Business over Tapas (Nº 296)
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Party finance: Following a rule-change by the PP Government in 2015, companies were no longer able to fund their preferred parties. With donations only from private citizens, the PP, for example, went from 800,000€ in 2015 to just 85,000€ the following year. Ciudadanos' donations apparently fell by 95% in the same period. It appears that companies, in general, were less keen in the past on donating funds to the PSOE and, er, Podemos.
But, of course, there are always the banks who will happily loan money to the parties (a wise investment as we have seen) and even write off the debts. Currently, the PSOE and PP between them owe 65 million euros says El País, and they are currently asking to borrow a further sixty million. Ciudadanos won't say how much it has been advanced while Podemos says it won't borrow anything at all to become beholden to the banks.
Spain’s political parties are obliged to publish all of their accounts (Wiki) and the days of ‘black book-keeping’ are, uh, surely over...
The banks also hope to influence voters through their newspaper and television interests (see Media below). Maybe they want something in return, suggests ElEconomista.es, like not having to pay back 80% of the public rescue funds lent to them during la crisis...
‘Standard and Poor maintains Spain´s rating without changes, at A- with positive perspective. Among the reasons: the uncertainties over the next elections and the tensions in Catalonia. Due to the political fragmentation, which could make it difficult to form an effective government after the 28 April elections, and the possibility that the tensions with Catalonia could again escalate, especially if in the end there is a conservative government, the US company decided not to upgrade Spain last Friday. Even so, it does not rule out upgrading the rating in the next 12 months if the political tensions relax, given that it predicts economic growth in Spain over the next few years above the Euro-zone average’. Item from The Corner here.
General elections: April 28th. European, local and (most) regional elections: May 26th.
Another poll, this time from 40dB and quoted in El País, says that the union of the three right-wing parties will not be enough to take control from the PSOE and its allies.
El Huff Post publishes highlights from the PSOE program here.
Pablo Iglesias finally returned from baby-sitting last Saturday with a large rally in Madrid. He admitted that Podemos had subsided due to internal squabbling, but promised a renewal of the party’s fortunes and energies (with video).
From El Mundo (and raising the question, who exactly are you voting for?) ‘Albert Rivera proposes to Pablo Casado a coalition government to oust Pedro Sánchez and the PP believes that "the offer has come too late". The president of Cs suggests that the Spanish are the ones who decide who will lead them: "either Sánchez and the separatists or Ciudadanos and the PP", he says. Casado doesn’t rate Rivera for his vice-president, says El Huff Post, but could see him as Spain’s foreign minister...
Some help for political opinion on Twitter and other social media comes from ‘bots’ (no relation). According to ElDiario.es here, a particular ‘bot-farm’ has over fifty accounts helping the Partido Popular with their message. Astro-turfing is the name in modern politics for fake grass-roots politics. The subject is considered here.
While eyes are on the five or six main parties in both the general and regional elections, there are plenty more to choose from. As VozPópuli reports, better than two new parties are registered with the Ministry of the Interior on average every day. ‘...In the first 80 days of the year, up to 201 political groups had been registered, which implies that Spaniards are creating an average of more than two parties per day in preparation for the municipal, autonomous, general and European elections...’.
Some 120 pueblos in the back of beyond have inflated their population with extra empadronamientos to help the best side win says El Confidencial here.
Miquel Iceta is the leader of the Catalonian socialists, the PSC. This is a constitutionalist party and defends Spanish control over its rogue state. Nevertheless, and taking a brave position, he says that if two thirds of Catalonian society were to support independence, he would support ‘a democratic transfer’. El Independiente (no relation) reports here.
From Libre Mercado here: ‘A fresh scandal at the Andalusian PSOE: 300 million euros destined to build sewage treatment plants disappear. The previous Government of Susana Díaz was meant to spend on sewage and water treatment the funds collected by the sanitation canon.
How does the Pujol family get away with it, wonders El Mundo here. The rumour is that the head of the family, Jordi Pujol, has an interesting little black book hidden under the mattress...
From El País in English comes ‘Spanish police bust Europe’s largest illegal TV streaming service. Five people have been arrested – including three in Málaga – for providing pirated IPTV in a criminal operation estimated to have made €8 million in profits since 2013’.
