Category Archives: Spain

Basque Separatists Promise Peace

Israel and Palestinian leaders just participated in discussions which, ostensibly, were initial steps on the road to peace. Just as their talks ended, Spain’s Basque separatist group which has been fighting for autonomy for half a century, announced it was ready to end the fighting. ETA announced to the people of Spain its “commitment to finding a democratic process to decide freely and democratically our future, through dialogue and negotiations. It remains unclear as to how this process will proceed, it remains unclear as to wether Basque militants will unilaterally lay down their arms or will it require some action on the part of the Spanish government. Cynics argue it is a ploy to gain sympathy, but ideas concerning localism have lost power in countries like Spain which is now linked, not only throughout Europe as part of the European Union, but has commercial links in every part of the world.

There is no doubt many areas of the world continue to witness “nationalism” as a powerful driving force that is able to fuel anger and violence. Perhaps, the Basque statement reflects a slight shift in the drive of nationalism to achieve power. Who knows what awaits Spain, the only hope is the future of this country is peaceful and negotiations proceed to a successful conclusion.

Michelle(Marie) Obama(Antoinette)?

Summertime, and the living is easy, at least that’s what Michelle Obama thought when she decided to take daughter, Sasha on a trip to Spain. Little did she consider how right wing kooks would interpret going to Spain in the summer while millions of Americans can’t even go to Six Flags this summer with the kids. Right wing media has unleashed a torrent of criticism concerning a trip that included lunch with the King and Queen of Spain at which Michelle tasted; Andalusian style chilled gazpacho soup, chargrilled turbot, veal escalopes with mustard, oriental rice with sauted mushrooms. And, rather than staying in two or three star hotels as do most Americans, Michelle had to park her body in a 7 star hotel which cost $7,000 a night. Of course, the Secret Service selected the hotel. Most probably this is another of those storm in a teacup episodes in American politics.

However, perhaps, Mrs. Obama might have reflected on the current situation in which so many millions of people are desperate and are cutting back on summer activities for their own children. A trip to someplace in continental America would have resonated with Americans. There are times when the powerful have to be cognizant of how the powerless feel.

Oh, Michelle, after assuming office in March, 1933, Mrs. Roosevelt had a party at which hot dogs were served. In the midst of the Depression, she had to entertain the visiting King and Queen of England– once again, hot dogs were served. Got the point, Mrs. Obama?

Stop, Go In Middle East Peace

Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told visiting Spanish Foreign Minister Moratinos that if he is compelled to continue a freeze on West Bank settlement past September 26 it will most likely result in the downfall of his coalition government since some of its members are adamant about ending the freeze. Moratinos told the Israel leader he had talked with President Abbas of the Palestinian Authority and he was determined not to engage in negotiations unless there is a freeze on settlements. He is under pressure from the Arab League to stand firm, and Abbas fears if he talks and settlement construction resumes, he will most probably lose support of the average Palestinian. In other words, Hamas which is feared and disliked by Israel will gain power among Palestinians if the freeze ends. End the freeze and Abbas is weakened, continue the freeze on settlements and Netanyahu is weakened. Talk about a dilemma!

There is an old song which goes, “did you ever get the feeling you wanted to go, stop, go, stop.” The song typifies issues in the Middle East. Of course, one solution would be for Netanyahu to end his coalition with right wing extremists and ask Tzipi Livni to join his government. That would ensure a government that is committed to an independent Palestine and working out a compromise on West Bank settlements.

World Cup And LeBron James

The World Cup has finally come to an end with the high scoring 1-0 victory of Spain over the Netherlands. As one who has absolutely no interest in the World Cup anymore than I have in who LeBron James forces to give him a hundred million dollars, it is amusing to observe the anger and fury generated by sporting events and personalities. Just about every World Cup game included fury on the part of one side regarding officiating. There were moments when simply turning over to umpires the entire process of playing a game made more sense than anything else. It is a freaking game, but these referees appear to be observing something else besides the game they supposedly were officiating. I am simply too much of an American to become excited about one game after another which concludes in 1-0.

Of course, we Americans are no better when it comes to sports. A young man, LeBron James, apparently believes he is the second coming of Jesus Christ and arranges a TV SPECIAL! in order to inform the entire nation with whom he will play next season. Sports has been transformed from a “sporting even” into commercial enterprises in which the game is of secondary importance. Oh, in fairness to King James it should be noted he donated a few hundred thousand dollars to children. God Bless You Tiny James.

Red Effect Triumphs Over Separatism In Spain

The “red effect” has s wept over the nation of Spain as hundreds of thousands poured through the streets of cities waving flags or wearing the red shirt of its national soccer team. “La Roja,” or “The Red.” On nights of victory in a World Cup match, shouts could be heard echoing through cities of, “I am Spanish, I am Spanish,” and none were heard claiming, “I am Basque.” The newspaper, El Pais, noted, “not since the Spanish civil war have there been so many flags in the streets.” Spain since the emergence of Fascist General Franco in the thirties, went through a period of declining sense of patriotism and the rise of separate desires in Catalonia and among Basque people, but today, there is pride that Spain will sit atop the world as the leader in the world of soccer. Spain’s constitutional court declared, “our nation recognizes no nation but Spain.”

