“Non-smokers enter at their own risk”

January 6, 2011

Open rebellion against Spain’s new smoking laws continued to manifest itself onWednesday, as the owners of a bar in Castellón, in Valencia province, hung a sign on their door welcoming smokers and warning non-smokers to “enter at their own risk.” The rejection of the tougher regulations, which ban smoking in all public places, came a day after a bar owner in Montehermoso, Cáceres, needed 18 stitches in his forehead after sustaining an injury during a brawl between two customers, one of whom had asked the other to extinguish his cigarette.

According to the bar owner in Castellón, Fernando Tejedor, they have no choice but to flaunt the rules. “Takings fell between 75 and 80 percent [when the law came in],” he said Wednesday, while “electricity and all the other bills are still the same.”

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Summer holidays…

January 14, 2012

Summer holidays could be reduced, says Michael Gove
The school day could be extended and summer holidays reduced, Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, said yesterday.
Mr Gove said the move would benefit ‘poorer children from poorer homes’, who ‘lose learning over the long summer holidays’.  
The Government and the education community were “all in favour” of the move, he added.
His comments came as he announced plans to allow head teachers to get rid of underperforming staff more swiftly.
Under the proposals for the extended day, pupils could remain in school between 7.30am and 5.30pm and attend on Saturdays, with an extra two weeks potentially being added to school terms.
Over a five-year period, the extended hours would mean pupils gained as much as a year’s worth of extra education, allowing them to take vocational subjects in addition to their exam material.
Asked how this would affect teachers, he said: “If you love your job then there is, I think, absolutely nothing to complain about in making sure you have more of a chance to do it well.”
Mr Gove said the move would benefit “poorer children from poorer homes”, who “lose learning over the long summer holidays”.
Some of the Government’s flagship academies and free schools have already taken advantage of powers to shake up the academic year. The Norwich Free School is open for six days a week, 51 weeks of the year. Others are planning to keep pupils in school until at least 5pm or stage regular weekend lessons.
Mr Gove also announced new powers that will allow head teachers to sack the worst-performing staff in just a term — rather than a year .
Controversial rules restricting the amount of time that heads can observe teachers in the classroom will be removed, giving schools more freedom to monitor staff.
All teachers will be assessed against rigorous new teaching standards every year and measures will be introduced to stop poor teachers being “recycled” from school to school.
Mr Gove told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “Nothing matters more than the quality of the time a child spends interacting with a gifted adult.
“We want to ensure those teachers who aren’t doing an effective job are, first of all, given the support to change their ways, improve and get back on track and then, if that doesn’t work — but only if it doesn’t work — then ease them out.
The proposals have been criticised by teaching unions, who believe additional monitoring measures are unnecessary.
Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT, said: “It’s actually hugely demoralising for all of those hard-working and committed teachers out there who day in, day out, are delivering a high-quality service.”
She accused Mr Gove of “manipulating information and being selective with evidence”.

La Formación en Régimen Nocturno

September 4, 2011

LA FORMACIÓN EN RÉGIMEN NOCTURNO

La supervivencia de la enseñanza en régimen nocturno en los Institutos de Enseñanza, clases entre las 17:15 y las 23:00, ha tenido la espada de Damocles sobre su perdurabilidad desde hace muchos Ministros de Educación y otros tantos Consejeros Autónomos. In illo témpore decisiones tomadas en despachos ajenos a las aulas han hecho peligrar su existencia. En los despachos los números mandan. En las aulas los docentes luchan por revertir un proceso que empezó hace muchos años desanimando a jóvenes cuya autoestima, circunstancias personales y sociales no son idóneas. Mucho se ha hablado de la Enseñanza Secundaria Obligatoria, mucho se trabaja en mejorar  las condiciones de sus docentes y docendos. Pero los profesores que imparten sus clases en el régimen nocturno han sido silenciosos, este silencio hace que la  necesidad de su labor si no pasa desapercibida aparece desdibujada en los intereses generales de educación.

Todos hemos leído estudios que  reflejan un factor que une el fracaso escolar de los estudiantes a la formación académica de su entorno. Sí, no todos los padres han tenido la oportunidad social y económica que les permitiera algo más que el acceso a la educación básica. El ministro de Educación, Ángel Gabilondo, suele insistir en que el problema tiene que ver con las diferencias sociales.

