Corruption. Alberto João Jardim in court. Romantic expats.

Council of Europe urges  tighter corruption measures

The Diario reports today that the Council of Europe is urging the authorities in Portugal to tighten up the anti-corruption regulations governing the professional activity of judges, prosecutors and deputies, and points out that there are still many loopholes and contentious points. In 2011, under the “economic adjustment program” (bail out) agreed with the ‘troika’, Portugal agreed to carry out a structural reform program that included a reform of the judicial system. The Council of Europe anti-corruption unit report notes that whilst there is now a legal framework for the prevention of corruption of judges, prosecutors and deputies, “the various elements of the system are, however, disconnected” and the legal picture is “fragmented and sometimes inconsistent.”

Alberto João Jardim defamation trial

imageObservador.pt reports that the former President of the Government of Madeira, Alberto João Jardim, is to be judged on February 17th for the crimes of libel, slander and abuse of freedom of the press against the historian and PS militant António Fernandes Loja. The trial is scheduled in the Local Court of Madeira and  concerns expressions used by Alberto João Jardim in two articles under the title “The store of grudges” – published in the Journal of Madeira (AJJ’s mouthpiece) on 23 and 26 November 1994. António Loja claims that AJJ’s writings “undermine his good name, honour and consideration”. The immunity enjoyed by Alberto João Jardim as President has meant that the case has taken 22 years to come to court. I didn’t realise that an AJJ Facebook page is still maintained (link above).

Expats in Portugal “romantically satisfied”

With rather good timing as Valentine’s Day approaches, regular contributor Ellen sent me a link to a story in the Portugal News: Apparently Portugal has been listed among the top ten countries in the world where expats are most satisfied with their romantic relationship, according to research gathered from the InterNations social media network.
Image result for romanceEcuador tops the list, followed by Costa Rica, Malta, Israel, the Philippines, Indonesia, Panama, Thailand, Portugal then Mexico – only two European countries appear in the list. Worldwide, 53% of respondents to the survey were women but in Portugal, considerably more women appeared happy to express their satisfaction as this rose to 62%. Although only just over half of the expats surveyed in Portugal were in a committed relationship, they were some of the happiest, with almost nine out of ten of them overall, satisfied with their love life.
Portugal is also considered the third most welcoming country for expats overall and ranks fifth in both, the Quality of Life and the Ease of Settling In Index.

Madeira documentary

imageFor those that missed the recent BBC 4 Documentary on the archipelago featured on a previous post it is still available on BBC iPlayer for the next three weeks. Fascinating program – strange to think that we live on just the top 4% of a large underwater mountain! It is also available here

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Carnival. Thieves arrested. Lido latest.

Tourist thefts – suspects detained

Funchal police (PSP) have announced the arrest of three suspects in connection with a number of recent thefts from from tourists in the main hotel zone in the Lido and Ajuda areas west of the city centre. All are described as male “foreign nationals” aged in their forties. Stolen goods were recovered and returned to their owners.

Lido re-opening?

On the subject of the Lido, it appears that the re-opening of the main lido may be approaching. Whilst screens remain in place around the majority of the complex – a small part is open at the western end (above) – there appears to have been very little construction work recently. The original opening was scheduled for the end of last year but local reports are now favouring Easter.

Insolvencies on the increase

The Diario earlier this week reported on another rise in the number of business and personal insolvencies in the autonomous region. Last year saw a total of 482 insolvency proceedings, involving a total of more than €143 million of debt. Well over 300 individuals were declared bankrupt or insolvent by courts, whilst 146 limited companies ceased trading – 80 of these being forced to do so by lenders. No doubt this is where the majority of the money is – thus the big problems being experienced by Portuguese banks who have foolishly lent money that could not be repaid.

Carnival

Carnival is upon us again, and as usual the full program is below, with activities in the Avenida Arriaga from this afternoon. This years theme is “Madeira – Carnival of Dreams”. Santana have already had their party last weekend.
(use Ctrl and + to zoom in)

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BBC documentary. Porto Santo travel subsidy. Pestana.

Madeira: Island Ark

imageThanks to a contributor to the previous blog for spotting an up-coming BBC documentary featuring the Madeira archipelago. The final part of a three-part series entitled “Nature’s Wonderlands: Islands of Evolution” is scheduled to be broadcast on Monday night at 9.00pm. The publicity material explains: “Professor Richard Fortey travels to Madeira to examine what happens to a volcanic island as it nears the end of its life-cycle and starts sinking back into the sea. Here, in the island’s laurisilva forest, he examines the remains of an ancient forest that once carpeted all of Europe, finds island lizards that live to be four times older than their mainland counterparts, and meets a huge wolf spider. With the help of local divers, he also discovers an unexpectedly rich marine habitat populated by whales, dolphins and unusual deep-sea species that have much to tell us about the changing nature of our seas”.
More publicity for Madeira was generated last week when CNN published a list of 19 reasons to visit the island – describing it as the “Island of eternal springtime”. Meantime the Regional Secretariat for the Economy, Tourism and Culture promotion using social media featuring Cristiano Ronaldo is reckoned to have reached 33 million people in its first five months.

Cheaper travel to Porto Santo

Today’s Journal reports on the new “social mobility allowance” that residents can claim for travel between Madeira and Porto Santo. The subsidies are effective from Monday (although I don’t think the ferry is due back from its annual maintenance until February 8th – previous post). Under the scheme this years maximum allowance will mean that an adult return fare will cost €25.00, with a child fare being €12.50. Single fares are exactly half. The price subsidies for locals do not apply in July, August and September.

More fires

The  Bombeiros have been kept busy recently with a spate of fires around Funchal. After the recent fire at the Anadia Shopping Centre (previous post), the Diario has reported during the last few days on one breaking out on the top floor of the Continente/Conforama building at Viveiros (opposite) and another just off Rua do Bom Jesus in the city centre.

Pestana sees 10% growth

Pestana have reported a 10% increase in revenues last year compared to 2014. The total increased to €334 million, with half of this coming from tourism activities in Portugal, up 16% on the previous year. The Madeira-based group now operates in 16 countries, has 87 hotels with around 11,000 rooms, and employs more than 7000 staff.

Finally…..the Hand of God

Just had to include just one of the photos taken on the island that have been doing the rounds this week after weather blogger Rogério Pacheco posted them on his blog.

The unusual cloud formation that was spotted over the Portuguese island of Madeira, which has been compared to the 'Hand of God' 

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