax office. Note that the tax office may not have a current address to which to send notices - but that fact and postal delays may not extend the compliance deadline! To what extent the British Embassy in Madrid or HMRC are aware of this exercise, or possibly assisting it, is unknown.
For further info, there is an office for Blacktower Finance in Jávea at 96 631 8564. However, there seems to be no useful website to consult here in Spain. The generic version for the company is here. Those concerned may wish to consult their own tax advisor regarding the substance of the CBNews commercial notice’.
Pedro Sánchez also had this to say while he was in New York: ‘I’m a politician who does what he says he’s going to do. The opposition just likes to squawk’. More at El Mundo.
El Huff Post puts forward its reasons for why Yolanda Dáiz (Podemos) is considered by the public as the best of all the political leaders.
What happened in the Ceuta Assembly last Friday, where the Partido Popular of President Juan Jesús Vivas abstained in a vote calling for the president of Vox, Santiago Abascal, to be declared persona non grata in the territory, has deeply upset that far-right party. Abascal, we may remember, was in Ceuta during the recent immigration crisis with Morocco, drumming up hatred and scorn. Indeed, Vox has broken relations with the PP on the back of this issue (although this is not to be taken too literally, as Vox themselves explain here).
The City Hall of Barcelona has withdrawn permits for private cannabis clubs, legal in the city since 2016 (regretfully, one must be over 18 to read this item). The judges will now sleep better at night. As this despite, ‘the police and city authorities agreeing that the ‘pioneering’ model has reduced street dealing and consumption’ (The Guardian here).
A blog called the Trollograph posts on the EU’s position regarding Gibraltar: ‘The EU’s U-turn on Gibraltar is little short of a scandal’. Perhaps a more balanced view on what’s to become of Gibraltar can be found in The Corner here. It says: ‘…What is clear is that pragmatic cooperation threatens to fall victim to the sovereignty obsessions of English Brexiteers, who, unlike the people of Gibraltar, have no direct stake in the outcome’.
From El País in English here: ‘Spain hits July target of 25 million people fully vaccinated. The fourth objective set by the government has been met, with 53% of the country’s population now enjoying the full protection offered by the Covid-19 vaccines’. We read at Magnet here that Spain has a higher percentage of vaccinated people that both the UK and the USA. The reason given – there are apparently less sceptics here!
Spanish views from a small town explains why public health should be protected from the private sector.
‘It was often said that the PP was delighted with the emergence of Podemos because it took votes from the PSOE, but the truth is that, according to the diaries of the former commissioner Villarejo, in the Calle Genoa (PP HQ) they were manoeuvring to torpedo the formation of Pablo Iglesias from the very beginning.
The secret activity in the Ministry of the Interior, which carried out police operations of a political nature during the Government of Rajoy, is reflected in meetings between, for example, the Number 2 in the Ministry of the Interior with Villarejo, who noted in his diary in January 2015: “ Venezuela-Podemos. Several steps. We agreed to talk”. It was not the only meeting or indeed the only steps; here are more details. Item from Juanlu Sánchez (elDiario.es) newsletter (subscription).
So how much would it cost a businessman to sit with a minister for an hour or two (back between 1996 and 2004)? Let’s ask the ex-treasurer of the PP Luis Bárcenas (article and audio at elDiario.es here).
The accounts of the Junta de Andalucía over the past forty years are being audited. The ‘artificial fattening’ (best translation we could find) of the Andalusian administration during the socialist years ‘must be fully assumed by those who made the decisions’. El Español has the story here.
It was good to spend a few days where the media was nice to me, says Pedro Sánchez on his return from the USA. Opinion from elDiario.es in an article called ‘Pedro in Wonderland’:
‘It must be a brutal shock to feel treated by the media as a normal and valued person, rather than the daily insults that they throw at him here in Spain from the Dungeons. Returning from Wonderland to the toxic fire of Ayuso’s Madrid and all its gruesome partners…’.
Maldita is a good site to check-out unlikely news items. Because if they sound peculiar, then there’s a good chance they are un bulo – fake news. A good example here: ‘No, there is no parliamentary proposal from Unidas Podemos to appoint an imam as head of the Religious Services of the Armed Forces’. Heh. Of course, some people will believe it.
