Parliament proposes measures against heavy schoolbags.

While the Government is struggling with the aftermath of the most brutal wildfires in history – killing more than 100 people – political parties in Parliament made recommendations last week to reduce the weight of school bags, after a petition on that matter – initiated by actor JoséWallenstein – had yielded more than 50.000 public signatures in February.

According to the Consumer Defence Association (DECO), two-thirds of the Portuguese schoolchildren carry backpacks, that are too heavy.

But does that matter?

Apparently, as studies from several countries indicate that children carrying backpacks exceeding 10% of their bodyweight – the upper limit according to the World Health Organization – are more likely to get neck, shoulder and back pain. There is, however, no evidence that carrying heavy bags cause any lasting deformity such as scoliosis, which is a persistent curvature of the spine.

The propositions on schoolbags had been prepared for some months by a special parliamentary working group – coordinated by Amadeu Albergaria of the Social Democratic Party (PSD).

The final resolution – supported by all parties – recommends more lockers in schools, expansion of digital learning tools in class, thinner manuals and books with lightweight paper, permanent instead of variable classrooms and better collaboration between teachers regarding the frequency and amount of homework.

The parliamentarians moreover, propose a national awareness campaign to better monitor the weight of schoolbags by teachers, parents and students and the Directorate-General for Health will be asked to perform a study on the effect of the weight of the schoolbags on children’s health.

Backpacks are best for backs because they have two shoulder straps – a bag carried on one shoulder is more likely to cause pain. The bags should be packed evenly and carry only what is needed for that day. Children should be encouraged to use school lockers for items they don’t need all day.

BOM FIM DE SEMANA                                                                                                 (photo’s Observador/Sapo)

‘No one does wrong willingly or knowingly’ – Socrates, Greek philosopher

On November 21st at 10 PM, 2014  José Sócrates – ex-prime minister and former leader of the Socialist Party – was arrested at Lisbon’s airport, after flying home from Paris, under suspicion of money laundering, corruption, forgery and fiscal fraud.
He was held in preventive custody for 11 months but had to be released due to lack of evidence.

Almost 3 years later the Public Prosecutor’s Office officially closed down the final investigation – called Operation Marqués, named after the former residence of the prime minister at the Marqués de Pombal square in Lisbon – and published the results last week in a more than 4000 page’s thick report.

Except for Sócrates – prime minister between 2005 and 2011 – 9 companies and 19 individuals – amongst them important bankers, directors and public administrators – were together charged with 188 crimes.

According to the accusation, Sócrates received between 2006 and 2009 more than 24 million euros in bribes from the private enterprise Lena, the luxury tourist company Vale do Lobos and the biggest bank at that time, Banco Espírito Santo. The money is supposed to be hidden in bank accounts in Switzerland.

Carlos Santos Silva, businessman and personal friend of Sócrates, is said to be the key person in the process, acting as the mediator between the former prime minister and the involved companies.

It’s for the first time in the history of Portugal, that a former prime minister is accused of corruption during the execution of his function as head of state. But that’s not all. Operation Marqués also incriminates ex-CEO’s from big government agencies like Portugal Telecom and the state-owned bank Caixa Geral dos Depositos.

Socrates’ lawyers declared the accusations “totally unfounded and complete nonsense.” The defense is – by law – given 50 days to react to the accusations but already has requested an extension of one year, to be able to analyze the document in detail.

The ex-prime minister himself calls the report “a fantasy, a fable without any facts or evidence” and elucidates “that the purpose of the state has never been to investigate a crime, but to harass a target.”

This week his third book ‘The evil we deplore’ was published.’

Socrates ( 469-399 BC) was a Greek philosopher and considered the father of western philosophy. He showed how argument, debate, and discussion could help men to understand difficult issues.  In 399 BC he was put on trial for ‘refusing to recognize the gods of the state’, found guilty and forced to commit suicide by taking poison.

BOM FIM DE SEMANA                                                                                                                  (photo Público)

Large parts of the countries interior look spooky these days with charred trees and incinerated road signs.
40% off all wildfires in Europe this year occurred in Portugal, far more than in any other country.

Last summer schoolchildren from the Leiria region in central Portugal watched their district burn as a result of the most destructive and deadliest forest fires in the country’s history. The fires – which have been linked by some experts to climate change – have claimed the lives of at least 65 people and left hundreds injured.

