More PP infighting: Esperanza Aguirre announced yesterday that she was not a candidate for the presidency of the PP at the June convention, and that she would vote for Rajoy. But she didn't get all the way off the pot: she also announced that she might change her mind, and that she thought another convention should be held in three years to choose the candidate for the 2012 election. The last thing the PP needs is a Rajoy-Aguirre conflict for the next four years. Look how much damage the Hillary-Obama conflict over the last four months has already done to the Democratic party.
Speaking of Hillary and Obama, the Spanish press is eating it up. Nonstop entertainment. Each of the newspapers runs a story every day on the campaign. However, I haven't seen a single article looking into their policies, and little attention has been paid to their records. They're also ignoring McCain, the one person we know for sure is going to be on the ballot in November.
The Spanish fishing boat captured by Somali pirates is anchored near the coast, and Spanish authorities are apparently negotiating the payment of a ransom, and they've asked for help from the French and the Americans, since Spain has no naval presence in the area. I vote we help them out, since piracy is against everyone's interest (not to mention evil), and then never let them forget it.
Much irony here: when Zap's really in trouble, who you gonna call? The imperialist hyperpower, of course. Also, this type of incident makes nationalist Spaniards feel weak and insignificant, since Spain cannot defend itself and is effectively a NATO protectorate, and it makes them even more resentful of those who defend them.
Get this. At the beginning of April, Somali pirates captured a French yacht. The French paid the ransom, got their people back, and then mounted a raid on the pirate base with fifty commandos, a dozen special forces, and five helicopters. They captured six pirates and recovered $200,000 of the ransom money.
I think that's great. Good for the French. The only thing they could have done better would have been summarily hanging the pirates off the yardarm.
Of course, if the Americans had done exactly the same thing, certain elements in Europe would have gotten mad and accused us of colonialist unilateral warmongering.
Want more irony? The fishing boat involved belongs to Basques, as does much of the Spanish fishing fleet. The Basque Nationalists (PNV) are all mad because Spain doesn't have an Indian Ocean naval presence, and they'd called for a Spanish patrol boat to be stationed off Somalia in June of last year. I thought the Basque Nationalists were against Spanish militarism and in favor of Basque self-determination, and now here they are all pissed off because the central government doesn't have enough military power.
Economics minister Pedro Solbes has backed off his overoptimistic prediction for 2007 GDP growth, and scaled it back to 2.4%, still higher than the forecasts we've seen from the private sector. He's predicting 2.1% growth for 2009, which is still way too bullish. He also claims that unemployment won't top 10%.
Meanwhile, an organization of small Catalan builders has announced that its members have 2000 new dwellings already constructed in Catalonia, mostly in the suburbs around Barcelona and Tarragona, and they're selling them at cost, between €120,000 and €180,000. That's half the price those places were going for a year ago. The association of manufacturers of construction materials says that orders are down by 30%.
Barcelona suburb Badalona, Catalonia's third largest city, is looking at a major problem: there are more than 1000 immigrants, mostly Pakistanis and Romanian gypsies, who can't pay their rent and are going to be evicted. These people don't have legal leases, just a verbal agreement, so they don't have the massive protection Spanish law gives renters. And, since the tenants can't pay the rent, the apartment owners, also Pakistanis, can't pay their mortgages, and so the apartments are going to be repossessed. City authorities fear that those evicted will simply move in with compatriots, and thus increase overcrowding and worsen hygiene.
Tomorrow is Sant Jordi, the rose and book day, the day of the year on which Barcelona is most attractive, and the weather is going to cooperate, warm and sunny. And, since Barça hosts Man U in the Champions League semifinals, some 7000 English fans are going to be here. Let's hope they behave themselves. All the city's bars have ordered extra beer supplies. It costs €200,000 to bring out the police officers necessary for crowd control whenever a big crowd of soccer fans come here. There is a lot of complaining about this, generally aimed at the nasty guiris who get drunk and pee on everything. However, it also costs the cities that Barça visits about the same amount to keep their traveling fans under control, so it all balances out.
Don't forget to put down your bet on Manchester United, no matter how bad the odds are, since Barça is in a dreadful slump--they couldn't score in a Tijuana whorehouse--and has completely thrown away the League, and all its best players are either "injured" or injured.