Spanish National News

Holiday from Hell
A young British man was stabbed twice, in the abdomen and his leg, in circumstances so far unclear. The stabbing happened near a bar in Ibiza in the wee hours of the morning, and it was the young man himself who managed to find an ambulance in the area that took him swiftly to a local private hospital. Although his condition is listed as critical, he is responding favourably to treatment.

Body in the Boot
In the small town of Beniarjo, Valencia, the Guardia Civil made the gruesome discovery of a body in a suitcase in the boot of an abandoned car. It all kicked off when a group of Guardias were hanging by a roundabout – awaiting victims that they could fine and harass. One car however, caught their attention as it interrupted it’s approach by skidding round and racing away. The Green boys gave chase and when they found the car, its driver had disappeared.

Upon a routine inspection, they found the body of a middle-aged man in the suitcase, which prompted them to call in the Homicide Squad. Preliminary investigations suggest that the man met his fate as a result of a settling of accounts, and that the occupant or occupants of the car were on their way to dispose of the body.

Grandpaw the Dealer
The police and Guardia cannot be surprised by very much in this modern world, so when the Palma, Mallorca contingent found a motorcyclist in possession of some cocaine, mary jane, hash and 1500 euros in cash, it was no doubt another ‘ho-hum’ moment, except for one detail: the motorcyclist was 71 years old. He had attracted attention when he, along with a foreigner, was seen acting suspiciously while standing next to a small motorcycle.

A quick search of the two followed, and the old chap was found to have various drugs in bags and some money pocketed around his person (the other bloke appears to have been a buyer). Carrying on, the police then discovered further and larger quantities of illegal substances and money in a bag hidden in the hold where the helmet normally goes. All in all, the elderly man had over 1500 euros in cash and drugs estimated at 1200 euros street value. Once arrested, grandad admitted to police that yes he was dealing drugs but later he recanted, saying he was only holding onto the drugs for a friend.

Mad Octopus Ride kills 3
The pursuit of entertainment does not always end in pleasure, as three young Romanian men discovered when they were killed by a defective whirling mechanical octopus ride at a fair in Toledo. Around four in the morning, the men, aged between 20 and 21, got aboard the Extreme, the newest and most exciting ride of the fair.

The machine had four long mechanical arms with seats attached to each, and the whole thing whirled around, the arms going up and down. In mid-ride one of the arms suddenly detached and flew off into the air, crashing into the ground from a height of 30 meters. Two of the men were killed instantly, and a third expired en route to the hospital. A fourth, only 16, suffered serious injuries, but survived. Investigations revealed a weak soldered joint was responsible for the breakage in which the arm broke off of the base.

The ride was apparently fully up to date with health and safety regulations and had all the necessary permissions to operate. But apparently the owner only set up the ride, and quickly at that, the day before, only hours before opening. One passenger, upon gaining his seat, had called out to the owner that the ride was making strange noises to which the owner told him that everything was fine. This same passenger had almost sat with the Romanian men, but they’d asked him to re-locate so that their fourth friend could sit with them. He did so, and unwittingly saved his life. Further tragedy was averted as the arm just missed a ticket booth where many people were waiting to buy tickets.

ARRGGH Politics
My patience is fatigued, my ratiocination bamboozled, my whumpf deflated. I can barely bring myself to write the following, so drained of interest and energy am I by the state of Spanish politics, which really ought to be re-named the dull art of grievous bullshit. They disgrace the name of rhetoric, they degrade the meaning of debate; for oratory read “verbal flatulence;” they eviscerate the body politic of action and make a mockery of intelligent design everywhere. In short, these people are effing stupid.

However, I must try so here goes: as we all know Spain’s finances are in a parlous state. While we make international headlines every now and then concerning if we can pay our debts without defaulting, nationally we make our own headlines daily. Apparently, in the financial world, even comments from certain persons are enough to de-stabilize markets. And so we have this continual war of words between the ruling Socialists and the oppositional parasites, the PP. Our dear father the king Juan Carlos has asked for union and consensus between the two in order to thwart the speculative attacks made upon our situation and to strengthen our dire position, but they have of course ignored him.

