Sunday, February 10, 2008

Terrorist news: US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said in Munich, "The Barcelona cell (broken up last month) seems to be part of the terrorist network run by Baitullah Mehsud, an extremist leader based in Pakistan and linked to Al Qaeda and the Taliban, whom we suspect of being implicated in the assassination of Benazir Bhutto." Good thing they got these guys before they blew anything up.

The pro-ETA crowd came out in Bilbao this afternoon and held an illegal demo that turned into a riot, cars overturned and garbage skips burned. They even torched a bus. The cops thumped 'em good. Go Cops! Three arrests were made, which doesn't seem like nearly enough to me. The rioters are angry because Judge Garzon has prohibited their front-parties from running in the March 9 election.

Three douchebags had themselves a neo-Nazi demonstration in front of the synagogue in the Call, Barcelona's old Jewish quarter just off the Plaza Sant Jaume, back in July 2006. Among other things, they made threats and incited to violence, which isn't free speech, it's a crime. So they finally got around to arresting them, only a year and a half late.

The bus drivers say they're going back on strike, and the metro workers are going to do the same. That ought to screw up the city real good and stress out all the rest of us.

Not much campaign news. Zap's trying to identify Rajoy with the Iraq war and the Church, and run against that. Rajoy is trying to hit on a hot-button issue, and he thinks he's found one with immigration, while he identifies Zap with the economic slump. It's not really an edifying spectacle. At least they've both quit making wild promises, for now anyway.

There's a tremendous amount of interest over here in the American primary elections, and for once some of the commentary heard in the streets and cafés is positive. The Spaniards like the idea of voting in primaries for the candidates of each party, since right now the candidates are chosen by small groups of party insiders. They're confused by a lot of things about the American system; what they find especially strange is that the presidential election isn't related to whoever wins the most seats in Congress.

Other strange stuff for them: You vote for more than one office in the US elections, and so you can split your ticket, vote for candidates of more than one party on the same ballot. There's no proportional representation in the US, which means there aren't any small fringe parties in Congress. The two main parties are wide-ranging coalitions of several groups, and so it's not unusual for a congressman to vote against the leadership of his own party. They also think it's funny that we have sheriffs, which they identify with Western movies, and that it's an elective post.

Barcelona played badly last night in Sevilla, but got out with a 1-1 draw on a goal by Xavi. They looked slow and out of shape. The defense was atrocious, with both Oleguer and Thuram starting. Ronaldinho came out in the second half but didn't do much, though the quality of play did improve a bit. Sevilla's got a kid named Diego Capel at left wing who is going to be very good. He ate Oleguer's lunch. Oleguer, by the way, might be sold to Lazio, which would be hilarious, the Cataloony Commie pro-squatter idiotarian playing for the most openly Fascist fan base in the world.

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