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I am, for my sins, a shareholder in Mediaset España (newspapers, TV, etc). That’s right, the one that’s going under as it is struggling to compete in todays digital world. Anyhoooow.
They sent me the annual shareholder voting form, promising me 0,00012€ a share if I turned up in person to the meeting, or else use the free postal envelope to vote. Hey, it’s the only chance I ever have to vote in Spain, so I take these opportunities with gusto.
After carefully filling out the rather short form, and ticking the complicated boxes (“No” to the proposition to increase the salaries of the directors) I turned my attention to getting the pre folded form into the preprinted envelope.
Only to find it wouldn’t fit. Bugger. The envelope is just a tad smaller than the prefolded form. It’s little things like this that really put a dampner on your day. Is it incompetence? I always assume that some pencil pusher somewhere in Madrid is quietly giggling to himself over the practical joke he’s just played on 200,000 pensioners and expats.
I eventually had to screw the form up into a little square and stuff it into the envelope, then cover the envelope with sellotape to stop it bursting back open. They’ll probably assume it’s a bomb and destroy it in Correos, if it doesn’t get stuck in the letterbox.
La Voz de Almería reports that Calar Alto, the observatory high on the hills above the desert of Tabernas, is on the brink of closure after seeing its budget slashed by 70%.
“The only rational choice at this budget level” reports the director of the Instituto de Astrofísica de Andalucía (IAA-CSIC), Matilde Fernández, in an interview, “is to lay off staff and put our multi-million euro telescopes into storage”.
The budget has been cut to just 1,2 million euros for 2013 (down 75% over 2008 levels) after the Spanish state suspended its annual grant to the observatory as part of the austerity measures. The director says that at this level, she will have to fire 50 scientists (about half of the staff there),and put most of their equipment into long term storage.
The German-Spanish Astronomical Center at Calar Alto is located in the Sierra de Los Filabres (Andalucía, Southern Spain) north of Almeria.
It is operated jointly by the Max-Planck-Institut für Astronomie (MPIA) in Heidelberg, Germany, and the Instituto de Astrofísica de Andalucía (CSIC) in Granada/Spain. Calar Alto provides three telescopes with apertures of 1.23m, 2.2m and 3.5m to the general community. A 1.5m-telescope, also located on the mountain, is operated under the control of the Observatory of Madrid.
Calar Alto is the highest peak (2168 m over sea level) in the Sierra de Los Filabres, above Tabernas desert. It is also the highest peak in the province of Almería.
Google Flights has launched for Spain, showing a comprehensive network of flights into and out of Spain, and a price comparision tool.
However, rather annoyingly, none of the major “low costs” such as Ryanair, Easyjet, LAN or Binter Canarias (who?!) allow their flights to appear on it.
You can also see a map showing stop overs, etc. Quite fun for about 45 seconds.
For some reason – prices are quoted in US$.
So, actually, it’s pretty useless. Probably good for the long distance flights tho’.
Bankia the bank is being forced to close a load of offices across Spain. Well, it’s bankrupt, nationalised, and burning billions of euros of taxpayers cash a year, so some of its overpaid and useless staff are being laid off.
Anyway, clients of Bankia on the Baleric Island of Menorca are up in arms after Bankia announced all three of its offices on the small island will close next week.
Instead, Bankia clients are cordially invited to come to their next nearest office – on the nearby island of Majorca.
The fact that you need to cross 33 nautical miles of sea to get there seems to have escaped the bank, whose letter to clients informed them that their new friendly neighbourhood office would love to see them.
The bank told elmundo.es that yes, the new office is a little far away, but all of its clients have 24 hour online banking or via their nearest ATM.
Vanesa Segura, the only Izquierda Unida councillor in the townhall of Almeria, has quit with immediate effect to go to live in the USA.
“My visa arrived today, and so I give notice that I am leaving to go to live in the states” she explained to local press. “It’s the best thing for my family and I”.
Locals appear annoyed that she’s dropped everything to go and live with her partner in the States. And even more annoyed that she is publically saying that she thinks she’ll be better off there. You know the place is going to the dogs when even the politicians are fleeing. Anything to do with the fact that under the new PP laws she won’t be getting paid anymore?