The PP, who guaranteed stability if and when early elections were called, have been discombobulated by the opposite happening. And so now they are arguing for moving the November elections even closer to us in time as the solution. The Socialists, taking their cue from the PP’s former opinions, now say that just knowing elections will be held in November (instead of March 2012) will generate stability, which of course is equally bonkers cos it hasn’t happened either. Spain still teeters on the edge of meltdown.

The PP promise that if elected they will not institute more austerity measures but will concentrate on reform, meaning, they haven’t a bloody clue what they are going to do nor any idea of what will work. If people knew the answer, then Portugal, Ireland, Greece, Italy, and ourselves, would be well on the way to recovery by now. My own opinions run as follows: get rid of the entire current political class; get out of the Euro; and return to our sloppy ways. Imbeciles who are tainted by moral turpitude are controlling us. Let’s face it: Europe is a disaster, and our supporting it has brought Spain to its knees, which is where we will die if we don’t do something now.

0 to 60 at 90
Secondary roads in Spain account for two thirds of all traffic fatalities, which is why Pere Navarro, the Secretary General of Tráfico, will propose to reduce the speed for all these roads to 90 km/h. At the moment, these roads, of a single lane of traffic in each direction, are either 90 or 100 depending on the width of the shoulder (those with 1.5 meters or greater of shoulder are 100).

Navarro, who seems determined to eliminate all fatalities from our roads, says the new law may even be passed within the existing legislature (due to finish this November). While reducing speed can certainly reduce death on the roads, the main cause is still the general idiocy of drivers who, among other reasons, are not tested properly when they begin their career. I’ve done the Spanish test and have seen how inexperienced and bad drivers receive their licenses all too easily.

Balcony Death
A young British man of 24 on holiday in Ibiza died when he slipped and fell off his balcony. Unlike the latest trend of jumping off balconies into (hopefully) water, this man had left his room due to the excessive summer heat, and in leaning out over the railing to catch some breeze somehow slipped. Unfortunately he died from his injuries, which were considerable.

This is your life!
According to Ricard Martínez, a professor of constitutional law at the University of Valencia, your life isn’t what you say it is, you are not who you say you are, and if you commit a youthful indiscretion, in later years, your chances of being hired are slim to nil. Huh? What kind of madness is this? “Up until ten years ago we lived in a society in which we had the right to make mistakes; with time, our past errors usually disappeared in forgotten old dusty books. But now….”

What Martínez is referring to if you haven’t already twigged is how the Internet now is the repository of the details of our lives, and has, in effect, decided what our lives, and who we, are.

With an endless number of blogs and social networks and forums (there exists forums for everything), with all that personal information we, and especially younger people, like to publish, whether it be a photo of a drunken mate or your own sexual preferences (the younger generations seem to be more open than we old foggy fossils), we end up publishing the whole of our private lives; and what digital technology means is that, potentially, the digital format never forgets.

You might think something in your past had disappeared, but it might be out there on the Internet, and it might be used against you, such as in not getting a job because your potential employer discovers you once posted a nude picture of yourself somewhere 10 years ago.

As such, there is a growing movement called the Right to Forget, which is all about the right to erase what you so choose, namely, personal information that is now embarrassing or simply information which is yours to keep private should you so wish.

As it is a new legal area, the laws concerning all this are vague if inexistent. And giants such as Google and Facebook are against the initiative. Ever signed up to Facebook? Well, for the time-being, unless the law changes, you have done so forever, and your personal information is theirs as well. That’s one area.

The other is information you might have once willingly supplied somewhere, which remains floating around in cyber-space. And still another: information about you, you never made public because, perhaps it’s not even true, but when someone is out to get you…. It’s an incredibly sticky issue because it’s so new, and an example of a new technology which has swept over us with the power of a tsunami and, even more incredibly, it has happened without us realizing it.

So let’s hope the powers-that-be come up with some reasonable rules which the Googles and Facebooks, among others, will have to respect. And think long and hard next time you give out personal information on the Internet. You will be happier for it.

