Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Update on soccer racism: Sunday, as Atlético de Madrid was losing at home 0-3 to Real Madrid, the crowd broke into racist "monkey" chants directed at Real's Brazilian defenseman Roberto Carlos. In the 83rd minute the referee directed Atlético's on-field representative to announce over the stadium PA system that the racist chants should stop; they only increased, of course. Atlético's response, rather than, say, apologizing and taking steps to see that this doesn't happen again, was to justify their fans' behavior on the ground that Roberto Carlos had taunted the Frente Atlético, where most of the racist bullshit probably originated. La Vanguardia's take on the story is not "this is a disgrace" so much as "this is one more black eye for Madrid's Olympic Games candidacy".

Meanwhile, on Dec. 12, 2004, Barcelona's Cameroonian forward, Etoo, received racist abuse from the fans during a game at Albacete. The Albacete club was fined, get this, 600 euros by the League, which was reduced to 300 on appeal. People, this is not the sort of fine that's going to make the clubs do something to root this out. No action has been taken by the League regarding racist abuse of Etoo in Getafe on November 28 and of Roberto Carlos in Barcelona's Camp Nou on November 20.

Takling about an absolute disgrace, the UE and its member countries have restored diplomatic relations with Cuba and the Castroites are crowing victory. The EU broke off relations with Cuba in June 2003 after 75 dissidents were jailed. 14 of those dissidents have been freed. Gee, this only leaves 61 innocent political prisoners in Castro's mini-Gulag, so we'd all better hurry up to plant a big fat smooch on his ass.

Iberian Notes's official response to the CBS News scandal:

1. They were out to get Bush. Mary Mapes's E-mails are damning.
2. Both the documents and the allegations are bogus. It is not true that Bush got in the Air National Guard through family pull, it is not true that there was a waiting list to get into the Guard, it is not true that Bush committed any infractions during his Guard service, it is true that Bush served his full six years, it is true that he was a fighter pilot who flew interceptions of Soviet planes, and it is true that Bush actually volunteered to go to Vietnam.
3. CBS was completely irresponsible in running the story. They broke just about every journalistic standard in the book. And their motivation was not so much to get a scoop but to damage Bush and possibly impede his re-election; they rushed the story through with minimal fact-checking and ran it in late September at the height of the Presidential campaign. Then their reaction of jumping to defend their story without even looking at the serious charges made against it was both incompetent and arrogant.
4. They, at the very least Mapes, were most likely in cahoots with elements of the Kerry campaign. Again, the e-mails are damning.
5. The blogosphere had something to do with this, though it was not the only nor even the primary factor. I think what happened was that a few bloggers got on the documents right away, made their case, and managed to get the word out to the right-wing sector of the media (that is, Fox, the talk shows, certain columnists) and to the Bush campaign. Then the snowball rolled.

The Vanguardia reprints parts of a Wall Street Journal piece on the Zap government. I quote, translating back from Spanish:

(Zap) is facing probably the worst political crisis since Spain restored democracy three decades ago...Zapatero must wake up to the challenge to Spain's existence caused by the Basques. This crisis can be resolved quickly and peacefully. But if the Spanish socialists try to compromise with Basque hard-line tactics, they will endanger not only the future of their country, but constitutional democracy in all of Europe...Spain needs strong leadership now. In both foreign and domestic policy in the last ten months Zapatero has inspired little confidence...(the Socialists' soft line) has evidently failed...(the Basques) have every right to ask for constitutional changes, but by constitutional means...the Basque nationalists are out on an extreme in Europe, willing to tolerate methods that democratically illegitimize their struggle...the Catalans are seeking similar goals to the Basques, but, differently, the Catalan nationalists respect the Constitution and reject violence...A four-vote majority in the Basque parliament does not give the Basque nationalists a green light to act by decree...For the good of all Spaniards, Madrid cannot let these local politicians hijack the Spanish Constitution. If it does, Spain as a country will be history.

I think the WSJ is being a little exaggerated here. There is absolutely no chance the Retch Plan will get past the Spanish Parliament, and if Retch calls a wildcat illegal referendum, it will be ignored as it will be invalid by definition. Also, saying "the Basques want this" or "the Catalans want that" is a false generalization, since at least half of the people in the Basque Country and Catalonia are not regional nationalists. Finally, there is one minority ultranationalist political party here in Catalonia, Esquerra Republicana, that is weak on Basque terrorism and doesn't have any respect for the Constitution. Fortunately they never get more than a few percent of the vote.

I will add that I think they are exactly correct in their assessment of Zap.

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