Volume 97

Cristina Sanchez
Saturday, 10th February 2007 - No. 116
1Casa Topical Digest of News and Views from the Andalucia Area in Spain
St Valentine's Day
Valentine's Day or Dia de los Enamorados is not only a commercial invention tied to lovers, it has its historical background in pagan rituals that date back to Roman times and is associated with fertility.  In fact its original date was 15th February but after a papal prohibition, it changed to 14th.
Over 4 Million Foreigners Live in Spain
Foreigners registered at local town and city halls in Spain are now numbered at over four million for the first time. It means that foreigners now make up 9.3% of the population, according to the provisional data from the National Statistics Institute. The number was just 2.3% in 2000.  More than two and a half million foreign residence cards were issued in last year. The regions with most foreign residents are Cataluna, Madrid and Valencia, while the province with most foreigners is Alicante where foreigners make up 20% of the population.
Spain Pioneers Surgery Procedure
Doctors have successfully carried out the world's first operation to implant stem-cells from fatty tissue into the heart, the patient, a 67 year-old Spaniard, was given the pioneering treatment for chest angina and damaged coronary arteries, the 5 hour operation was performed last month, however doctors at the Gregorio Maranon Hospital in Madrid only made the results public on Monday. Doctors said it could make it possible for the patient, who was not named, to have a normal life, they claimed it marked a "medical landmark".  The technique was first tested on 36 patients with the help of American cardiologist Emerson Perin, from Houston in the US, the chosen patient had undergone other treatment which had not worked so doctors did not have any other option.
Microsoft's Windows Mobile 6 Debut at Barcelona Conference
Microsoft has announced that it will debut its Windows Mobile 6 at next week's 3GSM World Conference in Barcelona. The operating system, previously known as 'Crossbow' is expected to come in three different versions that are compatible with Windows Vista, Microsoft Office 2007 and Microsoft Exchange.  Due in the second quarter of 2007, the operating system is expected to include BlackBerry-like push e-mail and take advantage of features in Windows Vista, Microsoft Office 2007 and Microsoft Exchange. Executives are expected to be on stage at the annual mobile and wireless show to demonstrate the cell phone operating system along with its handset partners.
Police Recover up to 300,000 Precious Artefacts from Thieves
The  Guardia Civil arrested 52 people this week for allegedly stealing precious artefacts from archaeological digs across the country, officers carried out some 60 raids in Zamora, Barcelona and Madrid, the suspects included alleged thieves, intermediaries and collectors of the archaeological treasures, at least 30 archaeological sites in Huelva, Cadiz, Granada, Jaen and Cordoba were damaged by thieves.
Extra Luggage Surcharges
British Airways has announced that it will be charging passengers surcharges for extra luggage from 13th February.  Here is a link to their website for further details.  http://www.britishairways.com/travel/flightops/public/en_gb?p_faqid=2515
Easyjet Number One
Easyjet has taken over from Iberia in 2006 in terms of numbers of passengers passing through Malaga airport.  According to Aena, the Spanish Airports Authority, in 2006 1,630,535 passengers travelled with Easyjet compared to Iberia's figure of 1,347,456.  Spanair was next on the list with 952,669 passengers followed by Monarch with 920,870.  Of the total 13,033,130 passengers who travelled to or from the airport, 12.5% flew with Easyjet.
Beach Cleaning Continues
Work to empty the remaining fuel from the tanks of the stricken ‘Sierra Nava’ is set to take another 2 weeks, the ship ran aground off an Algeciras beach in stormy seas at the end of January, leaking oil into the sea and onto local beaches. Enrique Cervera from the Andaluz government said that almost two and a half tons of polluted sand has now been removed, he confirmed that El Chinarral Beach is 80% clear, and Getares 100%. He said that the Junta de Andalucía have now charged the ship’s owners with an ecological crime, via the environmental department of the prosecution service.
Andalucia Romances New York With Flamenco Festival 2007
Andalucia returns to New York this month with its seventh annual Flamenco Festival featuring stellar artists and over 100 dancers, singers and musicians, highlights at New York City Centre include the Ballet Flamenco de Sara Baras and Compania Rafaela Carrasco (February 15th -18th). This year's festival expands to additional stages with a concert by revered guitarist Paco de Lucia at Carnegie Hall on 10th February, as well as performances by flamenco celebrities at NYU Skirball Centre February 22nd -24th.
Malaga Centro Train Station Tunnel to be Widened
Renfe, the Spanish railway company, has announced that widening of the tunnel to the Alameda station in Malaga is to go ahead at a cost of 23.4 million Euros.  The work will allow more local trains on the Fuengirola line to reach the centre station.  The platform at the station will also be lengthened from 100 to 160 metres.  The work is expected to take nearly 2 years.
