Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Gin; Odd applause; Trial lengths; Citizen "security"; The Constitution; Bits & pieces.

The Spanish are inordinately fond of gin. There's a wide range of international, national and regional varieties on offer here and there are even bars which serve no other drinks. I was reminded of this when I was today given 3 free samples of "tea tonics" sold by Tanqueray. These seem to be herbal infusions which you chuck into your glass of (copious) gin. Along with some tonic. I guess I'll get round to trying it one day.

The ex-president of the León provincial government left prison yesterday to the applause of his supporters. He'd been there a while, pending trial for alleged corruption. Try as I might, I can't see this happening in the UK. Ken Livingstone?? Is it an example of the picaresque mentality cited yesterday?

Against the background of very lengthy trials in a slow judicial system, the Spanish government is trying to cap the time the initial investigative phase ('instruction') lasts. It wants a mere 18 months for the 'macro' cases, which may just be the ones most likely to involve corrupt politicians. The judges are resisting, saying the limit will benefit serious criminals. As it probably will. My money is on the government.

The Spanish lower house of parliament has finally passed the "Citizen Security" Bill. This mis-named piece of legislation will make it easier for the government to stop the protests it doesn't like and to hit would-be protesters with huge fines. Including for nasty things said to Policemen. More here.

If you get the impression from the last 2 paragraphs that Spain is drifting rightwards, then you're right, of course. The opposition PSOE party has vowed to take things back leftwards when they next get into power. But vamos a ver.

There are now widespread calls for constitutional change in Spain, reflecting the problems with Cataluña and the excessive cost of the country's many levels of government. Madrid, though, rejects the view that the constitution is unfit for purpose and insists it's not "a toy to be played with". We can assume it does fit the purpose of the central government. At least for now.

The English/British tend to be seen in Spain as ooligans. This is because of the football hooliganism of 10-15 years ago and TV programs about lascivious life in the Balearic Islands. Now, though, Spain has its own football hooliganism problem and there's been a couple of deaths in the last few weeks. Grounds, it seems, are not equipped to deal with the violence and it'll be interesting to see how things develop.

On University Challenge tonight, one team knew none of the required lines from four WW1 anti-war poems but all the relevant names from the Harry Potter books. At least I was even-handed, not knowing any of the answers.

Moscow's RT propaganda TV channel is managing to report on plummeting oil prices without even mentioning the devastating impact on Russia. Impressive.

Finally . . . Ain't life odd at times. Pontevedra is a small city in a relatively unknown region of Spain and yet both my daughter and a close friend at university ended up regular visitors to it. My daughter because I live here and her friend because her Portuguese partner has business here. Who would have predicted it?


Another apology: Reading my last post at today yesterday, I noticed I'd typed "in Spain" twice in the first sentence. I must have missed this at least 5 times before I published it. Which only shows to go how hard it is to edit your own stuff.

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