Society

Quiet, Boss! How Portugal Became The World Model For Work-Life Balance

Portugal has become the first place in the world where it is illegal for managers to contact their employees after hours. Will other countries follow suit?

It's 8 p.m. after a long day of work, and you've clicked on your well-earned Netflix show...and "ping," another after-hours phone notification has arrived from your boss. Much of the working world has been there, somewhere between annoying and invasive. But now, in Portugal, it is also illegal.

Last Friday, the Portuguese Parliament approved a pioneering new law barring employers from contacting their staff outside their contracted working hours. The news, which has been hailed around the world by labor rights activists, academics and even television comedians, has largely been framed as a welcome response to the around-the-clock remote working that COVID-19 lockdowns have triggered.

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Highway To Hell? Portuguese Priest Steals From Church To Buy 19 Cars

If we know that greed is one of the seven deadly sins, what about lust for German cars? A Lisbon priest has received a four-and-a-half-year suspended jail sentence for aggravated breach of trust and embezzlement, having taken his parishioners' money to buy no fewer than 19 automobiles.

Although Antònio Teixeira is known among his flock as a particularly kind and generous clergyman, always ready to help and support all in need, his spending habits tell a different story. Between 2011 to 2017, the priest spent an estimated 420,000 euros to buy 19 cars — including three Mercedes and 12 Volkswagens.

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Man Found Alive 20 Days After His Funeral

An elderly COVID-19 victim, presumed to have been dead (and buried) for 20 days, has been located alive in the same Portuguese hospital where he was being treated.

The 92-year-old, who had been hospitalized for about two months due to respiratory problems, was infected with COVID-19 while in the hospital the Jornal de Noticias reported this week. His son told the newspaper that the hospital had called his sister three weeks ago to say the man had died.

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What Latin America Can Learn From China About Smart Cities

Most people in Latin America and the Caribbean live in urban areas. And many of those cities are downright massive, with sustainability challenges that desperately need solutions.

-Analysis-

LISBON — At the heart of the so-called "smart city" concept, both in the developing and industrialized worlds, is the ability to create districts capable of tackling certain global challenges of our time.

Those challenges are starkly evident in Latin American cities and include urban regeneration, social inclusion, and socio-environmental issues like waste management, assuring water supplies and fomenting the circular economy. The smart city concept is intrinsically linked, in other words, to the quest for sustainability and social inclusion.

Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) have on average an urban population rate of 80.6%, according to World Bank figures (compared to the global average of 55.3%). And 40% of the region's population lives in cities of more than a million inhabitants. LAC is thus the most urbanized place in the developing world, and the intensity of this urbanization has made traditional policies for managing issues of land use, social inclusion or governability, less relevant.

Obviously, information and communication technologies alone won't transform a city's environment. That's why LAC, perhaps more than other regions, needs defined national policies with a clear vision of civil society's needs, and in line with sustainability guidelines like the UN's Regional Action Plan (PAR) for the Implementation of the New Urban Agenda 2016-36, or Goal 11 of the UN's Sustainable Development Goals on making cities "inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable."

The rise of megacities — places like Mexico City and greater Buenos Aires with more than 20 million residents — and growth pressures exerted by regional cities are compounding these aggravated environmental problems. Examples include pollution due to the concentration of economic and industrial activities, traffic congestion and the critical state of residue disposal.

We need social and technological changes to forge a new urban paradigm.

GaWc, a research network connected to Loughborough University, in England, found that of all LAC countries, only Brazil has a range of cities qualifying as smart cities working on improving the urban environment. They included both alpha (Sao Paulo) and beta cities (Rio de Janeiro), and others with a potential for global role-playing (Curitiba, Belo Horizonte, Porto Alegre, Recife, Campinas and Salvador de Bahía).

Governing for smart cities in LAC faces other, transversal challenges such as reduced citizen participation, limited industrial capacity, dependence on foreign technologies and unequal public financing capabilities. We thus need social and technological changes to forge a new urban paradigm defining the city as a public good whose process of "co-design" requires inputs from all actors of economic, technological and financial relevance.

These can typically include the Inter-American Development Bank, Inter-American Association of Telecommunication Firms (ASIET) and CAF, the Development Bank of Latin America. They must also include the views of ordinary people and active participation of universities (public policy and territorial sciences departments, architecture, engineering etc.).

Hangzhou, Zhejiang, China — Photo: Naitian Wang/Unsplash

But for inspiration, actors involved in urban policymaking in Latin America would do well to look beyond the region — to China, where more than 500 pilot projects have been launched in cities lie Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen and Hangzhou, among others. Indeed, China has demonstrated smart power through the WeGo information sharing platform, improved collaboration between cities, and developed particular solutions for urban co-creation and sustainable city development.

