Sunday, April 24, 2005

If you've been reading the Spain Herald religiously as you ought to be doing, you'll be up on the news from over here. If not, I'll fill you in briefly: Parliament passed gay marriage, which includes the right for gay couples to marry--not "enter into civil unions", marry--AND adopt children. I've been going back and forth on gay marriage. Most of the time I figure, hey, no sweat, if they want to get married it's no skin off my nose, and so few people are gay (3% or so, not Kinsey's 10%) and relatively few of them are going to get married, and even fewer of them will want to adopt children. As for adopting kids, I figure that being raised by a couple of alternative lifestyle guys who actually want the kid is probably better than a lot of situations a lot of kids find themselves in now. Some of the time, though, I'm against it, mostly when I get pissed off at Andrew Sullivan.

The Socialist administration is going to do something very intelligent, for once, which is to make divorce easier. Right now it's a difficult and expensive morass of red tape. Supposedly they're also going to make abortion easier to get, which might kick up a real storm of opposition. I bet they get away with gay marriage and divorce and don't even bring up abortion. If they do it'll blow up in their hands. Right now abortion is effectively available in Spain. No point in staking any of your political credibility on the subject.

Anyway, it looks like the lavender marriage thing will go into effect sometime this summer. Prepare for Joan Clos and Inma Mayol to make a big scene about presiding over the first gay marriage in Barcelona. Rocco Buttiglione will not be invited. What I wonder is how the Spanish Socialists and Communists can balance out their Castro-love with their newfound respect for diversity, because Castro, of course, persecutes gays.

Meanwhile, the media is making a big stink about the Pentagon investigation concluding the Abu Ghraib tortures were an isolated incident, a unit gone out of control, and exculpating general Ricardo Sanchez and three of his aides. TV3 took advantage of the opportunity to compare the situation at Guantanamo to Abu Ghraib, and to rerun the photos, of course. The two cases are totally different. At Guantanamo, remember, the prisoners there are Al Qaeda / Taliban captured in Afghanistan, and the controversy is whether the techniques used there, under higher-up supervision, such as sleep deprivation, getting cold water thrown over you, etc. in order to get suspects to talk, count as torture. The details about this were made public by the US military; Heather Mac Donald is the best source on this. The victims at Abu Ghraib were Iraqis, possibly innocent, not under interrogation, and their treatment was unknown to higher-ups and most certainly not authorized. There's no controversy. Everyone agrees that what happened at Abu Ghraib was torture, there's no dispute over that, and as far as I can tell those responsible have been punished.

That idiot Pasqual Maragall has now suggested that Catalonia should join the Francophonie. God knows why. He's also proposed that French should be the "second language" taught in schools, which I assume would put it ahead of both Spanish and English. Brilliant.

They're trying 24 alleged dirtbags who formed part of the Spanish connection in the September 11, 2001 bombings. Three of them, Imad Eddin Barakat Yarkas, "Abu Dada"", Driss Chebli, and Ghasub Al Abrash Ghayoun, are charged with being direct accomplices in the attacks. Abu Dada is connected to all the Islamist cells turned up so far in Spain, including the bombers of the trains on March 11, 2004. Two others are accused of personally preparing Mohammed Atta at the meeting held in Salou in June 2001, when the date for the plan to go off was set. Abu Dada was arrested two months after 9-11, and Spain has arrested more than 150 suspected Islamist terrorists since the attacks. The trial is expected to go on for months and set a precedent for the trial of those accused in the March 11 bombings, to be held in spring 2006.

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