Magic Driving
A young French chappy of 22 was arrested by the police up in Navarra after having “driven” 74 kilometers with the steering wheel immobilized. If this is true, that was one straight stretch of road. The car had been immobilized after he was caught trying to leave a petrol station without paying. He was then fined, of course; but clearly returned to where his car was and resumed his trip. Maybe a lady was awaiting him at the other end of his trip. It also came to light that his driving license had been suspended.

Senatorial Privilege
A Canary Island Socialist senator has brought shame and infamy upon himself after he made certain, erm, disparaging remarks to police and the people working in a bar. It all started when he and his son had been asked to leave a sauna in Madrid after the senator had broken a table and other things; later, in the bar, when faced by police, he began the following tirade: “I hope you all die of cancer. You are all crapulent sons of bitches. You’re all paid by those fascists of the PP. I’m a senator and you, more than being policemen, are terrorists.”

Bar staff later recalled his attitude as arrogant, aggressive, and coarse, perhaps because he also targeted some barbed witticisms in their direction as well: “I piss on you whores, I don’t pay any whores.” The (nuclear) fall-out of these commentaries has been the call for his resignation from the PSOE by his own party. Is nothing sacred?

People who shouldn’t be parents—Ever
In Barcelona, the prosecution wants 30 years in prison for F. Yasmina on charges of negligent homicide after she left her 9-month-old baby with an acquaintance whom she already knew to have maltreated the baby: subsequently, the “friend” killed the baby while Ms Yasmina had gone off to a party. She told the court during the trial that she was against abortion, which is why she had the baby at 18, in spite of advice from doctors and family.

She is also up on charges of herself having abused the child, hitting the poor thing as well as giving it cocaine. Her “ friend,” Antonio F, is facing only 21 years in prison despite he allegedly having beaten the baby to death (it’s times like these that I think these people ought to be beaten to death). In her defence, Yasmina said she left the baby in Antonio’s care because she trusted him. For the love of God.

People who shouldn’t be children—Ever
In Vizcaya a minor has been detained by the Ertzaintza (Basque police) after he walked into the police station and admitted having killed his mother, 58, and a younger brother of 12. The father and husband alerted police after he couldn’t get into the house – the door, bloodstained, was jammed – and his wife wasn’t answering any of this telephone calls. Both bodies showed signs of bludgeoning to the head and stab wounds.

It is too early to say what happened, or what even might have happened. Neighbours said that although the boy was timid, and didn’t seem to have any friends, nothing else indicated he might be capable of such a horrific crime. But then again, what would indicate such potential? Did the Norwegian killer evince signs he would slaughter all those people?

The Mistrust of Politicians
The 15-M movement is not well understood by many. Perceived as simply an “anti” group that wants higher wages and jobs and job security, among other civilised measures, what their main aim is, is a complete revolution in the way in which politics is done; this involves the eradication of existing political entities such as the archaic and moribund parties (principally, the PSOE and the PP).

Well, the latest CIS polls have brought in some interesting results, which align themselves alongside the marching 15-M people. 55.2 per cent of Spanish citizens have little or no interest in politics; 31.4 per cent are dissatisfied with democracy against 22.1 per cent who aren’t. 70 per cent have a positive image of the 15-M people. Nine out of ten Spaniards consider corruption of the utmost importance; 85 per cent feel it happens throughout the whole country; 86.6 per cent believe most corruption is practised by politicians.

It is already known that Spaniards think that political parties and their leaders are one of the main problems in the country. Digging further into details, 45 per cent of those voting Socialist believe corruption is paramount in society, whereas only 38 per cent of PP supporters think this (which arguably reflects the idea that the PP is more tolerant of corruption than the PSOE, not an uncommon charge). After the politicians, citizens believe the management class is the next most corrupt, and after them, the judges. Clearly, something is rotten in Denmark, and we definitely ain’t in Kansas anymore, Toto. Are the days beginning to fade when we vote for our party regardless of their worth, quality, or usefulness?

