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March 27th 2008

The problems with the original planning permission for Las Rotundas shopping centre in Puerto del Rosario have once again come under the spotlight. It’s just one month since the Tribunal Superior de Justicia de Canarias (TSJC) ratified the licence’s nullity. The licence dates back to 2002. Already more than half the time that was given to sort it out has passed. The order passed called for the demolition of the parts that don’t have planning permission. The company was only allowed to build 14.000 square meters but the Consistorio allowed 47,000. The 33,000 extra sq metres should now be removed.
The economics of this would cost about a million euro out of the municipal coffers. Current price per metre in the capital is 1.800euro, multiplied by 33,000. Economically, knocking down some of the building is not feasible.

Firefighters in Puerto del Rosario needed to use the two vehicles fire to quell a fire this week in a paint shop in the capital. The hazard of flammable materials that were inside the building forced the troops to use more than 3,000 litres of water and foam to extinguish the fire and protect the area. Despite the spectacular nature of the blaze there were no personal injuries although two cars were completely charred and four other vehicles were damaged.

Results of the ‘Nos Vamos a la Playa’ promotion were presented to the Cabildo recently. This was a collaboration between the Tourism sponsors and the Chamber of Commerce that took place in February promoting the island in nine Spanish cities. The campaign reached an astonishing 11.5 million people and was a huge success. Comparing figures from January before the promotion and February, there has been a 32% increase over 2007. According to councillor Montelongo, Fuerteventura is the only one of the islands where tourism is increasing. He said that the promotion would have been very difficult if the Chamber had not been on board. The head offices of the Chambers in all the cities that were visited co-operated with the campaign. The Chambers were delighted as it gave them extra publicity.

More on tourism: An extensive drive will take place across France over the next few months to promote the island. This is a joint initiative between the Corporation, the Chamber of Commerce and the French tour operator, Nouvelles Frontières. Mario Cabrera and Águeda Montelongo, president and adviser of Tourism accompanied the representative of the tourist agent, Oscar Palacios, and the president of the Chamber of commerce, Gregorio Pérez, at the signing of this agreement. Mario Cabrera spoke about the promotion of the Island as a need in which there must be co-operation among all sectors. The campaign will consist of a series of promotional performances that will be based on a campaign of marketing in the press, the Internet, news letters and the establishment of incentives for the merchandisers of Nouvelles Frontières. Statistics show that 32.888 French tourists came to the Island in the year 2007. Comparing this with the numbers coming here in 2003, there has been a huge increase of 267,64 %.

In just one year, between 2006 and 2007, the increase was biggest.
Regular bus users who use the Tarjeta Dinero will see the subsidy increased by as much as 30 per cent of the route price. This will mean that about 10 per cent of the cost.
According to the adviser Ann Padilla, “ this action, not only will represent an economic saving for regular users of public transport, it will also help the service to be faster as it lowers the time spent in taking cash. Last year, just over 20 per cent of travellers used the card –501,725 out of a total of 2.463.699. It’s part of an ongoing upgrade that includes the new bus station and the seven new buses added to the fleet, giving a total of 38 vehicles on 17 routes.

The mayor of Pájara, Rafael Perdomo, has reported that the Ayuntamiento has taken on the construction of a new street and pedestrian steps to improve the communications between the streets Pérez Galdós and Quevedo of Morro Jable, located in one of the margins of the del Barranco del Ciervo. Both of these measures will improve the quality of life of the residents. Works began about a month ago and will cost some 65,000euros for the street and 18,000 for the steps. Problems arose initially due to relaying of the electrical and water facilities. Window boxes will be placed along the steps to help improve the area.
However, this improvement will be offset by the problems at the beach which have been denounced by a spokesperson for the Coalición Canaria in the Ayuntamiento de Pájara. Beach services that were installed two years ago have not been maintained and have been abandoned for the past two years. They are in a slovenly state, he said. There was a tourist office, first aid, toilets and showers and local police. These services were seen as an example to other coastal areas. These offices have all now been closed and allowed to deteriorate.

A pedestrian walkway will soon be built between El Granillo and Costa Calma, along the FV-2, an investment of nearly two million euros.

