domingo, 16 de junio de 2013

Silence rules the Bilbao streets after kung fu prostitute murders

Silence rules the Bilbao streets after kung fu prostitute murders

The violence and the threats come with the job. The prostitutes try not to talk about them, as though the 30 euros their clients pay for their services included the right to be abusive. Everything gets even more complicated if the woman in question has no residency papers and is scared of being deported.
It is not easy to find anyone willing to talk on Bilbao's Calle de las Cortes in the same month that news broke about the murder of two prostitutes by phony kung fu master Juan Carlos Aguilar. Discretion rules the streets. They are scared, very scared, and they trust no one.
E., a 40-year-old woman from Latin America and mother of two teenage children back home, did trust someone once. But it was the wrong person. She borrowed 4,000 euros from someone she calls a "lender," who helps women get across the Atlantic, promising them a land of plenty where they would soon find a job.
"Several acquaintances came to Spain through her and found jobs caring for elderly people and making around 1,000 euros a month," she says.
They have the right to report assaults, but they still don't, out of fear"
She, however, has not had such luck: in four months "nothing has turned up" and now she works as a prostitute in Bilbao to return the loan within the next two months - otherwise this "lender" is threatening to take her mortgaged home back in her country.
"If I had the money, I would leave tomorrow morning. That's why I'm here, because it's fast cash," she says.
E.'s case is just one of many similar stories. Askabide, the association that works to bring prostitutes back into the fold of society, is only too aware of the vulnerable situation of these women. The association's offices are located just a few steps away from Calle de las Cortes, and its chief, Miriam Arias, states the obvious: "If it is hard enough for us to report certain situations despite having a family, support and our papers in order, how can you expect them to do so in their situation? We make it clear that they have the right to report assaults to the police, but they still don't, out of fear."
Although they come into the offices for different reasons - information, a blood test, a cup of coffee with friends - the prostitutes are largely young immigrant women with relatives to support back home.
"Nothing is static in this life," says Arias.
"I've been at Askabide for 20 years. When I first joined, most [of the prostitutes] were Spanish, and now they're mostly foreigners, although there's still a bit of everything."
Despite the generalized notion that most foreign street workers are here illegally, some have all their papers in order. It's the other side of the coin: they have no debts to repay, and are in this for their own sake. V., a Brazilian who is over 40, is one such woman. She works to support her son, who lives back in Brazil, "and for my little whims, and to pay the 900-euro rent on my apartment."
When she got to Bilbao from Asturias two years ago, she had practically nothing. On her first week, a client stole her new cellphone and 80 euros.And yes, she reported it to the police.
"I am lucky to be able to tell the story, because you never know who you're dealing with," she says.
"You have to be astute, and report abuse. I would do it again, although I understand the undocumented girls who don't."
Arias confirms it: "They are highly exposed to violence, and many do not have their residency permit. It's a difficult hurdle to overcome."

The epic asphyxia Madrid Barca

The epic asphyxia Madrid Barca

The Barcelona searched and found in the underworld of the game to force, to a contemplative and cowardly Madrid, the fifth game of the tense and exciting Endesa League final. The Palau is sometimes true to topic and becomes hell. And Barcelona is a block that has won more than one of his many titles intangibles asserting that yield the highest returns in this scenario. The epic, claw, aggressiveness well understood and character are also critical ingredients in the game. We were in the fourth installment. Coldly looked, any analyst had said that Madrid was still higher. But in the heat of battle knew better move Barcelona top finally on the rebound and the inside game, but especially in the management of the minutes. The game entered soon effervescent, midway through the third quarter. Barcelona was when surfaced hardened, tough, aplicadísimo on defense. He left Madrid in 30 points in the second half and scored an epic victory.

