Thursday, August 02, 2007

Disaster in Minneapolis. I can't believe anyone survived a 60-foot fall into a river with cars and pieces of bridge falling all around. Barcelona: Infrastructure breakdowns can happen anywhere. Our blackout was very inconvenient, but nobody died. TV3's site is leading with this story.

The Pat Tillman story has finally hit the news over here. Andy Robinson gets page 6 of La Vanguardia to speculate that the Pentagon ordered Tillman to be fragged by his own unit because he was going to meet with Noam Chomsky. How utterly senseless and irresponsible.

On page 4 La Vangua runs a very disturbing photo of the feet of five men dangling from a gallows in Iran yesterday. Seems that they were hanged for opposing the Islamist regime. 16 people were hanged at the end of June for crimes including adultery and homosexuality. But Europeans only protest when the Americans give the injection to a convicted murderer.

Zap is in Barcelona today to try to assuage la furia catalana over the blackout. Reading La Vanguardia between the lines, I get the idea that what has a lot of people around here pissed off is that Barcelona has lost its traditional competitive advantage over Madrid. Only thirty years ago Barcelona was the industrial center of Spain, and by far the wealthiest city. Now Madrid's metro area is 50% bigger than Barcelona's, and Madrid benefits from the economic switch away from industry and toward services and information more than Barcelona does. Quote: "The citizens are looking at a mirror of themselves that is very unlike the Catalan economic and social advance that was the locomotive for all of Spain."

Bergman and Antonioni croaked. That's a shame, of course, but Bergman movies bore me stiff and I've never bothered to see any Antonioni movies.

FC Barcelona is off on a preseason tour of East Asia to play three exhibition games, for which they will pocket a cool two million euros each. Some of the players have sounded off, saying that going on tour is not the best way to prepare the team for the regular season. What I would have said if I were club president Joan Laporta is, true, this is not the best way to prepare the team, but it is an excellent way to earn six million euros with which to pay you guys, so stop bitching.

Laporta's father-in-law is mixed up in a new business scandal. Mutua Universal, a Barcelona workman's-compensation mutual insurance company, is in trouble for allegedly embezzling money from the Spanish National Health, and Mr. Father-in-Law is the chairman of the board. He was in trouble back in 1999 for insider trading, but the National Court threw out the case.

The cops have run more than one thousand Romanian gypsies out of the San Roque district of Badalona. They've been arresting them for dumping garbage and defecating in the streets, hauling away unregistered or uninespected cars, and closing down illegal apartment rentals; they shut down 150 apartments where more than 1500 persons were living. So I suppose they'll move on to Santa Coloma or Hospitalet.

They've started octopus farming down in the Ebro Delta. I guess this is good news if you like octopus, and bad news if you are an octopus.

And guess what? They're holding Europe's largest gay festival here in Barcelona. More than 30,000 people are expected to attend LoveBall, as it's called. They should change the name to Bareback Mountain. Marc Almond is going to play, and there will be a "leather party" (original English). Can't wait. I bet a lot of viruses get passed around. The guys who sell poppers at the alternative lifestyle discos are going to have a great week.

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