Don't forget to read MundoFreaky.com just for grins.
The big news in the States related to Spain is the extradition of Monzer al Kasar, a Syrian arms trafficker who has lived in Madrid for years, to the US on charges of conspiring to sell ground-to-air missiles to the FARC. This guy has sold arms to many of the worst scuzzballs around the world, from Nicaragua to Iran. This is getting almost no coverage in Spain; La Vanguardia gave it one paragraph on page 10. I get the idea the Zap government is trying to downplay this one.
The truck drivers are still refusing to work, but the blockades and violence by "picketers" have at least partly petered out. Yesterday they blocked off the motorways at Sant Cugat and Amposta, snarling things up good, but not completely. The government actually arrested a few of these guys who were blocking the border at La Jonquera. One of the "strikers" got run over by a pissed-off driver down in Andalusia and got killed.
Panic hoarding has pretty much stopped; most of the gas stations in Catalonia ran out during the week, but they've been resupplied. There's plenty of food in the supermarkets; besides staple nonperishables, which they never ran out of, fresh meat and fish are available again. Fresh vegetables and fruit are still scarce. The port is back in business, as is the central wholesale market.
Transport is still a mess; two trains broke down on the main Renfe commuter line yesterday, and they had to shut down the line to the airport. Meanwhile, the independent taxi operators called a work stoppage for yesterday, so millions of working hours were wasted, one more time.
Seems to me like public services have been real crappy around here for about the last year; first the Carmel subway tunnel collapse, then the blackout last summer, then the commuter train crisis, exacerbated by the AVE foulups, then the drought for which adequate measures had not been taken, now this mess that has been a huge pain in the ass to the whole country. And there have been at least a dozen minor events that have caused large hassles for the citizenry. I say we hold the Socialists and their Red-Green-Brown friends responsible and vote them out of office, but that might be just me.
Get this. A 24-year old American tourist died yesterday in Barcelona after being mugged. A Moroccan with a police record as long as your arm (he has been arrested "dozens of times") pulled a knife on him near the funicular station on Montjuic in front of numerous witnesses. La Vanguardia says "This is an area historically plagued with thieves who besiege the tourists who visit the Olympic area and the Miró Foundation." SO WHY DIDN'T THE AUTHORITIES JAIL THEM ALL YEARS AGO?
The American didn't fight back and handed over his camera. Witnesses say he apparently went into some sort of state of shock, walked a few steps, and then collapsed, hitting his head. An Italian tourist, who is a doctor, tried to give him first aid, but he died, either of a heart attack or of head injuries.
The amount of street crime against tourists in Barcelona is absolutely disgraceful, and the authorities aren't doing anything about it. I have always recommended that people come to Barcelona anyway, since the good things about the city have always outweighed the bad ones, and if you're careful you can greatly reduce your personal risk. I'm starting to change my mind, after the murder of the Danish tourist a couple of weeks ago and now this.
My position now: Come to visit Barcelona at your own risk. If anything happens to you, you've been warned. By some amateur with a blog, not by the police and government authorities, whose business it is.