Sunday, May 21, 2006

It’s now emerged the government knew about the stamp investment fraud six months before the story broke. During this period, 40,000 people invested a further 600m euros. In the USA and UK, lawyers would now be fighting to take out a class action against the government itself but I can’t see that happening here. Sometimes it doesn’t seem so bad living in a litigious society where the Rule of Law really operates.

Illegal immigration is naturally a major item in this weekend’s press. Apart from the tide of souls from West Africa, it seems that, as a result of France [naturally] ploughing its own furrow and tightening its regulations, more sin papeles are now flooding southwards across the Pyrenees than northwards. So Spain feels caught in a pincer and resents the lack of sympathy from Brussels. In the UK, one of the main union leaders has called for an amnesty for all illegal immigrants, on the grounds they’re needed for all the menial tasks in the economy that the natives won’t undertake. How much more true this must be of a booming Spanish economy in which nationals don’t even want to wait at table, never mind sweep streets and clean toilets.

Spanish domestic wine consumption has fallen significantly in recent years whilst production has just reached an all time high, stimulated by almost a billion euros of EU subventions. Prices – at least among the cheaper table wines – have naturally reflected these trends. So time for the government to step in and demand even more money for the beleaguered but short-sighted growers and producers. I suppose it makes sense to someone.

An interesting article in El Mundo today points out that Spain’s notoriously long, split working day is a significant contributor to poor productivity, sleep deprivation and the highest work-related mortality in Europe. More surprisingly, the article debunks the myth that it’s the result of high temperatures; the other ‘Mediterranean’ countries of France, Portugal and Italy don’t follow this pattern. Moreover, it was only introduced into Spain 70 years ago, when people had to work two jobs to make ends meet in the aftermath of the Civil War. It might take longer than this to get rid of it, though.

Nice to see the people of Europe have realised the Eurovision Song Contest is beyond parody. And thank God for Andorra and their 12 face-saving points. Terry Wogan suggested the Spanish gave up on this insane contest years ago but I fancy not.

Finally, friki appears to be the Spanglish for what would be called a nerd or a techie in the UK. Not a bad word for Eurovision song contestants either.

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