Archive for the ‘Spain’ Category

What’s Spanish for “Chilcot”?

Friday, July 8th, 2016

If you follow the news, you’ll be aware of the “Chilcot Report” (named after the British civil servant in charge of the seven-year investigation which led to it), released Wednesday (6 July 2016), which denounced then-English PM Tony Blair’s leading his country into participation in the 2003 invasion of Iraq and toppling of dictator Saddam Hussein.

That report naturally gave rise to its greatest impact and public commentary in Great Britain itself – just what that country needed while it was still reeling from the “Leave” Brexit referendum vote. However, we know quite well that it was not British troops alone who stormed across the Iraqi border back in March of 2003. Rather, they were largely American forces, by far – which raises the question of whether there could be an analogous independent inquiry into that invasion over in the US.

(It’s quite an idle question, however, in view of President Obama’s “just move on” attitude towards the deeds of his predecessor. Frankly, this writer would gladly give up the prospect of any American “Chilcot”-type inquiry – the original seems to do fine in broad lines for US circumstances – if we could instead get some disclosure and prosecutions of US torture during that period.)

In any case, George W. Bush hasn’t gotten around to reading the Chilcot Report yet (was really never big on reading anyway). Now, there were also Australian troops in on the Iraq invasion, and the media there is now wondering whether that country now needs its own version of the investigation.

But what I want to write about here is Spain, where they are wondering the same thing, reports El País.

Trillo
That “Trillo” is Federico Trillo, pictured there, who was Spain’s Defense Minister in 2003, and who seems to have been the easy, available target for Spanish journalists once “Chilcot Report” became a thing. (In other words, the Spanish Prime Minister at the time, José María Aznar, showed himself more skillful at knowing just when to get out of Dodge and make himself un-findable. But also: see below.)

But here’s the key fact: Spain was not involved militarily in the invasion of Iraq! Those quotes you see in the tweet are Trillo’s assurances that Spain “sent no combatants to Iraq,” in fact “never fired a shot at anyone”!

Now, it’s true that Spain’s Aznar was quite prominent at the time in backing what were George W. Bush’s clear intention to invade and depose Saddam. In particular, just before the invasion was launched, in mid-March 2003, there occurred a high-profile summit meeting on the Azores Islands (Portuguese territory) featuring Bush, Blair – and, yes, Aznar.

But he drew the line at sending troops – or at least that is what his Defense Minister, Trillo, now maintains. Frankly, even if there had been a surreptitious Spanish troop contingent there, it surely would not have had much practical, military affect. It’s only function would have been to demonstrate allied solidarity with what was going on – that is, precisely to have been known about! (If you want to be mean: just like the Spanish troops who fought for Nazi Germany on the Russian Front, although they were actually real, and said to be volunteers.)

Pity poor Federico Trillo – harassed about Chilcot and things he did or did not do back in 2003 when, by all accounts, he’s (basically) innocent – INNOCENT, I tell you! You might ask: “Well, isn’t he out of public life by now, so that he could just demand that the journalists leave him alone?” Sadly, no – in fact, he’s precisely Spain’s current ambassador to the UK!

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

Yes We Can – Take Bribes

Friday, January 15th, 2016

Here’s another bit of news that I am surprised has not been reported more – or maybe it’s just that it has only been reported in Spanish and not yet crossed the language barrier.

15JANPodemos
The headline is fairly straightforward: “The DEA of the US reveals that Venezuela and Iran agreed to finance Podemos through Hispan TV.” “US,” “Venezuela” and “Iran” should be no problem; “DEA” is the Drug Enforcement Administration of the US federal government; “Hispan TV” is a worldwide Spanish-language TV station operated by the public television authority of the Islamic Republic of Iran; and Podemos (SP: “[Yes] We can”) – here we come to the point of all this – is a new, insurgent, left-wing, anti-austerity Spanish political party which did fairly well in the pre-Christmas Spain nationwide elections. (It’s not in government yet, though; no party is yet in government. The old government is still there as caretaker because, unfortunately, several other parties also did well in those elections.)

