Thursday, June 14, 2018

Thoughts from Galicia, Spain: 14.6.18

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

If you've arrived here because of an interest in Galicia or Pontevedra, see my web page here.

  • It didn't take long for one of the new government ministers to be accused of corruption. Surprisingly, he quickly resigned. Though he might well have been defenestrated. Or fed to a pack of wolves, as he apparently sees it.
  • Ahead of the football World Cup, which starts today, the Spanish team has sacked its manager, for announcing he's taking over the Real Madrid job in due course. I can't say I understand this decision. Some fear it will disrupt the Spanish team's match preparations, which I can understand. The Times sports columnist opines that, for Real Madrid, the remarkable events of the last few hours have meant that this new post-Zidane era has had the most toxic of beginnings. Apparently, the team's financial situation means they couldn't afford their first choice and have gone for someone far cheaper in terms of compensating whoever he's currently contracted with.
Life in Spain
  • Here's The Local's list of the Ten Best Beaches in Spain for 2018. These might or might not be the same as for 2017. Since I never go to the beach, this matters little to me personally.
The USA and the North Korea Summit
  • See the comment from an American sceptic/skeptic below. I'd quite forgotten that previous US presidents had gone a lot further than Fart has done so far. To very little ultimate effect.
  •  Recently, there's been a sharp reduction in the number of couples formally separated or divorced here in Galicia. The reason? Not a return to Catholic beliefs, but the months-long strike of court personnel for higher wages.
  • Galicians, it's reported, are great hoarders of medicines they've been prescribed but haven't taken. Or 60,000 of them, at least. And a further 75,000 are said to keep the residue of their prescriptions. As ever, I wonder how these statistics are arrived at.
  • 2017 saw a record haul of Colombian cocaine in Galicia – 9,000 kilos. Compared with only 720 kilos in 2016 and 1,500 in 2015. Better policing or increased smuggling?
  • Galicia ranks high in the list of Spain's regional black/'submerged' economies, coming 3rd after the Canary Islands and, of course, Andalucia. I don't know what the (alleged) percentage of our GDP it represents. Something above 20%, I guess.
  • Let's hear it for Vigo university . . . For the first time it now ranks in the top 1000 in the world, coming in as one of the institutions in the 800-1000 group. Santiago lies in the 581-600 group. These compare with Spain's highest ranking university – the Autonomous University of Madrid - which achieves the 159th position.
Finally . . .
  • If you're in the area, there's a big fiesta in Lugo 15-17 June, in honour of the city's Roman history – the Arde Lucus MMXVIII
© David Colin Davies, Pontevedra: 14.6.18


Trump and Kim Cook Up a Nothingburger: Ed Brayton

I’m not a big fan of the term nothingburger, but I can’t really think of a better way to describe the “agreement” signed by Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un. It literally does nothing and says little more, just a promise to “work toward” denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. Here’s the closest it gets to anything of substance:
Convinced that the establishment of new U.S.–DPRK relations will contribute to the peace and prosperity of the Korean Peninsula and of the world, and recognizing that mutual confidence building can promote the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, President Trump and Chairman Kim Jong Un state the following:
-The United States and the DPRK commit to establish new U.S.–DPRK relations in accordance with the desire of the peoples of the two countries for peace and prosperity.
- The United States and the DPRK will join their efforts to build a lasting and stable peace regime on the Korean Peninsula.
- Reaffirming the April 27, 2018 Panmunjom Declaration, the DPRK commits to work toward complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
- The United States and the DPRK commit to recovering POW/MIA remains, including the immediate repatriation of those already identified.

That’s it. A pledge to someday possibly consider thinking about maybe appointing a commission to contemplate thinking more about denuclearization. It’s like two siblings pledging to their mother that they’ll get along from now on. There isn’t even a hint of an agreement that would be necessary to denuclearize the peninsula. And the problem is that the process here has been reversed. For decades, Kim and his father and grandfather have wanted a face-to-face meeting with an American president because it puts him on an equal plane with the most powerful country in the world. We have dangled that as a possibility, but only if we could get an ironclad agreement and major concessions. Trump has stood that on its head, giving him what he wants without any actual concessions made, only what my father might call “a lick and a promise.”

Not only have we been here before, we’ve been much further with Kim and his family before. In 1985, we got them to sign the Non-Proliferation Treaty. That didn’t last. In 1992, North and South Korea signed the Joint Declaration on the Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, agreeing not to test, produce, posses, or deploy nuclear weapons, and agreeing to mutual verification inspections. North Korea then refused to follow through.

In 1994, former President Carter went to North Korea and negotiated something called the “Agreed Framework,” in which North Korea agreed to stop enriching plutonium and shut down its nuclear reactors in exchange for food and fuel. We all know how long that lasted. In 2006, there were six-party talks between North Korea, the US, Russia, Japan, China and South Korea. Nothing ever came from them and they collapsed in 2009. In 2012, Obama ratcheted up the sanctions in hope of pushing Kim Jong-Un into making a deal, but he had just taken over after his father died a year earlier and he had to consolidate his power, so he refused any pressure.

We’ve been here before, and much further than this. We’ve had actual agreements on denuclearization signed and ratified and they were as useless as the paper they were printed on. Now Trump thinks he should get a Nobel prize for what was little more than a photo op with no actual agreement made whatsoever. The art of the deal? Not even close.


Maria said...

Trump's diplomacy (if you can call it that) consists in wooing countries where he might get a real estate deal. You'll notice those countries where he's already gotten what he wanted, or can't make his trademark grow, he ignores or declares them "weak" countries. He's just after N. Korea's beachfront property. American has become his corporation, they purveyor of his trademark, a holding, if you will.

As for hoarding medications, most people in villages do so. I do so. I have a full box. If I'm prescribed something, first I check if I have it and if it hasn't gone past its "best by" date, before going to the pharmacy. Saves money.

Colin Davies said...

So . . Overprescribing or underconsuming of the initisl item?