The fourth Mobile World Congress to be held in Barcelona kicks off today with around 47,000 attendees taking part in the conference (read article in Castilian here, La Vanguardia). Taking place in the Fira de Barcelona conference centre, the congress brings together professionals from the telephony and related sectors as well as some 1,300 exhibitors, of which 100 are new to the event. The high number of visitors is good news for local hotels, taxi drivers and bars, restaurants and nightclubs—it’s predicted that they will bring around €200 million to Barcelona. This is about €20 million less than last year, but is still a significant amount for the city. Hotels are predicting an occupancy rate of 90 percent for the next four days, and, according to the Fira organisers, just to get all the stands set up and taken down provides work for around 600 companies and 6,000 workers; in addition, this year, there will be more than 30 points selling food within the main conference area.
Catalans who receive an inheritance worth up to €275,000 will not have to pay tax on it from July 2011 (read article in Castilian here, El Periodico). This dramatic change, which will affect the large majority of inheritances that people here receive, will mean that Catalans have an even better inheritance tax standing than those in Madrid or Valencia where residents currently get a discount of 99 percent on inheritance between direct relations. However, those two communities have more beneficial tax laws when higher amounts are inherited, up to €500,000 in the case of married couples and €275,000 for children and grandchildren—in these cases, the benefit is greater the bigger the inheritance. As a comparison, a husband or wife who receives an inheritance of €750,000 will have to pay €11,750 in tax in Catalunya, almost seven times more than in Valencia and Madrid.
Parents and teachers are concerned about the growing trend amongst Catalan teenagers for sending erotic photos or videos of themselves to others using their mobile phones (read article in Catalan here, Avui). The phenomenon of ‘sexting’ has already developed elsewhere, becoming particularly popular in the US, and now Catalan adolescents are also increasingly doing the same. However, there are worries that they don’t realise the implications for their loss of privacy by sending such images and the possible dangers that their actions could involve. “They act in an impulsive way, without thinking about the consequences,” said Jorge Flores, the director of PantallasAmigas. “They think that it’s fun and because they aren’t [physically] in front of the person who they send the image to, there is a sensation of anonymity,” added Àngel Casajús, an educational psychologist at a Barcelona secondary school. While the Catalan police have not yet had any complaints regarding ‘sexting’, there is concern about the forwarding of the erotic images to third persons and their subsequent rapid spread, which will mean the original sender loses control of where their image ends up.
Also in the news: Barça lose first league match against Atletico de Madrid, letting Real Madrid close the gap at the top to just two points (read full article in Castilian here, El Periodico); Tension grows in Catalan Socialist Party, as education minister criticises Generalitat government in weekend La Vanguardia article (read full article in Castilian here, La Vanguardia); Prison drama Celda 211 dominates at Spanish film awards (read full article in Catalan here, Avui)