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August 25th 2008

The Spanair plane crash last week at Madrid airport included two Fuerteventurans from Tuineje as its victims. Angry relatives of Madrid crash victims asked yesterday why the aircraft was allowed to fly two hours after it aborted a take-off because of a technical fault. A total of 153 people died on Wednesday when the Spanair aircraft bound for Las Palmas failed to take off, crashing shortly beyond the runway and bursting into flames. Nineteen people were injured. Spanair officials confirmed that the pilot aborted his first take-off attempt after noticing that an air intake under the cockpit window was overheating. Javier Mendoza, the airline’s deputy managing director, said that the problem was treated and corrected by maintenance personnel, who switched off power to the intake – standard procedure for the McDonnell Douglas MD82 aircraft. His explanation did little to quell the anger of relatives who gathered at a makeshift mortuary in a convention centre to identify the bodies.
One survivor, Ligia Palomino, said: “The plane was wobbling from one side to another. I don’t know what happened next. I was in a sort of river and saw people, smoke, explosions.”
An air hostess in an Iberia aircraft that was coming into land heard her captain exclaim: “That plane is not taking off. It’s eating up the runway!” She said the Spanair aircraft’s left engine exploded when it was about 70 metres in the air and fell “like a leaf”.
She said: “As it swerved, its left wing touched the ground, there was an explosion and the plane broke apart.”
A Spanish pilots’ union claimed that Spanair, which is cutting jobs, was asking pilots to carry out repair work because of a shortage of maintenance personnel. Spanair, a subsidiary of Scandinavian Airlines System (SAS), rebuffed the criticism, insisting that the company had an exemplary safety record. Swedish media also reported that there were 166 passengers on the flight list even though SAS’s annual report says that the maximum number of seats is 150. SAS said it was normal to put extra seats on aircraft and that this had nothing to do with safety.
There were also reports yesterday that the 15-year-old aircraft was due to be retired from service later this year.
One theory is that thrust reversers, normally used only at touchdown, were deployed. That would explain why the pilots were unable to control the craft despite reaching normal take-off speed. In 1991, a Boeing 767 crashed in Thailand with the loss of 223 lives when the thrust reverser went in. [TIMES ONLINE)operation automatically.

The 33rd edition of the Festival for Youth has already begun, events continue in Gran Tarajal until August 31st. Among the many activities during the 14 days of this celebration, are sport tournaments, including beach soccer, beach volleyball, 2 a-side football andand 3 a-side basketball. It also includes word games and lectures on different topics of interest in the island. On the the beach, there are sack races or pañuelito, board games and inflatable castles for the little ones. Apart from the sports, the week of Youth has several entertainment activities such as: foam party, tricycles, relay races, and toy libraries. A star player is chosen from the concerts and galas to be held over the two weeks of events. On Friday August 22nd, coinciding with the concert of The Jeffrey, the number of buses increased between Gran Tarajal-Puerto del Rosario, on Tuesday, 26 services will be strengthened during the afternoon. As well as special services to enable the completion of the gala Fuerteventura Summer Experience. These services are in place to prevent the public being forced to go with their cars at night and that this celebration is not tarnished by the mixture of alcohol and driving. On Sunday 31st the festival closes with soaking those who have refused to end the party at dawn.

The Cabildo of Puerto del Rosario will develop a programme of prevention and health to promote safe sexual practices and advice to prostitutes. Councillor Victor Alonso explained that they have a responsibility to help these people, who are often helpless. Since early July, a psychologist, a social worker and an administrative assistant have developed a programme to approach this problem.

12 young people, from 9 countries are participating in Tamaragua 2008,which joins fun and working together with a mixture of cultures. The morning sees basic tasks of caring for the environment, while in the afternoons they learn about leisure and culture that exists in our island. In exchange for their work in caring for the environment and clearing rubbish they are provided with meals and the activities. In carrying out the clean-up they have removed more than 3,000 kilos of garbage. For their leisure they have done Canary wrestling, Canary ball, play stick, diving, windsurfing, kayaking and been to the Island of Lobos and visited places of interest on Fuerteventura.