This is not good news for Podemos. Accepting political contributions from foreign sources, at best, puts any political party in bad odor. At worst, it is illegal; and that is the case in Spain (emphases in the original):

The Law for Party Financing of 2007 prohibited receiving funds from foreign governments but did not impose sanctions on those who evaded this restriction. Nonetheless, last 1 July a reform of the Penal Code came into force which prescribed up to four years’ jail and fines of up to five times the amount of the donation received by formations gaining more than 100,000 euros from another country . . .

Podemos is alleged to have received €5 million from Iranian sources, and undisclosed other amounts from the Venezuelan government. Further, Pablo Iglesias, Podemos‘ leader, is alleged to have received personal payments of between €2,000 and €3,000 numerous times. Again, Hispan TV was used as the main vehicle to move these monies and make things look legal, through inflated invoices and the like. All this is coming to light now – allegedly – because a Venezuelan government insider with knowledge about what has been going on has started talking to the DEA.

The affinity between Podemos and the Venezuelan government is easy to see: both are left-wing. But neither are Muslim; indeed, there has not been a strong Muslim political presence in Spain sine 1492. So why would Iran want to buy influence in an up-and-coming force in Spanish politics this way? For that matter, what is the Iranian government doing in the first place splashing out the cash for a television network to push it views throughout the Spanish-speaking world?

And, really, why haven’t we all heard a lot more about this? Could it be just a journalistic hack-job from a media outlet, El Confidencial, that is hostile to Podemos‘ politics. I have to confess that I really do not know; for what it is worth, El Confidencial seems quite a newcomer to the Spanish media scene, and I’m not even sure whether it has or ever had a paper/sold-on-the-streets version.

Still, as hinted above, the Spanish political situation remain in limbo after that December 20 election because, for the first time, no party won a majority enabling it to govern alone. The parties which did well (including Podemos) have been thrust into the very unfamiliar task of forming a coalition government, something that has never been required before in post-Franco Spain. They are not doing well at it so far; and if it turns out that they can’t work things out, then there would have to be new elections. That is when these allegations – if true – would start to really bite for Podemos.

UPDATE: Here we are in March, 2016 – there still is no new Spanish government yet – and there comes this report that this Podemos case has been brought before the Spanish Tribunal de Cuentas or Court of Accounts:

PodemosII
The facts at issue are pretty much as described in the initial blog-post (above): “the alleged illegal financing of Podemos via Iran’s television station in Spain,” although in this piece there is no mention of Venezuela. So on the one hand this would seem to lend credibility to the accusation; on the other hand, this is once again a report from that same source, El Confidencial.

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

WiFi from the Indigent

Thursday, January 14th, 2016

A story about Prague . . . from the Spanish press, from La Vanguardia – but Twitter is a many-splendored thing that way. But first, just appreciate the photo, taken on Prague’s Charles Bridge about a week ago – the statues, the ice-fog in the background so you can’t even see any sky.

14JANIndigentes
What is of significance here is the figure at the lower-left: the beggar crouching in the snow. An enterprising young Prager by the name of Luboš Boleček has come up with an innovative way to help such people. They spend a lot of time hanging around on the streets, right? At the same time, other people walking in those streets – people with the wherewithal to own a smartphone – are frequently in search of a WiFi signal, right?

Why not give the homeless person a WiFi repeater, so s/he can create a useful WiFi hotspot where s/he stands? The tourists and other people in search of a WiFi signal thereby benefit; but so do the homeless as well, in the sense that they thereby provide a useful service which justifies and might attract sponsor’s funds, which can then go to providing these people with the sort of services useful for helping them get back on top of their lives and re-entering society again as full and fully productive members. (Any funds go in the first instance to public transport tickets, lunches and toilet facilities which enable them to go about this WiFi hotspot task.)

