The announcement of the tax changes comes as Spain is gearing up for local elections in May 2023 and a general election expected at the end of next year.
Spain is battling a surge in inflation as a result of the fallout from the war in Ukraine and the reopening of the economy after pandemic-related lockdowns.
The country’s inflation rate eased to 9.0 percent in September as energy prices fell, down from 10.5 percent in August, but remains high.
Sanchez has in recent months rolled out aid packages to help households and businesses weather the inflationary pressure, which has soared across Europe due to the Ukraine war.
It has introduced free public transport, subsidised petrol prices and temporarily slashed the sales tax on gas among other measures, in moves that are expected to cost some 30 billion euros — or 2.3 percent of Spain’s gross domestic product.
Spain’s prime minister said “more than 500 people died” during a 10-day heatwave as Europe counts the cost of a record period of extreme temperatures.
Climate change protesters warned the scorching weather should be a wake-up call for the continent.
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said the “climate emergency is a reality”.
Speaking against a backdrop of charred trees and burnt ground in the hard-hit northeastern Zaragoza region, he urged people to take “extreme caution”.
Sanchez cited figures released by the Carlos III Health Institute, which estimates the number of heat-related fatalities based on the number of excess deaths compared to the average in previous years.
The institute has stressed these figures are a statistical estimate and not a record of official deaths.
Meanwhile Greek firefighters gained the upper hand in a battle against a wildfire raging for a second day in mountainside suburbs north of Athens that had forced hundreds of people to flee, an official said.
“For the most part the fire is in decline,” fire department spokesman Yiannis Artopios told reporters.
Greece had been spared the blistering heatwave experienced in western Europe, but flames fanned by high winds were threatening the suburbs of Penteli, Pallini, Anthousa and Gerakas, home to tens of thousands of people.
“The fire was scorching our backs, we left in the nick of time. Had we stayed another 30 seconds it would have burned us,” a Pallini resident who lost his car and shed to the flames told ERT television.
“The civil protection authority was late in alerting us,” he said.
In France, firefighters brought twin blazes near the southwestern city of Bordeaux under control.
Temperatures of more than 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) over previous days have spelled misery for millions and shattered heat records.
Cooler air swept in Wednesday, bringing relief to people from Portugal to Britain, but thousands of firefighters continued to tackle blazes that have broken out in multiple countries after months of drought-like conditions.
“Our assessment is generally positive. The situation improved overnight,” French fire service spokesman Arnaud Mendousse told AFP from the southwestern Gironde region where two huge blazes have engulfed 20,600 hectares (50,900 acres) of tinder-dry forest since last week.
– Heat records –
The heatwave saw a new all-time record for Britain where the national weather service clocked 40.3C in eastern England, surpassing the previous high set in 2019.
Grassland fires erupted on Tuesday on the edge of London, with one forcing the evacuation of 14 people as farm buildings, houses and garages were consumed by the flames.
Sixteen firefighters were injured around the capital with two taken to hospital, the London Fire Brigade said.
“Yesterday was the busiest day for the fire service in London since the Second World War,” the city’s mayor Sadiq Khan told Sky News on Wednesday, urging the public to remain vigilant despite temperatures now falling.
Khan also accused Conservative leadership candidates vying to succeed Prime Minister Boris Johnson of ignoring “the elephant in the room” of climate change.
Climate demonstrators triggered a lengthy tailback on Britain’s busiest motorway encircling London on Wednesday as they sought to highlight the need for greater action to reduce greenhouse gases responsible for global heating.
Members of the group Just Stop Oil climbed gantries over the M25 motorway, causing police to intervene.
“This is the moment when climate inaction is truly revealed in all its murderous glory for everyone to see: as an elite-driven death project that will extinguish all life if we let it,” the activist group said in a statement.
Spain and Portugal were sweltering in their second heatwave in a month on Monday, with scorching temperatures also expected in France and Britain in the coming days.
People in Spain baked with the temperature in the central town of Candeleda hitting a stifling 43.3 degrees Celsius (110 degrees Fahrenheit) shortly after 6 pm (1600 GMT), according to Spain’s meteorological agency AEMET.
The mercury meanwhile hit 42.4C in the southern city of Seville.
The southwestern cities of Badajoz and Merida also saw temperatures of 42C.
AEMET forecast 46C in Badajoz on Thursday and Friday with Seville predicted to swelter in 45C on Wednesday and Thursday.
He needed five sets and more than four hours to see off Felix Auger-Aliassime in the last 16 and another four hours to get past Novak Djokovic in the quarter-finals.
Alexander Zverev then pushed him all the way for three hours in the semi-finals until a sickening ankle injury forced the German world number three to quit on crutches.
