TODAY’S PHOTO : Thanks to Tobi … the first photo in of some of the wonderful floral displays at the flower festival … more to follow …
Front Page News : main source : Diário de Notícias 25/4/2009
‘Tourists Impressed With The Floral Displays On The Avenue Arriaga – The Flower Festival began on Wednesday with the inauguration of the floral carpets and the flower market’. The Diário solicited opinions from several tourists :
“We are very much enjoying the atmosphere in Funchal, and very impressed with all the preparation for this great flower festival” said Gilles from France. “These flower carpets are truly magnificent” and “we went to the flower market and found marvellous types of flowers we didn’t know existed, and we can hardly wait for the parade on Sunday“, said another couple from France. I am not quite sure why this story waited until Saturday, as it’s a bit ‘old hat’ now, but Madeira has a real winner with this flower festival … long may it continue. There is some video footage here in case you are not lucky enough to be here at present:
Thanks to all who sent in photos – no more general shots of the flowers please, but some of the parade today would be nice – thanks!
Great news for baby Rodrigo, in that a 100% match donor has been found. Rodrigo, probably within the last few weeks of his life, is to be saved by a German lady who has offered her bone marrow to treat his acute leukemia. The father of Rodrigo thanks the four thousand Madeiran people who offered themselves as potential donors. The search for a donor went international after hopes for a donor on Madeira, and then in Portugal were exhausted, and the lady has accepted the request to make the donation. The transplant is likely to take place later next month, and will not cure Rodrigo’s illness, but will provide a means to a cure. Top story of the day, and quite rightly so.
‘Liberty In Question 35 Years After – the worries criss-cross social, political, and economic matters, but the major threat is to the freedom of expression’. “Three decades are not enough to ensure freedom. Freedom of expression is an area in which politicians feel most threatened”, says the Diário. It’s a very opinionated article involving quotes from a number of politicians with varying views, most of which indirectly support the newspapers feeling of suppression. Some of the opinions point to Portugal as a whole, but generally Madeira is singled out not having gone all the way to making it’s people feel truly free. It’s strange to read and believe that people still feel that way, but without being fully embedded in the Madeira culture it is hard to sense what it is really like to have these insecure feelings hanging over you.
In response to the open letter of the Diário, sent to various entities worldwide in protest about the unfair competition from The Jornal da Madeira, The World Association Of Newspapers demands an investigation in the the newspaper market on Madeira. WAN has said that the regional government of Madeira threatens freedom of expression, and have asked for an urgent investigation into the matter. They have sent a letter to the President of the Republic, Cavaco Silva, to express “serious concern” regarding the actions of Madeira’s government, and their direct influence on the Jornal da Madeira, of which they are the major shareholder (99.7%), and that they are using taxpayers money to subsidise (€38 million in 15 years). The complaint continues that government purchases of space in the two newspapers is on a 10 to 1 ratio, in favor of the Jornal. One part of the letter, in referring to the decision to distribute the JM free to readers, says “It seems there was no effort to keep the Jornal da Madeira as a profitable operation, but a deliberate policy to use government funds to undermine the Diário de Notícias”, adding that the anti-competitive behavior of the JM and regional government directly affects and threatens the 120 jobs of the staff of the Diário. The World Association Of Newspapers represents 18,000 publications worldwide, and it also has formal representation in the Council of Europe, UNESCO and the United Nations, and clearly packs quite a punch. Serious stuff, but I think it’s great what is going on here, and the initiative that the Diário has taken, but you have to wonder why they didn’t do it years ago.
The big photo of the day shows a man, head in hands, and obviously in a state of depression : ‘Two New Unemployed Per Hour – Since the financial crisis started to bite in August 2008, the Institute of Employment has received over ten thousand claimants. Almost 50 new unemployeds per day”. (I am now on high alert for the word police). The article is full of breakdowns and statistics, which are too much to reproduce here, but the comment is made that because 24% of Madeira’s workers are civil servants (national and local governments / authorities of all types), and that there have been no lay-offs, the true situation here is much worse than stated. In Portugal 18% of employees work in government of some sort. The government accuses the Diário of using “speculative” figures, saying that official figures won’t be available for the first quarter of 2009, until mid May. Uncle Bertie blames it all on prime minister Sócrates for his budget cuts.
