TIME portugal

Portugal Offers Citizenship to Descendants of Expelled Jews

Jose Oulman Bensaude Carp
In this photo taken on Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2015, Jose Oulman Bensaude Carp, President of the Jewish community in Lisbon, waits to be interviewed by The Associated Press at the main Jewish synagogue in Lisbon. Francisco Seco—AP

Portugal currently boasts around 1,000 Jews, but that number might rise soon

Portugal approved this week new rules for granting citizenship to descendants of the nation’s Sephardic Jewish community. The landmark move was first proposed two years ago, but had stalled in the absence of cabinet approval.

Under the Inquisition, which ravaged Portugal and neighboring Spain in the 15th and 16th centuries, Sephardic Jews were expelled, forced to flee, or risked death if they did not recant and convert to Christianity.

“There is no possibility to amend what was done,” said Portuguese Justice Minister Paula Teixera da Cruz, terming the new legislation “the attribution of a right.”

The Portuguese government acknowledges Jews inhabited the region before the nation as we know it today was even created. However, in order to obtain a passport, Sephardic Jews must provide strong evidence of ancestral ties to Portugal through their last names, Portuguese language use, or direct lineage to Portugal’s current Jewish minority.

Many in the diaspora still speak Portuguese in their households, despite being forced to leave the region after targeted religious pogroms on the Iberian peninsula.

Spain is also considering reinstating citizenship for its former Jewish community.

[BBC]

TIME Spain

Spanish Anti-Austerity Party Hopes to Emulate Greek Election Victors

Pablo Iglesias
Pablo Iglesias, the leader of the leftist Podemos (We Can) party, speaks during a news conference in Madrid on May 30, 2014. Paul White—AP

The one-year old Podemos party are already equal to the Popular and Socialist parties according to some polls

If there is one country in Europe where the fallout of the Sunday’s election result in Greece is felt most keenly, it is Spain.

Like in Athens, the government in Madrid has relied on a European bailout to support the economy and it has suffered from high unemployment, a large budget deficit and deteriorating living conditions.

What worries the administration of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy most, is, like in Greece, the presence of a start-up political party whose aim is to take on the establishment and upset four decades of political homogeneity.

Podemos, which translates as “We Can,” was formed almost a year ago, and in some polls is already equal with the centre-right governing Popular Party and the opposition Socialists. Rajoy was so concerned that a victory for Podemos’s ‘sister party’ Syriza in Greece would provide a boost for Podemos in Spain that he travelled to Athens to support the then Greek prime minister, Antonio Samaras, before last Sunday’s poll. The Podemos leader, Pablo Iglesias, responded in kind by making an appearance at Syriza’s last election rally, alongside Alexis Tsipras.

“Many things unite the Greek and Spanish people to lead a new European project,” Iglesias told a rally in Valencia on Sunday. “They’ve wanted to look down on us as ‘Mediterraneans.’ They’ve called us ‘PIGS [an acronym for Portugal, Italy, Greece and Spain].’ They’ve wanted to turn us into a periphery. They want us to be countries of cheap labour forces. They want our young people to be the servants of rich tourists. Today we say that we are proud to be from the South, and that from the South we are going to return to Europe and to all its peoples the dignity that they deserve.”

Podemos currently has few policies in its manifesto although it promises to prepare a program for government before the elections. Last year it announced plans to lift wages, pensions and public investment and re-negotiate Spain’s debt. In 2015, the government proposes to sell $305 billion of bonds and bills to cover its spending.

Since the vote in Athens, Rajoy has sought to play down the implications for Spain of Syriza’s victory in Greece. He has warned Spaniards ahead of elections later this year that Podemos represents a huge risk and a return to uncertainty as the Spanish economy slowly improves. “Spain cannot afford to go back in time or leap into the void. We cannot throw overboard the sacrifices made by so many Spaniards,” he said.

On the surface, Podemos and Syriza seem similar but there are key differences. Podemos’s rise cannot be about economics alone. According to Spain’s National Statistics Institute, unemployment in the fourth quarter of last year stood at 23.7%, stubbornly above the average since the end of the Franco-era dictatorship. But it is gradually falling and growth has returned. In the fourth quarter of last year, growth was 0.5%, but it is positive and is forecast to improve throughout the year.