I suppose those inclined to look on the bad side might dismiss this project as an abuse of the homeless as a sort of city furniture – or some such – for visiting tourists. In Boleček’s reasoning, however, it is much more along the line of the “homeless newspapers” you often find such people peddling on the street: again, an escape from merely begging outright for money in favor of attempting to offer some real value-added in return. Maybe it’s time to update that “homeless newspaper” paradigm, he suggests: people don’t read much anymore in any case – at least not anything on paper – so the rationale for such newspapers is fading and it’s time for something new.

Boleček’s project is admittedly off to a stuttering start, as he is still looking for private or public funds to enable him to fully get going with it. As he says himself, you’d think some telecommunications company would be glad to step in as a sponsor. Anyway, you can learn more about it on the website he has set up, which is also in English.

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

Students Gone to Pot

Monday, July 6th, 2015

Greece, Greece, Greece! That is what is dominating today’s headlines, of course. As usual, though, my function here at €S is not to point out to you something you have probably already heard about from some other source, but rather to come up with material you likely would not ordinarily have run across (primarily due to language barriers).

There’s nothing along that line that I have found, yet, when it comes to Greece. Grease, though: that may be another matter. For who can resist this (well, if you read Spanish)?

Cannib
“Tribe of cannibals solicits more exchange students,” it says! And check out that picture – isn’t it a riot?

The Spanish press is not really known for parody publications along the lines of The Onion, but here you really have to wonder. To be sure, everything is laid out in the normal manner of an on-line news article. This one begins:

The chief of the Krilasha tribe of New Guinea, Mulumba Bra-Maldashiu, today asked the European Union to provide more support to exchange-student scholarships because, for some time now, “we have been getting less people, by which I mean fewer youths from abroad, and so it’s a shame that the scholarship system is breaking down.”

So far, so OK, although I wrote “people” there as a translation of género, which has many meanings, including “goods”; you wonder whether it might also mean “fresh meat.”

But then get this, the piece goes on:

“We are hungry. Hungry for knowledge,” the headman explained.

Really, don’t you start to doubt this story now? And then the chief continues, further down:

“They are new blood for us, and our tribe represents an unforgettable experience for them.”

And then:

“They don’t have to be brilliant students. Let them send us their most problematical ones, we will know what to do with them.”

The piece is topped off with a brief mention that this New Guinean tribe has put in an urgent request to meet with Angela Merkel, “to deal with this and other themes that are on the table.” Well, take a number: there are very many who want to meet with Chancellor Merkel these days, and about more urgent matters than feasting upon Western scholarly knowledge, or possibly just some Western scholars.

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

Working for the Islamic State

Wednesday, March 18th, 2015

OK, it’s clear the armed gentlemen you see in this picture don’t want to talk to the press, so let me step in and let you know about a new way to escape with your head still attached to your body after falling into their hands. (Although you may have heard of this already; the article says CNN also has coverage of this.)

extranjeros
Those 20 sanitarios extranjeros are foreign personnel ISIL soldiers recently captured while taking over a hospital; they are mostly Filipinos but also other nationalities such as Ukrainian, Indian and Serbian. They were told that “if they wanted to continue to live” then they would be expected to continue living in the area and continue their work at the hospital, which of course would largely be transformed into a medical facility for treating ISIL fighters.

Now, the first important stipulation to this report is that all of this took place in Libya, near the port city of Sirte which was ex-Libyan strongman Muammar Gaddafi’s home town and also where he was finally tracked down and killed. These militants are said here to be “jihadists” from the “Islamic State,” but we have to remember that the Islamic State/ISIS/ISIL proper – the one operating in Syria and Iraq – has lately taken to franchising its operations, to Libya and to Nigeria: so these are but Islamic State franchisees.

Probably a bigger stipulation about this story is that it is ludicrous to believe that these hospital employees can just be ordered to continue their work, under ISIL occupation, and that everything can go on as before. Who pays them? How much? Who procures the hospital’s needed supplies? What happens when/if those opposing these “Islamic State” forces counterattack to take back this territory?

