Sunday, April 27, 2008

The Somali pirates released the 26 hostages and their fishing boat yesterday; the owners of the boat paid a $1.2 million ransom, and it is now on its way to the Seychelles accompanied by a Spanish frigate. The deal was cut in London; I wonder who was representing the pirates. The Zap administration announced that it, along with the diplomatic service and the owner of the boat, had been in on the negotiations.

What I don't understand: Spain's frigate had reached the area, and they had permission to use the French air base at Djibouti. When the pirates left the Spanish boat, which they did while still 22 miles off the coast, why didn't the navy and air force blow them up as soon as the hostages were safe?

Comment: The pirates repeatedly pointed their guns at the hostages, and threatened them by making throat-cutting motions. How much you want to bet that every time they capture a Third World boat, they massacre everybody aboard, since nobody will pay a ransom for them?

Deputy prime minister De la Vega said, "Piracy on the high seas must be fought more rigorously, and to do so the participation of the whole international community is necessary." That is, NATO ("OTAN no, bases fuera") and the militarist warmongering United States, whose flag Zap refused to stand up for during a military parade. Question: If American participation is necessary to fight piracy, why isn't Spanish participation necessary to fight terrorism? But Spain pulled its troops out of Iraq with no warning, and then publicly encouraged other members of the Coalition to abandon it.

Also notice that La Vanguardia has not even mentioned the US-French diplomatic offensive at the UN Security Council against Somali piracy, or the fact that if military action is taken against piracy, then it'll be the US Navy that does most of the job.

Even El País said, "The US provided the Spanish government information on the movements of the captured boat and of the pirates, which contributed to their release, according to diplomatic sources today. The US military also provisioned the Spanish naval and air units in the area."

El País also has an interview with defense minister Carmen Chacón, who said she was a pacifist, and that she wanted Spanish society to understand that the military is a force for peace.

Failure to coordinate: A contaminated shipment of sunflower oil came in from Ukraine, and the central government issued a warning and announced that the contaminated oil had been withdrawn from the market. Health minister Bernat Soria told the citizens not to worry, and even if they have consumed contaminated oil, it's not a serious health risk. But the Generalitat told everyone not to use sunflower oil until Monday at least. Remei and I only use olive oil anyway; we buy five-liter jugs from the cooperative in Nalec, which is virgin and varietal (made from arbequina olives). It's good stuff.

La Vangua has an good business story today on the machinations going on in the utilities sector. Remember the long-drawn out war between La Caixa / Gas Natural and E.ON over Endesa? There might be another one coming. "Last Monday afternoon the president of La Caixa (35% of Gas Natural) Isidre Fainé, and the president of Repsol (30% of Gas Natural), Antoni Brufau, asked for the approval of economics minister Pedro Solbes for a merger between Iberdrola and Gas Natural, and to tell him that a delay would only facilitate a takeover of Iberdrola by a foreign corporation. A merger would create a large energy company, with La Caixa, Repsol, BBK, Bancaja, and Unicaja (30% total of the merged company) as the chief stockholders." Note that four of the major owners would be savings banks, which have essentially become holding companies that own large shares of Spanish corporations.

Remember the "Las Vegas in Los Monegros" scheme? Turns out that the promoters can't even raise enough money to buy the land, and, get this, they haven't decided exactly where it's supposed to be built yet. Looks like the whole thing was a giant scam, and the Aragonese regional government (PSOE) fell for it.

The cops got word of a Latino gang fight and stopped it with a preventive strike, a raid on a disco frequented by a Dominican gang called the "Panteras Negras." Eight arrests were made, one for drug-dealing, two for outstanding warrants, two for being illegal aliens, and three for drug possession. Good. However, the Generalitat is still handing out subsidies to the Latin Kings, registered as a "cultural association."

Meanwhile, in Valladolid, some guy grabbed a gun and started shooting last night at 4 AM. One killed, three wounded. Though violence is less frequent in Spain than in France or Britain, there's still more than enough of it.

The ETA-front organizations tried to put on an illegal demo yesterday in Durango, and the cops arrested thirteen people, who have been released on bail. They tried to have a riot, set up barricades in the streets, and held out for three hours, but at least this time some of them got busted.

Deportivo stomped Barça last night, 2-0, and Barça is now in third place. Barça was terrible, everybody played lousy. Pinto, the backup goalie, was horrible. Other especially bad players were Thuram, Henry, Giovani, and Márquez. A pathetic show, with most of the good players on the bench. There are rumors around here that young Giovani is entirely too fond of the nightlife and may be on his way out, and that Henry is on his way back to Arsenal, perhaps in some sort of deal including Cesc Fàbregas.

Meanwhile, everybody is making a big deal out of the Formula 1 race today at Montmeló, not far from Barcelona. I really don't care a whit about car racing in any shape or form. So far there haven't been any racist incidents, though Lewis Hamilton received a round booing and whistling. Homeboy fan favorite and general peckerhead Fernando Alonso had to drop out of the race. Kimi Raikkonen won. Supposedly there were 140,000 people out there.

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