Monday, November 26, 2007

This morning the cops raided four abortion clinics in Barcelona that are suspected of performing illegal abortions. In Spain, abortion is technically illegal with three exceptions: if the fetus is defective, if the pregnancy is due to rape or incest, and if the mother's life or health is in danger. The last one is the loophole; all a woman needs to do is convince a doctor that having a baby would hurt her mental health. It is said that some clinics don't bother with this formality. The four clinics raided are thought to have performed illegal late-term abortions. The guy mentioned in this post from last year, Carlos Morin, is one of those whose clinic was raided.

Hugo the Chav is still in a snit. He says King Juan Carlos is going to have to say he's sorry for being mean or he'll "freeze" Venezuelan relations with Spain. Meanwhile, the revolt against Evo Morales has begun in Bolivia, and I'll be willing to bet that something similar happens in Venezuela after Chavez rigs the referendum and makes himself dictator-for-life.

La Vanguardia says Catalonia received 7.9 million foreign tourists last year, making it the second most-visited region in Europe after Ile-de-France. This is why the complaints that some Barcelonese make about tourists rub me the wrong way. Yes, shops and restaurants catering to tourists have become more obvious, and some tourists are regrettable or even undesirable. But tourism provides 20% of our regional income, and without it we'd be really poor. It also makes us a more international city, with all the benefit that brings. Tourism receipts in Spain have increased 81% in the last ten years. Pretty good investment, that.

La Vangua also reports that rumbles among Latin American street gangs are becoming more common, and that there are five or six places in Les Corts and Sants where they've pretty much taken over a street or a plaza. Fights between the different gangs often break out in these places, scaring the locals shitless; seven years ago we didn't have immigrant gangs around here, and they're not used to it at all. La Vangua explains to its Catalan readers that Latin culture involves sitting around getting drunk and listening to loud music in public places. The four most notorious gangs in Barcelona are the Latin Kings, the Ñetas, the Mareros, and the Black Panthers (not black Americans, but Dominicans). The Latin Kings are registered as a cultural association and receive subsidies from the Generalitat. They used the dough to make a rap CD which they are now trying to sell.

Get this. In order not to stir up public opinion, the Mossos (regional police) actually maintained secrecy about a gang fight in a Hospitalet bar back in September. One gang member was badly wounded, stabbed in the back with an 8-inch knife, and those responsible have been arrested. The local cops in L'Hospitalet are cracking down big-time on the gangs, forcing them into Barcelona itself. One cop claims that a gangster told him, "You don't scare me. If I did back home what I do here, the police would take me out back and shoot me, and I'd never be heard from again."

They drug-tested 58 drivers on Saturday night in Bilbao. 16 of them, or 27%, were under the influence.

Sports update: Barcelona beat Recreativo on Saturday night, 3-0, with a very dull first half and a quality second half. Bojan scored his first League goal, Milito scored on a header, and Messi got fouled in the area and converted the penalty. The fans and the media are still up in arms and shouting for Rikjaard's and Ronaldinho's heads. Madrid tied Murcia 1-1, and so Barça pulled within two points of the lead. Villarreal and Espanyol are having excellent seasons, and Atletico Madrid and Valencia are doing OK. Levante's clearly the worst team in the league.

Missouri beat Kansas on Saturday night, and the Jayhawks finish out the regular season ranked No. 7 with an 11-1 record, much better than anyone had predicted. Great season; no one expected it after going 6-6 last year. Kansas has never finished ranked anywhere near as high, and they'll get to go to a major bowl game. Missouri has a real chance at the national championship if they can beat Oklahoma in the conference championship game.

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