The EU “troika” has issued a report on Spains economy which says that progress in modernising the nations outdated social network is, whilst satisfactory, rather slow.
It urges Spain to either up IVA again, or failing that, shift as many goods as it can into the high 21% band; slash social spending again, reign in the regions and increase the age of retirement once more.
The EU calculates that Spain is currently running a 10 billion euro deficit (10,000 million) on its pension scheme and warns that the nation cannot afford to continue to pay pensions unless it ups the pot.
They have again requested that Spain introduces a more efficient and transparant budget control office to oversee spending.
This week saw unemployment raise again, passing the five million unemployed level for the first time.
1.- Spain, especially Andalucia, is a god fearing Catholic nation.
2.- We have had, so far this year, not one drop of rain, having baked under incessent sunshine since December.
3.- Today is celebrated over all of Andalucia as its “national day”, with the politicians making speeches about how great they are, and how lucky we are to be living here in Andalucia under their wise guiding light.
4.- Yesterday was sunny.
5.- Tomorrow is likely to be sunny.
6.- Today it’s pissing it down, and the celebrations have been rained off.
7.- God works in mysterious ways, but seems to be as fond of a practical joke as anyone else. Omens, etc, also crop up. Getting politicians all excited about their big day before raining it off is a good one.
8.- Ergo, God is scolding the politicians by making sure it rains on “their” day.
Thank God we don’t still worship the Old Testament, we’d be up to our ears in frogs. Now, who wants to carpool to the Church?
Europe has finally decided that, yes, about 219 million euros of FEDER Eu funds granted to Andalucia between 1994 and 1997 seems to have gone missing.
Andalucia was one of the largest benefectors of EU funds during this time, receiving about 3.3 billion which went towards roads, motorways, hospitals, schools, farms, etc, in an attempt to drag the place into the late 20th century. As you can imagine, with so much cash coming in, quite a few people.. how should I put it? Filled their boots is the expression I was searching for.
Anyway, the EU tribunal has now fined Andalucia 29 million euros for a multitude of sins, including the awarding of contracts and payment of them without any work being carried out; contracts being awarded without proper process (ie, to the nearest primo), etc etc etc. Pais Vasco and Valencia are in similar boats. In all, 63 million euros must be returned this year by Spain to the EU. Although El Pais points out that the UK has to return a whopping 138 million euros.
Anyway, the Kingdom of Spain, which didn’t argue that the accusations were lies, decided to argue that the amounts calculated were extrapolations and therefore inadmissable in court. An argument which the EU supreme court this week cast out. And, apart from the 29 million euros in fines, the 219 million euros should, in theory, be returned in the future, via a reduction in future EU aid to the region.
Rather more amusingly, Andalucia has now said that Madrid must make up this shortfall. The reason being? Incompetent legal defense, it seems.
Employees of Turre townhall were informed this evening that they won’t be getting paid this month.
It seems that the mayor (Arturo Grima, PP) has a choice between paying the salaries, or paying off the interest the town owes Santander bank, according to Councillor Martin Morales (IU).
And if he chooses to pay his workers, Santander can lodge criminal proceedings against him, because he had cash in the bank and owed the bankers money.
So, legally, he has to pay the bankers the interest, instead of paying the wages of the people who work for the townhall.
And these workers probably can’t now afford to pay their mortgages, loans, etc this month, and will see the same thing happen next month. So Santander gets the monthly interest, but then has to face up to these additional problems.
And we wonder why Spain is going down the pan……
PS: don’t expect much service from the townhall staff this March. They may be grumpy.
Luis Cañadas was known as Almería’s foremost artist and was one of the founders and great proponents of indaliano, the artistic movement concentrated around Mojacar.
He passed away yesterday, aged 85, in Madrid, and his ashes will be scattered in Bentarique, the town he was from.
No doubt Lenox will have more information on him – I’m not much up in the art world. La Voz has a nice obituary on him.
Not to be nasty, but Indaliano to me as an art movement basically seemed to mean “anyone who put an Indalo in the painting during the Mojacar hippie years”.
Still, he seems to have made a decent living as a painter, albeit a long way away from Almeria (he went up there in the late 40′s on a sponsorship and never left, according to La Voz), so well done Luis.