The Generalitat’s Education Minister, Ernest Maragall, yesterday offered his resignation to the president, José Montilla, following his public declarations that Catalans are tired of the current coalition government and that there is a lack of project for the country (read article in Castilian here, El Periodico). However, at a meeting held yesterday afternoon, Montilla refused to accept Maragall’s offer to step down, but did agree that the minister had to “rectify” the damage done by his speech and his article published over the weekend in La Vanguardia newspaper. A spokesperson for the Generalitat president said that Montilla now viewed the affair as “closed”. However, it’s likely that within the circles of the Catalan Socialist Party, to which both men belong and which is the leading member of the current Catalan government, the subject will continue to be a matter for debate in the run-up to the Generalitat elections set for the autumn.
Only 22 percent of bars and restaurants in Barcelona currently forbid smoking in their establishment in the light of the 2006 anti-smoking law (read article in Catalan here, Avui). Seventy-five percent of the rest of such venues do allow smoking, while just three percent have created a specially designated zone for smokers, separate from the non-smoking area. These figures are part of a study carried out by Barcelona’s Public Health Agency based on visits made to 1,130 places in the city during 2008. The study found that, despite the high number of venues that allow smoking, most places are complying with the current law, which allows the owner of any establishment of 100 square metres or less to decided whether to allow smoking there or not. Spain is due to introduce a full smoking ban during the first half of this year.
The current financial crisis has caused a rise in the use of ‘certified’ text messages, which have a legal validity (read article in Castilian here, La Vanguardia). Such messages can be used in different circumstances, for instance: to send an official notification to a person who has defaulted on their credit payments; to notify a mother or father who is not fulfilling their responsibilities towards their offspring; and by divorced couples, where one has failed to comply with certain terms of the divorce agreement. The company Lleida.net started a service of certified SMS’s last year, after they were validated by the courts—after initially offering the text messages through their website, they can now be sent directly from any mobile. “We have a lot of demand in the area of divorces, above all when the cases are very complicated, with problems between the couple. We’ve been very surprised by the growth that we’re seeing in that sector,” said the executive director of Lleida.net, Sisco Sapena, yesterday from the Mobile World Congress.
Also in the news: Risk of snow on low ground in some areas of Catalunya (read full article in Castilian here, El Periodico); Elderly lady dies in fire at her home (read full article in Castilian here, La Vanguardia); Convergencia i Unió presents its first gay ‘head-of-list’ candidate (read full article in Catalan here, Avui)