Thursday, July 5, 2007

Spain's Thursday News: Fire in Catalonia ; Telefonica told to pay up ; World told to eat walnuts

Catalan residents and visitors evacuated: The biggest story locally was the forest fire in Montroig del Camp near Tarragona, which is south of Barcelona. Residents and tourists had to be evacuated and around 300 hectares were destroyed, including woodlands, farms, a camp-ground and a restaurant. There were only a few light injuries, mostly smoke inhalation, and people were eventually able to return to their homes thanks to the efforts of local firefighters. This makes six forest fires reported in Catalonia so far this week.

Telfonica slapped with a fine: The European Commission fined Telefonica, Spain's former telephone monopoly (that still acts like it is!), a whopping €152 million ($206 / £102m). This is the largest fine ever for a telephone company and the second largest penalty of any kind imposed by EU regulators. (The record holder? Microsoft's €497 million fine.)

Telefonica has long been accused of abusing its market position in Spain by charging other companies excessively high rates to use its lines. EU regulators claimed this has impeded competition and, therefore, hurt consumers.

EU Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes said, "Telefonica's conduct harmed Spanish consumers, Spanish businesses and the Spanish economy as a whole, and by extension Europe's economy." She claimed that the large size of the fine was necessary as a deterrent and a warning to other companies.

Telefonica has pledged to go to the European Court of Justice to appeal the fine.

I say, "Way to go, Neelie!"

More proof that the Spanish diet is healthy! Probably everyone would agree that a low fat diet is good for you, but could a daily dose of virgin olive oil and walnuts be even better? According to the Prevencion con Dieta Mediterranea (aka, PREDIMED) study, it sure looks that way. The Spanish study of the Mediterranean diet revealed that regular consumption of walnuts and/or virgin olive oil could prevent coronary heart disease (CHD). The first results of the study were published last month in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

The study concluded that there is enough, "evidence to recommend TMD [The Mediterranean Diet] as a useful tool against risk factors for CHD" because "individuals at high cardiovascular risk who improved their diet toward a TMD pattern showed significant reductions in cellular lipid levels and LDL oxidation."

I say, "Way to go, TMD!"

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