Spain News Roundup of the Week(s): April 1 – April 14, 2012

While I am formulating my thoughts on Holy Week for a post, I’ve also been sorting through the news. A couple of items on this list I have wanted to post about before, but más vale tarde que nunca, am I right?

Article 1 is a story that has been allllll over the news here for several weeks. It is referred to as the case of the “stolen babies” and refers to a movement of women, some who were teenage mothers, some who were separated from their husbands, and some who just had the bad luck to give birth in the wrong place at the wrong time, who are searching for their birth children. All of these women gave birth in maternity clinics run by nuns, and after giving birth the attendants took their babies away, never to be seen again. Some of the mothers were told that the baby would be better off being adopted by someone else, while others were told that their babies had died. In reality, the babies were allegedly sold to adoptive families for hundreds of thousands of pesetas. The most astonishing thing about this case is both the scope of the operation and the fact that it was perpetrated by nuns. The reason the story is in the news now is because one of the nuns, named Sor María, has been charged in court for stealing one baby in particular named Pilar. So far in the case two people have spoken in court, or in Sor María’s case, not spoken, because she claimed the right to not respond to the charges in court. The other person who spoke before the judge was Alejandro Alcalde, who adopted the baby in question and claims to not have paid any money for her.

Article 2 is an update, more or less, on the new Spanish government’s reforms. It’s been almost 5 months since the national elections brought the PP to power, and President Mariano Rajoy promised many reforms during the campaign. One of them is the hotly debated labor reform, which has caused very vocal opposition and the nation-wide strike of March 29th, and which has not yet been brought to the congressional floor.  The other big reform is the “Stability Law” which attempts to address the difficult state of the economy. This law is actually an outgrowth of a constitutional amendment mandating various spending limits that was passed 6 months ago and had the approval of both major parties. However, the law passed with zero support from the opposition party, the PSOE. Among other things, the law sets limits on government debt with the goal being 0% by 2020. This measure was the sticking point between the PP and the PSOE, who wanted to set that 2020 limit to 0.4%. The PP was able to negotiate with several minor parties so that they would at least abstain from the vote, but despite discussions that went to the last minute, the PSOE delegates voted against the measure. It didn’t matter, because the law passed 192 to 116, with 4 abstentions.

Article 3 is also economy-related. Complaining about gas prices is something I think is common to everyone who owns a car, because it is expensive everywhere nowadays. Here in Europe things have suddenly gotten worse after the EU agreed to stop importing oil from Iran as a form of economic sanctions. This is a problem for Spain (and the rest of Europe I’d imagine) because most of Spain’s oil, and therefore its gasoline, comes from Iran. In fact, Spain imports 99% of its oil. So King Juan Carlos took an official trip to Kuwait on April 4th to discuss importing more oil from them to make up the shortage.

Some science for you all. Article 4 is about a recent find in Cantabria, a community in the north of Spain best known for beaches and cave paintings. Now it can also be known for its mineral diversity, because a new mineral called “zaccagnaite-3R” was discovered in a cave called “El Soplao”. Besides being really cool, the mineral is also the first of its type to be found in a cave, as opposed to the microscopic finds of a variety of zaccagnaite in marble located in Italy and possibly Greece. Zaccagnaite has a lot of industrial and health uses, and the variety found in Cantabria has a higher concentration of aluminum than the Italian 2H type. Scientists have learned much about the mineral in general through the analysis of the new 3R variety.

And now for something completely unscientific. Eurovision 2012 is upon us! Every year since 1956, members of the European Broadcasting Union have participated in a song contest, giving the world such hits as “Waterloo” by ABBA. Spain’s entrant this year is a singer named Pastora Soler and a song called “Quédate conmigo” [Stay With Me]. Article 5 gives some information about Soler’s backup singers and choreography for the performance, which will be on May 26th in Baku, Azerbaijan.

 

That’s all for now, folks. Enjoy your Europop.

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