Barça Regal, 73 - R. Madrid, 62

Regal Barcelona Marcelinho (11), Navarro (7), Rabaseda (0), Lorbek (11), Tomic (18)-starting five-, Sada (2), Jasikevicius (0), Todorovic (5) Wallace (2 ), English (0), Mavrokefalidis (10) and Oleson (7).
Real Madrid: Llull (9), Rudy Fernandez (8), Suarez (0), Mirotic (6), Begic (4)-starting five-, Draper (7), Felipe Reyes (10), Sergio Rodriguez (6), Carroll (2) and Darden (6).
Partial: 23-17, 11-15, 15-13 and 24-17.
Umpires: Hierrezuelo, and Garcia Conde. Rudy removed by five fouls.
6,219 spectators at the Palau Blaugrana. On Wednesday held the fifth and final match in Madrid (22.00, TVE-1/TV3).
In that passage transcendental, Barca, for one reason or another, had on the court a quintet unheard Marcelinho, Oleson, Rabaseda, Mavrokefalidis and Todorovic. And Navarro, injured, on the bench. With that contingent spurt gave Barcelona. Mavrokefalidis executed with a flurry of shots near the basket and decided the score: 61-52.Madrid failed to counteract the dramatic swing in the back.
One of the plot threads of the series is definitely emotional. At Madrid wins Barcelona responded, jilted in the first game and overwhelmed in the third.The last Friday hit the waterline Xavi Pascual. The nuances gained more weight, was underlined their inferiority on the rebound, defend their difficulty Felipe Reyes, the loose paper from their bases, especially Marcelinho, which was not his day as Tomic, hurt by the mistakes from the start , and definitely physically collapsed at the end and at the mercy of the wrist, suddenly Mirotic infallible. Two days later, everything changed completely in the first quarter. Tomic marveled, tireless, infallible, well attended and well accompanied by Lorbek, with which alternated in the low post and drove down the street from bitterness to Begic and Mirotic.Barcelona took over the rebound, mainly offensive. He administered the same medicine to Madrid. He rode in the first quarter (23-15). There was no free throws in those first 10 minutes and missed a lot of triples.
The second unit of Madrid, with the arrival of Felipe Reyes, Slaughter and Sergio Rodriguez, changed the landscape. The Barcelona attack with Sada, Oleson, English, Mavrokefalidis and Todorovic, wrecked. The pace of play slowed. Felipe Reyes returned to be a lethal weapon.Mavrokefalidis looking outwitted midrange shots and was infallible. Sergio Rodriguez spun the plays often getting the lion's den. A triplazo his, almost resting on the horn, left the score with a minimum difference: 34-32.
The Madrid is Barcelona raised serious difficulties which sometimes stuck to the mixed zone defense or ordered Laso and was at times surprised by players like Draper or Darden. But Barcelona, ​​despite Jasikevicius gatillazos, Wallace and English, optimized its resources. His 44 points razed pivots between a tremendous Tomic, author of 18 points and 11 rebounds, Lorbek and invaluable contributions of Mavrokefalidis and Todorovic.
The 13 rebounds Barcelona more than Madrid. Wrecked in triples Madrid team, with March 1, 18, and lacked the temper and aggressiveness of its rival to seize a golden opportunity to have sentenced the league. Finally finished two points, 63-61, with just two minutes, but moments later annealed finished when the referees gave Barcelona band for a ball that appeared to give in Tomic. Rudy Fernandez protested and referees punished him with a technique which involved removal. The Barcelona no mistake and forced the fifth and final match on Wednesday in Madrid (22.00, BBC1 and TV-3) which will be vital to know under what conditions will Navarro, although his team yesterday, learned to win without him in the last stretch.

miércoles, 12 de junio de 2013

A gay boy gets withdraw an award to a homophobic politician in the U.S.

A gay boy gets withdraw an award to a homophobic politician in the U.S.

Neergard Marcel is a 11 year old openly gay now holding with his family in the State of Tennessee (USA) have won a battle against John Ragan, a local politician who had received the award for best legislator of the year. Ragan supported a law prohibiting teachers mention all sexuality class unrelated to procreation.
Neergard been bullied for years by their sexual orientation so they decided to study an entire course at home. This student has managed to withdraw the prize Ragan, a feat for him and his family that is a victory for the rights of the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender). "I suffered bullying in fifth grade. I wrote my feelings in a diary, and I read it again a year later. I corrected the grammar and decided to post it on the Internet. Then I learned that Ragan had received this award, my mother told me and asked if I wanted to do something about it. I said, "Of course!" Says this young by email.
Neergard Ragan began his fight against a petition with to be taken off the political prize for supporting Protection Act in the Classroom, stop leading Tennessee in Congress several months. To many experts, this measure threatens the diversity and encourages bullying. The campaign had more than 50,000 signatures and finally StudentFirst organization, sponsored the award, Ragan took the prize. "I am very happy that StudentFirst has taken my side to fight against bullying in schools, but there is still much to do to ensure that what has happened to me will not happen again to any child more" says the young man.
Neergard that this summer is going to enjoy his victory. "Once back to school next year I want to share my experience and make it a safer place for everyone." "I love learning" continues Neegard, "I am very excited to return to my school". "In fifth grade, students were mean to me, were verbal abuse, assaults rarely. They called me a fagot, girl-boots (as always wearing them, they were my favorite and black). My colleagues used the word gay as an insult, really hurts your partners use against you something that defines you as a person. "
According recounts his father, Neegard once had suicidal thoughts during the time he suffered bullying, even the "most were simple teasing insults, was intolerable to him." "Do not tell anyone, we found a day that we went to school and saw hitting another student with the backpack".
"Being who you are is something that you have to feel proud. People who are going through the same thing I would tell you never to leave being the same, "continues the child. "Seek help from an adult if you suffer harassment. With all this I have learned that everyone has the ability to fight for what you believe is right. Just because we are small, does not mean we're not anything, "he continues Neegard.
This young man would love to work with GLAAD (Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) in some of his campaigns, for example, promote Spirit Day, a day in which people dress in purple shirts to support the gay community. "My dream? Lawmakers approve a regulation against bullying in schools "ends Neegard.

