Sunday, October 20, 2019

Thoughts from Heald Green, Cheshire, England: 20.10.19

Spanish life is not always likeable but it is compellingly loveable.   
                  Christopher Howse: A Pilgrim in Spain
Spanish Politics
  • Someone has come up with a brilliant alternative to the problematic option of burying the Franco bones in Madrid . . . Instead, put them in the basilica of the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona. Sadly, though, this might just create another problem or ten. That said, the idea is so stupidly provocative, it'll probably become the official strategy of the Francoist Vox party.
Spanish Life
  • To rent or buy in Spain? Here's the answer.
Galician Life
  • Here's a 10m history of the region. Even if you don't understand Spanish, the pictures will be enough.
  • The demolition of illegal properties in the region is said to have reached an historical high. Given the number of these, this might not actually be a big number in absolute terms.
The UK/The EU/Brexit
  • See the first article below.
  • I fear the utterly bored British nation will commit collective suicide before the end of October.
The USA
  • The next G7 meeting will be in a Ffart Miami 'facility'. He just doesn't care, does he? Nor his core supporters. Even Fox News has criticised it.
  • Says Niall Ferguson: Elizabeth Warren had a serious chance of becoming president. But, if you factor in social media, she will probably lose to Trump. And the same goes for anyone else the Democrats might choose to nominate. The reason is that Brad Parscale’s digital campaign for Trump is already miles ahead. See NF's full article below.
The Way of the World
  • UK police forces are recording suspected and convicted rapists as female if they no longer wish to identify with their male birth sex. Six forces disclosed that if someone is arrested for or convicted of rape, the official record will state the gender they chose to identify themselves as.
Social Media 
  • If you haven't done so already, see the article below.
Spanish
  • Spanish is consolidated the 2nd most spoken language in the world. 580m people, 7.6% of the world's population, speak our language. Of these, 483m - three million more than a year ago - are native Spanish speakers. In addition, almost 22m people study Spanish in 110 countries. It is the third most used language on the internet, where it has great growth potential.
Finally . . .
  • I see quite a few young people driving very expensive cars in the UK. These can be bought for around €500 month over some years on a PCP scheme. Yesterday it struck me that this is probably less than a day's (untaxed) income if you're dealing. Along country lines. A rapidly growing problem, it's said.
ARTICLES

1. Johnson's Brexit deal leaves me utterly depressed, even though I would grimly vote for it: Ambrose Evans Pritchard, Daily Telegraph.

So we await the next Brexit cliff-edge in 14 months. Project Fear will repeat itself. Even if Parliament backs the Johnson deal, we will have to go through this painful ordeal again.

The Withdrawal Agreement merely permits the UK to start talks on a trade deal. It lets us pay £33bn in order to play. Less has been resolved that most commentary seems to suggest.

I fear a horrible moment of disappointment when people discover what this means. I fear too that hopes of a post-deal economic boomlet and a surge of pent-up investment will come to little. Businesses still have no clarity.

The current state of limbo will cause multinationals to continue unwinding their manufacturing supply chains. This risks bringing about the very GDP slippage that the Remain academy keep predicting.

The hated level-playing field clauses in the May deal - hated because they turn the UK into a legal and regulatory colony of the EU - have been removed. But be careful. The Political Declaration is clear: we will have to agree to these clauses anyway in order to secure a free trade deal. That is how the EU will try to keep us in the cage.

We will again be faced with the choice of submitting to these demands or retreating to WTO trading terms - made harsher by the punitive loss of fast-track procedures for customs clearance and rules of origin. We will again hear warnings of “crashing out” with no trade deal. Stories of 15-mile lorry jams across Kent will be recycled. Vested interests will re-stoke hysteria.  

We will be vulnerable to the same diplomatic and economic blackmail. In the words of Sir Ivan Rogers, the former UK Brexit negotiator, the EU’s aim has always been to “maximise leverage during the withdrawal process and tee up a trade negotiation after our exit where the clock and the cliff edge can again be used to maximise concessions from London -  so that they have the UK against the wall again in 2020”.

Sir Ivan is brutally honest - and correct - about the character of the EU and its proto-imperial reflexes. While he may not have intended it, his analysis leads only to two conclusions: revocation of Article 50; or a traumatic no-deal rupture that reshuffles the pack entirely. Anything in between these two is not a stable political equilibrium and is ultimately unworkable.

