The Mossos d'Esquadra have arrested four Rumanian women on charges of group crime, accused of robbing and swindling members of the public, particularly tourists (read article in Castilian here, La Vanguardia).The women, who are aged between 18 and 28, already have between them a total of 96 arrests, 390 complaints and 1,101 identifications by Mossos (which are supposed to minimise the actions of delinquents who regularly repeat their crimes). The band of thieves actually consists of six women, and police expect to arrest the other two in the next few days; the four women already in custody were arrested on July 6th. The women used a technique of pretending to be deaf mutes and approaching people in the street to request money to supposedly help with a charitable organisation, and to sign a sheet to that effect; while the victim was distracted filling in the form, the thief would take her opportunity to steal something from their bag, such as a mobile, wallet or purse, or camera.
Spanish prime minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero yesterday carried out a "moderate" reshuffle of his cabinet following the departure of first deputy prime minister, minister of the interior and government spokesman, Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba, who is focusing on his candidature to take over from Zapatero at the head of the Spanish Socialist Party (read article in Castilian here, El Periodico). However, while most of the moves were expected, there were some surprises aimed at sending the message that the government is ready for the upcoming general election campaign. While most predictions suggested that Ramon Jáuregui would take over as spokesman, the position has instead been given to José Blanco, the current minister for public works and deputy secretary general of the Spanish Socialists, who becomes the public face of the government for the next few months, at least. More expected was the appointment of Antonio Camacho, previously secretary general for security, as the interior minister. The economics minister, Elena Salgado, now moves up to become the first deputy prime minister from the position of second deputy, which she has held until now.
Water rates are set to rise, particularly for those who consume the most (read article in Catalan here, Avui). The 'canón de l'aigua', the tax which is paid by water consumers in Catalunya in their water bills to cover infrastructure costs such as water purification plants, is likely to rise this summer by 9.5 percent for those who have a low or moderate consumption of water—up to 100 litres per person per day. However, any family or other client that consumes more than 200 litres per person per day could see their rates rise by more than 50 percent. This change was featured in an amendment to the Generalitat's budgets, presented yesterday by the parliamentary group of Convergència i Unió. The proposal will be debated today in the Catalan parliament; as well as the basic increase of 9.5 percent in the canón, CiU is also proposing to change the bands of assessing low, medium and high consumption, thereby targeting higher users—this would mean that rather than measuring low consumption as between 0 and 10 cubic metres of water a month (around 100 litres a day per person), this will now change to between 0 and 9 cubic metres. Moderate usage will change from between 10 and 18 cubic metres to between 9 and 15, while high consumption will be anything over 15 cubic metres, where it was previously anything over 18 cubic metres of water. The prices for each band will be: 0-9 cubic metres, 0.437€ per cubic metre (previously 0.399€); 9-15, 0.927€ per cubic metre (previously 0.847€); and above 15, 2.319€ (previously 2.118€). Anyone who falls into the moderate or high consumption category, also has to pay the canón of the other categories, thus giving rise to the more than 50 percent increase for those who consume 18 cubic metres or more a month.