Soccer star Messi accused of four-million-euro tax fraud

Barcelona’s public prosecutor for financial crimes on Wednesday presented a lawsuit against soccer player Lionel Messi for allegedly defrauding the Spanish tax system of over four million euros.
The Argentinean star’s father, Jorge Horacio Messi, has also been cited in the charges, which relate to a failure to declare part of the star’s earnings from his image rights in tax declarations made between 2007 and 2009.
Messi, who will be 26 years old later this month, has denied committing any infraction. “We have always attended to all our tax obligations following the advice of our financial consultants, who will take charge of clearing up this situation,” read a statement on his Facebook page.
Over those three years, Messi obtained “significant earnings” for transferring his image rights to third parties. He should have declared these to the Spanish tax authorities, but never did in all that time.
According to the suit, it was Messi’s father who came up with the alleged tax avoidance “strategy,” which the player “ratified” when he turned 18. The scheme purportedly revolves around “pretending” to transfer the Barcelona player’s image rights to front companies in the tax havens of Belize and Uruguay.
The setup, said public prosecutor Raquel Amado, allegedly allowed Messi’s earnings to be transferred from the companies paying for his image rights to the tax haven-based businesses without being subject to barely any tax and without the knowledge of the Spanish tax office.

martes, 11 de junio de 2013

Spain’s central bank chief confirms bailout extension option

Spain’s central bank chief confirms bailout extension option

The governor of the Bank of Spain has confirmed that the government of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy may in October decide whether or not to ask for an extension on the maturity of the loan it received from its European partners to bail out the country’s banks.
As EL PAÍS has published, the European Central Bank, the European Commission and the IMF — the so-called troika — have been pushing Spain to seek to extend the period in which the loan remains available in order to provide a cushion against any further volatility in the sovereign debt markets as a result of additional bank stress tests to be carried out on European lenders. The Bank of Spain has also recently tightened coverage for loans that have been refinanced or restructured that could lead to banks being required to make more provisions.
The Rajoy administration has argued that should the nationalized banks need more capital, it will be able to fund this in the market. But it is not averse to seeking to extend the maturity of the loan provided that this does not come with additional conditions.
Spain has only tapped around 41 billion euros of the 100 billion made available to it by the European Stability Mechanism (ESM). Most of the 41 billion euros went to recapitalize Bankia, Novagalicia and Catalunya Banc, which have been nationalized.
“The government will have to take this decision and I suppose that will be in October,” Linde said at a seminar in Montreal on Monday.
“When you look at whether additional provisions might be necessary, we’re talking about banks that are under state control,” he said in an interview with Bloomberg. “We don’t expect these banks will need a new injection of capital, but we will have to wait until September to see how the economy evolves and the earning of the banks.”

Civil Guards raids capture two wanted ETA members in Gipuzkoa

Civil Guards raids capture two wanted ETA members in Gipuzkoa

Two suspected ETA members were arrested in early-morning raids Tuesday in the Gipuzkoa localities of Andoain and Urnieta. The Civil Guard said that Jon Lizarribar Lasarte and Rubén Gelbentzu González formed part of the Izarbeltz terrorist cell, which carried out four bombing attacks in 2002 against the University of Navarre, the Corte Inglés department store in Zaragoza and two local businesses in the Basque Country.
The operation was the fruit of analysis of documents seized from several ETA leaders in France. The Civil Guard said the current investigation into the Izarbeltz cell remains ongoing.
Gelbentzu, 35, and Lizarribar, 36, had previously been arrested in 2003 and 2004 respectively and charged with belonging to a terrorist organization. Lizarribar was sentenced to six years in prison by French authorities after being arrested in a stolen vehicle with a firearm and false documents in the southwestern area of Billac. At the time of his arrest a European warrant was in force for his capture.
At his 2007 trial, prosecutors stated he had spent time at several addresses with other ETA members in Limoges, Coulaines and Le Mans, suggesting he was a member of the organization's logistics network and responsible for harboring terrorists on French soil.
Gelbentzu's arrest in 2003 was part of a police operation against ETA's recruitment apparatus. Twelve other suspects were detained in the operation but Gelbentzu was released on bail and ordered to report weekly to court.
Anti-terrorist security sources told Europa Press that the two detainees were not active and did not maintain contact with the organization's hierarchy. ETA declared an end to armed action in October 2011.

lunes, 10 de junio de 2013

Urdangarin collected 10,000 euros for meetings, says former partner

Urdangarin collected 10,000 euros for meetings, says former partner

Iñaki Urdangarin, the king's son-in-law who is the target of a public fraud investigation, charged 10,000 euros for each meeting he held with businessmen to help drum up support for conferences and sports events that his non-profit Nóos Institute was organizing, a witness testified Monday.
Álex Sánchez Mollinger, a friend of Urdangarin who also participated in some of the meetings, told a Palma de Mallorca judge that the Duke of Palma collected 30,000 euros from the Valencia soccer team in exchange for a pledge to look for sponsors. The search failed to bear fruit but Urdangarin still collected his cash.
Previously, another witness, Fernando Roig, testified that Urdangarin was paid 600,000 euros for a similar task on behalf of the Villarreal team.Roig serves as president of the soccer club.
Judge José Castro, who is spearheading the inquiry, also took a statement from Mario Sorribas, who was once a close aide to Urdangarin, about Aizoon, the real estate and property firm the royal co-owned with his wife, Infanta Cristina. Sorribas revealed that there were no workers at the firm.
The judge is specifically looking at whether Aizoon was used as a front company to allegedly avoid paying some 240,000 euros in taxes from 2007 to 2008. Castro has opened an investigation into Princess Cristina's tax returns. She was initially officially implicated in the embezzlement case against her husband but that decision was later left in abeyance.
Urdangarin is being investigated for fraud, tax evasion, falsifying documents and embezzling six million euros in public funds as head of the non-profit Nóos Institute.

