Home News Spanish National WEEKLY DIGEST – 16 FEBRUARY 2015


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Cyclists beware!


The music industry in Spain had its best year for some time in 2014, with data released this week revealing that the country achieved its first year-over-year gain in music sales in more than a decade. In 2014, consumer spending on recorded music reached 149.9 million euro, with Spanish pop stars Pablo Alboran and David Bisbal leading in album sales, and Enrique Iglesias’ song "Bailando" topping downloads and streaming on Spain’s end-of-year charts. Overall sales jumped to 21.23% over 2013 according to PROMUSICAE, which the industry representatives described as the worst year ever for Spain’s music industry. However, 2014’s figures are still a long way from 2001’s record 626 million euro sales.


The Spanish Ministry of Industry has affirmed its commitment to renewable energy, saying this week that it would support the installation of roughly 8.5 gigawatts (GW) of renewable energy capacity between 2015 and 2020. The improvement will increase Spain’s total installed renewable energy capacity from 48 GW in 2015 to about 57 GW in 2020, specifically supporting the installation of nearly 6.5 GW of wind power capacity, 1.5 GW of solar photovoltaic facilities and about 211 megawatts (MW) of solar thermal power plants.


According to the 2015 Spanish wealth, there were approximately 228,736 “high-net-worth individuals” or HNWIs in Spain in 2014, an increase of 1.7% in 2014, following an increase of 3.0% in 2013. Despite the country still living through austere times, growth rates in HNWI wealth and volumes are expected to continue to improve, with the total number of Spanish HNWIs forecast to grow by 19.4%, to reach 279,884 in 2019. HNWI wealth will see a significant percentage increase, growing by 31.4% to reach US$1.3 trillion by 2019. At the end of 2014, Spanish HNWIs held 39.5% (US$382.2 billion) of their wealth outside their home country, significantly higher than the worldwide average of 20-30%.


The animal activist group PETA, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, have praised Spanish clothing giant Inditex this week, in what they are calling a “massive victory for animals”, after the chain agreed to a permanent ban on angora wool. The firm has said that it will be donating their leftover angora products to Syrian refuges. Inditex are the parent company of stores such as Zara, Pull & Bear, Bershka, Stradivarius and others.


The Spanish foreign minister, José Manuel Garcia-Margallo, has said that sanctions against Russia over Ukraine have lost European businesses 21 billion euro, a “heavy cost” to Spanish industries hit by the export ban which has been particularly problematic in terms of agriculture and tourism, he said. The revelation was made in a meeting this week to discuss the next stage of action.


The Spanish railway infrastructure company, ADIF, are reporting that they will open almost 800 kilometres of high speed lines this year, extending the current passenger only network with lines radiating from Madrid towards the periphery of the Iberian Peninsula, including Olmedo – Zamora – Sanabria (210km), Valladolid – Venta de Baños – León (163km) and the 50km Pajares Base Tunnel. To cut construction costs, ADIF has installed standard-gauge single-line track on several sections of the first two lines, even though both have been designed and built to accommodate a double-track formation.


Internet engine giant Google has removed auto complete suggestions from its Spanish based search engine that completed search strings assuming and offering information on how to join jihadist networks and the Islamic State militant group in particular. Prior to the change, when a Google Search user in Spain entered the word “I want to join…” the second and the fourth auto complete search results used to show “I want to join jihad” and “I want to join IS” accordingly. Google also recently took action in their UK version of the search engine.


Whilst the weather in Spain has been causing chaos and freezing conditions for over a week, parts of Iceland have been seeing unseasonably warm weather, with records for February reaching an all time high. In one particular day last week, the temperature in Dalatangi, the easternmost building and weather station in Iceland, recoded 17.4°C, or 65°F, whilst in Madrid, the temperature was 7°C, or 44°F. Although Icelanders were not likely to have donned their swimming costumes just yet as temperatures dropped from 17.4°C to -13°C, or 8°F, the day after, a 30°C or 86°F drop, after an Icelandic windstorm with gusts in excess of 110 kilometres per hour quickly took away the warmth.


Spain will next year lead a NATO rapid reaction force that could be deployed “in just a few days” to areas where major crises break out, including parts of Ukraine where the Russian army continues to back pro-separatists groups, government officials and NATO sources said on Thursday. The decision to organize the force was made during a meeting of NATO defense ministers in Brussels. The Spanish military will supply 4,000 of the 5,000 land troops that will make up the new advance team, which would be the first to be deployed to volatile areas, when it heads the unit next year.


