It's even worse in Burma than had been thought. They're talking 100,000 dead. Survivors report mountains of bodies.99,000 of the dead would still be alive if their government weren't so incompetent and corrupt. I didn't know this: The main road from Mandalay to Rangoon wasn't even paved. Now it's not there anymore.
The xenophobic and autarchic nature of the Burmese dictatorship makes it very hard to get news out of there, and the information available is very limited. Some aid is coming in through Thailand, high-energy cookies, blankets, and medicine. La Vanguardia reports that the Burmese junta has deigned to accept American aid; the Americans have offered $3 million as long as American officials get to supervise the distribution. People from the UN's World Food Program are having trouble getting in because the junta won't give them visas. People are getting desperate in the Irrawaddy delta, and there have been food riots.
You know there's not much news when La Vangua puts a photo of Madonna tongueing one of her dancers on the front page of their website with the headline, "Another Madonna lesbian kiss." Has anybody cared what Madonna does since about 1992? I never cared about what she did at all, ever. I imagine that most male Madonna fans are heterosexuality-challenged.
Econ minister Pedro Solbes says that the housing market needs to adjust (that is, deflate), and that he's not going to take any "artificial measures" to stop it. Now he's hoping that growth will return to 3% in 2010, and that Spain needs some "financial austerity." That sort of contradicts Zap's stimulus package and all the money-raining promises he made during the campaign. Whatever happened to the day-care centers at every company, or the job training for ex-construction workers, or the six-month government mortgage guarantees?
Spain is claiming that the American salvage company Odyssey "expoliated" the wreck of a Spanish navy ship which sank in 1804, found by Odyssey last year. They want the treasure that the company discovered, valued at some $500 million, for themselves, though Odyssey did the work of finding it and then bringing up the gold. I dunno. If the shipwreck wasn't found in Spanish territorial waters, I don't think Spain has much of a claim; they lost their ownership of it when they abandoned it under water for two hundred years. And if anybody but Odyssey has a claim on the treasure, seems to me it would be Peru, not Spain, right?
Remember Franki the flag-burning squatter punk? A couple of his buddies used climbing equipment to suspend themselves between the towers of the Sagrada Familia over the weekend, and this morning they suspended themselves off a bridge over the motorway into Barcelona through Sant Joan Despi, and the cops had to cut off traffic in order to get them down. If I were the cops I'd give them five minutes to get the hell out, and then cut their ropes if they didn't comply. By the way, Franki is supposedly mixed up with Laura Riera, the Terrassa girl who put the finger on a PP town councilman murdered by ETA.
The number of abortions performed yearly in Spain has increased by 99%--that means it's doubled, from 51,000 to 101,000--in the last ten years. Spanish women have their first child at age 31 on average, the highest age in the EU.
Barça played dreadfully last night and was humiliated 4-1 by Real Madrid. Everybody was terrible. I was completely wrong about TV viewership: it was the most-watched Madrid-Barça since 2004, and the most-watched program in the history of Tele 5.
Just a reminder: The name of the city is Barcelona. The C is pronounced TH in Spanish and S in Catalan. It is never abbreviated in speech. It is sometimes abbreviated in writing as Barna or BCN (after the airport three-letter identification code.) I call it B-ville or Barneytown, but nobody else does. Often in the Spanish press Barcelona is referred to as "la Ciudad Condal," the "City of the Counts." This is never used in speech. The name of the football team is FC Barcelona, abbreviated as Barça, in both speech and writing.