Volume 29

1Casa News from Spain - No. 29
 
 
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Ferías of San Isidro
 
The Ferías of San Isidro will be celebrated throughout the province over the next few days, with Álora’s fería taking place on Tuesday 17 May 2005.
 
San Isidro is the patron saint of the farmers, and many villages celebrate his day with a procession through the fields and a fiesta, as well as agricultural trade shows.
 
Prince Felipe and Doña Letizia are Expecting their First Child
 
Prince Felipe and Doña Letizia are expecting their first child and future heir to the throne. The baby is due to be born in November. The royal announcement came on Sunday, the couple will be celebrating their first wedding anniversary on May 22nd. The first child of the Prince and Princess will be addressed as His or Her Royal Highness and will receive the title of “Infante” or “Infanta” of Spain. When Felipe and Letizia become King and Queen their first child will become the 36th Prince or Princess of Asturias and heir to the throne.
 
Speculation on names for the baby has already begun with Pelayo, for a boy, or Sofía, for a girl. Choosing Sofía would be a great tribute to the Queen with Pelayo being a typical name from Asturias.
 
Alonso Consolidates his Lead at Barcelona
 
 
Fernando Alonso driving his Michelin shod Renault, finished in a fighting second place to maintain his lead in the title race as he delivered his fifth podium finish in this year’s five races.
 
Alonso showed no disappointment at failing to maintain his remarkable winning streak and said: "I think this second place is like a victory for me here at home because eight points is good in the title race and everyone is happy".
 
On Sunday the 15th of May, the Renault F1 Team will display their F1 car in the historic Istanbul city centre, the stars of this show will be Fernando Alonso
 
and his F1 car, making their first visit to Istanbul to share the emotions of their spectacular sport with the Turkish public.
 
This is a unique opportunity ahead of the inaugural Turkish Grand Prix on 21 August to come and sample, (all for FREE) in relaxed surroundings, the emotion of motorsport’s leading category.
 
Michelin and Elf, historic partners of the Renault F1 Team, will also participate in the event.
 
Briton Arrested
 
Police at Malaga airport have arrested a 55 year old British man for alleged real estate fraud. He was detained by the National Police Fraud Squad for selling houses which did not exist. He does not have a police record in Spain, but in the UK he committed 14 instances of fraud and four robberies between 1974 and 1994.The log homes were to be built near Cártama, their prices were between 76,000 and 86,000 euros.
 
The police estimate that he probably took 300,000 euros from buyers, under false pretences. When the purchasers tried to contact the seller after the sales campaign, he could not be found. One British couple reported that they had handed over 11,700 euros for a three bedroomed dwelling which they expected to take possession of at the end of last year.
 
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Temperatures Soar in May
 
Summer temperatures arrived on the Costa del Sol this week with 30.8°C recorded in Málaga on Monday.
 
Ronda’s 101 Kilometre Race
 
Around 5,400 athletes are expected to take part in the ninth 101 kilometre race through the Ronda mountains on Saturday May 14th. Organised by the Legion, the race, unique in Spain in that the athletes can choose to cover the distance on foot, on horseback, by bicycle or by tandem. This year 140 children will be running the first three kilometres.
 
A Year of Water Shortages?
 
Malaga’s reservoirs are less than 50% of their total capacity the Junta de Andalucía disclosed this week, however they assured residents that 80 per cent of households will have the water they need for the next 12 months . Spokesperson Fuensanta Coves did say however that the area considered to be the most vulnerable to drought was the Costa del Sol.
 
Granada Airport
 
RyanAir have extended their flights to Granada Airport, they now fly daily from Stansted and Liverpool. In addition, Monarch will be flying into Granada from Gatwick from 9 May 2005.
 
New Bus Service for Archidona
 
A new 16 seater bus service local bus service will run initially Monday to Friday from 8 o´clock in the morning until 3 o´clock in the afternoon, however the timetable could be extended if there is sufficient demand. The route will cover the health centre, the industrial estate and the outskirts too.
 
Fall in Property Prices for Spain
 
The Spanish Housing Ministry stated that on average Spanish property prices increased by 15.7% in the 1st quarter of 2005 compared to the same period in 2004. This shows a small drop in prices in comparison to the 17.4% figure in December 2004.
 
