Sunday, May 20, 2007

Cynthia McKinney gets an interview with La Vanguardia. Quotes:

"I investigated how the CIA and FBI served the interests of the big corporations against the African people and their struggle for freedom...Many African-Americans were recruited by the CIA in order to blackmail, threaten, and commit crimes for the benefit of those corporations...In memory of Dr. King I investigated his murder again and proved an evident connection between the American secret services and the crime. The truth is still hidden from the public." She accuses the US of supporting Kabila's forces in the Congolese civil war in order to grab the minerals. Of course, no proof of any of this is presented.

One thing about La Vangua, and the Spanish press in general, is that they're no good at distinguishing wackos like McKinney and Naomi Wolf and Jeremy Rifkin and that lot from serious people who have knowledge and informed opinions.

La Vanguardia ran a survey rating Barcelona residents' satisfaction with the city government's performance in several areas. I thought I'd throw in my own opinions. Remember, I like it here, and all criticisms are made constructively.

67% were satisfied with the Parks and Gardens department, to which I would give a C-, as they normally do a pretty good job, but on the other hand the psychedelic lizard at the Parque Guell was vandalized on their watch. Also, they prune back the trees way too much. I don't understand the Spanish predilection for pruning trees almost back to the trunk. 61% were satisfied with public transport, to which I'd give a B-. The Metro is pretty good and they're expanding it, but it should stay open longer on weeknights and till 3 AM on Friday. The bus lines I use are pretty good, too, but I've heard a lot of complaints from people that use major lines during rush hour.

58% approve of sports facilities, which I give a C, since the ones that exist are very nice, but there aren't nearly enough. Barcelona is a very crowded city and there's just not a lot of room, so we don't have the lovely municipal tennis courts and golf courses and soccer fields there are in the States. 55% approve of the city's cleanliness, which I'll give a B. It really is pretty difficult to keep such a large, crowded city that attracts so many tourists clean, and Barcelona does OK. It's cleaner and better-kept than many American cities. Major improvement: Citizens have gotten much better about picking up their dogs' poop.

53% are satisfied with "urban development," whatever that is, but I'm going to assume that it means new private and public construction both. I'm giving it an D, since the city needs to be massively rezoned to move industry and warehouses out to the suburbs and make Barcelona exclusively residential/commercial. 35% approve of policies toward crime, to which I'm assigning an F. There is too damn much street crime against tourists, everybody knows it, and if it isn't stopped the tourist goose is going to stop laying those golden eggs some time soon.

31% approve of traffic policy, which of course also gets an F. It's a tough job, I know, because Barcelona is so crowded, but they've done such a lousy job in my neighborhood; I blame them for the deaths of two idiot kids on a motorbike last year on my street. There's a sharp up-sloping bump in the pavement at the corner of Martí and Sors that wasn't marked with a sign, they hit it going too fast, they got thrown off into the side of a building, and were killed. All because a speed bump wasn't marked. Traffic in general is just hellaciously bad. Even New Yorkers would be appalled.

Meanwhile, the Generalitat surveyed 3000 teenagers between ages 12 and 16 in all of Catalonia. 28% admit riding a motorbike without a helmet, 25% have participated in a botellón (street drinking party), 16% have shoplifted, 15% have gotten drunk within the past month, and 13% have committed vandalism. Now, I'm going to assume that most of the vandals are also shoplifters and drunks, so let's figure that there are only a total of 20% with real problem behavior. That's still a lot, especially when you figure that it's not just boys, it's girls too.

Hey, everybody, don't be a moron and ride a motorcycle without a helmet. A friend's wife's little brother, aged 16, was killed a few years ago when dicking around on a motorbike without a helmet. The idiot teenagers who got killed on my street weren't wearing helmets, either, though I'm not sure they'd have done much good. Hell, riding a motorcycle even with a helmet is very dangerous, and I don't think I'd do it in Spanish traffic or on Spanish roads. I've had two students badly injured in motorcycle wrecks in Barcelona, one paralyzed and in a wheelchair and the other with cerebral palsy. The wheelchair guy is bitter but has accepted it, and the palsy guy hasn't accepted it at all and is probably a suicide candidate.

Note to Ben Roethlisberger: Spanish football players' contracts prohibit them from motorcycle riding and skiing and dangerous stuff like that. I don't know why yours doesn't. If I were your boss it would. Former Barça goalie and bad boy Carles Busquets once got in big trouble for dicking around on a motorbike, falling off, and tearing up his hands so he couldn't play for like a month.

The Barcelona mayoral candidates had a debate. It was really boring. My neighbor Chemical Inma Mayol has had recent plastic surgery, along with some botox. She was wearing a weird red thing that made her look like a tomato.

Somebody paid $73 million for an Andy Warhol painting. I wouldn't pay 73 cents for an Andy Warhol painting. Also, FC Barcelona and Re-Al Qaeda will get €1.1 billion (with a B) each over the next eight years for their TV rights. Hey, if that's what the market will bear, fine, but it seems like an awful lot of money.

Oh, yeah, more extracurricular fun in the French election. According to reports that have made the Spanish media, Nicolas Sarkozy's wife ran off with some other guy a few years ago and then, after a few months, he took her back. Also, Segolene Royal's squeeze, Socialist party leader François Hollande, supposedly had an affair a couple of years ago. Royal's price for forgiving him, goes the story, was that Hollande would stand down as a prospective presidential candidate and obtain the position for her.

Nobody seems to care, which is probably just as well. Let's see what kind of attention Rudy Giuliani's rather tempestuous sex life gets from the media and the public. That might be enough to cost him a couple of percentage points among primary voters. And, of course, there's Hillary, whose husband cheated on her not just once, but about six thousand times. That's weird. Most women would dump the bum. I can only assume that she hasn't done so either because A) she loves the big lug anyway or B) she's putting up with him for political reasons. I bet it's B.

M------ M----'s new movie at Cannes gets the front page of La Vangua's culture section, with the headline, "M---- spanks Bush again." Surprisingly, reviewer Lluís Bonet Mójica says, "M----'s rotund figure is present in several scenes, feeding his no less enormous ego." Bonet adds that the biased scenes in Havana prove that M----'s movie is "a pamphlet," meaning propaganda, "no matter whether they have a public health system there or not."

Speaking of which, La Vanguardia's Havana correspondent says that the Cuban army controls 65% of the economy, including vital sectors like food and drinks, construction, and tourism. That's right, folks, every time you drink Havana Club or fly to Varadero to check out the cheap hookers, the money goes to Fidel's army. Hey, all you Spaniards who think military service is evil: in Cuba everybody has to do two years in the army. Four million Cubans out of a population of 11 million are under army control, either a) in the army itself b) in the reserves c) in the militia or d) in "production and defense brigades."

No comments: