Wednesday, January 07, 2004

Normally we'd have plenty to say about the news and all the other fascinating stuff happening around here. However, there's not much news, not even any America-bashing of note. I guess the Vanguardia's staff is still working off their New Year's Eve hangovers.

Over the last few days big headlines in the Spanish press were given mostly to the increased security on flights between Europe and the US. Apparently several flights were canceled, many were delayed, and a couple were escorted by military planes. Interestingly, the fact that the Spanish air traffic controllers went out on strike one day, causing 40% of Spanish flights to be canceled, got very little press comparatively.

Also, the Vangua has made a little stink about the photographing and fingerprinting of people coming to the United States on visas. Now, it seems to me that the US can establish whatever requirements for people entering its territory that it wants. Getting a photo and a fingerprint taken is not precisely an onerous requirement for visitors; in fact, smart travelers welcome security on the grounds that it's less likely they'll get blown up with it than without it. It seems that although Spaniards do not need a tourist visa to enter the US (if they're going to stay, they need a work or a student visa) and so the great majority of Spanish travelers face no additional hurdles to entrance, the Vanguardia still thinks the whole thing is "humiliating". The Brazilians have retaliated by photographing and fingerpringing Americans entering Brazil, exclusively for harassment purposes. If they want to behave like third graders, we can't stop 'em. So silly, putting empty pride before safety.

My guess is that something was really up over the Christmas season and that the added security measures at airports were a response to that. We'll find out someday.

There is no political news from over here. The usual suspects are blowing hot air but nothing of any substance is actually going on, fortunately. Next time somebody does something interesting we'll let you know.

The Barca sucks. They got creamed last weekend by Racing of Santander 3-0. This team isn't good enough to even come in sixth in the League and make the UEFA competition. The forwards are so bad that the coach, Frank Rijkaard, tried youth teamer Sergio Garcia as the starter against Racing. The move was not effective. Luis Enrique got hurt in practice, broke his cheekbone. This at least means we will not see him louse up any more plays this season. FC Barcelona simply isn't any good. Of the "big" European teams--Man U, Liverpool, Juventus, Milan, Inter, Bayern, Ajax, Real Madrid, a couple of others--Barcelona is by far the worst. I wanted to see them punished by the karma of soccer for their atrocious behavior last season, what with the antiwar demo and the Serbofascist coach and the game against Qaddafi's son's team and the pig-throwing incident and their refusal to obey League authority, but this is worse than even I'd hoped for.

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