Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Plenty of news from Baja Andorra today. The story that's picked up international attention is the beginning of the trial of 30 Islamists who allegedly conspired to blow up the National Court building in 2004. The plan was to crash a truck loaded with 500 kilos of explosives into the courthouse. Irony: They're being tried in that same building.

Most of the evidence consists of "incriminatory messages" exchanged between the conspirators, which leads to the question of: how did the authorities get hold of them? Obviously they were monitoring these guys' telephone and Internet use. So why is this a threat to democracy when the Americans do it, and good security and intelligence work when Spain does it?

The first guy to be questioned by the court claimed that he was a junkie and didn't remember anything, which is a fairly original defense.

Meanwhile, the Lebanese intelligence service arrested seven persons allegedly implicated in the attack that killed six Spanish peacekeepers in Lebanon on July 24. Spain has 1100 peacekeeping troops in Lebanon as part of the UN force.

A gunman shot an Army sergeant in the back in San Sebastián last night; he is not seriously injured. Nobody's claimed responsibility, but it's most likely ETA or ETA sympathizers, of course. Meanwhile, Zap and Basque PM Ibarretxe are supposed to meet today to discuss Ibarretxe's plan for an illegal referendum on Basque independence. Zap will tell him no dice.

And you thought America was racist: The inhabitants of a town in Galicia called Vilarchán voted to contribute a total of €250,000 to buy a vacant house in order to preempt a gypsy family from buying it. That'll cost them 16 euros each per month over the next 35 years; a high price for keeping your town Gypsyrein.

According to a government survey, 36% of Spanish teenagers between ages 14 to 18 have tried cannabis; 30% have consumed it during the last year; and 20% have consumed it during the last month.

Get this. The Environmental Ministry is going to pay €580,000 in order to distribute 30,000 copies of the Al Gore pseudoscientific documentary to Spanish schools.

And maybe the biggest news of all: The National Competition Committee, something like the FTC or the ICC, has accused Spain's three largest mobile-phone companies, Telefónica, Vodafone, and Orange, of conspiring to fix prices. The three companies are accused of "increasing their income in an abusive manner" to the tune of €1.2 billion during 2005. When the operators were prohibited from rounding up per-minute charges, they all raised the basic price of making a call by 25%, from 12 to 15 cents. Spanish mobile-phone prices are 20% higher than the European average. The companies may be fined as much as 10% of their income for that year.

No comments: