Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Corruption bombshell in Catalonia. Seven regional government counselors (the equivalent of cabinet ministers in the national government) have been accused of embezzlement, influence-peddling, and abuse of power by the Catalan prosecutor's office. What they did was hire "consultants," to the tune of €32 million, to write up unnecessary reports, more than 1500 of them. This money, of course, wound up in the pockets of political clients and the bank accounts of the parties, the PSC, ERC, and ICV.

Specifically, most of the "consultants" involved are former government or party officials belonging to one of the Tripartite parties. They were all paid less than €12,000 a report; any government project that costs more than €12,000 has to be open to competitive bidding.

Those involved are: Socialists Joaquim Llena (Agriculture), Marina Geli (Health), and heavy hitter Joaquim Nadal (Public Works); from ERC, Carme Capdevila (Social Action), Joan Manel Tresserras (Culture), and Joan Puigcercós (Public Administration), who is challenging Pepelu Carod for ERC leadership; and the Communist Joan Saura (Interior), Chemical Imma Mayol's "partner."

I would like nothing more than to see Puigcercós and Saura behind bars. And I will bet this brings down the Montilla administration within a few months.

The first ship bringing in drinking water arrived at Barcelona harbor yesterday. It contains enough to provide one day's consumption for 170,000 people. There will be six ships carrying water to Barcelona, making a total of some 65 voyages a month, and costing €22 million a month. Tourists, don't worry, it looks like we won't have any water cutoffs this summer, and you can make your plans now.

The yearly inflation rate declined to 4.2% in April, which is good news. Meanwhile, new housing prices are down between 20 and 40% across Spain, and discounts of up to €40,000 are being offered. La Vanguardia thinks that demand is going to stay low until prices in Barcelona drop to an average of about €240,000, a psychological barrier since it translates to 40 million old pesetas. You can buy a nice place in a smaller city for a lot less than that; a 65 m2 flat that would go for €270,000 in the Barcelona suburb of Badalona would cost you only €150,000 in Valladolid.

Spanish oil giant Repsol earned more than €1.2 billion in the first four months of 2008. That's 37% more than last year. This is good for everybody's pension plans and mutual funds.

Split in the PP: Former defense minister Federico Trillo has joined Maria San Gil, Esperanza Aguirre, and Aznar's wife and Madrid city councilwoman Ana Botella in criticizing Rajoy and his crew's move toward appeasing the regional nationalisms in Catalonia and the Basque country. The Madrid PP is in open rebellion.

Get this, from La Vanguardia's TV critic, of all people, reacting to De la Vega's "horror" at being introduced to a Nigerese polygamist and his three wives, and the popularity of Catalan NBA forward Pau Gasol and the LA Lakers:

Maria Teresa Fernandez de la Vega should be very wary if she decides one day to visit the home court of the Utah Jazz, the basketball team in the semifinal playoff in the Western Conference against the Los Angeles Lakers. Because the percentage of Mormons who watch the games in Salt Lake City is very high, and therefore the possibility and danger of being photographed with a local polygamist is extremely high.

How ignorant. The mainstream Mormons banned polygamy more than 100 years ago, and 0% of the people living in Salt Lake are polygamists. There are tiny fragment splinter groups of ultra-fundamentalist Mormons living up in the remote Utah hills that practice polygamy, but they don't total more than a few thousand people, and that lot wouldn't go to a basketball game anyway.

Just a comment: The Utah Jazz and the Los Angeles Lakers are two of the dumbest team names in sports, since they don't play jazz in Utah and there are no lakes in LA. What happened is those teams moved from New Orleans and Minneapolis, respectively, and kept their original names. The name I most dislike, though, is the Buffalo Bills. How corny.

US soccer league team names win the dumbness crown, since they've been imitating European names and now we've got atrocities like FC Dallas, Real Salt Lake (what, there's a fake Salt Lake?), and DC United. What I would have done is adopt appropriate football-sounding team nicknames already used in England and Scotland. Teams could be called the Spurs, the Rovers, the Gunners, the Red Devils, the Blues, the Reds, the Wanderers, the Rangers, the Celtics, the Hammers, the Hearts, the Wolves--there are dozens of possibilities. Maybe the Chavs or the Pikeys or the Yobbos or the Spivs or the Asbos.


Akaky said...

I strongly suspect that Utah jazz would sound an awful lot like the Mormon tabernacle choir


got to say, im absolutely gutted. Currently running a little spread bet which included Rangers doing this quadruple the blue half of Glasgow have been talking about. Looks like the value of my £10 initial bet will have diminished significantly after last nights performance....