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When Andalucia’s regional television channel, Canal Sur, recently advertised 112 jobs in different departments, it received an astonishing 18,700 replies. A third of the openings are for receptionist-telephonists, gofers and administrative clerks while another third are distributed among production, the newsroom and scriptwriters. The rest are for technicians, cameramen, and maintenance people. Job interviews began last week at the Congress Centre in Seville.
Former Marbella Mayor JuliAn Muñoz, who was recently granted an open prison regime after being found guilty of real estate irregularities, thought he was onto a good thing when he did a deal to sell his story to the Tele5 TV channel for €350,000. Presenter Ana Rosa Quintana even came down from Madrid last week to record the exclusive in Marbella only to have it cancelled at the last minute after the judge hearing the cases against Munoz instructed the prosecutor to look into the matter for tax purposes.
Malaga City Hall has confirmed that Rafa Nadal will compete in the Malaga Masters International Tennis Championship, after weeks of talks with the tennis ace’s representatives. The event will take place in the Martin Carpena sports hall the first weekend in December. And will be televised on Andalucia’s La 2 TV channel in Spain. However, Nadal’s recent injury may upset the plan but just in case – start getting out those autograph books.
The Queen’s 70th birthday last Sunday was marred by controversy because of a book published last week to mark the event. The national press began to publish excerpts from La Reina Muy de Cerca (The Queen very close up) by writer Pilar Urbano last Friday and her comments on gay marriage caused a furore in the gay community. Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero made a point of stressing the Queen’s “impeccable services to Spain” at a press conference in the capital of El Salvador where he, King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia, were attending the 18th Ibero-American Summit. Meanwhile the Royal Household issued a statement saying that “alleged affirmations” by the Queen, as recorded in the book by Sra Urbano, were “inexact”. The statement said the comments were made in private and did not exactly correspond with the Queen’s opinions. The statement continued: “The words (in the book) do not reflect the deep attitude of respect which Her Majesty the Queen has for all people, and her closeness to those who suffer, are persecuted or discriminated against.” Despite the statement, Pilar Urbano is standing by her book. She told reporters: “What the Queen said is what my book says.” She added that the interview process was “perfectly documented” and that revision of the test copies allowed the Queen and the La Zarzuela palace verify and give the green light to her declarations. According to El Pais newspaper, the book was given the go-ahead by the Queen’s secretarial staff, implying that she may not have read the book herself. Queen Sofia has lived in Spain for the past 46 years and has never committed any indiscretion in public. In a biography published in 1993, King Juan Carlos said his wife was his most trusted adviser throughout the years that they lived in the shadow of Francisco Franco and during the often tricky Transition period. Queen Sofia’s brother Constantine was the last King of Greece and she herself spent most of her childhood in Egypt and South Africa during her family’s exile from Greece during World War Two.
Barcelona writer and photographer, Alexis de Villar, has claimed that the latest Woody Allen film, “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” plagiarised his novel, “Goodbye Barcelona” which was published in 1987. The writer, who made the claim on the Que Alucine! Website, added that Allan has obviously made some changes to “avoid my complaints”. The novel was one of the finalists in the Premio Planeta competition in 1987. De Villar said he will lodge his complaint “as a matter of simple dignity” and that the courts will decide shortly.
Mark Lewis, the Briton named in media reports as the “accidental mayor” of San Fulgencio on the Costa Blanca, has denied taking up the position. Mr Lewis was said to have taken over the reins in San Fulgencio after the mayor, the deputy and four councillors were arrested over alleged corruption. The 58-year-old was elected to the council last year after campaigning on an anti-corruption ticket, but he was never invited to become mayor. Mr Lewis confirmed that the current mayor, Trinidad Martinez, was among those arrested earlier this week on corruption allegations. However, he said that Sra Martinez had since been released and continued to perform her duties as mayor, while a police investigation was ongoing. The scandal erupted last week when several media outlets broadcast a video of deputy mayor Manuel Barrera Garcia allegedly accepting a €5,000 bribe from property developers. He was allegedly caught on camera saying: “It is better in large denomination bills. They occupy less space.” Sr Barrera Garcia was arrested on October 20th and released on bail. He has denied any wrongdoing and said it was a politically motivated set-up. Mr Lewis, who moved to Spain some 25 years ago, was elected to the council last year with the independent AIM party. He was appointed Councillor for Animals – a position in which he was responsible for organising searches for lost pets. Media outlets reported that he had become mayor as a temporary measure while the corruption inquiry ran its course. San Fulgencio is 25 miles from Alicante in the south-east of the country, and has a population of 11,000, the vast majority of whom are British.