Nuestros alumnos son, es verdad, minoría frente a la a la enseñanza diurna. Sí, es verdad que han llegado a nuestras aulas algunos por demérito, las aulas del diurno estaban disponibles para ellos y fracasaron. ¿Fracasaron ellos o el sistema no supo guiarles? Unos eran inmaduros en su etapa diurna, otros cometieron errores en sus prioridades al abandonar los estudios por un puesto de trabajo  que resultó ser efímero en  una economía basada durante muchos años en sectores como la construcción y el turismo, un entorno en el que personas sin cualificación alguna  pueden encontrar fácilmente un trabajo, algunos adquirieron responsabilidades familiares con catorce quizás quince años. Sí, son responsables de sus circunstancias actuales. Pero han reflexionado, la coyuntura les ha sacudido y están motivados para cambiar sus perspectivas profesionales. Aún así no todos lo lograrán, el docendo una vez que abandona el desarrollo cognitivo y se enfrenta de nuevo al esfuerzo intelectual no siempre tiene el ánimo para recuperar su capacidad de concentración así como entrenar la atención sostenida. Honestamente, no se les puede dejar de reconocer un punto de heroísmo, siguen ahí arañando un futuro mejor, sin contar con otras herramientas que la atención personalizada que reciben de sus profesores que saben que no toda la responsabilidad de su estancia en la enseñanza nocturna es suya.

Todos nosotros tenemos casos que contar con el de JG, madre precoz sintió la necesidad de formación y comenzó a asistir a las clases nocturnas del Instituto de su localidad para superar el BUP y el COU recién cumplidos los ventipocos, tres hijos y una situación económica desahogada. Ciencias Empresariales siguió al instituto y hoy en día tras terminar Derecho hace prácticas jurídicas. AE, trabajador en una empresa familiar de forjados de hormigón desde que tuvo edad de trabajar, el Instituto nocturno y la UNED posteriormente han hecho que pudiera abrir su consulta de psicología, RC abogado en ejercicio en la actualidad. DM, Premio de composición Sinfónico-Coral de RTVE (2.002) y profesor  en un Conservatorio Superior de Música, logró simultanear sus estudios de conservatorio con la enseñanza nocturna, podría seguir así, contando las historias humanas que vivimos a través de nuestros alumnos todas ellas llevan el sello de superación personal rotunda, pero ya adelanto que son infinitas.

Por supuesto no todos los alumnos que fracasaron en su etapa diurna consiguen rehabilitarse siguiendo estudios nocturnos, pero esos miles que a lo largo de los años que sí lo lograron y  han contribuido al desarrollo social y económico de la sociedad tenían derecho a su oportunidad. Los alumnos actuales y futuros también lo tienen por encima de una economía debilitada por un sistema de producción que alcanzó su periodo de caducidad tan abruptamente que les dejó en un limbo sin trabajo ni formación y que  ha dejado patente que, cuanta menos formación, más fácil es quedarse en el paro.

Ahora se acaban de aprobar nuevas medidas: se adelanta a los 15 años la edad para acceder a programas adaptados y pre profesionales, se flexibiliza el sistema para facilitar el reenganche de los que abandonaron. Ahora es cuando no ha de olvidarse la potenciación del régimen de enseñanza nocturna. Con profesores suficientes para abarcar una demanda avivada in crescendo por la situación económica, profesores que cuenten con los recursos necesarios para llevar a cabo su labor más allá de la buena voluntad, históricamente probada, de todos los docentes implicados y que sin el apoyo permanente de las instituciones, se sienten funambulistas sosteniendo sus puestos de trabajo en un equilibrio de ratios, grupos, horas lectivas y previsiones aciagas que nada tienen que ver con su competencia altamente profesional, y que  añade sacrificio  a su lucha por enseñar una carga lectiva que viene acompañada por otros muchos factores, especialmente humanos.

Es ése factor el que nos alienta, los seres humanos que se sientan en nuestras aulas. Son ellos los que nos hacen luchar, esforzarnos aún más imaginando nuevas  estrategias de aprendizaje para alumnos que quieren mejorar sus expectativas y que han entendido, aunque inconscientemente, que si nos dan la oportunidad, los  seres humanos crecemos a través de la formación. Es el sistema que ha diseñado y tutelado sus planes de estudios desde la primaria el que no puede negarles ésa oportunidad, el empeño por parte de los docentes siempre ha estado garantizado.

