Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Spain's reputation for corruption; Spain's reputation for poor education; and Ups and Downs in Jerez.

So, Spain has plummeted 10 places in Transparency International's index of perceived official corruption. Only Syria dropped further but the truth is Spain probably deserves to rank even lower than it does. We surely haven't yet seen the full extent of corruption in the political and mercantile classes here. And quite possibly never will. As the agency put it:- "While Greece has taken steps to fight corruption and graft, Spain isn't working hard enough to tackle bribery. We see two quite different responses to corruption and it bodes much better for Greece's prospects then for Spain's. More and more scandals are getting revealed and the government is not seen as taking those seriously. And these scandals even involve very high-level government people." Don't we know it. That's why the government is gearing up for a revolt, if not for full revolution. Assuming the Spanish people can do more than just moan and complain. And maybe bang a few saucepans together.

All of which reminds me . . . Novagalicia Bank has been fined for knowingly selling shares to a 4 month old baby. You couldn't make it up.

But talking about rankings . . . It certainly wasn't a good week for Spain. The annual PISA ratings for education have the country at No. 31. Which is not quite last for Western Europe countries, as Luxembourg and Austria fill the 36 and 37 slots. One wonders why. Incidentally, the UK also does poorly in this assessment, coming in at No. 23, against, say, 15 for the USA and 8 for Holland. There are 3 ex-British colonies in the top 10, leaving one wondering what they're doing right that Britain is doing wrong. And whether the British Secretary for Education knows the answer.

And still with rankings . . . If you've ever wondered why Holland, Italy and - possibly - England aren't among the 8 seeds for the next World Cup, whereas Switzerland and Belgium are, then the BBC Radio 4 program More or Less has the answer for you. Essentially, it's because FIFA has a crazy points system which penalises countries who play friendlies against weaker teams. So, if Italy hadn't played San Morino, Holland hadn't played Indonesia and England hadn't played Scotland, they'd all be among the seeds and so avoid each other early on. You'd think the national associations would've known how the daft system worked. Or they'd have done what one fan suggested - play the match but get it taken out of the reckoning by doing something to invalidate it, e. g. fielding more than the permitted number of subs. What a farce.

Finally . . . the city of Jerez has beaten 800 others to become the 2014 European City of Wine. Which is some compensation, I guess, for being loaded down with massive debt and about to have your ex-mayoress jailed for corruption. You win some and you lose some. Así son las cosas.

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