Development minister Maleni Alvarez announced that the Barcelona-Madrid AVE (high-speed train) will enter service on February 20, nineteen days before the general election. A round-trip BCN-Madrid ticket will cost €163. This had better be true, because if it's not it will make everyone in Barcelona even less trustful of the Socialists. There's still anger over last summer's Great Barcelona Blackout and this winter's Great Transport Snafu, and the lousy government response to them.
Campaign promise update: Zap promised to give monthly checks of €300-500 to 400,000 poor families with children; he also promised to bring dental care for children between 7 and 12 under National Health coverage. The PP promised to bring dental care for everybody under the National Health, starting with children and old folks, within eight years.
A bunch of student wannabe radicals screaming "Terrorist!" and "Fascist!" tried to attack the Basque PP leader, Maria San Gil, who spoke at the University of Santiago, and managed to get into it with her bodyguards and the police detail. Of course, no arrests were made. I hate these stupid punks who interfere with other people's freedom of speech.
The level of confrontation in Spanish politics is extremely high, unthinkable even in the United States. It's not at all unusual for Spanish politicians to call one another anti-democratic fascists or supporters of terrorism, and even normally responsible people like Pere Macias of CiU accuse their opponents of trying to start another civil war.
(By the way, don't ask me how I know, but I have reliable firsthand information that Pere Macias is a complete asshole in his personal life. On the other hand, Jordi Portabella of ERC is a good guy even though he is a political idiot.)
The European Union is going to require that foreigners entering be fingerprinted, exactly as in the US. I remember the hooting and hollering about the right to privacy and the repressive police state that went on over here when the Americans established the fingerprinting requirement; interesting that there isn't any of it when Europe does the same. Oh, by the way, I'm in favor of the measure, of course.
The bus drivers' strike yesterday jammed up the city even worse than expected, since they got together and blocked off the Via Laietana between 1 and 3 PM, thereby depriving the citizens of their right to use the public highway that their taxes pay for. No arrests were made, of course, though they came close to getting into it with the cops, and witnesses report skirmishes and several injuries. The drivers say they'll strike between March 3 and 7, and they'll go out every Thursday until their demands are met.
The doctors also struck yesterday because they claim to be overworked (which they are), and so 25,000 patients' appointments had to be rescheduled. That's the way to reduce overcrowding.
El Pais reports that Spanish consumers failed to pay back €11.5 billion worth of debt in 2007, a 40% increase over the previous year.
As you know, McCain and Obama went three-for-three yesterday, though the Democratic race is wide-open until Texas and Ohio vote. Mike Huckabee needs to do what Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani did: sit down, shut up, and get behind the party's candidate.