Wednesday, April 30, 2008

You already know that Man United eliminated Barça from the Champions League last night with a 1-0 victory; Scholes blasted home a shot from outside the area after a bad clearing kick by Zambrotta early in the match. Barça put up a fight, but just could not score a goal--I think this is the fifth straight game they haven't scored. Now what they have to do is catch up with Villarreal in the league and make sure they get second place so they don't have to play an elimination round in next year's Champions.

Both general manager Beguiristain and head coach Rijkaard are out, though I bet team president Joan Laporta weathers the storm. Out of the players I would keep: Eto'o, Messi, Bojan, Iniesta, Xavi, Toure, Milito, and Valdes, along with Sylvinho and Puyol if they don't mind not being starters. Sell all the rest of them and buy good young players. Specifically, I'd buy Fabregas from Arsenal and Xabi Alonso from Liverpool, along with Navas from Sevilla.

Al Qaeda has called on its members to carry out attacks on European maritime interests off the Somali coast in particular and in the Indian Ocean in general. No, Zap, you didn't buy us immunity when you bailed out of Iraq. And now you've lost your friends in France and Germany, and you've made the Americans mad, and your pet project the Alliance of Civilizations is dead on arrival, and your best friends now are Latin American populists.

The EU's stats bureau reports that Spain is the EU country in which unemployment has climbed most in the past year, from 8.1% to 9.3%. Meanwhile, the Euribor interest rate hit 4.8%, meaning everybody's mortgage has gone up an average of €600 a year. The Zap government has made an informal agreement with Spanish lenders to allow mortgage holders to extend their term and thereby pay less a month, with no charge. Let's see if the lenders actually stick to this.

There are 280,000 immigrants living in Barcelona, 17% of the population. In the Old City 40% of the residents are immigrants. The largest groups are Ecuadorians and Italians over 20,000 each, Bolivians, Pakistanis, and Peruvians over 15,000 each, Moroccans, Colombians, Chinese, and French over 10,000 each, and Argentinians, Brazilians, and Dominicans over 7000 each.

Comments: By far the largest number of immigrants are Latin Americans, who integrate very well as a general rule, as they already speak Spanish and are Catholic, as well as sharing other cultural values. Barcelona is definitely not becoming Eurabia, since the only large Muslim groups are Moroccans and Pakistanis. A sizable percentage of Barcelona foreigners are Europeans, especially Italians and French; they don't tend to stand out, since they look and dress much like Spaniards. I doubt most of these people are here to stay. I'm surprised that Eastern Europeans didn't show up on the list.

One thing: 3 of every 10 children born in Barcelona has at least one foreign parent.

In case you didn't notice, I love statistics.

From La Vanguardia, page 3 today: "(Bush) denied that one of the principal causes of the food situation is the diversion of corn and other cereals to make ethanol and biofuels in general. According to him, the basic reasons for the price increase are the climate, the increase in demand, and the rise in energy prices."

OK; I thought the US only used corn to make ethanol, and it's not climate change that's to blame, it's a bad harvest in the Southern Hemisphere, but OK.

From La Vanguardia, page 4: "UN director for the Right to Food, Jean Ziegler, stated that turning crops into biofuels and financial speculation, along with the IMF's aberrant policy (which forces many countries to orient agriculture toward exports at the cost of the subsistence economy), are the main causes of the price rises...Ziegler called for a "total moratorium" on biofuels for at least five years. "We must fight climate change but without starving people to death," said the Swiss sociologist. Several days ago, Ziegler had already told the media that "the use and encouragement of biofuels is a crime against humanity.""

Now, wait a minute. Seems to me that the use of biofuels is due to two causes: high oil prices caused by cartel control of the resource, and the global warming panic touched off by the Greens. So if anyone's guilty of a crime against humanity, it would be OPEC and the environmentalists, no? Note that Ziegler blams the Jew-American financial speculators and IMF policy encouraging competitive advantage--that is, market forces--for the current crisis.

From La Vanguardia, page 64: "The high cost of agricultural staples in the international markets is due to the increase in biofuels in the United States." That seems to be rather a stretch, no?

Meanwhile, Thailand is organizing an Organization of Rice Exporting Countries, to include Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, and Burma. They're going to set up their own cartel and strike back at OPEC, and the very poorest in the world are going to get screwed over again.

So the Generalitat's traffic department predicts that 550,000 vehicles will leave Barcelona beginning this evening for the Mayday long weekend; Friday is International Commie Day, and people are taking a couple of extra days off. I would like to point out that talking environmentalism and fretting about grain prices are incompatible with car ownership.

Obama and Reverend Wrong are getting plenty of press over here, but the big story in all of Europe is the pervert in Austria whose kids are also his grandkids.


Parker said...

I have a quick question about mortgages in Europe. Are they usually adjustable rate mortgages? Here in the U.S., ARMs are available, but for the most part, people get 15 or 30 year fixed rate mortgages.

Anthony said...

I wonder how many of those Italians are actually from Argentina?

Carl said...

Fixed-rate loans are rare in Spain. I'm not entirely sure why. If this is not the case let me know, I need to refinance.

John said...

My impression is that most people in Spain have 20-year variable-rate mortgages. Fixed rates are rare, as Carl says.

JordiT said...

Anthony, there are loads and loads of argentinians (and uruguayans, I work with one myself) with either italian or spanish passports, since many of them are descendents from spanish, italian or even dutch or french grandparents, who moved to Argentina in the 50's, when it was a prosperous country.

Anthony said...

Jordit, I know there are loads of Argentines in Barcelona as I live here and share a flat with one. It's interesting that people with Italian ID's are the one of biggest group of immigrants here. I think that this is due to the Argentines with Italian ID's but would like to find some statistics on it. Maybe the Italian Consulate would know?

Rigoberto said...

I'm surprised Cubans didn't show up on that list. I could be exotic if I moved there!