PP infighting news: Last weekend Mariano Rajoy announced that anybody who didn't like the way he's running the party can leave, which has been universally interpreted as a challenge to Esperanza Aguirre to make a decision. The expectation is that she'll make some kind of announcement today. Rajoy feels confident because he's got the regional party bosses behind him; he and Camps and Valcarcel and Feijoo want to make a move toward the center, while Aguirre's position is farther to the right.
The only thing I can say is it's about time the PP distanced itself from everyone involved in the 3-11 conspiracy theory; Aguirre was not one of them, but she's got the support of the Acebes-Zaplana hard-line wing.
The problem here is when Aznar was running the party, he kept everyone else in line and on message. Rajoy appears to have lost that near-dictatorial power. One advantage the right has had in Spain is that it's united; there's no other national party to the left of the Socialists, while the Socialists have always had to share their support with the Communists. If the PP splinters, though, that's a major advantage they're losing.
Get this: Somali pirates off the east African coast captured a Spanish fishing boat, and they are holding the 26 crew members hostages. They've said they just want money and that they are not political. The defense ministry is sending a ship to the area. This is the second episode this month of pirates taking a Western ship in the area. Piracy is a genuinely serious international problem, and of course those who are hurt most are the poor, since pirates are much warier of Western ships than of small Third World boats. I vote in favor of an armed response by Western navies; if we can't suppress piracy on the high seas, then what do we have a navy for?
Somebody called in a bomb threat against an Air Europa plane just before it was supposed to take off from Caracas for Madrid; they had to evacuate it, and a fifteen-hour delay proceeded.
They're starting another mass trial of members of ETA-front organizations; this time it's Gestoras Pro Amnistia, which supported amnesty for ETA terrorists before Judge Garzon banned it in 2001. 27 of them are facing sentences of up to ten years for membership in a terrorist organization. They are, of course, guilty as hell, and most of them are going to be convicted.
The rains last weekend filled up the reservoirs a bit, and now they're at 22.6% of capacity. Some more would be nice.
One good piece of economic news: 10.6 million tourists visited Spain over the first quarter of 2008, up 5.3% over last year. Tourism is such a huge industry in this country. Just a guess: Lots of Europeans are feeling slightly pinched and are downscaling their vacations from the Seychelles or the Caribbean to the Costa Brava, which is still very cheap compared to most other Euro vacation spots, and easy to reach as well.
I probably dislike Pepe Rubianes as much as I do anyone. He's announced he's taking six months off to recuperate from lung cancer. Unlike Rubianes, I don't wish death on anyone who's not going around killing other people, and I hope Rubianes recovers. And shuts the hell up instead of spewing poison, as he so often does.
Hey, everybody, look at this! La Vanguardia has another reader photo! This time it's a sign in a Barcelona shop window reading "Sale. New electric chairs starting at €3200." Says La Vangua, "The author of the photograph noticed this unusual sale in a shop on Calle Córsega in Barcelona that sells orthopedic products for handicapped people, and he wondered whether the electric chairs are imported from overseas. "Do they come from the United States? No to the death penalty."
Paul Hollander defined anti-Americanism as "a relentless critical impulse toward American social, economic, and political institutions, traditions, and values."