Zap and his minions had their meeting and decided that Spain would send 650 military personnel to Southeast Asia, including five planes and a hospital ship. The cost of the mission will be some 6 million euros. Everybody seems to be keeping score here, as both Catalunya TV and Libertad Digital--and those are two rather different media outlets--pointed out that this will make Spain the fifth largest contributor of troops overall and the third among European countries. It still hasn't been announced where they're going, though the first contingent will begin leaving on Monday. Hey, at least they're doing something. Individual Spaniards have been generous in their contributions, and the government is kicking in six million euros in real money and fifty million in loans that can only be used to buy Spanish exports, as well as a moratorium on paying back the debt (some 500 million euros) that the affected countries currently owe Spain. Well, hey, that's something. The PP is complaining that the Zap government's reaction has been slow, that announcing millions of euros in aid is sort of cheesy when ninety percent of it is loans to prop up the Spanish export market, and that six million in real money ain't enough. Precisely the same complaints and criticisms that the Spanish media leveled at the United States, which swung into action as soon as it was possible to get the ships steaming.
The big domestic stink going on is that this ETA guy who murdered 25 people is going to get out of prison. He was sentenced to nine billion years in jail, but in Spain the maximum time served is thirty years. This dude got twelve years off for good behavior, and they're going to turn him loose after eighteen years in prison. They have to. That's the law. He earned his time off according to the rules. Three other major ETA terrorists, all multiple murderers, are also scheduled for release this year after serving less than 20 years. I actually sort of admire the well-meaning naivete of the Spanish judicial and penal system, with all that emphasis on rehabilitation--but let's face it, this is completely nuts. If you can't lock up a terrorist multiple murderer for life, what is the point of a prison sentence? This guy will be right back in business as soon as he gets out; he's showed no repentance.