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30 Jul 2014

Ebola virus a threat

"The risk to UK travellers and people working in [affected countries] of contracting Ebola is very low but we have alerted UK medical practitioners about the situation in West Africa and requested they remain vigilant for unexplained illness in those who have visited the affected area. "It is important to stress that no cases of imported Ebola have ever been reported in the UK and the risk of a traveller going to West Africa and contracting Ebola remains very low since Ebola is transmitted by direct contact with the blood or bodily fluids of an infected person." BBC global health correspondent Tulip Mazumdar said the West African outbreak had been going on for four months. In that time local people had been looking after the sick and carrying out burials, which could actually help to spread the virus, she added. Ebola kills up to 90% of those infected, but patients have a better chance of survival if they receive early treatment. The outbreak - the world's deadliest to date - was first reported in Guinea in February. It then spread to Liberia and Sierra Leone. Ebola virus disease (EVD) Symptoms include high fever, bleeding and central nervous system damage Fatality rate can reach 90% Incubation period is two to 21 days There is no vaccine or cure Supportive care such as rehydrating patients who have diarrhoea and vomiting can help recovery Fruit bats are considered to be virus' natural host

Massive increase in Brits abroad drug arrests

DRUG arrests of Britons in Spain have soared, with an incredible 68% increase on the previous year. In total, 708 Brits have been arrested overseas on drug charges already this year – a shocking 173 of which were in Spain, according to the UK’s Foreign Office. A worrying trend is the reported rise in the use of a party drug named ‘Cannibal’ – due to its tendency to dramatically increase aggressiveness. It is apparently being distributed widely in parts of Spain, including the Balearics. A British man was arrested in Magaluf, after biting beachgoers while high on the drug. The rapid rise in drug-related arrests is due to a serious crackdown on dealers launched by police this year. The second-largest number of drug arrests involving Britons last year was in America, with 102 cases.

Forest fire in Casares

FOREST fire raged today near Casares. The fire was very near the site of Manilva’s Roman baths, inland from Sabinillas. Three helicopters and an aircraft were sent by Infoca in response, and emergency services rushed to the scene. A second fire station was reported to have sent emergency response teams as support.

EU Must Investigate CIA European Prisons Case

EU member states should carry out a thorough investigation into CIA-run prisons in Europe, where the inmates were subjected to torture, Russian diplomat Konstantin Dolgov said Monday. "Human rights activists are reasonably demanding the government of Poland to finally conduct an effective investigation into secret CIA prisons on its territory. Similar steps should be taken by other EU member states on which territories CIA torture camps operated," the Russian Foreign Ministry’s Special Representative for Human Rights wrote on his Twitter page. Last week, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled that Poland violated an international treaty to protect human rights by hosting secret CIA prisons on its territory. The case was filed by two men who charge they were taken to a secret CIA black site in a Polish forest and subjected to torture before being transferred to Guantanamo Bay. An investigation into the detainees' treatment was opened in Poland in 2008 but is still not concluded – a situation that has been condemned by the UN's anti-torture body. Poland is one of a number of European countries accused of hosting secret CIA prisons. Meanwhile, Romania, Bulgaria, and Lithuania also have had allegations made against them for being part of the CIA black site network.

Suspicion of attempting to smuggle drugs arrests in Morocco

The Cyprus Foreign Ministry has confirmed that five Cypriots have been arrested in Morocco on suspicion of attempting to smuggle drugs out of the North African country. The Cypriots – whose ages are still unknown but are said to be over “18 years of age” – were arrested last week as they attempted to leave the country and are said to be looking at criminal charges relating to drug trafficking. Although the exact amount was unconfirmed, sources yesterday suggested that the group attempted to smuggle 15 kilos of hashish out of one of the country’s airports. “We can confirm that five Cypriots have been detained in Morocco and we are liaising with our Embassy in Paris, which is also responsible for Morocco, in an attempt to stay in contact with the individuals,” Ministry official Petros Kestoras told The Cyprus Daily on Tuesday. “We are as yet still unaware as to the exact amount of illegal substances they are said to have reportedly attempted to smuggle. We are also unaware of the exact substances. We do know that criminal procedures are ongoing and that the five individuals are obviously in police custody.” Morocco is one of 32 countries that impose capital punishment for offences involving the illegal importing, exporting, sale, or possession of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances. But there has only been only one execution since 1983, and it happened in 1993. A total of 198 people were sentenced to death between 1956 and 1993, although there was an 11 year lull in executions between January 1982 and August 1993. The issue over capital punishment is a hot topic in Morocco. Officially, the stance of the current government is for "de facto" abolition but the Ministry of Justice has declared that terrorism is still an obstacle to "de jure" abolition. Figures from the US State Department claim that – until 2010 - a total of 104 inmates were on death row. According to a United Nations report, Morocco is a major source for cannabis, of which several hundreds tons reach mainly European markets every year.

