Angel Acebes announced he was officially stepping down as PP secretary general. Good. Manuel Pizarro, to have been Rajoy's economics minister had the PP won, is going to resign his seat and go back to the public sector. They've also announced that the convention will be June 20-22 in--guess where--Valencia.
La Vanguardia says there's an informal alliance between Valencia and Catalonia to work together in the common interest, claiming that Valencian premier and PP heavy hitter Francisco Camps wants more Catalan-style financial autonomy for his region, that he wants better transport infrastructure between the two cities, and that he wants to form a strategic alliance to counterbalance the power of Andalusia and Madrid. Camps is willing to compromise on the water issue and on linguistic politics.
Barcelona and Valencia have historically been enemies; Barcelona sees itself as Madrid's rival for the number 1 spot in Spain, and Valencia as an ally of Madrid. Valencia has always seen itself as Barcelona's rival for the number 2 spot in Spain, and would rather play second fiddle to Madrid, which it sees as the unquestioned number 1, than to Barcelona. In addition, Valencia holds a grudge over what it sees as Barcelona's veto of the damn water plan.
All this leads to incredibly silly controversies over whether Valencian is a form of Catalan or an independent language. It's also made Valencia into the PP's strongest region. Hypothesis: Camps, a Rajoy ally, knows that the PP needs to win a lot more votes in Catalonia if Rajoy is to be elected in 2008.
The prices of food imported into the Eurozone increased by 28% in 2007. Highest increases: Oils, up 43%, and grain, up 33%.
Get this: Barcelona's homeless are moving out of the Old City to outlying areas like Montjuic because young local drunks and Romanian gypsies beat and rob them. That's disgraceful and cowardly, victimizing the weakest among us, going so low as to steal their blankets. They've got a problem with homeless people at the old hospital in the Raval, which is now a library and art school, who have moved into the courtyard en masse. Maybe for protection in numbers, I don't know.
Remember Borat's hometown in Kazakhstan? That was actually filmed in a Romanian gypsy village.
The Spanish press is making a big deal about the US State Department's report on terrorism and what it said about Spain. To wit:
1) Spain is "an important transit area at a strategic crossroads...a logistical base" for terrorists operating in Western Europe 2) Jihadi terrorists travel from Spain to Iraq 3) Most Islamist terrorists operating in Spain are North African 4) Spain's government has "acted aggressively against terrorist recruitment" and arrested 47 suspects in 2007 5) "Spain cooperated closely with the US to investigate and pursue terrorists...Spain was the first EU country to sign an agreement to exchange information on suspected terrorists" 6) The trial of the 3-11 terrorists was "exhaustive, deep, vigorous, and transparent" despite public emotion and high political tension 7) "Spain's government and citizens are aware that Spain is a major target of Islamist extremism and terrorist acts."
I'm not so sure about number 7, and it was probably Aznar's government that signed the agreement on exchanging information, but in general that sounds pretty positive, giving credit where credit is due.
Barcelona beat a Valencia team that didn't bother to show up 6-0 last night, but it didn't matter because Real Madrid clinched the League title with a 1-2 victory at Osasuna. Congratulations to Madrid, which I don't think is a very good team, but it has proven that it's by far the best of the not very good teams in the Spanish league. Milito popped an ACL and is out for six months. Rumors have Barça interested in Poulsen, Navas, Torres, and Coloccini. Some reporter followed Ronaldinho around the night before Barça played at Man U, when Ronnie was supposedly injured; he stayed out drinking and dancing "in good company," until at least 5 AM, when the reporter packed it in. Now AC Milan is backing off on its offer to buy him.
Too bad. He was such a good player for three years here, and he was really having fun out there. He seemed like a nice guy, which some jocks are not. The fame and high living got to him, though. I'll bet he has a couple more pretty decent years in him, but the rest of his career is going to be an injury-laden disappointment.