Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Even Toni Soler, a borderline Cataloony, says that ERC's lust to make teachers the language police is ridiculous, besides illegal. That's been pretty much the universal reaction around here, which is a good thing because it shows that these ERC national socialists are well outside the Catalan mainstream.

Other local news: They're going to cut the speed limit on motorways in the heart of the Barcelona metro area to 80 kilometers per hour, a little less than 50 mph, in order to reduce pollution. Outer areas will have a 90 kph speed limit. I don't know; there are arguments on both sides.

In favor: Barcelona's air is way too polluted, and 52% of particles in suspension are caused by motor vehicles. Also, the slower you drive the less likely you are to be killed in an accident, of course, and far too many people are killed in car wrecks around here.

Against: There are other ways to cut vehicle air pollution, including getting all cars that burn leaded gas off the road. The problem isn't new SUVs with big engines; they burn lots of gas but don't pollute much because they've got converters and filters and all that stuff. It's the old beaters that pollute the most. I have no idea why Barcelona doesn't have a park-and-ride system on the commuter train lines, either, and making the trains suck less might get a whole lot of cars off the road. Also, traffic is hellacious in Barcelona, and slowing the motorways down will cause more traffic jams, which waste everyone's time and lots of energy, and cause excess polluion as well. As for danger on the roads, I'm not sure the folks doing 120 are the problem; I think it's the folks doing 180 and the ones who are liquored up.

The cops busted another ETA terrorist at the bus station in Santander; he was packing a pistol, a detonator, and fake ID. They're looking for the woman who had been accompanying him; these two were apparently part of a cell based in Cantabria that was planning an attack.

The two etarras the French cops got near Paris last week turned out to be ETA's forgery brigade, so that's a big hit for them. Also, four leaders of ETA's youth squad got busted for what's called kale borroka, street terrorism; they'd been tossing molotov cocktails at bank branches and government offices.

ETA looks like it's about done; let's hope the two men killed at Barajas airport will be the last two. Murph says the cops must have a mole inside the organization, and his bet is Josu Ternera; I actually wouldn't be surprised if he's right this time.

The Pakistani army stormed the mosque in Islamabad causing the predictable massacre. La Vanguardia's correspondent, one Jordi Joan Baños, whose dateline is New Delhi, claims on page 3 that the army operation had the approval of Washington. I hadn't read that anywhere else, and I didn't know General Musharraf had to check with Langley before shooting up some Islamist terrorists.

Boy, Pope Benedict has really put his foot in it with this claim that the Catholic Church is the only true church. I know some Methodists who don't agree; I don't think most American Catholics are going to like it, either. This is not going to make him any friends, just like what the very Catholic La Vangua calls "the liberation of the Latin Mass." The Latin Mass calls for the conversion of the Jews. One would think Benedict would cut that little bit out, but he didn't even show that tiny bit of sense. This guy may be a brilliant theologian, but he's nowhere near another John Paul II, who did as much as anyone but Reagan and Thatcher to finally win the Cold War.

The scare over contaminated Chinese products has reached Spain, where some unfit toothpaste was distributed. Wariness of cheap Chinese goods seems to have just taken a sharp upswing in Spain. Now the Chinese have taken out and shot the former head of their food and drug agency for corruption. That seems a bit excessive to me, even if the government's justification is that his corruption led to the deaths of inncoent consumers.

La Vanguardia reports on the same page that 91% of legal executions occur in China, Iran, Pakistan, Iraq, Sudan, and the United States. That's lumping very different things together, since China officially executed 1010 persons in 2006 and the US 53. You could just as easily say that the Americans execute one-twentieth of the number that the Chinese do. La Vangua also fails to mention that you only get executed in the States if you've been convicted of first-degree murder.

Woody Allen has taken over the city; they cut off traffic on the Ramblas yesterday so that he could film there. Crowds are showing up to rubberneck. The PP has accused the governing Socialists, several of whom got their photos taken with Allen, of groveling indecorously before a foreign celebrity.

Three e-mail messages from La Vangua. "Just what we needed in Barcelona, an American comes and they let him cut off the streets in half the city. It's like going back forty years when the American navy came"; "We're still a Third World country that, when the American bwana comes, loses the last drop of its dignity"; "We can't absorb more tourists than the ones we already suffer from. It's not necessary to subsidize a movie with public funds to benefit the hotel owners and damage our quality of life."

They sound pretty bitter. I must say I'm not real happy at tax money going to benefit Woody Allen, either; I'd prefer to, say, burn it, or flush it down the toilet, or buy some cool automatic weapons for the cops.

Real Madrid signed Saviola and a defender named Pepe from Oporto. Barça is going to sign Gabi Milito. He'll be the last Barcelona signing, and they're still trying to get rid of several players, including Belletti, Giuly, Ezquerro, and Motta. Sylvinho and Edmilson seem to have be off the hook, and no one's sure whether Gudjohnsen is staying or going. There were rumors about Tamudo and Luis Garcia leaving Espanyol, but it looks like neither is going to happen.

So I suppose the Barça squad will be: Goalies Valdes and Jorquera; fullbacks Zambrotta, Abidal, Sylvinho, Oleguer; center backs Puyol, Milito, Thuram, Marquez; midfielders Deco, Xavi, Iniesta, Toure, Edmilson, Dos Santos, Bojan; forwards Ronaldinho, Eto'o, Messi, Henry, and Gudjohnsen. That looks pretty good, and I think Barça has to be the favorite going into next season.

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