Monday, January 22, 2007

News from here in Upper Castellón:

La Vangua is making a big deal out of Hillary, Obama, and Bill Richardson all running for the Democratic presidential nomination, as if the sex or ethnicity of the president mattered.

There has been serious rioting in the streets of the Basque Country by pro-ETA youth vandals in the wake of the Supreme Court decision that ETA's minor league team, Jarrai/Haika/Segi, is a terrorist organization. Of course, they threw stones and molotov cocktails at the cops and torched trash containers and bank machines. Three arrests were made.

Convicted ETA murderer Ignacio de Juana Chaos, which is a great surname for a terrorist, has been on hunger strike since November 7. Why don't they just let him die, if that's what he wants? And if that's not what he wants, if he's just making a political point, then he'll call off the hunger strike when he's ready.

Meanwhile, many prospective PP candidates for city council posts in the Basque Country have withdrawn from the campaign after the end of ETA's "permanent cease-fire." Of course, they're afraid of being murdered by ETA. People living in the Basque Country do not enjoy full democratic rights, of course, because of this fear. They must contain their freedom of speech, assembly, and standing for office, if they do not want to be targets.

From the "If This Had Happened in Cleveland" department: Racial gang-fights in Madrid working-class suburb Alcorcón. On Saturday night local scumbags fought it out with Latin American scumbags, and it turned into a 100-strong rumble that ended up with four seriously injured and seven arrests. Last night some 400 armed local scumbags held a "demonstration" against Latin American gangs, especially the Latin Kings, a criminal gang that started in the New York prison system. Of course, they were really looking for some sudacas to beat up. The riot squad was called out and the local scumbags took them on with stones and set up flaming barricades; the cops responded with rubber bullets. We haven't seen the end of this one.

Note: The Catalan Generalitat has recognized the Latin Kings as a cultural organization, and apparently they are getting government subsidies.

The lefties in Madrid are starting up a new newspaper that will back Zap and compete with El País, Spain's largest newspaper and the unofficial voice of the Socialist Party. It will be called Público and sell for fifty cents rather than the standard one euro price for newspapers. I'm guessing this paper will be even farther to the left than El País, which is occasionally known to publish opinion pieces by moderates, and also that it will aim at the lowest common denominator because of its low price and the fact that your middle-class high-school or college graduates are happy with El País.

By the way, what's the deal with all newspapers costing a euro? Isn't this collusion in restraint of trade? The various papers compete among themselves with ridiculous promotions--La Vangua is currently distributing kitchen utensils, for example--that must cost a fortune and waste tons of paper. Why don't they get rid of the dumb promotions that few people want and cut the price? I'll bet El Periódico, just for example, would outsell La Vangua massively if they cut the price to fifty cents.

Local political dustup: Former twenty-year Catalan premier Jordi Pujol ran an op-ed article last weekend saying that the stickers showing a Catalan donkey that some nationalists stick on their cars, in response to the sticker showing a Spanish bull that some other people stick on their cars, are silly and immature. Pujol's op-ed was, of course, greeted by cries of "Traitor!" from the Toni Soler-Oriol Grau-Joel Joan wing of nationalism-obsessed scorn-filled TV3 "humorists" whose only attempts at comedy attack a straw-man caricature of backward Spain and ignorant Spaniards.

There were 72 domestic-violence murders in Spain last year. So far this year we've had two.

Malcolm Gladwell is today's back-page interview in La Vangua. I like Gladwell; I've read The Tipping Point and Blink, both of which I liked, though I didn't think either was an intellectual breakthrough. Gladwell is a terrific reporter and writer, but the conclusions he draws are not especially new or different.

I had two mild complaints with Gladwell. First, he said that he was "a leftist in the United States, but a centrist in Europe." C'mon, Malcolm, you're no rad, you're a moderate Democrat and a capitalist, and you would fit extremely well into the moderate wing of the PSOE. The European political spectrum is roughly equivalent to the American; the difference is that in most of Europe there are lots of little fringe parties with narrow appeal, while in the US there are two big ones that include people of a wide range of opinion. In Spain, Nancy Pelosi would be part of the left wing of the PSOE, and Ron Dellums would be a proud member of the Communist party.

Second, Gladwell calls himself biracial. He said in the interview, "When I grew out the Afro haircut that I am wearing now, the police started to stop me for no reason much more frequently." I'm not going to call Gladwell a liar, but the interview includes a large photo of him. He looks like Art Garfunkel in about 1971, except less-threatening and better-dressed.

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