Bogus kung fu master is not mentally ill, say police

Bogus kung fu master is not mentally ill, say police

The kung fu martial artist Juan Carlos Aguilar, who faces murder charges in connection with the deaths of two women, is mentally fit and not suffering from any psychiatric condition, according to a medical report prepared by the Basque police.
Aguilar, 47, was arrested in Bilbao on Sunday after neighbors reported hearing the cries of a woman inside his gym. The regional Ertzainta police found Mauren Ada Ortuya tied up and severely beaten. The 29-year-old Nigerian national died on Wednesday after spending several days in a coma.
Police identified a second woman, Jenny Sofía Rebollo, 40, as another possible victim. Rebollo, a Colombian national, had called her mother in Colombia to say that she "was very happy" because she had been offered a job giving massages at a local gym and would soon be able to send money back home.
"My sister was always happy, she would always talk and laugh with us," said Rebollo's sister Yira in an interview with the daily Meridiano de Córdoba. They last spoke was on May 21.
Aguilar reportedly told police that he may have killed a woman on May 31 but he wasn't sure. The police medical report states that he was diagnosed with a brain tumor two years ago.
At the same time, more details have emerged about Aguilar. Witnesses said that he often frequented a bar across the street from his house and may have met the women there.
One client doesn't think that Rebollo and Ortuya ever met because the Colombian woman often went alone. "It was a normal bar; it wasn't any type of nightclub or strip club," the client said.
The bar has since been closed for different violations, the police said.
If convicted Aguilar could be sentenced to up to 25 years for each murder.

Villarreal earns promotion back to Primera

A year after it found itself relegated from the top flight of Spanish soccer, Villarreal bounced straight back to Primera on Saturday.
The Yellow Submarine secured second behind Segunda champions Elche with a 1-0 win over Almería at El Madrigal. Jonathan Pereira's 54th minute strike proved enough to dispatch the third-place Andalusian team, which had gone into the match level on points with the Castellón side.
Club president Fernando Roig can take much of the credit for enabling the 2006 Champions League semifinalist to climb back out of the hole it had dug for itself. Two days after his team was relegated last year, he decided to sell his 2.5-percent stake in supermarket chain Mercadona, valued at around 71 million euros, and use the funds to clean up the club's accounts and remodel the team.
However, the search for a coach began tragically when former Sporting Gijón boss Manolo Preciado died of a heart attack as he was about to be presented as the chosen candidate. Youngster Julio Velázquez stepped into the vacant position, but with Villarreal languishing mid-table at the halfway stage he was replaced by Marcelino García Toral whose alterations have now catapulted the team back into the top tier.
Almería now heads into the playoffs where it faces Las Palmas, while Girona plays Alcorcón in the other tie. Both first matches are due to be played on Wednesday with the second legs on Saturday. The winners will then battle it out for the final promotion spot.
At the other end of the second tier, Murcia provisionally avoided the drop to Segunda B with a 1-0 win over Las Palmas. Last week the Professional Football League (LFP) announced that Guadalajara would be relegated due to irregularities in the process of capital increase carried out by the club last year. Thus Murcia, Racing Santander and Huesca all had an unexpected final chance to save their skins on the final weekend.
Guadalajara has said it will contest the LFP's decision.

Nadal rewrites the history books at Roland Garros

Neither rain, a court invasion nor the very best that David Ferrer could muster prevented Rafael Nadal from writing a new chapter in the history books in Paris on Sunday. The Spaniard’s straight sets win over his Davis Cup teammate made him the only player in history to win the same Grand Slam eight times, and his 6-3, 6-2, 6-3 victory was his 59th at Roland Garros, another record. Nadal has only been beaten once in nine years on the Paris clay, when Robin Söderling achieved what nobody else had before or since in the fourth round. A record of one win in his previous 16 matches against Nadal going into the final did not bode well for Ferrer.
Indeed, the score line does not really reflect the contest. Nadal was made to work extremely hard by his opponent and by damp conditions in the French capital, which did not lend themselves to the champion’s heavy forehand top spin. Ferrer had not lost a set coming into the final and displayed the resilience that is his own trademark early on when an early break brought up 2-1 and harrowing images of last year’s semifinal, in which Nadal thrashed his countryman for the loss of just five games.
But Ferrer broke back immediately and unveiled part of his game plan in doing so — to attack everything that Nadal left slightly short, go for the lines and come to the net when necessary.
Although Nadal broke again later to claim the first set, the match statistics show something close to parity in break point opportunities — 13 for Ferrer to Nadal’s 16 — but merely carving out the chances is a mammoth task against the Mallorcan in Paris. Ferrer was able only to convert three but even in the second set his tenacity could be measured in numbers. Few 6-2 partials take almost an hour to complete.
Despite the best on-court efforts of Ferrer, it took a masked, shirtless protestor invading Philippe Chatrier to break Nadal’s concentration. The world number four was unable to serve out the second at 5-1 but then regained his composure and added Ferrer’s next service game to the dusting of red brick on the main show court, taking the set with a crushing break to love.
The third began in much the same way as the first, both players exchanging breaks as the drizzle continued.
At 2-3, Ferrer was distracted by a sneeze from the crowd behind him during his service action, staring icily at the perpetrator before displaying sang-froid to hold for 3-3. But that was the last game he would claim as Nadal broke again in game eight to serve for the match. It was the champion’s turn to be unamused when the crowd got a little ahead of itself at 40-15 but a signature thumping serve and forehand combination sent Nadal to the floor for the eighth time on Philippe Chatrier in nine years.
It was the culmination of a comeback from seven months on the sidelines that had been tailored to deliver Nadal to Roland Garros in as close to top shape as possible. If it had seemed the Spaniard would struggle with the five-set format after so long on the sidelines when Daniel Brands relieved him of a pair of sets in round one, Nadal’s epic semifinal with Novak Djokovic was proof that he is back at the peak of his powers.
On clay, whether it be Monte Carlo (eight titles), Rome (seven), Barcelona (eight) or Paris, there is every sense that the ambidextrous Nadal could well try a new trick at this rate: the first player to win the same tournament with his left and right hand.
Nadal must now be considered the greatest clay-courter in history. With 12 Slams under his belt he stands third in the all-time list alongside Roy Emerson, two shy of Pete Sampras. The king of clay should also now be mentioned in any discussion regarding the greatest player on all surfaces.

