Friday, March 14, 2008

Not all that much news around here today. The excitement over the election has died down.

Barça lucked out in the Champions' League draw; they got Schalke 04, a decent but unspectacular team from Germany. The best matchup will be the Arse versus the Pool.

There were two domestic murders yesterday in Tarragona and Almeria; these get a lot of attention because they're the most common type of murder around here. Fortunately, murders are still very unusual in Spain.

The government polling agency, and God only knows why we have one, reports that Spaniards are most worried about unemployment, "the economic situation," terrorism, housing, immigration, and crime, in that order.

Meanwhile, housing sales fell 9% in Catalonia during just the fourth quarter of 2007, and 14% in all of Spain during the whole year. The bubble deflates, not with a bang but a whimper. And the euro hit $1.56, as oil hit $111.

The damn bus drivers are going to continue their strike for at least the next two Thursdays. Look forward to more sabotage.

Barcelona remains one of the world's most polluted cities. The average concentration of particulate matter, in micrograms per cubic meter of air, in 2007 was 80 in Barcelona, compared with 100 in Shanghai, 55 in Mexico City, and 27 in London. In El Prat, particulate concentrations exceeded the EU limit 135 days last year; in the Eixample it was 81 days, and here in Gracia it was 59. Barcelona also exceeds the EU limit in concentration of nitrogen dioxide in our air. Ozone pollution is down, but it still exceeded the EU limit 15 days last year.

An Andalusian "human rights" group reported that 921 African boat people died while trying to reach Spain by sea in 2007. I don't know how they came up with this figure, but remember that there were obviously deaths at sea that went unreported. The Guardia Civil's December 2007 estimate was 360 immigrants dead at sea in 2007. The Guardia Civil also estimated in September 2007 that 1260 immigrants had died at sea during the previous 21 months. Whatever the correct figures are, it's a terrible tragedy, which is, inexplicably, completely ignored by the international media.

It's estimated that about 300 immigrants die every year trying to cross from Mexico to the United States.

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