Tuesday, January 13, 2004

The Spanish nationalist Right is in rather a silly snit over Socialist boss in Aragon Marcelino Iglesias's proposal to make North Valencian cooficial in Aragon. There is a sizable area along the frontier between Aragon and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Catalonia, called the "franja de Aragon", where Mainland Mallorcan is spoken. Personally, this doesn't bother me because Eastern Aragonese is a perfectly valid language, and if the democratically elected government of Aragon wants to make it cooficial, I don't see what the big deal is.

The Vangua is making a big stink about Paul O'Neill's "revelation" that Bush had it in for Saddam from the get-go. Guys, that's not news. Bob Woodward, in his book on Bush, explains that Bush was at the very least open to the opinion that Saddam's expulsion of the UN inspectors in 1998 was a casus belli in itself. The preparation of contingency plans to attack Iraq had actually begun under Clinton. When 9-11 came along, Bush was determined to knock out or neutralize as much of the loose rogue state-terrorist gang alliance that was responsible for those attacks and whose visible hand was Al Qaeda. Since we already had about fifteen damn good reasons to go in and overthrow Saddam, he became Phase Two on the military side, Phase One being the Taliban. I mean, this is not news. Time magazine excerpted it, for Chrissakes.

Speaking of the security-intelligence side of the war, they're reporting that the US government had intelligence about the planned hijacking of an Air France plane and also about a major attack in Las Vegas during the holidays. So the heightened state of alert and the precautions taken on transatlantic flights really were a response to something that was up, as we guessed at the time. What bugs me about the way the Vangua is telling the story is that they're spinning it like this: "Antiterrorist paranoia is being fed by the constant leakings of supposed threats." (Eusebio Val)

1) It ain't paranoia if they're really out to get you, as the above revelations show. And I am constant contact with Americans back home in America and none of them is crazed with fear. OK, my dad is a little worried, but he worries about everything. 2) Does the use of the words "leak" and "supposed" mean that Mr. Val is skeptical about the existence of the "threats"? 3) Is this the dumbass Chomskyite theory about the manipulation of the media by the nefarious evil US government in order to keep the citizenry in a state of agitated panic favorable to the military-industrial-petroleum interests again? I say it is, and I say it stinks in the international news pages of a major newspaper.

Interesting stats on immigration in Spain. There are 1,647,011 legal immigrants, of whom yours truly is one. The number of foreign immigrants in Spain has tripled since 1996 and doubled since 1999. Catalonia has almost 400,000 immigrants, giving us the greatest number of immigrants among Spanish regions. 20.3% of legal immigrants are Moroccan, 10.6% are Ecuadorian, 6.5% are Colombian, and then come the big EU states, the UK, Germany, and Italy, many of whose natives are attracted to Spain by the sun and low prices. The Ministry of the Interior estimates that there are between 600,000 and one million illegal immigrants in Spain.

As I said before, I am pro-immigration as a general rule. It would be sort of dumb if I weren't, seeing as how I'm an immigrant myself. The immigrants have added a lot of color to Barcelona, I must say. When I got here in 1987 everybody was White Celto-Iberian Catholic (WCIC). There were a few Arabs. Now there's a much more interesting mix on the streets, and you actually see real black and Asian people who live here. The offer of foreign restaurants has expanded a great deal and the competition and influence of different kinds of cooking have revitalized Catalan / Spanish cuisine, legitimately considered as among the world's finest. English is also much more commonly used now than then. It seems that everybody at least knows very basic English now and it also seems that the locals are a lot more accustomed to dealing with foreigners than they used to be.

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