95% Of Fruit & Veg Imported ; Gripe A Victim Refused Flight ; Funchal Port Needs Expansion

(31st August). Today’s main news headline : ‘Regional Produce Hardly Used In The Hotels – The appeals for the preference of fruit and vegetables from Madeira only amounts to 5% of the consumption of tourists’. ‘Qualifrutas, which supplies the hotels and restaurants, calls for greater use of regional production’. Hard to believe I know, but 95% of what a tourist gets fed in terms of fruit and vegetables is imported, that’s in the hotels, with the restaurants equally guilty. That of course applies to Madeirans eating out as well. Qualifrutas is one of the leading suppliers to the trade on Madeira, and it says it has good suppliers here, and only resorts to importing when there is insufficient product locally, a particular problem with fruit, although ‘greens’ are 30 to 40% sourced on Madeira. Lettuce and tomatoes are mainly sourced and supplied here, with little need to import, unlike green beans, cauliflower or broccoli, which require "importation in large quantities", says the company. Even the banana is imported, and the spokesman says it is just necessary to look in the supermarkets to see how little representation there is from Madeira in the greengrocery ranges.

‘Passenger With Gripe A Prevented From Boarding – The tourist was already in the airport when he received internment orders from Marmeleiros Hospital’. The tourist spent the night in hospital. Confirmation that the person had swine flu resulted in him being prevented from travelling to Lisbon and infecting other passengers on the flight. His three travelling companions also spent the night in the hospital to be screened, but at the time showed no symptoms. The tourist was on the list of suspected cases, having had symptoms, and attended Funchal Central Hospital for checks. Whilst the analysis was being done he took the medications, but his condition developed rapidly as he prepared to return home, and the confirmation of Gripe A changed his plans. The firemen of Santa Cruz were sent to the airport to pick up the group in a vehicle equipped for such cases. One of the sick patients already in hospital with pneumonia (and gripe A) has improved in health and is no longer connected to the ventilator. That patient, probably the most serious case so far, from Câmara de Lobos, no longer needs breathing assistance. They should put warnings signs up in the airports and on check-in desks to tell people that if they know they have Gripe A, and continue to fly, they could go to prison for knowingly infecting others on board – 5 years inside if I recall correctly.

‘Port Without Space Is Losing Cruise Ship Visits – A shipping agency alerts to the need to increase the posts for mooring’. This is an article in the series ‘The top 100 Companies’. This one is called Agência Ferraz, specialising in the ‘shipping’ sector, and founded 80 years ago. It deals with some of the big players in the international market, and includes tourism. Carlos Santos of the company believes that Funchal Port needs upgrading works, and although the new port building is very welcome, the real need is to increase the number of berths, particularly as ships are now getting larger. He said that the port has already lost business for not responding to the call for more capacity, and this will continue to happen. "We can not think that docking a liner in Funchal is the same as in the Mediterranean, in Greece or the Caribbean. We can not allow ourselves the luxury of refusing scales or influencing the choices of companies" he said. 

‘He Lived The High Life And Left Debts Of €20,000’. A 27 year old man is under investigation by police after a series of frauds. The man from Castelo Branco in Portugal used scams to live the life of a lord on Madeira, leaving debts in hotels, shops, and restaurants in Funchal and surrounding areas. For almost a year he used stolen cheques and faked bank transfers to ‘live the life’. In one Funchal jewellery shop he brought gold worth €1,500, paying with a stolen cheque. New complaints are coming to light, and the extent of the fraud is mounting up, and the Diário has totted up more than €20,000 so far. The case goes back to December last year, when the young man, with a criminal record as a con man in Portugal, stayed at a hotel for a few days in Funchal, leaving behind a debt of €1,200. Several other hotels also fell victim, including the Carlton Hotel, again for €1,200. The con man is no longer on Madeira, and his whereabouts at present is unknown.

Today’s main photo and sports story : ‘Marítimo Uninspired In Leiria – Goalless draw justified in weak offensive performance of the ‘Verde-Rubros’. Nacional play this evening.

That’s everything from the front page today. Normally there are at least 7 headlines, sometimes as many as 9, but today just 5.

