Thursday, December 06, 2007

Here is a first: A Dutch woman who underwent an illegal late-term abortion at a Barcelona clinic has been arrested in the Netherlands, and will be charged with infanticide under Dutch law. I haven't heard of anyone being arrested for undergoing an illegal abortion for a very long time. In the Netherlands abortion is legal up to the 24th week of gestation, six months, which means that the baby she aborted here must have been even later-term than that. Viable outside the womb. Aborting a lump of cells at eight or nine weeks isn't murder, but crushing a viable baby's skull most certainly is.

As I've said before, my position on abortion is pragmatic up to a point. Life functions a lot more easily for many people when abortion is legal, so much that a sizable minority would get extremely agitated if we completely banned it. Agitation is bad for society and should be avoided when feasible. Also, it's hard to conceive of a few undifferentiated cells as a human life. But by about 12 weeks a baby is pretty recognizably a baby, and extremely premature babies are now viable outside the womb. If it would live outside the uterus, then you shouldn't be allowed to kill it if it's still inside. So if I had a choice I'd legalize abortion on demand up to 12 weeks, and then strictly prohibit it with a very few exceptions that would be very hard to get.

One thing we could do around here is get rid of a little hypocrisy. Spain finally got around to modernizing the divorce law in 2005; now it's simple to get an uncontested divorce in Spain, you just hire a lawyer for five hundred euros and he takes care of it. Used to be you had to go through a lengthy process of "separation" before divorcing, and through two legal processes, the first to separate and the second to divorce. Of course the whole thing was a joke; people who didn't want to be married anymore just stopped living together, and probably went through the legal separation process. Most people didn't go so far as to get an actual legal divorce, though.

This situation was a major pain in the neck, besides being hypocritical, since it permitted separations, divorces in all but name. Well, now, let's get rid of the silly abortion law that makes a pregnant woman go to a psychiatrist to get a signed paper certifying that her mental health may suffer if she gives birth. Effectively, abortion on demand is legal in Spain, because the mental health suffering loophole is big enough to march an elephant through. Simplify it and let's be honest with ourselves, as Spain finally did with divorce. Legalize abortion on demand up to the twelfth week after conception.

The CSI television series has really caught on big over here, and now newspaper and TV crime reports play up what they call the Scientific Police and their role in detection. TV3 is leading off this evening with the story that the French police used DNA tests to identify the two arrested ETA terrorists. Toward the end they mentioned that the guns the etarras were carrying fired the bullets that killed the officers, and that eyewitnesses identified them as well, so the DNA tests are actually just one more piece of evidence in a very strong prosecution case. By the way, the woman arrested is a veteran terrorist with several years of experience; tne man is a rookie, who had been previously arrested for being part of ETA's recruiting apparatus. They're guilty as hell. Give 'em a fair trial and then string 'em up.

I think condemned murderers should be forced to listen to Johnny Cash hangin' songs over and over on an endless tape loop while sitting on death row. You know, "Twenty-Five Minutes To Go," "I Never Picked Cotton," "Joe Beam," and "Sam Hall." I bet Johnny did "The Long Black Veil" at least once, and I bet he did "Stagger Lee" too. And I think he did "Nebraska," which is an electrocutin' tune, but whatever. Throw in "Sing Me Back Home" by the Hag and that probably adds up to cruel and unusual punishment.

The European Commission is mad at Spain because broadband telecoms service costs 20% more in Spain than the EU average. Good. Go get those Telefonica monopolists and hit them where it hurts. You may remember that in June Telefonica got hit with a €150 million fine by the antitrust agency.

It's Constitution Day and millions of Spaniards came out to wave flags, sing the national anthem, and attend public readings of the document that guarantees their freedoms. Well, no, actually, they all either went skiing, to New York, or to Cuba. Besides, the national anthem doesn't have any words, making it hard to sing (this is probably a good thing), and the Constitution is about six hundred pages long and would take a week to read. I can see a few of the usual suspects around here getting together and burning it in the street, though; that'd be the largest gathering of the day outside the department stores and malls, which are open though it's a holiday.

El Periodico's New York correspondent interviewed some of the Spanish tourists running around the city. In case you're interested, she says that they're buying a bunch of crap like Manolo Blahnik shoes, and they're complaining the hotels are lousy and too expensive. One of them actually said the food was pretty good, but the wine was too expensive. Jeez, people, in the modern global economy you pay more for services and less for goods. The Manolo Blahniks are cheap, getting cooked for and waited on is expensive.

Actually, hotels in American big cities really are either lousy, old, and expensive, or nice, new, and very expensive. That's because downtown real estate is, you guessed it, expensive. The bargains are at the reputable chain motels like Red Roof Inn in the suburbs near the interstate; they've got clean beds, a TV, climate control, and a swimming pool. And, for some reason, an ice machine. All American motels have an ice machine. Motels out somewhere in Jersey are not practical for foreign tourists in New York, of course. Do NOT, repeat, DO NOT stay in a motel that is a) in a crummy part of town b) is not part of a chain and c) has a lot of people hanging out in the parking lot.

Tragedy in Omaha: some kid opened up with a gun in a mall, killed eight people, and then himself. The media agonized over America's violent frontier culture, and the NRA and the gun manufacturers were blamed by the conspiracy theorists. Also, tragedy in Germany: a mother suffocated her five children. The media did not agonize over any violent events in contemporary German history.

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