Saturday, 31 May 2008

Nigerian Lottery goes belly up

If you should chance to receive a letter through the mail from the "€uromillones Lotería Internacional" telling you that you have been awarded a prize, do not be tempted (as apparently 1 in every 500 recipients were) to put in a call to arrange payment. The company´s "head office" in Malaga closed yesterday following the unexpected arrival in force of the police. Now the directors and all staff (53 people in all) are in custody and not likely to be able to deal with business for some time.

Returning to the figure of 1 in 500; apparently letters were going out at the rate of 25,000 every day, with 50 punters taking the bait and parting with an average of €18,000. Police sources estimate the gang´s takings were well inexcess of €250 million.

For the benefit of those who speak Spanish, the full story is here .

Monday, 26 May 2008

They do things differently here...

As part of the process of ´becoming Spanish´, I am at present going through the complicated process of importing the British car that we brought with us. Part of that process involves an inspection by ITV (the equivalent of MOT except that testing is not entrusted to private workshops, but is carried out at government operated centres around the country, in order to discourage the doing of favours for friends), which took place last week. Unfortunately, two separate problems were pointed out to me: tyres with the incorrect rating for the vehicle and wear to the brake discs. So when I went to the office at the end of the inspection to await the paperwork, I was surprised to find that the car had been passed and I am now the proud owner of a windscreen sticker which tells me the next test is not due until May 2010.

Wednesday, 21 May 2008

Setting The Record Straight

Today I caught sight of this front page story in the the Daily Express. The print version has a subhead which adds "No wonder 2 million people have emigrated", making an explicit link between the number of immigrants and the number of those leaving the country. A powerful anti-immigrant story for the front page but please, in the words of those who opposed the invasion of Iraq (among whom I include myself): "Not in my name!"

The reasons that led me to retire to southern Spain are many and I won´t bore you with a list of them. But they were reasons that had to do with wanting to come to a village we have grown to love over the past twenty five years. Of course, there are things that we are glad to have left behind in England including: town and city centres turned into no-go areas at evenings and weekends by staggering, puking, fighting, foulmouthed teens and twenties (both sexes and predominantly white)whose main aim in life seems to be to be unable to stand upright by the end of the evening; inadequate, infrequent, unreliable, dirty, uncomfortable public transport extortionately priced; a health service that staggers from one fiasco to another; the strident, thinly disguised casual racism (led and encouraged by the tabloid press), that dismisses those who don´t talk in a similar fashion as being bound by the fashion for political correctness, together with a jingoistic conviction that Brussels, and indeed everywhere that is not "this once great country of ours", is to be feared, suspected of being out to get us, and to be avoided.

I´m an immigrant here in Spain, which with North West Africa and southern Eurpoe so close has massive immigration itself. I´m especially glad that the Spanish attitude is totally different to the British.

Friday, 16 May 2008

A Slight Hitch

It would appear that there is no Spanish equivalent of the Probation Service. Consequently, when an offender is sentenced to community work, it falls to his/her local town hall to organise and supervise it. They must do so within twelve months of sentence being passed or it expires. The judges have just pointed out that the local town halls come up with very few jobs, so the majority of unlicenced drivers (and others) will probably never have to worry about that part of their sentence.

Tuesday, 13 May 2008

Unlicensed drivers

As from May 1st, the offence of driving without an appropriate licence has become imprisonable here in Spain. In the context that the average weekend sees around 20 deaths on Spain´s roads, half of them motorcyclists, something clearly needed to be done. The Traffic Division of the Guardia Civil set to with a will and so in the first few days of May a steady stream of (mainly young, male) offenders appeared before the court. So far I don´t believe a custodial sentence has been imposed, but hefty fines, coupled with community service are the order of the day. Thus an 18 year old was fined €2,000 and sentenced to 27 days of community working (about 160 hours by my reckoning). There was no pressure on the courts to constrain the fine within the offenders´ "ability to pay within a reasonable period".

Thursday, 8 May 2008

And where did you find your bail money, señor?

A member of the now notorious Marbella city council was recently released from prison after spending two years banged up awaiting trial on corruption charges. All his assets had been frozen by the court, so the police were more than a little surprised when it took his family only 17 days to raise the €1million needed for his surety. They are investigating.
In the meantime, eight days later a judge in Madrid put him back inside on another set of charges alleging he took part in the embezzlement of €27 million from the Marbella coffers. The judge said the trial was likely to take place shortly, with a minimum 10 year jail sentence if convicted, so it was highly likely that he would fail to surrender if bailed. However, if he can come up with another surety of €3 million.............
It makes me wonder why we never seemed to think of a surety where the main concern was "fail bail".

PS If anyone´s wondering, I kept hamkering after the blog!