Wednesday, 30 October 2019

This Election, Comrade, I'm Not Voting.

There are two ways to campaign in politics - one is to tell the voters how good, honest, clever, wise and caring is your party, and the other is to say how bad, perfidious, rotten and corrupt the other parties are.
There's also a third way - which is to sabotage the other candidatures with innuendo, fake advertising and fifth columnists.
We now read that there’s a campaign out there subliminally telling left-wing voters to stay home on polling day. It’s being done with posters, stickers and Facebook adverts.
The ‘yo no voto - don’t count on me’ campaign is decorated with murky pictures of Pedro Sánchez and Pablo Iglesias. Stay at home, it says to its working-class neighbours, I’m not voting.
There are others.
Gosh, we wonder who is paying for this – affected lefties or maybe plotting rightists?
The various campaigns, costing around 40,000€, have been seen by 9 million people on Facebook, says El País here.
Finally, the cat was out of the bag: it’s the work of a political strategist called Josep Lanuza who works for an agency called Aleix Sanmartín (see their webpage in English here) hired, in this case, by the Partido Popular. It’s not the first foray into manipulation by this consultancy. In a regional campaign of theirs designed to weaken the PSOE in Andalucía last year, a video-spot tells socialist voters how to vote PSOE without giving their vote to Susana Díaz: ‘Just cross out the first name on your papeleta’ (thus, of course, rendering the vote invalid).
This type of tactical plan comes originally from Cambridge Analytica says ElDiario.es. Cute.


Wednesday, 23 October 2019

Scotland for Europe

There is no solution to Brexit. The country is divided. We 'Remainers' think of the other side as Neanderthals, knuckle-draggers and racist fools. They no doubt harbour the same opprobrium towards us, only potentially more violent, and with bells on.
But there is a solution, before the UK descends into civil war and the rat-taste-funny jokes become reality.
Watch. Scotland to leave the United Kingdom (it's doomed anyway) and rejoin/stay in the European Union. England to leave, bye bye. Wales and Northern Ireland to make up their minds: me, I don't care much either way. I'm not a politician.
Scotland then. It would, as an independent country, first of all need to establish who are its citizens: who has Scottish nationality (and a Scottish/EU passport). Because as things are now, there's no such thing. Currently, you're a Brit, with British nationality.
The Scots, de jure, would be those people who live there, plus those Scots by birth who are living somewhere else, plus those who had Scottish grandparents, plus -and why not- anyone else in the British isles who wanted to swear fealty to Scotland.  It would be the right time for Edinburgh to be generous and open (a true European sentiment). Come all ye huddled masses. Know the difference between a sporran and a bagpipe, the recipe for haggis, sing a quick verse of Marie's Wedding, and then, it's a Tartan Passport for you the noo.
Meanwhile, those eccentric Scots and the others who admire Brexit and its noble independence from the European jackboot (yadda yadda) to become, at the stroke of a pen, Englishmen.
Do you see, we could live where we wanted within the British Isles, while holding Scottish or English ID papers, the first allowing the holder full European rights, the second withholding them.
Of course, the borders between the EU and England would slow things down for those south of Hadrian's Wall, but, hey, that's politics.
Something else to think on: without the Brexit issue, we'd all live peacefully again. 

