Business over Tapas: January 11 2024

Lenox Napier¹


Hackers got into the Orange telephone system last week, disrupting the service for a few hours. Later, the same hackers put out a statement saying how they did it and accusing Orange of using ‘weak’ passwords.

A hacker, says Wiki, ‘is someone with knowledge of bugs or software who can break into computer systems and access data which would otherwise be inaccessible to them’.

Usually for profit

Several big names have been attacked in Spain this autumn – such as Telefónica and Vodafone, TeleMadrid or PTV Telecom; Endesa, the City Hall of Seville and even a number of leading banks.

All of these companies employ professional IT (information technology) people to keep their accounts safe. Spain is third in the world after the USA and Russia for the number of cyber-attacks suffered.

All we have, here in our homes, is a mild distrust of anything that looks fishy and maybe an old dog-eared copy of Computers for Dummies lying around somewhere.

And as for ‘weak’ passwords: if they ain’t weak, then I’m not going to remember them; and if they are strong, then I will need to have them written down somewhere, probably on a Post-it stuck to the wall behind the PC. Anyway, now it appears hackers ‘have discovered a way to access Google accounts without a password’, so that’s corked it for all of us.

I suppose being hacked on Facebook is easy enough, and probably reasonably painless. You see those posts sometimes about a terrible accident with someone you might know – click here! These are evidently for the gullible, but sooner or later, you’ll be caught out. This type involves you clicking on the link – the same as when your favourite bank sends you a slightly improbable message or your ‘daughter’ posts to say she’s lost her phone and can you send her some money (this is known as phishing). Click, and you are caught.

Few of us are computer experts – and we often only know a few routes through the maze without having the least idea of how the maze is built. Easy enough – who wants to design a jet-engine or an apartment block? Then, when a new update (or worse still, a full operating system) comes along – we throw our hands in the air: ‘I just got it working to my satisfaction, and now they’ve gone and fooled with it again’.

That’s probably all done to keep up with the competition, to keep the shareholders happy and the programmers rich – or is it the other way around? – as well as potentially staying one step ahead of the hackers.

In the end, it may be for the best not to keep a link to your bank account on your mobile phone, just in case someone gets into the system. Or for that matter, keep your money under the mattress rather than in the bank – although this presents an opportunity for an entirely different kind of criminal.

Maybe – like my friend Alicia – not keep a credit card at all (usually meaning that I have to pay for lunch), although the banks will have insurance for this. Wiki again: ‘Cardholders’ money is usually protected from scammers with regulations that make the card provider and bank accountable. The technology and security measures behind credit cards are continuously advancing, adding barriers for fraudsters attempting to steal money’.

So we do the best we can, keeping suspicious and full of mistrust as we answer or ignore the stuff we find on our computers and phones (in the hope that they won’t hack the banks, phone or insurance companies or anyone else who has our details).

It’s a war which we can only watch from the side-lines, hoping that the good guys win.


Want to live in a more temperate (and wet) part of Spain? From 20Minutos here: The coastal municipality of Camariñas in the province of A Coruña, located 78 kilometers from the Galician capital, is one of the cheapest towns to buy a home. The article says that one can buy a 100 square metre home for €45,000. It also lists other cheap pueblos in the region.

A letter to The Majorca Daily Bulletin speaks for many home-owners. ‘The nightmare of the 90 day rule’.


‘Spain can’t stop the boats. The Spanish government has been forced to admit it does not have the “necessary legal support” to limit the entry of cruise ships into Spain’. The problem is that there are too many of them, and that they are highly pollutive while, on the bright side, they bring in money and tourist numbers (so dear to the authorities). The story is at The Majorca Daily Bulletin here.


The New Ley de Familia: ‘Inheritances, senior-care and vacations: what differences are there between a de facto couple (pareja de hecho) and a married couple according to the new law?’ The law will largely bring the one into line with the other says here.


Podemos, perhaps to keep relevance (or to seek revenge against Yolanda Díaz from Sumar), voted on Wednesday together with the PP, Vox and UPN against the unemployment benefits reform touted by the Government which would not begin until June in any event, leaving time for the Government, says El Huff Post, to regroup. Two other measures were also voted upon – with the decreto ómnibus passing (which includes an extension on the low tax on gas, electric and food) while the decreto anticrisis (low IVA rates on basic necessities) needs a new vote following a tie (Junts abstained). More at El País here.