We might all be using Ryanair to fly in and out of the island but it’s still not enough. Ryanair Chief Executive Michael O'Leary expects profits to halve in the coming year, fulfilling the most pessimistic of a number of possible scenarios given by the airline in February. "Our guidance remains the same from our last," Mr O'Leary told reporters at a news conference in Brussels today. "We will update this in June at our results but I expect a 50 per cent drop in profits in the next 12 months."
The Irish budget airline warned in February high oil prices, a faltering UK economy and weak sterling meant net profit could halve in its business year starting in April but that was the bleakest of a range of forecasts that saw a 6 per cent profit rise at best.
O'Leary said the airline's plans to continue growing the number passengers it carries would be offset by "a significant reduction in airfares" over the next 12 months.
"Our senior management of around 36, including myself, will take a pay freeze until we see a turnaround in our profits," Mr O'Leary said.
Mr O'Leary also said he expected Ryanair, Europe's biggest low-cost carrier, to remain largely unhedged for the rest of 2008 once its current insurance against high fuel prices expires at the end of this month.
"I reckon we will take our chances on current price of oil for the rest of the year," O'Leary told reporters at a news conference in Brussels.
"If it drops below €80 we would then jump to hedge," he added. And of course, Michael needs some extra cash – see story below
Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary's famed acumen and self-confidence briefly deserted him when he failed to back his own horse Hear The Echo to win the Irish Grand National at odds of 33-1. The outsider ridden by Paddy Flood and trained by Michael 'Mouse' Morris easily knocked 6-1 favourite Royal County Star into second place at Ireland's top steeplechase on Monday. "We had no money on him," The Irish Times newspaper quoted O'Leary as saying. "I thought he was going out for a run to keep himself warm," said O'Leary, whose Gigginstown House Stud produced 2006 Cheltenham Gold Cup winner War of Attrition. The multimillionaire chief executive of Europe's biggest low-cost airline said he was "gobsmacked" by the result. "Two people asked me earlier should they back him and I told them no way," O'Leary was quoted as saying by the Irish Daily Mirror newspaper beneath its front-page headline "O'Deary". In business O'Leary has rarely shied away from bucking the odds. When other airlines cancelled orders in the wake of the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States, he seized the chance to secure new aircraft from Boeing at rock-bottom prices. Still, there was some consolation following Monday's lapse. The Irish Grand National boasts a prize fund of 250,000 euros (195,000 pounds) and O'Leary had the satisfaction of collecting the accompanying trophy from Prime Minister Bertie Ahern who is often lampooned by Ryanair in its attacks on government policy. "I don't get much off Bertie Ahern but I'm always happy to take the Grand National off him," the Irish Independent quoted O'Leary as saying.
Snakes alive! A rattlesnake rancher who calls himself Bayou Bob found a new way to make money: Stick a rattler inside a bottle of vodka and market the concoction as an "ancient Asian elixir." But Bayou Bob Popplewell's bright idea appears to have landed him on the wrong side of the law, because he has no liquor license. Popplewell, who has raised rattlesnakes and turtles at Bayou Bob's Brazos River Rattlesnake Ranch for more than two decades, surrendered to authorities Monday. He spent about 10 minutes in jail after the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission obtained arrest warrants on misdemeanour charges of selling alcohol without a license and possessing alcohol with intent to sell. If convicted, he faces up to a year in jail and $1,000 in fines. Popplewell said he will fight the charges. His intent, he said, is not to sell an alcoholic beverage but a healing tonic. He said he has customers of Asian descent who believe the concoction has medicinal properties. "It's almost a spiritual thing," said Popplewell, But alcohol commission agent Scott Jones pointed out that investigators confiscated 429 bottles of snake vodka and one bottle of snake tequila. At $23 a bottle, that's almost $10,000 worth of reptilian booze. Even if Popplewell intended his drink be used as a healing tonic — an assertion the alcohol commission disputes — his use of vodka requires a state permit, authorities said. "It's sold for beverage purposes, and he knows what he's doing," commission Sgt. Charlie Cloud said. Popplewell said he uses the cheapest vodka he can find as a preservative for the snakes. The end result is a super sweet mixed drink that Popplewell compared to cough syrup. "I've honestly never seen a person drink it," he said. An Asian studies lecturer at the University of Texas said there is some merit to Popplewell's claim that snake vodka could be seen as a tonic. There's a street nicknamed "Snake Alley" in Taipei, Taiwan, where street vendors put the gall bladder of a freshly killed snake into a glass of strong liquor. The drink, sold to the highest bidder, is supposed to improve eyesight and sexual performance, said lecturer Camilla Hsieh. "It's like the ancient version of Viagra," Hsieh said.
A man in Germany fled his home half naked for cold, snow-swept streets to escape a mouse in his living room, He said there was nothing he was more afraid of," police in Goettingen said in a statement. After an emergency call in the early hours, officers in the central town found the 23-year-old wearing only his boxer shorts and slippers at a phone booth near his home. The man told police he had seen the mouse scurry across the floor while he was watching a film, and had fled immediately. Police failed to track down the animal, but told the man it was safe to go home. He went to relatives instead.
A war on gophers waged by two Canadian men went awry this weekend when a device used to blast the rodents in their holes sparked a massive grass fire in a rural area near Calgary, Alberta, causing more than C$200,000 ($197,000) in damages. Despite a ban on fires in the tinder-dry area of Springbank, just northeast of Calgary's city limits, two men went into a field to kill gophers using a device called a Rodenator, fire officials said on Monday. The device pumps a mixture of propane and oxygen into gopher holes, which is then ignited, and, according to the manufacturer's Web site, the resulting blast creates a shock wave that kills the gopher and collapses its tunnel system. "We had a couple of acreage owners out taking care of their rodent problem with this device," said Captain Joe Garssi of the municipal district of Rocky View's fire department. "They did a few holes successfully and then hit a hole that didn't go in very far. When they filled it with propane it over-filled the hole...and when they ignited it (fire) flashed out of the hole into the grass beside them." The resulting grass fire scorched about 160 acres of surrounding property and destroyed a number of outbuildings. No homes were damaged. "The way I look at it, it's 'humans eight, gophers one'." Garssi said, as the two men destroyed about eight of the rodents before sparking the blaze. Charges are being considered against one of the two men involved. In Western Canada, gophers, more properly called Richardson's ground squirrels, are often considered a nuisance, blamed for ruining crops and damaging golf courses and lawns.