The message from Podemos is broader and not just about attacking the financial constraints imposed by Brussels. Spain received just a fraction of the bailout money taken by Athens to prop up its banking system via a mechanism it has now left. The Spanish government has not had to wear the fiscal straitjacket imposed on the Greek governments of recent years.

“There are evident differences [between Podemos and Syriza]. In Spain, like in much of southern Europe, there is a general dissatisfaction with political establishment. The economic situation [compared to Greece] is not as bad,” says Antonio Barroso, of the think-tank Teneo Intelligence. “Podemos has sought to exploit the gap that has been created by a desire for change among the Spanish electorate.”

As much as Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor and Mario Draghi, the head of the European Central Bank attract Iglesias’s ire, under most scrutiny is what he describes as ‘La Casta’ — the political establishment. And while it is trying to usurp the Socialists on the left, Podemos is also at pains to highlight a corruption scandal engulfing the governing Popular Party. The party’s former treasurer, himself on bail awaiting trial, now accuses Mr Rojoy directly of knowing about the presence of slush funds that benefitted the party and its leaders, an allegation Rajoy denies.

At the same time, the King’s sister, Princess Christina, is due to stand trial on charges of tax fraud, becoming the first Spanish royal to face criminal prosecution. It all adds up, Podemos claims, to a political system that is corrupt and ripe for change.

“It is difficult to know exactly what they want, beyond power,” says Barroso of Teneo Intelligence. “Podemos is not competing in many of this year’s municipal elections because it does not want to show its hand. It saw an opportunity in terms of the dissatisfaction with the political system and took advantage of that juncture. Indeed, most people still see it as a left-wing party, but slowly it is moving from the extreme left to something that looks more like a social democratic party.”

Podemos, a coalition of leftists, the poor, intellectuals and the disaffected middle classes, is due to hold a rally in Madrid on Saturday, the start of the countdown to change, it says. Iglesias likes using the imagery of ticking clock, “tick, tock, tick, tock,” he says in interviews. The message is clear. His time is coming, and that of the Spanish establishment is running out.

TIME Spain

At Least 10 Dead After Greek F-16 Crashes in Spain During NATO Training

Spain Military Plane Crash
Smoke rises from a military base after a plane crash in Albacete, Spain on Jan. 26, 2015. Josema Moreno—AP

(MADRID) — A Greek F-16 fighter jet crashed into other planes on the ground during NATO training in southeastern Spain Monday, killing at least 10 people, Spain’s Defense Ministry said.

Another 13 people were injured in the incident at the Los Llanos base, which sent flames and a plume of black smoke billowing into the air, a Defense Ministry official said.

Most of the victims were not believed to be Spaniards, according to the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of ministry rules preventing him from being named.

The two-seat jet was taking off when it crashed into an area of the base where other planes involved in the NATO exercise were parked, the ministry said in a statement.

Emergency crews were working to douse the blaze and determine how much damage there was to other planes involved in the NATO exercise, the ministry said.

A NATO spokeswoman declined to disclose details, referring questions to Spanish and Greek military officials.

The Spanish ministry said the jet that crashed was taking part in a NATO training exercise called the Tactical Leadership Program.

According to a U.S. Air Force Website, TLP was formed in 1978 by NATO’s Central Region air forces to advance their tactical capabilities and produce tactics, techniques and procedures that improve multi-national tactical air operations.

The first TLP course was located at Fuerstenfeldbruck Air Base, Germany. It has been based at the Spanish base since June 2009.

TIME Spain

Spanish Police Arrest 4 Suspected Members of Jihadist Cell

Officers found an automatic pistol, ammunition, military fatigues, face-concealing hoods, Spanish vehicle license plates, large machetes, knives and documents

(MADRID)— Spanish National Police arrested four suspected jihadis Saturday in the country’s North African enclave of Ceuta who allegedly had formed a terror cell and were ready to carry out an attack, the Interior Ministry said.

Interior Minister Jorge Fernandez Diaz said investigators, working with their Moroccan counterparts, were struck by the similarities between the suspected cell members and the two French brothers who killed 12 people in an attack upon the Charlie Hebdo newspaper in Paris.

