News, opinion, essays and links for residents and friends of Mojácar, Almería.
This site, started in September 2002, is called The Entertainer Online to continue The Entertainer name, the name of a weekly newspaper started by me in 1985 which ran without interruption throughout southern Spain until 1999 when a three year option to buy was taken by staffers. They never concluded the deal, or paid me, but changed the name when the option expired in April 2002 instead. Que vamos a hacer.
Overview of this site (Sections at bottom of page)
*Rambeau’s Diary – a blog *Freebie-Jeebies® – Some relaxed comment on the poor quality local free-press *Fallout – quotes from other sites *National News Certain pieces that catch my fancy *Local News Certain pieces that catch my fancy *Essays: Various imput *Links about Spain (see top of page) about 200 useful links, including my other blog Spanish Shilling - *Now ten years old (Dec 2015). *To e-mail me - write to firstname.lastname@example.org. I don't always answer or open attachments.
To continue with the news on newspapers (sic), there has been some movement in the Almería freebies. The Olive Press is pulling out of the province (you never advertised with them) and, by a fortuitous chance, the Round Town News, based in Alicante with four local editions, is starting up a new Almería edition of their paper (or so I read here). As usual, the EWN is not very kind about its new competitor (here).
Later: In some good news for The Olive Press, 'The Expat Survey Consumer Awards' have found 'The Olive Press newspaper voted best in Spain and second best in the world'. A newspaper in France called Connexion won and The Round Town News came third. Almería readers can still find The Olive Press online, here.
The OJD is the official audit of a print run for a newspaper, averaged over three months. Newspapers, as we know, have been losing advertisers and readers as the costs of a single copy rise steadily, and as readers turn, with their 'adblockers' in place, to the Internet. Today, printing just one copy costs about one euro. A hundred thousand copies costs a hundred thousand euros, plus the distribution and transport costs. The cyber newspaper is streets ahead, with no printing or distribution costs, and less or no obligation to twist the news to satisfy certain advertisers or political groups (newspapers in Spain traditionally get 'institutional advertising' to keep them quiet). Newspapers also give a certain number of free copies to enhance their reputation (and their print numbers). Each town hall will have a complementary copy of the provincial daily, as will many bars and clubs. those copies (they will argue) will be read by ten or more people, making their advertisers happy. So, the OJD figures for Andalucía, shown here, are dispiritingly low. In Almería, the three dailies are also down. La Voz de Almería has 4,900 copies, El Diario de Almería is under 1,800 copies. The third newspaper is the Ideal, which appears in three local editions - for Granada, Jaén and Almería. Their combined print run (funny, the OJD would never let me do a 'combined print run' when I edited The Entertainer) is 18,900. The Almería version will be about 2,000. Of the three newspapers, the Ideal (here) is the best.
Much will be written this week about Leonard and Helen Prior, unwillingly become, through circumstance, the most famous Britons living in Spain. The couple whose house was demolished in a cowardly and stupid miscalculation back in Vera (Almería) in January 2008. The Priors lived in a house which was not on a flood-plain. Their house was not in a place of singular beauty, nor on the beach, nor near the road or the railway tracks. It wasn't on any plan for expropriation. The Priors were - and are - a simple British couple who had retired to Spain, after a professional life in England, to enjoy their twilight years with a glass of red as the sun sank each evening over the hills before them. It's not clear why their house was chosen and not one of the others that loosely surrounded them. Perhaps they were foreigners, who would simply disappear back to the extranjero. But they didn't. They moved into the garage, making a home in a small space, with hose-pipe water and a generator for electricity - as so many other retired foreigners have been forced to do in Andalucía. They appeared on British TV, repeatedly. They were in all the British newspapers, repeatedly. They were recorded on the BBC and in other European Media, repeatedly. Millions read about what the Spanish had done to an innocent couple in the final years of an uneventful life. Now, once again, Leonard and Helen Prior are in the news. This time, even the Spanish news. A happy event: the judicial system here has blamed the local town hall. Not the perpetrators of the assault, but the local authority, who gave permission for the home to be built. They must pay around half of the money claimed by the couple, and failing an appeal (which will be made, sure enough), the Priors will be awarded enough to buy a smaller house somewhere - maybe in another more welcoming area! Unfortunately, the 'costs' - the gigantic legal fees (after over eight years) to be shared. A much smaller house, maybe something nice in India. Andalucía is almost proud of its '300,000 illegal homes': as if no one knew about these houses built mainly for speculation in this large and impoverished region. Many of the builders were hidden, as often happens here, behind simple 3,000 euro companies. What could go wrong? Many buyers were caught in these traps: many northern Europeans - and the horror stories were told again and again in the European Media. So, how did the Junta de Andalucía (which 'chips' all the animals in the region, even the goats, and knows everything that must be known), fail to notice the construction of 300,000 houses, many even in illegal urbanisations? A similar number of dwellings to the city of Málaga! Andalucía, an area with the highest unemployment in Europe, an area without much agriculture or industry, is perfect as a place to retire to: a European answer to Florida. What could possibly be wrong with this? Remember that Southern Florida, in the USA, has unemployment of around 5%. But let us not dwell on the Priors, victims of circumstance. We should be sparing a thought for the Almerian people. How many jobs have been lost or will never be created, and how much money has not been invested in this province from abroad thanks to the actions of the Junta de Andalucía and the wretched 'ecologists'?
Later (4.00pm Tuesday): Vera Town Hall has appealed the sentence - so expect another year without closure.
*A version of this report, with editorial additions, appears in the latest edition of The Olive Press Nº 238.