 ROSARIO VILLAESCUSA SAAVEDRA

 CUADERNOS DE PEDAGOGÍA.

Nº 412 MAYO 2011

 Nº IDENTIFICADOR: 412.002

Madrileños to get warm, well-lit places to smoke

January 21, 2011

http://www.elpais.com
FRIDAY, JANUARY 21, 2011
ENGLISH EDITION WITH THE INTERNATIONAL HERALD TRIBUNE

Smokers in Madrid had something to smile about yesterday, having got used to a ban on,tobacco in all enclosed public places. The regional government announced a plan to provide subsidies of up to 40 percent for bars to install lighting and heaters on terraces, to give smokers a warm and bright place to enjoy their habit. Meanwhile, a survey carried out by a business association has found that eight out of 10 Spanish bars have seen revenues fall between 11mand 60 percent since January 2 smoking ban.

Madrileños to get warm, well-lit places to smoke

Smokers in Madrid had something to smile about yesterday, having got used to a ban on,tobacco in all enclosed public places. The regional government announced a plan to provide subsidies of up to 40 percent for bars to install lighting and heaters on terraces, to give smokers a warm and bright place to enjoy their habit. Meanwhile, a survey carried out by a business association has found that eight out of 10 Spanish bars have seen revenues fall between 11 and 60 percent since the January 2 smoking ban.

Strict smoking ban enjoys broad support

January 10, 2011

http://www.elpais.com

MONDAY, JANUARY 10, 2011

ENGLISH EDITION WITH THE INTERNATIONAL HERALD TRIBUNE

The fears of the hospitality sector that the recently introduced stricter smoking ban would sound a death knell for business have proved unfounded, according to a Metroscopia survey conducted for EL PAÍS. Just 15 percent of more than a thousand people quizzed said they would go to bars and restaurants less frequently than before the eight-day old ban came into effect, with 75 percent saying it would make no difference and 10 percent revealing the absence of smoke would encourage them to go out more.

The intention to eschew bars is more prevalent among smokers (43 percent) than non-smokers and recent quitters (three percent). The ban itself enjoys broad support, with 62 percent of those surveyed in agreement, compared to 37 percent against. Overall, 72 percent of Spaniards are non-smokers

Smoking ban

January 3, 2011

Smokers buckle down as ban comes into force

The majority of smokers have abided by the new anti-tobacco law, which came into force on Sunday. Spaniards were “reasonably” compliant with the ban on smoking in enclosed public spaces, according to Dionisio Lara, of the Spanish Service Industry Federation, who reported that drinkers had shifted to outdoor tables en masse. Regulations forbidding smoking within 100 meters of health centers were less rigorously observed and smokers could be seen puffing away at the entrance to various Madrid hospitals. Lara reported that drinkers had reacted with “surprise” and “confusion” when told to stop smoking by bar owners — who face hefty fines if they fail to enforce the ban. Others took advantage of being sent outside to leave without paying.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The fine print (and hefty fines) of Spain’s tough new tobacco laws

Establishments that flaunt the ban face incurring six-figure sanctions

 

The new anti-smoking law could be summed up as “banning smoking in all enclosed spaces that may be shared with others.” But there are some exceptions: covered spaces in which smoke is permitted and open spaces where it is banned. Many of these exceptions were included in the 2006 smoking ban, but as this was largely ignored — or they have been better defined and clarified in the new law — here is an aide-mémoire.

» In which enclosed spaces will smoking be permitted?

Only in rooms of hotels, hostels and similar establishments, which are set aside for this purpose and which must not make up more than 30 percent of the total. But smoking is only permitted inside the room, not in the corridors, lifts or lobbies.

» And in psychiatric units and

prisons?

In long-term psychiatric wards and prisons, smoking zones are allowed as these places qualify as the habitual home of the inmates. But smoking will not be allowed in cells.

» How about in places that are just for adults, such as casinos and dance halls?

There is no smoking allowed, given that there are staff present.

» What about people who

work at smokers’ clubs?

There will have to be changes for smokers’ clubs, as they will not be able to employ anyone there. They will not be able tomsell drinks either.

» Can you smoke in your own

office?

If you are in a company then no, because that is your workplace. If it could be considered part of your house, then yes. But not if you will have clients or other workers visiting the premises.

