Archive for Spain

Spain Collapsing

I can’t get this scene out of my mind. A friend had just returned from Spain, raving about how they are so superior to the US. They have all sorts of new buildings, a new transportation system, they work fewer hours… That was then.

Spain’s sickly economy faces a “crisis of huge proportions”, a minister said on Friday, as unemployment hit its highest level in almost two decades and Standard and Poor’s downgraded the government’s debt by two notches.

Unemployment shot up to 24 percent in the first quarter, one of the worst jobless figures in the developed world. Retail sales slumped for the twenty-first consecutive month as a recession cuts into consumer spending.

“The figures are terrible for everyone and terrible for the government … Spain is in a crisis of huge proportions,” Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo said in a radio interview.

Standard and Poor’s cited risks of an increase in bad loans at Spanish banks and called on Europe to take action to encourage growth.

Huh. That’s probably why I haven’t heard much about Spain lately. However, someone else I know told me that you can buy a beach front, 3 bedroom house, new construction, for something like $30,000. Could that be true? Maybe we need a second office, BTL?

- Aggie

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Shockah! Spain Has Bigger Deficit Than Anticipated, Raises Taxes

How long before we get a nice New Year’s Eve message like this?

Spain’s new government warned Friday that the country’s budget deficit will be much higher than anticipated this year, as it unveiled a first batch of austerity measures that include surprise income and property tax hikes.

Following the new conservative government’s second Cabinet meeting, the budget deficit for this year was revised up to 8 percent of national income from the previous government’s forecast of 6 percent.

Alongside the upward revision, which comes amid predictions that the Spanish economy will soon be back in recession, the government headed by Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy announced further measures to get a handle on its debts, including euro8.9 billion ($11.5 billion) in spending cuts.

“This is the beginning of the beginning,” government spokeswoman Soraya Saenz de Santamaria said.

She said more reforms and austerity will come in 2012.

At least their government is telling them the truth. At least the citizens of Spain elected a government that is willing to tell them the truth.

On a cheerier note, a few years ago a couple of friends went on a trip to Spain. They came back raving about the fantastic new train system, the beautiful public squares, etc. They wondered why we couldn’t be more like Spain.

Why indeed. Oh, second cheery note: I think that the youth unemployment in Spain is something like 40%. Something to aspire to, my friends.

- Aggie


Wishing We Could Be More Like Europe… Not.

They’re so sophisticated. And they have so much leisure time!

Estudias o trabajas?” When young Spaniards gather around the bars and patios, that’s their traditional icebreaker line: “You study or work?” In the past year, it’s become almost mandatory to answer, with a self-effacing smirk: “Nini.”

It is half a joke, for nini is a way of saying “neither-nor,” and NINI is the Spanish government acronym for “Not in education or employment” – that is, lost to the economy.

But it’s not really a joke, because now almost everyone is NINI. The under-30 unemployment rate in Spain has just hit 44 per cent, twice the adult rate. Italy also has passed the 40 per cent mark, and Greece has gone even further. If you count all the people who’ve given up looking, it means the number of people between 20 and 30 who have any form of employment in these countries is something like one in five.

Cogitate on that for a minute. In Spain, 44% of people under thirty are unemployed. Similar reality in Italy and Greece. Can you even imagine??? As they say in parts of the Midwest: Can you feature that?

I often feel a bit sorry for young adults in America. Half of them are working 60+ hours per week because employers are intentionally hiring too few people, and the other half are in yoga classes. But they still have some opportunity to grow and they come from a culture which encourages entrepreneurship. The typical European looks to the government for everything. If their system fails, I’m not sure they have the skills to re-create a thriving society.

- Aggie


Welcome Back, Hermanos y Hermanas Judios

Things haven’t changed much; you’ll pick it right up:

Six centuries after their forcible conversion, a leading hareidi rabbi rules a Spanish island’s Chuetas are Jews.

The Chuetas of Palma de Mallorca, Spain, are the descendants of Mallorca’s Jews, who were forcibly baptized in the 14th and 15th centuries and then barred from intermarrying or assimilating with the island’s Catholic population until the modern era.

Most of the island’s Chueta community bears the names of families whose ancestors who were executed for practicing Judaism more than 300 years ago. Rabbi Karelitz’s ruling relates to those Chuetas whose ancestors practiced strict endogamy down through the generations and did not intermarry. In order for their return to the Jewish people to be complete, it will be necessary for the Rabbinical Court to get to know each individual Chueta and their personal and family background.

Shavei Israel Chairman Michael Freund revealed that Rabbi Nissim Karelitz recently issued a written opinion stating clearly and unequivocally that the Chuetas are part of the people of Israel. Freund works to bring “hidden Jews” back into the regular Jewish community and has led the effort to gain recognition of the Chuetas as Jews.

