Wednesday, February 21, 2007

The 3/11 trial continues. The defendants are still taking the stand and denying everything. Nobody believes them.

Bad news for the Catalan statute of autonomy: Judge Perez Tremps, recused from the Constitutional Court, will not resign and allow Zap to appoint a new judge to replace him. Therefore, the Court will stay divided 6-5 between conservatives and leftists, and everyone is predicting that the six conservatives will throw out the statute.

I assume everyone has seen the photos of the baby born after only 22 weeks of gestation. The legal limit for abortion on demand in the UK and the Netherlands is 24 weeks, and I don't think there is any kind of limit in the US. Iberian Notes is pragmatic about abortion. We don't like it, but banning it would cause too much social turmoil. Our position is that aborting viable babies is murder, though, and we would ban abortion after 12 weeks except in the most extreme circumstances.

I certainly do think the Roe v. Wade decision, the Supreme Court case that legalized abortion in the US, is a judicial excursion into legislative territory and should be overturned. Overturning Roe v. Wade would not ban abortion in the US; it would throw the decision on abortion back to the individual states, rather like the death penalty. You'd have places like Oregon, Minnesota, and Massachussetts where it was legal, places like Utah and South Carolina where it was banned, and probably most of the states somewhere in the middle, with restrictions.

Oh, by the way, the referendum legalizing abortion in Portugal passed by something like 55-45, but fewer than 50% of the voters turned out, so the referendum is not binding. However, Portugal is expected to legalize abortion with restrictions fairly soon.

Big stink in the wine industry: The Zap government has been trying to pass a law raising the drinking age for beer and wine to 18; right now it's 16, but nobody pays any attention, and teenagers routinely purchase hard alcohol anyway. The wine producers are up in arms, and they seem to have won, since the bill has been withdrawn. Wine is a major industry in Spain, employing thousands of people and earning billions of euros, and they put intense pressure on the PSOE and minister Elena Salgado to stop the bill.

You might be asking, "Who cares? Teenagers don't drink wine anyway." Well, they do in Spain. They buy cheap red wine, mix it with Coke, call it a "calimocho," and drink the stuff by the gallon. Yecch. Seems to me like a waste of perfectly good Coke, since cheap red Spanish wine is fit only to be turned into ethanol or mixed with lots of orange juice and lemon soda to make sangria. Which the kids also drink. 64% of Spanish teenagers between 14 and 18 say they drink alcohol regularly on weekends, and nearly a million admit to having been drunk at least once in the last month.

If they want to cut back on juvenile drinking, what I'd do is ban drinking in the streets and enforce it. What lots of teenagers do, buying lots of cheap booze and chugging it down in the local plaza while making noise and committing vandalism and pissing in doorways, is called "the botellón," and a lot of people don't like it. Well? Bust the little bastards. Don't jail them, of course, but hand out hefty fines, say €200, that the kids' parents would have to cough up. That ought to put an end to the botellón, or at least add to local government's coffers to pay for cleaning up the mess these kids make.

La Vanguardia claims that the West is using the carrot and stick approach to negotiating with Iran, with the US providing the stick and Europe the carrots. I don't buy it for a second; I don't think the West is nearly that well-organized, and I'm not so sure Europe is all that frightened of a nuclear Iran. In fact, a common argument around here is, "Well, the US has atomic bombs, so why shouldn't Iran and North Korea have them?" Moronic moral equivalence, of course.

By the way, I've been working on a long piece on this subject and on the Korean War. I should be done in a couple of days.

Remember De Juana Chaos? He's apparently still on his hunger strike despite the reduction of his sentence for making terroristic threats to three years, of which he will serve one. I hope he dies, of course, mass-murdering terrorist scum.

The EU has decided to reduce greenhouse gases by 20% in 2020. Yeah, right, I'll believe that when I see it. The problem, of course, is that they have no idea of how they're going to do it. No details whatsoever have been decided on. Also, there's division within the EU, as Finland, Poland, and Hungary are all complaining already.

The average price of a night in a hotel room in Barcelona is €110, €6 more than last year. That seems highly excessive. Stay in a pension when you come here.

The National Museum of Art of Catalonia, which is well worth a visit, will be exhibiting eight well-known Picassos on loan for the next year. I can't stand Picasso. What a pretentious git. And the guy I really don't understand is Joan Miró. None of his paintings make the slightest sense, and they all have titles like "Bird Shitting on Masturbating Woman." For Spanish 20th century artists, give me Sorolla, Nonell, Casas, and Rusiñol.

Worst Barcelona artists ever: Tàpies and Subirachs. These guys are not only pretentious, their stuff is flat-out ugly, and it defaces the streets of the city. Some artistic terrorist commando needs to blow up the concrete atrocity in the Plaza Catalunya, the pile of old furniture in a glass box on the Paseo Picasso, and the World War I trench barbed wire on top of that Domenech and Montaner building on Calle Aragon, not to mention the new portico of the Sagrada Familia.

Champions' League action tonight: Barcelona vs. Liverpool. The Brits are all over town, drinking overpriced beer at the sidewalk cafes on the Rambla or just getting tanked in the middle of the Plaza Real. Messi will start for Barcelona. Should be a good game. Barça needs a win to get back on track after last weekend's convincing 2-1 loss at Valencia, which could well have been 4-0. Real Madrid beat Bayern Munich last night at the Bernabeu, 3-2, in a poorly played but action-packed game. Former Barça player Van Bommel scored for Bayern in the 88th minute and flipped off the crowd.

Soccer purists, which Spain is full of, have loudly decried the sale of Liverpool to a pair of North American sports-team owners. Gee, it's not like Spain doesn't have its very own del Nidos and Ruiz de Loperas and Jesus Gils and other out-and-out criminals running its soccer teams. What happened was that Liverpool was heavily in debt and couldn't afford to build a new stadium or bid for top players, and the new Yank and Canuck owners have bailed them out big-time.

People. Sports is a business. It has been ever since it was professionalized. Get over this silly weepìng about its being corrupted now.

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