Cannabis cultivation is concentrated in the underdeveloped region of the Rif in the North, for which the Government has adopted a national five-year development programme. In addition to the significant illicit trafficking of cannabis resin, the country is affected by growing international trafficking of heroin and cocaine and by related organised crime, including money laundering. As the main supplier country, “Morocco has long been a popular route by which drugs enter Europe”. It is a transit point for the ‘hashish’ consumed in Europe, but also of other illegal drugs principally coming from Latin America and East Asia.

The coast of Spain is the most common landing point of the drug, and to a less extent France, United Kingdom and other European countries Back in December 2012, Spanish police seized eleven metric tons of hashish smuggled from Morocco on trucks with tanks rigged to hide the drugs. Thirty five people were arrested in what was described as the breakup of a major smuggling ring that fed the European market.

29 Jul 2014

Lionel Messi to be prosecuted for alleged tax evasion

A Spanish court will push ahead with prosecuting the Barcelona forward Lionel Messi for alleged tax evasion despite a recommendation from the public prosecutor the charges be dismissed. The prosecutor argued in June that Messi’s father Jorge was responsible for the family’s finances and not the four-times World Player of the Year. However, the court in Barcelona has decided that Lionel Messi could have known about and approved the creation of a web of shell companies that were allegedly used to evade taxes due on income from image rights. The judge in the case ruled that the case against both Messis should continue. Argentina’s Messi and his father were accused last year of defrauding the Spanish state of more than €4m (£3.1m) by filing false returns for the years 2006 to 2009. They have denied wrongdoing.   One of the world’s highest-paid athletes, Messi earns just over $40m (£23.5m) a season in salary and bonuses, according to Forbes magazine, as well as about $23m from sponsors. The magazine has him as the fourth top-earning athlete behind the boxer Floyd Mayweather, Real Madrid footballer Cristiano Ronaldo and basketball player LeBron James.

Third of holidaymakers fall victim to crime in Spain

A new study shows that one in every three Irish people robbed while on a foreign getaway believe they, or a travelling companion, "looked like a tourist" when targeted by thieves. Men are more likely to be robbed with a map in hand or camera around their neck with 33pc of those targeted admitting they were an obvious target for opportunistic thieves, compared to 25pc of women. Overall more than one in every 10 Irish people (12pc) admitted to being robbed while on their holidays in the study by AA Ireland. Men are more commonly targeted than their female counterparts while abroad.

Spain is the holiday destination where most Irish people are robbed with a third of those surveyed revealing they had been robbed there, followed by France and Italy – three of the most popular places for Irish people to holiday. Of the 3,000 holidaymakers surveyed, more than one in every 10 (12pc) said they had been pick pocketed while only slightly less (10pc) said they had items stolen from their accommodation. Another one in 10 had their bank card stolen while the same number revealed they were targeted on public transport. Only 3pc said they were mugged or had their passport or bags stolen. Nearly three out of four (72pc) reported they have never been targeted by thieves while on holidays.

AA Ireland spokesperson Miriam O'Neill said it was important to "blend in" with the locals as much as possible to avoid being targeted. "It's a question of being conscious of your surroundings and making you and your belongings as inaccessible as possible. I'd always advise travellers to know what's covered in their travel insurance too," she said. The majority of robberies are opportunistic, the survey reveals. However, one couple were raided after culprits punctured their tyre then posed as good Samaritans before robbing them. Another person said they were almost robbed by a woman with a baby strapped to a fake arm, leaving her actual hand free to pick pocket.

28 Jul 2014

There is no night life in Spain. They stay up late but they get up late. That is not night life. That is delaying the day…

“There is no night life in Spain. They stay up late but they get up late. That is not night life. That is delaying the day…” Ernest Hemingway Of course Papa Hemingway burned his candle at both ends, but in Spain, anyone would. It is spectacular, and the food was a revelation: the sheer quality of ingredients, the vibrant colours and freshness, the simplicity of the cooking — I’m not talking molecular gastronomy here. I had gone not expecting much, just paella and tapas. Pardon my provincial ignorance. Just tapas?

