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So long I am in Japan, I am forgetting European bridged holidays. Once I was in almeria in the beginning of September, there was indeed a festival with a religious backgorund.

In Japan, holidays are pretty civil, no saints.

Today I caught two articles on Spain. They are not related to the holiday's theme, but generated a deal of curiosity nevertheless.

Spanish children among the most obese

One in three Spanish children is overweight, one of the worst records in Europe, a conference in Madrid was told on Tuesday.

Spain was one of nine countries to take part in a European Commission-funded study into ways to tackle obesity and emerged with more fat youngsters than any other country in the group.

Only England came anywhere near Spain in the sample with about a quarter of youngsters overweight.

"The amount of obese children in Spain is high and rising rapidly," said professor Erik Millstone of the University of Sussex, who co-ordinated the survey across the countries.

Back in the 1980s, only around 15 percent of Spanish children were overweight.

Is this what many holidays does to you?

The other article is from the right-wing blogosphere. It is a piece of usual scare for immigrants, but I wonder how this is viewed in Spain itself.

Europe's Future

[Thus] far in 2006, 30,000 "boat people" have landed on Canary Island beaches--already six times last year's tally. The great majority come from Senegal. There are also Malians and Mauritanians, Gambians and Guineans, Congolese and Cameroonians, and others whom Spaniards don't usually think of as their neighbors, but who now consider Europe just a hop, skip, and a jump away. There are occasional boats full of Chinese and Bangladeshis, too. Spain isn't the only destination for boats pouring out of other continents. The Italian islands of Lampedusa and Pantelleria have received well over 10,000 boat people this year. Migrants from East Africa, Pakistan, and India are beaching boats launched in Libya on the shores of Malta and Greece. And boats are not the only way to bust into the E.U. - there are also land routes through Eastern Europe, and the majority of immigrants to Europe still get there by flying in as tourists or students and then overstaying their visas.

But Spaniards have started to note that, in contrast to previous waves, these migrants seem to be coming to, not through, their country. Spain, which a decade ago thought it had an emigration problem, now finds itself the top immigrant destination on the entire continent. Its population has jumped to 44 million people, thanks to almost 4 million new immigrants. Slowly, over decades, a lot of European countries have reached the point where about 10 percent of their population is of immigrant background. Spain is now about 10 percent first-generation immigrant, and this has happened overnight. Much of the present migration is to cities. Foreigners make up 19 percent of the population (and 28 percent of the workforce) in Madrid. The Valencia region is 14 percent foreign-born. The Raval area of central Barcelona, where immigrants were exotic up until the early 1990s, is now a "majority minority" neighborhood.

by das monde on Thu Dec 7th, 2006 at 10:45:04 PM EST
Imagine that!  No christian saints in Japan?

Obesity (slow news day in SA?) is a problem in general and in some areas, like Andalucía seems worse.  The cause is probably the same as anywhere:  2 working parents stressed out and too many processed foods.

Immigration is one of the biggest concerns here, besides a favorite theme for the right-wingers.  It is a humanitarian problem, first of all, because of the suffering and deaths it causes.  The government is trying to reach agreements with the source countries, but it is barely slowing down.

The need is too great, there are trafficking mafias involved, and the economic cost is negative at first:
Receiving, health care, housing and settling or repatriating in a responsible way.  Once here, it is very difficult for them because even when they find jobs, they are exploited, but at least there are dozens of NGO´s helping out.  No easy solutions.

 

Our knowledge has surpassed our wisdom. -Charu Saxena.

by metavision on Fri Dec 8th, 2006 at 01:30:17 AM EST
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Regarding the immigrants, what is anticipated for next year?

Looking generally, there are so many massive changes are occuring fast - people are moving globally, satisfy their instincts  and economical imperatives in their earnest. Little wonder, when about half of EU tomato supply is produced in a few provinces in Spain, there is a lot of picking job to anyone wishing.

Can we control our "urge" for globalization and scale economy? Can the fast changes accelarate ever faster? Will share numbers and masses rule the world? Or will they annihilate each other, stumbling upon a trivial environmental restriction? Aren't we living in the proverbial interesting times?

by das monde on Fri Dec 8th, 2006 at 04:28:58 AM EST
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I don´t know of any projections, but I fear it will not stop, since the needs in Africa are so hard to fathom, that thousands of young people, children, pregnant women... are willing to risk death for months, to reach Europe.  The Canary Islands and the south coast are the closest destinations.

There are many central Europeans coming through the Pyrenees in bus loads also, which seems like a blind point.  The government has no intention of using forceful policies, obviously, and the right-wing likes to name it "the call-effect".

The immigrants´ contribution to the job market, the economy and employment taxes are very positive for the country.

As to the big life questions...

Our knowledge has surpassed our wisdom. -Charu Saxena.

by metavision on Fri Dec 8th, 2006 at 09:30:08 AM EST
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