Spain Escapes Loss Of EU Funding
Brussels has decided not to withhold funds from Spain as a sanction for the country's failure to meet its debt targets – just four months after the EU let it off a fine totalling 0.2% of the GDP for the same reason.
Although the fine, which would have been around €2 billion, was waived, Brussels was still intending to keep back 50% of EU funds from Spain until its national debt was reduced in accordance with European rules. This would have deprived Spain of around €1.2bn in essential grants, but the European Parliament urged Brussels not to retain the money, stressing that the Spanish government had taken 'sufficient measures' to try to repair the deficit.
Brussels has agreed, but warns that in the absence of major changes in economic policy, Spain is at risk of failing to comply with debt targets in 2017. The national debt – 5% of the GDP and the highest it has been for over a century – is well above the target of 4.2% imposed by the EU.
Spain looks on target to meet the 4.6% agreed for 2016, but does not expect to be able to bring the debt down below 3.8% next year.
Income tax and value-added tax (IVA) will not go up next year.
Barcelona and Santa Coloma To Introduce Own Local Currency
Barcelona will have its own 'virtual currency' by next year, despite the Bank of Spain warning the move is 'ill-advised'.
From January 1, 2017, Santa Coloma de Gramenet will accept its own local currency in 108 shops, restaurants and other business premises and the so-called 'social currency' will be in operation in the Nou Barris, Sant Andreu and Sant Martí neighbourhoods. By the year 2019, the whole of the metropolitan area will accept the local money. Physical coins and notes will not be minted, since payment is entirely electronic via mobile phones and tablets and Barcelona will be one of 4,000 cities worldwide to use its own currency.
Bristol in the UK, was the flagship city for Europe.
The community currency is aimed at promoting local business and is part of a wider 'fair trade' or 'social economy' plan set up in Barcelona with a budget of €24 million.
Salamanca Scientists Find Genetic Predictor Of Stroke Patient Recovery
The protein p53-Prolina, when present, means patients who suffer a haemorrhagic stroke, where a blood vessel breaks in the brain, have a better prognosis of functional recovery, since this chemical has a greater ability to repair vascular damage. By contrast, the protein p53-Arginina is associated with a very poor outlook and speeds up death of neurons following a stroke.
A haemorrhagic stroke is the type which carries the highest mortality rate. 50% of patients do not survive beyond a month after suffering one and those who do live for any length of time afterwards face a very high risk of permanent damage. 20% of those who survive are entirely dependent upon carers within six months. Recovery in patients of this type of stroke is 'determined by their genotype'.
Spain Needs To Spend Half A Billion On Global Warming
According to Oxfam, Spain has spent less than 1% of the sum it promised to invest in battling the effects of climate change between 2015 and 2018.
"The Spanish government needs to put an end to its current negligent attitude in terms of the fight against global warming and commit itself to work harder on reducing emissions and making a fair contribution," slammed Oxfam during the Climate Change Summit (COP22) in Marrakech. "Spain accounted for the third-highest emissions increases in Europe between 1990 and 2014, not counting the 3.5% rise in 2015." Greenpeace has also criticised Spain for failing to reduce greenhouse gases.
The poorest 50% of the world's inhabitants – around 3.6 billion people – generate around 10% of the planet's greenhouse gases and yet they live in communities which are most vulnerable to the dangerous effects of climate change.
Between 2008 and 2014, a total of 22.5 million people were forced out of their homes every year as a consequence of natural disasters caused by global warming, or an average of 62,000 people a day. The El Niño phenomenon this year has been particularly pronounced and, combined with climate change, means around 60 million people on the planet are at risk of famine.
Village Offers Residents €300 To Have Or Adopt A Child
A tiny village in the Castilla y León province of Ávila is offering its residents a one-off 'baby cheque' of €300 to have a child or adopt one. With just 250 inhabitants, Aldeaseca, whose name translates as 'dry hamlet', is suffering serious population decline and fears it will be wiped out altogether in a generation. Grants will be backdated for parents who have had a child at any time in 2016, or adopted one who was aged five and under at the time.
Castellón Airport Takes Off
Business is booming at Castellón airport with over 110,000 passengers having travelled to and from the terminal since the airport opened in December 2014. Ryanair was the first carrier to operate from it and flights taking off from Castellón have been 80% full on average, even in low season.
Four routes operate from Castellón – to London, Sofia (Bulgaria) and Bucharest (Romania) and Bristol for part of the year. These will restart in March 2017.
Calls To Cut IVA On Gluten-Free Groceries
Antonio Hurtado, MP in Córdoba, is calling for Spain's PP government to drop IVA on groceries for coeliacs to 4%, the bottom rate which applies to basic staples like milk, bread and eggs, instead of the current 21%. This affects an estimated 1% of Spain's population, but as at least 75% of patients are thought to be undiagnosed, the figure is thought to be higher still.
56 Paedophiles Arrested
Officers from the National Police have arrested 56 paedophiles for distributing, via the Internet, images of extremely serious sexual abuse of young children. All those arrested were male, the majority between the ages of 40 and 60. Some had been arrested before for identical crimes.
They are accused of sharing child pornographic material via the Peer to Peer network, one of the most commonly used networks for this kind of content.
Wild Boar Cause Destruction
Wild boar coming down from the mountains and invading town centres are becoming a serious problem nationwide. In the latest incident, 15 children had to be evacuated from their after-school club in Amposta (Tarragona Province) when one of these creatures ran amok in the playground.
Wild boar destroy farm crops and if they wander onto roads they can put drivers' lives at risk. They have been known to attack humans, so don't feed them, as this will get them used to humans, but doesn't actually tame them.
Catalunya is putting together a 'catch, neuter, return' programme for both male and female wild boar in order to diminish the population.
Meningitis-Causing Giant African Snails
Huge numbers of African giant snails, an invasive species which causes damage to native flora and fauna and carries parasites which can be harmful to humans have been found in Castilla-La Mancha and Andalucia. The Achatinafulica is normally found in the Americas, SE Asia, Australia, Japan and the Pacific Islands. Police seized several hundred and warned that dealing in exotic, forbidden species is illegal.
They cause mass destruction to crops and other wildlife and can even bring on brain infections in humans. The snails house a type of worm which can be passed onto people either through eating the snails, handling them, or eating vegetables grown where they have been, as well as through consuming meat from animals which have become infected.