Spain’s anti-austerity party, Podemos, has announced it will field a candidate in the Andalusian election in March. Teresa Rodriguez will fight for the regional presidency in a contest the party hopes will trigger its national campaign. Podemos is currently topping national opinion polls, ahead of the opposition Socialist Party and with the ruling Popular Party trailing in third place with under a year to go before national elections.


Spanish airport authority AENA entered the last stages of being listed as a public company this week, with the first appearance on the stock exchange on Wednesday. The final draft of almost 4 million shares were published on Monday, of which a small percentage were reserved for staff, with the minimum price set at 58 euro per share, an increase on the first proposal of between 43 and 55 euro.


Cyclists in Valencia have compiled an interactive map which they hope will show some of the infrastructure deficiencies that they have to deal with on a daily basis, in the hope that at least some of the problems might one day be resolved. The highlighted issues range from everything from a bike lane that suddenly changes from one side of a busy road to another, without the means to cross, an underpass which is protected by a barrier that is almost impossible to pass, and a cycle lane that suddenly stops in the face of a brick wall, without warning or notice, as well as numerous locations where cars invade cycle lanes and bikes mix with pedestrians without warning.


A school from the island of La Palma won the First Lego League in the Canaries competition, beating Nazaret Los Volcanes from Lanzarote into second place, and are now set to compete in the Spanish National competition before one lucky team will join those from across Europe to compete in the World Championship in March, along with almost 80 other countries. FIRST® LEGO® League introduces young people, ages 9 to 14* (grades 4-8), to the fun and excitement of science and technology.


A Briton has been arrested in Spain for ‘killing a paedophile who was filming his daughter’. Paramedics called to the scene rushed the victim to a hospital in La Linea on the border with Gibraltar but he died shortly after arrival. A source from the local Guardia Civil, said: "We believe he died as a result of the single punch he received but this is yet to be confirmed by the post-mortem results."


A court in Elche sentenced a driver to two years in prison and a three year driving ban, after he was found to have been responsible for the death of a passenger in his car which crashed on the road between Santa Pola and Arenales del Sol in 2007, whilst trying to avoid a police checkpoint on the N-332. A claim for 13,500 euro compensation from another passenger was reduced by 20%, on account of that passenger failing to wear a seatbelt at the time of the crash. At the time, accident investigators concluded that the driver was under the influence of alcohol and was driving at excessive speed of 80 kilometres per hour on a road where the limit was just 20.


The UK Home Office has launched an investigation into how an airline passenger was allowed to board a flight from Britain to Spain without a passport. Officials said that the passenger had been allowed to board the Ryanair plane with a photocopy of a bus pass, after his passport was said to have been stolen. The passenger was being questioned at Liverpool John Lennon Airport returning on a flight from the Canary Islands.


King Felipe VI has taken a 20% voluntary pay cut in his 2015 salary, thus affirming his commitment for a fewer frills monarchy. A statement released this week shows how the 47 year old head of state would receive just 234,204 euro, having taken the cut compared with his father´s salary before his abdication.


Unions representing Spanish farmers are demanding urgent action from the Ministry of Agriculture following the discovery of a vector for HLB, one of the most damaging citrus plant diseases in the world. The detection of psyllid Africana in groves in Galicia in the north west of the country marks the first time the insect has been spotted on the Iberian Peninsula, leading to fears it could cause irreversible damage to the country’s citrus exports, worth around 178 million euro a year.


Hoegh Autoliners, a Norwegian company with headquarters in Jacksonville, America, is launching direct car carrying ship service to Barcelona and Valencia, from their Jacksonville base, as well as Veracruz, Mexico. The monthly sailings will use the 2004 built Hoegh Seoul, a 68,871 gross tonnage vessel, expected to carry exports for GM, Chrysler, Nissan, Honda, Ford and Caterpillar.


Saudi Arabian authorities have issued a stark warning to the Spanish consortium building the €6.7-billion AVE high-speed rail link between Medina and Mecca, which is suffering significant delays as the kingdom’s new transport minister, Abdullah bin Abdulrahman al-Muqbel, issued a public statement calling on the 12 company consortium to speed up work or risk having the contract rescinded.


Doctors at a the Gregorio Marañon hospital in Madrid have successfully used stem cells to treat victims of heart attacks for the first time in medical history. Doctors took stem cells that were harvested from a healthy donor and then implanted them into seven different patients who had suffered from a heart attack. They say they are happy with the results and plan to repeat the procedure with at least 55 other patients in an upcoming clinical trial. In an official statement from the hospital, they commented on the success they have seen so far. “Seven patients have already been operated on and they have progressed very well despite having suffered serious damage to their heart tissue”.

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