In his written opinion, Rabbi Karelitz stated that, “Since it has become clear that it is accepted among them [the Chuetas] that throughout the generations most of them married among themselves, then all those who are related to the former generations are Jews, from our brethren the children of Israel, the nation of G-d.“

“This is an historic development,” Freund told Spanish journalists in Palma. “I have been working for years to get the Chuetas of Majorca recognized as Jews. This ruling removes any doubts or questions that may have existed regarding their status. The Chuetas are now considered to be full-fledged members of the Jewish people. Rabbi Karelitz’s decision will pave the way for many of them to return to their roots nearly six centuries after their ancestors were torn away from us against their will.

“The Chuetas no longer need to live in between worlds – we have succeeded in opening the door for them to come home. And I hope and pray that many will do so.

I don’t know how they’ll feel. “We’re what?” But I guess they already know or suspected.

Next, I can’t wait for the Palestinians to be outed as closet Jews. We’ve already know some of them are.

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Spain Encourages Green Energy Investment, Rips Off Entrepeneurs

Live and learn.

German Vilimelis heard about Spain’s solar gold rush from his brother-in-law in 2007.

Across the plains around Lerida, the northeastern Spanish town where they spent weekends, farmers were turning over their fields to photovoltaic panels to capitalize on government solar- energy subsidies. Vilimelis persuaded his father, Jaume, who made a living growing pears on 5 acres (2 hectares) of land in Lerida, to turn over a portion of his farm for the project, Bloomberg Markets reported in its November issue.

Vilimelis, 35, a procurement manager for a consumer goods company, pooled his family savings and mortgaged his apartment to obtain a loan of more than 400,000 euros ($558,500) to cover the investment. Within nine months, the family’s 80-kilowatt generation unit — 500 solar panels on seven racks angled toward the sun — was feeding power into the national grid.

Solar investors such as Vilimelis were lured by a 2007 law passed by the government of Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero that guaranteed producers a so-called solar tariff of as much as 44 cents per kilowatt-hour for their electricity for 25 years — more than 10 times the 2007 average wholesale price of about 4 cents per kilowatt-hour paid to mainstream energy suppliers.

Thanks to the incentives, the family met the monthly cost of the loan and even earned a small profit. Once the debt was paid off in 2018, Vilimelis looked forward to making even more money during the 15 additional years of subsidies guaranteed under Spanish law.

Now Vilimelis and more than 50,000 other Spanish solar entrepreneurs face financial disaster as the policy makers contemplate cutting the price guarantees that attracted their investment in the first place.

“You feel cheated,” he says. “We put our money in on the basis of a law.”

Never trust a liberal government. They like to change the rules around as it suits them.

Zapatero introduced the subsidies three years ago as part of an effort to cut his country’s dependence on fossil fuels. At the time, he promised that the investment in renewable energy would create manufacturing jobs and that Spain could sell its panels to nations seeking to reduce carbon emissions.

Yet by failing to control the program’s cost, Zapatero saddled Spain with at least 126 billion euros of obligations to renewable-energy investors. The spending didn’t achieve the government’s aim of creating green jobs, because Spanish investors imported most of their panels from overseas when domestic manufacturers couldn’t meet short-term demand.

I think that unemployment in Spain is about 20% at the moment, due to the brilliant economic policies of the Zapatero administration. But let’s check. Yep. 20%. But who’s counting?

My guess is that if the Republicans do very well on November 2nd, we won’t hear much about green jobs for a while. But if Obama gets a second term – watch out.

- Aggie

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What Is The Unemployment Rate Of Spain?

If you are under 30 years old, it is 44%

Estudias o trabajas?” When young Spaniards gather around the bars and patios, that’s their traditional icebreaker line: “You study or work?” In the past year, it’s become almost mandatory to answer, with a self-effacing smirk: “Nini.”

It is half a joke, for nini is a way of saying “neither-nor,” and NINI is the Spanish government acronym for “Not in education or employment” – that is, lost to the economy.

But it’s not really a joke, because now almost everyone is NINI. The under-30 unemployment rate in Spain has just hit 44 per cent, twice the adult rate. Italy also has passed the 40 per cent mark, and Greece has gone even further. If you count all the people who’ve given up looking, it means the number of people between 20 and 30 who have any form of employment in these countries is something like one in five.

An entire European generation is leaving school to discover they have no place in the economy.

We see this happening in a much milder way here in the US. And here in the US, we have used the economic policies which led to the European disaster much less. Until the election of Barack Obama.

How many dinner parties did you attend in the previous decade or two in which the enlightened professional sitting next to you longed for the United States to become more like Europe? How many of those same people are upset today because their kids can’t find meaningful work and because their retirement portfolios aren’t looking so great? Be careful of your wishes; they might come true.

