La Vanguardia is reporting that Hugo Chávez, Venezuela's elected dictator, is going to permit Cuban government agents to "investigate, arrest, and interrogate" Cubans in Venezuela. Opposition leader Julio Andrés Borges of the Justice First party said "This agreement means a cession of sovereignty and it violates the Venezuelan extradition law by permitting Cubans to make arrests in our country and transfer them to Cuba, with no limit on the nationality of those investigated. Cuba will be able to investigate, arrest, confiscate property, and transfer to Cuba citizens of any nationality." Cuba has been sending "volunteers", doctors and teachers, to Venezuela, and many of them have deserted. There are also some 30,000 Cuban dissidents and refugees living in Venezuela. Even Venezuelan citizens "whose actions might be considered attacks on Cuban security or sovereignty" or who are wanted by the Castro government could be affected--arrested, deported, and locked up in the Castro gulag.
If this Venezuela crap goes about one step farther I vote we get their Army to overthrow this clown and then call some honest elections. If one person is deported from Venezuela to Cuba under this alleged law, which is clearly against the Venezuelan constitution, that should be the trigger. What's the point of having a CIA if we're going to allow this shit to go on? And if Chávez ends up like Allende so much the better, but I'll bet he goes down like Saddam.
They're having another one of those endless, meaningless "alternatives to globalization" (that is, anti-American and anti-Western) festivals down in Porto Alegre, Brazil. Check out this list of international buffoons who are going to show up: José Saramago, Eduardo Galeano, Federico Mayor Zaragoza, Gilberto Gil, Manu Chao, Leonardo Boff, Mario Soares, Ignacio Ramonet, Lula da Silva, and Hugo Chávez himself. Where's José Bové? In jail, I hope. They're going to struggle against "patriarchical capitalism". Just ignore them, which I think everyone outside Latin America and Latin Europe is doing.
Judge Baltasar Garzón has indicted 36 members of ETA's political branch, Herri Batasuna or whatever they're calling themselves this week, as members of a terrorist organization. Good. Lock them up and throw away the key. Unfortunately, it'll probably be five years before the case even gets to court. Garzón's indictment points out that since 1977 ETA has carried out over 8000 terrorist attacks, in which more than 800 people died and more than 1400 were wounded, not to mention over 3500 riots and civil disturbances (kale borroka), and has cost the Basque Country more than 90 billion euros in expenses and lost investments, 100 billion if you're counting from 1970.
Bush's "hook 'em Horns" hand gesture at the Inauguration has been amply commented upon, with a bunch of idiots around these parts claiming that he was making an obscene gesture at them and a bunch of idiots in Scandinavia claiming it's a heavy metal Satanic sign. The answer is quite simple: Bush made the hand sign when the University of Texas Longhorns marching band passed by. That particular gesture, with the index and pinky fingers held up, is certainly offensive in Spain; it means you're a cuckold--but in Texas it means you support the Longhorns football team and the university in general. The gesture has no obscene meaning in the Anglosphere. Of course, Bush was not in Spain, he was in Washington, and his hand sign is completely meaningless except as support for the flagship university of his home state.
In 2004 in Barcelona there were, reported to the police, about 5000 muggings, 2000 armed burglaries, 4000 armed robberies in places of business, 5000 car thefts, more than 10,000 thefts from cars, and more than 16,000 just plain thefts without violence. Of those arrested, 83% were set free and 10% were jailed; 7,268 were Spaniards and 10,796 were foreigners wanted for crimes. An additional 5000 illegal immigrants, who had not committed crimes, were also arrested. Of course, they don't really count. 542 arrested individuals are habitual criminals; they were arrested at least four times in the year 2004, an average of six times each. 19% are Moroccan, 19% are Algerian, and 16% are Bosnian.
I don't give a rat's ass about the Academy Awards. I find it incredible that such a blatant example of industry marketing is actually taken seriously by anyone.
In soccer news, last weekend Barcelona trounced the very weak Racing of Santander 3-0 in the Camp Nou, with goals by their three superstars, Etoo, Ronaldinho, and Deco. They maintain their seven-point lead over Real Madrid. Meanwhile, they've signed two players, midfielder Albertini from Atalanta, who came for free, and forward Maxi López, who they bought from River Plate for six million euros. Neither is going to start, but both will be used regularly to spell other players who desperately need some rest. Barça will now have a lineup that looks like this: Goalie Valdés, defenders Belletti, Puyol, Oleguer, and Van Bronckhorst, midfielders Xavi, Márquez, and Deco, and forwards Giuly, Etoo, and Ronaldinho. Their men on the bench will be Albertini and López, as well as defenders Sylvinho and Navarro and midfielder Iniesta. It's been suggested that Albertini should replace Márquez in midfield, and Márquez should move back to defense replacing young Oleguer, but I don't buy it. I'd rather have Oleguer, whose career is going to be all uphill from here, in the starting eleven than old man Albertini. No knock on Albertini, but he should be playing twenty minutes a game, not ninety. The guy who is going to be hurt is Iniesta, who has until now been first man off the bench when he hasn't been an emergency starter. Again, I'd continue using Iniesta as much as possible, since he's another young player whose career is going to be all uphill. You have to get these guys some top-level experience, and there's no better time to do that than a season in which you have a comfortable lead. I would also like to see Navarro get more playing time.
I find it interesting that Barça has signed so many white Brazilians--Belletti, Sylvinho, Edmilson (currently injured), Motta (also injured), and Deco, who appears to be part-Indian but not part-black. The only black Brazilian on the team is of course Ronaldinho. Barça has had black Brazilian players before--Giovanni, Geovanni, Anderson, and of course Ronaldo and Rivaldo, so I don't think they're being intentionally racist here. I've just never seen so many white Brazilian guys on one soccer team.