This is not to criticise Boris Johnson. He was dealt a bad hand. The original sin of Brexit talks was to let the EU dictate sequencing and separate with Withdrawal Agreement (and the exit fee) from the future trade deal. Perhaps Article 50 made this unavoidable.

Given the limitations, the Prime Minister has pulled off a diplomatic victory of sorts. As I argued yesterday, this was possible only because the EU itself is acutely vulnerable to an economic shock at this juncture. It is close to recession and it has no monetary defences left against a deflationary vortex if mistakes are made.

But again be careful. You can interpret the exuberant back-slapping at the EU Council on Thursday in different ways. Relief at avoiding a no-deal - yes, certainly - but also satisfaction that Brussels now has the UK more or less trapped.

This may be too gloomy. Boris Johnson may soon win an election and possibly a landslide - unless this Rotten Parliament refuses to allow a vote and succeeds abusively in forcing him to remain in office, a political prisoner with no working majority and no effective government.

If he does win, the negotiating dynamic with Brussels will be different in 2020. The EU will not be able to play off Westminster tribes against each other so easily. The cliff edge for the UK will be less severe since the May/Johnson deal does resolve a string of technical issues such as nuclear ties under Euratom or landing rights for aircraft, etc.

This makes a WTO walk-out more plausible, and therefore more menacing for the EU as it tries to preserve its £95bn trade surplus with the UK (while offering no reciprocal access for services, of course).

It may also be clearer by then that the EU is in deep economic trouble. Citigroup’s recession barometer for the US over the next year has risen to 70pc. The New York Fed’s indicator is a whisker shy of its peak before the Lehman crisis.  If the US rolls over - and the underlying data from China is getting worse too - the eurozone will face a combined banking crisis and an industrial car crash. This changes the psychology.

Besides, the Labour Party has made an error by demanding ‘dynamic alignment’ with the EU’s environmental and labour laws, implicitly telling the British people that this country is incapable of setting its own laws and running its own policy. What happened to the once-great patriotic Labour Party?

In reality the UK has been a star performer in environmental policy over the last decade. Its carbon floor price has driven coal out of the power market, in contrast to German reliance on coal. The UK has committed to a vast expansion of offshore wind. It is the first major state to write a net zero emissions target by 2050 into law.

It will become clearer over the next year that Boris Johnson is outflanking Labour with his own green agenda - though a free-market, pro-growth variant - and that he may go some way in shooting Labour’s fox on worker protection as well. For one thing that the EU certainly is not, is pro-worker, whatever the Social Chapter purports to be.

It is a corporatist regime that lets companies exploit wage arbitrage and carry out cross-border plant relocations to hold down wages. That is why the Swiss trade unions oppose their country’s EU deal. They say it degrades Swiss protection policy. Why is Jeremy Corbyn never probed on this?

So yes, British and European politics may look different in a year. Everything is fluid. Sometimes you have to take the Guicciardini approach to life: accepting that seemingly intractable problems often fade away before they reach you. The Machiavelli reflex of trying to pre-empt every hazard can make matters worse.

I agree with the verdict of Martin Howe from Lawyers for Brexit that the flawed Johnson deal is a “tolerable price to pay for our freedom” and I would vote for it stoically tomorrow if I were an MP. But be under no illusions: the long struggle is just beginning.

2. Donald Trump could Facebook himself a second term: Niall Ferguson, Milbank Family senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford

Mark Zuckerberg’s commitment to free speech is good news for the president.

An unusual thing happened last week. Mark Zuckerberg gave a speech with which I mostly agreed. Regular readers will know that I have frequently criticised the chief executive of Facebook. My book The Square and the Tower contains some harsh words about his company — and particularly its conduct in the fateful election year of 2016.

However, speaking at Georgetown University in Washington last week, the Facebook co-founder took a stance on the issue of free speech that pleasantly surprised me. First, he got his history right. “Giving everyone a voice,” he argued, “empowers the powerless” whereas “the most repressive societies have always restricted speech the most”. Correct. “Pulling back on free expression . . . often ended up hurting the minority views we seek to protect.” Also correct.

