Noam Chomsky, world-renowned political dissident, linguist and author. He is institute professor emeritus at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he has taught for more than 50 years.
Democracy Now.org–Following its election in January on a pledge to confront the austerity program that’s decimated Greece’s economy, the Syriza government has faced a major pushback from international creditors led by Germany. Days after Greece secured a four-month extension to a loan package in exchange for new conditions on its spending, Noam Chomsky says the European response to Syriza has been “extremely savage,” a reaction that could face Spain’s Podemos party should it win upcoming elections.
Business Times.com–Spanish five-star hotels are serving up white rice for breakfast as Spain offers quicker visas and seeks more direct flights from China to tap into the surging wave of Chinese tourists. When Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy visited China in September, he announced that visa applications from the country’s travellers would be processed within 48 hours. The government is also in talks with Asian airlines to boost traffic through Madrid’s underused airport by offering reduced fees and promoting Spain as a hub for travel to Latin America.
So far only one airline, Air China, offers direct flights between Spain and China seven times a week. In contrast, Italy has 28 direct weekly flights to China, France has 70 and Germany 87. While Chinese travellers usually visit several countries during a trip to Europe, they are unlikely to include Spain if they land in another country because of its geographic location, said University of London lecturer Keven Lathan, author of a book on Chinese tourism in Europe. “Spain’s location is less central. You have to add two to three days to make it feasible. There is not much you can do about it,” he said at a recent tourism fair in Madrid.
Curious about the Spanish economic crisis? This Wikipedia article will bring you quickly up to date. One of the most egregious consequences of the recession is the 50% youth unemployment rate.
Wikipedia.org–The Great Recession in Spain began in 2008 during the world financial crisis of 2007–08. In 2012 it made Spain a late participant in the European sovereign debt crisis when the country was unable to bailout its financial sector and had to apply for a €100 billion rescue package provided by the European Stability Mechanism (ESM). The main cause of Spain’s crisis was its enormous housing bubble and the accompanying artificial and unsustainably high GDP growth rate. One side effect was that ballooning tax revenues (from the artificially high GDP growth rate) concealed the Spanish government’s expenditures, which were unsustainably high, until 2007. The Spanish government supported the critical development by relaxing supervision of the financial sector and thereby allowing the banks to violate International Accounting Standards Board standards. So the banks in Spain were able to hide losses and earnings volatility, mislead regulators, analysts, and investors, and thereby finance the Spanish real estate bubble. The results of the crisis were devastating for Spain, including a strong economic downturn, a severe increase in unemployment, and bankruptcies of major companies.
Reuters.com–Feb 9 (Reuters) – Herve Falciani, the former HSBC employee who supplied information on the bank’s clients and their tax situation, will help upstart Spanish political party Podemos (We Can) with its election programme, party officials said on Monday. HSBC client data obtained by Falciani is at the centre of a storm over the British bank. HSBC has admitted failings by its Swiss private bank, after media reports that it helped wealthy customers dodge taxes and conceal millions of dollars of assets.
Falciani — who used to work in IT at the Swiss subsidiary and who has described himself as a whistleblower trying to help governments track down tax evaders — will produce a tax fraud report for the Spanish party, one of its officials, Luis Alegre, told a news conference in Madrid. “Many thanks to Falciani for offering to collaborate with Podemos’ programme,” Podemos’ 36-year-old leader Pablo Iglesias said on Twitter. “He will be an invaluable help.”Anti-establishment Podemos, which is barely a year old, has risen rapidly in opinion polls, some of which show it would win a general election due later this year, ending decades of a two-party system in Spain.
Immigrants from the Eastern European country are the Madrid region’s largest foreign community. Many are defying stereotypes and integrating into society.
El Pais in English–An uncomfortable silence descends on the room when a Romanian confesses to being a Romanian. For a few seconds, the other person quickly runs through his or her mental references about this nationality. “Ah, well, you don’t look it!” is the typical answer after this particular Romanian has been compared with the Romanian Gypsies who steal copper wiring, the Romanian prostitutes on Madrid’s Montera street and the Romanian pimps who play the slot machines all day long. Often enough, the conversation continues with a “I once had a Romanian house cleaner who…”
Romanians stand for begging, for mafias and for prostitution. They will themselves admit as much, but they also stand for much more than that. The 220,641 Romanian nationals registered in Madrid make up the largest foreign group in the region – far larger than the 87,077 resident Moroccans. Their desire to adapt is so strong that they often renounce much of their own culture, but without ever becoming fully Spanish: they are what they humorously refer to as Rumañoles.
