English Language News Lisbon Portugal

The Week em Breve – July 26

This week's news in Portugal: Robot Fish, Failing Public Services, Putting the Space-Port in Portugal, Dogs on Death Row, Plastic Pollution, and much more!

Welcome to the Week em Breve! This week in Portugal: Robot Fish, Failing Public Services, Putting the Space-Port in Portugal, Dogs on Death Row, Plastic Pollution, and much, much more!

CP Faltering as Cash Runs Lo
As some of you may remember from a previous Week em Breve, CP — Portugal’s state-owned train company — are in pretty dire straits. This week, more bad news, as they announced that they would be cutting the number of rush-hour trains on the Sintra and Cascais lines in an attempt to save money. The change, on what are two of the busiest lines in the country, will come into effect on August 5th. For those who thought the trains were already packed, you ain’t seen nothing yet!

SNS Has Less of the GDPie
Trains aren’t the only service to be slipping. The SNS (national health service) is receiving the lowest percentage of GDP that it has in 15 years. Alexandre Lourenço, president of the Associação Portuguesa de Administradores Hospitalares, leveled this complaint after it was revealed that the SNS was receiving just 4.3% of GDP.

Teaching ’em Young
In other medical news, a petition has been given to parliament to make CPR training mandatory in schools. Portugal currently has a very low survival rate for out-of-hospital cardiorespiratory failure, standing at just 2-3% compared with 20-30% in other European countries. It is hoped that school-based training will enable the public to respond to medical emergencies and lessen the impact of what is Portugal’s leading cause of death outside of a hospital.

Real Fish Are Dead, Long Live Robo-Fish
Portugal made yet another great leap forward when it became the first European nation to create… a robotic fish. Made by Sirius Robotics in the Algarve, the robo-fish is equipped with sensors and artificial intelligence, giving it autonomy in an aquarium environment. When asked what the fish does, João Carvalho, marketing director of Sirius Robotics, gave the obvious answer of “nothing.” However, it is said to be used as a relaxation device as well as being equipped with cameras that allow it to be paired with VR headsets and phones. Additionally, the fact that it is a completely submerged robot is an achievement in itself.

Joining the 22,370 Mile-High Club
Technological breakthroughs don’t stop there, however, as Portugal may join the exclusive group of eight countries with access to space. The European Space Agency concluded that an island in the Azores is a feasible place from which to launch small satellites. The island, Santa Maria, offers many advantages including location, weather, and access, and is said to be perfect for smaller rockets. These smaller rockets are becoming increasingly popular due to the growing number of small, “inexpensive” satellites and having the Azores as Europe’s small-rocket hub could put Portugal in an advantageous position.

Multibanco Vs Multinationals
As the Multibanco machines are slowly replaced with foreign networks such as ATM Express or Euronet in prime locations, users could see increased fees. This is down to how the systems register the difference between debit withdrawals and credit cash advances, and the hidden costs that come with the latter have already garnered complaints. Watch out for high-fee machines, people!

Canarinhos to the Rescue
In recent weeks, Portuguese firefighters were part of a number of groups that helps Sweden with its wildfires. Portugal has once again stepped up to the plate and offered its elite firefighting force — the canarinhos — to Greece for the battle against their deadly fires. These highly trained emergency workers are known for battling Portugal’s wildfires without the use of water. Very impressive stuff; props to the canarinhos!

Plastic Cups to Be Dumped
Following initiatives for curbing the use of plastic bags and, most recently, plastic straws, Lisbon city council has pledged to ban plastic cups by 2020. This target was set as part of Lisbon winning European Green Capital 2020 and hopes to lessen the impact the city has on marine wildlife. Some companies are already trying to make this a reality, as you can read here!

Dogs on Death Row
Speaking of killing wildlife, as of October, Portuguese municipalities will no longer be able to put down stray animals. Ok, wildlife may be a stretch, but it means that these homeless pets will no longer face the chair, so to speak, when they are rounded up. However, municipalities are warning that while they are no longer allowed to kill them, they are still required to collect them, resulting in an unsustainable system. They warn that the real solution is reducing the number of animals let loose on the street, which can be achieved through better pet identification, and regulation of breeding and sales.

Think we missed an important story? Let us know in the comments!

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