“These are two pairs of very radicalized brothers who are highly trained militarily, physically and mentally and are prepared to carry out an attack, and ready, according to the police, to blow themselves up in the act,” Fernandez Diaz said.

Two houses in Ceuta were searched in Saturday morning police raids and four men, all Spanish citizens of Moroccan origin, were arrested, the agency said. Officers found an automatic pistol, ammunition, military fatigues, face-concealing hoods, Spanish vehicle license plates, large machetes, knives and documents.

The ministry said the four were following instructions given by the al-Qaida in Iraq leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, via what it called “a powerful and aggressive communication campaign” including jihadi Internet forums and websites.

Investigators were still assessing the cell’s “infrastructure to carry out terror attacks in the country,” the ministry said.

Spain and Morocco have arrested dozens of suspected jihadist militants and recruiters in recent years, especially around Melilla and Ceuta, Spanish coastal cities in North Africa that are surrounded by Morocco.

TIME Telecommunications

Hong Kong Billionaire Li Ka-shing Eyes British O2 Telecoms Network

Li Ka-shing, Victor Li
Hong Kong tycoon Li Ka-shing, right, and his son Victor Li, react during a press conference in Hong Kong Friday, Jan. 9, 2015. Vincent Yu—AP

Acquiring O2 may allow a merger with Li's Three mobile network

Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing is negotiating to spend almost $15 billion to acquire O2, Britain’s second-largest mobile network.

Taking over O2, currently owned by Spain’s Telefonica, would allow Li, 86, to merge the company with Three mobile network, which is currently owned by his firm Hutchison Whampoa. That would create Britain’s largest mobile telecommunications group, reports the BBC.

Hutchison shares increased by 4% after reports of a potential deal emerged, but negotiations with Telefonica are expected to take weeks. The purchase may also be hampered if European industry regulators perceive the move infringes on competition protocols.

In a bid to restructure his business empire, which spans everything from telecommunications to ports, Li, who until he was overtaken by Alibaba boss Jack Ma this year was the richest man in Asia, has spent nearly $30 billion this year acquiring foreign assets to diversify his Hong Kong holdings.

[BBC]

TIME Environment

The Nuclear Disaster You Never Heard of

Palomares
The Jan. 17, 1966 catastrophe at Palomares was caused by an accident during the in-flight supplying of a US Air Force B-52 nuclear bomber by a KC-135 of the US Air Force above southern Spain Gamma-Keystone / Getty Images

How the United States whitewashed (literally) a nuclear accident in Spain that still hasn’t been cleaned up

History News Network

This post is in partnership with the History News Network, the website that puts the news into historical perspective. The article below was originally published at HNN.

This month, with little fanfare, Palomares begins its 50th year as “the most radioactive town in Europe.” If you’ve heard of Fukushima, Chernobyl, and Three Mile Island but are unfamiliar with Palomares, you might wonder why. All appear in Time’s top-ten list of the world’s “worst nuclear disasters.” Palomares moreover has been called the worst nuclear weapons accident in history. So why do so few people outside Spain know about it?

The cover-up and whitewash were figurative, also literal. Though four nuclear bombs were rained on Spain, many vaguely recall a lone “lost” bomb, fished out of the Mediterranean intact.

So what exactly happened? On 17 January 1966, a US Air Force B-52 collided with its refueling plane, killing seven airmen and dropping four hydrogen bombs. Conventional explosives in two detonated on impact with the earth, blowing them to bits and scattering radioactive plutonium—a mutagen and carcinogen—over the farming town of Palomares, population 2000.

English-language journalists, though late on the scene, rushed their books into print, replicating oversights of the rushed cleanup operation and circulating the myth of a single lost bomb. Pioneering female foreign correspondent Flora Lewis screamed One of Our H-Bombs is Missing, borrowing a title from 50s Red Scare pulp fiction. Likewise demonstrating their national allegiances, British reporter Christopher Morris lamented The Day They Lost the H-Bomb and American science writer Barbara Moran, four decades later, decried The Day We Lost the H-Bomb.

