Wednesday, November 18, 2009

So, the Spanish government has secured the release of the crew of the Basque trawler kidnapped by Somali pirates a couple of weeks or so ago. Allegedly by paying a ransom of 2.3m euros. I read a while ago the ship had been operating illegally, raising the sort of issues addressed in this thoughtful article. Incidentally, if you don’t think every one of the 27 EU states would have paid a ransom in these circumstances, imagine how hard it’s going to be for the new nattily-named High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security to arrive at a common policy after he/she is in position on Friday morning.

Asked whether they thought the merger of British Airways and Iberia would result in better services from the latter, 68% of the readers of (I think) El Mundo responded with a resounding No. Which doesn’t really say much for either airline, does it? Incidentally, there seems to be a great deal of confusion as to where the new airline will have its HQ and who will be (titularly at least) in charge. But the consensus here is that ownership won’t be Spanish. Which is a bit of a shock to local egos after all the purchases of British companies earlier this decade, on the back of construction sector profits.

I retract the positive comment I made about Telefónica a few days ago. My last two calls from the UK have immediately been followed by an automated call in which a woman in a South American accent rabbits on about the company’s international service. I’m now even more anxious than ever to get away from them.

For those interested, here’s an interesting comment on an interesting development in the world of Global Warming. More accurately, what we should now call Anthropogenic Global Warming. Or just AGW. We can’t do much about those old sun spots, of course.

More domestically, the Galician Xunta has announced it will be reducing the speed limit from 50 to 40 on certain roads near our main cities. They say this is to reduce the noise bothering folk who live alongside these. Well, maybe but I’d be interested to see how the takings from speeding fines go over the next year or two. Especially as ‘Spain’ and ‘noise reduction’ don’t fit easily in the same sentence.

And still in Galicia, the merger between our two savings banks (cajas/caixas) has run into the sand. Now not only the Bank of Spain but also the conservative PP leadership in Madrid are pushing for a (“virtual”) merger between the smaller bank and a couple of others outside Galicia. Urged on – naturally – by the Galician Nationalist Party and the local Socialist party, the regional PP party appears to be gearing up to veto (if it can) this attempt to reduce the Galician-ness of the caixa. Whether operating efficiency and the interests of the customers play any part in these shenanigans, I rather doubt.

Talking of customer service . . . The people who run the train station in Pontevedra clearly have a different concept from me. Arriving there to make the always-lovely trip to Vigo yesterday, I couldn’t help but notice all the Departures and Arrivals TVs on the platforms had been removed. Or hidden. Perhaps it’s only temporary. Possibly they’re being polished under the auspices of Plan E/J and will be back soon.

Finally, here’s a post I found easy to empathise with.

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