Wednesday, November 26, 2003

That wild and wacky Baltasar Porcel is back with two gorgeously imbecilic and anti-Semitic paragraphs today in La Vanguardia! We'd gone without for so long!

Because the coincidence of the second attack (in Istanbul) with the visit of Bush to London is not casual: Bush, helped by Blair--and this exacerbated Aznar--, has been unable to find a political, economic, cultural, and even police answer, adequate to the hecatomb suffered in the Twin Towers.

Then, his troops are seen, there where they have planted their feet, as something worse than terrorism: exterminating war. And is Israel his disciple or his master? Again, the great genocidal bacillus. Bush has not isolated the terrorism of the Twins, but rather has spread it and has even turned it into the only weapon possible against his giant oppressive machine.

Got that? The United States is there to exterminate and commit genocide on the Iraqi people, at the instigation or with the cooperation of Israel, and terrorism is the only way we (and presumably Israel) can be stopped. Therefore, terrorism is not only justified, but is actually righteous.

Hey, I believe in freedom of speech as much as the next man, but no responsible newspaper would publish such Fascist shit. This insane, psychotic, and frankly evil diatribe is more appropriate for Indymedia than for a major metropolitan newspaper. I call upon La Vanguardia to fire Baltasar Porcel.

Local news update: Valencia was awarded the 2007 America's Cup. This is a big deal economically, since it will attract 600,000 tourists of the desirable, expensive kind. See, Spain's most important industry is tourism, and while cultural tourism (you know, museums, monuments, cathedrals, local restaurants) is popular here, the real money is in the sun-sex-sangria market, those €99 eight days in Benidorm deals. We make a lot of money off that market, but it does create problems. Your margin per tourist is minuscule, and the people you attract are frequently undesirables. At best they'll be puking on your sidewalks.

So Spain is trying to change its appeal and go for the high-dollar market. A big part of this is cultural tourism--I don't know if you've seen those ads the Tourist Board runs in Time and the Economist and magazines like that, but they show pretty photos of the sun setting over the Alhambra and the like, with the slogan "Spain: Everything under the sun". They also want to attract golfers; they've decided that golf tourists are a big rich market, so there are fancy golf courses all along the coasts now. This America's Cup thing is obviously a way to dig into the sailing market; those people are rich and spend money.

More sailors, golfers, and cathedral-gawkers, please! Fewer Glasgow Celtic supporters, topless beach sluts, and Dusseldorfers on the dole!

Actually, the worst crowd I remember here were Inter Milan supporters who came here in 1988 to play Espanyol at the old Sarria stadium in a UEFA Cup game. They were expecting an easy win, but Espanyol was good that year, with players like Valverde, Miquel Soler, N'Kono, Lauridsen, and Pichi Alonso, and they gave Inter a good butt-whupping. (Note: All these players were maybe best known for being smart. That was a damn good Espanyol team, the kind I like, intelligent, tough, and fast. No big stars but a lot of very competent, first-class pros. They were much more likeable than the late-'80s, pre-Cruyff FC Barcelona.) A lot of Inter supporters had come in from Milan, since it's only about a six-hour drive from here, faster than that if you're Italian, and boy, were they pissed. They trashed all the bars and wrecked everything they could find within several blocks of the stadium, and, mind you, Sarria is a wealthy and fashionable area, not some dump out on the edge of town. Millions of dollars of damage was done.

It's time for the traditional Christmas lighting of the streets of Barcelona. Traditionally most streets are bedecked with rather garish colored lights, often arranged in the shapes of Christmasy stuff like stars or angels or whatever. This year they're going for a much more designer look; concretely, they've gotten some local designers to design much more tasteful lighting. The Ramblas is very pretty, I must say, with golden balls illuminated from inside. I haven't seen the other streets with the designer lighting yet. Mayor Clos was supposed to turn it on in a ceremony at the Plaza Sant Jaume, but it didn't work. He looked like a doofus as he went around downtown trying to turn the lights on with a remote control, and it didn't work anywhere. He had to go home looking silly. They supposedly will have all the lights going tonight.

The Vanguardia is very concerned with the effect of the death of "Copito de Nieve" upon the local children. We're supposed to take this as an opportunity to teach kids about death or something. They're debating about what kind of monument to build to him (best suggestion: a realistic statue within the zoo) and whether to name a street after him (now that might be a little exaggerated). As I suggested before, though, we have a Plaza Karl Marx here in town, and if would be quite appropriate to rename it after a creature that actually did some good for the people of Barcelona rather than continue calling it by the name of a crackpot economist whose failed theories have all been disproved.

Well, as we've been saying, the Frogs and the Toads have just unilaterally officially blown off their responsibility to limit their budget deficits to 3% of their GDPs. Everybody else in the EU has to obey this rule, it seems, but our pithable partners, who did more than anyone else to make sure we all stay in lockstep with them setting the pace, can just decide the rule doesn't apply to them. This is not a popular move here in Spain, where people are already remembering that Spain had to leap through some pretty stiff economic hoops, at the instigation of the Bundesbank, in order to get into the euro, including a hefty devaluation in 1993. Aznar and Rato are pissed off as all hell. France and Germany are incredibly unpopular right now in the rest of the EU, if the Vangua and the TV news are reliable sources. Remember that, far from being unilateral, the Anglo-American attack on Iraq was opposed by only three EU nations, the Frogs, the Toads, and the Tadpoles (that is, Belgium). It is Germany and France who are out of touch with world opinion, not the US.

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