Next Sunday, the Catalans hold elections for their regional parliament. Their President, Sr Mas, has done his level best to turn these into a referendum on secession from Spain and independence - in so far as any state in the EU can claim to be independent these days. Anyway, Sr Mas has been accused, along with many other senior business and politicians, of having undeclared millions in Swiss banks. Can I be the only one to wonder how long the Spanish government has held back this information, until such a time as it would have maximum value for them? Or is it just one huge coincidence? As we wait for an answer to these questions, Sr Mas has defended himself against the flak by accusing the police of fabricating the evidence against him. Which rather smacks of desperation, I feel.
The Spanish government is keen to see sales of at least some of the countless empty properties on the nation's books. So it's come up with the idea of giving fast-track residence to folk who invest more than 160,000 (why not 150,000?) in a property. This is considerably less that what's being asked by the Portuguese, Hungarian and Irish governments and there's inevitably concern that residency and intra-EU travel rights are being offered on the cheap to Chinese and Russian buyers. Who probably haven't read much in their media of Spanish property frauds and abuses. Let's hope they get good lawyers, even (especially) when the agents tell them the notary will protect everyone. As if.
The Spanish like acronyms. Or at least they seem to. These are the ones that caught my eye as I flicked through El Mundo this morning. How many do you know?:- GAL 11-M CiU CDC UDEF ICV PP PSC PSOE IU CHA PNV ETA UEM FMI CEOE HP COI LSD TT ESA ESA EE-UU E-USOC UPM UPyD ISS TV RTVE UBS UMP OMM VIH I+D
My daughter has confirmed that the second packet of medicines duly arrived but that the first never made it. So, the sad situation is that the decision not to register (certificar) a parcel is simply an invitation to theft. It's impossible to know whether this takes place in the UK or Spain but my own guess would be in the country of origin.
There's a report out on the finances of the AC's, or regions. Need I say that this unveils extensive fraud, facilitated by the failure to audit their spending. One of the favourite tricks – which probably has a name in Spanish – was to avoid certain control processes by breaking up contracts into smaller elements so that no threshold was reached. Utterly predictable but not stopped. I can recall the same trick from my time in Iran in the 70s. Perhaps they should put me in charge.
Finally . . . The Pope is the latest author to offer three books in a series. Though his, of course, won't be anything like Fifty Shades of Grey. It's reported today that his first instalment includes his ruminations on the birth of Jesus. The ox and the ass, he admits, can't be taken as real but the rest of the story can. The Holy Ghost did – I'm trying to avoid the word inseminate here – arrange for Mary to give birth even though she was still a virgin. OK, this assurance is good to have but I'm rather confused about Mary's virginity and the timing of the Holy Ghost's involvement. Presumably it was after she married Joseph but before the marriage could be consummated. But it was surely consummated at some time, meaning Mary ceased to be a virgin. Especially if Jesus had a sibling or two, as some say he did. Or is it Catholic doctrine – I really should know – that they had a celibate marriage? This is all so confusing. I'm so glad I'm not the Pope and don't have wrestle with these issues for a living. There may be others happy about this as well.