Andalucia.com, the leading web portal providing information about Andalucia, has received the 2008 award for Company of the Year from Junta de Andalucia in collaboration with the Malaga Chamber of Commerce. The award ceremony took place on October 23rd at the Hotel Fuerte in Marbella, and was presided by Maria Gomez, the Government Delegate in Malaga, and coincided with Foreign Residents’ Business Day. Paz Rosado, editor of the site’s Spanish edition said: “For all of us who make Andalucia.com possible, it’s a great honour to receive this prize.” She expressed her appreciation to all of Andalucia, adding that it is a place “that offers a lot both to those who were born here and those who come from other places in Spain and abroad”. She also praised the organisations that gave out the prize for taking the initiative to recognize foreign business efforts. Chris Chaplow, director of Andalucia.com said he was honoured to receive this prize “in recognition of 12 years of work promoting Andalucia”. He thanked the “hard-working team at Andalucia.com, our advertisers that support us and the 350,000 unique visitors each month from all parts of the world”. Costa del Sol companies competed for prizes in the categories of Integration in Andalucia, Innovation, Promotion of Andalucia. Association, Young Business Person and Company of the Year.
Malaga City Hall have been ordered to pay a compensation of €3,000 to a couple after police stopped the bride, Ana Belen Quires, from arriving at the church in time for her wedding three years ago. She was in a horse-drawn carriage and the police objected to her using a pedestrian-only street, even though she had a municipal permission to do so. She made her way on foot to the Iglesia de Sagrado Corazon, almost a kilometre away, where she arrived in tears. Ana Belen and her husband, Juan Jose Rivas, said they will use the money to take a trip to “forget their wedding day”.
The so-called “magic coin” swindle has arrived in Malaga. Las week, police arrested a man in an arcade in the centre of the capital with 400 normal euro coins and 186 painted black. One-armed bandits can’t detected the painted coins, and the swindle consists of inserting a number of these coins then pressing the Return button without playing. The machine automatically returns the same number of normal coins and the player continues to introduce painted coins and retrieve normal ones until the machine starts spitting out painted ones. The swindle appears to come from the East. Police in the rest of the country have so far arrested several Chinese but the man arrested in Malaga was a Turk.
The capital of Asturias, Oviedo, pulled out all the stops last Friday to celebrate another Prince of Asturias Awards ceremony. Last week’s rain had abated and the sun shone brilliantly on the thousands of people who turned out to watch Queen Sofia, Crown Prince Felipe and Princess Letizia and the winners arrive at the Campoamor Theatre, with tennis’s Number One, Rafael Nadal, a clear favourite with the crowd. The second most popular was Ingrid Betancourt, who was running for president in Colombia when she was kidnapped by the Farc guerrilla group more than six years ago. She was rescued by soldiers posing as guerrillas earlier this year and now lives in Paris for security reasons. During her acceptance speech, she told how she had listened to radio commentaries about an up-and-coming tennis player called Rafael Nadal and never dreamed that she would one day sit next to him at the Prince of Asturias Awards ceremony. Nadal was visibly moved and said afterwards that it gave him goose pimples to think of a lonely, brave woman following his career in a jungle hideaway where she was being kept ahainst her will in deplorable conditions. The other award winners were Margaret Atwood, who collected the Literature Award for defending the dignity of women and denouncing social injustice in her work. Co-founder of Google, Larry Page, was there to collect the Communication and Humanities Award and representatives of health centres in Tanzania, Ghana, Mali and Angola received the International Cooperation Award for their work in the fight against malaria. Maestro Jose Antonio Abreu collected the Arts Award on behalf of Venezuela’s Foundation for Juvenile and Infantile Orchestras which has been rescuing poor children from the country’s slums and giving them careers in music since Sr Abreu founded the first youth orchestra there 20 years ago. Japanese scientists Sumio Iijama and Shuji Nakamura, and the Americans Robert Langer, George M Whitesides and Tobin Marks shared the Scientific and Technical Award, and French-Bulgarian philosopher Tzvetan Todorov collected the Social Sciences Award for his work on freedom and equality, the development of democracy and the impact of violence on the collective memory.
Chick Correa, John McLaughlin and Rufus Winwood have already confirmed they will perform at Malaga’s 23rd International Jazz Festival, to be held at the Teatro Cervantes from November 10th to 17th. Other performers include Arturo Sandoval, Joshua Redman, Lizz Wright and Richard Galliano. Adding to the multicultural nature of the festival will Avishai Cohen from Israel. Ticket prices range from €14 to €40, and fans who buy three will get a discount of 15%. Tickets are available at the usual outlets or on http://www.teatrocervantes.es.