Rushkinoff cough vodka gives British holidaymakers inexplicable cough

THOUSANDS of British tourists have voiced their concern about developing an inexplicable cough after drinking a cheap brand of vodka in Mallorca. Its low price has turned Rushkinoff into the preferred vodka brand served in bars and restaurants on the island. It is also the vodka of choice for most holidaymakers enjoying a night out on the town since a one-litre bottle can be bought for as little as €3. The strange cough – nicknamed ‘the Rushkinoff cough’ – has people talking on social media. In fact, a Facebook page called ‘I got the Rushkinoff cough’ has already received as many as 12,000 likes.

Tourists affected by the cough have taken to travel websites, including Trip Advisor, to both warn other holidaymakers and complain about the cheap vodka brand. “Avoid it if at all possible! By the end of the holiday I had stopped buying vodka drinks when out because my throat could not take it. I lost my voice… I spent a week at home with a wicked cough and I could hardly speak.” said Rebecca M on Trip Advisor.

An English Literature student at Glasgow University said: “It was about €3 or €4 for a bottle and we presumed it was ok because it is served in all the bars. On the day we left, my throat started feeling scratchy and it got progressively worse. During the next week, I had a really sore throat and a hacking, rasping cough. It sounded like a smoker’s cough but I do not smoke.”

two sisters running a bakery in a desert

The land in Los Monegros in Aragon in northeastern Spain, is almost as arid as a desert. In the 1960s, it was one of the backdrops chosen for spaghetti western films.

Yet for two twenty-something Spanish sisters, it has become the perfect place for their farming and bread-baking business.

Ana Marcen, the elder of the two, says she had no previous experience in agriculture.

"I studied Greek and Latin and used to work in an orchestra as a singer."

Her younger sister Laura used to work as a waitress and studied engineering.

Their business idea grew out of something their uncle told them - that in times gone by, the bread in this part of Spain tasted different.

It was a flavour he missed.

From seed to loaf

'For the seed we grow, the climate is perfect', two sisters explain why they started a bakery and are growing wheat in a Spanish desert.

The sisters say their uncle was "a very curious person, he used to ask himself why bread didn´t taste any longer as it used to."

They discovered that a type of wheat seed, known as Aragon 03, had been the secret behind the region's distinctly-flavoured bread.

They found an elderly couple who still had a small quantity of the Aragon 03 seed. The Marcens bought two bags of the seeds - and from that their business has grown.

The concept of their business is to control the entire bread-making process.

They grow the wheat, mill the flour and bake the bread, muffins and other bakery snacks.

"Unlike other traditional bakeries that just sell organic products, we control the whole process", says Laura.

A combine harvester in a wheat field Los Monegros may be very dry - but the Marcen sisters' wheat is well-suited to these conditions

'You must be mad'

They set up their business in 2007, just before Spain's economic and financial crisis hit.

They were able to get a bank loan of €250,000, ($335,000; £200,000) which they think would be harder to come by in today's post-recession climate.

In the first year, their business lost lots of money, but by the third year they broke even.

Now, seven years after they first started farming and baking, they own two bakeries and sell their products in eight others.

Whatever profit they make, they reinvest in their business as they want to expand and sell online.

"Many people told us we were crazy for trying to run a business like ours in a (dry) place like this. But we found out that the seed we grow is perfect for this climate", says Laura.

"People think that there is no life in Los Monegros, but in reality the region is rich in plants and wildlife.

"As my uncle used to say, you have to bend your knees and look closely. For example, I see opportunities where others don't."

A man buying baked goods in the company shopThe niche product has a loyal clientele which has been the key to the business turning a profit

Family idea, family business

From the very start, this was a family-run business.

Their father Daniel harvests the crop, their mother Mercedes, works in one of their shops, and their younger brother, Jesus, mills the flour and bakes the bread.

27 Jul 2014

Spain: Royals' plane food budget to double

The Spanish Ministry of Defence has doubled its catering budget for a fleet of seven planes carrying Spanish royals, ministers and other senior officials, it seems. The government's congressional record has said the annual budget is going up to 133,000 euros (£105,000) from 65,000 euros the year before, news website 20minutos reports, adding that it's not unusual for officials to end up exceeding the budget. The website suggests the final bill for 2014 could come in at around 414,000 euros. Trays of peeled seasonal fruit, sirloin steak, Segovia suckling pig and Bilbao sea bass are among the 29 dishes on the menu - although it's reported that alcohol hasn't been served on board since 2012. Prices will be capped for some individual items - for example, the government won't pay more than 35 euros for a kilo of pecorino cheese - and some of the most expensive items have been taken off the menu altogether. The new budget comes amid a defence department review of the fleet's maintenance procedures following two recent breakdowns, and may consider renewing some of the aircraft in the fleet.