» What about private parties,

weddings or baptisms? If the event is held in a public place (restaurant or hotel),

smoking is forbidden, partly because there will be employees there

Trees are sick, Wi-Fi radiation to blame

November 30, 2010

Wi-Fi, sweet deliverer of information and porn, may be killing trees. A study by a Dutch university suggests that Wi-Fi radiation causes weird abnormalities in trees. This is disturbing, as we love both Wi-Fi and trees.

Wi-fi networks blanket urban areas around the world, keeping us constantly connected to the internet wherever we may be — however a new European study finds that these networks may have harmful side-effects on the environment. According to a report by Wageningen University, the constant humming of internet data centers and wi-fi networks could have an adverse effect on nearby trees. The article states that the background radiation produced by these beacons of tech could be making trees sick.

The trees in the city of Alphen den Rijn weren’t doing so well, but the usual suspects (viruses and bacterial infections) didn’t have anything to do with the poor health of the trees.

The unlikely culprit turned out to be Wi-Fi. Researchers at Wageningen University discovered that when trees are exposed to Wi-Fi radiation, they don’t grow correctly, the bark bleed, and the leaves die.

Dutch researchers discovered that 70 percent of trees in the Netherlands are affected by Wi-Fi radiation. Five years ago, only 10 percent were.

The scientists studied 20 ash trees and gave them a dose of Wi-Fi radiation for three months. The trees away from the radiation remained healthy, but the trees exposed to the Wi-Fi radiation were sick.

According to the news release, “initial observations suggest a negative effect on the health of the ash… Researchers find it necessary to repeat the experiments before reaching conclusions.”

Ok so if Wi-Fi can make trees bleed, what does it do to us?

The debate over Wi-Fi radiation continues. The Health Protection Agency states “there is no consistent evidence to date that exposure to FR signals from Wi-Fi and WLANs adversely affect the health of the general population.”

August 11, 2009

Spanish Passport “grandchild law” sees Havana consulate overwhelmed

Thousands of Cuban descendants of Spaniards flock to claim citizenship

In the seven months since it went into effect, over 165,000 Cubans have flooded the Spanish consulate in Havana to try to benefit from a law granting nationality to anyone who can prove that one of their grandparents was a Spaniard.

Referred to as the “grandchild law,” this item of the Historical Memory Law also extends to other Latin American countries such as Argentina, although the impact there has been much smaller, with only 10,000 applicants in a country of 40 million people.

For Cuba’s 11 million inhabitants, the law means a chance to travel and to start life afresh.

From December 29 of last year until July 15, 2009, the Spanish consulate received over 24,000 complete dossiers and approved 8,000 of them.

“At the rate we’re going, in two years we could see 100,000 approved cases,” said a consulate source, adding that 50,000 more people could benefit from a oneyear extension to the application deadline. That is still well below the estimated 250,000 figure that was forecast before the law went into effect.

Much of it depends on the speed at which Cuban registries

extend the various documents requested by the Spanish consulate, and so far the turnaround has been slow. For instance, applicants often have to wait five months or more for a document showing that their relative remained

Spanish or was never nationalized as Cuban.

Bureaucratic avalanche

The avalanche of requests for proof of citizenship, marital status and so on has flooded Cuban registration offices to the point that the government complained to Madrid about it earlier this year.

It is no secret that Havana authorities are not happy about the “grandchild law,” and in fact there are no Communist Party members among the applicants.

Of the applicants, only two percent are grandchildren of political exiles, while the vast majority are simply descendants of Spaniards who did not lose their nationality before having their children.

In an effort to ease the bottleneck, in April the Spanish secretary general for consular and migratory affairs, Javier Elorza, traveled to Cuba and resolved that Spain would be more flexible about certain documents and more liberal with deadlines.

Despite the bureaucratic hurdles, the economic and political conditions in Cuba seem to suggest that the Spanish nationality offered by the Historical Memory Law will continue to be a coveted prize here.