Fred Olsen has announced a reduction of fuel surcharge from the 1st September. This will lower prices and allow an increase in the number of passengers.

A year after its inauguration, the day centre for minors in Tuineje closed. The city council had difficulties regarding a connection of the electrical system, and is trying to resolve them. The facilities and furniture run the risk of deteriorating through lack of use.

The Canary Islands have registered 25 deaths in the work sector in the first half of the year, although general accidents have fallen. 5 were going to and from work, 11 in construction, 8 in agriculture and 1 in fishing.

Fred Olsen will dismiss 25% of their ground crew and will introduce a system of shift work.

If you've always fancied flying your own plane into Fuerteventura airport, you can now - online! www.flightsim.com has added our airport to their flight simulation programme. It includes a realistic rendering of the surrounding environment as well as an accurate representation of the runways ad approaches.

WEIRD

For those busy parents who need to be reminded that they have brought their tots with them in the car, an alarm alerts if they exit the car without them. Said one Texas woman interviewed "As a mom you can really get distracted."

Unrealistic expectations: Victor Rodriguez, 21, about to be arrested turned to his 9 foot long python, as police approached and said "Get them."
 

 

August 17th 2008

Ryanair has announced that it will not honour tickets for its flights to and from Spain that not have been bought on its own website. This applies to all flights after the 25th August. The reason for this is that other websites and agencies have been contravening copyright. Passengers holding Ryanair tickets should rebook their flight on the Ryanair site and then try to reclaim their original ticket price from the organisation that sold it to them.

Betancuria is in debt by more than 4,500,000 euros. This could mean that each neighbour will have to pay over 6,000 euros to clear it. The municipality has a budget of 1.4 billion euros, so Betancuria is trying to reach agreements with banks, and especially with suppliers, but most are small suppliers and are themselves struggling in the current economic crisis. The main problem of Betancuria, is that it doesn't generate much revenue. It gets a lot of tourists, but these are mainly during the day and the town itself doesn't have any large hotels.  The mayor wants to put in place a new plan to launch tourism projects focused on generating revenue and promoting rural tourism, which will have to be approved by the Ministry of Environment of the Canary Islands Government.

The number of abandoned dogs is increasing significantly as the holiday season gets into full flow. Municipal kennels are saturated with the growth in the number of animals. This is probably compounded by the economic slowdown we are experiencing. In most of the municipal kennels, the largest number of dogs are hunting dogs, many of which have no microchip, making the identification of the owner impossible. Abandoned dogs have a period of 10 days to be picked up by their owners. After this time, the animals become part of the adoption system.  This kennel also tries to rehouse the animals in new homes in Germany.  The kennel in Pájara works in conjunction with the council to avoid cases of abandonment. If dogs are chipped, they are immediately returned to their owners. The dogs up for adoption are vaccinated and registered by the council, to maintain control over them and if a further loss occurs they can identify those responsible for it. Another factor seriously influencing the increase in stray animals is the opening the hunting season, where dogs are often turned out into the countryside once they have outlived their usefulness.

And on the subject of animals, more than 80 animal victims they have been taken care of in by the wild animal sanctuary. In the case of the birds, many of the injuries were made by predators, poisoning or hunters pellets. 7 dolphins were treated, 25 turtles, 48 birds of different species. In some cases the creatures were given first aid, and in others they were transferred to the veterinary clinic in the Zoo in La Lajita, or in serious cases to the Equipment recovery centre of Injured Animals in Gran Canaria. The Department of Fauna of the Town hall has indicated that with regard to birds, this year a high percentage of aguilillas have been registered (buteo Buteo) hurt by pellets, as well as kestrels (Falco tenninculus) youthful and adult with poisoning symptoms, possibly by the  ingestion of fauna coming from gardens treated with pesticides or by drinking unsanitary water. In the majority of the cases the specimens were healed and sent back to the wild. The advisor of Environment and Infrastructures of the Town hall, Natalia Évora, indicated that “the fact that we have several cases of protected birds hurt by pellets denotes a worrisome and irresponsible attitude on the part of the users of the guns that hurt these birds”, and she was forceful when affirming that “our services of monitoring are going to be very strict on these cases of aggression against biodiversity. There is a 200,000 Euros fine against attempts to harm protected fauna as well as flora.