Second, Zuckerberg recognised that the internet has fundamentally transformed the public sphere. We are no longer in the old world of newspapers, radio and television: “People having the power to express themselves at scale is a new kind of force in the world — a Fifth Estate alongside the other power structures of society.”

I like the coinage of the Fifth Estate. In case you’ve lost track of those pre-French Revolution categories, the First Estate is — or was — the clergy, the second the nobility and the third the middle class. The fourth, the press, came later and should now be called the old media.

Pity me: I come from what little is left of the Third Estate and write for the fourth. The former is being hollowed out between the plutocratic “one per cent” and the populist masses; the latter is barely surviving the loss of advertising revenues to Facebook, not to mention Google. Small wonder that I have been a Zuckerberg critic. His Fifth Estate seems to have it in for both of mine.

The third and most important point of his talk was a trenchant defence of free speech. Facebook, he said, will “continue to stand for free expression, understanding its messiness, but believing that the long journey towards greater progress requires confronting ideas that challenge us”.

That will not mean applying a strict first amendment standard — remember, that binds only the government not to restrict speech — but something close to it. So far as possible, Facebook will not allow terrorist propaganda, child pornography, incitements to violence, misinformation “that could lead to imminent physical harm” and political messages by foreign bots masquerading as Americans. Otherwise, it will err on the side of free expression.

At a time when, not least in universities, there are ever-louder demands to prohibit “hate speech”, Zuckerberg’s opposition to the “ever-expanding definition of what speech is harmful” and his pledge to “fight to uphold as wide a definition of freedom of expression as possible” are very welcome. No trigger warnings. No safe spaces.

It is also refreshing to hear this affirmation of free speech at a time when the Chinese government is so clearly demonstrating the link from authoritarianism to censorship. It has been easy to criticise the National Basketball Association for its craven repudiation of the manager of the Houston Rockets, who had expressed his support for the Hong Kong protesters. That is the price of doing business in China. Last week I received the Chinese translation of The Square and the Tower. The sections on Chinese social and political networks were conspicuous by their absence. You either play by the Communist Party’s rules or you exit the Chinese market.

As Zuckerberg said in an interview last week, there is now a clear contest on the internet between “American companies and platforms with strong free expression values” and their Chinese rivals, which will censor whatever the government in Beijing tells them to. Right again.

The test of your commitment to free speech is how far you are prepared to tolerate not only views you disagree with — hate speech — but also views that are downright mendacious: fake speech. Last month Facebook unveiled a new policy not to moderate politicians’ speech or fact-check their political adverts. The policy was swiftly put to the test when Donald Trump’s campaign released a 30-second video advert accusing former US vice-president Joe Biden of corrupt conduct in Ukraine. When Biden’s campaign asked Facebook to take down the ad, the company refused. Elizabeth Warren — Biden’s rival for the Democratic nomination — countered by creating a fake ad of her own that claimed Zuckerberg and Facebook had endorsed Trump.

Warren has called Facebook a “disinformation-for-profit machine”. If elected president, she has pledged to break the company up. But, like her European counterparts, she fails to see that in asking Facebook to decide which political ads air and which do not, she is implicitly ceding far more power to the company than it wants or should have. Do we want free speech on the internet, with all its nastiness? Or do we want censorship, which historically tends to be associated with a much more profound nastiness? To me, that’s an easy one.

Yet there is a price tag associated with a free-speech Facebook and we should not ignore it. The presidential election of 2020 will be only the third in which the internet has been the decisive battleground. And the internet will matter even more in 2020 than it did in 2016, when it mattered more than it did in 2012.

In my previous column I noted — on the basis not only of opinion polls but also of prediction markets — that Warren had a serious chance of becoming president. But I now want to argue that, if you factor in social media, she will probably lose to Trump. And the same goes for anyone else the Democrats might choose to nominate. The reason is that Brad Parscale’s digital campaign for Trump is already miles ahead.

According to data for the year up to September 19, published by The New York Times last week, the Trump campaign has spent $15.9m (£12m) on Facebook and Google ads, more than the total spent by the top three Democratic candidates combined. While the Democrats do old-school things such as debating on cable television, Parscale and his team are aggregating the mobile advertising IDs of the entire voting population, matching location data from phone usage to other information they have.

