Thursday, May 22, 2008

Today La Vanguardia has nothing in the news pages on the Catalan consultant-reports corruption scandal, not surprisingly. However, Francesc de Carreras has an opinion piece buried back on page 20 in the print edition, the first opinion piece I've seen on this issue. They don't link to it from their website.

Remember, while reading, that the major issue in Catalan politics has been the new regional statute, which is supposed to make sure that Catalonia gets the same amount in government services as it pays out in taxes. Catalan nationalists' justification for this is that the regional government, the Generalitat, is badly financed and does not receive enough tax money to pass out in pork-barrel spending.

De Carreras points out that some of the reports commissioned had titles like "Ten arguments in favor of non-sexist toys" and "Design for a parcheesi board and jigsaw puzzle made from cardboard";

that 70% of the reports were billed at less than €12,000 and therefore not subject to competitive bidding;

that the Generalitat's budget for this year is €33 billion;

that the Generalitat has paid the Platform in Favor of Catalan National Sports Teams over €4 million in the past five years, along with the rent on a luxurious office, and just day before yesterday they received €1.2 million more;

that in 2007 the Generalitat subsidized pro-Catalanist organizations outside of Catalonia with more than €2 million;

that they gave €2.9 million last October and €625,000 just last week to the La Bressola Foundation in order to provide Catalan classes for 600 students in schools IN FRANCE;

that the Generalitat employed 126,510 civil servants in 2003, and 178,948 in 2007, an increase of more than 50,000 in four years;

that the Generalitat is opening "embassies" in foreign capitals, including Berlin (already open), London, Paris, New York, Mexico City, Buenos Aires, and Peking;

and that Generalitat-owned TV3 gives discounts of up to 95% to certain favored advertisers.

His conclusion: "This is happening just at the very moment (the Generalitat) is asking for a new financing system due to the insufficiencies of the previous one...Is the Generalitat badly-financed or does it waste money and pay off its clients?"

La Vanguardia doesn't have room in its news pages for this story, but they have plenty of space for Robert Fisk, in a news story titled "Where will the madness end?" on page 8, not labeled either analysis or opinion, to vomit hatred for President Bush and Israel and cheer on Islamist terrorists.

Says Fisk: "This George W. Bush declared in Jerusalem that 'Al Qaeda, Hezbollah, and Hamas will be defeated because the Muslims in the whole region recognize the inanities of the terrorist perspective and the illegitimacy of their cause.' But where will this madness end? At what point do words lose their meaning? Al Qaeda is not being defeated. Hezbollah just won an internal war in Lebanon with similar dimensions to the victory of Hamas in Gaza. Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon, and Gaza are horrendous disasters. But this stupid and pitiless dunce of a man has lied to the world again...he explains the benefits of Israeli democracy to the world, as if the Palestinians benefit from a democracy that continues taking the land that they have owned for generations away from them."

Interestingly, they don't have a link to the Fisk story on their website either.

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