Man arrested over death threat to president // Lisbon's multimillion-dollar Pope altar criticised
Portuguese news in English on Monday, January 30, 2023.
Man arrested over bullet letter death threat to president
A man had been arrested on suspicion of trying to extort President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa with a death threat, Público reports. A letter arrived in Belém on October 26 containing a bullet and demanding payment of €1 million, or the president would be shot to death, police allege. Authorities took the threat seriously, believing Marcelo’s active presidency, which includes regular mixing with voters, made an attack possible. Police believe the man, in his 40s or 50s, was acting alone, allegedly motivated by hatred and anger. He’s also facing a charge of possessing a prohibited weapon.
Portuguese news in English, for estrangeiros is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
Multimillion-dollar pope altar sharply criticised
The building of a multimillion-dollar altar for the pope has provoked howls of outrage ahead of Lisbon hosting World Youth Day this August. Even the Vatican has distanced itself from the controversy, Diário de Notícias reports, saying the event, which runs from August 1 to 6, is organised locally. Criticism of Lisbon City Council for spending €4.2 million on the stage and another €1 million on foundations has come in from across the political spectrum. The whole event, the Catholic church’s biggest, will cost at least €161 million, Diário de Notícias reports. Lisbon alone is prepared to spend €35 million, with at least €80 million coming from the church and, according to Público, €36.5 million from the national government. Defenders such as Lisbon mayor Carlos Moedas have pointed to the event’s economic return and plans to use the facilities in the future.
Hundreds of thousands struggling to keep warm
At least 660,000 people in Portugal are living in “severe” energy poverty, according to numbers released in a national strategy to combat the problem, Público reports. More broadly, the figures reveal 1.8 million aren’t able to keep their home properly warmed and three million spend at least 10% of their earnings on energy. The plan aims to reduce the percentage of people unable to stay warm from 17.4% down to 10% by 2030, 5% by 2040 and 1% by 2050. Energy costs are just one layer of the current cost of living crisis. New real estate statistics show house prices jumped 18% last year, the biggest surge in 30 years, with no drop predicted this year, Público reports.
TAP to pay crew members €8 million to avoid strike. The “extraordinary compensation” is part of several measures agreed upon to prevent a stop work the airline said was going to cause the cancellation of hundreds of flights. (Públic)
Up to three days of sick leave to be available from SNS 24 medical hotline. The governing Socialist Party (PS) wants to avoid more trips to the doctor by sick workers by changing the law. (Público)
Agriculture Minister nominates accused criminal for deputy director role. She was handed a three-year suspended sentence for crimes including abuse of power, which was overturned before a retrial, the result of which is not yet known. The minister said the substitute deputy director was entitled to the presumption of innocence.
Airlines owe passengers €650 million. AirHelp says 650,000 passengers are eligible for some form of compensation.
On a lighter note
Portugal has its first Oscar-nominated film, Público reports. João Gonzalez’s Ice Merchants is up for the Best Short Film award at this year’s Academy Awards. The dialogue-free film tells the story of a father and son who jump from their mountain home every day on parachutes to sell the ice they produce. It’s already picked up awards at film festivals in Cannes, Chicago and Melbourne. Gonzalez said it was a story about loss and family connections, describing the physical representation of the importance of daily routines and rituals we follow with those closest to us. It still hasn’t been released in Portuguese cinemas but the Portuguese Short Film Agency says it’s hoping to decide on the best way to screen it shortly, Diário de Notícias reports.