Applying those lessons in LAC will require precise indicators through urban and environmental monitoring, to evaluate and check on objectives duly set by public decision-makers and not just by the capacities of leading tech firms.

The sharing of experiences at local, regional and national levels thus becomes a key component in increasing the learning curve for Latin American districts, metropolitan zones and regions, and ultimately creating cities that are both more inclusive and environmentally friendly.

It's not too late for the LAC region to promote and enact policies for developing cities in greater harmony with the natural world. But the time to start is now.

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Portugal
Cécile Thibaud

Portugal's Economic Miracle Makes A Case Against Austerity

-Analysis-

LISBON — What a successful gamble for Lisbon: The European Commission is about to ratify the proposal to end Portugal's excessive deficit procedure. The country will be joining the club of virtuous economies , against experts' forecasts. The recovery is a remarkable achievement considering Portugal hit a virtual rock bottom in 2011. On the brink of bankruptcy, the country had to ask for financial assistance to the tune of 78 trillion euros from Brussels and the IMF and had been forced to take strict austerity measures.

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food / travel

Time To Stick A Fork In The Cult Worship Of Chefs

Restaurants are places for eating, not genuflection.

-OpEd-

What's the best restaurant in the world? According to the World's 50 Best Restaurants, the award goes to the Eleven Madison Park in New York. My sincere congratulations. But I hope to never visit you.

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Portugal

Sizzling Sardines

Once the fish had been caught, the fisherman's wife in Nazaré would put them directly on the grill for breakfast. Bom apetite!

Portugal

A New Diplomat-In-Chief For A Messy World

Since its birth in the aftermath of World War II, the United Nations has faced innumerable crises. The eternal messiness of global affairs is, of course, exactly why the UN was created. But perhaps never in its 71 years of existence has the biggest of global institutions been faced with so many simultaneous fires — and seemed to struggle so hard to be heard above both the hostilities and cries for help.


After what was largely considered an unremarkable tenure by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, it is time for somebody new to take over one of the toughest jobs in the world. The choice announced yesterday of António Guterres, 67, has been a cause for some degree of optimism. Guterres, a former Portuguese prime minister, proved his worth during 10 years as the head of the UN's refugee agency, demonstrating what The New York Times called a wealth of "experience, energy and diplomatic finesse." Officials in Portugal also lauded his appointment, with President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa writing in Diário de Notícias that Guterres was "the best candidate" for the job. Former President Anibal Cavaco Silva, meanwhile, declared that "all the world listens to him."


He will need all ears indeed to help stem the killing in Syria, avoid escalation in Ukraine and North Korea, solve a series of refugee crises, reset the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians, hold countries to their promises of last year's Paris Agreement on climate change ... and the list goes on and on.


Writing in the Portuguese paper Público, Jorge Almeida Fernandes sums up the challenge: "There are always more crises to control and always fewer means to do so," he writes. "Guterres knows he won't be the leader of the world. He only knows that the UN is in the eye of the storm."

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Portugal

Portuguese Daily Hails 'Win' Of UN Chief Antonio Guterres

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Publico — Oct. 6, 2016

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Portugal

This App Could Reduce Your Risk Of Cancer

Science has determined a variety of actions you can take aimed at keeping people cancer-free: diet, avoiding sun exposure, exercise, et al. Now your smart phone can help.

PORTO — Health tech is a booming market, with no shortage of apps available touted as new ways to help people stay in shape and avoid illness. But one noteworthy newcomer from Portugal is notably singular in its focus: keeping users cancer-free.

Meet HAPPY (Health Awareness and Prevention Personalized for You), a free app developed by biologist Nuno Ribeiro and the Institute for Innovation and Health Research (I3S), in the northern city of Porto. Using persuasion techniques, the smartphone app encourages every-day behavior changes by prompting people — one notification at a time — with information about cancer and advice on how to better prevent it.

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Portugal

Fishing Fashion

I've already told you about the fishermen's wives of Nazaré, and the seven petticoats they'd wear traditionally in this Portuguese town. The fishermen"s costumes are just as interesting. Although granted, they do look a little bit like pajamas.

Portugal

Extra! Forest Fire On Portuguese Island Turns Deadly

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Publico, Aug. 10

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Portugal

Portugal Celebrates Soccer Victory On Front Page

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Jornal de Notícias, July 11th

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Portugal

Floating To Sleep

This unusual float, part of the Madeira Flower Festival that fills the streets of Funchal every spring, looked very comfortable indeed.

Portugal

Seven Skirts

The fishermen"s wives of yore used to wear seven colorful petticoats; some say to represent the seven waves in a set, others say to keep warm while awaiting their husbands' return. In the late 1950s, these women working at Nazaré"s seafood market already considered it folklore, as they found it doubtlessly easier to carry their crates without being unhindered by the heavy layers.

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