- Aggie

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Why It Is Immoral To Visit Spain

The most antisemitic nation in Europe teaches little kids to send hate mail to the Israeli embassy

No, Spanish kids don’t write letters to Santa Claus. Instead they write to Israelis, asking them to drop dead. Seriously.

A virulently anti-Israel tribunal likened to a “lynching” by the Israeli Embassy in Madrid is the most recent in a spate of anti-Semitic incidents instigated by Spaniards. This flurry of attacks onIsrael has caused us to pause and ask, What is happening on the Iberian peninsula and what can we do to combat it?

Gathering at the beginning of this month in Barcelona, which in the 13th century hosted one of Jewish history’s most illustrious communities, the tribunal, which did not include a representative ofIsrael, was tasked with examining “on what level the European Union and its member states are complicit in… violations on the part of Israel of the rights of the nation of Palestine.”

The Israeli Embassy said it was no coincidence that the “Rusell Tribunal,” named after British philosopher Bertrand Russell, was held in Spain and that it was funded by Barcelona’s city hall, noting the “worrying situation of anti-Semitism” in the country.

At the end of February, meanwhile, the embassy received dozens of postcards written by Spanish schoolchildren with messages such as “Jews kill for money,” “Leave the country to the Palestinians” and “Go somewhere where they will accept you.”

And in mid-February, Ambassador to Spain Rafi Shotz protested the display of two pieces of art at the International Art Fair in Madrid with virulently anti-Israel messages. One is a sculpture of a menorah sprouting from the barrel of an Uzi sub-machine gun. The other is a highly realistic polyurethane sculpture of a hassid standing on the shoulders of a Catholic priest who is kneeling on a prostrate Muslim worshiper, called “Stairway to Heaven.”

In an interview with El Pais, Catalan artist Eugenio Merino, who made both sculptures, defended his art with the claim that “Stairway to Heaven” has been bought by a Belgian Jew for €45,000.

Ambassador Shotz, who was verbally assaulted last year with epithets such as “dirty Jew,” “Jew bastard” and “Jew murderer” when he and his wife returned from a soccer game accompanied by police, chose not to demand the removal of the displays, fearing it would spark additional anti-Semitic incidents.

Spain has a long, infamous history of anti-Semitism that pre-dates the Inquisition. For centuries after the 1492 Expulsion, Spaniards enforced the ban against Jews setting foot on Spanish soil. Francisco Franco’s fascist, pro-Arab dictatorship that ruled Spain from 1939 to 1975 stoked anti-Israel sentiments.

And it never stops. I hear that their economy is suffering, with an unemployment rate of 19%. I pray for it to double. Let’s all do our best to avoid their products.

- Aggie


This Happens Every Time In Spain

Anti-Semitism in Spain

The Spanish soccer federation is set to haul Osasuna before a disciplinary panel this week, after the referee at the team’s game against Real Mallorca over the weekend reported that home fans subjected Mallorca’s Israeli goalkeeper, Dudu Aouate, to anti-Semitic abuse.

Aouate kept a clean sheet in the game, as his team recorded its first road victory of the season, winning 1-0.

According to referee Alfonso Alvarez Izquierdo, “From the 14th minute and on five other occasions in the first half, (anti-Semitic) chants… were directed at the visiting goalkeeper by the home fans behind the goal, every time he touched the ball,” the referee said in his match report posted on the Spanish federation Web site. Izquierdo informed the match delegate and a message was put out over the stadium PA system calling for the chants to stop. They were not repeated in the second half.

The fans waved Palestinian flags and also shouted “murderer” at Aouate.

Aouate sounded unfazed by the chanting, telling local media that, “This happens to me every time I play here in Pamplona. It really makes me happy that we won.”

Although this hatred of Jews has gone on for centuries in Europe, I still feel an obligation to mark it. It shouldn’t be forgotten or ignored.

- Aggie


Britain Challenging France, Spain For EU Leadership In Anti-Semitic Attacks

Some people follow sports, others follow blood sports

“Britain is setting a shameful new record in anti-Semitic incidents this year,” Liberal Democrat Shadow Home Secretary Chris Huhne said Thursday in reaction to a report by Britain’s Jewish community which speaks of an unprecedented number of anti-Semitic hate crimes.

The Community Security Trust (CST), which monitors anti-Semitism and provides security for the Jewish community in Britain, said that it had recorded 609 anti-Semitic incidents across the U.K. from January to June this year – over double the 276 for the same period last year, mostly connected to Israel’s operation in Gaza.

Huhne added that “it is absurd that home-grown bigots should hold British Jews responsible for the actions of a foreign government. We cannot have overseas conflicts echoed on Britain’s streets.”

The report names 2009 the worst year since CST’s records began in 1984, with the number of incidents already exceeding that of the previous record year, 598 in 2006. Israel’s conflict with Hamas in Gaza and southern Israel is cited in the report as the main reason for the record high, since it “produced an anti-Semitic reaction.”