March 20th 2008

Semana Santa (Easter Week) will see a big influx of visitors to the island. The island is in the top 4 for sunshine holidays for the period, although many are taking advantage of the early Easter this year to head for the ski slopes. Hoteliers on Fuerteventura expect an occupancy rate of about 85 per cent as tourists arrive for festivities and religious services. Local churches will have concelebrated Mass, processions, special sermons, the re-enactment of Christ’s Passion on Good Friday. And there’s music in the main square in Corralejo on Saturday night.

A campaign to reforest Fuerteventura will see the planting of over 6,000 trees. The programme, which will build on the development of the pine forest at Betancuria, consists of plantations in four different areas around the island; Castillo de Lara, Puerto del Rosario,  Morro Velosa in Betancuria and el Pico de la Zarza in Pajara. Over 3,000 examples of different species will be planted, the majority being ones indigenous to the islands, supplemented by other heat tolerant species to increase bio-diversity. The main aim to to prevent more desertification of the island and to stop the degradation of the environment.

A new Natural Park has been proposed for the island. This will include the coastal areas in the west which are home to many species of flora and fauna unique to the islands as well as an area visited by other European species of wildlife. There is also talk of declaring the island a biosphere reserve.

A holidaymaker is believed to have fallen to his death in the early hours of Thursday morning. The man, on holiday from the mainland was going fishing with a friend on the cliffs outside Pozo Negro when he slipped and tumbled over 20 metres into the sea. The friend called the emergency services who launches a sea search but to date the body hasn't been recovered.

People in Corralejo were treated to an unusual sight on Wednesday night when the ferry from Lanzarote developed engine problems and could not dock. The ferry was afloat outside the harbour for several hours before the boat and its  trapped passengers could be recovered.

Lovers of good music will have an excellent opportunity to enjoy a set of extraordinary musicians who will be performing in the Auditorium of Corralejo on March 30, from 21.00. A world of Music is a spectacle produced by Kike Perdomo with the intention of uniting the music of various places around the world. Music has much of its roots locally and Perdomo likes to mix various cultures. Tickets will be available in the usual places in Corralejo – the cultural centre, the library and in the Department of Culture of the Ayuntamiento de La Oliva.

A new exhibition was recently inaugurated in Casa de Los Coroneles, in La Oliva. This is the last exhibition by Canary artist Pepe Dámaso.

Electronic prescriptions are expected to be operational here by the end of the month, according to the Canarian government’s director general of pharmacy, Vicente Olmo. He also stated that during January, 120,000 prescriptions were dispensed in the Canaries using this system.

The Internet initiative launched by the President of the Canaries to improve communication with citizens is already proving a hit.
Paulino Rivero agreed to answer questions personally on a website created specially by the government to facilitate access by the public. In the first 24 hours of operation, the site had received 400 questions, which Rivero has promised to answer within 10 days at most. Opponents have criticised the scheme as a carbon copy of Call the President, a weekly programme by Hugo Chavez, the president of Venezuela.

Some 80 per cent of the beef we eat here is Brazilian beef imported to Spain. At just 2.31 euros per kilo, it’s cheaper than either Argentinean or European beef
According to the Ministry of Commerce, the Canaries have consumed 61,127 million kilos of beef, of which 44,293 were bought from this South American country, with 90 per cent of the islands’ beef imports coming from Brazil.

The Canarian government has approved its controversial Employment Plan for the next six years, despite a last minute change caused by the threat of intervention by the European Union.
One of the long list of measures to promote job-creation in the Canaries had to be removed after legal experts decided it could trigger a complaint by Brussels. The measure, which would have given preferential treatment to companies resident in the Islands in public tenders, was considered to breach EU law and the government opted to withdraw it rather than risk the entire 230-measure Plan being challenged by Brussels.
A spokesman said the Plan had been “carefully thought through” and, contrary to media reports, “was perfectly legal” despite the much-criticised initiatives to encourage companies to look local when filling new jobs.
It was approved in spite of opposition by the trade unions. The government hopes it will help reduce the unemployment rate to 6.5 per cent by 2013

EU Agriculture Commissioner Mariann Fischer Boel needed no prompting when presented with two boxes of Canarian bananas – she tucked right in. The bananas were given to Commissioner Fischer Boel by the islands' regional minister Pilar Merino leading a delegation which included deputy minister Alonso Arroyo, to Brussels to discuss the agricultural sector here. During the meeting Fischer-Boel said she was hoping to visit the islands herself, ideally between November 2008 and January 2009.
The banana sector has come under increasing pressure in recent times with the incursion into the marketplace of fruit from Africa and the Caribbean producers, and Canarian producers are currently in receipt of 140 million euros in subsidies, with protections guaranteed following the Doha Development Round talks under the auspices of the WTO a number of years ago. However that would also imply that certain subsidies will run out in 2013.
The Commissioner pledged that if there was a real threat to the banana sector she “wouldn't hesitate” in applying a 'safeguard mechanism', which would protect producers in the event of sales of bananas from Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific rising above 25 per cent of the average total of their exports between 2004 and 2006, as was agreed by the member states in November of last year.

At least we’ve been spared this problem…..
Ryanair passengers flying out of Tenerife have expressed doubts as to the wisdom or efficiency of the airline’s much-advertised priority boarding system, after yet more chaos at departure gates. A recent Dublin flight saw an angry exchange between one passenger and gate staff over the lack of steps to ensure those holding priority boarding passes were allowed on first.
In other airports, where Ryanair uses its own staff, separate queues are formed but in Tenerife South it seems to be up to the passengers to sort themselves out and parents with toddlers have to apologetically push their way through brandishing the yellow passes. On the aforementioned Dublin flight, the failure to make a proper announcement meant that all passengers attempted to board at the same time, leading to a logjam at the point where boarding passes are checked. Only then did the ground staff let non-priority passengers know they should wait behind. To alleviate the growing congestion, everyone was allowed on regardless of the colour of their boarding card. An insider at Tenerife South said that the problem is nothing new and has been compounded since Ryanair began “imposing” priority boarding for on-line check ins. “Many more passengers opt not to check luggage in to avoid paying the fee, which suits Ryanair because it has less handling to worry about. However, in addition to the chaos on board as people try and find space in overhead lockers for their large bags, they all have priority boarding, so the system is no longer a preferential one. On some flights, the non-priorities are a small minority,” said the source.

Weird News
An American woman's body had become attached to her boyfriend's toilet after she sat on it for two years, police in Kansas said.
She was not glued. She was not tied. She was just physically stuck by her body," said Bryan Whipple, the sheriff of Ness County.
It appeared Pam Babcock's skin had grown around the toilet seat, he added. "It is hard to imagine. ... I still have a hard time imagining it myself."
The 35-year-old initially refused emergency medical care but her boyfriend, 36, and police officers finally convinced her to go to hospital.
"We took the toilet seat off with a pry bar and the seat went with her to the hospital," Mr Whipple said. "The hospital removed it."
The county attorney still has to decide whether any charges should be brought against Kory McFarren, the boyfriend.
Mr McFarren told investigators that he brought his girlfriend food and water, and asked her every day to come out of the bathroom.
"And her reply would be, 'Maybe tomorrow'," Mr Whipple said. "According to him, she did not want to leave the bathroom
The house in Ness City had a second bathroom that he could use.
On Feb 27, Mr McFarren called police to report that "there was something wrong with his girlfriend", Mr Whipple said, adding that the man never explained why it took him two years to pick up the phone.
Officers found Miss Babcock sitting on the toilet - fully clothed, except for her tracksuit bottoms pulled down to her mid-thigh.
She was "somewhat disoriented" and her legs looked like they had atrophied, the sheriff said. "She said that she didn't need any help, that she was OK and did not want to leave."
She was taken to a hospital in Wichita, about 150 miles away, where she is in a fair condition.
However, Miss Babcock has since refused to speak to police. Authorities said they did not know if she was mentally or physically disabled.
James Ellis, a neighbour, said Miss Babcock's mother died at a young age and she was apparently mostly kept inside the house where she grew up.
"It really doesn't surprise me," Mr Ellis said of the bathroom incident. "What surprises me is somebody wasn't called in a bit earlier."

Jeremy Paxman famously complained that they do not provide enough support, but a consumer watchdog has vindicated Marks & Spencer’s pants.
The BBC's inquisitor-in-chief sparked a vigorous debate earlier this year when he emailed Sir Stuart Rose, the company's chief executive, to report "widespread gusset anxiety" over the state of the retailer's underwear.
But a new Which? poll, that compared M&S pants with pairs from Asda, Tesco and designer brand Calvin Klein, found that M&S are, in fact, top for bottoms.
In a series of tests underwear was repeatedly washed and tumble dried to look for bobbling, fading and shrinkage.
The tests showed that after 10 washes a pair of £5 M&S Real Cool Cotton Trunks were best at keeping their colour, had the least amount of shrinkage and took the longest time to develop a hole.
A pair of £1.75 George Trunks from Asda was placed second. F&F pants from Tesco, costing £1.66, came third.
A £20 pair of Calvin Klein Body Trunks rated worst. They bobbled, shrank and faded.

A Wall Street trader is seeking damages after allegedly being hit in the face by a stripper's high heel as she performed a lap dance for him.
Stephen Chang, a securities trader, claims in court papers filed at the Manhattan Supreme Court that he "sustained serious personal injuries" on his visit to the Hot Lap Dance Club near Madison Square Garden in November last year.
His lawsuit against the club states: "During the course of said lap dance, the employee suddenly swung around, striking [Mr Chang] in the eye with the heel of her shoe."
Mr Chang, who is married and in his early 30s, had visited the club on his own.
The establishment, which describes itself as the "Playboy Mansion of Manhattan party lofts" charges a $50 (£25) cover charge and a $10 one-time joining fee. A lap dance typically costs around $40.
Members can receive lap dances from both topless and completely nude women, although it was not clear which Mr Chang had opted for.
On its website, the club states: "The dancers are not only exceptionally attractive with killer bodies, but they also have good personalities, are friendly and sensual, and are intelligent and can carry on a conversation."
A manager at the club said: "We didn't have any reported accidents. We have a first aid kid and we would have treated the guy or called an ambulance."

March 13th 2008

Big Brother has arrived in Corralejo!. The main street now has video surveillance system. In fact, there are three cameras located on the street, Nuestra Señora del Carmen, which will control and monitor the traffic. Their exact positions are next to the police station, on the corner of Calle Anzuelo, and on the corner of the Duna Park complex. The cameras are for both safety and security and the need for an effective way of controlling the traffic. The cameras are equipped with night vision and zoom, and will be monitored at the local police station. The recordings will be stored for a period of fifteen days.
Private homes with windows and balconies within the range of the camera will be obscured. And there will be warnings provided via posters to the public walking through "zone video recording." The ayuntamiento of La Oliva hopes that this initiative will serve to alleviate the daily problems of traffic, and will make drivers respect the rules of the road and parking, which will be to the benefit of all citizens. The next phase will include considering the appropriate location for new surveillance cameras, which will be added in the future. The cameras and other equipment has been made possible by an investment of €21.980.

Weather forecasters have predicted that the Canaries will get the tail end of the ferocious storm that has already caused millions of euros damage to seafronts in the Basque Country and Cantabria. As the storm moves away from the mainland, forecasters predict it could affect the coasts of almost all the Canary Islands, except El Hierro. The regional government has urged people to take extra caution when near the seafront and in exposed places to prevent mishaps. In northern Spain a car was lifted off the ground by a giant wave and tossed through the plate-glass front of a restaurant this week.

The ‘Tindaya affair’ as it has now been dubbed, is in the news again. The regional executive has been ordered to pay more than two million euros to firms involved with the fraud prosecution three years ago. The executive failed in its prosecution for fraud against the construction companies involved in the project and has now been ordered not only to pay the two million but also meet the legal costs of the civil case it brought subsequently to recover money already paid.
In a hard-hitting ruling, a court in Las Palmas attributed the delays in the project not to the firms but to the company set up by the government to administer the project. The Tindaya affair, in which up to 18 million euros have already been spent and lost, has plagued successive regional governments since the end of the 1990s. The current government says the project is still very much on track and should be completed in 2014. It involves carving a giant hollow in the island’s most famous mountain to insert a massive sculpture by the late Basque artist Eduardo Chillida.

It’s Blues time in Corralejo at the end of the month. This is the third year of thr festival of Blues, which brings the best of national and international flavour to the town. This is not just a tourist attraction but is also for residents. The place to be is the Municipal Auditorium on March 27 and in the Plaza Patricio Calero on March 28 and 29.

A vigil was held in some of the islands last week to coincide with the first anniversary of the disappearance of (now) eight-year-old Yeremi from Gran Canaria. A live studio television show was aired on Televisión Canaria which brought the families of the missing Yeremi and 15-year-old Sara together as well as members of the police, investigators, psychologists, criminologists and others in the field. The mother of Sandra, the child at the centre of the recent Telde abduction attempt, was also present. Members of both families attended the gathering in Santa Cruz de Tenerife. Yeremi’s mother visited the tomb of Sr Maria Jesus in La Laguna at the weekend to pray for help.
Televisión Canaria have also published a poster with photographs of Sara and Yeremi which will be part of a awareness campaign, and will also travel to Latin America.

For the last 10 months, men have had the right to take ‘paternity leave’. And it seems that there’s an ever increasing number of men choosing to do this. At that time, the Equal Opportunities Law was passed, giving men the right to take ‘paternity’ leave in addition to the leave accorded to mothers. New fathers can apply for two weeks leave on full pay in order to be at home during the early weeks of their baby’s life.
Applicants receive a text message to their mobile phones informing them their request for a fortnight on full pay has been successful. Nationwide, over 200,000 Spanish men have signed up to the new scheme, which is designed to help fathers achieve a better work-life balance. Slightly more men from the province of Las Palmas (Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, Fuerteventura) have applied for the leave than their counterparts from Tenerife.

The Health Commissioner has put in place a Juvenile Mental Health Unit at the General Hospital. The unit will have by a psychiatrist, a nurse and a clinical psychologist. The unit is intended for children and young people between 0 and 17 years and is situated in the External Consultations part of the hospital. The unit will provide preventive actions, promotion, treatment and rehabilitation that will be part of community care.