MercuryNews.com–Pope Francis has announced that he will canonize Franciscan Friar Junipero Serra when he visits the United States in late summer. How does that reconcile with a papal decision made 15 years ago when Pope John Paul II apologized for 2,000 years of violence by the Roman Catholic Church against indigenous peoples, Jews, heretics, women and gypsies? In the case of California’s missions, the coastal Indians paid a high price for their interaction with the church. Serra, who arrived in 1769, created a harsh and unforgiving regimen that would ultimately claim the lives of 62,000 Indians and devastate their civilization, including the extinction of a number of small tribes.
I have spent the past seven years researching life at the missions through historical documents at Santa Barbara Mission Historical Archives, Mexico’s National Archives in Mexico City and numerous university libraries. I have studied images of documents written in Serra’s hand and little-known letters and reports from Serra and other Franciscans, documents from Spanish governors and military leaders, eyewitness accounts from travelers as well as academic research. The truth is painful and not widely understood.
Spain plans to leave its position as co-sponsor of the Alliance of Civilizations, an initiative proposed and adopted by former Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero during the 59th session of the General Assembly of the United Nations in 2005.
Today’s Zaman.com–The current Spanish government has decided to completely suspend the Alliance of Civilizations initiative on the grounds that it has lost its importance. The initiative, which was included in Spain’s National Security Strategy in 2011 by Zapatero, was also reportedly excluded from the document’s updated version by the incumbent Spanish government last month.
The current National Security Strategy document that was updated by the ruling conservative People’s Party (PP) is said to make no reference to the initiative as well, reportedly due to pressure from ruling party lawmakers who claim that it is not right to focus on such an initiative at a time when “jihadists terrorize Europe,” the private Doğan news agency reported on Saturday.
Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia Margallo has urged the international community to provide more financial assistance to Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.
PressTV.ir–The Spanish foreign minister made the remarks during a visit to the coastal enclave on Tuesday, as he met with Palestinians affected by the 50-day Israeli war. “The international community must act rapidly to rebuild Gaza,” he said at a United Nations-run school in Gaza City, adding, “The inhabitants of Gaza are living through a real tragedy.” He called for more aid to be given to reconstruct the more than 120,000 homes damaged or destroyed by Israeli airstrikes more than four months ago.
Garcia Margallo, the third European Union minister to visit the coastal enclave since the 50-day war last summer, arrived in the Gaza Strip through the Erez crossing. Upon his arrival, Maher Abu Sabha, head of the Palestinian border authority said Garcia Margallo wanted to see the impact of the recent Israeli offensive in the coastal enclave and hold talks with chief of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), Pierre Krahenbuhl. The UNRWA has so far provided USD 70 million in aid to more than 40,000 families for repairing their damaged homes. However, reconstruction has not started yet.
Isn.ethz.ch–Our interviewee this month is Charles Powell, who is the Director of the Elcano Royal Institute in Madrid. In our discussion, Mr. Powell 1) explains how the Institute uses its annual Global Presence Index to measure how different countries manifest themselves internationally, 2) reflects on how Spain has fared in the Index over time, 3) clarifies why traditional Western defense models are losing their utility, and 4) recommends ways that Spain might want to restructure its defense posture and capabilities.
In 2010, the Elcano Royal Institute launched the annual Elcano Global Presence Index. This index measures and ranks the ‘external presence’ of various countries. Can you tell us more about how you assess this presence? Also, what were the results of the latest ranking?
In our view, global presence refers to a country’s ability to project itself externally. It measures to what extent and in what ways countries ‘are out there’, regardless of whether they are exerting actual influence or power.
Raphael Minder writes for the NY Times.com, MELILLA, Spain — By now, the images of African migrants sitting astride the fences that separate Moroccan and Spanish territory here — one of only two land borders between Europe and Africa — have become familiar the world over.
Desperate to find a way into Europe, the migrants camp in the Moroccan wilderness and plot how to scale the barricades, sometimes rushing them by the hundreds. About 14,000 migrants have tried to scale the fences this year, and 2,000 have succeeded. The Spanish authorities have taken increasingly elaborate steps to fortify the fences, even covering them in mesh. The migrants in turn have driven screws into their shoes or bent metal rods into hooks, for better climbing.