domingo, 9 de junio de 2013

Elías Querejeta, legendary Spanish film producer, dies at 78

Elías Querejeta, legendary Spanish film producer, dies at 78 

If anybody in the Spanish movie industry ever worked hard to earn the title of “The Producer,” that is Elías Querejeta, who died on Sunday morning in his Madrid home at the age of 78.
A driving force behind Spanish cinema (he produced 55 movies and wrote 23) and a prestigious figure in European film, the Basque-born Querejeta leaves behind a legacy of essential viewing for scholars of European art film. His work also serves to help younger generations understand the role of a producer; Querejeta gave wings to the careers of directors such as Carlos Saura, Jaime Chávarri, Emilio Martínez Lázaro, Fernando León de Aranoa, Víctor Erice and his own daughter, Gracia Querejeta.
“I always have fun with my work, whether as a producer or a director,” he once said in an interview with EL PAÍS. “I am even present during the film editing, and I couldn’t conceive of this (job) without passion and commitment.”
Early in his career, his role model was the legendary MGM producer Irving G. Thalberg. “I was always interested in his passionate approach to production.”
Yet Querejeta did not seem like a natural-born filmmaker at first. His earliest memories were of a happy childhood and a passion for soccer. By the age of 18 he was making his debut in the Spanish first division with San Sebastián’s team, Real Sociedad. But his career in sports ended in 1958, when he moved to Madrid to set up his own film production company.
 In 1960 and 1962, he directed the short documentaries A través de San Sebastián (Through San Sebastián) and A través del fútbol (Through soccer) in partnership with his close friend Antonio Eceiza. He did not direct again until 2009 when he made another documentary, Cerca de tus ojos (Near your eyes), about a journalist doing human rights research.
I always have fun with my work, whether as a producer or a director”
 “It’s true that all my work in this genre follows a line of thought that concerns itself with specific subject matter, and a certain way of viewing that I call the documentary movie,” he said about this aspect of his work.
But those documentary beginnings quickly evolved towards fiction in partnership with the director Carlos Saura, who would go on to solo fame with movies such as Tango and Flamenco. Together, both men gave the world an impressive list of award-winning titles, including La caza, which won the Best Director award at the 1965 Berlin International Film Festival; Peppermint frappé, winner of the Berlin Silver Bear in 1967; La prima Angélica, which took the 1974 Jury Prize at Cannes; and Deprisa, deprisa, winner of the 1981 Berlin Golden Bear.
In a documentary about Querejeta released in December of last year, Saura stated that eventually the partnership eroded in much the same way as a romantic relationship withers away. “But he never tried to meddle with the script,” the famed director noted. “We are like an elderly couple with a lot of successful children.”
Another director who worked with Querejeta, Manuel Gutiérrez Aragón, admitted that the producer “sticks his nose everywhere.”
More recently, Querejeta partnered with Fernando León de Aranoa to create Mondays in the Sun (2002), an award-winning drama about unemployment featuring actor Javier Bardem.
His daughter Gracia, an actress and director, said that even after she told him she wanted to pursue a career in film, her father forced her to get a university degree first.
Querejeta received all the honors that Spain can bestow on its filmmakers: the National Film Award in 1986 and the Film Academy’s Gold Medal in 1998, when he was told by academy president José Luis Borau that “Spanish cinema has followed in your wake for a long time, feeding off your prestige, your cheek and your courage.”

jueves, 23 de mayo de 2013

Francisco Goya

Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes (30 March 1746 – 16 April 1828) was a Spanishromantic painter and printmaker regarded both as the last of the Old Masters and the first of the moderns. Goya was a court painter to theSpanish Crown, and through his works was both a commentator on and chronicler of his era. The subversive imaginative element in his art, as well as his bold handling of paint, provided a model for the work of later generations of artists, notably ManetPicasso and Francis Bacon.

