Thursday, January 31, 2008

Most of the news around here is campaign stuff. Rajoy got a feather in his cap yesterday when he received the endorsements of Nicolas Sarkozy and Angela Merkel, both of whom are considered reasonable moderates in Spain. He got his picture taken with them shaking hands and everything. This makes Zap look especially bad because he didn't get invited to the big boys' EU economic meeting and Italian lame duck Romano Prodi did. Zap had a meeting with Merkel today; that must have been a bit awkward.

There has been a popular backlash against all the rash campaign promises both sides have been making; the general reaction is "They're trying to buy our votes."

Meanwhile, the PP is attacking the Catalan system of linguistic immersion, in which public schools give all classes in Catalan except for a couple of hours of Spanish a week. They're right, of course; the system ought to be bilingual, since Catalonia is a bilingual place. What the PP is proposing is a quota system, under which some classes would be given in Spanish and others in Catalan. That seems a lot fairer to me.

This strategy, of course, is aimed not only at Spanish-speakers in Catalonia, but at the many people in the rest of Spain who are anti-Catalanist, which is fair enough, and also those who are anti-Catalan, which is not.

More transport screwups: Four Renfe commuter lines into Barcelona were shut down this morning, stranding a whole bunch of people; meanwhile, the FFCC line that runs southwest out of Plaza Espanya that was shut down during the high-speed line crisis has finally reopened, after three months.

Judicial incompetence: Three Ukrainians were convicted of a 2004 murder of an Andorran businessman (in sleazy prostitution and drug circumstances), and they got seventeen years each in jail. They committed a stupid-ass mistake in the procedure, and the three have been turned loose.

Meanwhile, the three squatters who left the cop in a coma at a February 2006 riot in Barcelona have been sentenced to between 39 and 54 months. That's ridiculous. They intentionally smashed him in the head with a rock. That's attempted murder. Six other rioters got two years each. The squatters are whining and saying the big bad justice system is out to get them. How pathetic. Those losers think they're playing a fun game of being amateur revolutionaries without any fear of ever being punished. Now that a handful of them get comparative slaps on the wrist--the three who tried to kill the cop would have gotten twenty years each at least in the US--they cry like babies because it's just not fair that they should be responsible for their actions.

Economics: Inflation in Spain over the last twelve months was 4.4%, and it's climbing. At noon the Ibex 35 was down 0.9%; the other European markets were down between one and two percent. Tourists spent €3.05 billion in Spain last year. That's a whole lot of money. We are the Florida of Europe, and Barcelona is our Miami.

La Vanguardia again devotes the two main pages of its international section to the American primaries. They're actually doing a pretty good job of covering the race so far.

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