Golf legend Seve Ballesteros suffered a complication following surgery on a brain tumour last Tuesday but is said to be in a stable condition, after doctors removed a piece of his skull last Thursday to relieve pressure that was building up on the brain. Ballesteros, 51, collapsed in Madrid’s Barajas Airport on October 6th. He underwent a number of tests, which uncovered the tumour. A biopsy on the tumour had been scheduled for last Tuesday but doctors decided to operate to remove as much of the tumour as possible before treatment. Ballesteros won 87 titles during his career, including the Open in 1979, 1984 and 1988 and the Masters in 1980 and 1983 and captained Europe to Ryder Cup victory at Valderrama in 1997. He retired last year following arthritic back and knee problems late in his career and doctors discovered an irregular heartbeat when he was admitted to hospital in 2007.
According to the Consumers’ and Users- Association (OCU), Malaga has the cheapest “menu del día” in Spain. A survey of the prices of menus at 100 restaurants in Barcelona, Bilbao, Madrid, Sevilla, Valencia, Vigo, Zaragoza and Malaga, revealed that the average price for a typical menu of two dishes and a drink is €7, 55 in Malaga, in comparison with the national average of €9,50. The researchers also discovered that none of the menus in Malaga include a pudding, and that there was never a salt cellar on the table.
Malaga’s golden boy, Antonio Banderas, told the Gulf News in Abu Dhabi last Saturday that he wants to come home to Spain for good, to make the sort of films he can’t make in Hollywood. He is in Abu Dhabi attending the film festival there with his wife, Melanie Griffith. He said that when he went to the States in 1992 he had every intention of returning home. And the thinks there is no better time than now, when he is interested in making a film about Boabdil, the last Moorish king of Granada. Banderas said he wanted to give a positive message about Arab culture, which he has been following closely in Morocco. He denied rumours that he had received death threats as a result of his desire to make the film. “My life is not in danger,” he said. “In fact, the film is the reason I’m here in Dubai, to seek Arab backing for it.”
Art experts hired by the Junta de Andalucia to value the works of art seized from Juan Antonio Roca during the Malaya case said last week that the vast majority were fake or copies of little value. At first sight, Roca’s art collection of around 400 works, allegedly by painters like Picasso, Joan Miro or Tapies, was described as “fabulous”. Now it turns out that Roca, Marbella town council’s former urban planning adviser who is alleged to be the brain’s behind one of the biggest local government corruption scandals to hit the Costa del Sol in decades, was not a collector but an accumulator, as the art experts described him last week. They said the paintings, sculptures, drawings and antique furniture confiscated were worth between €2,000 and €6,000 each – a far cry from the millions they were allegedly worth when the scandal broke.
For a while it looked as if the rain would play havoc with Spain’s National Day parade in Madrid last Sunday but in the end, it only stopped a few planes from participating in the fly past, as well as the parachutists who traditionally land right in front of the Royal stand. Not so many people turned out either, put off by the glowering clouds. Opposition leader Mariano Rajoy was there, despite the uproar he caused last Saturday when he told the PP leader in Andalucia, Javier Arenas, that he was going to have a really boring time Sunday, watching the march past. He didn’t put it quite as mildly as that, however, but used a “c” word that no well-educated Spaniard uses in decent company, least of all when referring to the nation’s Armed Forces. In an interview in one of the national papers to mark her first National Day as Defence Minister, Carmé Chacon, pointed out that the armed forces had gone from being very feared to very admired in just one generation. She also defended Rajoy, saying she didn’t think what he had said reflected his true feelings about the military.
The local council in Vila-sacra in Gerona province came up with a novel way of getting rid of a prostitute last week. They sprayed her beat on a roundabout on the edge of town with Zotal, a powerful disinfectant used by livestock breeders. Mayor Carme Barceló said she had appealed to the Mossos (Catalan police), the regional government, the courts and was so desperate that she’d even thought of appealing to the Prime Minister himself to get rid of the woman who worked at the roundabout from 9 am to 9 pm, seven days a week. Sra Barceló said Zotal stinks to high heaven and “the woman now seems to have got the message that we don’t want her there”.
When Cuban-born artist Jorge Rodríguez Gerada was asked to design a poster for the Democrats Abroad campaign in Spain, he decided to use the Catalan burro. The ass is the symbol of the Democratic Party and, according to the artist, the first asses to reach the Americas came from Catalonia so it’s quite possible that the Democrats’ ass is a descendant of one of them. “So what better symbol for the Democrats here,” he said. That’s as may be. We still have to hear from the Catalan nationalists, who are notoriously possessive of everything Catalan. They might not like their burro working for the campaign of Barack Obama, who has the full support of their worst enemy – the government in Madrid.