Home News Spanish National WEEKLY DIGEST – 15 DECEMBER 2014


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China and Spain celebrated the first direct freight train to connect the two countries in Madrid on Tuesday after a journey of around 13,000 kilometers that began 21 days earlier in the east coast Chinese city of Yiwu. It is the longest rail route in the world as well as being the route that crosses the greatest number of countries. Spain and China want to encourage trade relations through rail transport and the new direct railroad line is viewed by both governments as a major international link between Europe and Asia. The 40 containers on the train carried a variety of goods made in China, and will return with wine, olive oil and cured ham.


The Cementerio Inglés de Málaga, famed for being the first Protestant cemetery on mainland Spain when it opened in December, 1831, is appealing for donations to help meet its day-to-day running costs. The first body received by the cemetery was that of a Derry born Irish revolutionary, Robert Boyd.


Despite complaints made to the City Council over a year ago, residents of properties in Camino Viejo de Callosa, Orihuela, are saying that the state of street lighting along this busy road still falls far short of what is required. It provides little illumination and is often turned off during the early evening leaving no illumination whatsoever. They say they have recently raised the matter with two councilors, Antonia Moreno and Victor Ruiz but have not yet received any response.


The bank Caja Rural Central have said they will donate 50 euros to both Caritas Orihuela and the Red Cross for every salary or pension payment into a personal account during the hoiday period. The announcement was made at a press conference by the head of Caja Rural in the region, Antonio Pastor, together with the President of the Spanish Red Cross in Orihuela, Andrés Ramón, and the director of Caritas, Ana Maria Lucas. The scheme will be known as , ‘Payroll and solidarity pension’.


Officers from the Guardia Civil have accused a 41 year old man in Pontevedra of driving under the influence of alcohol, after witnessing the vehicle driving recklessly. Having stopped the vehicle, the officers discovered that the driver was actually a 16 year old boy, who has no licence or ability to drive, who had taken over control of the vehicle after his father felt “unwell”. An alcohol test revealed the father to be 5 times over the drink drive limit. The man is charged with drink driving, as well as leaving the vehicle in the control of a minor, the boy is charged with driving without a licence.


Transport booking app Uber, which made the headlines recently after a woman in India was raped after using it, has been issued with a temporary ban in Spain, after the judge investigating the case said that the app created “unfair competition”, and that drivers did not have the official authorisation to carry passengers in exchange for financial reward. The ban follows protests by taxi driver associations around the country.


The American Defence Department is expanding its presence in the Rota naval base in Spain, although it will not have any impact on the balance of power in the region, as the US is already the single most powerful military force in the Mediterranean, according to analysts. There are currently around 4,000 U.S. service members in more than 30 organizations and their families on base. There are currently around 4,000 U.S. service members in more than 30 organizations on the base, along with their families. Each ship has around 300 sailors assigned, with around 400 family members arriving for each ship. Capt. Greg Pekari, the commander of Rota, said that, “The expectation is we are going to increase by 2,500 to 3,000 Americans over the next couple of years”.


Orihuela’s PP leader, Pepa Ferrando, imputed for alleged bribery, embezzlement, fraud and breach of trust in the ‘Case Fitur’ has said that she feels very fortunate to have the support of so many members of the public and colleagues. She would not declare, however, her intentions for the 2015 Municipal Elections. When asked if she would stand as leader Ms Ferrando said “It is still not the time. The candidate will be announced in February in line with PP policy nationwide."


Torrevieja Los Verdes have criticized the city council for a lack of maintenance at the newly opened park Ilo Ilo, located in the lower area of the Los Balcones, just a few hundred meters from the salt lagoon. A spokesman for the Green Party said that the government team has carried out no maintenance whatsoever since the park was first opened letting weeds and dirt accumulate and grow. The palms are not being pruned and their fronds are simply trailing onto the ground under the weight of dates.


Torrevieja’s Councillor for Social Welfare, Thomas Ballester, said last week that 71 Torrevejenses have been admitted to the regional programme ‘Do not be alone at Christmas’, a plan that promotes aims to provide company for all during the upcoming holidays, particularly to the city’s elders. The councilor said the programme will provide older people who are living alone with the opportunity to spend Christmas with a family and their friends. The requirements to enter into the scheme are that individuals must be 65 years old, widowed and without family or friends.


