Saturday, February 24, 2007

Everybody in Barcelona is talking about a completely senseless murder that happened yesterday. Some guy, who is apparently a mental patient / homeless bum / drug addict, pushed another man onto the subway tracks at Navas station on the red line, and the train ran over him. They have no idea why; the two did not know one another. Other passengers chased the murderer down and held him on the ground until the cops showed up.

The other thing everyone's talking about is the awful Barcelona commuter train system; there was another massive delay yesterday on two of the suburban train lines. That makes about twelve major screwups on the Renfe commuter trains this year so far. This time a bunch of passengers got pissed off and blocked the train tracks at Martorell, thereby holding things up even more, of course. That's what happens when the government runs the trains or any other industry that should be in private hands.

In Italy, Romano Prodi and his lefties have cut a deal with the Christian Democrats to form a new government. The price: Italian troops stay in Afghanistan. The lefty bill granting rights and privileges to unmarried couples (homo and hetero) gets shot down. The high-speed train from Turin to Lyon will be built. There will be more unspecified economic liberalization. According to La Vanguardia, the Church is the big winner. I will never understand Italian politics.

Headline in La Vanguardia: "US soldier, rapist and murderer in Iraq, may go free in ten years." The story, of course, is that five American soldiers raped and murdered an Iraqi girl in March 2006. Now, of course, whenever you get 135,000 men in one place, a few are going to be bad eggs; the US army hanged some 25 US soldiers in England during World War II for murder or rape, for example.

I think the real story is that justice is being done publicly and swiftly. The soldier who was court-martialed and convicted was sentenced to 100 years in prison; he will be eligible for parole in ten years. This particular rapist talked; he testified against the other four soldiers involved, and got more lenient treatment. A second rapist has been court-martialed and sentenced to ninety years. Rapists three and four are awaiting their court martials, and rapist number five, who was also the shooter, will be tried before a US civilian court in Kentucky and may well get the death penalty.

The ironic part here is, of course, the fact that in Spain nobody serves more than thirty years in prison, by law, no matter how many people he kills. And La Vangua is scandalized that this US rapist may get out in ten, which I doubt will happen. They call this rape-murder "one of the most atrocious episodes of the Iraq war." Atrocious it most certainly is, but it rather pales in comparison with the terrorist bombings that kill dozens of people in Baghdad markets every week.

The right--the PP and AVT--is holding yet another demo in Madrid today, supposedly to protest against the reduction of the prison sentence of ETA terrorist Iñaki De Juana Chaos. More symbolic politics that won't do a damn bit of good. Street demos are supposed to be the province of infantile populists on the left, not of serious political organizations that have a real plan to govern the country.

Get this. Families of convicted ETA prisoners get government subsidies in order to go visit the prisoners in jail. Socialist deputy Jesús Loza said, "We are not the only ones who suffer. The (imprisoned) murderers and their mothers suffer, too." Tears are dripping down my cheeks as I type.

TV newsreader Ramon Pellicer will be the new host of the TV3 evening news. Quote: "I would love to report the story of (socialist) Segolene Royal's victory in the French election." Yep, TV3 news is sure neutral and objective. There's a letter to the editor today pointing out that of the 60 minutes devoted to each TV3 newscast, more than 20 go to sports, and most of that to the Barça.

Censorship on Spanish TV, and this after years of bashing Americans for our nonexistent censorship! State-owned TV1 did an interview with loudmouth sports journalist José María García, who criticized a bunch of famous people, from ex-Real Madrid president Florentino Pérez to PP leader Mariano Rajoy to Socialist Interior minister Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba. They then refused to air the whole interview, since García allegedly "insulted people"; they cut out all the interesting parts and reduced it from two hours to 45 minutes. It's not like Spanish TV doesn't insult people all the time anyway, especially on those cheesy celebrity trash shows where they call each other prostitutes and drug addicts all the time.

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