Friday, July 28, 2023

World Youth Day in Lisbon


The World Youth Day event is about to bring a week of joy to Lisbon - but maybe some chaos as well.

Local authorities and services have prepared as best they can, but it is impossible to be sure that everything will go according to plan.  Hundreds of thousands of young people, including many from around the world, have registered to take part in the celebrations presided over by Pope Francis.

Foreign participants are already arriving to find their accommodation in various dioceses in the capital and elsewhere nearby. 

In addition to road traffic chaos in the centre of the city, disruptions may be caused by protests and strikes involving police, transport workers, doctors, nurses, teachers and garbage collectors during the event that runs from 1st to 6th August. Farmers have expressed anger that the Catholic Church has advised all young pilgrims to abstain from eating meat for a year to offset global carbon emissions.

The first World Youth Day (WYD) was held in 1986 in Rome. The others have been held in major cities in various countries. In 1983, for example, it was held in Denver, Colorado with more than 750,000 people present. The largest WYD gathering amounted to an estimated five million in Manila in the Philippines in 1995.

Pope Benedict XVI avidly supported WYDs. His resignation in 2013 at the age of 85 was because of declining health due to old age. During his tenure as patriarch he had given much encouragement to young people. He was known as the ‘Green Pope’ because of his concern about global warming. This is still the number one concern of most young people in Portugal.

Pope Benedict’s first international engagement was also his first WYD, which was held in 2005 with 1.3 million people present in Cologne in his native Germany. At the last WYD before his resignation, Benedict advised young people across the globe to “preserve Christian joy within their hearts.” 

His resignation came amid shocking revelations of child sexual abuse within the Catholic Church in the United States and later in Europe. They impacted the already diminishing number of regular Catholic churchgoers in the western world. Most of the pews in Portugal were being left to the elderly.

An inquiry in France found that at least 330,000 children had been victims of sexual abuse by French priests, deacons and others within the church between 1950 and 2020.

Inquiries in Ireland found that thousands of infants died in brutal living conditions for unmarried mothers in the seven decades up to the 1990s. Other reports have described Catholic orphanages and schools in 20th- century Ireland as places of “neglect, fear and endemic sexual abuse.”

An independent inquiry in Portugal found that hundreds of Catholic priests had sexually abused nearly 5,000 children over several decades, and that this “was only the tip of the iceberg.”      

Child abuse has become one of the defining themes of Benedict’s legacy, and one of the chief challenges for Pope Francis. The present pope has declared that he takes “personal responsibility” for ending the abuse. He told CNN Portugal last autumn that the church had “zero tolerance” for abuse and that “a priest cannot remain a priest if he is an abuser.”

Many within the church, however, have regarded Francis’ apologies as hollow and criticised his efforts to bring all offending clerics to justice. This will probably be discussed in the background of the youthful gathering in Lisbon. Indeed, in a message eleven months ago to those preparing for the Lisbon event, Pope Francis urged young people to reflect on their priorities and what moves them. He suggested they contemplate the current humanitarian crises and avoid falling into a culture of indifference.

That said, the main focus in Lisbon will be to promote faith, hope and charity in the host country, as well as peace, unity and fraternity among people and nations around the world.

The main site for the events in Lisbon will be the 100 hectare Parque Tejo by the riverside. The Parque Eduardo VII and the Jardim Vasco da Gama will be among the other main locations for religious meetings.

Pope Francis will be in Lisbon for most of his stay, but will make a day trip to the Shrine of Fatima on August 5. Drones have been banned from the airspace over the shrine during the pope’s visit. This will be his second visit to Fatima, the first being in 2017 for the centenary of the apparitions involving three young youths. Two of them have been made saints. The third, Sister Lucia, will join them in sainthood soon – perhaps on August 5 as a climax to the Lisbon World Health Day event. 

Tuesday, July 18, 2023


Mid-Week Headline News

                              – July 19

Alzheimer’s “turning point”

A new drug to treat Alzheimer’s has been announced at a four-day conference in Amsterdam that ends tomorrow. Trials on the drug, Donanemab, have shown it to slow progression in the early stages of the disease by up to 35%. While far from a cure, the new drug is being hailed as “a turning point” in the fight against the disease. It is estimated that about 50,000 people in Portugal are currently living with Alzheimer’s and the number is rising.    

Popular among expats

Only two European countries are rated in the 2023 top ten most popular countries in the world for expats, according to the global portal InterNations. Portugal is rated at number 10 of the 53 countries surveyed. About 80% of expats feel welcome and at home in Portugal. The ease of settling here is one of its highlights. However job prospects, career development and fair pay are worse than in Spain, which was given the world’s number 2 slot. Number one went again to Mexico.  Panama was 3rd. The UK was 43rd. Kuwait was at the very bottom. 

