What a few thousand Cataloonies want to call "civil disobedience" is under way; they held a torching-of-photos-of-the-King in Manresa, and last night about 2000 of them had an illegal demo on the Ramblas in solidarity with the image-burners. They chanted slogans in favor of defunct Catalan terrorist gang Terra Lliure, and threw shit at the cops, who charged them five times with nightsticks. Go Cops! Beat 'em, thump 'em, Cops, Cops, Cops!
Down at the café this morning a non-loony Catalanist told me, "These guys are going to hand the general election to the PP, and they're making all of us look like carallots (fools)." They're really pissing off the rest of Spain, including the people who are generally moderate on political and nationalist / regionalist questions--and there's going to be a backlash. CiU agrees; Artur Mas called the photo-torchers "people who transmit an incorrect image of our country as a place where the citizens entertain themselves burning things in the streets."
Zap has leaked that he's not going to accept anything resembling Basque PM Ibarretxe's plan for negotiations about the "political normalization" of the Basque Country, or anything that smells like a referendum. Most of the press is speculating that this last genius idea from Ibarretxe is going nowhere and will be forgotten soon. The moderate wing of Ibarretxe's own party, the PNV, is behind Zap on this one; they believe that the elected democratic government should not take any steps that are among ETA's demands until ETA is out of business. Catalan PM Montilla is also against Ibarretxe's brainspasm.
Zap has also leaked that the general election will be in March 2008.
Disgracefully, the Zap administration has cut a deal with Cuba, with a public signing ceremony in Havana graced with the presence of a Spanish cabinet minister (Leire Pajín). Spain will provide more than €20 million of taxpayers' money in foreign aid to the Castro dictatorship; Spanish local administrations already send €15 million of their taxpayers' money to the Communist regime. In return, the Castroites have to do absolutely nothing. The next step is the reopening of the Spanish cultural center in Havana, "of great symbolic relevance," says La Vangua. Spain is Cuba's third-largest trading partner, with more than $1 billion in commerce per year.
FC Barcelona stomped Levante last night 1-4, with a hat-trick from Henry and another goal from Messi. Levante is a really bad team; it's not only that they have below-average players, but that they were disorganized the whole match, not even staying in their lines and bunching up far too much around the ball. They also committed a few pretty nasty fouls. That team is heading straight for Second Division. On Wednesday Barça beat Zaragoza 4-1, and Zaragoza is a good team with good players. The doubters are silenced, at least for now, though their silence never lasts long. Zambrotta and Touré are both hurt, but Puyol's back. I'd use Puyol as the right fullback, play Thuram and Milito as center-backs, and put Márquez at defensive midfielder to replace Touré.
Here's a sick story: A perv in Badalona went around to the local football fields and pretended to be a scout for a professional team. He told kids and their parents that he would make soccer stars out of them, and gained their confidence. The really sad thing is that all the kids were immigrants between 9 and 11 years old, with families who don't speak Spanish and need money badly. He then sexually abused them, including whips, chains, and dog collars, and videotaped the whole thing. The guy has a police record of sexually abusing children. Why did they let him out in the first place? And how long is he going to stay in prison until they let him out again?