The massive media coverage given to the Big Brother contestant from Fuerteventura who has undergone a sex change operation has been slammed as unhelpful for the island’s image.
The programme has monitored the progress of Amor, the contestant who spent the last few months taking drugs to prepare for the operation, details of which were broadcast on a special late showing of Big Brother. Presenter Mercedes Mila travelled to Fuerteventura with Amor afterwards and interviewed ‘her’ family as well as friends and teachers from her former school.
The coverage - including photos in regional papers of Amor in a scant bikini - has received a flurry of criticism from locals, who say Fuerteventura has been showcased for all the wrong reasons. “With so many pressing problems on the island and in the Canaries generally, it is wrong for a prime-time show to devote so many hours to morbid pictures and interviews on a subject which many find distasteful” said one local resident who was angered at the publicity.

Campers in El Cotillo will have to move their tents from the public areas during Holy Week. This means they will not be allowed to camp near the lighthouse. The Ayuntamiento of La Oliva will not allow any camping in public areas near the coast, contrary to previous years. Concrete zones will be marked out.

The European Parliament adopted new EU rules today that aim to make air travel safer from attack.
The rules harmonise in-flight security and cover areas such as the use of sky marshals and carriage of weapons on aircraft for the first time on a pan-EU level.
They also harmonise screening of passengers and cabin luggage, access control and security checks. The rules have already been approved by the 27 EU member states.
But the European Parliament and EU states could not agree on who should pay for what in aviation security, and the bloc's executive European Commission will make separate proposals on this later in the year.
Each EU state determines how much of the cost it, the airports, carriers or users should bear for aviation security, but further measures are envisaged to ensure that security charges are used only to meet security costs.
EU states are free to introduce stricter rules but must show that doing so is "relevant, objective, non-discriminatory and proportional" to the risk, according to the regulation.
The rules also provide a common EU approach to dealing with unruly passengers and access to the cockpit. They also allow individual EU states to introduce air marshals if they want to. However those air marshals must be specially selected and trained.
Also under the new rules, passengers and their baggage on flights from third countries will not need to be re-screened if their country of origin has aviation security standards deemed equivalent to the European Union's.

HSBC Bank International has unveiled an ambitious project to conduct the largest ever survey of expats.
The project aims to give more than 2000 expats across four continents the opportunity to have their say on what life is really like for people living and working away from home. The survey will look at opportunities that come with starting a new life in a foreign country away from home, and the challenges and difficulties that they may face at home and at work.
The survey will also reveal how new technology helps expats start their new lives and manage their professional and social affairs. It will also find out how expatriate children’s lives differ from the lives of the friends they leave behind.
Paul Say, Head of Marketing and Communications at HSBC Bank International, said: “Living in foreign countries means expats often don't have the normal outlets to express their point of view about their unique lifestyle. This project aims to gather these viewpoints and capture them on an unprecedented scale. As well as giving voice to the expat population, the study will provide new insight on their needs which will help HSBC Bank International to improve its services and products for its customers.”
To make your opinion heard, please visit (taken from

Very Weird News
A Japanese pin-up model says that her big breasts have not only boosted her career — they also helped her overturn a court verdict. The bikini model, who goes by her professional name Serena Kozakura, was cleared after a court decided she was too well-endowed to squeeze into a room through a hole, as she had been found guilty of earlier.
“I used to hate my body so much,” Kozakura, who has appeared in product commercials on television, told the private Asahi network in an interview aired Tuesday. “But it was my breasts” that won in court, she said.
The case was splashed through the Japanese media on Tuesday, with the Asahi network even inviting her to demonstrate how she could not fit through the opening. Kozakura, 38, was convicted last year of property destruction after a man said she kicked in the wooden door of his room and crawled inside, apparently because he was with another woman.
Kozakura had said the man made the hole himself. In her appeal, the defence counsel held up a plate showing the size of the hole and said that she could not squeeze through with her 110-centimetre (44-inch) bust. “The judges were very good-mannered as they showed no expressions on their faces. I guess they’re well-trained,” Kozakura said. Tokyo High Court presiding judge Kunio Harada agreed and threw out the guilty verdict on Monday, saying there was reasonable doubt over the man’s account. Well that was a nice…story.

A man in Florida was halfway through an order of steamed clams when he bit down on something hard, it was a rare, iridescent purple pearl. George Brock and his wife, Leslie, had been spent the day at the beach Friday in South Florida and stopped at Dave’s Last Resort & Raw Bar for a bite. Their discovery is thought to be valued at $6,000 US or more. The gems are found most frequently in large New England quahogs, clams known for violet coloring on the inside of their shells. The clams in the $10 plate came from Apalachicola in the Florida Panhandle, said restaurant manager Tom Gerry.