Despite the German’s bold all-or-nothing challenge, Nadal still cut an impressive presence on court, at one point coming out on top in a lung-busting 44-shot rally.
“As each round goes by, he is transformed into a new player,” said coach Carlos Moya.
Nadal’s record at the French Open now stands at 111 wins and just three losses. Djokovic was responsible for two of those defeats.
– ‘The greatest’ –
Victory on Sunday will make him the tournament’s oldest champion, eclipsing compatriot Andres Gimeno who was 34 when he took the title 50 years ago.
World number eight Ruud, 23, is the tour’s in-form clay court player.
Not only have seven of his eight career titles come on clay, but he has won 66 matches on the surface since 2020 and played in nine finals.
Ruud is the first Norwegian to reach a Grand Slam final.
Robin Soderling, a fellow Scandinavian, is the only other man apart from Djokovic to have defeated Nadal in Paris back in 2009.
Ruud has been training at Nadal’s academy in Manacor since 2018 alongside his father Christian, a former top 40 player, and Spaniard Pedro Clar.
“I think we found a good balance. From a young age, 13 or 14, he respected that I was a player. He knew what I was talking about,” Christian told AFP on Sunday.
Nadal and Ruud have never met professionally but they are often hitting partners in Spain where the Norwegian admits “he has beaten me pretty much all the times in practice”.
“Casper has a very good character to play tennis. He’s very relaxed, humble. He’s always in a positive mood about learning,” said Nadal.
“I think in the academy we were able to help him a little bit during this period of time.”
Ruud was just six years old when Nadal was first crowned French Open champion and describes the Spaniard as his “idol”.
“I could probably tell you all the finals and who he has played and who he has beaten, because I watched them all on TV,” said the Norwegian.
“He’s the greatest clay court player of all time and one of the greatest all-around players.”
Victory for Nadal will give him the Australian Open-French Open double in the same year for the first time.
That would also put him halfway to a calendar Grand Slam, achieved only three times in history, the last of which was by Rod Laver in 1969.
“I fought, I have done all the things possible to give myself another chance to play in the final of Roland Garros,” said Nadal.
“All the sacrifices and all the things that I need to go through to try to keep playing, really makes sense when you enjoy moments like I’m enjoying in this tournament.”
Meanwhile, Coco Gauff suffered a second heartbreaking French Open final defeat when she and American partner Jessica Pegula were beaten by Caroline Garcia and Kristina Mladenovic in the women’s doubles final.
The French pair won 2-6, 6-3, 6-2 to add the 2022 title to their 2016 Roland Garros triumph.
On Saturday, 18-year-old Gauff had lost the singles final at Roland Garros in straight sets to Iga Swiatek of Poland.
“Hopefully, we can win one in the future,” Gauff told the crowd and praised the atmosphere.
“The band was pretty cool, I thought I was at an American Football game.”
“Some of you are engaged in other businesses that have enhanced your socio-economic status, both here and at home. More importantly, through your commitment to your various callings, you have enhanced the name and image of our country, thereby, earning Nigeria respect in Spain,” Buhari was quoted as saying in a statement issued by his media aide, Femi Adesina.
“Many of you are here for different reasons, some for a fulfilling career in sports, especially in football from where you earn respectable incomes to sustain yourselves as well as maintain your extended families in Nigeria including investments back home.
“I have also been informed of how law-abiding you are here in Spain. I wish to encourage you to continue to be role models for our youth back home as well as sustain the image of being excellent Ambassadors of Nigeria in Spain and live peacefully in the various communities in which you reside here.”
The Diaspora team, which met with the President included John Bosco, President of the association, his deputy, Richard Omoregbe; Super Eagles player who plies his trade with Leganes FC, Madrid, Kenneth Omeruo; Obinna Okafor, a football agent, Mohammed Bashir; a student of Aviation, Segun Adedoyin, studying Global Affairs, and Bright Omorodion, a businessman.
President Buhari told the Nigerians, whom he described as ambassadors of the country in Spain that “some of you are engaged in other businesses that have enhanced your socio-economic status, both here and at home. More importantly, through your commitment to your various callings, you have enhanced the name and image of our country, thereby, earning Nigeria’s respect in Spain”.
Senior government officials with the President at the event, apart from NIDCOM Chairman, Abike Dabiri-Erewa, were Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, Youth and Sports, Sunday Dare, Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, Nigeria’s Ambassador to Spain, Ademola Seriki, and Special Assistant to the President on Sports, Daniel Amokachie.
Omeruo presented President Buhari with a football and jersey in appreciation of the Nigerian leader’s support for sports, especially the Super Eagles.