Spaniards seek some relief from the dog days of summer

August 11, 2009

Spaniards seek some relief from the dog days of summer

Many head for beaches as temperatures soar; even politicians escape the grind

In Spain, August traditionally means vacation season and this year, despite the economic crisis, is not much different. Hundreds of thousands of Spaniards have packed up and headed for somewhere cool, relaxed, empty, crowded, or covered in sand, depending on their preference.
The beach remains a clear favorite for holidaymakers. Bathing and topping up he tan are obviously among the priorities for those who flock to the coast, but there are other attractions too. Sanlúcar de Barrameda in Cádiz, on the Andalusian coast, holds a thrilling horse race along its beachfront every year, with hooves splashing through the salty mudflats as locals and tourists look on. Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero has been spending part of his summer vacation in Sanlúcar and will also be in Lanzarote, in the Canary Islands. During the depths of summer most political activity comes to a grinding halt — opposition leader Mariano Rajoy of the Popular Party, meanwhile, is spending the summer in his native Galicia, as well as the Canary Islands.
Not so long ago, the holiday season was confined to August alone, with most Spaniards downing tools on the last weekend of July, and returning to work at the end of August. In recent years, however, July has become increasingly popular for holidaymakers, meaning cities such as Madrid are near deserted for two months each year
Summer in Spain would not be the same, however, without some infernal heat and this year has not disappointed. The mercury has been well over 30º Celsius in many parts of the country in recent weeks, pushing over 40º in parts of inland Andalusia. When it gets very hot in the dog days of August, remember to avoid the sun, stay indoors and drink plenty of water— or just head for the beach

Espresso Book Machine

April 29, 2009

Revolutionary Espresso Book Machine launches in London

Launching in London today, the  Espresso Book Machine can print any of 500,000 titles while you wait

The Espresso Book Machine

Quick reads … The Espresso Book Machine. Photograph: David Parry/PA

It’s not elegant and it’s not sexy – it looks like a large photocopier – but the Espresso Book Machine is being billed as the biggest change for the literary world since Gutenberg invented the printing press more than 500 years ago and made the mass production of books possible. Launching today at Blackwell’s Charing Cross Road branch in London, the machine prints and binds books on demand in five minutes, while customers wait.

Signalling the end, says Blackwell, to the frustration of being told by a bookseller that a title is out of print, or not in stock, the Espresso offers access to almost half a million books, from a facsimile of Lewis Carroll’s original manuscript for Alice in Wonderland to Mrs Beeton’s Book of Needlework. Blackwell hopes to increase this to over a million titles by the end of the summer – the equivalent of 23.6 miles of shelf space, or over 50 bookshops rolled into one. The majority of these books are currently out-of-copyright works, but Blackwell is working with publishers throughout the UK to increase access to in-copyright writings, and says the response has been overwhelmingly positive.

“This could change bookselling fundamentally,” said Blackwell chief executive Andrew Hutchings. “It’s giving the chance for smaller locations, independent booksellers, to have the opportunity to truly compete with big stock-holding shops and Amazon … I like to think of it as the revitalisation of the local bookshop industry. If you could walk into a local bookshop and have access to one million titles, that’s pretty compelling.”

From academics keen to purchase reproductions of rare manuscripts to wannabe novelists after a copy of their self-published novels, Blackwell believes the Espresso – a Time magazine “invention of the year” – can cater to a wide range of needs, and will be monitoring customer usage closely over the next few months as it looks to pin down pricing (likely to be around the level of traditional books) and demand. It then hopes to roll it out across its 60-store network, with its flagship Oxford branch likely to be an early recipient as well as a host of smaller, campus-based shops.

The brainchild of American publisher Jason Epstein, the Espresso was a star attraction at the London Book Fair this week, where it was on display to interested publishers. Hordes were present to watch it click and whirr into action, printing over 100 pages a minute, clamping them into place, then binding, guillotining and spitting out the (warm as toast) finished article. The quality of the paperback was beyond dispute: the text clear, unsmudged and justified, the paper thick, the jacket smart, if initially a little tacky to the touch.

Described as an “ATM for books” by its US proprietor On Demand Books, Espresso machines have already been established in the US, Canada and Australia, and in the Bibliotheca Alexandrina in Egypt, but the Charing Cross Road machine is the first to be set up in a UK bookstore. It cost Blackwell some $175,000, but the bookseller believes it will make this back in a year. “I do think this is going to change the book business,” said Phill Jamieson, Blackwell head of marketing. “It has the potential to be the biggest change since Gutenberg and we certainly hope it will be. And it’s not just for us – it gives the ability to small independent bookshops to compete with anybody.”