The end of Golden Visas sparks anger

The leader of the autonomous government in the Azores has joined his counterpart if Madeira in condemning the mainland Portuguese government for ending the Golden Visa scheme that has been economically beneficial to the islands.  While speaking to the Luca News agency and the RTP Azores television channel, the Azores president criticized the "unilateral decision" of the central government. 

According to there are currently over 21,000 requests being reviewed in the initial analysis phase, which is the first stage of reviewing and evaluating the requests for investment. Out of these, 7,802 applications have been submitted by foreign investors and citizens.

Illegal immigrant clampdown

The Portuguese Criminal Investigation Police (PJ) and the SEF immigration and borders service have launched a process to put an end to an alleged illegal immigration network, the minister of internal affairs announced on Monday.  Similar processes will follow, he said.

So much for marriage!

The Portugal News quoting Pordata is reporting that 60% of marriages in Portugal end in divorce. Data from 2021 shows that there were about 60 divorces for every 100 marriages in Portugal. This is only surpassed by Luxembourg (72% divorces), Finland (62.1%), and marginally by Sweden (60.8%).

Christiano Ronaldo to move on

Portugal’s football superstar, Cristiano Ronaldo, who has been playing for a team in Saudi Arabia since January, said on Monday that he would not be returning to European football. It was “a completely closed door” for him, he said. If he moves on, it will probably be to play “soccer” for more vast income in the United States.  The 38-year-old’s current net worth is said to be about $500 million.

Portuguese newspapers

One of the biggest stories in the national papers so far this week has been about alleged embezzlement at the telecom operator Altice, thought to involve about €660 million.


Sunday, July 16, 2023



Weekend headline news


Maybe the hottest heatwave ever!

Southern Europe is bracing itself for the hottest heatwave ever recorded. Temperatures in Portugal in the next few days are expected to again reach 40C (104F) or more, but not as much as in parts of Cyprus, Greece, Italy and Spain where 48C (118.4F) is being predicted by the European Space Agency. A red alert has been issued for 10 cities, including Florence and Rome. Such heatwaves are due mainly to the burning of fossil fuels that are still not being politically banished by the major users outside of Europe.

Drug decriminalisation: two views

Regina LaBelle, who held a top position in the US Office of Drug Control under both the President Obama and Biden administrations, wrote an article published this week in The Hill , a Washington political newspaper, strongly advising Americans to take a lesson from Portugal’s success in decriminalising all forms of drug use.  This was in contrast to an article published a few days earlier in the Washington Post under the headline,  Once hailed for decriminalizing drugs, Portugal is now having doubts”. 

Two new national monuments

A government decree has declared the Islamic baths in Loule and the Alfandega Nova building in Porto as national monuments. The baths date back to the 12th century when Loule was a medieval Islamic settlement. The Alfandega building was designed by a French architect in the 19th century and is now a congress centre and museum.  

 Judicial opinion: government is “criminal”

Portugal’s Judicial Employees Union is anticipating the complete closure of the courts and public prosecutors’ offices due to strike action that started on Friday. The union has denounced what it calls the “criminal silence” of the government in responding to its members’ wage and conditions demands.

Doubts about digital currency

Portugal’s finance minister is among those in the eurozone with “significant doubts” about the creation of digital money. A virtual version of the euro currency is being studied by the European Central Bank. What is being most seriously questioned is its “usefulness” - or otherwise.

Regional English newspapers

Prices are going to rise for the second consecutive week, is among the reports the Portugal News. The increase in the week ahead will be the same for both: 1.5 cents per litre. The Portugal Resident headlines include: “Police detain 16 suspected of €5.6 million tax scam on imported cars.”

Portuguese-language papers

One of the top stories in the Portuguese press in recent days has been the controversial findings of the final report of a parliamentary committee inquiry into the management of TAP, Portugal’s international airline.

Wednesday, July 12, 2023


 Mid-week headline news

                                – July 12

Sweden joining NATO

Portugal’s Prime Minister  António Costa was in the Lithuanian capital on Friday night before the start of the NATO summit yesterday and heard the welcome news that Turkey had withdrawn its opposition to Sweden joining the Atlantic alliance. This is a further landmark step in the strengthening of European security as Russia’s war in Ukraine shows no sign of abating. Sweden will now be NATO’s 32nd member state following Finland’s accession in April this year. Ukraine wants to join the alliance, but admission is unlikely while the war continues.

NATO to focus more on Africa?

During yesterday’s NATO discussions, Portugal’s prime minister said that the alliance had agreed to announce conclusions on Portugal’s request that more attention be paid to its southern flank, the continent of Africa.