As a petition against the high levels of local air-pollution gathers strength (sign here, why don't you?), an article in El Periodico de la Energía says that the Endesa power station in Carboneras is the third dirtiest plant in the whole of Spain. The worst is one in Teruel, followed by another in the same province, recently closed down, leaving third (and now second) the plant in Carboneras: 3.Central thermal Litoral de Almería (Carboneras) Thermal Central Litoral de Almeria is a thermoelectric plant owned by Endesa. It was built around 1985 near the town of Carboneras in the province of Almeria (Spain), at the gates of what is now the Natural Park of Cabo de Gata-Nijar. The plant consists of two separate groups, the first was commissioned in 1985 and the second in 1997. The fuel used is imported coal, the centre develops a power of 1,158.9 MW. The Carboneras power station is ranked 88 in the European ranking (AEMA) and contaminates with a cost in health and agriculture issues of between 730 and 2,294 million euros. With such a small population locally, why would we need such a large power station? Ah. Ahh.
it's long been known that Mojácar has a sewage problem - not so surprising with so many hotels and dodgy paellas. In 2007, a plan was agreed to extend the sewage farm up behind the go-karts (just behind Garrucha, built in 1992) with Junta de Andalucía finance, but what with one thing and another, and the EU saying that there's no more help until they stop stealing everything in Seville (see Business over Tapas), the money just never seemed to be there... The Town Hall of Mojácar has been insistent about the importance of an extension to the current 'depuradora', and now the Partido Popular in Seville is asking the Junta to do something - before we lose all the tourists. Part of the money needed, 29 million euros to extend the sewage farm used by Mojácar, Turre and Garrucha, has already been collected in the 'canon' added to our water bill by Galasa. More at Idealhere.
Mojácar is not a great place for acknowledging its foreigners (except for that young windsurfer Osaia Reding who is evidently an honorary mojaquera thanks to her successful sporting exploits). We don't have any festivals for them, or street names to honour them ('Calle de Pedro Barato' - Cheap Pete Street - was substituted by the current corporation in favour of the more romantic 'Calle Cal'). We have no foreigners in the swollen Town Hall staff (Leslie has been 'out' for a year) and barely anyone who speaks English there. What happened to all those foreign kids, now grown up, who went through the Mojácar school system? We have no translators at the Centro Medico, unlike Zurgena (see here) which '...was needed as some 200 expats living in the town and surrounding areas were not attending the health centres in Zurgena, due to “language problems”...'). Yet there are over 6,000 English-speaking residents and any number of English-speaking visitors here in our municipality. Indeed, there is no 'Foreigners Office' in Mojácar - as there are in any number of Spanish towns with a foreign presence. Apparently, we don't need one. The only references to the foreign presence in Mojácar (which is massive at 60% or more) is the small plaque outside the Pavana honouring Tom, an Irishman who used to sit there and enjoy his retirement, and a large number of tombstones in the beautifully appointed Mojácar cemetery. Even Brad Swift's wooden bench with a brass plaque has been quietly forgotten... We could all disappear, and be forgotten in a question of months. Like the Visigoths.
Right next to the power station in Carboneras - famous for its pollution and high production of poisonous gasses - is another remarkable business, the Holcim cement factory. This centre became famous for its giant oven, which was used to burn the contaminated colza ('Canola') oil (responsible for up to 1,100 deaths in 1981). The oven there is used for other disposal of residues, such as tyres - indeed 485 tons of used tyres are now being shared between the Holcim plant and another in Toledo. The first question for both the Endesa and the Holcim plant operator must inevitably be - do you burn at night, when neighbours can't see the smoke? The Junta de Andalucía classifies Carboneras (says the local Podemos party) as a 'Punto Negro de Contaminación'.
Protected Land, but Nothing to Help (and - entre nous - not much to protect)
Monday 11 April 2016 - 13:04:07
The environmentalists have Almería province by the short and curlies. We read in today's Voz de Almería: 'One in every three hectares of this province has been protected land for the last ten years. There is no other area, in relative terms, anywhere in Europe, no ecological sanctuary of such a magnitude as the province of Almería: 328,354 hectares, that is 37.5% of the entire province, is under some form of protection. The average in Andalucía is 30%, Spain is 27% and Europe is 21%...'. Oddly, Europe provides no money whatsoever to keep our deserts and scrub suitably bald and environmental.
In Almería, hopes for a high speed train to connect the city inland to Granada and outbound to Murcia are taking their time. Indeed, a marvellously expensive tunnel – well, twin tunnels – was built a couple of years ago in the middle of the Almerian nowhere (a 7.5km tunnel to keep the ecologists happy, needless to say) which cost 500 million euros, and on completion was solemnly bricked shut (the shepherds had been using them). The next step – apparently – is to remove some tortoises in the Vera area. More here and here. One impatient PP politician has wittily suggested putting up the tortoises in the local Parador Hotel. Taken from my weekly subscription newsletter Business over Tapas Nº 155.
At The Entertainer Online, we are not sure if this is a joke. The Councillor for Education for the Junta de Andalucía, Adelaida de la Calle, wants to wipe out sexist vocabulary (and values) with her ‘II Plan de Igualdad de Género en Educación’: the second plan for gender equality in education. The plan is to eradicate gender violence and sexist attitudes and to oblige the use of inclusive and non-sexist language in the centres of education. Even the Real Academia Española is shuddering at some of the neologisms, such as (of course) instead of los alumnos, one must now say ‘los alumnos y las alumnas’. Los funcionarios must now be called ‘el funcionariado’ and even our friends los andaluces should now be referred to as ‘la población andaluza’. Los politicos become 'la clase política'. And so on. There’s more madness at Idealhere.