I had a conversation with a lady not long after the ConLib victory in the last UK elections. She, a Labour diehard, was disappointed. “The Tories always make the rich richer and the poor poorer.” “Really,” I said, “that’s exactly what Labour has done under Blair and Brown.” She didn’t believe me so I urged her to do some research. Anyway, the above statistics, if statistics can ever mean anything (pace Mark Twain and Disraeli), point to a possible awakening in the Spanish public conscious.

It remains to be seen if they will do anything about it though, especially when you take into account how six out of ten Spaniards believe that corruption is part of the human condition, and one out of three attribute it to being peculiar to Spanish culture.

War of the Spanish Succession re-starts!
A fight has broken out between French and Spanish farmers, the former cheesed off with the latter owing to the Spanish goods being, in the French opinion, priced too low. Some 200 angry French farmers attacked several Spanish trucks and dumped the produce onto the road near Montpelier, just north of the borders. French gendarmes, who witnessed the attack, perhaps in solidarity, did not intervene.

The Spanish government has demanded that the French government protect the Spanish lorries and ensure their free circulation on Gallic soil, and has taken their concerns to the European Commission. Meanwhile, the two countries have begun talks to diffuse the situation, which is quite vital to Spanish interests as not two months ago, thanks to a German knee-jerk reaction, Spanish farmers lost vast amounts of money over the falsely accused Spanish cucumber, reported by the Germans to have been infected with the dreaded strain of E. Coli that ended up killing several people and making sick a great many others.

Free Sex!
Sorry, but I can barely stay awake to write this piece, and only have recourse to cheap publicity to get you to keep reading (yawn). Correos has announced a new investment of 12 and a half million euros to facilitate the ability of post offices countrywide to be able to accept credit cards. I know I know, unbelievable. That means that soon, in any of the 2269 postal offices in Spain, you can now send that post-card by using Visa or Mastercharge. They also plan to put more money into further hipness so that soon we will also be able to pay using our mobile phones. Spain will be sending men to the moon next.

Adultery 1 – Caring 0
In Valencia a woman phoned 112 asking for help, as she could not get into her house having forgotten her keys inside, and her wheelchair-bound husband wasn’t answering the door. She was sure something bad had happened to him. Accordingly, a team of police and firemen arrived on the scene, and once they forced their way in, discovered the handicapped husband in perfect shape and… in the arms of another woman.

To add insult to injury, in these cases, the person who solicits the aforementioned help must also pay for it. The story reminds me a bit of the woman on the morning of September 11, 2001, who phoned her husband who worked at the Twin Towers to see if he was all right. “Of course, I’m all right, I’m at the office!” he snapped. No he wasn’t: he was uptown with his mistress and had yet to watch the news.

Spanish Curry
Bollywood is of course India’s answer to Hollywood, and is wildly successful despite the abused formula most of its films follow, namely, the musical, with lots of singing and dancing. Inevitably and most originally, the theme is of love, which, however nauseating it might be, has not prevented Bollywood from becoming a multi-million dollar business.

Anyway, the latest hit on the sub-continent is a film called “You Only Live Once,” with its smash number one monster with-a-bullet hit, “Señorita.” The film deals with a group of Hindu chaps out on the majestic piss, as one of its number is about to get married; they prance about various typically Spanish scenes until the obvious occurs and love blooms in the middle of a Spanish feria, a forbidden love between a Hindu man and a señorita (ooh, I’m getting hot just thinking about it). The song can be heard now everywhere in India, in the poshest hotels and the worst slums.

The female voice in the song belongs to María del Mar Fernández, from Cádiz, whereas the Hindu actors provide the male voices. María earned 1000 euros for her performance. Lyricist Javed Akhtar opined in an interview, “I think the combination of Hindi and Spanish makes the song extremely interesting.” He went on to explain the obvious: “The song talks about how love is an universal language that needs no translation.”

Pope Provokes Protest
An upcoming papal visit to Madrid has sparked controversy among dissidents. The Observatorio de la Laicidad (a lay organisation) has collected 15,000 signatures against the visit on the streets of principal Spanish cities as well as over 50,000 from their on-line campaign. They reject that “a Catholic event be paid for by everyone, even non-Catholics.” Surprising stuff from a still largely Catholic Spain. Manuel Navarro, one of the organisation’s directors, says that in spite of assertions that the visit will cost nothing, it is clear that from the number of police and security forces, as well as the costs of organizing such an event, the price of the event will be significant.

