Monday, July 28, 2003

You know, there's a lot to blog on, but none of it really strikes my fancy. The biggest news is that ETA is making a show of force this week; a large (30-kilo) car bomb went off in the parking lot at the Santander airport. The bomb threat was called in to the newspaper Gara; the airport terminal was evacuated and flights were rerouted. Fortunately there were no injuries.

Recently there have been ETA bombings in Benidorm, Alicante, Lizarra, and Pamplona, with no serious damage done. The cops think that the bombs in the north are the work of an established ETA cell in the Basque Country or Navarra. They haven't announced any leads on the Alicante bombings.

A pioece of big news last weekenc was the Rodney King-style beating of a Danish tourist in Calella, just up the coast, by a local cop. It was caught on video and boy, it doesn't look good. The victim was pretty good-sized and obviously a kid (he's 18), and he was hassling people around the swimming pool at his group's hotel, spraying them with a fire extinguisher. He certainly appeared to be drunk or on drugs. The hotel management called the cops.

So far so good. You've got a violent situation, you call the cops. That's the responsible thing to do. Anyway, the cops show up, three Catalan police and one local yokel.

Now, I've seen pro cops take care of drunks. At Luton Airport, of all places, there was this fortyish big working-class Brit, tattoos and a shell suit, the whole nine yards, and he was drunk off his ass. I guess he was part of a package tour to Torremolinos or something. The cops were attempting to reason with him--it seems that he'd been causing a disturbance in the terminal and they weren't going to let him get on the plane because intoxicated passengers are not allowed on board for obvious reasons. He must have said something the cops didn't like because all of a sudden they had him on the ground and then in handcuffs. It took them like five seconds, and then five seconds later they were dragging him off to wherever they take guys like that. Nobody got hurt in the slightest, not even the drunk. It was real professional police work.

That is not what happened in Calella, which is a notorious dive of a beach town catering to the very cheapest of package tours. It particularly appeals to Eastern Europeans, who can't afford to go anywhere nicer. If you go to Tossa or Platja d'Aro or Cadaques, you'll see signs in French and English and Dutch and German. If you go to Calella the signs are in Polish, Czech, and Russian. The townsfolk of Calella earn their living by serving large quantities of cheap alcohol to foreigners and then providing a place near the beach for them to sleep it off.

Now, this is one thing about Spain. Spanish people, in their own environment, are usually wonderful folks if you make the slightest effort to appreciate their country or region or city. However, these beach towns are not a Spanish environment, and the Spanish folks who work in beach towns tend to be pretty contemptuous of the tourists. Most of the tourists deserve a good deal of contempt in the beach towns, since they're just there to party till they puke. Imagine Spring Break at Cancun or Padre or Lauderdale. It's that kind of morons behaving like that, except they're Europeans instead of Yanks.

Therefore: Avoid crappy beach towns and other moron-tourist hellholes. Go to nice places, approximately ninety-seven percent of the country. In nice places you will be treated with appreciation if you're a nice person. In moron-tourist hellholes you will be treated like a moron-tourist. Like in Calella, for example.

So this Danish guy is acting like a first-class jerk out by the pool, anyway, and the cops decide they are going to remove him from the premises, which sounds like a great idea to me if they do it the way they did it in Luton Airport, and there were only two cops there and the Brit they took down looked pretty tough to me. Here out by the pool we've got four cops and one teenager. So, anyway, the local cop pulls out his billyclub and starts whacking the Dane over the head. He whacks him like twenty times, bang bang bang on the top of the head. The next thing we see is the Dane being dragged off, just like the Brit in Luton, except he's lying on a stretcher and they're taking him to the hospital with blood all over his head--he got worked over a lot harder than Rodney King did by the LAPD.

This has created a big stink in Denmark, especially since it turned out that the victim is schizophrenic. What happened, of course, is that the Calella cop said to himself, "Another drunk moron-tourist idiot. I'm sick of these guys," and just beat the crap out of the Dane. While that is perhaps understandable, it's not exactly professional behavior. It's also abuse of power.

Fidel Castro informed the European Union that he would refuse any aid from the EU. Good. Why were we ever giving him any in the first place? Fidel gets an awful lot of press over here, I suspect because Spain's emigration links are closer with Cuba, Venezuela, and Argentina than with other parts of Latin America that got less immigration from the Peninsula. Those three countries receive considerably more coverage than the rest of Latin America put together. Of course, they have been pretty newsworthy places lately, but it seems you never hear anything about Mexico or Peru.

They're all screaming for the Yanks to intervene in Liberia. Don't we have to get UN permission first? The Quai d'Orsay is floating the story that the Yanks want to move into West Africa to get the oil off Sao Tome and Principe, of all places. I hadn't heard anything about oil in Liberia. I remember the same chorus shouting that we were only after the oil in Iraq and Afghanistan and Somalia, for God's sake. Oh, well, Balto Porcel says we're trying to corner the market in water, so what we're probably going to do is seize the Niger River and charge the peasants to water their fields or something base and evil like that. We are sending in three thousand Nigerian troops, to whom we will provide logistical support.

Former Socialist minister Cristina Alberdi has come out firing from the lip, slamming Zap and Simancas and all the other PSOE doofwads for completely screwing up the political situation in the Madrid region and then trying to blame it on nonexistent PP corruption. She's calling for resignations. She also took a piece out of Pasqual Maragall, who came out with another goofy off-the-top-of-his-head-after-a-three-martini-lunch idea, something about restoring the Crown of Aragon. She said something about how Maragall should shut the hell up instead of making proposals that he hasn't run by anybody else in the party. The problem here is that Maragall has to appear independent of the Spanish Socialist Party in order to attract Catalan nationalist votes. In fact, he and the Catalan Socialist Party are not independent of Madrid. If Madrid decides that Maragall should shut up, he shuts up. You'll never hear another word about the Crown of Aragon from Sausage-Lips Pasqui.

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