Tuesday, 22 October 2019

Leotards Never Lie


The crunch-time continues, with Brexit, Catalonia, Spain’s forthcoming elections and Francisco Franco’s imminent trip by helicopter to his new resting place. All four of these items are subject to spin, lies, truths, inventions and facts (in no particular order or composition). We have, nevertheless, already made up our minds, and whatever is written or reported will not change them.
With this is mind, we thought we’d write about Yoga this week.
From El País (and ignoring the influence of both the medical profession and Big Pharma) we wonder, is yoga a fake? Amazing question! According to the Spanish Govt, the answer is 'maybe': 
'Last February the Ministry of Health launched the 'coNprueba' campaign (here) with the aim of informing citizens about pseudo-therapies and pseudo-sciences. 73 of the 193 techniques analysed have now been categorized within the category of pseudo-therapies, since they do not have any scientific support, while 66 more are still under evaluation. Among them we can find yoga. But, how could this ancestral discipline have sneaked into this list? The Department of Health gives a brief answer: "It is currently being evaluated to see if it has provable value in scientific knowledge or evidence to support its effectiveness and safety."...'.
The article speaks of ‘sects’ and ‘charlatans’ (and, Goodness, there are quite a few of these knocking about here in Spain), but, yoga?
Here’s a short video from the Ministry of Science, together with the Ministry of Health. The various pseudo-therapies admitted by coNprueba (so far) follow (in Spanish, we’ve no idea what half of them are in any language): 
Análisis somatoemocional, análisis transaccional, ángeles de Atlantis, armónicos, arolo tifar, ataraxia, aura soma, biocibernética, breema, cirugía energética, coaching transformacional, constelaciones sistemáticas, cristales de cuarzo, cromopuntura, cuencos de cuarzo, cuencos tibetanos, diafreoterapia, diapasones, digitopuntura, esencias marinas, espinología, fascioterapia, feng shui, flores del alba, frutoterapia, gemoterapia, geobiología, geocromoterapia, geoterapia, grafoterapia, hidroterapia del colon, hipnosis ericksoniana, homeosynthesis, iridología, lama-fera, masaje babandi, masaje californiano, masaje en la energía de los chacras, masaje metamórfico, masaje tibetano, medicina antroposófica, medicina de los mapuches, medicina ortomolecular, metaloterapia, método de orientación corporal Kidoc, método Grinberg, numerología, oligoterapia, orinoterapia, oxigenación biocatalítica, piedras calientes, pirámide vastu, plasma marino, posturología, pranoterapia, psicohomeopatía, psychic healing, quinton, radioestesia, rebirthing, sincronización core, sofronización, sotai, tantra, técnica fosfénica, técnica metamórfica, técnica nimmo de masaje, terapia bioenergética, terapia biomagnética, terapia de renovación de memoria celular (cmrt), terapia floral de California, terapia floral orquídeas, terapia regresiva.
Among the therapies still under investigation we find acupuncture, hippotherapy, Thai massage, osteopathy, meditation and yoga.

And after a gruelling bout with Franco, Catalonia, elections and Brexit, a half-hour of yoga is decidedly efficacious.

Wednesday, 16 October 2019

Albert Rivera Faces the Endgame


Ciudadanos, the third party in Spanish politics, is rapidly redefining itself as the fifth party as its leader Albert Rivera flounders in the polls. If the results of the forthcoming elections are as bad as expected, Rivera will probably have to ‘consider his position’, as the British elegantly put it, and resign – probably in favour of Inés Arrimadas.
Rivera is seen by the pundits (and the public) as being the main culprit for the impossibility of a government following last April’s elections, and his volte face now (‘I’ll support the PSOE if necessary after November 10th’ he said recently) makes him look not only foolish, but irresponsible. In another move, Rivera offers a ‘grand agreement’ for ten years between the PSOE, the PP and, er, himself. To be called ‘The Second Transition’. ‘To all row in the same direction’, he says grandly.
Early advert for Ciudadanos (2006)
The PSOE leader Pedro Sánchez answered with ‘We don’t ask for Ciudadanos to support us, merely that they desist from blocking us’.
There’s still money in the party coffers however, as Rivera is found to have paid ‘the most expensive political advert on YouTube in the whole EU’ (60,000€, see it here).
ElDiario.es helpfully provides a cartoon strip explaining his rise and fall. In short, his lack of sound proposals and his support one day for the right, the next for the left, has left his party weakened and, perhaps, rather pointless.
La Vanguardia, through some complicated calculations, says that the disaffected C’s votes will move to the PP, but the PSOE will benefit more, as deputies are chosen proportionally in the provinces, and the party will finally take, with its satellites from the left, a majority.
As the experiment with a plethora of parties slowly palls on the electorate (Vox apparently notwithstanding), ‘The waters are returning to their channel’ says El Economista – the country re-entertains the idea of a two-party system.