Vicente López Portaña - el pintor Francisco de Goya.jpg

Philip II of Spain

Philip II of Spain (Spanish: Felipe II; 21 May 1527 – 13 September 1598) was King of Spain (as Philip II in Castille and Philip II in Aragon) and Portugal as Philip I (Portuguese: Filipe I). During his marriage to Queen Mary I, he was King of England and Ireland and pretender to the kingdom of France. As heir to the Duchy of Burgundy, he was lord of the Seventeen Provinces of the Netherlands. Known in Spanish as "Philip the Prudent" (Felipe el Prudente), his empire included territories on every continent then known to Europeans and during his reign Spain was the foremost Western European power. Under his rule, Spain reached the height of its influence and power, directing explorations all around the world and settling the colonisation of territories on all the known continents including his namesake Philippine Islands. Philip coined the expression "The empire on which the sun never sets". However, he was also responsible for four separate state bankruptcies in 1557, 1560, 1575, and 1596; precipitating the declaration of independence which created the Dutch Republic in 1581; and the disastrous fate of the 1588 invasion of England.
Philip was born in Valladolid, the son of Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor and King of Spain, and his wife, Isabella of Portugal. He was described by the Venetian ambassador Paolo Fagolo in 1563 as "slight of stature and round-faced, with pale blue eyes, somewhat prominent lip, and pink skin, but his overall appearance is very attractive." The Ambassador went on to say "He dresses very tastefully, and everything that he does is courteous and gracious.

Portrait of Philip II of Spain by Sofonisba Anguissola - 002b.jpg

Battle of Lepanto

The Battle of Lepanto took place on 7 October 1571 when a fleet of the Holy League, a coalition of southern EuropeanCatholic maritime states, decisively defeated the main fleet of the Ottoman Empire in five hours of fighting on the northern edge of the Gulf of Corinth, off western Greece. The Ottoman forces sailing westwards from their naval station in Lepanto (Turkish:İnebahtıGreekΝαύπακτος or Έπαχτος Naupaktos or Épahtos) met the Holy League forces, which had come from Messina.
The victory of the Holy League prevented the Ottoman Empire expanding further along the Mediterranean side of Europe. Lepanto was the last major naval battle in the Mediterranean fought entirely between galleys and has been assigned great symbolic importance.?]

Battle of Lepanto 1571.jpg

Nadal thrashes Federer to claim seventh Masters title in Rome

Rafael Nadal outmuscled Roger Federer in the final of the Rome Masters to record a seventh title at the last major clay-court test before Roland Garros. On the evidence of the past two major tournaments in Madrid and the eternal city, there seems to be little to prevent the Spaniard sweeping to a staggering eighth victory on the clay of Paris next month. Few can keep pace with Nadal in the three-set format; those that can genuinely challenge over five can be counted on less than one hand.
David Ferrer ran his compatriot close in Madrid and Rome, while Ernests Gulbis came out swinging to take the first set of the quarterfinal match from Nadal 6-1. But when faced with top-10 opposition in the past three weeks the Spaniard, whose Rome win was his 41st clay title, has not been found wanting.
And all this — eight tournaments contested, eight final appearances, six titles — from a player who warned it would take some time before he was back to his best after a seven-month injury layoff.
Federer was out of sorts on Sunday, spraying 15 unforced errors around the court in the first set, which he ultimately ceded 1-6 with a routine volley placed long. A mini-rally in the second set saw the Swiss claw his way back from 1-5 to 3-5 after losing nine games on the trot, with Nadal’s serve broken for the only time in the match, but it only delayed the inevitable as the Spaniard served out on the second attempt.
Nadal now holds a 20-10 career record against Federer, with the world number four leading 14-6 in final meetings.
“It hasn’t been my day,” observed Federer. “It has been more Rafa’s day, something that happens quite often on clay.”

Spanish taxpayers declare assets held overseas worth nine percent of GDP

Spaniards and foreigners resident in Spain have declared assets held abroad in the form of bonds, shares, real estate and bank accounts of 87.7 billion euros, equivalent to nine percent of the country’s GDP.
As part of the government’s assault on tax evasion and fraud based on legislation passed last year, the Tax Agency now requires all taxpayers in Spain to declare assets worth more than 50,000 euros in any of four different categories of investment.
According to figures provided Wednesday by Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, 131,411 taxpayers declared assets held overseas, of which 129,925 were individuals and the rest companies. Individuals declared 67.1 billion euros and companies 20.6 billion.
A European Union summit on Wednesday approved measures to crack down on tax fraud and evasion. “Spain’s commitment against tax fraud is total,” Rajoy told a news conference in Brussels. Spain is estimated to have a huge black market, which could amount to about a quarter of its official GDP. “The EU is going to make life difficult for tax dodgers and lead the world on this,” Rajoy said.
The government launched an amnesty for tax evaders last year under which they could declare assets held abroad that had been previously undeclared, paying a fine of only 10 percent of the value of their holdings. The program unearthed 40 billion euros in previously undeclared assets. However, it swelled the state’s coffers by only 1.193 billion, when the government had been looking to raise 2.5 billion.
In an embarrassing development for Rajoy’s Popular Party government, the former PP treasurer, Luis Bárcenas, who has been implicated in the Gürtel kickbacks-for-contracts scandal, availed himself of the amnesty.