Only New York Times correspondent Tad Szulc pluralized the threat with The Bombs of Palomares. He further measured the relative importance of events. “Although the long spectacular search” for the harmless fourth bomb—at the bottom of the Med for eighty days—“was to overshadow the village’s radioactivity problem in [U.S.] public opinion, the contamination was in reality the most significant” calamity. Even so, Szulc’s book, like all the others, gave inordinate attention to the “heroic” sea search and its mesmerizing high-tech submersibles. From Pinewood to Hollywood, Finders Keepers to Men of Honor, moviemakers followed suit, literalizing a single lost bomb, duly found by singer Cliff Richard or actor Cuba Gooding, Jr. (A notable exception: Michael Cacoyannis’s landmark The Day the Fish Came Out.)

So what was of greatest significance in early 1966? In addition to the seven airmen, plus eight more killed in a Palomares supply plane crash, people in Palomares suffered—and still suffer—potentially fatal radioactive exposures. At the time, no was evacuated; no one was officially informed for six weeks. Even then, U.S. Ambassador Angier Duke told the international press corps an unconscionable lie: “This area has gone through no public health hazard of any kind, and no trace whatsoever of radioactivity has ever been found.” Why then were nearly 5000 barrels of hot soil and crops shipped away for burial in South Carolina? Why today is plutonium found throughout the food chain in Palomares? Why is radioactivity evident downwind, in neighboring Villaricos?

Spanish authors and activists have provided answers, along with Israeli feminist Dina Hecht. However, Hecht’s extraordinary documentary film Broken Arrow 29, broadcast by Britain’s Channel 4 on the disaster’s 20th anniversary, has never been aired in the U.S. In the lead-up to the 50th anniversary, January 17, 2016, will Americans continue to cover their ears and avert their eyes?

What do Americans need to know? Of crucial concern, many Spanish injuries, fatalities, and miscarriages have been attributed to the disaster. But the United States government assumed limited liability, paying only property damages averaging $250 per person, accepting no responsibility for loss of life or loss of livelihood. To this day, U.S. authorities provide technical assistance, as they argue over “acceptable levels” of contamination. On her last official visit to Spain as Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton repeated the usual platitudes and prevarications, even when informed of a secret U.S. dump discovered in Palomares in 2008.

Like this cover-up, the whitewash was not only figurative but also literal. The military’s 200-page Palomares Summary Report contains one solitary tossed-off sentence about radioactive contamination of local homes, not even referenced as such. Unspecified “buildings,” the report hedges, “were washed but in [some] cases this was not sufficient to lower the contamination level to the acceptable limit, and whitewashing had to be done.” In spineless bureaucratese, these passive verb constructions cloud procedures, obscure U.S. military agency, and naturalize what “had to be done.”

So who did what? Along with townspeople’s testimonies, Department of Defense footage first screened by Hecht helps piece it together, as it inadvertently exposes staggering environmental racism. Just as white officers ordered African American servicemen to shovel contaminants into barrels and launder contaminated uniforms, they likewise instructed a black enlistee with gloves but no mask to take radiation readings of buildings. When homes registered as radioactive, servicemen sprayed them with high-pressure water hoses over and over, damaging walls, roofs, and interiors, and exhausting local water supplies. When the homes still read as radioactive, troops whitewashed them, simply painting the plutonium into the surface of the house.

With a half-life of 24,000 years, the plutonium will long outlast the paint, insuring that children’s and animals’ inevitable scraping, licking, and eating of paint chips—so well-documented around lead-poisoning—will have alarming long-term carcinogenic and mutagenic effects. In years to come, periodic sanding for fresh painting will no doubt re-suspend plutonium particles and increase the probabilities of inhalation and lung cancer. Thus, as I summarized for colleagues at the American Historical Association’s 129th annual meeting, U.S. whitewashing has embedded contamination into the very structures of local communities, the very air of local environments.

What now? As the U.S. dickers over decontamination—not to mention reparations or reconciliation—organizers in Palomares promise openness and honesty, despite all the commercial advantages of keeping quiet. As former mayor Antonia Flores puts it, “Since no one cares a damn about us, we won’t forget.” Strategies of memorialization include street-naming, as with Bombards Street, 17 January 1966 Street, and 17 January 1966 Crossing, where I lived over the winter of 2011-12. I continue to conduct research there.

