On the oil tanker thing, the Vanguardia says that the Times of London says the tanker that sank off Galicia had been in port in Gibraltar for six hours a few months ago, and that was the only connection the tanker had with Gibraltar: that one visit. The tanker had, of course, called at dozens of ports both before and after its docking there. Any connection the more rabidly nationalistic Spanish press (ABC, La Razón, El Mundo) has been trying to draw with this mess and the existence of Gibraltar as a British colony is bogus.
Bush, in Prague at the NATO summit, promised to consult with America's NATO allies before any armed action against Iraq, which he said was avoidable--we assume by means of a total capitulation by Saddam. He also called on the nations of the world and the NATO countries in particular to openly show their diplomatic support for America and stated that if Iraq did not comply with a strict regime of inspections, America would form a coalition to be sure that Saddam is disarmed. Bush also called on the NATO allies to increase their defense budgets; America's defense budget is double that of all the other allies put together. Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Romania, and Bulgaria will be formally invited to join NATO today. This will be the first admission of ex-Soviet republics into NATO, and also the first admission of an ex-Yugoslav republic. It serves as the official seal of approval on Slovakia, which took a good bit longer than its more advanced cousin, the Czech Republic, to democratize, and it's especially important for Romania and Bulgaria, who also took longer to democratize than their Hungarian neighbor. Romania and Bulgaria are scheduled to join the EU in 2007 and joining NATO will be a big boost to their credentials. (Poland, Czechia, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta and Greek Cyprus join the EU in 2004). Interestingly, both Romania and Bulgaria are very pro-American and have volunteered help against Iraq; so has Poland. Croatia, Macedonia, and--get this one--Albania are the candidates for the next expansion of NATO. We're all for it. Get them into the official clubs of civilized countries. That'll help make sure they never slide back out. NATO also agreed to extend its current peacekeeping mission in Macedonia six more months. The French got all into a snit because they want a European Union force to replace the NATO force in Macedonia. It was agreed that this will be discussed later.
Meanwhile, the British are ready to roll on Iraq. They've got 20,000 men, a complete division, all set to go, the largest contingent except for the Americans. Among the units to be sent is the famous Seventh Motorized Brigade, the Desert Rats.
Dirtbag ETArras José Ignacio Krutxaga, Fernando García Jodrá, and Lierni Armendáriz are on trial in Madrid for murdering municipal cop Juan Miguel Gervilla in Barcelona. Seems that what happened is that they were going to carbomb the radio host Luis del Olmo on Dec. 20, 2000, but the red Fiat Uno they'd stolen and loaded up with twelve kilos of explosives--they were going to park it and blow it up by remote control when del Olmo passed by on his way to work, they knew his habitual routes--broke down on Avenida Diagonal, the main street leading into the central city from the west. The car was blocking a whole lane and it was eight in the morning, rush hour. The cop, who was directing traffic, came over to see what was up; Jodrà was pushing the Fiat from behind. The cop noticed a screwdriver in the ignition and immediately sussed the car was stolen. He went for his gun but Jodrà jumped him and they both went down to the ground. Krutxaga jumped out of the car with a gun and shot Gervilla, the policeman. Jodrà got up, grabbed his own gun which had fallen to the ground in the fight, and shot Gervilla in the head as he lay on the ground holding up one arm to protect himself. This cell of terrorists is also responsible for the murder of former Socialist cabinet minister Ernest Lluch; they got 33 years each for that. I personally wouldn't mind at all using the death penalty on them. I imagine most Spaniards agree with me, but it's very politically incorrect to say so, especially if you want to be considered one of the enlightened, solidarious, and hip.
Also, some jackass etarra named Urtzi Murureta Gondra blew himself up with the explosives he was manipulating as part of an ETA training course being held in a remote area of central France near Limoges. Unfortunately he didn't die, though he was badly wounded in an arm and a leg. He is thought to be one of the cell that murdered Judge José María Lidón.