In my book I argued that Facebook — not Russia — was the crucial factor in the 2016 election. From June to November 2016, Hillary Clinton’s campaign spent $28m and tested 66,000 different ads. Working closely with Facebook, Trump’s people spent nearly twice as much ($44m) and tested nearly a hundred times more ads (5.9m).

Facebook — and Google — will matter even more next year. One side fully understands that and it is not the Democrats. Zuckerberg is right: it is not his job to come between Parscale and Facebook users. But we should all clearly understand what this means: it very probably means a second Trump term.

The Fifth Estate has indeed empowered the powerless. But not only them.

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Thoughts from Heald Green, Cheshire, England: 19.10.19

Spanish life is not always likeable but it is compellingly loveable.   
                  Christopher Howse: A Pilgrim in Spain
Spanish Politics
  • Looking at the mayhem in Cataluña, one wonders if Spain has politicians of sufficient calibre to solve this problem. Or even just address it. Not much evidence of such, I'm afraid. But, then, we get the politicians we deserve. Whether we're in Spain, the USA or the UK. But possibly not in, say, Russia, Or Turkey. Or Syria.
Spanish Life
  • The annual sheep show in Madrid.
  • The Olive Press here offers 31[sic] 'facts' aimed at helping you, if you're moving to Spain. They relate mostly to the southern and eastern coasts and some are questionable even there. But I liked the ones about driving and roundabouts . . .
Galicia Life
  • It's reported that the number of households complaining about early morning noise from nearby bars and discos has reduced by half in 10 years. But still totalled 107,000 last year. Fines imposed range from €300 to €30,000. You must have to be recalcitrant to justify the latter.
The UK/The EU/Brexit
  • Richard North: Standing aside from the media hype, it has now been possible to start the long process of getting to grips with the new text, and to begin to try and understand some of its implications. This will take some time and anyone who claims to have a complete grasp of what it entails is either a liar or charlatan – or both.
  • Undaunted, The Guardian has a go at it here.
The EU
  • French and German divisions over another Brexit delay are about a struggle for European dominance. See the article below.
The UK
  • I had a dinner with 2 English friends and 1 Spanish friend on Wednesday night, in a large pub offering a wide range of international dishes that couldn't possibly be cooked from start to finish in 15 minutes. Or at all. For, at 8.15, we were told the kitchen was closed, as the staff had all gone home at 8. To our Spanish member, this was inconceivable. And it wasn't too credible to the rest of us either. Anyway, we went next door for a curry and had a very good meal there. Though our Spanish colleague complained that the Biryani rice was the 'hottest thing I've had in my life'. Until she tried the (mild-to-us) sauce that came with it.
The USA
  • Yet more proof that 'every Ffart accusation is a confession': "Ms Pelosi needs help fast. She had a total meltdown in the White House today. It was very sad to watch. Pray for her, she is a very sick person." 
  • Par for the course. Ffart has chosen one of the Prosperity Gospel shysters to be be a member of the federal education board.
  • Ffarts's Ffraudulent Ffinances.
The Way of the World
  • Fed up of your old-fashioned analog rosary beads? Well, here's an (uncheap) PrayerBit for you.
Shysters Corner 
  • Possibly the very worst/best. Crooked Jim Bakker has enlisted Ffart's “spiritual adviser” Paula White to help him collect the money of gullible believers who 'need' his buckets of gunge ahead of Armageddon. During his show this week, White told viewers they had to donate thousands of dollars so that Bakker could build a new studio. She added that there was a 'Treasury Department' in Heaven paying close attention to how viewers spent their money.
Spanish
  • Word of the Day: Llovizna. Drizzle; mist. Apparently it's rained every day since I left Galicia on 30 September, 19 days ago.
English
  • Reader Perry has kindly provided these additional positive adjectives which have - assuming they existed in the first place - fallen into desuetude. Possibly like desuetude:-
- Gruntled
- Combobulated

Finally
  • Check your irony meter . . . Smart doorbells designed to prevent crime are having the opposite effect as thieves simply rip them off the doorframe and sell them on the black market. The devices, made by the Amazon-owned company Ring, have a camera that records visitors as they approach the door and streams the video to the homeowner’s mobile phone. But with a retail price of between £90 and £450, they are proving too much of a temptation.
THE ARTICLE

Brexit extension: The French and German power struggle behind the row: Bruno Waterfield, Brussels, the Daily Telegraph

French and German divisions over another Brexit delay are about a struggle for European dominance.