What do I see? Foremost: Resilience. After U.S. forces stole and depleted local water stocks, citrus groves dried up and died. After the flawed cleanup, six successive tomato harvests failed. After the agricultural economy collapsed, an exodus ensued, the population cut in half. But people bounce back.

As my forthcoming documentary photobook shows, whitewashing is resisted not only in annual protests and commemorations but in everyday practices of working, playing, talking and remembering. Farmers still till the land, children go to school, while on the outskirts of town, a rural sex industry has emerged, complicating liberationist calls to occupy liminal spaces. Low-budget tourists now frequent the Palomares environs, and where black servicemen once shifted toxic barrels, there are now naturist hostels and residential communities, a nudist beach with gay cruising ground, and a small strip of eateries, drag venues, gay bars, and heterosexual swingers clubs.

In the nuclear age, as the Palomares disaster semicentennial approaches, marginalized peoples adopt the most marginal lands.

John Howard, a professor of American studies at King’s College London, is the author of “Men Like That and Concentration Camps on the Home Front.”

TIME Spain

Former Spanish King Faces a Paternity Suit

King Juan Carlos lost his immunity from prosecution when he abdicated

Spain’s supreme court said Wednesday it would hear a Belgian woman’s claim that she’s the illegitimate daughter of former King Juan Carlos, who abdicated in June 2014 to allow his son Felipe to take over the throne.

The woman, Ingrid Sartiau, was born in 1966, after Juan Carlos married. She says her mother had an affair with him in the 1960s while he was a crown prince, the Guardian reports. The king’s abdication meant that he lost his full immunity from prosecution.

The Spanish court rejected a separate claim by Alberto Sola, born in 1956, who also said his mother had an affair with Juan Carlos. Both claims had initially been rejected in 2012 when the courts were not authorized to prosecute him.

Although parliament had agreed to give Juan Carlos a certain degree of immunity from the lower courts post-abdication, he can still be tried in the high court. The suit could require Juan Carlos to take a paternity test and may lead to a public hearing.

This is just the latest in a series of scandals involving the Spanish royal family, with King Felipe VI’s popularity falling and his sister Princess Cristina currently facing a tax fraud trial.

[Guardian]

TIME elections

These Are the Elections to Watch Around the World in 2015

From Greece to Argentina, elections could transform the international political landscape

This past year was marked by monumental elections that ushered in new political regimes in countries like the India, and Tunisia, and solidified or extended others in places like Egypt, Brazil and Japan.

The year 2015 is shaping up to be a respite from the chaos of democracy, with the electorate of some of the world’s largest countries sitting on the sidelines. But a spate of political developments has infused global importance into elections around the world and prompted two previously unexpected votes in Greece and Israel that will have major repercussions for their respective regions.

Here’s a look at what to expect:

United States

Three of the five largest cities are electing their mayors this year. In Chicago, former Obama adviser Rahm Emanuel is running for reelection in February and holds a strong lead in polls. In Houston, the biennial vote in November will select a successor to Democratic Mayor Annise Parker, who has reached her term limit. It will be a similar situation in Philadelphia, where Democratic Mayor Michael Nutter can’t run for a third term.

Meanwhile, Kentucky, Louisiana and Mississippi are electing governors in November, including replacements for Kentucky’s Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear and Louisiana’s Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal, both of whom have reached their term limits.

Greece

The Greek Parliament’s refusal to elect Prime Minister Antonis Samaras’s choice for president earlier this week triggered snap general elections set for January 25. Opinion polls have placed the radical leftist opposition party Syriza in the lead, raising the prospect of an anti-bailout government that could move to default on its massive debt and prompt a new eurozone crisis.

Nigeria

A stumbling economy and a persistent Islamist insurgency in the north have drained some public support for President Goodluck Jonathan, in office since 2010, and the vote on Feb. 14 is expected to be close. Jonathan will go up against Muhammadu Buhari, a former military ruler campaigning on a platform of security and anti-corruption. But the biggest determinant of who becomes the leader of Africa’s biggest economy may fall along ethnic and regional lines: Buhari is a Muslim northerner, while Jonathan is a Christian from the south.