Brussels denies Madrid more time to tackle air pollution

The European Commission has rejected Spain's request for Madrid to be granted another five years to comply with its maximum pollution limits.
EU legislation permits a maximum annual average of 40 micrograms of nitrogen dioxide per cubic meter. Madrid has failed to comply with the limit since 2010, when it was first introduced, and now faces sanctions.
"The Commission thinks that it is appropriate to make objections regarding the extension of the deadline for compliance with the annual and time value limit of nitrogen dioxide since the Spanish authorities have not shown the possibility of complying by 2014," reads the text of the decision, dated May 16, to which EL PAÍS has had access.
According to the time limit, maximum levels of nitrogen dioxide can only be exceeded 18 times a year. Madrid surpassed that at six monitoring stations in 2010 — one on 76 separate occasions.

The Spanish voice of Darth Vader and Clint Eastwood dies at 65

Constantino Romero, the Spanish voice of Clint Eastwood, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Darth Vader, died in Barcelona on Sunday at the age of 65 from a neurological illness. More than just a dubbing artist, he was also a presenter, journalist, radio announcer and actor. He had announced his retirement just five months ago, signing off with “That’s all folks” on his Twitter account on December 12 after a 47-year career.
Romero was born in Albacete in 1947, and after spending the first years of his childhood in Chinchilla, Castilla-La Mancha, he moved to Barcelona with his family at the age of nine. He began putting his voice to work at a young age and over the course of his career it acquired such a power that he would become one of the most distinctive and accomplished stage actors of his time, often working with the director Mario Gas.
Such was his skill that even those who usually disliked dubbed movies could admire what he did with his serious and resounding voice. Over the years, he provided the voices of Robert Redford, Roger Moore, Michael Caine, Sean Connery, Kirk Douglas, Orson Welles, Schwarzenegger, Mufasa in Disney’s The Lion King, as well as Rutger Hauer in Blade Runner, among many others. “I wish I had the voice of the guy who dubbed me,” Hauer said after seeing the Spanish version of the movie. “It is much better than mine!”
But it was perhaps Clint Eastwood with whom Romero was most associated, dubbing his films from 1971 until the end. He never got to know him personally, but on the screen they were one and the same person. Even after his official retirement, he came back to dub Clint inTrouble with the Curve, admitting it would be his last work. And when Alex de la Iglesia wanted Eastwood to appear in the last scene of 800 Bullets, he had to make do with a double on screen, but he had Romero’s voice on the soundtrack.
Romero’s movie appearances in person were few. His film credits includeOlimpicament mort, Bigas Luna’s Lola, Carlos Benpar’s La veritat ocultaand Pau Freixas’ Héroes.
He made his theater debut in Gas’s 1984 production of Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill’s The Threepenny Opera, going on to work with the director on productions of Brecht and Weill’s Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny, Aeschylus’ The Oresteia, Eugene O’Neill’s Mourning Becomes Electra and Stephen Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd. His last stage appearance was in Josep Maria Flotats’s production of Sacha Guitry’sBeaumarchais in 2010.

Two Spanish tourists taken by kidnappers in Colombia

Two Spanish tourists have been kidnapped while traveling through a remote area of northeast Colombia, the Foreign Ministry confirmed on Tuesday, adding that their captors have demanded a ransom for their release.
The names of the couple were not officially released, but the Bogota daily El Tiempo has identified them as Ángel Sánchez Fernández, 43, and María Concepción Marlaska Sedano. Quoting several sources, news agency Efe reported that the woman is related to High Court Judge Fernando Grande-Marlaska.
Authorities have not ruled out that the couple were taken across the border to Venezuela. According to the daily, the two rented a car in Bogota and were heading to the beach resort of Cabo de la Vela, in La Guajira department, before they were kidnapped on Friday.
La Guajira is considered a dangerous area because of the number of paramilitaries, drug traffickers, smugglers and guerrilla groups that operate there.
The couple left their luggage behind at a hotel in the region while their car was found with a broken window at a ranch about 85 kilometers outside of Uribia, El Tiempo reported.
During calls to the victims’ families back home, the kidnappers identified themselves as members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), but authorities consulted by Efe have not confirmed this.
According to one source, it is not the guerrilla group’s modus operandi to demand a ransom the following day after a kidnapping.

