Friday, December 29, 2023



The Portugal Medical Association has advised the use of facemasks to minimise the impact of respiratory infections such as influenza.

Doctors here and elsewhere say wearing a mask might help, but the best of all protections is a flu vaccine.

Those who suspect they are susceptible or already have a severe cold or flu should wear a mask to stop passing it on to others, doctors advise. This means wearing a mask while among your own household as well as when out and about in public places.

About 96% of patients admitted to Portuguese hospital emergency units recently are being treated for influenza, according to a spokesperson for the National Institute of Health. Don’t be surprised if healthcare workers are wearing a facemask as the bug is the last thing they want to contract while looking after patients.

Influenza can kill. But don’t panic. An annual flu jab for everyone but babies younger than six months is highly advisable.

Frequent hand washing is very important. Wash with soap and water each time for at least 20 seconds.  Otherwise, use an alcohol-based sanitizer. Those close to you should do the same.  Hand washing is especially important after coughing or sneezing.

Often touched surfaces in the kitchen, for example, can hang on to, and pass on, the virus. So make sure they are frequently cleaned.  

The flu virus travels willy-nilly through the air and if you catch it, it usually lasts for five to seven days, but maybe 14 days.


Good luck – and Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 23, 2023

A very unhappy Christmas for many


Christmas, a time of happiness and peace for many of us, but people in the ‘holy land’ where Christmas started, are in a vicious war with no end in sight.

The greatest peacemaker of our time, UN Secretary-General and former Portuguese Prime minister, Antonio Guterres, has been doing everything he possibly can to bring about a cessation of hostilities, but the government of Israel and the Palestinian Hamas militants have both declared they are going to fight on to the bitter end and eradicate their opponents.

The Palestinian authorities say more than 20,000 people, half of them children or women, have been killed by the relentless Israeli bombardment since the Hamas massacre and seizure of hostages on October 7.

The latest United Nations Security Council resolution on the conflict was only agreed upon after a week of delays and indecisions. It contained no mention of the word “ceasefire” and has thus been widely described as “woefully insufficient” and “nearly meaningless.”

The delicately worded resolution does, however, suggest that “all parties immediately facilitate and enable safe and unhindered deliveries of humanitarian assistance to scale” to Palestinians in Gaza.

No Security Council members voted against the motion, but the United States and Russia abstained.

Mr Guterres was clearly disappointed by the wrangled outcome on Friday. He said: “ I hope that today’s Security Council Resolution will help the delivery if much-needed aid, but a humanitarian ceasefire is the only way to meet the desperate needs of people in Gaza and end their ongoing nightmare.”

Mr Guterres has long said the only sustainable way to end the century-old hatred and dispute between Israelis and Palestinians is a two-state solution. The current right-wing Israeli government rejects this outright.

Tuesday, December 12, 2023

António Guterres faces controversial opposition


 United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres has been doing his level best to push forward dramatic change on two critical fronts, but he has been facing highly controversial opposition.

After personally appealing for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in the Israeli-Gaza war, Guterres agreed to a request to have the matter put to a vote in the UN Security Council. Thirteen members of the council last week voted in favour of the draft resolution demanding an immediate ceasefire. The United Kingdom abstained. The United States used its veto. The US was the only member to block the draft.

Guterres said he would continue to do everything possible to bring about an immediate ceasefire.

Yesterday in the UN General Assembly an emergency motion calling for an immediate ceasefire was passed by an overwhelming majority. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is dismissive of the UN as a whole, but President Joe Biden warned Israel it was losing support in the US, Europe and elsewhere for its war in Gaza.  

Two days before the original vote, Guterres warned the 15-member council that a continuation of the war could have global consequences. 

The United States’ deputy UN ambassador said that while the US hoped for a durable two-state solution in which Israel and Palestine could live in peace and security, but described the draft resolution as a rushed text “divorced from reality.”

The US has isolated itself by refusing to condemn the devastating actions of Israel, an ally it is strongly supporting with weapons and funding.

The United Kingdom’s UN ambassador said her country had abstained in the UN Security Council vote because the draft resolution contained no mention of Hamas’ involvement in the war.

António Guterres, 74, who was Portugal’s prime minister from 1995 to 2002, has served as the UN secretary-general since 2017 and is in his second term. As he was elected by the UN General Assembly in 2005 to become the high commissioner for refugees, a position he held for a decade until December 2015, he has a special insight into what he repeatedly calls the “humanitarian catastrophe” now being faced by Palestinians in Gaza.

He warns that with the war in Gaza “we are at a breaking point. The situation is simply becoming untenable.”

He has emphasised that “the people of Gaza are looking into the abyss. The international community must do everything possible to end their ordeal.”

That is not going to happen until Israel stops killing thousands of Palestinians with its relentless bombing campaign, and through starvation and spreading diseases because of its blockade on sufficient essential supplies getting into Gaza.



Guterres and most political leaders and scientists around the world were deeply concerned that the draft agreement near the end of the United Nations COP28 Climate Summit did not include any mention of phasing out fossil fuels.

On day one of the two-week conference in Dubai, capital of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Guterres pleaded with leaders from the more than 160 countries taking part to reach an agreement to take immediate action to stop temperatures rising above the critical 1.5C limit. Instead of unanimity, there was a fundamental division of opinion between the fossil fuel producing countries and most of the others, including Portugal.


This was partially put to rest by a last minute deal in the early hours of this morning in which there was an overall agreement to make "a transition" from fossil fuels, but with no specific timeline.

Global warming is caused by the billion of tonnes of man-made CO2 greenhouse gases being emitted into the atmosphere, most of it from the use of coal, oil and natural gas. The countries causing the highest levels of CO2 emissions – China, the United States, India – have not been keeping their promises to hugely reduce use of fossil fuels that are causing the emissions. Worse, the countries producing the most fossil fuels, especially Saudi Arabia, do not really want to phase out fossil fuel production and export.

The president of COP28, who is the chief executive of the UAE’s huge oil industry, said there is “no science” behind claims that a phase-out of fossil fuels would restrict global heating to 1.5C. 

António Guterres, along with most climate scientists in the world, as well as most participants in the summit, were shocked by this opinion, but it had the full backing of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

As Guterres has made abundantly clear, today’s deal is far from perfect, but it could be an historic turning point in the future of human existence.




Sunday, December 10, 2023


Insights into Adventure, Mystery and Intriguing Personalities throughout the History of the Algarve.


An undated eBook and soft cover edition by Len Port has just been published by Amazon Kindle.

Monday, December 4, 2023