A Basque leader expressed the frustration of his organization by commenting, “this is ridiculous, we will wind up with more Spanish flags being waved for the Spanish – Holland match than Catalan flags.” Figures reveal that three-fourths of Catalan TV sets were tuned into the match between Spain and Germany. The red and gold Spanish flag that is disliked by old time nationalists is now found in every part of Barcelona and Madrid as people take pride in their soccer team as they adopt a Spanish sense of patriotism.

Five of the players in the team are from Catalonia but they play as members of the Spanish team.

Barcelona Bans Veil

The silly season has arrived due to fear about the ever-dangerous “terrorists’ in our midst. Today, at my doctor’s office the secretary informed me of a new Federal law requiring a Photo-ID for patients in order to see their doctors. In fairness, when I saw my doctor, I asked for his Photo-ID to ensure my regular doctor was treating me. In Barcelona, Spain, a new law requires anyone entering a public place to reveal their face and makes illegal the right of Muslim women to wear a veil. According to authorities, “it should not be possible that someone enters into a place without being identified.” I assume they have technology to scrutinize a body in order to determine if any weapons or explosives are in possession of the person. What is gained by examining the face?

The only reason for Barcelona to become the first city in Spain that bans use of the niqab or burqa is to strike a blow for stupidity and bigotry. There are only one million Muslims in the population of 47,000,000, and, most probably, less than a thousand Muslim women wear a veil. Prejudice can not hide behind the veil of hate.

Nonbelievers Caught Praying In Church!

I am a visitor from the planet of Xul which lies millions of miles away in a lonely part of the universe and my task is to visit this place called, Earth and learn about its quaint ideas and practices. I was rather intrigued about an incident the other day in Spain where a group of Muslims decided to pray in a Catholic church despite the fact they were Muslims. The original church building in the spot was the Grand Mosque of Cordoba which was built after the Muslim invasion of Spain, but when Christian forces took the area in 1236 the mosque was replaced by a beautiful Catholic church. A group of 120 Muslims from Austria entered the church and proceeded to pray to their Muslim gods or whatever, an activity that aroused the anger and curiosity of guards. Security personnel told these people to quit praying in a church unless they wanted to pray to the real God or Son of God, or whatever. The Muslim tourists insisted they had a right to pray in a church, a stance that eventually resulted in more police. A court date was set for their appearance.

I gather the charges will be loitering and praying to someone who is not of the Christian faith while in a church which seeks to have people pray– but, pray only to the “right Gods.” I assume. I assume there will soon be on Planet Earth, “praying police” who supervise all praying in a church in order to ensure one and all are praying to the right person–or God. Anyone caught praying to the wrong person or God or son of God will be compelled to pray for an entire week outside in the sun.

Spain Prevents Israel Scientists To Work

The Spanish government has decided to expel a group of Israeli scientists from a state-funded competition because they were based in occupied areas of the West Bank. The Israel team had been selected as one of the 20 finalists in a competition to design solar-powered housing that is part-sponsored by the US energy department. A Spanish spokesperson said: “The EU does not recognize the occupation of the West Bank which is where this university is.”

This decision is in line with numerous complaints from European academics about boycotting Israel university professors and scientists. One can ask if Spain will expel Chinese scientists who work in a nation with a notorious human rights record, Russian scientists whose government has done nothing to prevent the death of human rights activists, east European scientists many of whom live in countries with blatantly anti-Roma laws and violence, etc…

Evaluate the scientist, not his/her nation. Now, if we want to discuss human rights violations, Iran, Saudia Arabia, Egypt, etcc.

Is Francisco Franco Finally Dead?

To those alive in the 1930s, the rise to power of dictator Francisco Franco was a death blow to the idea of freedom for the people of Spain. Franco was assisted by Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy in overthrowing a legally elected government. The ensuing Spanish Civil War was brutal, and atrocities were committed by both sides, but those of Franco far surpassed anything implemented by the Republican government. The Spanish Bishop of Vitoria celebrated a memorial service in which he asked forgiveness for the Catholic Church’s collusion with Franco in murderous events of the civil war. He specifically noted the church remained silent at the death of 14 priests by Franco’s forces, and even refused to give them a funeral. “The silence with which officials of our church surrounded the deaths of these priests is not justifiable nor acceptable for much longer. Such a long silence was not only a wrongful omission, but a lack of truth and an act against justice and charity, for which we ask pardon.”

It has taken over a half century to take notice of the murder of innocent priests, but, at least the Catholic Church is finally coming to grips with its behavior during the Spanish Civil War.

Is Nudity In The Eye Of The Beholder?

A Spanish newspaper has published photos of guests at a holiday retreat of Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi in which women walk around topless and a naked man stands by the swimming pool in a state of sexual anxiety. El Pais, quotes the photographer, Antonello Zappadu as saying “virtually every weekend,” Italian air force flights brought in friends of Berlusconi together with dancers and other media starlets. According to Berlusconi, the photos merely depict “people who are bathing in a private Jacuzzi in a private room.” The naked man, Mirek Topolanek, former prime minister of the Czech Republic admits he is the man by the pool. Of course, this could all be a mistake since, most probably, for Berlusconi, a private Jacuzzi is the size of a private pool.

When in doubt, and when one is subject to attack, the best defense is an offense. Berlusconi told a rally in Milan “it seems as if one is not in an Italian or European city, but in an African city.” He has decided to play the hate immigrant card in order to deflect attacks. It most probably will work. It apparently is working in the Netherlands.