Another problem for the so-called ‘Frankenstein Government’ comes from the Junts per Catalunya party because they are insisting on all companies who had moved from Catalonia (usually to Madrid) during the troubles (‘el procés’) back in 2017 should either return or be fined says Catalan News here. Around 8,700 companies have moved their headquarters away from the region says Expansión.

Opinion from here: ‘How far is the PP going to go? There is no doubt that Feijóo is feeling very frustrated to see the economy functioning so well after years of making catastrophic forecasts that have not even come close to being fulfilled’.

Diario16 considers the far-right protests outside the doors of the head offices of the PSOE in Madrid, now running nightly for the past two months, to be ‘political hooliganism’.


From The Independent here: ‘The two conditions British passports must meet to travel in the European Union’. These are that one’s passport must be ‘On day of entry to the EU, issued less than 10 years ago’ and ‘On intended day of exit from EU, to have at least three months left before expiry date’.

ECD reports that ‘Sánchez gets a black mark from Israel: “He can forget about holding any international position”. Tel Aviv considers him to be “hostile to the Jewish nation,” even though the ambassador’s return to Madrid has just been announced. Israel will use its influence with the United States and Morocco to block any international candidacy or position for the Spanish president’.

From SVI here: ‘In spite of not recognising Kosovo as an independent country, Spain now accepts for entry passports issued by authorities in Kosovo, permitting Kosovars to visit this country visa-free. The decision has been confirmed through a statement by Kosovo’s Deputy Prime Minister, Besnik Bislimi, calling it “good news” for Kosovars and the state as a whole…’. Spain won’t recognise Kosovar as a state so as to not encourage other potential break-away regions (like Catalonia).

BoT collaborator José Antonio Sierra Lumbreras moved to Dublin Ireland fifty years ago and there he set up El Instituto Cultural Español (later the Instituto Cervantes) de Dublín. In the inaugural address, the then Irish Minister of Education Richard Burke noted that ‘In the past, Spain was a distant haven of hope for oppressed Irishmen and gave many thousands of them the opportunity to make their way in life as free men. It is fair to say that Ireland’s loss was Spain’s gain because those exiles were young, enterprising and courageous and made a significant contribution to the life of their adopted country. They also helped to enhance the goodwill that existed between Spain and Ireland…’

José Antonio’s report is at Periodistas en Español here.

A small story of a Spanish woman refused re-entry to the UK after the Christmas holidays – she has residence-papers pending and she and her British husband live in Bedfordshire. Another triumph for the small-minded, we say. The story – well covered in the Spanish media – will make all of those who live in another country, with papers or without them, look for a worried moment over their shoulder…


‘Cases of flu continue to spread across Spain and are yet to peak, with the maximum number of illnesses expected to be reached in the third week of January’. The Olive Press reports that this comes from the SiVIRA respiratory infection monitoring system at the Carlos III health institute, which show that flu cases are currently circulating with ‘greater intensity than the rest of the respiratory viruses’, including Covid-19’. We must now wear our face-masks once again in health clinics and hospitals.

From Harvard Medical School here: ‘What happens when private equity takes over a hospital. New analysis shows alarming increase in patient complications’. A doctor tells the HMS that ‘…we’re learning that there are downstream concerns for the clinical quality of care delivered to hospital patients.” The researchers said the findings are alarming because they may reflect bottom-line incentives overshadowing patient care and safety…’


Thanks to the five-year block on the renewal of the CGPJ (viz. the government of the judiciary), many other posts are expired. From here: ‘Dozens of positions are improperly perpetuated at the top of the courts due to the ongoing blockade of the Judiciary. The veto on the appointment of judges while the CGPJ is not renewed has brought at least 44 positions of maximum responsibility to continue serving with their mandate expired, while another 46 positions are occupied by substitutes or vacancies, mainly located in the Supreme Court’.