Some of these questions can no doubt be answered by looking at similar institutions in the captured Iraqi city of Mosul – although Sirte is quite a bit smaller than that, and the unique aspect of this story is the new way these fighters have come up with here to make these Libyan hospital personnel “loose” sorts of hostages – slaves, really.

But at least we are spared quite a few more grisly execution videos.

Side-note: It’s easy to see the two ISIL soldiers in the pictures are carrying very different types of weapons. In fact, the one on the left is carrying an M16/M4 type assault rifle (civilian version: the AR15) which characterizes American and American-outfitted forces. Hard to figure that one out, if these guys are supposed to be in Libya. Easier to figure out if they are ISIL in Syria or Iraq: the equipment was captured from the Iraqi Army.

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

Spain’s Low-Cost Miracle

Saturday, March 14th, 2015

After the glance back into Spain’s past last time, I thought a look into that country’s future might be in order. First off: you’ve perhaps heard of the new political party there Podemos, but have you heard of Ciudadanos?

Ciudadanos
The name means “citizens,” and that is another recently formed politial party there. The writer of this piece in the Spanish edition of the Huffington Post, César Ramos, is a politician from the mainstream leftist PSOE party (the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party – formerly of Felipe González). Yet he sees potential in this new political formation, mainly to put an end to the monopoly of the Popular Party (Partido Popular, now in power under Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy) of the political space on the Right.

At least Señor Ramos, as a PSOE delegate, would wish for that to be true. From its Wikepedia page it seems that Ciudadanos is more of a regional party for Catalonia, founded to counteract the anti-Spanish feeling there. On the other hand, there is this:

PSOE
Ciudadanos is said here to be able at least to expect enough votes in the upcoming Andalusian regional election, not to win it, but to affect the outcome in favor of the PSOE. By the way, this particular La Información article is unintentionally funny in the way it writes the party name Ciudadanos just like a regular word – so that, for example, the picture caption (to the same picture you see there in the tweet) has the PSOE Andalusian Governor Susana Díaz meeting with ciudadanos meaning just ordinary citizens, when you’re tempted to think instead that it means that she’s meeting with members of the competing party! (OK, so it’s only me who finds this funny . . .) (more…)

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

European One-Armed Banditry

Wednesday, January 7th, 2015

No, we don’t mean there’s been a new crime-wave perpetrated by cripples criss-crossing the Old Continent; nor (even though this is a little bit more likely) some illicit fund-raising campaign undertaken by ISIS fighters having had to return from their MidEast adventures due to grievous upper-body injuries.

Rather, for “one-armed bandit” here we are referring to the slot machine, that most-insidious piece of gambling equipment capable of enchanting for hours – and many dollars, euros, or what have you lost – on end quite considerable cohorts of people with the particular psychological disposition to be so captivated. Especially in it most-modern incarnation, i.e. those machines governed by internal software, far from offering players any “fair” game it is rather carefully programmed to manipulate the sucker sitting before it so as to extract the maximum of money.

A modern-day societal plague, in short; yet thereby irresistible to those businesses, and occasionally even governments, which can manage to gain permission to make the investment into equipment and then set them up so as to start preying upon the passing parade of suckers.

In terms of the latest news from Europe on this score, as is so often the case we witness one step forward together with one back. Starting in Austria:

WienGamble
Ralf Leonhard is the Austrian correspondent for the Berlin newspaper the taz (Die Tageszeitung), and he reports about how, as of January 1, das kleine Glückspiel – “small-scale gambling” – has been banned within the city of Vienna. That basically boils down to one-armed bandits, which previously numbered some 2,600 in the city, spread out among 505 locations of which 69 were Spiellokale, that is, pure slot-machine halls. (The other establishments were places like bars and cafés; they’re now banned there, too.) (more…)

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

Stranger in a Strange Teutonic Land

Thursday, June 27th, 2013

As is the case in all democratic societies, it is healthy for top government officials occasionally to get out and mingle among their constituents. That’s why Spanish government spokeswoman María Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría Antón recently was in Germany, as El Huffington Post reports.