Germany to create 5,000 jobs a year for young Spaniards

Germany has agreed to create 5,000 jobs a year for young Spanish workers as part of efforts to reduce youth unemployment in Spain, which hit 57 percent at the end of March.
A memorandum of understanding in this area was signed Tuesday in Madrid by Spanish Labor Minister Fátima Báñez and her German counterpart Ursula von der Leyen. It includes work combined with professional training and stable posts for qualified workers.
Báñez welcomed Germany’s “commitment” toward helping young Spaniards, adding that the accord would provide “many opportunities for many young Spanish people which today, because of the crisis they do not have in Spain, and which, however, they can have in other European Union countries on a temporary basis.”
The accord calls for the interchange of workers and cooperation in the area of labor affairs. There are currently 43,548 Spaniards affiliated with the German Social Security system, and 37,797 Germans in the Spanish system.
Both countries also agreed to work together on initiatives at the EU level to reduce youth unemployment. “This cooperation between Spain and Germany will very soon show itself in additional joint measures that will make a better life for our young people possible,” the two countries said in a statement
Von der Leyden acknowledged the reforms that Spain has undertaken, which she indicated would take time in bearing fruit. “Germany was the sick man of Europe ten years ago, with a very high unemployment rate [and, therefore,] knows what measures work,” she said.

miércoles, 10 de abril de 2013

Should cyclists be forced to wear helmets in Spain's city centers?

"This is the first day that I've ever worn a helmet. It seems a bit ridiculous to me." This was just one of the reactions recorded by EL PAÍS on September 2, 1992, the day after it became mandatory for moped users to wear head protection.
"The history of road safety is paved with this dilemma: frontseat safety belt, backseat safety belt, motorcycle helmet, moped helmet... There is not a single prevention measure that has been favorably received by everyone," explains María Seguí, director general of Spain's traffic authority, the DGT.
And so, not surprisingly, the issue of obliging cyclists to wear helmets within city limits is not without its dose of controversy either. Several sources within the DGT have indicated that this measure, along with a maximum speed limit rise from 120km/h to 130km/h in some areas, are the two main sticking points preventing new road legislation from being passed.
The draft law includes an article that would force cyclists to wear helmets within cities, a proposal that has met with a chorus of disapproval from cycling associations and all of the political parties in the city of Barcelona.
Yet by cross-referencing data from local police forces and the Civil Guard, it has emerged that 20 percent of cyclist fatalities and injuries in cities and on roads were caused by head trauma - although the reports do not specify whether or not the victims were wearing helmets.
"The evidence regarding the usefulness of safety helmets in reducing the chances of head injuries is unquestionable," says the DGT director. "There are more than 150 scientific articles on the subject, and no cycling association is going to criticize that."
The issue, it seems, is not whether the safety helmet is useful or not, but the simple fact that it is going to be made compulsory.
"When you keep a measure voluntary, the people who protect themselves are the ones who had greater awareness to begin with. And by definition these are the people who were statistically less likely to have an accident anyway," says Seguí.
But cycling associations believe that the message being sent out by the DGT, at a time when bicycle use is on the rise, is that this is a dangerous means of travel. Statistics, they claim, prove the opposite.
"There is a yearly average of 15 deaths," says Manuel Martín, technical director of pro-cycling association ConBici. "In 2011, the last year with consolidated figures, 12 cyclists died within city limits, which means that this is a totally disproportionate measure that hinders the expansion of cycling."
According to the Annual Bicycle Barometer, around three million people use a bicycle almost on a daily basis in Spain.
"Normalcy in the use of the bike will be affected by the imposition of safety helmets," claims Martín. Comfort and esthetics are two factors, he says. "Think of a woman who has just come out of the hairdresser and has to put it on," he says.
Elsewhere in Europe, helmet use is not compulsory, according to the Association of Professional Cyclists.
The ConBici spokesman calls the measure "paternalistic" and notes that "around 300 people drown every year yet it is not mandatory to wear life vests in reservoirs. If the traffic authority is so worried about the health of all citizens, it should start by making car occupants wear safety helmets, since every year there are around 5,000 victims of accidents, including fatalities and injuries, many from head and brain injuries.
Yet the cycling accident figures are incomplete, says María Seguí, because "they are the same ones that the DGT handles, and by law they only reflect accidents involving a motor vehicle."
Seguí admits that in any case, the cyclist fatality figure is not high, and that "what really kills cyclists is the speed of the vehicles, thus the importance of slowing down within cities with the new road regulations [30km/h or 20km/h, depending on the size of the road]. This will be the main way of helping cyclists."
Her main concern, she says, are injuries. In 2011, 285 riders were seriously hurt within cities, the highest rate since 1997. "Brain damage is a silent problem in Spain," insists Seguí, underscoring that helmets reduce both the number of injuries and their severity. In 2012, she explains, there were 5,600 cases of brain damage and more than 200 cases of spinal damage.
"Am I going to promote a means of transportation that could result in more brain injuries when I have a tool that I know is effective in terms of their reduction?" asks Seguí.
But cyclists argue that the DGT and the Interior Ministry "legislate on the strength of perceptions" and that they lack studies to back up their claims, according to Manuel Martín, who points to another study: "In New Zealand it was proven that bicycle use fell 30 percent after helmet use was made compulsory."
Seguí is aware of that study, but notes that it was conducted immediately after the new legislation went into effect. "Nobody has followed up on it in the long run, and people who are fans of using bicycles come back to them sooner or later."
There are scientific studies backing the effectiveness of the helmet as a protection measure as well as the effectiveness of making helmet use compulsory. A Canadian study published in the magazine Injury Prevention says that there was no significant reduction in bicycle use when helmets were made mandatory in Canada.
But Seguí remains committed to her plan. "If they want to throw tomatoes at me," she says, "let them throw them."