‘The Region of Murcia is the autonomous community with the worst air quality in all of Spain. PM10 polluting particles have a population-weighted average of 30.6 micrograms per cubic meter (µg/m3). This places it in second place in the entire country only after the Canary Islands, which makes it the most polluted on the peninsula and places it 32% above the national average, which is 23.2 µg/m3. The third place is occupied by Castilla-La Mancha with 29.2 µg/m3…’ Some gloomy stats from La Opinión de Murcia here.

‘Every year up to ten trillion (long-scale) plastic pellets end up on the environment. Pellets are the raw material used to make plastic products. Plastic pellets, also known as nurdles or mermaid’s tears, are small spheres that are used as a raw material in the manufacture of almost all plastic items…’ From Good Karma Projects here. The European Commission also warns us of them here.

Recently, a vast number of these tiny pellets have been washed ashore on the coast of Galicia following an incident at sea. A map of the affected beaches in real time is here. Since the weekend, volunteers are helping to clean up the mess (video). Conscious of the upcoming elections in Galicia, the regional government has been playing the issue down.

By Wednesday, the pellet alert had grown to three autonomous regions – Galicia, Asturias and Cantabria.


‘…This year, the Government intends to allow 17-year-olds to drive cars accompanied by an adult over 24, while the traffic police say they will increase blood alcohol controls by 10% (adjusted to six million controls per year)…’ Other changes include the obligatory use of approved helmets and gloves for motorcyclists.

From The Guardian here: ‘At the beginning of the new Spanish graphic novel El abismo del olvido (The Abyss of Forgetting), a murdered man climbs out of his grave, lights a cigarette and takes stock of the past eight decades. “When western archaeologists opened the tombs of ancient Egypt, it was said that the souls of their occupants had been freed after millennia of silence,” he says. “In a way, the same thing is happening to us. All we did was wait in silence for more than 70 years.”…’ An interesting read.

The Guardian again: ‘For decades she battled to ensure that people with intellectual disabilities were part of the conversation. The extent of the progress she had made, however, was laid bare recently when Mar Galcerán became Spain’s first parliamentarian with Down’s syndrome…’

Carrefour will no longer stock PepsiCo products, such as Pepsi, Kas, 7Up, Lay’s crisps, Doritos, Cheetos and Ruffles, because they are overpriced, according to the store.

Back in February 2005, the Edificio Windsor office-block in downtown Madrid mysteriously caught fire one night and was gutted. It became one of those mysteries for late-night television. Rumours abounded of a Mafioso demolition for some reason or other, but the story was resolved – apparently – last week when a famous burglar revealed all (or ‘most’, anyway) in a TV series called SAPO S.A. Memorias de un ladrón. The burglar, Jon Imanol Sapieha Candela, alias ‘El Sapo’ (the toad), admits in the documentary (currently showing on Prime Video) that he was paid to secure some secret documents and to burn down the tower. Huh. But who paid him? The story is at 20Minutos here.

See Spain:

El Castillo de Requesens in the Serra de l’Albera (Gerona): the 11th century castle on the French border that Salvador Dalí wanted to buy. From Infobae here: ‘The fortress has witnessed a long military conflict that lasted centuries. Now, it can be visited after an extensive remodelling’. With video.

Llívia is a small Spanish village totally surrounded by France for some reason lost in the mist of time (or rather, wiki). The story of this odd village has appeared previously in BoT, but this time, the focus is on its pharmacy, la Farmacia de Esteve which dates back to 1415 and is the oldest in Europe says Ecoticias here (or was, since it’s now a museum).


Rodrigo Cuevas and the Grupo Beatriz with Cómo ye?! On YouTube

  1. For subscriptions and other information about this site, go to
José Antonio Sierra Lumbreras
Licenciado en Filosofía y Letras, Magisterio y Estudios en la Escuela Oficial de Periodismo de Madrid. Residente 40 años en Francia, Reino Unido e Irlanda como profesor de español. En Irlanda fundó el Centró Español de Documentación y el Instituto Cultural Español, actual Instituto Cervantes de Dublín. Asímismo, fue corresponsal de: Agencia EFE, Diario Informaciones, Carta de España, Crónicas de la Emigración, España Exterior, La Región Internacional y Escuela Española. Jubilado.

Deja un comentario

Este sitio usa Akismet para reducir el spam. Aprende cómo se procesan los datos de tus comentarios.