Yet another moral disaster for the UN. The NGO Save the Children has accused UN peacekeeping troops, and members of other "peace" and "humanitarian" groups, of routinely committing sexual abuse of children in the countries where they are stationed. The countries mentioned are Haiti, Liberia, Congo, and Ivory Coast. Some children are telling horrific stories. I know that charges of sexual abuse are often false--for an example, look at the wave of late '80s-early '90s false stories of Satanic child sex abuses at several US preschools, all of which were bogus--but Save the Children has so many independent accusations that at least some of them must be true.
I really think that when the Iraq and Afghanistan wars are over, the US ought to consider pulling completely out of the UN, which is rotten to the core, and help set up an organization of established democratic states only, based on NATO. And I mean democratic; Turkey, Singapore, Thailand, and Russia don't qualify, much less Morocco and Pakistan and Angola and Venezuela and China. I would be willing to give such an organization, which would be very hard to get into and not very hard to get voted out of, veto power over American overseas use of the military.
Interior minister Perez Rubalcaba said yesterday that ETA has already reestablished a new leadership, just a few days after the capture of the bull goose etarra, Lopez Peña. He added that he was going to put 800 more cops on the terrorism beat.
More PP infighting: Gabriel Elorriaga, the PP's press secretary, has come out against Rajoy. Elorriaga is known as a moderate, which is a change from the others questioning Rajoy's leadership; the rest of them are all from the right / Spanish nationalist wing of the party.
Another near-disaster in Catalonia. Get this one. A truck driver ran his truck off a bridge near Solsona in Lleida province this morning, crashing partway through the guardrail. The truck is now hanging off the side of the bridge, with the driver still in the cab. Nobody died. So what's the big deal? The truck is full of explosives. The area has been evacuated, and the cops are waiting for a large crane to arrive so they can pull the truck and driver to safety. Let's hope it works.
What I want to know is exactly how a guy driving a truck full of explosives manages to drive it off a bridge. Shouldn't he be going like ten miles an hour?
The combination of high oil prices, crashing real estate prices, and Zap's social programs have cut the budget surplus by 56%. Government income has declined, due to lower VAT receipts caused by the construction slump, and lower gasoline tax receipts due to the high price and decreased consumption. Spain is still running an €9 billion surplus, so we don't need to worry yet, and a little deficit spending won't hurt. But let's not make the American mistake of borrowing to keep consumer spending high and keep the economy out of recession. A short sharp shock might well be salutary for the US, and it looks like it's coming here too.
Ana Obregon update: Ana Obregon is an aging Spanish slutty bimbo and sometime TV actress. She has had sex with at least one-eighth of the men in Spain. Her last program was the repulsive "Ana y los siete," in which her character was the nanny for a large family by day and a stripper by night; the most horrifying sight in the history of Spanish TV was la Obregon's seminude silicone-laden body. So she's in trouble now for offering to pay her bodyguard to beat up a TV host who had made fun of her. I say that's conspiracy to commit assault and battery, a violent crime, and that she ought to go to the slam for it. Obregon denies the story and is threatening to sue the magazine that published it. I bet she doesn't do it, that she's all hat and no cattle.
(Contrast: I wouldn't want to put Isabel Pantoja in jail, even though she's mixed up in this Marbella corruption case and is almost certainly guilty of tax fraud, at the very least. She's a nonviolent, economic criminal, who shouldn't suffer loss of her physical freedom, but rather of her economic freedom. Sentence her to five years in public housing, scrubbing floors and eating off food stamps.)
Oh, by the way, you know the urban legend in which a celebrity with mega-fake boobs is on an airplane that loses cabin pressure, and her juggernauts explode? Here in Spain that celebrity is Ana Obregon. I've heard it in the US about Dolly Parton and Pamela Anderson.
Dumbest controversy of the year: Catalan chef Santi Santamaria has accused Ferran Adria and other celebrity chefs of ruining Iberian cuisine by using artificial chemical ingredients in their fancy expensive avant-garde dishes. So everybody's all excited, and, get this, they're debating the question on TV and the radio, and taking sides on it. Who gives a crap? It's obvious that nothing interesting has happened yet this week.
The death toll of the construction accident at the new CF Valencia stadium has reached four. Three of the dead have been identified, an Ecuadorian, a Bolivian, and a Spaniard. They're arguing about the causes now, but it's obviously not the fault of the men who fell, it's the fault of whoever was in charge of putting up the scaffold.
Barça update: Keita has officially signed. Pique is coming for sure. Rumor has it they want to sign forward Dani Guiza, who led the league in goals last year, from Mallorca, Hleb from Arsenal, Villa from Valencia, and Alves from Sevilla. Villarreal (not Recreativo; he was merely on loan there last year) is demanding €20 million for Uruguayan defender Martin Caceres.
Meanwhile, the Royals are dashing our hopes yet again. The season started out so nicely, and now they've lost eight straight on a road trip to Boston and Toronto, including a no-hitter by Jon Lester, a guy who has just come back from having cancer. Congratulations to Lester, it's a great story, but you hate it when it happens to your team.
Here's the Royals' best possible lineup in my opinion. By the way, OPS (On-base average Plus Slugging percentage) is the best statistic that measures a batter's performance, I think. You want your guys at the power positions (3B, RF, LF, 1B) to have at least an 800 OPS, and your guys at the skill positions (C, SS, 2B, CF) to have at least 750. A weak-hitting shortstop might have a 700 OPS, while a top hitter like Manny Ramirez or Albert Pujols might be well over 1000. Barry Bonds used to rack up a steroid-fueled OPS of like 1300 every year. Under 700 and you're a marginal player, one step away from the minors, unless you're an exceptional fielder or a reliable catcher.
L DeJesus CF 694
R Grudzielanek 2B 710
L Gordon 3B 799
R Guillen LF 718
R Olivo C 911
L Teahen RF 681
R Butler 1B 669
S Callaspo SS 660
R Buck DH 690
That just blows. Only Olivo and Gordon are doing their jobs, and Guillen is hitting well now after a disastrous April. That's it. Everybody else is hitting far below average for his position. And both Callaspo at SS and Butler at 1B are below-average defensive players, to boot. (The rest of the team is average or above-average, at least.) The Royals have above-average defensive players at both those positions. The problem is that 1B Gload's OPS is 573, and SS Peña's OPS is 388, which might be the worst in the history of the major leagues--and they've already given him more than 140 at-bats.