For the first time, a prisoner in a Catalan gaol has agreed to undergo chemical castration (read article in Catalan here, Avui). The aim of the process is to reduce the sexual desire of the person who undergoes it and thus reduce the chances of them re-offending once they are released from gaol. The prisoner selected for the procedure here is due to be freed in two years; he has followed a series of psychiatric and medical evaluations in advance of embarking on the programme for chemical castration, for which 25 prisoners were assessed. The medication will be given to the man in question around six months before he is due to be released; the combination of drugs administered reduces the production of hormones in the testicles.
Barcelona city council is to install 45 ATM-style machines where members of the public can carry out some of the most common procedures related to living in the city including getting a residency certificate (read article in Castilian here, El Periodico). The ‘Puntos BCN’ will be located in key points around the city during this year; five were installed yesterday at points in Eixample, Ciutat Vella, Sant Andreu and Nou Barris. Most of them will be placed in Oficinas de Atención al Ciudadano (OAC), civic centres and libraries, although, from September, several could be placed in shopping centres. The move is aimed at cutting out the average waiting time of between 10 and 12 minutes that citizens currently have to go through at municipal offices before carrying out their procedure, which could just take a couple of minutes to complete. Documentation that will be available from the new cajeros includes the certificado de convivencia (certificate of cohabitation), and papers for vehicle tax and the local rates that home-owners have to pay (Impuesto de Bienes Immuebles or IBI). Future plans for the machines mean they could also provide information about and tickets for cultural events and public transport.
Spanish Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero is coming to the end of a difficult week, which has seen the release of a survey showing his popularity with voters has fallen and that his party, the PSOE, continues to flag behind the opposition party, the PP (read article in Castilian here, El Periodico). Zapatero, currently in Washington, has been given his lowest ever rating as a politician since he’s been PM—with his score of 3.9 (out of 10) he lost first place in the list of Spain’s political leaders to the woman at the head of the small party Unión Progreso y Democracia (UPyD), Rosa Díez. In addition, the difference in voting intentions regarding the PSOE and PP continues to grow; 40 percent of those asked in the survey carried out last month by the Centro de Investigaciones Sociológicas favoured the PP and just 36.2 percent the PSOE, a fall of 1.5 percent since October. Zapatero’s woes have been added to by the fall in value of the Spanish stock exchange (see below), the confusion raised by the government’s plans regarding the national pension and threats of a motion of no-confidence from the PP, although this was later withdrawn.
Also in the news: In 2008, 209 companies were fined for not using Catalan (read full article in Catalan here, Avui); Spanish stock exchange falls by six percent in a day (read full article in Castilian here, La Vanguardia); Trade unions threaten general strike if Spanish government doesn’t take action regarding unemployed (read full article in Castilian here, La Vanguardia)