The Catalan police force has set up a special task force to deal with crime on Barcelona’s metro system (article in Castilian, La Vanguardia). The number of robberies that take place on the underground here has risen in a proportion comparable to those that happen above ground, and as such the Mossos d’Esquadra have increased the number of uniformed and plain-clothed agents in the metro in an effort to deal with the pickpockets and thieves. Foreign tourists are often a target for the robbers on the underground, many of whom work in groups of two or three. Statistics already gathered about the problem have revealed that the majority of metro robberies take place in the hours just after lunchtime, and while there are certain stations favoured by pickpockets (Liceu, Drassanes, Jaume I and Sants Estació), they operate throughout the network.
Vaccinations against the swine flu will start in Catalunya next Monday, with some 1.5 million residents eligible for the vaccine (article in Castilian, El Periodico). Experts say that the epidemic is currently in its most expansive phase, making it a critical time regarding the future spread of the virus. According to the Generalitat’s Health Ministry, the cost of the vaccinations will be over €10 million, with each one costing seven euros, and won’t substitute the normal seasonal flu vaccine. The Health Department also said it is awaiting final instructions from the Spanish Agency for Medication about exactly who will receive the vaccine: it is still unclear whether children between six months and 10 years who suffer from an associated illness will be vaccinated, for instance. Medical staff, as well as those who work in the emergency services will be eligible for the treatment, as well as patients who have suffered illness associated with the flu for more than six months and pregnant women, with some 20 percent of the population being covered overall.
The city council of Girona is due to approve today the holding of a popular vote on Catalan independence, making it the largest municipality to take part in the widespread initiative (article in Catalan, Avui). The decision will also mean that Girona is the first province capital to sign up for the vote, which won’t have any legal standing. Within the city council, support has come from the political parties Convergencia i Unió, Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya and Iniciativa per Catalunya Verds. The Catalan Socialist Party has been negotiating with these three over the wording of the text behind the initiative, with which it has some argument; however, rather than oppose the motion, and thus find itself in the same camp as the Partit Popular, it is likely that the Socialist councilors will abstain from today’s vote. The timing of today's council motion means that it is unlikely that Girona will hold its popular vote on December 13th, which is the planned date for some 150 other Catalan towns to stage their independence vote; instead, a more probable date is April 25th, 2010.
Also in the news: Metro line five returns to full service after three months of works (La Vanguardia); Generalitat president to put in place ‘transparency’ measures (Avui); Mobile phone shops inundated with customers whose pay-as-you-go phones have been cut off due to data protection law (El Periodico)