President Muhammadu Buhari has arrived in Spain on a state visit at the invitation of the country’s President, Pedro Sanchez, the first by the Nigerian leader.
Pictures released by the Presidency suggested that the President and his entourage arrived in Madrid, the Spanish capital city on Tuesday evening.
His Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, had hinted in a statement that President Buhari would hold separates with President Sanchez and the Head of State of the Spanish nation, King Felipe VI, during the visit.
During his engagements with both leaders, he is expected to discuss issues of mutual interest to Nigeria and Spain which would result in the signing of Agreements and Memoranda of Understanding on a wide range of topics geared towards further enhancing the bilateral relations between the two nations.
Such areas, Adesina stated, include extradition and transfer of convicted persons, mutual legal assistance, cultural matters, cooperation towards fighting crime and enhancing security, as well as issues affecting dependants of diplomatic staff.
Also on the agenda are cooperation on energy, trade and investment, transportation, public health, and sports development.
According to his spokesman, President Buhari will also be the Special Guest at an Investment Forum jointly organised by the Spanish Chamber of Commerce, the Ministry of Trade, and the Confederation of Employers (CEOE) where he will speak to the gathering of top members of the Spanish business community and their Nigerian counterparts on the investment opportunities in Nigeria and ways of expanding the volume of trade, as well as further collaborating for the development of the economies of both countries.
Ministers who accompanied him on the trip include Geoffrey Onyeama (Foreign Affairs), Abubakar Malami (Justice), Adeniyi Adebayo (Industry, Trade, and Investment), Lai Mohammed (Information and Culture), Rauf Aregbesola (Interior), Sunday Dare (Youth and Sports Development), and Olorunnimbe Mamora (Health – State).
Other members of the delegation are the National Security Adviser, Babagana Monguno; Director-General of National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Ahmed Abubakar, and Chairman of Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NiDCOM), Abike Dabiri-Erewa.
The President is expected back in the country on Friday.
President Muhammadu Buhari will on Tuesday depart Abuja for Madrid, Spain at the invitation of the Spanish President, Pedro Sanchez.
The President’s trip which will be his first to the country in his tenure will meet with the Head of State of the Spanish nation, His Majesty King Felipe VI.
President Buhari is expected to discuss issues of mutual interest to both countries, which will expectedly result in the signing of Agreements and Memoranda of Understanding on a wide range of topics geared toward further enhancing the bilateral relations between the two nations.
Such areas include Extradition and transfer of convicted persons, Mutual Legal Assistance, Cultural Matters, Cooperation towards fighting crime and enhancing security, as well as issues affecting dependants of diplomatic staff.
Also on the agenda are Cooperation on Energy, Trade and Investment, Transportation, Public Health and Sports Development.
The President will also be the Special Guest at an Investment Forum jointly organized by the Spanish Chamber of Commerce, the Ministry of Trade, and the Confederation of Employers (CEOE), where he will speak to the gathering of top members of the Spanish business community and their Nigerian counterparts on the investment opportunities in Nigeria and ways of expanding the volume of trade as well as further collaborating for the development of the economies of both countries.
President Buhari will be accompanied by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama; Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN); Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Otunba Adeniyi Adebayo; Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed; Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola; Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Sunday Dare; and the Minister of State for Health, Olorunnimbe Mamora.
Other members of the delegation are the National Security Adviser, Maj-Gen Babagana Monguno (Rtd); Director-General, National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Ambassador Ahmed Rufa’i Abubakar; and Chairman, Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NiDCOM), Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa.
The President is expected back in the country on Friday, June 3.
Madrid and Rabat have agreed to re-open the land borders between Morocco and two Spanish enclaves on Tuesday, Spain’s interior minister said Thursday.
The move helps draw a line under a major diplomatic standoff on the back of coronavirus restrictions that together closed the crossings for two years.
Interior Minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska said the two countries had agreed to open the land borders with Ceuta and Melilla gradually from May 17.
Crossings will be initially limited to residents of Europe’s passport-free Schengen area and their family members, and will then be expanded to cross-border workers after May 31, he told reporters in Madrid.
Ceuta and Melilla have the European Union’s only land borders with Africa.
The local economies on both sides of the borders depend on the crossing of people and goods.
The borders became the focus of a major dispute last year when Madrid allowed the leader of a Western Saharan independence movement to be treated for Covid-19 in a Spanish hospital.
Ten thousand migrants surged across the Moroccan border into Ceuta as local border forces looked the other way, in what was widely seen as a punitive gesture by Rabat.