Solar energy with El Blog Salmón here: ‘The electricity bill is more expensive than ever, even with the government tax cuts. And it is a good time to consider alternatives to reduce the bill. One that occurs to many of us is to install solar panels. Solar panels effectively reduce the electricity bill: they produce energy that is consumed first before that which comes from the electricity grid. But this energy is not free: there are some costs of the plates that have to be covered and therefore it is necessary to carry out a profitability study…’.
Corinna zu Sayn-Wittgenstein, the ex-lover of Spain’s disgraced King Juan Carlos, sues him for damages’ says The Olive Press here.
‘The Museum of the Royal Collection, a tribute to the monarchy costing more than 160 million that nobody wants to inaugurate’. elDiario.es reports on the Madrid white elephant here. ‘Almost a decade late, the opening of the 40,000-square-metre building is still up in the air. The centre is empty and waiting to specify the museum story, which is changed with the arrival of each new president of the National Heritage’. The building was completed in 2015, but remains empty.
Spain in figures (a pdf from the INE) here. The 2020 figures include the number of Spaniards – 47 million – and the percentage of foreign residents (in total: 10.3% - particularly Moroccans, Romanians and in third place, Brits).
‘The business of fear: how Securitas Direct makes its money’. From Catalunya Plural here. The article pulls few punches: ‘…There are two concepts separated by a fine line: manipulation and persuasion. To manipulate is to distort reality with lies for self-interest. To persuade is to convince with reasons to get someone to do something. When you are a shark looking for prey, like Securitas Direct, it all starts with creating a need where there was none before…’.
LaSexta has an investigation into Abogados Cristianos here (video). It says: ‘Who are the 'Abogados Cristianos' and what do they do? This is how the association that 'watches over' the defence of the Church operates. They fight in court for what they consider offences to the Church (homosexuality, abortion, euthanasia and so on). They do it through donations from supporters and their ultimate goal is to control public opinion’.
‘Experts say high electricity prices will last 'until end of year'’ – item from Catalan News here. An opinion piece at Standing in a Spanish Doorway suggests nationalisation to control the ‘new normal’. Cinco Días quotes Endesa as saying that the average bill will be 135€ higher this year over last.
A Dutchman resident in Granada complains about the lazy and inept funcionarios in Spain. An interesting thread on Reddit here (en castellano).
‘Astur-Leonese is the transitionary language on the dialectal continuum between Spanish and Portuguese. It’s called Asturian in the Principality of Asturias, and Leonese in the region of León (País Llión), but both are just different names for the same language…’. Examples of the language are at Reddit here. Incidentally, readers may have seen the fuss about Pablo Casado recently telling the Balearic Islanders that they don’t speak Catalán, but rather Mallorquín, Menorquín, Ibicenco and Formenterenc. No, it’s Catalán.
As explains here why the Spaniards have two family names (and why most foreigners don’t).
Oy. Don’t point that ice-cream at me! Facua has a list of the helados available in Spain that contain the carcinogenic ethylene oxide. Nestlé has since withdrawn 46 varieties of their iced-lollies against an ‘accidental contamination’ says 20Minutos here.
The Superior Court of Andalucía has ruled that the notorious Hotel Algarrobico (Carboneras, Almería) may not be demolished. Since work was halted on the almost completed 20-storey hotel in 2006, the hulk has been allowed to rot gently in the hot Almería sun. The back story is that no one wants to be responsible politically for actually signing the papers for the expensive demolition (and reparation), because that’s a lot of public funds spent on a foolishness which would mean the end of the politician in question. El País has the story. My blog from February 2017: ‘The Hotel Algarrobico: Unresolved’.
Lenox in the clink Here.
From Eye on Spain here: ‘Medieval Villages in the Valencian Community’ – with videos.
Following from the decision by the UNESCO to declare the Paseo del Prado and the Retiro Park (both in Madrid) as part of the World’s Heritage, here is the full list of all 49 UNESCO sites in Spain.
Les Négresses Vertes with Sous le Soleil de Bodega on YouTube here.