The main tenor of Navarro’s complaint is that Catholicism is being favoured over, not only other religions, but over non-religions associations as well, and that this violates the Constitution in which Church and State are formally separated.

After itemizing a long list of costs for the Pope’s visit, Navarro remarked, “these costs are obscene while the country is embroiled in a crisis, without even mentioning the famines in Africa. It just reveals the hypocrisy of the Catholic hierarchy that is more concerned with marketing than with being true to its supposed message.”

Recently, the main square in Madrid, el Puerto del Sol, scene of many encounters between police and M-15 protestors, was over-taken by protestors against the Pope and his visit. All hell broke loose. Athiests and economic protestors joined forces against the Man who was variously called a Nazi and a Sinner. Believers also mixed it up with some genuflecting while fondling their rosaries and yelling, “I’m a sinner, I’m a sinner!”

The President of the Madrid Mancomunidad, Esperanza Aguirre, had called for the anti-Pope demonstration to be banned, in which eight people were arrested and 11 injured, three of these police. Figures touted for the Papal cost reach 50 million euros, which can hardly be classified as a cheap visit. It is no wonder that people in this day and age would rather see money being spent on necessary causes as opposed to propping up a moribund yet fabulously wealthy religion.

ETA’s Fate Sealed?
An encouraging fact: it’s been two years since ETA last killed on Spanish soil, when a car bomb did for the lives of two Guardia Civil men in Mallorca. The last official death attributed to ETA was in March of last year when a French Gendarme was killed up in France (the longest period ETA has gone without killing is 1,310 days, back from 2003 to the airport bomb in 2006).

In theory, ETA has been observing a unilateral cease-fire announced by them a year ago, but no one pays much attention to this as ETA has broken every cease-fire they’ve made. The thing is, ETA has been castrated, neutered, beheaded, dis-emboweled, however you want to describe it, by Spanish and French security forces over the past two years especially.

Some spectacular arrests have finished the careers of most of the organisation’s top dogs. It appears certain that their lack of recent activity (murder) and the cease-fire announcement is the organization’s admitting that their capacity to continue on is in doubt. Clearly the organisation is in disarray, what with ETA prisoners more and more calling for the armed group to abandon violence and to embrace the democratic process (something which Bildu is trying); the group itself, back in April, announced an end to the infamous Revolutionary Tax, which consisted of the group extorting Basque Country business’ and businessmen, a practise that had lasted for years.

It’s long been time for those who favour violence as a means to an end to recognize that, since it hasn’t worked but has failed miserably, and has caused untold suffering and pain in this country, now is the moment to try something different, something which is constructive and helpful to people as opposed to harmful, because what, really, has ETA ever done, besides violence, to their own people the Basques?

The mangled career of Baltasar Garzón
The career of the clever and ambitious Garzón has taken a new twist as he’s been elected to the Spanish section of the Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT). Our silver-haired judge, the only Spanish judge known internationally, has had his share of problems recently as he has been seen as too uppity.

A known crusader against corruption and human rights abuses, he has been charged with investigating these very issues and, as a result, been suspended from his judicial duties while awaiting trial. Firstly, he ordered wire-taps in the Gürtel case (in which leading PP figures have been charged with corruption and embezzlement) but said wire-taps have been ruled illegal; and secondly, he took it upon himself to investigate crimes from the Franco era which has also been ruled illegal.

What he once gained his fame from is now proving to be his downfall. Such is our quixotic Spain. Anyway, the election was a close-run battle as one Miriam Cugat, a Penal Law professor, was favoured by the CPT whereas the Spanish government had put their voice down for Garzón. The CPT investigates torture and abuse wherever these may occur, from prisons and police stations to detention centres for immigrants and psychiatric hospitals, and advises on said matters to the European Tribunal of Human Rights. Although listened to, its decisions and recommendations are not binding. Garzón’s future in Spain will be decided by the courts. It would be surprising, if convicted, if he served jail-time. But then again, isn’t anything possible in this country?

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