Saturday, June 02, 2007

It's a long weekend; I forget which holiday it is on Monday, but we don't have to work, so we're going out to the pueblo to enjoy the late spring weather. The sun is shining and the birds would be singing if there were any songbirds in Barcelona. The pigeons are cooing and the parrots are squawking, and that's the best we can do. So, anyway, no updates until Monday evening, as I will be far away from computers.

Big news from right here: The Dia supermarket around the corner, fifty steps from our front door, got robbed this morning. I don't know any more details, but I'm sure the neighborhood will be full of them very soon. Last week down at the Plaza Joanic a bar owner was murdered by a drunken client with a knife, so Gràcia is irritated; they had a big demo and got more than 500 people. The killer was Moroccan, and the demo organizers were careful to stress that their problem wasn't nationality or race, but crime.

Condi Rice came to Madrid yesterday after canceling her last three planned trips. This was greeted with pleasure by the Zap government, who are trying to be both rhetorically anti-American but influential in world affairs at the same time. Zap hasn't gotten a one-on-one meeting with Bush; he's getting the freeze-out from the US administration, which will never forgive him for bailing out of Iraq with no warning. This has actually been a good tactic, since the press is full of stories about Zap's current international semi-isolation, with no more Schroeder or Chirac to hug and kiss. Spain likes to feel important, (note: in both Catalan and Spanish, the adjective "universal" is used to describe a local citizen who foreign people have heard of; for example, Pau Casals is Catalonia's most "universal" musician), and one way to register American displeasure is to treat it as if it isn't.

Condi said Spain's Cuba policy sucks and that its Afghanistan policy blows.

TV3's website reports, "More than 200 people demonstrated yesterday before the United States embassy in Madrid in order to show their rejection of North American (sic) Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. The demonstrators, convoked by Amnesty International and several social collectives, protested at what they called 'the chief representative of imperialist barbarity,' and carried signs against the deployment of United States troops in Iraq, Lebanon, and Afghanistan. They also demanded the closing of Guantanamo and the abolition of the death penalty."

You also probably heard that Spain, get this, is suing the Odyssey undersea exploration company, claiming that their latest haul came from Spanish waters. Odyssey, of course, says that it came from international waters, and more specifically somewhere off the Scilly Islands. Which last I checked were nowhere near Spain. Odyssey also says that the ship wasn't Spanish, either, but British, and it was carrying all that gold and silver to bribe the Duke of Savoy.

I suppose everybody's heard about the asswipe who exposed people on two continents to TB. What strikes me most wrong about the story is this guy's absolute lack of concern for anybody but himself. I would throw the book at him for illegally entering the country and anything else he did, and I hope he gets his lawyer ass sued off. If I'd been on one of those planes I'd sue him.

Judge Garzón locked up without bail six of the last batch of Islamists they arrested around here. He turned loose the imam, Taufik Cheddadi. Cheddadi was quoted as saying, "The people who kill in the name of our God have nothing to do with our religion." I hope he's being honest, but then why is he associated with all these other people who are seriously mixed up in international terrorism?

Everyone is still going nuts about the little English girl who disappeared in Portugal. Very sad, but other things are happening in the world.

In La Vanguardia, Manuel Trallero blasts TV3 political commentator Xavi Coral for calling the Plataforma per Catalunya a political party that wants to strengthen immigration laws instead of "a racist and xenophobic party." He's right.

Wilco's playing here tonight as part of the Primavera Sound festival, but I'm not interested in any of the other acts and tickets are like eighty euros so I'm not going. The Stones are playing the Estadio Olimpico on June 21, but unless tickets are cheap, which I doubt, I'm staying home.

And Spain plays Latvia tonight in Eurocup qualifying. This is dumb. There should be divisions based on population, with the top level requiring a population of, say, five million. Spain vs. Latvia, or their next opponent, Liechtenstein, is just dumb. Dumb, dumb, dumb. It's like the Red Sox playing a rookie-league team.

Interesting thing about Liechtenstein that I read somewhere: In the old days a few hundred years ago the Liechtensteins were a German noble family that owned extensive lands in Bohemia and Hungary. They were vassals of the Hapsburgs, and a couple hundred years later they decided to buy a piece of land that they held on their own, independently. So they bought this little mountain valley, which began to be called Liechtenstein because of its rulers. After World War I the Liechtenstein lands in Hungary and Bohemia, no longer part of the Hapsburg Empire, which itself was overthrown, were confiscated. The Liechtensteins were left with their valley. This is one of the few cases in which a country is named for its ruling family rather than vice versa, as if Germany had been named Hohenzollern or Scotland Stuart.

In case you get bored, this long article (I haven't read it all) on voter irrationality and democracy looks very interesting.

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