President Macron’s political star is in the ascendant as Angela Merkel’s fortunes are waning, and the French leader is pushing her to one side.

Mr Macron regards Brexit as consolidating his political power and prestige, transforming the EU into a more European project dominated by France. Mrs Merkel worries that Brexit will damage the EU and views the prospect of no deal as a historic mistake that could break the western alliance that has kept the peace since the Second World War.

At the summit dinner last night Mr Macron blocked EU enlargement to include Albania and North Macedonia, taking on Mrs Merkel and wielding his veto.

During confidential talks between the European leaders on Thursday, the German chancellor warned them not to pretend that the EU would not grant another Brexit delay if Boris Johnson’s deal were defeated in the Commons. Yesterday the French president defied her to do just that, warning that there would be no extension if MPs rejected the prime minister’s withdrawal agreement, potentially leading to a no-deal Brexit on October 31. His undermining of Mrs Merkel’s position illustrates his political ascendancy and his growing confidence to challenge her dominance of the EU. Diplomatic sources do not expect Mr Macron to veto an extension if it is requested. It is widely known, however, that he wants Brexit to be over as soon as possible.

It is really a tussle for power between the EU’s political giants: Mrs Merkel, once dubbed the “Queen of Europe”, and Mr Macron, who has styled himself as Jupiter, king of the Gods.

The German chancellor regards Brexit as a defining moment of her career and fears that an acrimonious divorce, especially no deal, would set back international relations and represent a serious historical reversal. Mr Macron views Britain’s departure as an opportunity to secure French dominance when it has been eclipsed in the EU by Mrs Merkel’s Germany for a decade. With Britain out of the way, he believes that France would become Europe’s leading military and political power.

No longer preoccupied with her own political survival as she prepares to leave office next year, Mrs Merkel, 65, is thinking about her legacy. As she leaves the stage, Mr Macron, 41, has his eye on the main chance of installing himself at the top of the EU. If history is involved, it is his own sense of personal destiny to get Britain out of the EU so that France can be stronger.

Mrs Merkel wants Britain to remain in the EU as long as possible in the hope that Brexit is reconsidered. But although Mr Macron will not pull the trigger on a no-deal Brexit, he is eager for Britain to be gone.

Friday, October 18, 2019

Thoughts from Heald Green, Cheshire, England: 18.10.19

Spanish life is not always likeable but it is compellingly loveable.   
                  Christopher Howse: A Pilgrim in Spain

Note: One or two of the items below have been borrowed from Lenox Napier's Business Over Tapas of yesterday.

Spanish Politics
  • Here's an overview on the Catalan mess from the NY Times, positing the right question. To which no one really knows the answer. 
  • Meanwhile  . . . The riot report card.
Spanish Life
  • Incredible Spain:-
  1. A cliffside abbey
  2. Divers stunning places.
  • This article on Spanish eating and drinking habits claims that, if you spend a while in Spain, then at some point you'll inevitably find yourself with a large glass of Calimocho. Well, maybe if you're below 35. It also talks of 'green grocers', who are presumably in the van of one of today's movements. And possibly also woke. Maybe even XR.
  • Talking about people being ahead of the herd, here's a welcome report from the city of Alicante.
  • Useful for drivers? BTW . . . The Spanish law is harsh. In the UK, you're given time to display your licence at a police station. But, then, there isn't the same obsession with proving your ID in the UK as there indubitably is in Spain. In the USA, things might well differ from state to state.
The UK/The EU/Brexit
  • Richard North is considerably less euphoric than most this morning. Click here for his sprays of cold water, as he tries to peer through the murk in search of possible/probable outcomes. You might lose the will to live before the end of his post.
  • The Local reminds us here of what a Brexit deal will mean for Brits resident in Spain
The USA
  • Shysting at its very best. All premised on the imminence of the End Time(s), which have been coming for quite a while now. And have led to several major disappointments. But rarely embarrassments. Let alone apologies.
Spanish
  • Word of the Day: Quejona: Complainer; whiner; moaner. Oddly, I can't find this in the Royal Academy's dictionary, where quejoso/a is preferred. But there are synonyms here.
English 
  • A chap on the radio said he was couth, kempt and shevelled. Thus describing himself with 3 words no longer used in British (nor American?) English. Though you might stumble across one in an Indian newspaper, I guess.
Finally . . .
  • I was in Liverpool again yesterday. Such is the pace of construction there that I was convinced the several new tall buildings on the right as I moved from Wapping Street to Upper Parliament Street hadn't been there the previous week. 
  • And, while stopped at the traffic lights on the latter street, I snapped this:-


My impression is that much of this residential development is for the ever-growing student population. Though maybe not in (luxury-oriented?) Parliament Square.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Thoughts from Heald Green, Cheshire, England: 17.10.19

Spanish life is not always likeable but it is compellingly loveable.   
                  Christopher Howse: A Pilgrim in Spain
Spanish Politics 
  • There are numerous reports and videos on the Catalan developments on the net. Choose your side/perspective and read on. Or look at a selection of both and remain confused. Or clear and angry.
  • Here's the BBC, trying to be objective and balanced, and so upsetting everyone.
  • HT to Lenox of Business over Tapas for the citation of this video from the Spanish government - Everybody's Land - to stress/prove the strength of Spanish democracy. Interesting timing. 
Spanish Life
  • Readers Perry and María have written on how it works being an autonoma in Spain or a sole trader in the UK, highlighting some significant differences in the promotion of entrepreneurialism in the 2 countries. More specifically, the opposite of this in Spain. So harsh are the ab initio social security and tax provisions here that the Tax Office (the Hacienda) has been known to advise would-be autonomas not to rpor anything until they have sufficient revenue to bear them. In other words, to operate 'on the black'.
Galicia/Pontevedra life
  • The autumnal rains have arrived in force, I'm told. For once, I'm happier here in Heald Green, where the sun's shining today
  • Another successful triathlon event in Pontevedra city.
The UK/The EU/Brexit
  • Richard North this morning: Today will be as unpredictable as ever, as we all struggle to understand what is going on in an environment that gets madder and madder by the day. [Postscript: It's just been jointly announced that a deal has been struck, which some already say is worse than Mrs May's. So, will it get parliamentary approval???]
  • It's not only in Spain that one is in danger on the pavements. Yesterday a woman passed me on a bike doing at least 20kph. Given that I was switching a heavy bag of groceries from hand to hand as I walked, we can all imagine what would have happened if this had been happening just as she reached me on the relevant side.
The USA
  • Here's what's said to be proof of Ffart's craziness. Do we really need it?
  • Well, just in case, here's a bit more evidence.
Finally . . . 
  • I saw this machine on the wall of the priest's house next to my daughter's church. I asked her if it was for dispensing indulgences in return for cash. She replied that it was a defibrillator, as it says on the tin . . .  


A POEM

THE BLACK ROCK FORT AND LIGHTHOUSE, LIVERPOOL: Letitia Elizabeth Landon

Thank God, thank God—the beacon light
Is breaking beautiful through night;
Urge the boat through the surge, once more
We are beside our English shore.

    Oh! weary nights and days to me
Have set and risen upon the sea;
I never wish to sail again
O'er the interminable main.

    ‘Tis wonderful to see the sky
Hang out her guiding stars on high,
And mirror'd in the ocean fair,
As if another heaven were there.

    And glorious is it thus to go,
The white foam dashing from the prow,
As our ship through the waves hath gone,
Mistress of all she looked upon.

    But weary is it for the eye
To only meet the sea and sky;
And weary is it for the ear
But only winds and waves to hear.

    I pined for leaves, I pined for flowers,
For meadows green, with driving showers;
For all the sights and sounds of life,
Wherewith the air of earth is rife.

    Farewell, wild waves, again I come
To England and my English home;
Thank God, thank God, the beacon light
Is breaking beautiful through night.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Thoughts from Heald Green, Cheshire, England: 16.10.19

Spanish life is not always likeable but it is compellingly loveable.   
                  Christopher Howse: A Pilgrim in Spain

Note:  Today is one of those days when nearly all of the stuff I read last night and early this morning is negative. Not my fault . . .