A reduction that is welcomed by the Spanish Government who are wishing for a smooth descent rather than a rapid one that many pundits speculated upon.
 
Beware of the Holiday Club Touts
 
As the holiday season starts its inexorable progress towards summertime, early start holidaymakers will soon be fighting off hordes of holiday club touts looking for an easy touch.
 
You should beware of being caught in the trap, warns the consumers body Which?, saying that holiday club members are throwing away thousands of pounds on unavailable or even non-existent accommodation.
 
A holiday club tout who had worked on the Costa del Sol for four years told of tricks of the trade, such as using scratchcards to lure unwary holidaymakers to sales presentations. Tourists can end up parting with as much as £15,000 — with no legal protection if the club goes bust or disappears.
 
"Brits don't like to complain or appear rude, even under pressure", he said. "I've seen couples sit there for six hours. Tired and confused, they end up signing away thousands of pounds just to get the hell out of there."
 
Holiday clubs sprang up in the late 1990s to take advantage of loopholes in timeshare laws. Prospective members are promised cheap holidays all over the world, using empty timeshare accommodation.
 
The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) is currently investigating 40 holiday clubs, having received 341 complaints or enquiries in the last year. The Timeshare Consumers' Association receives over 1,000 complaints a year from dissatisfied holiday club members.
 
Which? editor, Malcolm Coles says, "Most holiday clubs are a waste of money. Even if you are lucky enough to get some of the holidays promised, you could probably have booked them more cheaply from traditional brochures. If you are offered a scratchcard on your next holiday, buy a lottery ticket instead — you've got more chance of hitting the jackpot."
 
Which? has called for support from the UK Government, MEPs and European Commission to extend the Timeshare Directive to cover holiday clubs. This would give buyers a minimum 10-day cooling off period in which no deposits can be paid.
 
Telefonica First Quarter Profits Released For 2005
 
Just 432 million euros is the figure, or put another way around 3,600,000 euros per day, Telefonica said in a statement sent to securities regulators. Sales rose to 3.68 billion euros from 2.64 billion euros.
 
Spain Says Yes on EU Charter
 
The Spanish Parliament ratified the EU constitution on Thursday, approving a document that Spanish voters passed overwhelmingly in a referendum, unfortunately it now faces growing opposition in France.
 
The vote was 311 in favour and 19 against, with no abstentions. Lawmakers stood and applauded after the tally was announced. The draft must now go before the Senate, where approval is also expected.
 
In debate before the vote, Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero expressed hope that Spain, the first EU country to put the document to a popular vote, would set an example for countries where the charter is experiencing "moments of uncertainty."
 
He did not name a country but was apparently alluding to France, where polls consistently show the no vote ahead of those who support the constitution.
 
Spanish Debt Problem?
 
According to the latest numbers by the Bank of Spain, the amount owed by Spanish households rose to a record high last year of €595.18 billion.
 
It seems the Spanish are being pushed into taking on higher and higher mortgages to keep pace with their property boom.
 
Increasing by 17.5% in a year, the rise in debt is almost exactly the same as the rise in property prices throughout Spain.
 
Interest rates are at very low levels and Spain is looking at real term negative rates when inflation is taken into account.
 
The Bank of Spain and the IMF are warning of the dangers to both the real economy and the financial system from sharp rises in interest rates or a plunge in house prices.
 
Increasingly British and European buyers are purchasing property in Spain, taking advantage of the upward growth and buying at almost half the rate of their UK rate. In the past second home buying by non-residents was largely confined to the coast, however this is not the case anymore and inland property is getting more popular so prices are equating there too now.
 
Spanish householders are benefiting from the increased equity but the growth lags behind that of debt by over 9%, the Bank of Spain has repeatedly warned consumers to rein in spending and debt levels.
 
Latest Figures on Foreign Residents in Spain
 
The National Statistics Institute has just published the latest figures corresponding to the number of foreign residents living in Spain. According to the study, 8.4% of Spain's population is non-Spanish.
 
3.69 million foreign residents live in Spain. In 2004 the total population rose by 770,000 and currently stands at 43.97 million inhabitants. The overall rise in population was largely due to the rise in foreign residents; in 2004 over 650,000 non-Spaniards signed the municipal register for the first time.
 
The regional break-down shows that Catalonia experienced the highest rise in population in 2004 (170,000 people), followed by Andalusia (142.000), the Valencian Region (129.000) and Madrid (116.000).
 