A total of 100 members of the PP in Fuerteventura have been expelled from the party by burofaxes. The reason for this expulsion has been the attendance at  "repeated" meetings and assemblies convened by Domingo Gonzalez Arroyo, who was suspended from being chairman of the PP in Fuerteventura. The affected people have refused recognized the expulsion since there was no meeting or notice in advance. The managing commission of the PP of Fuerteventura argue that the gestures of “indiscipline” and even a “aggressive attitude” of followers of the insular president of the party, Domingo González Arrroyo, are the main reasons for the suspension. Added to the list of suspended are those that attended the Plenary session of the City council of La Oliva in which the motion of censorship against Claudina Morals, CC was approved.

Work has finally begun on rebuilding the San Jose de Calasanz teacher training college in Puerto del Rosario two years after it was demolished after structural failures were detected. The new building will be finished in May of 2009 and will be ready for teaching courses in 2009/10. The project includes the total construction of 18 classrooms, of which 6 will be for 140 students of Infant Education and the other 12 for 300 students of Primary Education. At the moment, the students are getting their training through a correspondence course.

The Nautical School of Puerto del Rosario has celebrated another year of its navigation courses, for both children and adults. These courses teach basic principles of navigation in canoeing, sailing and windsurfing. The induction courses are regarded by students as one of the most fun experiences that took place this summer. The population sees these summer courses as a good initiative for children and youth.  Courses like these are promoting sport in the island among younger people, outside the barriers imposed by major sports and which are given greater attention and prominence, both in the media and in financing.

August 9th 2008

Both Fuerteventura and Lanzarote were plunged into darkness this week when two power cuts hit the islands. Some 200,000 people in Lanzarote and Fuerteventura were affected between 22.31 am on Tuesday and 2.53 in the morning on Wednesday. This is the second cut in just over 48 hours on Fuerteventura. Last Sunday, a cut which lasted about ten hours, only affected the south of this island. A break in the driver of the electric transmission line from that area caused a disruption of supply to the substation Matas Blancas, in Pajara. The latter occurrence, occurred in the electrical system shared by the two island territories and to which both are linked through the submarine cable  installed in the Straits of Bocaina. Some bars and cafes closed but others, however, opted to continue to serve orders in candlelight. Hospitals and airports, which have generators, as well as several hotels, were not affected. The Director of Industry and Energy of the Cabildo of Fuerteventura, Jordan Cabrera, has urged the Canary Islands Government to initiate an immediate investigation by examining the records of Unelco Endesa to determine the origin of the problems. The director of electricity networks in the Canary Islands, James Martin, warned last month of the "fragility" of the electricity system between the two islands.

The power cuts have mobilised the government into action and the decision was taken this week to change the location of the proposed new power plant to the coast west of Puerto del Rosario, between Molinos and Jarugo, If the approval process goes smoothly, work could start within a year. The site has been chosen as it will cause less environmental damage and it is sparsely populated. It would create around 600 jobs. The ambitious project will require of an investment of 500 million Euros and it would be executed on municipal land.

If you are walking around El Cotillo and smell freshly roasted coffee don't be surprised, a new business has started up to supply us with these delightful beans. Caffee Coffee is the brainchild of businessmen Ernesto Reyes and Eugenio Sarti, and they already have about five hundred customers on the island, Tenerife and Lanzarote. Much of the secret lies, of course, in the selection of coffee beans. These are taken from Brazil, Colombia and Costa Rica. The product will be available as whole beans and as ground coffee. The first priority is to target the catering sector. Among the ideas for the future are to introduce the product into small stores and specialist shops to be within easy reach of as many consumers as possible.