Spanish Politics
  • While the rest of the world ponders whether the Catalan trial sentences bowed more in the direction of politics than justice, the nasty (insane?) folk who kicked off the whole shooting-match are complaining that the long jail sentences weren't anywhere near tough enough and threatening to seek a judicial review of them. With people like this now in the political mainstream, one despairs of a  solution.
  • Meanwhile, here's a Catalan view of the 'extremism at the heart of the Spanish national project'. I can't say this increases my level of optimism. But I can, at least, agree that there's a fundamental fragility about Spanish national unity.
  • And here's a report on more police violence in Cataluña. You'd have thought that Madrid - desperate not to go on losing the international PR battle - would have pulled out all the stops to prevent this but apparently not.
The Spanish Economy
Spanish Life
  • Spain's employed folk are decidedly malcontented, it says here.
  • I think I suggested it was time to reconsider the National Day and its concomitant militarism. Here and here people have a go at the very basis of it - the achievements of Cristóbal Colón. Or Christopher Columbus, as he's known in the Anglosphere. I can't see this going down well in Spain.
  • A must-read if you're a 'native' teacher of English in Spain. Of course, one can complain loudly about abuses but, if there's no effective system to back up the law, it'll be largely in vain. The practical realities will determine how you're treated by the unscrupulous.
Galicia/Pontevedra life
  • A bit of happy news. . . . More from the alternative Land of Oz.
The UK 
  • As everyone resident in Spain knows, we all have an ID card and we all have to use it on every single (even slightly) official occasion. For example, when paying a motoring fine, just in case anyone else might be paying it for you . . . But, anyway, Brits don't have ID cards or DNI/NIE numbers to proffer upon on demand, But some of them have passports or driving licences. And most, if not all, of them have National Insurance and NHS numbers. This is the backdrop to yesterday's news that the leader of the Labour Party - Oh, Jeremy Corbyn - has claimed that plans to make all UK voters prove their identity will "disproportionately" discriminate against ethnic minorities and that they are an attempt to "suppress voters" and "rig" the next general election result. Not content with that, Mr C added that it's a "blatant attempt by the Conservative Party to deny people their democratic rights". I suspect you really do have to be a very old-fashioned class warrior to see things this way. Spaniards would be dumbfounded by his reaction. But, then, they know what a real dictatorship looks like.
  • As predicted, the pound is on a rollercoaster this week, against the euro.
The EU
  • These are the reasons why the 'European motor' [i. e. Germany] is losing its energy.
The USA
  • I listened to this podcast on the Rapture yesterday, a doctrine invented by an Englishman in the early 19th century and later taken to heart (and soul) by US evangelists. What's worrying is that Mike Pence, Mike Pompeo and Raymond Barr all profess to believing in it. And Ffart naturally claims that he does too, almost certainly without knowing what it really is. 
Nutters Corner
  • A real surfeit today:-
  1. Welcome back, Michelle Bachman, who says there can't be a GW threat as her god has promised that the seas will never rise again.
  2. Liz Cheney blames Turkish aggression on the opening of the impeachment enquiry by the devilish Democrats.
  3. Attorney General Raymond Barr attributes every evil in the world to secularism, ignoring all evidence to the complete contrary. Only the religious mind can do this. While believing in something for which there is nil evidence other than in a holy book.
BTW . . . All of these have something in common, of course; they're prominent Republicans in a country where extreme right-wing Christian evangelists have more political sway than anywhere else in the world. But their time in the sun won't last for ever, of course. And might well end a early as next year.

Spanish
  • Word of the Day: Sedición: Sedition: Per the Royal Academy: 1. Collective and violent uprising against authority, public order or military discipline, without reaching the gravity of 'rebellion'. 2. An uprising of passions.
Finally . . .
  • If, as I recommend, you read the latest novel - A Lovely View of Sea - by my very old friend, Michael Carson, then these fotos will help you visualise things:-
  1. The window of the house at the end of Richmond Street:-

2. The lovely view of sea from said window, which - in truth - could be lovelier. Fort Perch Rock is just left of the red thing:-


P. S, I recall seeing the bowling alley on the left opened by Douglas Fairbanks Jr. quite some years ago. . . But mostly I recall the dress of his partner, which was open down to the waist.