HuffPoES_Santamaria

In Germany?! Why sure: unemployment in Spain itself has gotten to be so bad that legions of Spaniards – those with true initiative, who in past centuries would have headed over to the Western Hemisphere – have moved to Germany to find places for themselves in the much better economic situation there. Brace yourself for the tide of funny stories sure to come as these two very different cultures collide – most expat Spaniards, for example, won’t even yet have an appetite at the outrageously early (for them) hours when they will find Germans sitting down to their evening meal.

Further, there are the two rather different languages. For what it’s worth, new Bayern München coach Pep Guardiola has seemingly dealt with that problem rather well (video here of his first Munich press conference), although I hasten to add that his own move there was hardly prompted by the same economic concerns.

In any case, we had the rather telegenic Ms. Santamaría there in Germany, where she was a guest on the popular morning TV show Morgenmagazine. The unstated question behind her appearance there must have been “So many Spaniards are here! What are you going to do about it?”

Turns out that much of what the Spanish government is trying to do about it actually involves Germany. On the show she expressed her admiration for that country’s apprentice-based youth training system and her government’s intention to adopt something similar. More concretely, Spain and Germany recently agreed to have 5,000 students from the former be trained within that system in the latter country.

But then the inevitable follow-up: Aren’t you afraid that most of those 5,000 will then simply stay in Germany after their training? Her response: “What we want is to create employment in Spain so that young people can freely decide whether they want to work in Germany or in Spain.” Well, indeed: let’s hope that Spain can make enough progress on the employment front to give itself at least even odds as the home country versus some other country when it comes time for young people to decide where their future lies!

But no worries. Ms. Santamaría further announced on behalf of her government an upcoming “program of reforms such as have never been seen in democratic history” to fix the national labor market and solve the problem. Spaniards now settling in Germany are also finding out how much less the natives are prone to hyperbole.

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

Don Quixote & the 2020 Games

Friday, July 8th, 2011

Sorry – it’s the Olympics again! I swear that I’ll go find some other hobby-horse right after this post, but I just happened to come across an article in El País – and you know I don’t ordinarily discuss the Spanish press – with the irresistible title Olympic Dream Maybe, But “Low Cost”, by Bruno García Gallo (the “rooster”).

You’ll be glad to know that this is not about the Winter Games again (although with the tropically-situated Sochi, Russia having won them for 2014, why not?), but rather the 2020 Summer Games. And yes, Madrid is still interested in those even after having lost in the last two Summer Game bids – somewhat. Polls showed a full 91% of madrileños were behind the city’s bid for the 2012 Games, as compared to only 68% of Londoners. But the latter won anyway. It was a similar situation for the 2016 Games, which Madrid nonetheless lost to Rio de Janeiro. Still, as of last year at least 54% are ready to have a go again, as are all the city’s leading politicians. (more…)

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

DEEP VOTE

Sunday, November 21st, 2010

I may run the risk of lowering the usually elevated tone of Eurodiscourse that I try to uphold on this blog. But the following is not really pornographic. (A tip for those of a certain age: the 1989 film “When Harry Met Sally” – relevant here, as you’ll see! – got an “R” rating, which many considered too strict.) Anyway, this comes to us from the Young Socialists of Catalonia, via Reuters and the hyperactive Czech Twitter-feed Zpravy:

There is a point here, and it concerns the regional elections due to take place there next Sunday (28 November). The Young Socialists want people to be sure to turn out to vote – the “tag-line” message at the end of this clip is “Voting is a pleasure” – and preferably, of course, for Socialist candidates. That’s about it for any serious purpose, though, so the whole thing is rather overboard, a clever idea, but one that probably never should have been actually carried out. It should be no surprise that the clip was roundly condemned by spokesmen and -women from the more conservative parties on the political spectrum, as well as by some Socialist members of government in fact. The BBC website captured probably the best quote, from Joan Herrera, leader of the Catalonia Greens (and a man: “Joan” is a man’s name in Catalan): that it would be “very difficult to reach orgasm voting for any of the candidates, myself included.”