I will skip the sports story, otherwise you will be reading this all day …
Other News :
Parliamentary leader Jaime Ramos (social democrats) announced that by June this year, there will be a thousand new jobs created in the construction industry on Madeira. This information, which is good news for many, is possible through another important announcement : that regional government will launch several major projects by the end of May, which will involve an injection of €400 million into the economy.
A scrapyard of ‘unthinkable dimensions’ has been growing for some years at Poiso in Santo da Serra. It is over a kilometre in length, and houses thousands of cars and other metal waste. However, according to the Regional Directorate of the Environment, its days are numbered because of the hazardous effect on the environment. Scrap metal used to be exported as a profitable operation, but now the price of scrap iron is so low that the cost of transportation makes it impossible to continue.
The ‘Ruby Princess’ made it’s debut appearance in Funchal yesterday. The cruise ship, constructed last year, brought in around 3,000 passengers, and picked up around 100 new passengers on Madeira. I have a picture for you, but the Flower Festival is priority at the moment.
I mentioned last weekend that I went to Funchal Central Hospital the week before last, nothing serious or painful for me, but I had just arrived when that tragic death occurred in a stairwell, right at the time I was stood outside that stairwell door. I heard an awful crash, that was more than just flesh and bones for sure. Staff came running from all directions, and there were people crying in the corridor and in shock. I asked what was going on, but the staff wouldn’t say anything other than there had been a serious accident. It was in the newspaper the next day about the accident?, saying that a patient had fallen from the 8th floor of the hospital stairway right down to the basement, and had probably died instantly.
Due to that, my porter abandoned me for 20 minutes, but eventually I got to my destination and saw a doctor. I don’t really like discussing my medical matters for all the world to see, but I don’t think I can really avoid it i
n this case, because what happened was quite important and could apply to anyone at some time. Around 30 years ago, following an accident, I had to have an artificial tear duct inserted, a very small pyrex tube. It was a very specialised operation, conducted by an eye hospital in London.
The tube sat there happily working away for those 30 years, until the week before last, when while I was sleeping it fell out. I went to my local health centre to ask if they would shove it back in in sterile conditions, but they wouldn’t, and sent me to Funchal Hospital to see a consultant there. He tried to do the job, but failed, so I asked what next. The consultant said I would have to go back to London to get it done, and I told him that I was not part of that health care system so that was not possible, but asked if it could be done in mainland Portugal. He said there was only one specialist, in Porto, who could do that job, and said to me to ring him in a couple of days time, and he would give me his phone number. I was gobsmacked. He was expecting me to make contact and make all the arrangements myself, and pay for everything. Obviously I refused to accept the situation and he wouldn’t budge initially. Whether this is Uncle Bertie’s philosophy on foreigners creeping in, or health service policy I don’t know, but it was only when I told him that I was going back to my local health centre to get them to deal with it, that he eventually changed his mind, in bolshy sort of way. An appointment was then made for 8am on Tuesday, back in Funchal, for the arrangements to be started.
I arrived their last Tuesday and was amazed to see so many people there, but I am guessing that everyone had 8am appointments, and it was just a question of waiting to get seen. Surprisingly I was in and out of the consultants office within an hour and a bit, but I would imagine that many others would have waited most of the day. Anyway, I guess I had annoyed the doctor on my previous visit, as he wouldn’t speak to me in English at all … a bit tricky when discussing important medical matters, but I managed. He told me that he had made an appointment for me in Porto the next day, gave me an envelope of paperwork and told me to wait outside for someone else to see me. A nurse came soon after, and told me to go to the department that arranges for patients to go to Portugal. That part took a long time, as authorisations were needed, documents needed to be signed, flights were booked, and I was given €100 cash to help with my expenses. No one knew what time my appointment in Porto was except that it was a PM time, but as the only flight to Porto was at 7am in the morning, it didn’t really matter. The lady who organised all this was great, she didn’t speak any English, but she made sure I was fully informed about what I had to do, and dealt competently and patiently with all my questions. So I returned home quite nervous, but well prepared for my journey, which would start at 5.30am the next morning.
Part 2 of the story will follow in a few days.
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