Tuesday, 28 November 2017

The Presentation on Safety and Security

It is hard to learn a foreign language, and hard to understand the culture behind the conversation. The accents, the words spoken in laughter or whispered or referencing some icon not known to a foreigner: all making comprehension difficult.
Today, the Guardia Civil gave a talk in the Artisan Centre to the English-speaking residents in Mojácar regarding personal safety and how to avoid robberies and rip-offs. They also told us what to do if anything looked suspicious or if anyone became a victim of an robbery or an assault.
Two young Guardias gave the lecture, apparently on their day off, and did a good job explaining the different chapters in their talk on crime and prevention. I had been asked to translate, but an enthusiastic lady from the Cruz Roja took charge and I sat at the back in a mild sulk.
The presentation was fun, with the two Guardia helping the 'translator' to more or less get the ideas across. They were aided by a power-point presentation which the Cruz Roja lady gamely tried to render into English, with lots of 'how you say in English...?' and other garbled explanations.
Never mind, as the two Guardias pantomimed various scenarios and everyone was amused and, hopefully, informed.
A leaflet in English was handed out to help with the presentation, but it had an important mistake - a wrong phone number for the local police.
Which begs a question - if you call the local police, or the Guardia Civil, will they understand you?
Those numbers:
Any emergency 112
Local Police 091
Guardia Civil 062

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Prison Life

It must be horrible to be in prison. The Norwegian ones – where the repentant murderer plays his guitar, cooks his own meals and has a terrace to his room notwithstanding. We should also excise the Dutch ones which are closing down, through a general lack of prisoners to fill them. The American ones – which we have seen often enough on the TV or in films – are more like it: usually with Morgan Freeman or that Tom Cruise fellow banged up for life. Nasty guards, murders and people pumping iron.
Spain is a bit different. Firstly, not everyone that might be expected to end up in prison, ends up in prison. Politicians, bankers and those connected to the best families for example. Here, we read of ‘those who steal a ham’; those who write something improper on Facebook or Twitter; and of ‘political prisoners’, which means ‘politicians from either failed parties (the GIL or the PA for instance) or otherwise seditionists from Catalonia’. We see demonstrations concerning Basque prisoners, terrorists and political, being sent to serve time in the other end of the country – to the evident confusion of their families.
Still, ‘if you can’t do the time, then don’t do the crime’. Right?
Spanish prisons are in the news this week, firstly – it’s an anecdotal story rising from the ugly subject of rape – a mother has now been allowed to spend her days at home after four years incarceration. She had revenged herself on her daughter’s rapist by dousing him in petrol and setting him alight. Evidently, he died in some discomfort shortly afterwards. A case now going through the court in Pamplona sees five fellows who allegedly raped a girl in the fiestas there this summer. Jail-time? Maybe – one of them has influence.  
But, returning to politics. One of the two ‘Jordis’ –  Jordi Sànchez, the first to be arrested for treason in the ongoing Catalonia story – was witness this week to a prisoner knifing another during a Mass in his prison. That should take the smile off his face.
From Brussels, where the lively question of what an earth to do with Puigdemont and his fellow ‘ex’-ministers, comes a query about Spanish prisons. Are they alright? Would he be fed properly? The Spanish prison service has obligingly sent a photograph of his future cell back to the Belgians.
As to whether Spain can hold foreign political prisoners (in the improbable event of the Republic of Catalonia being recognised internationally following some change of heart), we will have to joyously return to the safer world of fantasy. 
(Thursday's editorial for Business over Tapas).

Mojácar, Mojitos and, ah, Family Tourism...

The Town Hall of Mojácar's plan to build the next stage of its sea wall, which will eat into (and presumably destroy) a number of beach bars, has met a brief snag, says a press release from that office.
The future stretch of the Paseo Maritimo, with its wall, its walkway, gardens, cycle path, lamps and access, together with its elevation, will be built between the road and the sea in the area between the Maui beach bar and the Red Cross building, where the hotel strip begins. The walkway will need to eat into the terrain of the existing beach-bars, the long-loved Aku Aku, El Cid, El Patio and the Maui (plus another couple of them who's names I've forgotten) thus incapacitating them forever. They will probably need to close down (or turn into narrow kiosks with a few bar stools and little view of the sea).
The Town Hall says that a lawsuit placed against them by the Maui beach-bar people has slowed the process down 'by a few months', but that the project will continue as 'it is in the interest of all the people of Mojácar'.
Indeed, says the press release, '...The Paseo Marítimo, as is well proven, is a must for any coastal tourist town. Due to the experience on the sections already built, it establishes adequate accessibility to the sea's edge, provides the beaches with services of showers, drainage, sanitation, public lighting, street furniture, gardening and playgrounds. In short, it creates an indispensable framework for tourism...'.
The key is in the final clause above. It's for the tourists.
And why do we need these tourists?
Why, for their money of course.

Monday, 20 November 2017

Tourist Dollars

A meeting was recently held by the good people of Vera, Cuevas del Almanzora, Garrucha, Mojácar, Pulpí, Huércal-Overa, Turre and Los Gallardos (Los Gallardos?) to get more tourism. To do this, they have sent a nice letter to the Government with a request for ten million euros. They explain in the letter that they have too many tourists, but that they want more. The money would help realise this - in some slightly vague way - and even Los Gallardos would get something out of it.