But Spain: how could something like this come from Spain? However, this is not your father’s (or at least your grandfather’s) Spain, that dictatorship of the Caudillo propped up by an unreformed and reactionary Catholic Church. It has changed, dramatically, and the watershed was in 1975, when dictator Francisco Franco’s death and the resulting return to democracy (institutionalized in a new constitution of 1978) prompted Spain to some extent to swing way to the other extreme and become an “anything goes” society. Abortion was legalized as well as divorce – together with, more recently, gay marriage. Cinema aficionados can refer to the award-winning films of Pedro Almodóvar for a series of (slightly exaggerated) portraits of this new prevailing culture – prevailing in Spanish cities, at least.

So, you say you’ve never been to Spain
But you kinda like the music?
Well, the ladies are insane there
And they sure know how to use it
They don’t abuse it
Never gonna lose it
You won’t refuse it!

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

Shut Your Big German Mouth!

Tuesday, November 9th, 2010

Don’t look now, but another EU sovereign debt crisis is creeping up. This can be seen in the effective interest rates currently paid for the obligations of the usual problematic countries – Greece, of course, along with Portugal and Ireland, but also Italy and Spain. The last-named had hoped that it had made it out of the woods – mainly by means of various public-spending austerity measures – and so Spanish financial experts are particularly aggrieved now that it seems the country’s painful fiscal virtue is threatening to be all for naught. One such, C. Pérez of the Spanish newspaper El País, knows who is to blame and issues his accusation today: Berlin sows doubts about debt and the contagion reaches Spain and Italy.

It’s almost like what happened back when the EU sovereign debt crisis first broke in January, after the new Greek government took office and felt obligated to announce that the country’s debt and fiscal situation was much worse than the previous regime had led everyone to believe. Then, Germany for a long time resisted coming to Athens’ assistance, and thereby succeeded in little more than spreading doubts about their fiscal probity to Portugal, Ireland, and Spain as well, before finally in May rallying Eurozone countries to set up a huge and unprecedented EU sovereign debt support fund.

This time the story is slightly different, although the Germans are still the villains of the piece. It has to do with the proposal Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble recently unveiled for the establishment of a mechanism to deal with future sovereign debt crises: first, a program of intensified fiscal austerity for the deadbeat country, accompanied by a mandatory lengthening of their debt’s maturity date; then (if that does not work to calm investor fears of a default) intervention with EU funds, but with required provisions for the lenders to get back less than they are otherwise due, i.e. to take a loss on their investment. Schäuble: “The EU was not created to enrich financial investors.”

All that seems reasonable in itself, but in the first place the Germans here are explicitly raising the prospect again of sovereign defaults. That’s supposed to be unmentionable, and when it is mentioned it tends to make investors sit up in alarm and take notice. More importantly, though, the German proposals also amount to a change of the rules of the game for lending money to Eurozone countries; for one thing, before this investors weren’t expected to have to take a loss if the EU and/or IMF had to come in to cover the debts (and the later maturity date is not something designed to thrill them either).

Given that this is the proposal being pushed by Germany, the EU’s paymaster, these investors are naturally adjusting their expectations for such a near-future development now: the Greek, Portuguese, Irish, Spanish and even Italian debt they are holding no longer seems quite so attractive in the light of this likely rules-change, and so we see the effective rates on those debts lately rising up dangerously to levels potentially high enough to ensure that, in effect, they never can be repaid by those countries themselves.

The result: in trying to address the problem of how to handle sovereign debt crises in the future, the EU has come close to bringing about such a crisis in the here-and-now, and has plunged countries which had thought themselves at least on the margins – namely Spain and Italy – squarely back into the danger-zone. It’s no wonder they’re not happy about it. Unfortunately, there’s a limit to how much of substance can be accomplished by secret consultations among the EU member-states. Such a crisis was probably inevitable, given that top EU leaders refused to simply stick their heads in the sand and pretend that such serious international financial trouble could never come around again.