EasyJet cancellations

EasyJet has so far cancelled 350 flights to Portugal between 21-25 July due to a new strike planned by cabin crews. The union representing the cabin crews said on Monday that 69% of flights from Faro, Lisbon and Porto would be cancelled.

Help for the Roma people

Portuguese Romanies want the government to establish an agency or commission to deal with the issues specific to their communities across the country. An estimated 30,000 to 50,000 Romanies, also known in Portugal as ciganos (gypsies), have long been regarded by many indigenous Portuguese in a negative or insulting way.

Robot designed to disinfect  

The University of Aveiro has developed an autonomous robot to disinfect public spaces with ultraviolet radiation and harmless chemical solutions, Luca News reported on Monday.

Keep Golden Visas: Madeira

The leader of the local government in Madeira is insisting on an extension of the Golden Visa scheme for the autonomous regions. He has described the mainland government’s decision to scrap the scheme for the entire country as “scandalous”.  

Classic cars this weekend in Algarve

The 30th annual Algarve Classic Car Event will take place this Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The best place to see a great many classic cars this Friday will be next to the marina in Vilamoura. On Saturday they will set off on a rally, stopping for a while at Tavira and São Brás de Alportel. On Sunday they will visit Albufeira and Armacao de Pera.

Tourist boats must avoid orcas

The Portuguese Institute for the Conservation of Nature and Forests has banned tourist boats from approaching groups of killer whales (ocas). As tempting as it is to get as close as possible for the pleasure of tourists, orcas have shown a strong tendency to attack propellers and rudders and occasionally sink boats off the coasts of Portugal and Spain.

Rare wildlife for ecotourists

Genevieve Fox writing in Sunday’s Observer newspaper waxed lyrical about the wildlife in northern Portugal’s Greater Coa Valley. It was in this 120,000 hectare nature corridor that she spent hours watching a rare breed of wild horses. The area’s rich biodiversity includes Iberian wolves, lynxes, eagles and vultures.


Sunday, July 9, 2023



Weekend headline news

                                 – July 9


Cluster bomb controversy

Portugal has long condemned the use of cluster bombs, a stockpile of which the United States is now planning to give to Ukraine to help the war effort. Among the many countries to ratify a convention against cluster bombs in 2015, Portugal will be able to discuss the US plan at a NATO summit in Lithuania this coming Tuesday and Wednesday.

Sweden joining NATO?

Portugal fully supports the bid by Sweden to join NATO, which the US president and the Swedish prime minister sought to push forward at their meeting in the White House last Wednesday. It is of great security importance given Russia’s war in Ukraine. All 31 NATO leaders agree with this except Turkey and Hungary. President Erdogan of Turkey continues to block the move, arguing that Sweden has harboured members of a Kurdish terrorist group. Hungary is expected to accept Sweden’s membership if Turkey concedes.

Quitting an energy treaty

The European Commission has formally proposed that the EU and all its member states, including Portugal, withdraw from the Energy Charter Treaty (ECT) in “a coordinated and orderly manner”.  On Friday, the EU Green Deal chief, Frans Timmermans, said: “It’s time for Europe to withdraw from this treaty and to put all our focus on building an efficient and competent energy system that promotes and protects renewable energy investments”. 

Prepared for wildfires

Wildfires this summer will be “more difficult” than last year’s, but Portugal is prepared, said the president of the National Authority for Emergency and Civil Protection (ANEPC) on Friday. Last year’s severe wildfires burnt more than 105,000 acres (42,500 hectares) of forested land. 

More strikes during Pope’s visit

Portuguese teachers, railway workers, police officers and garbage collectors are planning protests and strikes during the World Youth Day celebrations in Lisbon. Pope Francis will be among the estimated one million Catholic attendees at the event over the first week of August.  

Shorter working week

Nearly 40% of Portugal’s private sector businesses have signed up to experiment with a four-day instead of the traditional five-day working week. A government-funded programme will take place over the next six months to test if employees can achieve 100% productivity targets while being paid 100% for 80% time worked. Successful pilot 100-80-100 projects have been conducted in Ireland, Brussels, the UK, the US, and New Zealand.

Sun, sea and silence

Most beachgoers in Portugal want to enjoy peace and quiet, which is why fines of up to €36,000 will be imposed for anyone playing their music too loudly this summer. So best keep your mobile music device shut off altogether when you are on the sand.  President Marcelo hospitalised

Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa fainted and was rushed to hospital by ambulance from a university visit in Almada on Wednesday. He reported experiencing hypothermia, dizziness, nausea, and extreme fatigue after a light lunch. The hospital visit was later described as “a precautionary measure”.

