The gas explosion here in Barcelona yesterday was caused intentionally by the woman who lived in the apartment; she was to have been evicted that very day--get this, by her own sister, who was the landlord. So she poured gasoline all over the place, and then turned on the gas and struck a light, with predictable consequences. They don't know whether she is one of the three dead bodies discovered, all of which were charred to a crisp.
This woman was apparently a major pain in the ass and general weirdo; she didn't get along with anybody, wouldn't let even meter readers enter her apartment, practiced traditional magic (oil and salt smeared on the front door, etc.), held grudges, and had a persecution complex. She wrote a letter to El Periodico on Friday saying that her apartment was being stolen from her, and had appeared on--get this--"Patricia's Diary" and the Ana Rosa Quintana show, Spain's Oprah, with various complaints. Most memorably, she went on once to claim that the airlines were discriminating against her, because she was so fat she took up two seats, and so they made her pay for two.
The Free Tibet people, who mostly looked like actual Tibetans rather than transferred nationalists, had a demonstration outside the Chinese consulate here in Barcelona. They got about 300 people; compare that with the "No to the war!" demos five years ago, with hundreds of thousands of demonstrators. You can bring out one-third of the city against the Americans, but virtually no one to protest the Communist Chinese dictatorship.
Rafael Poch, in Peking, continues with his particular perspective in his reports on Tibet. He says the revolts amounted to anti-Chinese lynch mobs, calls them "pogroms" again, and leads off with a quote from the governor of Tibet claiming a total of 16 deaths, Chinese killed by Tibetans, and declaring that Chinese police did not open fire on Tibetan demonstrators / rioters. Poch adds that the "Tibetan lobby in exile" claims as many as one hundred dead Tibetans, and quotes Chinese TV as saying, "The Dalai Lama's gang (camarilla) has been telling the world that it no longer wants Tibetan independence, but this is an enormous lie. It wants the world to link the Tibetan question to the Olympic Games in Peking."
It seems to me that the Chinese government is extremely sensitive about its Olympic Games, and perhaps the best thing to do is not watch them on TV. Would you have watched the Berlin Olympics?
Speaking of sports and nationalism, Spain gets very excited whenever one of them actually wins something, no matter how unimportant the sport. The Americans generally don't; the only sports events I remember a big deal being made about nationalistically were the 1980 Winter Olympics hockey team, which famously upset the Russians, and Lance Armstrong's reign over the Tour de France to a lesser degree. In Spain, though, individual sports stars like Rafael Nadal and Fernando Alonso are considered representatives of the whole society, and their success is believed to reflect upon all Spaniards.
(By the way, it makes many Spaniards really mad when you criticize one of their national heroes. To start a barfight in Spain, just say: "Nadal can't play on any surface but clay, and he's not good enough even at that to beat Federer." Or "Gasol's a wimp who can't play defense, and scoring lots of points when Kobe Bryant's getting triple-teamed doesn't make you an All-Star." Or, "Alonso's a pussy, listen to him whine. Waah, waah, waah." Or, "The American golfers can't stand Sergio Garcia's cute little boy act and enjoy whipping his skinny ass." Or, "Why does your football team even bother showing up to international competitions? They always get eliminated in the quarterfinals anyway.")
So the synchronized swimming team won four gold medals at the European championships in Eindhoven. Who the hell watches synchronized swimming? It's one of those dull, regimented sports like rhythmic gymnastics and team handball that the Communists invented during the Cold War. It made the front page of La Vanguardia, and led off the TV3 news last night because one of the girls is Catalan.
Football news: The Barça doctors say Ronaldinho isn't injured, and the rumor is that he was kept off the team in the Almeria game because he's been dicking off in practice. He's not going to be here next year. The Fantastic Four have been a fiasco: Eto'o and Messi have been playing well when they're not injured, which is often, Ronaldinho has been playing below his ability when he plays, which isn't often, and Henry just has not been very good. His latest excuse is that he's all bent out of shape because of his expensive divorce which limits his custody over his daughter, so he can't score any goals, you see.