Antequera Town Hall Clock to be Repaired
The Town hall of Antequera will recover the clock of the Torre del Papabellotas, which forms part of the Alcazaba.  The cost of the repairs will be 12,300 Euros and the work will begin in the next few days.  Also, work has been carried out to replace various pieces of the clock including new hands on the tower of San Sebastian church that were worn out.
Antequera to invest 1.4 Million Euros in Putting Rubbish Containers Underground
The Ayuntamiento of Antequera is to invest 1.4 million Euros in putting rubbish containers underground in the historic centre in an action planned by the municipal company, Aguas del Torcal, employed for refuse collection.  The underground containers will be sited in the plazas Abastos and Fernadez Viagas, San Luis, Coso Viejo and Calle Unfante Don Fernando, by means of a system of "islands", each one of them with four containers with characteristics that will determine where they will be sited.
Bailiffs Serve Writs to Brits in Marbella
A boss who sacked his staff by text message when his compensation firm went bust has been tracked down to Marbella, Inland Revenue investigators hit Accident Group boss Mark Langford and his wife Debbie with writs totalling £4.1 million as they got onto their luxury yacht in Puerto Banus marina at the weekend. In dramatic fashion, a bailiff slapped writs into both their hands, as they turned up at their £1.5 million boat. The pair had been preparing a lavish birthday party for their daughter on the 80-foot Ferretti yacht, when the British bondsman ran over.  ‘It was very embarrassing for them,’ said one onlooker. ‘The bailiff got Langford as he walked up the gangplank in front of dozens of tourists, ‘He went completely grey and his legs almost buckled, ‘He was furious and tried to snatch the writ out of the bailiff’s hand, "And then when his wife refused to get off the Yacht, the bailiff threatened to shout out the contents of the demand to the whole port, you should see how quickly she ran off the boat to get it then." The moves complete a 12 month investigation to trace money lost when the Accident Group went bust in 2003, Langford and his wife have been spending most of their time in Spain since the "no win, no fee" company went under with £100m debts in 2003.
AVE to Expropriate 212 Fincas in Alora, Pizarra and Cartama
The works of the AVE high speed train necessitates the expropriation of more than 180,000 square metres of land from 212 fincas in the Alora, Pizarra and Cartama, all municipalities of the Guadalhorce Valley.  Specifically, the Official Bulletin of the State (BOE) published this week states that the expropriation on the part of the Ministerio de Fomento of a total of 212 estates over which will run six service roads to connect with the tunnels of the new line.
Valle de Abdalajis
Residents in Valle de Abdalajís have still not received compensation for the burst aquifer caused during works to the AVE high speed train tunnels, which has caused the loss of up to 400 litres of water a second since it happened in March 2005. The Mayor, Tomas Gomez, said that no agreement has yet been reached between the ADIF (the railway infrastructure administrator body) and the town council. The Town Hall and the residents had agreed to request compensation in the form of improvements to the road which connects Antequera and Zalea, the construction of a new road to Almogia and the construction of a covered sports centre. ADIF has, however, awarded the contract to seal the tunnels at the end of October 2006 at a cost of 41.3 million Euros.
Alaves 0 - 1 Malaga
A single goal secured Malaga’s first away victory since 24th September last year.  This weekend, Malaga play Albacete at home.  Kick off at 5.00 pm on Sunday 11 February.
Spain Beat England at Old Trafford
England suffered a 1-0 defeat to Spain at Old Trafford to increase the pressure on boss Steve McClaren, a stunning goal from Barcelona star Andres Iniesta gave the visitors a deserved victory over a disjointed England who left the field to a chorus of boos, McClaren's side have now scored just once in their last four matches going into the crunch Euro 2008 qualifier with Israel next month.
David Beckham to Play for Real Madrid this Weekend
David Beckham has been re-called to the Real Madrid side for Saturday's game against Real Sociedad.   Manager, Fabio Capello, had said that Beckham would not play for Real Madrid again, having announced that he has joined Los Angeles Galaxy, but pressure from fans and other players has, it appears, forced him to reconsider his decision. Capello justified his change of heart by saying that he was concerned that Beckham would not be as committed to the club, but that he had seen from the training sessions that he was.
Rafael Nadal Out of Davis Cup Tie
World tennis number two Rafael Nadal had to pull out of the opening tie of his country's Davis Cup World Group first round tie with Switzerland, after straining a muscle in training. Nadal's withdrawal was announced by tournament officials half an hour before he was due to play Swiss number three Marco Chiudinelli in yesterday’s first singles match.
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