Wednesday, August 08, 2007

News from these here parts: Fairly serious political crisis in Navarra. Backstory: In the regional election, the PP, the Socialists, and Basque nationalist coalition Nafarroa Bai split the vote so that no one party could form an absolute majority. After weeks of negotiations, the Navarrese Socialists finally cut a deal with NaBai, but Zap's central Socialist party vetoed it, causing the Navarrese Socialist leadership to resign. As a result, the PP, the largest vote-getter, will govern Navarra from the minority.

In the wake of the blackout, there are still some 150 electrical generators (each of which uses some 200 gallons of diesel fuel a day) scattered around the streets of Barcelona filling in for the gaps in the electrical grid. The generators are noisy, running at 90 decibels, and the people who live near them are royally pissed off. Supposedly they're going to be able to remove most of the generators in September, but Barcelona's electrical system won't be back to normal until February 2008.

The RENFE (Rogamos Empujar Nuestros Ferrocarriles Estropeados, Please Push Our Broken-Down Trains) commuter-train system has been breaking down nearly every day; this morning three different train lines were down because a lightning storm last night hit some transformers. RENFE has claimed that many of the incidents in recent weeks were due to sabotage, though they haven't filed any charges against anyone. Presumably the saboteurs would be from the machinists' union, which as usual is at odds with the company.

The other thing the locals are pissed off about is the motorway system, which is designed to handle normal traffic fairly well but which stacks up beyond belief when the massive flood of vacationers all leave for their holidays at once. The highway south through Tarragona was jammed up last weekend to the point where it took drivers five hours to pass through the bumper-to-bumper atasco.

And the airport, which has had an awful lot of delayed flights and lost luggage complaints recently.

Small bit of good news: A Belgian woman cave explorer got caught 600 meters below ground for three days in a cave in Navarra, but they finally rescued her alive and well.

The Odyssey marine exploration company has sued the Spanish government for harassment; you'll remember they found $500 million worth of gold and silver aboard a sunken ship, and Spain is claiming 1) the money is theirs because it was a Spanish ship (Odyssey says it was a British ship) and 2) the money is theirs because it was found in Spanish waters (Odyssey says it was found off the southwest coast of Britain). Spain boarded and captured an Odyssey-owned boat as it was leaving Gibraltar on July 12. Said minister of culture César Antonio Molina, "We will defend our patrimony, no matter where it is, with every means."

In August, everybody in Spain goes off on vacation. Everybody. Including politicians. So Catalonia's most powerful lovebirds, Communists Imma Mayol and Joan Saura, are in charge of both the Catalan regional and Barcelona city governments this week. Since regional premier José Montilla is on vacation, interior counselor Saura has been left in charge of the Generalitat, and with mayor Jordi Hereu on vacation too, second vice-mayor Mayol is in charge of the Ayuntamiento. Prediction: Something disastrous is going to happen and they're going to screw it up really badly.

La Vanguardia's lead editorial today is on how badly telecoms and computing engineers and technicians are needed around here, so if you're looking for work and know something about that, try Barcelona.

FC Barcelona young forwards Giovani Dos Santos and Bojan Krcic are looking extremely good this preseason. They're both only 17, they'll both be on the first division squad this season, they'll both see some playing time, and if they don't get hurt they may well be starting in a couple of years. I don't think the Barça has given either of them human growth hormone, as they did with Messi.

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