Sunday, 19 November 2017

Almeria Pet Rules (no, no, not 'Pets Rule!')

It might be bad enough walking the pooch with a plastic bag or two in your pocket to avoid the disapproving looks of one's fellow Mojácar-dwellers, but spare a thought for the City-folk of Almería who not only risk a nasty fine if their pooch drops one on the pavement, but from now, they can even be hit with a complaint for allowing their dog to take a whizz against a municipal tree. Where on earth can you take them - the apartment is no good, the stairwell doesn't work, the streets aren't available... it looks like a brisk twice-a-day visit to the city limits.
It's hard having a pet in the city. They need walking if they are a dog, and the reason they need walking is precisely to lighten the load on their kidneys and sundry other organs. Cats are easier, you just open the window and they take off over the roofs, leaving their calling cards strewn among the mess from the pigeons. Goldfish are good, because they pretty much leave their effluent inside the jar.
Elephants can also make a good pet, as there are no laws - at least in Almería - regarding their defecatory rights (however, you should know before you order one, that they eat seven bales of hay every day).
Should one be allowed pets in cities? Maybe not, but they make companions for their owners, some of whom are living alone.
Feral cats, on the other hand, fed by the neighbours... that's not very salubrious I think, and they supplement their packed-lunches with birdies, lizards, snakes and rodents. They also bring fleas to the party...
Returning to the dogs - the local newspaper, the Voz de Almería - recommends that one should use water and bleach to remove the doggy-urine from His Majesty's streets. You may need to get down on your knees with a sponge to fulfill this novel requirement.
The new rules about pets don't stop here. You shouldn't leave the animal on the terrace either 'as it is prohibited to disturb the life of the neighbours with noises emitted by the animals'.
So, no peacocks either.
Leaving food out for the wild animals - the feral cats mentioned above - is now also illegal (and fineable) in the Big Al. So, don't do it!
Lastly, as we clean up another pool of pee pee with our bucket and squeegee, know that any dog over 20 kilos in weight must wear a muzzle when taken outside.
In short, Mojácar-dwellers, you have it good. Stop moaning!

Thursday, 16 November 2017

Propaganda does not deceive people, it merely helps them to deceive themselves

Curious how we blame the Russians for people voting the wrong way, or thinking the wrong thing. A recent article in The Times of London says that the Popovs were solely to blame for the good people of the Greatest of Britains inclining against their better judgement to vote for national suicide, also known as 'Brexit'. Neither the newspapers nor the racists nor the huge gangs of, uh, non-European foreigners taking away their jobs and their women were to blame. The S*n, the Mail and the Express, owned as they are by tax-dodging millionaires, had nothing to do with the sorry outcome. The Russians, you see, influenced the electorate with their tweets, posts and millions of leaflets dropped over the country by their Tupolev bombers.
Not content with this mayhem, the Rooshians also swung the American people away from Hillary - good, honest Hillary - and gave the world Donald Trump. No doubt millions of Rubles were spent by the Czarists to persuade the dumber segment of the USA to support the Orange One. He would never have won otherwise. The Alt-Right news-sites, the tax-dodging millionaires and the hayseeds from West Virginia would never have been enough. Once more, Moscow was responsible for the rout of democracy and human decency.
And so we come to the north-east region of Spain, where once again, the pressure was on from the Castillians with their 'Boycott Catalonia', the monarchists with their 'a por ellos', the newspapers with their single-note reportage and the Government with their imported cops quartered in Tweety-pie ships in the Barcelona and Tarragona harbours while making their grim presence felt.
The Catalonians will have their reasons for supporting an independent republic, but it is unlikely that they were swayed to this course by Russian propaganda as we as repeatedly told by El País and others.
In short, when an electorate does something stupid - let's blame Vladimir Putin.

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Media Manipulation (Turns out, it was the Russians all along)

Returning to the subject of El País and its far from balanced reporting, here are the stories about the pesky Russians found in its English-language Internet edition on Tuesday. 

*‘EU agrees to dedicate more resources to fight Russian propaganda. Interference from Russia in the Catalan independence crisis has spiked concerns about the manipulation of public opinion’. Here.

*‘How the Russian meddling machine won the online battle of the illegal referendum’. Here

*‘Government confirms intervention of Russian hackers in Catalan crisis’. Here.

*‘The zombies of disinformation. The global financial crisis and the information technology revolution have created a perfect storm. Governments must act’. Editorial. Here.

*‘Romanian euro-deputy: “Catalonia is another case of malicious Russian meddling”. Here.

*‘Crisis in Catalonia. “Spain needs to take the Russian threat very seriously’. Here.

*‘European Union fights the Kremlin’s propaganda machine. Team that detects and fights Russian cyber-attacks warns of campaign to aggravate Catalan crisis’. Here.

...and of course: *‘Spanish minister links Julian Assange meeting to Catalan independence drive’. Here.

The Catalonian people are evidently unable to think for themselves and..., that Madrid stuff? It was all just a fantasy.

The cartoon says - roughly - 'these days, it's hard to tell the difference between real news and satire'.