In March, Spain moved to end the diplomatic crisis with Morocco by removing its decades-long stance of neutrality and backing the kingdom’s autonomy plan for the Western Sahara, which Rabat insists must remain under its sovereignty.
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez visited King Mohammed VI in early April.
Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Albares had announced on Wednesday that the borders would reopen “in the coming days” without specifying a date.
Joseph Varon — who is chief of intensive care at United Memorial, a small hospital that mainly treats minority patients in Houston — made headlines when a photo of him hugging an elderly Covid patient during Thanksgiving in 2020 went viral.
While that man went on to recover, it was those that did not make it that haunt Varon.
“As a doctor, just in the last two years I have signed more death certificates than ever,” he said.
As the United States marks the grim milestone of one million Covid deaths, health care workers who have served on the frontlines continue to shoulder a heavy burden, even as the rest of society has moved on.
Many are exhausted, traumatized, and still afraid of crowded settings.
Varon remembers well his first death, that of an immigrant working in a hotel.
“He came into the hospital, and literally within a week he died, at 34 years of age without any pre-existing medical conditions,” he said.
From then, until the last big wave at the start of this year, there was little respite.
Varon recalls nurses crying as they faced never-ending ICU admissions, beds in hallways, one intubation after another.
He also remembers his wife asking him to change his clothes in the garage before entering their home, after 20-hour shifts.
The Thanksgiving photograph, said Varon, “became a symbol that we doctors also have feelings.”
At that moment, he didn’t care about protecting himself, but wanted to give comfort to a man who didn’t know if he’d make it and couldn’t see his wife, since visits were not permitted.
The demands of work also extracted a personal toll. Varon feels far older than his 59 years, hasn’t gone on vacation since the start of the pandemic, and was phoning in prescriptions on the day of his daughter’s wedding.
He now sees “light at the end of the tunnel” and isn’t seeing many Covid patients — though he is seeing patients with post-Covid disorders including heart and lung issues.
– Stressed by crowds –
Early on, the disease was a total mystery: how it was transmitted, who was most susceptible, how to treat it.
Health workers feared bringing it home to their loved ones, or dying themselves.
That fear was heightened for Daniel Brenner, an emergency physician interviewed by AFP at the start of the pandemic, when doctors were scrambling to find the right strategies to deal with severe lung injury caused by serious cases of Covid.
Brenner’s wife is also an emergency doctor — and until the vaccine came along, they lived in dread of leaving behind their two young children, now aged five and three.
“The thought of dying because of what you do and leaving your children as orphans is terrifying,” the 38-year-old said.
Now working in Indianapolis, Brenner says he’s found it hard to re-adjust to crowds, despite far lower levels of Covid in the community, and hardly does things he used to take for granted, like eating inside restaurants.
“It’s unfortunate because I’m trying to make sure that I don’t inflict my trauma on my kids,” he said, becoming emotional.
“I want to make sure that they have enriching fulfilling things in their lives, but it’s really hard when I’m trying to figure out what’s safe.”
The vaccine was a major turning point, says Brenner, greatly reducing the risk of severe disease and lifting a weight off his shoulders.
But there are still vaccine holdouts getting sick.
“I have a mixture of sadness and frustration because it’s preventable and I see people who are spreading misinformation, and doing themselves and their neighbors and their family a disservice,” he said.
On a more hopeful note, Brenner makes a point of talking to all high-risk patients he sees about Covid vaccinations, and finds that the hesitant are generally amenable once he addresses their fears.
“The vast majority of my patients, after I have that conversation, ask me where to get vaccinated,” he says.
Brenner directs them to a walkup clinic within the same hospital.
Spanish side Huesca have threatened legal action against Super Eagles midfielder Kelechi Nwakali over his claims that the club terminated his contract for representing Nigeria at the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) earlier in the year.
The club terminated his contract on Tuesday, claiming the player reported 10 days late after the competition and gave “incredible stories” for his lateness.
Although Nwakali broke silence over the matter on Wednesday, accusing Huesca of intimidation, the Segunda side have dismissed the claims, describing them as lacking “veracity”.
“On the statements made by Kelechi Nwakali earlier today after [a] premature termination of the contract that bound him and SD Huesca, the club wishes to express its total repudiation given their complete lack of veracity,” Huesca said in a statement issued on their website, hours after Nwakali’s outburst.
“All of this is done in the conviction that the club has acted at all times with the utmost respect for the player.
“Nevertheless, in view of the seriousness of certain statements referred to in his notice, this club reserves for itself the right to take the appropriate legal action to defend its rights to protect their legitimate interests.”
Before Huesca’s comment, the Spanish Soccer Players Association (AFE) had vowed to challenge the contract termination, arguing that the move violated labour rights.
