Monday, October 29, 2007

It's Day 6 of the Great Barcelona Commuter Train Transportation Disaster. Zap made a quick trip to the construction site yesterday, along with Montilla and other local dignitaries. He accepted all responsibility for the mess, which was the smart thing to do, since it takes some of the pressure off the local authorities. Then the development minister, Magdalena Alvarez, will be the scapegoat. The ad hoc plan to build the terminus station at El Prat has been shot down.

TV3 is promoting a demonstration to be held this evening at seven in the Plaza Sant Jaume; the organizers are using a blog in order to publicize their demo. I think demos are silly, and have no plan to show up. The most useful place for citizens to express their dissatisfaction is the ballot box.

Let's hope this leads to fewer out-of-line statements by Montilla, who struck back at PP criticism by accusing them of "wanting to win outside the democratic process what the ballot box denies them." That is, they're plotting a coup, Mr. Montilla? Yep, he added: "One hundred years ago, or 70, or only 26, attempts to reach power through non-democratic ways are called, here and everywhere, coups d'etat." Oh, bullshit. Criticizing your party because it bungled an important piece of infrastructure is not precisely undemocratic, and neither is appealing a proposed new law to the Constitutional Court. In fact, such behavior is democratically laudable.

A La Vanguardia survey taken last week shows few changes in the division of Catalan seats in the Madrid Congress of Deputies, to be determined at the March general election. Catalonia has 47 seats; according to the survey, the Socialists would gain two seats at the expense of the Cataloonies, and that's all, leaving the division PSC 23, CiU 10, ERC 8, PP 6, ICV 2.

The verdict in the March 11, 2003 bombings case will be released on Wednesday; the National Court is likely to hand down the harshest sentences possible. Of course, the longest stretch a criminal can serve in prison is 40 years in Spain, and that's not counting possible time off for good behavior, etc.

In Catholic circles, the beatification of 498 of the clerics murdered by the Left during the Spanish Civil War has caused a good bit of fuss in Spain; there's still a lot of Jacobin anti-clericalism around here. Seems to me these people were all murdered because of their religious activity, and that the Church is entirely within its rights in honoring them.

There's a huge mess going on in Chad. Seems that a very questionable French charity group called Zoe's Ark chartered a plane to transport 103 children, supposedly orphans, to France. The Chadian government seized the plane and accused the charity of trafficking in children. The seven-person crew of the plane is Spanish; the charter company operates out of Barcelona. The crew is being held by Chadian authorities. I assume they are innocent of everything but being hired by a shady charity group which they thought was legit, and that they will be turned loose sometime soon.

Good news: Spain's life expectancy has reached 80, one of the highest in the world. Why? Probably a) generally good health care, including preventative maintenance; b) a comparatively relaxed lifestyle; c) comparatively close extended family ties leading to better care of old folks; d) a diet high in fish and fruit, the two things Spaniards eat a lot more of than other Europeans; e) the decline in smoking.

Sports update: Barcelona beat Almeria last night 2-0, putting on an unconvincing show but holding on to second place, two points behind Real Madrid. Barça president Joan Laporta got in a street scuffle outside a restaurant before the match with a former club employee. More classy behavior from Cataloony Laporta, who declared an "independent republic of the Barça" a couple of weeks ago, and once took off his pants when instructed to pass back through an airport metal detector. Rumor has it that Laporta is trying to use his position as Barça president to go into politics. Won't work; he's too big a jerk and everyone knows it.

Serious coach movement in Spain: Juande Ramos left Sevilla to sign with London's Tottenham Hotspur, and Valencia fired Quique Sanchez Flores this morning.

Kansas beat Texas A&M on Saturday, going 8-0 for the first time since 1909. So what if five of the eight teams were schloops?

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