Vodafone Spain is preparing to lay off 1,000 workers over the coming months as a result of its acquisition of Spanish cable provider Ono earlier this year. The combined workforce of the two companies currently stands at around 6,000, with Vodafone accounting for 3,500 employees and Ono the remaining 2,500. A Vodafone spokesman confirmed that the aim was to complete the restructuring process by the end of the first quarter of 2015, but the size of the collective dismissal could lead to problems with unions and a possible court challenge.


The Spanish state-owned lender Bankia presented a series of error-strewn accounts for 2011, the year it listed shares, according to a report released as part of a long-running court investigation into its flotation and state bailout. Hundreds of thousands of small investors lost money after Bankia needed a massive rescue in 2012, less than a year its stock market listing. Some have alleged they were cheated when they bought the shares. “The accounts do not comply with Bank of Spain norms … due to the presence of accounting errors," the report said.


It took 20 years to complete but Artist Antonio Lopez finally unveiled a portrait of the Spanish royal family at the Royal Palace in Madrid last week. Lopez, who is known for his meticulous approach to work, says the painting took so long because he’s used to working on several pieces at once. The life-size canvas shows former King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia with their children, King Felipe VI and Princesses Elena and Christina. However the painter hasn’t quite caught up with the royal family’s most recent changes, so Queen Letizia doesn’t feature.


Airline Vueling has announced a new route for their 2015 schedule from Alicante-Elche airport this week, which will see flights between the Costa Blanca and Algeria begin on the 11th of April. The airline had a double celebration this week too, as they welcomed their three millionth passenger since starting operation at Alicante in 2006.


Despite being challenged by a security watchman from a nearby construction site three men managed to walk out of Madrid’s Galería Puerta de Alcalá in the early hours of Thursday carrying over 70 paintings worth an estimated €600,000. The thieves entered the gallery after breaking into an adjacent bar before deactivating the alarm. The guard said that he saw the men walking out with paintings in their arms and went over to ask them some questions, but did not suspect that they were burglars. “We have to get an early start to put them on display in another gallery,” they said.


King Felipe VI has forbidden members of the Spanish royal family from accepting favors or expensive gifts “that could jeopardize the dignity of their institutional tasks.” Royals may not accept favors such as free flights or loans at low or zero interest; they are also banned from accepting presents with a high economic value or gifts that are being given for commercial or advertising purposes. The move is part of a campaign by the recently proclaimed monarch to clean up the royal household’s image following months of low popularity ratings.


Fire fighters rescued a woman from her car following a crash on Avenida de la Asunción in Los Balcones on Tuesday, at around 18;30. The vehicle was lay on its side, preventing the woman from exiting. Witnesses had reported smoke coming from the vehicle before the local police and a paramedic ambulance were in attendance. The woman, said to be in her 60´s. Was shaken in the incident but said to be otherwise unharmed.


Businesses in certain areas of Torrevieja centre have raised concerns over the lack of Christmas illuminations adorning the streets. The town hall responding by admitting that there had been a “slight delay” of a few days in arranging the contract for the lights. Meanwhile, many of the surrounding urbanisations will no doubt be forgotten once again, despite contributing to the municipal funds.


Infanta Cristina is set to be cleared of any criminal liability in a case in which she was accused of having profited from the alleged embezzlement of her husband, Iñaki Urdangarin. The reason for her to have a clear name lies in her handing over the equivalent in the proceeds of the alleged crime, 600,000 euro, which, according to her lawyer, will “extinguish her civil and criminal responsibility”.


Spainish airline Air Europa is to lease a Boeing 787-8 from LOT Polish Airlines on a yearly contract. The aircraft will fly between Madrid and New York, as well as Montevideo, from their spring schedule. Facing financial trouble, LOT had looked at aircraft leasing as a means to capitalise on surplus capacity. Finnair and Norwegian Long Haul had already taken advantage of a similar deal.

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