Christmas lighting and street decorations could increase by 15 percent on main shopping streets this year (read article in Castilian here, El Periodico). Main shopping streets and commercial areas of the city could see an increase in their Christmas decorations and lighting this year in a bid to encourage tourism. However some smaller streets will not be decorated due to lack of funds. The increase will take place if new sponsors are confirmed, a task which the Fundació Barcelona Comerç is immersed in now. The two main sponsors, Endesa and Gallina Blanca, would be kept but negotiations to add new patrons are currently underway. A new feature this year, will be the inclusion of the Rambla del Raval, which has never previously had Christmas decorations; technicians began yesterday morning installing the lights. In a bid to save money, the lights are to be rotated and those previously on calle Aragon will be put in place on the Rambla del Raval. In the face of lack of funding some streets have opted to renounce the Christmas lighting due to the absence of public subsidies. One example of this is with the Cor Eixample, the association of traders who are located between Diagonal, Gran Via, Paseo de Gràcia and Paseo de Sant Joan who have once again decided not to put up decorations. Carmen Izquierdo, president of the organisation said "We did a survey among our 200 members and only 25 voted for. Times are hard and everyone is tightening their belts."
The Mossos d'Esquadra arrest 35 thieves with more than 587 previous convictions (read article in Castilian here, El Pais). The Mossos have arrested in Barcelona, in two separate operations, 35 thieves and pick-pockets, seven of which have already been taken to prison. Quick to point out the success of the two operations, the head of the Mossos, Ramon Grasa, emphasised that due to police pressure the number of thefts in the Catalan capital is down by 5 percent on September last year. In the first operation, which was initiated in May 2009, they have arrested 23 people, aged between 25 and 50, who operated primarily in hotels, fast food restaurants and the lobbies of large train and bus stations, praying mainly on tourists. The group, which operates all over the country, took advantage of major events such as San Fermín in Pamplona or the Fallas in Valencia. The detainees employed many different techniques, including distraction and taking advantage of the carelessness of tourists. They often posed as guests in hotels, entering and then taking advantage of the valuables left unattended when guests were checking in or out of the hotel. The other group of arrests comprised of 12 people aged between 20 and 42, all with a total of 121 prior arrests. There primary method is known as "pincha-ruedas" which normally involves two people. One of them lets down, punctures one of the back tires of a car whilst the other acts as bait by flagging down the car to warn of the accident. They then enter the vehicle to steal goods.
Air pollution kills more than the road (read article in Castilian here, La Vanguardia). According to the authors of a new book, Medio Ambiente y Salud, published by the Centre d'Anàlisi i Programes Sanitaris, air and chemical pollution "is causing an invisible epidemic." Josep Martí Valls, coodinator of the book said "The health system is dedicated to disease and its cure, but has not yet included enough environmental causes, such as air, chemical or electromagnetic pollution". He argues that society isn't yet aware of the dangers, in part because the epidemic of pollution is imperceptible thus leading to delayed action. He says that those affected by pollution sometimes take years to show any visible problems but pollution could be behind some cases of cardiovascular disease, asthma or cancer. A study conducted by the Centre de Recerca en Epidemiología Ambiental, revealed that if the region of Barcelona reduced the average annual levels of suspended solid particles in the air by 10 micrograms, it would prevent 1,160 deaths each year and increase life expectancy by 4.6 months. If this pollution came down by 20 micrograms, as recommended by WHO, this total would reach 3,500 deaths per year. The authors of the study explain that the high density of traffic in Barcelona (6,100 private vehicles per square kilometer, compared to 1,500 in Paris and Berlin) is in part to blame. They propose creating pedestrian and green areas and replacing diesel vehicles and taking note from other European cities' projects, such as congestion charges, prohibitions to travel in certain categories of vehicles or limitations on going over 80 km/h.