Monday, October 20, 2014

Europe's unsafest border?

A recent news report on Syrians and others entering Europe illegally via Melilla, one of two Spanish territories (the other being Ceuta) in North Africa:


Sunday, October 19, 2014

Teresa Romero cured of Ebola; Spanish nursing assistant was first person infected outside Africa

From Newsvine: "Tests performed on Romero today could not detect the Ebola virus in her blood, according to Teresa Mesa the family's spokeswoman. The special committee set up by Spain to manage the crisis has confirmed the test result, but a second analysis will be required to confirm the virus' absence. If the negative finding is repeated tomorrow, the medical case will be practically closed.

This news follows yesterday's announcement that Romero was..."

[Update, Tuesday 21 October 2014: Romero has now reportedly tested negative four times and has been officially declared cured.]

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Spain declared best value winter travel destination

Spain's sunny southern coast
The Iberian penninsula offers some of the best travel deals this winter, with the Costa del Sol offering the best bargain but the Algarve not far behind

The UK's Post Office has found that the Costa del Sol in Andalusia, Spain provides the best value for money this winter. The Algarve coast of neighboring Portugal came in third. Bali, Indonesia was sandwiched in between at number two.

In a new Winter Sunshine Report barometer of 18 destinations in Europe and further afield, Post Office Travel Money found the Costa del Sol cheapest for a bargain break.  The cost of eight tourist staples, including a family meal, drinks, suncream and insect repellent, was just £44 ($71 / €55).  Bali (£47 / $76 / €59) just beat out Portugal’s Algarve  (£48 / $77 / €60) for the runner-up bargain spot.

Winter vacationers looking for more guaranteed winter sun in Europe will find great value on Tenerife in Spain's Canary Islands at £58 ($93 / €73) for the eight items and Ayia Napa in Cyprus at £60 ($96 / €76).  According to the Post Office, local prices in the four eurozone destinations above are either level with last year or slightly cheaper. 

Madrid Guitars: One of Europe's Treasures

The New York Times has included guitars made in Madrid on its list of twelve European Treasures:

Madrid: Guitars

Crossing the threshold of one of Madrid’s storied guitar makers’ workshops can feel like stepping into the past. Curly wood shavings, from the palest pine to ebony, cascade to the floor as artisans hone a few humble planks into acoustic works of art. It’s painstaking work — all done by hand — with classical guitar models and the methods of making them changing little over the last century. The monthly production of even the most seasoned craftsmen typically maxes out at two instruments per month.
The finished products will someday go out the door, gleaming with varnish and polished metal fittings, to seduce audiences from stages around the globe. But here in Madrid, the tiny workrooms and the simple tools — as well as the last names of the artisans employing them — have often not changed in generations.
My first encounter with luthiers, or guitarreros (guitar makers), took place deep in the heart of Madrid’s historic center, where I went looking for one workshop and found several.
The door is usually open at Mariano Conde’s shop (Calle Amnistía 1; marianoconde.com), a tiny two-level workshop near the Teatro Realm where Mr. Conde, his son — also named Mariano — and two other craftsmen move between molds, saws, planes and files. Prices are 2,800 euros ($3,500) for a standard flamenco guitar to 18,000 euros ($23,000) for his finest classical concert guitar.
Mr. Conde is a third-generation guitar maker from the fabled (and now defunct) house of Hermanos Conde, and his brother Felipe also continues the family legacy at his own shop nearby (Calle Arrieta 4; felipeconde.es). A 10-minute walk away, on the other side of Plaza Mayor, is another cluster of luthiers, including José Ramírez (Calle de la Paz 8; guitarrasramirez.com), Pedro de Miguel (Calle Amor de Dios 13; guitarraspedrodemiguel.com) and Juan Álvarez (Calle San Pedro 7; guitarrasjuanalvarez.com).
A guitar’s colorful mix of woods is less an aesthetic choice than a science. Each element of the instrument’s anatomy has specific physical and acoustic demands, and its maker knows which woods can accomplish each function. It’s fascinating to consider that the materials for today’s instruments may have been purchased by the artisans’ fathers 30 or 40 years ago, just as the German spruce and Canadian cedar today’s guitarreros acquire will sit drying for decades until it’s suitable to be turned into guitars by their children or grandchildren. ANDREW FERREN

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Rodrigo Rato, Ex-IMF head, in Spanish court over credit card scandal

"Ex-IMF head Rodrigo Rato went before a judge Thursday over allegations that he and other former executives at a bailed-out Spanish bank went on lavish spending sprees with company credit cards.
The 65-year-old went to court along with two other former executives for questioning by a judge investigating Bankia, the group whose near-collapse sparked a 41-billion-euro ($52 billion) bailout for Spain's financial sector.
The three were met by yells of "
'Thieves!' from protesters who say they lost their savings when Bankia collapsed in 2012.
Audit documents submitted by prosecutors to the court detailed a total of more than 15 million euros of suspect spending with credit cards by former managers of the group, which Rato headed from 2010 to 2012.
Prosecutors said the credit cards were used for personal purchases with media reports detailing spending on safaris, meals at luxury restaurants, art, clothing and massive cash withdrawals.
Rato made no comment as he arrived shortly before 5:00 pm (1500 GMT) at the National Court, Spain's top criminal tribunal, for questioning by Judge Fernando Abreu.

Rato served from 2004 to 2007 as managing director of the International Monetary Fund, the worldwide lender that played a key role in tackling the eurozone debt crisis.
He was finance minister in Jose Maria Aznar's conservative government, which was in office from 1996 to 2004, and served as chief executive of Caja Madrid before holding the top post at Bankia until shortly before it was rescued by the Spanish government in 2012.
The scandal has fuelled indignation in Spain, where one in four workers are unemployed, ahead of a general election expected by the end of next year."

AFP

Madrid, Spain: Plaza Mayor and Bullfighting Culture (Video)


Monday, October 13, 2014

Elevators and Ebola in Spain

My recent Spain related posts on Newsvine:

Spain: elevator capital of the world. But why?

When you think about Spain, the first thing that pops into mind is undoubtedly one word: Elevators. No? Well, maybe it should be. Compared to other countries, Spain’s elevator supply looks remarkably, well, elevated. At face value, there’s a pretty simple reason  …

Spain's Ebola victim becomes subject of political fight