Thursday, February 14, 2008

I hate squatters.

They painted graffiti all over my street last night, including such socially advanced slogans as "One squat closed down, eight cops crippled," "Closing down squats = riots," "Cops get out," "Burn down Barcelona," "Death to capitalism," and, on the Caixa de Manlleu branch office, "Speculators! Rob this bank!"

So the City Hall streets brigade is out this morning painting over all that crap.

These squatters are middle-class punks playing revolutionary, and when they get out of control, somebody gets hurt, like the policeman they put in a coma last year when they smashed him in the head with a rock.

Terrorist update: The Basque regional police arrested three Islamists in Vitoria last night on suspicion of recruiting jihadis, raising money, and spreading propaganda among the local Muslims.

Meanwhile, the banned ETA-front party Batasuna called a general strike today in Vizcaya province, and they are holding illegal demos that have not yet turned into riots. Thirteen people have been arrested so far for blocking traffic. Good. Why don't they do that more often? Of course, the majority of Basque workers are not following the strike.

Speaking of strikes, today the public school teachers are out, and I can't figure out why. It has something to do with "defending public education," but for the life of me I don't get what they're all mad about. Probably it has something to do with making them responsible for their work.

This, of course, is a big mess because the teachers' unions told parents to keep their kids at home today. That means everybody who has kids needs to find some way to take care of them while working today.

Major difference between the US and Spain: From what I know, in the US labor-management negotiations are tried first, and then if they can't make a deal they go on strike. In Spain, first they go on strike, and then they negotiate, and then they go on strike again, and so on.

The wave of strikes, of course, was timed to come right before the election, on the logic that you're more likely to get what you want from the government if you put pressure on it when election time comes around, expecially if your strike seriously inconveniences the citizens in general.

Zap did an interview with pro-Socialist talk-show host Iñaki Gabilondo last night on Cuatro, the TV station owned by Prisa. Zap didn't say much of anything, but right after the interview ended, Gabilondo asked Zap off the air what the Socialists' surveys predicted. This was a much more interesting question than any of those he asked during the interview. Anyway, somebody left a microphone on, and everybody heard Zap's response, "Fine, but it helps us if there is tension." That is, he's in favor of open political conflict with the PP in order to stir up the citizens and make them angry in order to bring out the Socialist vote. Major case of foot-in-mouth disease. That's our Zap.

Official figures: Spain's GDP growth in 2007 was 3.8%, which is pretty good though it does show a slowdown in the fourth quarter. The National Statistics Bureau predicts slower growth in the next couple of quarters, but nothing near a recession.

That dope Joan Saura told El Periodico that the speed limit "in the entire United States, even in the desert" was 90 kph, or 55 mph. Uh, actually, no, they changed that law back in 1987, and there are places where it is 80 mph, or 130 kph. For a while in the '90s Montana had a "reasonable and prudent" speed limit on the Interstate.

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