Wednesday, July 5, 2023



Mid-week headline news 

                                  – July 5

Widespread wildfire dangers

Thirty-five Portuguese municipalities in six districts from Bragança in the north to the Algarve in the south are at “maximum” risk of wildfires, the national meteorological office warned yesterday. A total of about 80 municipalities across Portugal, including the whole of the Alentejo region, are reckoned to be at “very high risk”. It is expected to be a worse year for wildfires than in 2022, mainly because of the drought, and winds in the Algarve.

Hunger amomg Alentejo farm animals

The drought situation in the Baixo Alentejo region is so severe that many farm animals have little food or water. Fodder, when it exists, has tripled in price. Luca News has reported that farmers are facing “a nightmare” this summer because of a lack of hay. The lowest level of dam water in the whole country is in the Monte da Rocha reservoir in Ourique, which provides water for the entire Alentejo Baixa. It is down to 9% capacity. In the last 10 years it has never reached full capacity. 

Electricity from Renewables

In the first half of this year, wind power has provided 25% of Portugal’s electricity needs, and hydroelectric sources 23%. Renewable production in total has contributed 61%. These figures were reported yesterday by the national electricity company RENS.

Grossly inadequate housing 

Municipalities across the country have identified 77,000 families living in “undignified” conditions. Parliament heard this yesterday from the housing minister, who noted that almost 84% of Portugal’s municipalities are developing local housing strategies under the so-called 1st Right programme.

Harmful bacteria in water supplies

A new study has concluded that microplastics polluting some domestic water systems are accumulating more pathological bacteria resistant to antibiotics. The results of the study were released on Monday by the Faculty of Science and Technology at the University of Coimbra.

The Portuguese press  

The front pages in the main Portuguese newspapers so far this week have been reporting on a court case about the shocking death of a young girl, lack of workers in the tourist industry, workplace harassment, and preparations for the World Youth Day mass event in Lisbon, with concerns that rubbish collectors in the capital may go on strike.

 Weekend weather

It is expected to be slightly cooler in the Algarve with highs of 31C on Saturday and 34C on Sunday. It will probably heat up with temperatures returning to 37C on Tuesday. Lisbon temperatures will probably be 27-28 degrees. Similar temperatures are forecasts for the north of the country with grey skies and a little rain. The central interior areas are likely to experience 31-33 degrees over the weekend, but up to 38C by the end of next week. 




Sunday, July 2, 2023


Weekend headline news 

                                 – July 2


Not so peaceful Portugal

The Global Peace Index 2023 has placed Portugal as the seventh most peaceful country in the world.  This has dropped for the third year running and is at its lowest position since 2015. The GPI annually covers nearly all of the countries in the world and uses many indicators in making its assessment. The top three most peaceful countries this year are Iceland, Denmark and Ireland.

Excessive air pollution

The European Union Court of Justice has again declared that Portugal has failed to comply with EU rules on air quality. Nitrogen oxide (NO2) levels have exceeded the limits in parts of the country causing a serious health hazard. This is due mainly to road traffic, especially diesel vehicles.

 Paedophile prevention

A group that is working on investigating and preventing the sexual abuse of children and vulnerable adults within the Portuguese Catholic Church is reportedly now directly linked to prosecutors in a greater effort to eliminate this criminality. Meanwhile, a shocking report in the Daily Mail in the UK reports that paedophiles are using AI to create and sell life-like child sexual abuse images.

Inflation lower last month

Portugal’s prime minister on Friday welcomed the news that inflation had dropped by 7.6% in June to 3.4%, saying that wage increases are not putting pressure on this rate.  The government hopes that new rules for withholding tax, which came into force yesterday, will ensure that an increase in gross income corresponds to an increase in net income.

Closer links with France

France and Portugal have promised to deepen ties in cultural, educational, technical, and scientific sectors. This was announced at the end of high-level discussions between officials of the two countries on Wednesday. Greater investment in languages and cooperation in maritime affairs were specifically mentioned. 

World Youth Day

The number of people from around the world registered to take part in World Youth Day, which is scheduled to take place next month in Lisbon, has reached about 300,000. Portugal has the fourth highest number registered. This is a Catholic event with Pope Francis scheduled to attend.

Don’t miss the ‘supermoons’!  

The first of four consecutive ‘supermoons’ this summer will light up the night sky tomorrow, July 3. The three others will occur on August 1, August 30 and September 29. ‘Supermoons’ appear to be bigger and brighter than normal full moons because their orbit is closer to the Earth when they reach their fullest phase. 

National Portuguese press:

Top headlines in recent days have included a wide range of stories about the rising cost of living.  

Local English newspapers:

The Algarve Daily News leads with the president of the republic’s proposal to end the obligation to display an insurance stamp on the windscreen of your car.

Among the Portugal News main stories: “Calls to bring an end to dolphins in captivity”.

The Portugal Resident emphasises that “Portugal won’t be bullied into cutting back on social security measures...”