“In the face of the numerous information that is appearing, some erroneous, AFE wants to clarify that the dismissal will be challenged – as it cannot be otherwise – before the courts of the city of Huesca with the aim of continuing to safeguard the labor rights of the footballer,” the association said in a statement.
“AFE understands that, with this unilateral resolution adopted by the club, the labor rights of Kelechi Nwakali have clearly been violated.”
Despite the debacle, Nwakali insists he does not regret representing Nigeria at Africa’s premier football competition.
Playing for the three-time AFCON champions is an honour, the former youth international said in a lengthy post in which he accused Huesca of delaying his wages.
“I will never regret my decision to represent Nigeria and all I want to do is get back to playing the sport I love,” he maintained.
“Lastly, I want to thank the fans and my teammates of Huesca who have been amazing during my time here. I have always given 100% for the club, despite my treatment over the past three years.”
Football authorities in Nigeria have not commented on the issue. FIFA and CAF have also not issued any statement on the matter as of the time of publishing this report.
Xavi Hernandez said Barcelona’s 4-0 thrashing of Real Madrid could be transformative for the club after their Clasico demolition at the Santiago Bernabeu on Sunday.
Barcelona blew Madrid away as Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored twice either side of goals from Ronald Araujo and Ferran Torres.
The match was billed as a test of Barca’s progress under Xavi and they passed with flying colours, a humiliation of their fiercest rivals suggesting they are primed to challenge again for La Liga next season.
“It can change the dynamics of the present and the future,” said Xavi. “We had lots of chances and we were much better than Madrid, far superior. We deserved to score so many goals.”
Asked if Barcelona are back, Xavi said: “It can be. This is the right path.”
And while the result might have little bearing on the title race this term, a defeat of this magnitude, at home, and against Barcelona, will cause serious reverberations at Real Madrid.
It will go down with other historic Clasico thrashings, like when Barca won 6-2 at Real Madrid in 2009 under Pep Guardiola or 5-0 at home two years later.
Questions will be asked about Carlo Ancelotti’s future, with Madrid outplayed tactically and technically by Xavi’s Barca, who were faster, slicker and, perhaps most worryingly, could easily have won by more.
“We played badly and I planned the game badly,” said Ancelotti. “I am sorry for the defeat and I am sad. But we have to keep it in perspective.”
Madrid were admittedly without the injured Karim Benzema and Ferland Mendy while there could have been a degree of complacency, given they kicked off nine points clear at the top of the table after Sevilla were held to a goalless draw by Real Sociedad.
But none of that will excuse a loss as dramatic as this one, the only relief now that a resurgent Barcelona are still 12 points behind, albeit with a game in hand.
Aubameyang’s double means he now has nine goals in 11 games for Barcelona and the Gabon striker is looking like a superb January signing.
Pedri was outstanding again too — but this was a night for the bigger picture, as Barcelona’s revival made its biggest statement so far.
When Barca were beaten by Real Madrid in the Spanish Super Cup in January, the Catalans were criticised for celebrating the manner of their narrow defeat.
“We are getting closer,” said Gerard Pique.
After five consecutive losses to Madrid, a win of any kind was the next step for Barca but a hammering like this could be transformative, delivering a huge boost to confidence, vindication of Xavi’s project, and optimism for next season all in one fell swoop.
‘We Are Back’
Shortly after the final whistle here, Pique tweeted: “We are back.”
Eder Militao clattered Pedri in the opening minute and that was about as close as Real Madrid got to him all game.
Soon, the chances started coming for Barca as Ferran Torres pulled back for Aubameyang but he scuffed straight at Thibaut Courtois, who then had to palm wide a curling effort from Ousmane Dembele.
Barca’s dominance was growing and in the 29th minute, they scored, Dembele racing round the outside of Nacho Fernandez and crossing for Aubameyang to head in.
Vinicius Junior might have changed the game if he had converted after being sent through but a heavy touch allowed Marc-Andre ter Stegen to save.
Instead, Barcelona doubled their lead when Ronald Araujo headed in from a corner before half-time and after it, the humiliation began.
David Alaba and Militao both committed themselves to sliding tackles and both missed, Aubameyang executing a superb flicked pass to Torres, who made no mistake.
Worse was to come, as Pique’s ball over the top allowed Aubameyang to scoop in a brilliant finish for a fourth in the 51st minute. Madrid thought they were spared by the offside flag but VAR intervened and the goal stood.
Aubameyang, Torres, and Dembele could all have furthered the embarrassment for Madrid, the latter poking wide after skipping in behind and holding off Militao.
By then, Aubameyang had gone off, the victory already complete and the stadium quickly emptying.