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

The Rain in Spain

Thursday, May 6th, 2010

Even as the first Greek act in the developing euro-crisis plays on – now with fatalities, as three people die during violent demonstrations in Athens – the focus of public attention is starting to shift to a feared second act in other countries with similarly weak finances, like Portugal or Spain. With that come calming assurances from high EU officials, like EU Council President Herman van Rompuy (remember him?) who characterized any such fears of financial contagion as “irrational.” Going to the horse’s mouth, though – so to speak – we find them to be anything but, as we can see from an article by Luis Doncel (Spanish risk runs rampant) in the mainstream Spanish paper El País. (The hat-tip for discovering this article goes to Eurointelligence – in English, of course – whose piece itself offers a potpourri of interesting current news items on the Greek crisis.) (more…)

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

Obama Sends Message to Cuba

Monday, October 26th, 2009

I first caught sight of this news-piece from an on-line article in L’Humanité, the newspaper of the French Communist Party. I know, sad but true – but L’Humanité to me is nothing more than just another entry in my “France” RSS feed, I swear! And anyway, somehow the same thing has also been covered on-line on the Fox News site (but not more mainstream sources, like the Washington Post or even the New York Times), working from a Reuters report (which the Fox editors actually kept strictly factual – no vituperations against the President here at all!). Anyway, it seems that President Obama took advantage of the meeting he had in the Oval Office with José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, prime minister of Spain, on 13 October to ask him to tell his foreign minister, Miguel Ángel Moratinos, to pass along a personal message to Cuba – actually, to “the Cuban authorities.” The message was basically that the US was working to improve relations with the island-nation, but “if they don’t take steps too, it’s going to be very hard for us to continue.”

Perusing L’Humanité will further inform you – as looking at the Fox News article will not – that the paper that originally broke this story, appropriately enough, was Spain’s El País. So let’s go there and take a look: we can also handle the Spanish beat here on EuroSavant, though we don’t do it often. (more…)

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

Doris Lessing Interview

Sunday, October 21st, 2007

It turned out I was just as unprepared as most everyone else for the Swedish Academy’s selection of Doris Lessing to receive the 2007 Nobel Prize for Literature. But the award has, as always, turned the just-turned-88 British/Rhodesian authoress into a hot property: her books are now in greater demand, and so are her opinions. And the Spanish newspaper El País has turned up as the big winner in the latter sphere, scoring the exclusive, (somewhat) extensive interview “War and Memory Never Stop” that the world’s other papers can only quote snippets from. (Yes, I don’t usually track the content on El País; I was alerted to the article by Le Nouvel Observateur’s treatment of such interview snippets.) Why El País? It’s nowhere totally clear, although it seems that Lessing has been thinking back quite a lot these days to the Spanish Civil War, something that is of course discussed in the interview. (more…)

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

Iraq Through Spanish Eyes

Monday, August 11th, 2003

Spain is not among those countries listed over on the left side, under “Publications that I monitor, by country.” But that doesn’t mean that I couldn’t systematically cover the Spanish press as well, if I so chose. It’s more a matter of where my interests lie (more in Central/Eastern Europe than in the Iberian Peninsula) and my degree of comfort with the language, determining how quickly, comfortably, and effectively I can read texts.

But I can’t rule out that interesting articles will come up in the Spanish press that I’ll want to tell you about – as happened today (aided by an oblique reference from a German news site, plus some serendipity). In fact, I’m rather pleased that the commentary piece I found in ABC de Madrid (a conservative Spanish newspaper), entitled Napoleón en Bagdad (you can translate that one for yourself, ¿no?) fits in rather nicely with my current theme of national commentary on the tribulations being encountered by America and her allies in occupied Iraq. (more…)

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)