The kidnapped Spanish fishing-boat ‘Alakrana’, held by Somalian pirates for 47 days, has been released and is now heading for the Seychelles (article in Castilian, El Periodico). The announcement was made by Spanish Prime Minister José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero yesterday. In response to questions over whether the demanded ransom of €2.3 million was paid to the kidnappers, as has been claimed by a spokesman for the pirate group, said that “The government did what it had to do” and that the first obligation for any nation is to save the lives of its countrymen. The 36 fishing-men on board the 'Alakrana' are being escorted by two Spanish frigates to prevent any further incidents before they arrive at the Seychelles; when they get to islands, where Spain has a naval base, they will take a military plane back to Spain on Saturday. Family members have been given the option to travel to the Seychelles to meet their relatives there.
Barcelona is considering the creation of special zones where people will be able to feed pigeons, in an effort to control the growing bird population in the city (article in Castilian, La Vanguardia). The strategy is being piloted with one designated feeding zone, where an artificial dovecote will also be erected, to see what, if any, results are achieved. The idea behind the dovecote is that it will be easier to keep an eye on nests that are made there (compared to those the birds make in old buildings that are difficult to access, as often happens now) and thus to remove eggs as a way of controlling birth rates amongst the pigeon population using it. A councillor from the party Esquerra Republicana, which put forward the proposal, said that this was a less aggressive and violent way of reducing the number of birds compared to using nets to capture them or predators who hunt pigeons; the former method was used to capture 20,000 birds last year, which were later put to death by gassing. A more difficult part of the scheme could be that of stopping residents giving food to pigeons at will, as happens now and is a significant cause of the high numbers of pigeons in the city, and persuading them to go to a special area to feed them. While feeding pigeons is not currently against municipal regulations, it is forbidden to leave food scraps in public thoroughfares.
The company Caganer.com, based on the Costa Brava, has revealed its line-up of caganers (shitters) for this year’s Christmas season, and it’s notable for the presence of Madrid personalities (article in Catalan, Avui). The family Alós-Pla of the town Torroella de Montgrí has created 30 new caganers for this year, as it’s done every year since 1992. Footballer Cristiano Ronaldo, the president of the Madrid autonomous community Esperanza Aguirre and the mayor of the Spanish capital Alberto Ruiz-Gallardón were all selected by the company to become the popular character who features in Catalan nativity scenes (pessebres); the idea behind the caganer, traditionally a Catalan farmer who is seen crouching down to defecate, is to represent humans giving back to the earth what they have previously taken from it and is thought to bring luck. While it is still possible to buy the traditional figure, dressed in simple clothes and wearing a barretina, the red Catalan hat, in recent times many companies who make figures for pessebres have created a range of famous personalities also squatting to do their business for those people who want to give their cribs a more up-to-date look. Caganer.com said that by making these characters, they aren’t looking to make fun of anyone, but instead to “pay homage”. For the first time this year, the Catalan company will sell its caganers at the Madrid Christmas Market in the city’s Plaza Mayor.
Also in the news: Catalan Socialists say they will defy Zapatero over Statute decision (La Vanguardia); Catalunya experiences warmest November in 10 years (El Periodico); Santa Coloma residents demand dissolution of council (Avui)