European Chosen to Head the World Trade Organisation
 
This week Pascal Lamy won the race to be the next head of the powerful World Trade Organisation, the overseer of global commerce.
 
His diplomatic skills will be put to the test straight away as protectionist forces triggered by the rise of China and tensions between rich and poor countries threaten the World Trade Organisations efforts to create a new global trade pact.
 
His appointment was applauded by many government officials worldwide, not least by American Trade Representative Rob Portman, who said "Lamy's experience would enable him to be a strong public advocate for the World Trade Organisation".
 
“Real, The Movie”
 
A feature film mixing documentary-style footage of Real Madrid soccer stars with fiction became the talk of the Cannes film market on Wednesday as soon as its existence was revealed.
 
"Real, The Movie" is a 90-minute film set for release in July that weaves together five fictional characters from around the world with real-life footage from on and off the pitch of stars David Beckham, Zinedine Zidane, Ronaldo and Raul.
 
"There's been an unbelievable amount of interest," said Simon de Santiago, director of production for the Spanish distributor Sogepaq, which holds the worldwide rights.
 
The film's very existence seemed to surprise buyers at Cannes' "Marche du film" -- the world's biggest film market, with 8,281 participants from 2,977 companies in 79 countries.
 
"Is this the place with the Beckham film?" asked one harried buyer before lining up for an appointment.
 
New Xbox 360 Launched
 
The sleek new Xbox 360 video game console and matching Xbox Wireless Controller was announced to the World this Thursday May 12th.
 
Xbox 360 is the future generation video game and entertainment system that places gamers at the centre of the experience.
 
Available hopefully by Christmas throughout North America, Europe and Japan, Xbox 360 will ignite a new era of digital entertainment that is always connected, always personalized and always in high definition.
 
This product presents a dramatic leap forward in high-definition gaming and entertainment experiences..................They say!
 
2 Executives Face Criminal and Civil Charges in USA
 
Stuart Wolff and Peter Tafeen, former top executives for Homestore Incorporated in USA face charges for alleged insider trading, falsification of accounting records and violating securities laws.
 
The Securities and Exchange Commission and U.S. Justice Department have reportedly launched criminal and civil cases against the two men. Wolff and Tafeen resigned in January 2002. After an exhaustive investigation, they now face 19 criminal counts with a possible maximum sentence of 185 years in federal prison, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office in Los Angeles.
 
Homestore rocketed to the top of the online real estate industry in 1999-2001, but crashed when the firm's accounting scandal broke. The company has struggled ever since to grow revenue and become profitable.
 
Málaga 0 - Villarreal 2
 
Ten man Málaga lose to Villarreal in a game played in soaring temperatures. Juanito hit the post for Málaga early on and Reina tipped two free kicks from Duda against the crossbar either side of half time. But the locals were left with ten men when Romero picked up a second booking, and the visitors took advantage to score twice.
 
Malaga play Real Sociedad this Sunday, 15th May, at the Anoeta Stadium. Kick-off is at 17.00 hours.
 
Spain’s Hero Nadal Edges Out Coria to Capture Crown
 
Spain’s teenage hero Rafael Nadal struggled with blisters and fatigue to win the longest final ever played at the Rome Masters on Sunday, scoring an heroic 6-4, 3-6, 6-3, 4-6, 7-6 (8/6) title victory over Guillermo Coria.
 
The battle lasted for five hours, 14 minutes, beating the 1979 final won by Vitas Gerulaitis over Guillermo Vilas, which ran four hours, 53 minutes.
 
Manchester United Finally Succumbs to Malcolm Glazer?
 
After a second straight day of frenzied buying on the London Stock Exchange, Malcolm Glazer finished up this Friday with nearly enough shares of Manchester United stock to take the famous 127-year-old soccer club private.
 
He had a 74.8 percent stake in the world famous Red Devils, according to documents filed with the exchange, a tantalising 0.2% short of the 75 percent he needs to take the publicly traded company private.
 
All this after a remarkable 26 hours in which the reclusive billionaire increased his stake from an original 28.1 percent by finally convincing two Irish horse racing tycoons to sell their 28.7 percent shareholdings followed up quickly by snapping up an additional 18 percent stake via open-market trades..........................Is this the end of an Era or the start of another?
 
 
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