An Italian court has ruled that a couple could not name their son “Friday” and ordered that he instead be called Gregory after the saint whose feast day he was born on. “I think it is ridiculous they even opened a case about it,” the family’s lawyer, Paola Rossi, told Reuters by telephone from the northern city of Genoa on Tuesday.
Friday/Gregory Germano was born in Genoa 15 months ago. The parents registered him as Friday in the city hall and a priest even baptised him as Friday — unusual in Italy since many priests insist that first names be of Christian origin. “We named him Friday because we like the sound of the name. Even if it would have been a girl, we would have named her Friday,” the boy’s mother, Mara Germano, told Reuters.
When the boy was about five months old, a city hall clerk brought the odd name to the attention of a tribunal, which informed the couple of an administrative norm which bars parents from giving “ridiculous or shameful” first names to children. The tribunal said it was protecting the child from being the butt of jokes and added that it believed the name would hinder him from developing “serene interpersonal relationships”.
The Germano family appealed but lost their case this month and the story was carried on the front page of a national newspaper on Tuesday. When ordered to change the name, the parents refused and the court ruled the boy would be legally registered as Gregory because he was born on that saint’s feast day.
“I really doubt this would have happened to the child of parents who are rich and famous,” the boy’s mother told Reuters, recalling that some famous Italians had given their children unorthodox names such as “Ocean” or “Chanel”. The appeals court ruled against Friday because it recalled the servile savage in Daniel Defoe’s novel Robinson Crusoe and because superstitious Italians consider Friday an unlucky day.
“I am livid about this,” the boy’s mother said. “A court should not waste its time with things like this when there is so much more to worry about.” “My son was born Friday, baptised Friday, will call himself Friday, we will call him Friday but when he gets older he will have to sign his name Gregory,” she said. I hope he has not siblings named after the other days of the week.


March 6th 2008

Someone on Fuerteventura is over 800,000 euros richer this week. The lucky winner of the Primitiva lottery bought their ticket at Bazar JOPI in Puerto del Rosario. Last year the same shop sold a ticket that won over 1 millions euros, so it seems a good bet to get your ticket there if you want to be a winner!

La Oliva council has started to remove the corralitas or stone circles from its beaches. The work started in El Cotillo but is intended to cover all of the municipalities coastline. The reasoning behind this is that they are unhygienic and prevent the free flow of sand. Many locals and holidaymakers are up in arms about this. The circles are invaluable when a strong wind is blowing, they offer a degree of privacy, especially to naturists and they blend in with the natural environment. Some feel that the circles will be replaced by sunbeds that tourists and residents will have to pay for. However, opposers feel that these will not offer the same protection as they counterparts and will destroy the natural feel of the beaches.

Four more houses at Los Molinos have been earmarked for demolition. This is apparently part of a move to clear the whole village in order to build new apartments. Residents are being moved to other villages.

Four million euros is to be invested in the rehabilitation of rural housing in the islands. Residents in rural municipalities with scarce resources can apply to their local Ayuntamiento. Applications are now being taken. The Commission of Social Well-being, Youth and Housing run the scheme. This is a cash injection that the Commission gives every year to help out families who may be in financial difficulties. The maintenance of traditional housing is often expensive. Subsidies will be up to 50% of the estimated budget.

European elm trees are in danger and the Canarian Government is to carry out a programme to help fight against their disappearance. The trees have been hit by a complex poisonous illness caused by a mushroom. This fungus poisons the bark and obstructs the sap openings. A ‘cure’ has not yet been found. The islands are the only autonomous region of Spin where the fungus has not been detected. The State and the Government have come to an agreement that the Canaries will be a place where the trees will be able to grow and survive without threats. The programme will take place between the years 2008 and 2011 and will consist of sowing and cultivating three protected forests.

Good news for anyone with a young child hoping to go to infant school. Some 5405 new places will be created within the archipelago, an increase of 6796, bringing the total to 11822. The Council for Wellbeing, Youth and Housing has instigated the initiative in conjunction with the Department of Education. This brings a global coverage for the Canaries of 12.76% for children between the ages of 0-3 years. The European Commission recommends 20%.
The increase in places are distributed as follows: 1,093 are in schools managed directly by the General Direction of Protection of minors and Family; 4,810 places are managed by the Ayuntamiento; 642 in private schools and 251 in local centres. There’s a budget of 16,4 million euros for the construction of the necessary buildings and a budget of more than 2,3 million euros for the equipment of the centres.

Bilingual education has been given a boost recently with two experts giving a seminar to English teachers. David March and Peteer Mesito were in Las Palmas to speak to those who teach English in schools and colleges in the province, al of whom have been assigned to the Bilingual Sections Projects.

A local company has donated a new van to the Caritas organisation. Paniagua Machín, Volkswagen Pinturas Cía Canarias presented the keys recently. Over the Christmas period, employees and clients donated cash instead of the traditional gifts. With the project Companies with Heart, Cáritas has wanted to associate companies in the struggle against the poverty and the social exclusion. Not being dependent on subsidies, but getting finance elsewhere is also important. Cáritas Arciprestal is in the process of signing new agreements of support to the project with different hotels and large supermarkets.

