The Vangua has a story by Rafael Poch, who's normally their Moscow correspondent and is quite obviously in the pocket of the Russian government (whether from misuse of his own free will, because they slip him a few lechugas, or because they have photos of him with a handsome sailor in St. Petersburg, I don't know). Anyway, he went off to China for some Sino-Russian summit meeting, which received absolutely no coverage in the rest of the world because any joint declaration between Vladimir Putin and whoever is running China--or not, as the case may be--is worth less than the Internet bandwidth it takes up. Mr. Poch reports over and over about how the Russians and the Chinese are going to get together with India and Indonesia and, like, Iran or Vietnam or somebody and set up an alliance that will be a counterweight to Washington. This is extreme wishful thinking on the part of Mr. Poch and his editors. Instead of advocating something that might be a little painful to increase Europe's relative power compared to the United States (by, say, increasing defense spending, or cutting social spending and reducing intrusive regulation, things which would be good for all concerned in every way), Mr. Poch would prefer to have somebody else provide that power counterweight. Why he seems to favor that counterweight being still-Communist and undoubtedly despotic China and unstable, mafia-ridden Russia is beyond me, but seems like the height of irresponsibility.
By the way, a very dumb notion that is being peddled around here is that the United States is applying pressure on the EU to admit Turkey in order to dilute the naturaleza of Europe. The Vangua's editors and especially the Catholic bigot and anti-Semite Xavier Bru de Sala are pushing this line. See, Europe's nature is Christian, and if they have to let Islamic Turkey in, it will somehow dilute Europe's natural essences and bodily fluids and therefore weaken the EU, leaving Washington paramount and without challengers. This is completely nuts, of course. An EU including Turkey would suddenly have a much more kick-ass army than it does now. Turkey, if given a deadline by the EU for admission, would have to take those steps necessary that still remain between where it is now and real democracy. And, of course, EU entry for Turkey would nail down that large, populous, strategically important country as both an ally and market and prove that Islamic societies can follow the guidelines of democratic capitalism. Perhaps American pressure is having some effect; Schröder and Chirac proposed the opening of negotiations with Ankara in July 2005 if Turkey fulfills the Copenhagen criteria for admission, which apply to all new candidates. Sounds fair enough to me.
Anyway, a few days ago in the Vanguardia there was a story about what representatives of the various political parties thought about putting a plank on how Christianity is one of the pillars on which the EU is based in the European constitution. The Communist, Socialist, Republican Left, and, guess what, the conservative People's Party were all against it. The only ones in favor were the Catalan Nationalists, demonstrating, first, how strong the connections between Catalan nationalism and the Catalan Church are and second, that Catalan nationalism, while not racist in nature, is not precisely real open to folks who aren't Catalan nationalists, with all that implies.
Getting back to Mr. Poch, today's big story is that he's in Chungking, that the place is an absolute hellhole, but it's the biggest city in the world with 34 million inhabitants. I said, "Hmmm, who knows, might be true, there is huge urban growth in China," and proceeded to read farther. Then Mr. Poch lets slip that the Chungking city limits include 80,000 square kilometers, which would be 200 kilometers X 400 kilometers, 120 by 240 miles, or a good bit more than half of Kansas. I bet if you counted everything between Wilmington and New Haven as one city it'd top Chungking. Or what if we counted southern Holland, northern Belgium, and the Ruhr as one city? That'd probably top Chungking, too. And neither of those places are hellholes.