Tuesday, June 08, 2004

The most recent local news is that,led by the typical bunch of Trotskyists, the CGT and the POR, a thousand Third World immigrants had a sit-in in two of Barcelona's three major medieval churches, the Cathedral and Santa Maria del Pi. The Socialists in power--this went all the way up to Zap--had them booted out and are planning to deport 25 of them. Seems there was some damage in the Cathedral--pews smashed, urine everywhere, accumulated garbage. The churchman-in-charge made sure all the side chapels (several of which contain very important and quite beautiful 14th or 15th century retablos) and the choir (a masterpiece of woodcarving, prepared for a Europe-wide meeting of kings and nobles in 1519 that never came off) were locked up and inaccesible. The Vanguardia is very pro-government on this one--of course, they've got nothing against immigrants, but those people can't go around occupying our public places. They do mention that Eastern Europeans and Latin Americans fit rather better into their scheme of desirable immigrants than...well, we won't go into that.

There is a bunch of lefties organized by the Trots whose demand is "Papers for everybody". Now, I'm pro-immigration all the way--I'd be rather hypocritical if I weren't--and I approve of the US immigration policy which allows something between 800,000 and 1 million immigrants per year. That's about one-third of one percent of the national population, and the US seems to be able to handle that number without much trouble. Therefore, Spain, which has about 1/7 the population of the US, should be able to take about 14% of the immigrants that we can--say 140,000 a year. More than that and you'd probably have some serious social problems. Fewer than that and you'd be doing less than you could to help folks who want to immigrate. But I don't think we can take everybody all at once. I wish we could.

Just a comment: I am, of course, disgusted by the Trots' manipulation of these illegal immigrants for their own political purposes. About all I can say is a) some Trots are honest dupes who really believe they're doing the right thing, and those people probably think they're really helping the immigrants, and b) nobody gives a crap what the Trots have to say anyway. They get like seventeen votes every election.

Of course, one of the best things we can do to help the Third World is to invest our money there and create jobs, property, and capital, and then let them trade freely with the West. Isolationists and protectionists seriously disagree with this stance; a writer of a letter to the Vangua's editor today mismo proposes a boycott of those companies that close factories here and move to the Third World. Wait: I thought we were supposed to be all solidarious and multiculturalistic and the like. Shouldn't we SUPPORT those companies that provide jobs in poor countries?

In case you were worried about the conditions at Abu Ghraib: Barcelona's local jail/prison, the Cárcel Modelo, is 100 years old now. It was designed for 800 prisoners, held up to 12,000 during the Civil War, and now holds about 2000 inmates, some awaiting trial who can't make bail and some already tried and convicted. One American who was held there for alleged drug trafficking (he got off but under somewhat cloudy circumstances) several years ago called it "the Black Hole of Catalonia". It is rumored that if you don't give the cops and judges any trouble, they'll send you to Can Brians or some better prison, while if you are a pain in the ass they stick you in the Modelo. Rape, IV drug use, and AIDS are rampant. Pretty much everybody agrees it should have been torn down years ago, if only because it occupies an entire city block of the Eixample, very valuable real estate right in the center of town.

Looks like everyone is playing nice and making a deal on the Iraq situation. Seems the US, the interim government, and the Brits and Germans have already signed on. France, of course, is being prickly, but it looks like they're on board too. This should result in a quick UN Security Council resolution. So much for American unilateralism. Seems to me we're doing what we've been dong for the last 59 years or so: looking for support from other democracies. Positive Iraq detail: they've gotten nine militias to come over to the government side, who have a total of 100,000 men. The two biggest militias involved are the Kurdish peshmerga, and the main Shiite militia is part of the deal. Al Sadr's boys are not involved in this one. The militiamen will be reorganized as Iraqi Army or hired by private security agencies. All in all, quite a coup for Bush on the eve of the G-7 1/2 meeting.

Forum news: Total disaster. 110,000 visitors a week, most schoolkids, well short of the five million they told us they were going to get. One new step is that they won't charge you full admission price if you just want to see one of the concerts, about the only interesting thing they've had (mostly world music but some of that stuff is pretty cool, and at least it's a little different). Best of all, Mikhail Gorbachev showed up Barcelona Mayor Joan Clos at his "dialogue": somebody from the crowd asked a question, Clos ignored it, and Gorbachov dressed him down in public, saying he should always listen to his fellow citizens.

Letter to the editor from yesterday's Vangua:

...Here we depend on Europe, Europe depends on the UN, and the UN depends on the United States. And we all know that Uncle Sam will continue as an ally of Israel, because he needs the votes and the money of the Jews in order to govern his country and the whole world...It would all be different if there were oil in Palestine. Signed: Miquel Pongiluppi, Barcelona.

Hey Mr. Pongiluppi: FUCK OFF!!!! Goddamn Nazi anti-Semitic bastards getting their letters printed in the local newspaper.

Spain's roster for the Eurocup, to start June 16: Goalies: Casillas, Cañizares, Aranzubia. Defensemen: Puyol, Capdevila, Raúl Bravo, Helguera, Marchena, César, Juanito. Midfielders: Albelda, Baraja, Xabi Alonso, Xavi, Valerón, Gabri, Etxeberria, Joaquín, Vicente. Forwards: Luque, Raúl, Morientes, Fernando Torres. Good players left off the team: Salva, Mista, Tristán. Most likely starting eleven: Casillas; Puyol, Helguera, Marchena, Raúl Bravo; Vicente, Albelda, Baraja, Etxeberria; Raúl and Fernando Torres. The Vangua says this is a good lineup but too defensive. I say it's a defensive lineup but Spain's best teams except for Real Madrid have pretty good defenses, especially Valencia, whose success you can't argue with. Vicente, Albelda, Baraja, and Marchena all play together at Valencia and they play pretty damn well. La Vangua says that a midfield with Xavi and Valerón would be much more offensive, which is true, but then you've got a midfield that can't play defense at all. Here in Catalonia we're rooting for Capdevila and Puyol, who are the two REAL Catalans on the team; Xavi, Gabri, and Luque count, too, but not quite as much. They're from Barcelona and speak Spanish. Capdevila is from Tárrega, Remei's country, and Puyol is from Pobla de Segur, way the hell up in the middle of nowhere in the Pyrenean foothills.

Groups: A. Portugal, Greece, Russia, Spain. Tough group. I like Spain and Portugal. B. France, England, Switzerland, Croatia. Should be easy for France and England. C. Sweden, Bulgaria, Denmark, Italy. This is the non-powerhouse group. Italy's the clear favorite, but any of the other three could get the second spot. D. Czech Republic, Latvia, Germany, Holland. Germany and Holland are the obvious favorites but Latvia is the sentimental favorite darkhorse; they don't even have a professional league.

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