Of the incidents, 286 occurred in January, with over half of them (158) featuring direct reference to the fighting.

“This was by far the worst single month ever recorded, but the anti-Semitic surge continued,” the report said. February saw 111 anti-Semitic incidents. Levels had returned to “normal” by May, with 51 incidents.

With normally only 51 incidences of Jew hatred in Britain in a given month, why wouldn’t I want to vacation there, or purchase their goods and services? Fifty-one isn’t so bad, is it? I can imagine that if we roped off a section of the US with about the same population as Britain, and said population had a penchant for hating on people of color or gays, their victims would be content to learn that there had only been 51 hates crimes directed at them during a typical month. I mean, who could really complain about that? Now, if some of their relatives halfway across the world happen to get aggravated by constant terrorism, and get a bit feisty, the US people of color or gays would understand that reasonable people would naturally want to beat the shit out of them, terrify their children, destroy their property – at four or five or six times the monthly rate.

Makes perfect sense, doesn’t it?

- Aggie


Jew Hatred In Spain

Try to imagine a Spanish diplomat, needing to be escorted by Israeli police, because crowds were surrounding him and shouting “Dirty Spic!”

It’s unimaginable, isn’t it?

Yet, this is quite easy to imagine:

Israeli envoy taunted with anti-Semitic slurs in Madrid
By Barak Ravid
Tags: Anti-Semitism, Israel News

A torrent of anti-Semitic epithets met Israel’s ambassador to Spain, Rafi Shotz, Saturday evening as he walked home from a Real Madrid-Barcelona soccer match in the Spanish capital. Shotz said the three perpetrators, patrons of a pub, shouted slurs like “Jewish dog” and “dirty Jew” until they were driven off by Spanish police escorting Shotz.

Shotz and his partner Michal chose to walk from Madrid’s Santiago Bernabeu Stadium to their nearby home. Three patrons of a pub noticed the ambassador, whom they apparently recognized from having seen him on television.

In a wire report Shotz sent the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem under the heading “Anti-Semitism – a personal testimony,” Shotz wrote the perpetrators stood mere meters from him, shouting slurs like “Jewish dog,” “dirty Jew” and others “which cannot appear in print.”

The ambassador and his partner ignored the slurs and continued walking; meanwhile dozens of bystanders watched the scene, but did nothing to stop the verbal assault.

Shotz told Haaretz yesterday, “It was an ugly incident, the kind one hears about or reads about in a newspaper, but to experience personally the force of hatred and anti-Semitism is difficult and emotionally charged.”

Spain’s ambassador to Israel, Alvaro Iranzo, told Haaretz that “Spanish security forces protected the ambassador and prevented any harm coming to him.”

Spain’s ambassador to Israel should maybe try to imagine being surrounded by Israelis yelling: Spanish Dog! Dirty Spaniard… and worse. Define “no harm”. What exactly does that mean? Harm came to me by simply reading about it, because I am just sure they’d love to do that to all of us.

I recently saw an ad for very cheap tickets to Spain and came very close to impulsively buying them. Then I thought: “Aggie, the place is filthy with anti-Semites, why go there?”

I am so glad that reason prevailed.

- Aggie


Onion 2

Spanish terrorist has petitioned court to try Bush administration officials

Again, I’m reading the Wall Street Journal, not The Onion. They couldn’t have made this up.

A lawyer in Spain [a shitty little country. - ed] — who did his legal studies while serving over seven years in prison for kidnapping and terrorism – has engineered a complaint accusing the U.S. government of systematically torturing war-on-terrorism detainees. He filed this complaint with Baltasar Garzon, an activist magistrate [definition: one who has the legal protection to organize a lynch mob without fear of repurcussions. - ed] famous for championing the “universal jurisdiction” of Spanish courts. That magistrate is now asking a Spanish prosecutor to bring criminal charges on this matter against former U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, four other former Bush administration lawyers, and me.

The allegation is not that any of us tortured anyone. And it is not that any of us even directed anyone to commit torture. The allegation is that, when we advised President George W. Bush on the Geneva Conventions and detainee interrogations, our interpretations were wrong — in the view of the disapproving Spaniards. According to the complaint, these wrong interpretations encouraged the president to make decisions that led to torture.

Got that? The idea here is that if you take a job in government, advise the President to do something that some other country isn’t happy with, you can be dragged into criminal court in said other country. Do you think we have job openings in the Treasury Department today? Wait until future Cabinet members start to cogitate on the significance of this action.

Hey, I’ve got an idea! Here’s a shitty little country that will forever carry the burden of the Inquisition and for destroying entire civilizations in Central and South American. Let’s file an activist lawsuit under the “universal jurisdiction” of US courts seeking restitution for these poor, deceased peoples!

- Aggie

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