26 Jul 2014

Police are keeping watch on five drug traffickers trapped on a ship in Málaga

The initially eight drug traffickers were released by the National Court following the reform, carried out by Justice Minister, Alberto Ruiz-Gallardón which considered the Spanish Court is not competent to judge a ship seized in international waters.
Fri Jul 25, 2014 - 13:50

Following the Supreme Court’s overturning of the reform of Universal Justice Law it could be the drug traffickers involved could now be prosecuted in the Spanish Court, and for that reason the police are keeping watch.

mayak2.jpg
The Mayak in Málaga Port


The vessel was intercepted last March when 30 nautical miles SE of Málaga. The 63.5 metre long ‘Mayak’ was constructed in 1968 and was flying the Sierra Leona flag. The investigators call this type of ship the mother ship, because they receive and supply drugs to other smaller ships which bring the drugs to the European coast.



When customs boarded the ship, she had been loaded up just an hour before and eight crew were caught red-handed introducing the bales of drug into the bodega.

La Opinion de Málaga reports the arsenal of war weapons found in Málaga was used for their sale and international trafficking.

La Opinion de Málaga reports the arsenal of war weapons found in Málaga was used for their sale and international trafficking. 148 firearms have been impounded, with 55 grenades of different types, more than 160 ammunition cartridges of different calibre, three anti-tank mines, an artillery rocket and a heavy mortar. One of the detained spoke of the arms sale in a book.

Renfe in Costa del Sol hit by lack of drivers

Six lines to Fuengirola and Alora have been cancelled due to a lack of train drivers. The termination will affect almost 1,500 people. The drivers union says that many more drivers are needed to keep the services going. On the other hand, Renfe said that part of the problem is that driver absenteeism has gone up by 10%. The company also added that they were doing their best to ‘urgently resolve the problem to get things back to normal as soon as possible’. However, they gave no guarantee or target date on this. The drivers union believe that Malaga requires at least eight more drivers and that Renfe simply need to employ more. They point out that there are 500 unemployed drivers they could hire tomorrow and that they paid €22,000 to take the training course. They also warned that under these current conditions, problems are set to continue all summer long.

23 Jul 2014

TOWIE hunk took to Instagram with a series of snaps from his latest holiday in Ibiza.

Tom Pearce is seriously enjoying the windswept look [Instagram]
Tom Pearce is seriously enjoying the windswept look [Instagram]

Earlier today the TOWIE hunk took to Instagram with a series of snaps from his latest holiday in Ibiza.

As if Marbella wasn't enough, James Argent's pal made sure he had extra time out from filming to enjoy a lads holiday.

And judging by these photos the Essex boy had a whale of a time – soaking up the sun on a yacht.

The TOWIE star's boys holiday turned out slightly different... [Instagram]

The TOWIE star's boys holiday turned out slightly different... [Instagram]

Tom also jumped at the chance to show off his tanned and toned six pack whilst making the most of his drama-free getaway compared to Marbella.

But what first looked like a lads holiday then seemed to involve a lot more bikinis than Grace Andrews might have hoped.

"Team Photo @ Blue Marlin Ibiza," the cheeky chap added.

Just adding to the TOWIE drama, eh Tom.

James Argent's pal seemed to be having a lonesome party on the yacht [Instagram]
 
James Argent's pal seemed to be having a lonesome party on the yacht [Instagram]

Six Russian oligarchs – possibly including Putin himself – are building a €19 million mansion inside the walls of one of the world’s most exclusive residential estate – Marbella’s own Zagaleta.

 

Six Russian oligarchs – possibly including Putin himself – are building a €19 million mansion inside the walls of one of the world’s most exclusive residential estate – Marbella’s own Zagaleta. Putin is rumoured to have visited the area a number of times over the last few years. Marbella town hall statistics revealed that there has been a significant increase in Russian expats and holidaymakers over the last year. In that time, two Russian magazines and a radio station have opened, as well as various businesses entirely geared towards the Russian enclave.

Spanish economic recovery in danger as Europe considers Russia action

Spain’s already fragile economy could be teetering on the brink as the EU decides whether to impose sanctions against Russia. A crackdown on Russian investment and assets in Europe would badly hit Spain, which has seen a large influx of Russian capital over the last few years. It comes after the UK government openly accused Russia of arming and supporting the Ukrainian rebels who shot down a Malaysia Airlines passenger jet last week, killing 295 people. Britain is now pushing for EU sanctions to freeze the assets of Putin’s wealthy group of ‘cronies’ – many of whom have financial connections with the Costa del Sol – unless Putin cooperates with a Flight MH17 probe. But Spain is joined by Italy, Finland and France in its reluctance to impose strong sanctions – in part because of strong economic ties with the country.

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