Israel

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu disbanded his already tenuous centrist coalition in early December and called for early general elections set for March 17, expecting to win a new mandate for himself and a more right-leaning government. But polls show that a new left-leaning coalition could beat Netanyahu’s Likud party, though the incumbent could stay in power if he successfully forms a coalition with rightist parties.

Sudan

The April 13 election is all but likely to ensure that President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, wanted on genocide charges by the International Criminal Court, will extend his 25-year rule, even as violence continues between Khartoum and rebel groups in Darfur and elsewhere.

Britain

The United Kingdom is heading for what may be the closest election in a generation—and the first since a divisive vote in Scotland to remain part of the 307-year-old Union—as the Labour party seeks to unseat Prime Minister David Cameron and his Conservative party in elections slated for early May. The rest of the European Union will be closely watching this vote, as Cameron has promised a referendum on EU membership in 2017, while Ed Milibrand, head of Labour, has rejected the idea.

Argentina

President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner has drawn some public support for her obstinate stance against U.S. investors and U.S. courts who are demanding Argentina repay $1.3 billion in debt plus interest. But the skirmish has scared off investors and helped put longterm economic growth largely on hold until the dispute is resolved or, as is likely, a more market friendly president takes office following elections in October. As for Fernandez, her tenure is up after reaching her two-term limit.

Canada

Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservative Party has seen an uptick in support in recent days, putting it ahead of the Liberal party. But his party’s support took a hit this year and he’s far from guaranteed a win in elections in 2015, currently slated for Oct. 19. His biggest rival will likely be Justin Trudeau, head of the Liberal Party and son of long-serving Premier Pierre Trudeau.

Burkina Faso

In the wake of longtime President Blaise Compaoré’s ouster amid mass protests, the interim leadership agreed to hold new elections in November. If that plan holds, the Burkinabé people will select a government not headed by Compaoré for the first time since he seized power in 1983.

Spain

The nascent anti-establishment party Podemos has skyrocketed in popularity and is now competitive with the two stalwarts in a country still burdened by an economic crisis (unemployment stands at around 24 percent). Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy of the right-leaning Popular Party, is already under pressure from an empowered Catalan independence movement, and the populist movement does not augur well for him in next years elections, which must take place on or before Dec. 20. But he’s hoping that economic reforms and early indications of a recovery will boost his standing.

Myanmar

The vote in late 2015 could mark a significant step in Myanmar’s heralded-but-stumbling process of political reform, but that’s not certain. Though the elections will be the first since a semi-civilian government assumed power after half-a-century of military rule, the military is still highly influential and key constitutional reforms called for by the opposition are unlikely to pass ahead of the vote. Among them is a measure to repeal a law that prevents opposition leader and Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi from running. For now, Shwe Mann, the speaker of parliament and a retired general, is the front-runner.

MONEY gambling

Spain’s Lottery Awards $3 Billion in Time for Christmas

Winning El Gordo, the grand prize in Spain's 200-year-old annual nationwide lottery, can turn small towns wealthy overnight.

TIME Spain

Hundreds in Spain Hit Massive Holiday Jackpot

CHRISTMAS LOTTERY 'EL GORDO'
The owner of a lottery administration at the Deiland-Chimida mall in Lanzarote, Canary Islands, Spain, celebrates selling the number 13,437 ticket that was awarded with the first prize of the traditional Spanisch Christmas Lottery 'El Gordo', on Dec. 22, 2014. Javier Fuentes—EPA

More than 100 winning tickets were sold, divvying up a $3 billion prize

Hundreds of Spaniards found themselves thousands of dollars richer on Monday after the winning numbers in the country’s annual Christmas lottery were announced.

In one Madrid neighborhood, more than 100 winning tickets were sold, divvying up the $3 billion jackpot of the “El Gordo” lottery among a the lucky people, the Associated Press reports. At least 10 people won the lottery’s top prize, landing each a 400,000-euro bonus for the New Year, BBC reports.

Given the higher chances of winning “El Gordo” prizes, people across the country participate in the decades-old Christmas giveaway. And given the economic hardship facing Spain, where the employment rate stands at 24%, the winnings are a welcome financial boost.

[AP]

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