A conference on Global Climate Change took place last week with Pedro Sánchez Díaz, Professor of Physics of the Ambience of the University of Las Palmas. There is continuing evidence of climate change and its negative consequences on water resources, agriculture, natural ecosystems and human health. And whether we like it or not, climate change can affect us here in Fuerteventura. But it seems that we live on another planet, as the islands are the autonomous community that leads the non-performance of the Protocol of Kyoto with regard to the reduction of the gases of greenhouse effect.
· We have more housing per thousand inhabitants than other EU countries.
· There are more kilometres of road per square metre than in the rest of Spain and the EU.
· Half of Canarian soil is “ degraded biologically ”, partly due to the excess of road infrastructures.
· Almost 50 % of the surface of Canaries is submitted to intense erosion.
· The soils and the Canary acuíferos suffer an excessive contamination because of the high use of insecticides. In fact, the Canaries lead the use of insecticides in the State and 43 % of the Canary population contains high levels of DDT in his body. More than 50 % of the residual waters of the archipelago go straight into the sea without being purified.
· Greenpeace affirms that the Canaries are the second worst Autonomous region for recycling.
· In the islands there are 119 species in danger of extinction and another 331 threatened ones.
· The islands also are the Spanish region that has a major dependency on the oil.
The level of participation of Canaries in the renewable resources is very low with regard to other Communities.
A major political change is necessary so that future generations will inherit islands that are worth living in.
Fuerteventura is having another dry winter and this is having repercussions on agriculture, cattle, natural ecosystems and the general health of the population. The fields are not producing sufficient food for animals and there is not enough water.

A plan has been approved for a new electrical system that will cross almost all the island, including the mountains. In addition to this having a strong landscape effect, it will also contribute to the warming of the planet. In 20 years, there has not been even one project begun using renewable energies.

There was an increase of nearly four per cent more visitors to the islands in January this year than last year. But Lanzarote outshone all the others with a huge increase of more than 12 per cent. Overall. Some 30,786 extra people visited one of the islands in January. Fuerte received just over three per cent more visitors, with 108,260 tourists, an increase of 3,235 from January 2007.

Weird news
For those who feel a bit lonely just talking on the phone, a Japanese company is offering a cellphone that turns into a robot buddy ready to chat.
Softbank Mobile Corp.'s new mobile line looks like a small humanoid with attachable arms and legs, with the screen showing various faces.
The PhoneBraver will be released in April after a character in an upcoming television drama series entitled "Cellphone Investigator 7."
The telephone comes with enough artificial intelligence to learn the user's habits.
If the user calls a particular person many times, a text phrase such as "You're calling her often these days, aren't you?" might appear coming out of the face's mouth, according to Softbank Mobile spokesman Katsuhide Furuya.
The user could carry on conversations with the phone by responding "yes" or "no" or with other simple replies.
"We haven't decided on specifics yet on the communication between the user and mobile, but your mobile would grow into a buddy different from others that is unique in the world," he said.
The PhoneBraver does not move by itself but can strike a pose with movable joints. The price is not disclosed yet.

Italians are used to buying bogus Gucci bags or Rolex watches to look stylish but police found a new height of craftsmanship and cunning when they broke up a ring selling fake Ferrari cars for a fraction of the real price.
Police accused 15 people of building the blood red sports cars and selling them to car fanatics on a budget, most of whom knew they were buying a counterfeit classic.
Car body workers who police called "very able" cobbled together mostly fake parts and a few original components. They used body parts from other makes of automobiles, such as chassis, roofs, hoods, trunks and doors.
The body parts were modified to look like Ferrari classics such as the 328 Gtb, which went out of production in the late 1980s.
Some of the cars sold for about 20,000 euros, about a tenth of the going price for some versions.
Police confiscated 21 cars, 14 of which had already been sold, and seven in production in Sicilian garages.

Two Boston-area moms are being summoned to court after police say they got into a fistfight at Chuck E. Cheese Saturday when one woman's son "hogged" an arcade game from the other's 9-year-old birthday boy.
Catherine Aliaga, 38, and Tarsha Williams, 33, will be charged with simple assault and battery after they started shouting and scuffling at a celebration for Aliaga's son's birthday.
"Unfortunately, a birthday night out turned into a birthday melee," police Sgt. Paul Thompson said. "I don't even know if they finished their pizza."
Officers responded at 6:50 p.m. to a number of 911 calls, finding Aliaga with red marks on her upper chest, Thompson said.
Aliaga took offense to Williams' 13-year-old son using a basketball game machine for a long time, the sergeant said. Aliaga told her son to be patient while the other boy had his turn with the game.
At one point, Williams' son apparently pushed the boy, who accused him of "hogging" the game.
Aliaga said the other boy was done shooting hoops, and Williams replied, "No, he's not," Thompson said.
"Next thing you know, words were exchanged," and things got physical between the moms with shouts, shoves and pushes, the sergeant said.
"Williams lunged at Aliaga, grabbed her and began to hit her," punching her on the side of her face, Thompson said.
Williams told Aliaga, "the fight was not over and it would continue outside in the parking lot," Thompson said.
Police arrived to find the women in the birthday room.
They sent the women and their children home separately, Thompson said.
Aliaga, of 14 Elliswood St., West Roxbury, and Williams, of 51 Ellington St., Dorchester, will be summoned to court at a later date, the sergeant said.
"We are taking charges out against both of them," he said.
A Chuck E. Cheese manager in Natick referred comment to CEC Entertainment's Texas-based corporate office, which was closed yesterday.

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