Monday, 14 October 2019

Kamping in England

As the United Kingdom lurches further towards a strict form of anarchy, with the job of Home Secretary in the hands of a person whose parents were deported from Uganda a generation ago by that country's equivalent of Boris Johnson, one Idi Amin (the self-styled Last King of Scotland), Britons living in Europe are beginning to worry for their future.
The European Union, having never shown much interest in those of their citizens who live quietly in other European states, will now be turning its gaze on those who have abruptly lost their European status through their own apparent collective stupidity (despite the fact that many of us were not allowed by British legislation to vote in the referendum of 2016, while many other 'ex-pats' firmly voted 'remain').
Our leading spokesperson Leapy Lee no doubt doing his best to calm the waters.
Thus, as the British toy with deportation for some, or perhaps many of their European residents, can the EU-27 be far behind?
Apparently not, according to the recent article in The Guardian: 'Britons in Europe face citizens' rights 'lottery' in event of no deal' says the paper, which suggests that we expatriates may have even greater problems to come than the Europeans in the UK (there are 3.6 million of them, and part of the Brexit plan is to whittle this number down).
Opinion from The Independent is even more worrisome. It says 'Brexit: Boris Johnson’s hard line on immigrants risks ‘retaliatory deportations’ for UK citizens in Europe'. It begins 'Botched announcements by Boris Johnson’s government are putting over a million British citizens living on the continent at the risk of “retaliatory deportations” and other consequences after Brexit, the Prime Minister has been warned...'.
In the event of mass deportation, will the British send one of its remaining gun-boats down to Garrucha to pick us all up?
I can imagine the captain shouting through his megaphone in a rough Bradford accent, 'Form an orderly queue with passports at the ready. There will be just one small bag allowed, imagine you're on a Ryanair flight ladies and gentlemen. I'm sorry, but there's no room for pets on my ship and strictly no foreign-born companions'.
As we arrive back in the UK, unwanted and unloved, a lucky few of us will have a place to go to. Some others will rekindle an undying love of a close relative with a spare guest-room, but most of us will be homeless. Property prices being as they are, and with our houses in Europe either embargoed or unsellable, we will be obliged to throw ourselves on the Mercy of the State.
How will the Home Secretary receive us? Perhaps we will be placed in the confiscated homes of those Europeans who will have fallen foul of her, but more likely, she will order the construction of a
huge camp - maybe located on Salisbury Plain - for all the penniless ex-pats jettisoned from Europe following the forthcoming Westminster putsch on Europeans. The Poles may be invited to build it before they are sent home, apparently they are quite good with their hands, and no doubt Commonwealth citizens will eventually be chosen to run the place.
We ex-pats won't be very amenable to this treatment, but there will be no where else for us to go.
Then, I think, as the Brit authorities notice that many of us are conditioned to drive on the right, they may decide, for our own safety, to keep us within the camp.
Permanently.

Monday, 7 October 2019

Leaky Politics

The most famous British ex-pat in Spain currently, unfortunately known to more of us residents here than anyone else, is someone called Leapy Lee (or 'Leaky Lee' as my spell-check prefers): a retired pop singer and apologist for a somewhat extreme form of Brexit.
His one-note performance is found every week in a local English-language free-sheet which presumably subscribes to his views (despite a wishy-washy editorial denial of this), since it clearly wouldn't bother to print a jagged view of British life week in week out if it didn't.
A recent column of his called 'They are Traitors' serves as an example. Here we learn of 'Remainers' who '... wouldn’t know democracy if it jumped up and slapped them in the face. In my opinion they are not patriots, they are traitors, who have done, and are continuing to inflict, possibly irreparable damage to the United Kingdom. Ninety-nine per cent of these ovine street demonstrators were remainers, disgruntled left wing losers, whose self-serving leaders will use any excuse to promote their own hard left ideals and must actually take responsibility for Johnston’s decision to suspend parliament...' (EWN Sept 5 2019). 
As many of us know (48% at least), Brexit will affect those of us who live in the EU-27 - either mildly (we shall lose our vote in local affairs and perhaps also health coverage) or maybe strongly: ninety-day visas, bank inspections and perhaps even deportation, depending of course on the actions of those people in Westminster who share Leapy's views.
It's therefore rather irresponsible of The Euro Weekly News in my view to set this fellow on 'repeat'.    

Wednesday, 2 October 2019

Homes Finally Legalised in Andalucía, Mostly


As the Junta de Andalucía has (more or less) legalised the majority of those ‘viviendas alegales’ (can they now be sold or inherited?), allowing them to receive services like water and electricity – and to be taxed – we look at the reactions.
From a lawyer writing at Spanish Property Insight here: ‘Planning amnesty in Andalucía, just don't call it an amnesty!’. He quotes the old saw ‘“If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck.”’. From Sur in English here, ‘The Junta takes a big step towards in regularising many more of the 327,000 illegal homes in Andalucía. While the properties will still be illegal, they will be given the right to services and judicial security by extending the existing AFO designation’. From La Vanguadia here, ‘The owners see this regularization decree as the light at the end of the tunnel of urban folly’. El Mundo has an opinion piece attacking ‘the amnesty of the parcelistas’: ‘...We do not quite understand - and it is not a problem of ours - how the government of the Most Reverend Juanma Moreno congratulates itself - with metal trumpetry! - for his decision to legalize the 327,000 illegal homes that exist in the Republic of Noddy, built outside the law by owners who knew per-fec-tly well the house of snakes which they were constructing...’. The ecologists are similarly aghast at the ‘amnesty’, saying they plan to appeal the ruling.
Our own opinion is that, with enough regular urbanisations and homes built – legally – in flood plains (Orihuela or Puerto Rey anyone?), homes built safely in the middle of nowhere should hardly be an issue, since they bring a little wealth, life and employment to otherwise moribund villages in el quinto pino

Our support and thanks to both AUAN and SOHA.