UPDATES :

‘Lugar de Baixo Undergoes More Works’. The controversial marina at Lugar de Baixo is again the subject of repairs. This time the work addresses the damage caused as a result of securing the overlooking cliff face, as well as some damage, caused by the strength of the waves, to the wall of the jetty that protects the marina. Also the construction that houses the car park, that was also badly damaged by rock falls, is being completely demolished, as that is was deemed to be the cheaper and most appropriate option. A new parking facility will not be built for now. "At this stage there is no justification, because we have enough parking in the area for the immediate needs", said a spokesman, adding that even if there was a need, it is intended in the future to consider other enterprises planned inside the marina complex.

‘Festival of Curral Finishes With Drunks and Brawls’. A young man was left unconscious after an assault in a bar, and several men were suffering with severe alcohol intoxication, during Saturday night in the festa in Curral das Freiras (Valley of the Nuns). Ambulance services were called on six times between midnight on Saturday and 8 am Sunday morning. Also during the weekend festival in São Vicente the fire department was called upon to rescue several people worse the wear from excess drinking. "But this, as they say, is normal when there are festivals in the parish". It might be normal, but it’s certainly not acceptable!

‘Searches are continuing along the coast’. Despite having been officially suspended for four days, the search operations for the 78 year old fisherman who may have fallen in the sea in the area of Lakota, Porto Santo, have continued with searches along the coast of the island. "Once or twice a day, we carry out searches along the coast", said the commander of the Maritime Zone of Madeira, adding that after so much time having passed since the disappearance, there is little chance of the body appearing along the coast.

‘Cimber Sterling Connects Madeira And Copenhagen’. The Denmark based airline flies today to Madeira’. The first of the weekly flights was due to land at Madeira Airport at 12.50 pm, returning to Denmark one hour later. The journey each way is around 5 hours.

‘CEB should maintain interest rates’. The Central European Bank should maintain its interest rates on Thursday, waiting to see if the signs of recovery in the euro zone will extend further. The main rate by the CEB should continue at its lowest historical level of one percent, where it has been since May, according to financial analysts.

FINALLY A FEW POLITICAL BITS & PIECES :

‘Jardim Responds To César – The number of islands is not an argument for positive discrimination’. "On this, one doesn’t count the number of islands, one counts the population, and Madeira has a higher population than the Azores" he said. He was responding to the president of the Azores, who said that the autonomous regions of Portugal should not be treated equally in terms of state financing, and that the Azores should have more than Madeira because it has more islands (9). "The density of population of the Azores is 110 people per square kilometre, and on Madeira it is 330", said Jardim, who also argued that Madeira has to import from abroad more than 80 percent of what it consumes, while the Azores have "a primary sector of agriculture, fisheries and livestock" with which they have little need to import. "If he is to play with the arguments, then, I also demand a positive discrimination in relation to the Azores", he said.

The best news today is that president Jardim returns to work after 20 days of holidays on Porto Santo. Over the last few weeks his day started with a game of tennis, then its was off for a stroll with his buddies along the golden beach as far as the famous ‘Bar do Henrique’. He also took some work with him to keep busy, as well as having some official duties arranged to coincide with his stay on Porto Santo, including inaugurations. He also read a book whilst there, the latest offering by Fernando Dacosta, and returned to Funchal for the 501 year celebrations. He also had other books with him, including one I mentioned the other day ‘The Mysteries of the Islands’, which he highly recommends we should all read. That summary of Uncle Bertie’s holiday, which cost him just €200 in accommodation charges, was from the Jornal da Madeira today, just in case anyone thought I was writing my own ‘soft’ account of our presidents exploits, which included insulting half the political forces and personalities of Portugal. Is there such a thing as ‘holiday rage’, ‘cos I think he caught a dose. I for one am pleased to have you back Bertie, as it will get Porto Santo out of the newspapers, having had more coverage than Funchal over the last 3 weeks.

From the Jornal da Madeira yesterday : ‘Ferreira Leite On Madeira On 8th September – A day for contact with candidates and the population of Madeira’. The PSD party leader, president Jardim’s boss in political terms, will visit some streets in Funchal to talk to people.

She’s the one on the left. I have no idea who the other bloke is.

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