Here's the news from these here parts. As you only know if you've been following the Spanish media, Jose Maria Aznar spoke at a joint session of Congress in Washington. This is a nice honor, a good photo op, but no big deal since he didn't say anything we hadn't heard several times before. Most of the congressmen blew the event off and their seats were filled by diplomats in order to make it look like a full house. Still, it was a nice tribute to a steadfast ally.
The Vangua is making a big deal about some statements made by CIA director George Tenet; paraphrasing their story, the CIA never said anything about "imminent threats". They did say that Saddam had hostile intentions, intentions of rearming, a record of dishonesty, and the fact that he could do something nasty at any time.
They're also making a big deal about this Pakistani scientist who "sold nuclear secrets and equipment to Libya, Iran, and North Korea" all on his lonesome. Yeah, right. I have no problem believing that Pakistan sold that stuff to those criminals and dictators. I imagine it was done with full knowledge by rogue elements within Pakistan and especially by the Pakistani intelligence service. That's just a guess; I'm no expert.
To me this is just more evidence that the One Great Conspiracy Theory that I believe in is true. That theory says that there are a bunch of rogue states from Libya to North Korea, a bunch of terrorist organizations from ETA to Hamas to those whackjobs in the Philippines, and unpleasant elements within several non-rogue states like Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and Egypt, that have a loose alliance and are known to have worked together in the past. Gee whiz, a Pakistani nuke scientist "admits" selling nukes to Iran, Libya, and North Korea? What the hell is going on here? It sounds to me like the threat from the Rogue Alliance needs some containing and if possible some rollback. Qaddafi's renunciation of his WMD programs is a good sign, for example.
As for Ariel Sharon and the Israeli pullback from the Gaza settlements: The way to peace is a complete pullout of settlements from the West Bank and Gaza in exchange for everyone's recognition of Israel's existence. The fence stays up and access through will be controlled by Israeli police. After five years of peace we think about taking the fence down. Sharon is the only leader who can pull this off because he is trusted as a hard-liner by the Israelis. No way the Israelis would have gone for a pullout from Gaza with someone they thought of as wishy-washy in charge.
The rumors abound about a possible split between the PSC (Catalan Socialist party) and the PSOE (Spanish Socialist Workers' Party). The PSOE is pissed off as all hell that PSC leader Maragall made a coalition with Esquerra Republicana, a pro-independence party, in the first place. See, the PSOE has no truck with Catalan separatism. Nationalism, like flags and sardanas, they can handle. Independence is something else. The Carod-Rovira crap with ETA was the last straw. The PSOE is seriously pissed off at its Catalan partners. It's even more embarrassing that the PSOE and the PP are allied in the Basque Country; that is, the differences between them are a lot smaller than between either of them and the Basque nationalists. And the PSC's slogan for the March 14 elections is "If you want it, we'll beat the PP", trying to appeal strictly negatively to those who dislike Aznar and Rajoy. And that's a lot of people around here.
Some unpleasant news about the Catalan health-care system; I am not personally complaining, mind, I am very pleased with the quality of the National Health here. But there are almost 60,000 people on the waiting list for a "non-essential" operation, including almost 10,000 who have cataracts, 7600 who need a knee replacement and almost 2000 who need a hip replacement, and, get this, 500 awaiting circumcision. Those people must either be Jewish, and there aren't many Jews around here, or have phimosis. Ouch. How can you make the poor guy wait for surgery to correct that? And there are nearly 10,000 with some kind of cyst or boil. Yuck, gross, get rid of that already, people! Give them their operations! We'll pay more if only not to see huge boils sprouting out of people's necks on the streets! 548 people are awaiting wart surgery. Oh, icky poo. I'd make a lousy doctor. "Uh, what's growing on you today? Warts, boils, goiters? Oh, Jesus, it's the Elephant Man."
Some nutcase in Esplugues, a suburb of Barcelona, stabbed his mom in the neck and buried her in quicklime in their apartment back in November 2002. Then he'd cry all night, screaming, "Mama, Mama, why did you leave me?" Finally the other relatives called the cops, after a year or so of this. Pure Ozarks. These folks were not your regular middle-class family; mom was a hooker who'd graduated to madam. The Vangua also says that more than 30,000 Spaniards practice sexual tourism with children in Latin America every year, among the top five nationalities. The others are France, Italy, Germany, and Belgium. Pervos going to Cuba to get laid cheap by good-looking hookers, under 18 if possible, desperate for hard currency. These are the people who support Fidel Castro's tourism industry. Also by the way, La Stampa in Turin says that Barcelona is the Mediterranean capital of homosexual tourism, the "Sodom of the Mare Nostrum". In the first six months of 2003 more than 600,000 gays visited Barcelona, and the area around Calles Diputacion and Concejo Ciento to the left of the Paseo de Gracia is known as "the Gaixample". I wonder whether Barcelona may have a concentration of switch-hitters whom men travel hundreds of miles to meet. Catalans are known for their anal fixations...
Since we're on the topic of sex, the actress Cayetana Guillen Cuervo, who is rather waiflike, blonde, and thirtyish, has announced through her lawyer (Cristina Almeida, of all people) that she's going to sue anyone spreading rumors that she is romantically involved with "a well-known politician". Rumor has it that the politician is no one less than Jose Maria Aznar. Hey, if it's true, good job! I wouldn't kick her out of be...oops, wait, I'm happily married, so I roundly deplore any such action taken by our Prime Minister, if such actions were taken.
Here, by the way, is a good story from Deepest America. It wasn't the Ozarks, but it could have been...