Business Politics and Current Affairs

December 31, 2010

This is Europe – Force Delivery of Spanish Woman

Filed under: SpotLight — ispoli @ 3:34 pm

Expectant mothers in Spain have until midnight on New Year’s Eve to give birth, if they are to receive a cheque of $3,300 from the government.

Spain’s  ‘baby cheques,’ a government scheme that was introduced in July 2007 to help encourage more families to have children, are being cut from January 1 as part of the national austerity drive.

Pregnant women are trying to bring their deliveries forward ahead of the cut-off date, according to El Pais, a Spanish daily newspaper.

“What we’re seeing in the public sector is that women who are due to give birth in the first fortnight of January are coming in and saying they are spotting blood or that their waters have broken,” a midwife working in a Seville hospital told El Pais.

Force Delivery of Spanish Woman

Force Delivery of Spanish Woman

“They don’t dare say so openly but we know they want to bring the due date forward.”

Doctors also told the paper they were seeing a spike in the number of women requesting that their babies be delivered by caesarean.

Prime minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero’s socialist government introduced the reform in a surprise move last year.

“In order to continue progressing Spain needs more families with more children. And families need more aid to have more babies and more resources for their upbringing,” Zapatero told parliament at the time.

After seeing a dramatic population boom in the 1960s and 1970s, the Spanish birth rate stalled in the 1980s. By 2000 it had fallen to an average of 1.07 births per woman, the lowest figure in the world.

Population growth in the past 10 years is mostly due to immigration, rather than a rising birth rate.
In 2009, the number of births fell by five per cent, the first decline in the past decade.

For some commentators, the most recent drop is a consequence of the economic crisis, and notably rising unemployment.

Demographers have long argued that a lack of family planning has made caring for children harder in Spain than in other, more generous, European countries.

The ‘baby cheque’ policy was intended to provide of the kind of family support that is common in many of Spain’s northern neighbours.

Others blame ‘conservative’ cultural values that continue to place the burden of child care overwhelmingly on women

New Year Celebrations – 2011 After Few Hours

Filed under: SpotLight — ispoli @ 3:29 pm

Countries in the south-Pacific region have become the first to celebrate New Year’s day, as the rest of world prepares for the approaching event.

The tiny island nation of Kiribati was the first to welcome in 2011 at 1000GMT on Saturday. The deeply religious community of about 6,000 had been set to mark the occasion with village church services.

New Zealand, at 1100GMT, and just two hours later Australia kicked off celebrations with an extravagant display of fireworks.

When the clock struck midnight in Auckland, New Zealand’s biggest city, fireworks were launched from atop the 328 metres high Sky Tower, the world’s 15th tallest structure. Tens of thousands gathered around Auckland Harbour to watch the spectacular display which could be seen from across the city.

New Year Celebration

New Year Celebration

In Sydney, Australia’s capital,  about 1.5 million people crammed around Sydney’s Harbour to see a spectacular fireworks show.

Sydney touted its claim to be the New Year’s Eve capital of the world with a spectacular display over the iconic Harbour Bridge using 7 tons of fireworks, its largest since 2000. Luxury yachts and smaller boats filled the harbour, while others filled pubs, clubs and balconies with a view of the show.

Weather woes

New Year’s day comes as the world experiences extreme weather conditions, including heat waves and floods in the south Pacific.

Extreme, 43 degrees Celsius heat brought the risk of wildfires near the southern Australian city of Adelaide, while celebrations in the country’s north were muted by floods that left vast swathes of land underwater and forced thousands to leave their homes.

New Zealand, which has experienced a mild heatwave over the festive period, moved into 2011 just an hour after Kiribati with celebrations themed “Hot in the City”.

In the southern New Zealand city of Christchurch, thousands celebrated despite a minor 3.3 earthquake that struck just hours before midnight. The city has rumbled with many aftershocks from a powerful 7.1 magnitude earthquake that damaged buildings across the city on Sept. 4.

Officials approved celebrations only after late checks and modifications, including removing the city cathedral’s crucifix in case it fell on revellers.

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