Other news from these here parts: Scary bit in La Vanguardia about the El Jueves case. It looks like the lese-majesté case against the magazine and its unfunny cartoonists is going to be thrown out of court, which is good. But the prosecutor's office is irritated because the confiscation of the issue with the doggy-style caricature didn't work; what happened was, of course, that images of the cartoon were spread through Internet, even though El Jueves's website was shut down, too.
So the prosecutor's office has suggested a change in legislation, apparently approved of by vice-prime minister Fernandez de la Vega. Confiscating publications would still be legal, and the idea is "to guarantee the effectiveness of confiscation by giving judges the power to prohibit the diffusion of any incriminated text or drawing through any medium, including the Internet, under the penalty of commiting a penal offense."
Wow. Looks to me like if this suggested law goes through, then Iberian Notes and Barcepundit would have been breaking the law by linking to websites that posted the doggy-style cartoon, and we could have gone to jail. And InstaPundit would be breaking the law, too, since he linked to our links to the cartoon. Does that mean they'd hunt him down over there in Tennessee?
Barcepundit links to El Jueves's cover cartoon this week.
Another major ETA bust in France this morning. They got a big fish, the head of ETA's logistics cell, and two of his subordinates. Yesterday they got one more etarra, a rather small fish, who ran a safe house for terrorists on the run. I really think ETA is mortally wounded, that they've shot their last bolt in this most recent failed campaign. 18 etarras have been arrested since they announced the end of their "truce" on June 6.
They let off two homemade bombs along the route of the Tour de France through the Pyrenees yesterday, with no effect. This might well have been the work of amateurs.
Al Qaeda in Spain update: The cops arrested a Palestinian and a Syrian in Madrid for raising money for the jihad. They're connected to Abu Dahdah, Al Qaeda's chief in Spain; one of them ran the photocopy shop Abu Dahdah used to copy jihadist propaganda for distribution in mosques. They're also linked to Mohamed Setmarian, a Spanish citizen and Al Qaeda military leader who was arrested by the US Army in Pakistan. Their technique was fairly sophisticated; they set up shell companies and laundered the terrorist money through them. €120,000 was found hidden in their apartments, along with lots of good evidence on their computers and cellphones.
BBVA, one of Spain's two giant banks, says the real estate market is slowing down and that prices will plateau and maybe even begin to decline by the end of 2008. Higher interest rates are causing an increase in the number of court cases over mortgage impayment in Barcelona; most Spaniards are on variable-rate mortgages.
The saga of the Afrioan boat people continues: another cayuco carrying 150 illegal immigrants washed up on El Hierro in the Canaries last night. At least this time nobody died.
Fernando García, La Vanguardia's correspondent in Havana, says that a one-liter tetra-brik of liquid milk in Cuba costs between 1.5 and 2 convertible pesos, or more than 15% of the average worker's monthly salary; it hasn't been available in the shops for the last two weeks at all. He adds that the buses are all half-broken down and don't have a schedule.
I don't know what to think about the release of the Bulgarian nurses. It's quite obvious that the guilty party in the transmission of AIDS to those Libyan children is the Qaddafi regime, and that the nurses and doctor are scapegoats. So I'm very glad they're free. But what's this about Qatar paying Libya $400 million for their release, and Cecilia Sarkozy taking part in the negotiations?
As for the Tour, I assume you heard that Rasmussen is out as well, and that another Italian rider got caught doping, too. Speculation in Europe, outside France, is that this might be the nail in cycling's coffin as a major sport.
I know that Lance Armstrong has never failed a drug test in his life and must be presumed innocent, but Jesus, everybody he rode against--Ullrich, Pantani, Riis--was on dope, and so were half the guys on his team--Landis, Hamilton, Olano. If he was actually clean when he won those seven straignt Tours, beating out an entire field of drug users, he must be considered the most dominant athlete of all time in any sport. I'm finding it harder and harder to believe that he could have been clean, though.
Barça note: The new team looks good, very good. Abidal and Touré are going to stabilize the defense. Rumors are flying about Deco, who supposedly has several good offers, and who might have to do some sitting if the front line is Henry-Eto'o-Messi and Ronaldinho drops back to midfield.