The annual holiday month is here and with it has come campers to the beaches of El Cotillo, in spite of the ban that was put into place earlier this year. This has apparently caused some conflicts with local residents who feel that the campers pollute the environment and lead to an increase in petty crime. However, they also realise that these tourists make a significant contribution to the economy of the town.

Gran Tarajal will be hosting an exhibition this month to show the reality of the experiences of the immigrants who make the dangerous journey by pateras, small boats, from Africa. The exhibit entitled The other side will open on August 14 from 11.00 am in a tent located on the Avenue maritime Paco Iron.  It has been organised by the Red Cross and the Ministry of Immigration. The exhibition intends to convey feelings about the motivations and the journeys of people who take the decision to leave their country, their families, their environment and culture with the expectation of achieving a better life. Through it, visitors can appreciate what life is like in their countries of origin, the dangers they face, and the fears and abuses suffered during their migration process. The exhibition also wants to show the work and effort carried out by the Red Cross through its emergency teams, offering humanitarian aid to these people.

The hospital in Puerto del Rosario is again under attack. After criticisms of the parking arrangements last week, this time it is the disposal of medical waste that is the problem. Although the rubbish area has a notice saying that access by unauthorised people is forbidden, there are no physical barriers to stop people entering. When there mush of the waste is on open containers, whereas they should have special latches to show they contain potentially dangerous materials.

 

 

 

 

August 1st 2008

The murderer of Brian Alexander Hobbs, aged 52 years, has been sentenced to 15 years in prison. Hamed Mohamed Hamed, who comes from Melilla, punched  and killed the British tourist outside a pub in Caleta in an unprovoked attack the early hours of May 4, 2006, after he had drunk 17 glasses of whisky and taken cocaine. He has also been ordered to compensate Mr Hobb's relatives with 60,000 euros. Mohamed Hamed had previously been sentenced by a court of Melilla to two years in prison for a crime of burglary and six months in prison for another crime of disobedience. He moved to Fuerteventura in April 2006 to attend a trial was outstanding on the island, where he lived years ago. The widow of the deceased, Anne Merret, travelled from Glasgow (Scotland) to Gran Canaria to attend the trial. After the hearing she said that although it was good that the murderer had no possibility of parole and could not now attack anyone else, she felt that he should have got life imprisonment. Margaret also spoke out about the lack of support for families of those killed abroad. All the court documents relating to Brian's murder were in Spanish and she said the UK consular and other authorities had been of little help. She added: "Even voluntary bodies like Victim Support, who have all been lovely people, haven't been able to help because this happened in Spain. They don't know what they can do to support us. "I think it is vital to have someone abroad to act as a liaison for families. Having someone die is bad enough. But to have someone die abroad is your worst nightmare." Brian had three grandchildren - Phoebe, 8, Logan, 5, and Joshua, 3.

A grandmother who flew to the Canary Islands using her husband's passport has spoken of her shock about the document mix-up. Andrea Cole accidentally picked up the wrong passport when leaving her Cardiff home for the week-long holiday with her mother, and did not realise her mistake until minutes before their flight was due to leave. The mother-of-three had already passed through two sets of checks at Cardiff International Airport - and was then allowed through immigration at Fuerteventura without the error being spotted. Immediately upon arrival, Mrs Cole and her mother tried to get the problem resolved because they feared not being allowed back into Wales the following week. They contacted the British consulate, but were told there was nothing they could do because the passports were not being reported lost, stolen or damaged. “Luckily, we remembered the people we bought the villa from had photocopies of our passports,” Mrs Cole added. “It meant quite a few trips back and forth to the airport to liaise with Spanish police and immigration in Fuerteventura and also immigration at Cardiff Airport. When the relevant people were informed, they were amazed that this had happened not only once but three times in both airports.”

The two labour inspectors responsible for checking businesses to ensure safe working conditions for employees have left the island and gone back to the peninsular. This only leaves two sub-inspectors who can only take action on social security infractions, not those protecting workers. The majority of workplace accidents happen due to long hours and lack of training for workers. The Cabildo is trying to recruit replacements.

A 32 year old pregnant Brazilian woman has accused a member of the Guardia Civil of attacking her. The incident happened on Sotavento beach in the police tent set up for the windsurfing championships. There was a dispute between the woman and her ex-husband over a mobile phone and the police officer took the woman outside the tent and beat her so badly that she later lost her unborn child. The public prosecutor is investigating the matter.

Fuerteventura is not complying with the Act of Historical Memory which states that towns should remove all symbols and references to General Franco and his administration from public buildings and streets. In Puerto del Rosario the facade of the Navy Command building has been recently renovated but Franco's emblem has not been removed. In Antigua and La Oliva there are still streets named after prominent members of the Franco regime. Municipalities are being told to remove these last vestiges of one of the blackest periods in Spanish history.

The construction of the La Caldereta to Corralejo section of the north/south highway has been delayed due to problems in carrying out the compulsory purchase orders to obtain the land needed for the route. The contract to build the road link was awarded last May and had an estimated construction time of 40 months. However the start of works had been put off until all the land has been obtained. The route will go from the intersection of the La Oliva and the Corralejo roads on the FV1, through the mountains and meet the FV2 near the Lajares junction. The road from there into Corralejo will be widened to dual carriageway.

The latest tourism figures are very positive for the Canary Islands. Tourism figures for May show an increase of  21.07 per cent over last year. Hotel occupancy figures are also positive, forecasts for August for El Hierro are at 84.30 per cent, Fuerteventura 83.73 per cent, La Palma 83.25 per cent and Lanzarote 81.55 per cent.

The increasing cost of food has led to poaching on Fuerteventura. many livestock, especially goats and sheep, roam freely making it difficult for their owners to protect them. The poachers sit in wait by watering holes and shoot the animals who are then loaded into jeeps and sold illegally to restaurants around the island. There have also been cases of livestock being taken from corrals. Farmers have organised group patrols amongst themselves, but they are also  calling for action on the part of the police to catch the criminals and those who are illegally catching shellfish.

Farmers are also having a tough time with other poachers, the chipmunks. The weather conditions last winter have lead to an increase in their population and they are attacking local crops for food, especially grapes and figs. The rodents cannot be poisoned as this could affect other protected species in the food chain and hunting them can only be carried out in season and with the appropriate licence. Farmers are calling for the ability to hunt these animals at any time and without the need for permission.

A study is being carried out to determine the feasibility of two new marine reserves.  One would go in the Straits of the Bocaina,  that separates Lanzarote and Fuerteventura, and another one between Arinaga and Gando.

The council of La Oliva has decreased the pay of council members and the mayoress. Council members will receive 5% less pay, bringing their annual wage to 30,918 Euros and the mayoress gets a 10% pay to 51,703 Euros.

South Americans have dominated the most highly anticipated event on the world windsurfing calendar, the World Championship Tour, which has just finished on Fuerteventura. In the mens’ draw, a fascinating battle had been brewing all week long between reigning world champion Marcilio Browne and Venezulean Jose Estredo, who was aiming to make it his third major win of the season. 19-year-old Brown eventually took the title, the first of the season for the Brazillian. Sarah Quita Affringa kept her perfect record spotless with another victory in the womens' competition. The Aruban put on a near-flawless display of control windsurfing.
 

The expansion of the hospital is causing an uproar. The latest section of the works has meant that most of the parking area has been moved to a new location much further away from the building, making it difficult for out patients and visitors to access the building. This has caused chaos with people fighting over the few spaces that remain near the entrance.


 

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