“Climate change causes many problems, but if I had to name the one that worries me most, it would be the increase in the number of wildfires – especially this summer as the fires caused many deaths in our country”, says a boy of the group of children – aged between 6 and 14 – from Leiria, seeking crowdfunding to sue 47 European countries for their failure to tackle climate change, threatening their right to life.

These countries are collectively responsible for about 15% of global greenhouse emissions. They also hold a significant proportion of the world’s known fossil fuel reserves. The case is also being taken to court to raise public awareness about the shortcomings in government policies on climate change.

With the support of the NGO Global Legal Action Network (GLAN), the group of children taking action is seeking an initial £35,000 to take the case to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg The crowdfunding bid was published on the platform CrowdJustice ] and to date, just over half of the amount needed, has been pledged.

“Tragedies like this are becoming the new norm because governments are failing to make the necessary cuts to their greenhouse emissions”, according to a spokesman from GLAN.
“Instead of suing just Portugal, the case will be taken against all of the major emitters, which have signed up to the European Convention on Human Rights.”

“The court will be asked two things. Firstly, that these 47 countries must significantly strengthen their emissions-cutting policies and secondly, that they must commit to keeping most of their existing fossil fuel reserves in the ground”.

A victory, in this case, would be ground-breaking as the decisions of the Court are binding across Europe.

Bom fim de semana                                                                                                                       ( photo’s SAPO)

Lang, mager, sterk

Spitse neus, werkhanden, grote mond

Spijkerbroek en overhemd
Alleen jasje voor de chic

Stylist voor kinky kleding Loes

Buitenmens, binnenman

Tuinman, timmerman, alles kan

Natuur is Frans
Oude kunst Italiaans

Wijn zijn enig medicijn
zolang het maar rood is

Schildert groot en groter
exposeert zich arm

kijken zonder kopen
doet geen pijn,
als er maar principes zijn

eigen mening
nuance vrij
nooit water bij de wijn
beslist geen populist

privacy moet, bezoek mag

houdt van duif en hond
maar geen geblaf

Leesbril ook voor veraf
altijd oog voor detail

regeert ook óver zijn graf
overlijdt net voor Prinsjesdag

Rich people rule and poor people live the best they can – Jóse Saramago

While poor people are hardly recovering from the economic crisis, rich people get richer. Portugal’s 25 richest families possess this year €18.8 billion – 10% of the country’s wealth (GNP) – against 15 billion euro in 2016. ‘This almost 4 billion increase is the biggest in recent years’, according to the Portuguese magazine Exame.

Heading the list is the Amorim family with a net worth of €3.8 billion. The founding father of the imperium Américo Amorim – also known as ‘the king of cork’ [] – died last June at the age of 82. He was Portugal’s richest man and occupied in 2017 position 385 – ahead of Donald Trump – on Forbes’ list of wealthiest people in the world.

Second is Soares dos Santos – holding the largest supermarket chain in the country, Pingo Doce – with a personal fortune of €2.5 billion.

In third place the Guimarães de Mello family – owner of Brisa, Portugal’s biggest road and toll enterprise – estimated to be worth €1.5 billion.

The first woman can be found in eighth place. Maria Isabel dos Santos is Portugal’s richest woman – shareholder in the Jerónimo Martins group – and worth €665 million.

‘To think that nowadays in our country one million people – that is 10% of the population – regular have to skip meals due to financial problems is a shame’, says Carla Lopes, a nutritionist at the Public Health Institute of the University of Porto.
One-fifth of the population is facing a situation of food insecurity, meaning their access to healthy food is limited due to financial constraints.

‘If you compare this to ten years ago, we can see a marked increase, reflecting the impact of the past economic crisis’, says Helena Canhão, an investigator at the Health Science Faculty of the New University of Lisbon.‘ This is a serious public health problem as unhealthy nutrition leads to chronic diseases, like diabetes and obesity.’

Fortunately, the tide is turning. The economy is growing, export rising and unemployment dropping [Fairy tale ]
The challenge for the left wing government of António Costa in the years to come, is to realize its socialist ambitions by distributing wealth in a more equal way.

BOM FIM DE SEMANA                                                                                              [photos SAPO]