Sunday, July 09, 2006

Just reading Sunday's La Vanguardia while listening to a Howlin' Wolf compilation. There's this French outfit called Saga Blues (best link I could find) that's put out an excellent series of original blues CDs. I have six or seven of them. They're cool. Well, maybe not this cool.

La Vanguardia, as a very Catholic newspaper, was guaranteed to go overboard on the Pope's visit, and they gave it six full pages. I gleaned that Ratzinger said nothing of any interest; what he didn't say was more interesting, since he did not give Zap hell in public. La Vangua is all POed that Zap didn't show at the massive mass the Pope put on. There are also a few stats: 80% of Spaniards self-identify as Catholic, 1.4% believers in some other religion, and the rest non-religious. Huh, the Catholic tally isn't that different from the percentage of religious believers in the US. 48% of Spaniards almost never go to religious services, while those who do at least occasionally add up to 51%; nearly 20% go to church at least once a week. 42% say they believe in God, and 31% "more or less" (más bien) do, adding up to a 73% majority. 17% are doubters, and 9% are absolute unbelievers.

La Vangua's Latin American correspondent, Joaquim Ibarz, has page three, the lead international story, for the Mexican election, and he blasts Lopez Obrador for "radicalizing his posture and threatening 'the political stability of the country' if the election results are not recounted, which is not permitted by electoral law. 'This has just begun,' he said a few hours before the protest demonstration he called in the Zocalo to denounce 'generalized fraud'." Ibarz stresses the honesty of the election: "Spanish Euro-MP Jose Ignacio Salafranca, the head of the European Union observers mission, said, 'The election was clean and transparent. No PRD poll watcher made the most minimal complaint to us.'" Nice piece, if rather opinionated, by Mr. Ibarz, who is one of the Vangua's better foreign correspondents.

In case you're planning to come to Spain sometime in the next week, be aware that the Iberia pilots' union, Sepla, is going on strike between July 10 and 16. Many flights will be canceled.

Rafael Ramos, tied with Andy Robinson and Tomas Alcoverro for the title of "planet Earth's worst foreign correspondent," has this scoop from London:

The world may go better or worse, there may be wars and earthquakes, global warming and terrorist conspiracies, a Conservative or Labor government, but none of that affects British high society's plans. When summer comes, the only thing on the agenda are the Ascot horse races, the Henley regattas, the Glyndebourne opera, and the traditional cricket match between the exclusive Eton and Harrow schools.

A Spanish soldier was killed by a bomb, probably triggered at a distance, in Afghanistan yesterday. Four others were wounded. We appreciate the sacrifice the soldiers made. 680 Spanish peacekeeping troops are stationed in Herat.

Here's rabid Cataloony TV host Toni Soler, who passes for an intellectual in some circles around here:

The debate about Catalanity, if it is based on genetics, is ridiculous. But language, ah, my friend, that is something else...A 'president' (regional premier) worthy of the new statute must speak Catalan and Spanish well. Montilla, though in Madrid he has an accent from here, speaks deficient Catalan.

OK, Toni, what do you think if we pass a law in the States saying no one whose English is "deficient" can be a state governor? You'd scream xenophobic anti-Hispanic racism, of course, and you'd be right. Fortunately, we don't do such things. And, by the way, who are you to judge Montilla's Catalan? My personal opinion is that it sounds just fine.

Finally, get this load of crap from La Vangua's ombudsman, Carles Esteban, who is at least somewhat better than the last idiot they had. The large-type filler reads, "The American press reported on 9-11 and the Afghanistan and Iraq wars by hiding the drama of the situation."

After the 9-11 attacks in New York and Washington, the press agencies provided photographs of the victims of the brutal attack in the first hours following, but as time passed, the photos that came in were more general, there were fewer persons recognizable, and of course no one wounded, no corpses.

Mr. Esteban, isn't this true in every disaster? That is, you get lots of photos of dead bodies in the first few hours after a disaster. Then the police carry them away and there aren't any more dead body photos. Duh.

In the Afghanistan war and the later one in Iraq, something similar happened. The officially accredited photographers embedded in military units offered images of the war in which few victims or the devastating effects of military action were seen.

Is this guy nuts? There was and is plenty of violent film coming out of those places. Also, of course, there weren't many victims of the US forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. The great majority of people killed in both places are victims of the so-called insurgents.

Months had to pass from the beginning of the Iraq war until a soldier sneaked a photo of the coffins of the American soldiers repatriated in a military plane, photos that went around the world and caused a scandal in American and world public opinion, since until that moment it seemed like a war without victims.

He's flat-out lying. There were kilometers of film of Iraqi victims of the war, of course, and the reason photos of American soldiers' funerals have not gone around the world is because those funerals are private ceremonies and the international press is not invited, asshole. But American casualties in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars were and are heavily covered, as anyone who was actually paying attention to the news would know. And there was certainly no "scandal" in the American press when the photos of flag-draped coffins were shown, in what was arguably interference with the dead soldiers' privacy. If anything, that photograph's effect was to strengthen Americans' respect for the troops.

There's more of this crap, but I've had enough, so I'll summarize it:

mistreatment...torture...terrorize the Iraqi population...Abu Graib (sic)...attacks...devastating...obscene...censorship...passive and uncritical media...mold and control the messages transmitted to public opinion

Gee, if this is the way the ombudsman feels, don't you think news coverage in La Vanguardia might be a little one-sided?

Tomorrow we'll be back with more Sunday paper fun, and maybe some Monday paper fun as well, especially if Baltasar Porcel is up and about.

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