A telephone with a number of useful contacts and other private information was stolen from a senior member of Podemos in 2016 – could the theft have been a commission from the then Ministry of the Interior? A judge is now investigating the occurrence says ElDiario.es here. It would seem so, says Público here. It gets worse, says La Ser here.
Almería Hoy reports on a meeting in Mojácar given by the PSOE and Somos Mojácar with José Pascual Marco, the General Director of Coordination of Common Policies and General Affairs of the European Union, on how to prepare for Brexit and how the Spanish authorities aim to help British residents. He concluded his talk by saying “We want to reassure the 350,000 Britons who currently live in our country, but we cannot deceive people either: leaving the EU is not a joke, it is rather a trauma that the Government of Spain is trying to minimize as much as possible”. The event was videoed here.
‘As London marches against Brexit, British migrants do their bit in Madrid. Around 400 people came out to protest against the UK’s exit from the European Union on Saturday, demanding a “people’s vote” on what happens next’. The item from El País in English says that the protest in Madrid was organised by EuroCitizens. Madrid Metropolitan also reports the local protest, with the headline ‘Madrid Tory founder slams Brexit rally as “Enemies of the Democratic Process”’.
The European Parliament has just voted to impose a restriction on information available for use on the Internet including aggregators (at BoT, for example, we link to news-sites bringing them visitors). These ‘copyright’ laws, to be introduced in the next couple of years, are of course plainly designed to benefit agents, lawyers, impresarios and publishers (rather than musicians, writers and artists). From Meneame comes ‘...There are two particularly sensitive articles, the best known one obliges the platforms to take responsibility for the contents uploaded by their users. The theory is that a platform like YouTube should detect if a copyrighted movie – or a glimpse of one – is being uploaded. The practice is that any platform, including Github (for code) or Menéame (comments) should implement an active surveillance system that compares everything with a non-existent database. The incentive for platforms to play it safe and erase everything doubtful (including parodies, criticism or analysis) is too dangerous. But for the part that touches Menéame, there is an even sadder article. The famous "link tax" is approved, which means that the aggregators (at least the ones based in the EU) in theory will have to pay for linking contents, in contrariness to how the system currently works and what common sense dictates...’.
The reason appears to be that while this would hurt all news-sites to some degree, it would by necessity hurt the smaller ones (who can’t afford sometimes ‘tame’ journalists and aren’t fed regular corporate press-releases) more.
Who owns the most enthusiastic news-providers in Spain, including the daily newspapers that make up the powerful AEDE (Wiki) and so on, we ask ourselves.
Público provides some background here (in a longish but instructive quote): ‘...The Banco de Santander, the one that got the Socialist government to pardon Botín, has money in Mediaset Spain. Telecinco belongs to them. The bank also has plenty of money in the PRISA group, which controls El País, El Huff Post, the SER and DIAL radio chains. The Banco Santander likes you to know who is in charge, and when it suits them, they buy the covers of all the written newspapers of Spain. The BBVA, the one that pays the Comisario Villarejo to investigate even the Government, has serious money at Atresmedia, where the PLANETA group is from, the one that has just published the book written by President Sánchez. Atresmedia controls the two TV channels Antena3 and La Sexta. Also invested there is the Banco Sabadell, the one who said that we needed a conservative version of Podemos. The CaixaBank, which has recently been accused of laundering money from Chinese mafias, has also invested in Atresmedia, as well as in El Periodico de Catalunya and the PRISA group. ... In turn, a far from small part of the Banco Santander, 6%, is held by Blackrock, an investment fund that also holds 5% of the BBVA. Blackrock participates in nineteen Ibex 35 companies, with a total investment of 12,200 million euros.
The media generally lose money as we know. A naive question: why do the banks invest in media companies that are losing money?...’. Brussels comes to their rescue via its euro-deputies. Evidently, the copyright defence in Brussels is not entirely about saving a few euros for some starving artists.
Hardwaresfera says ‘...The first thing is that it is the end of streaming games on YouTube and Twitch, since these will become illegal. This is because, since the games are copyrighted and used for profit, streaming is not possible. Neither will brief up-loads of music or image be used in videos, while brands or games may no longer be mentioned nor images of third parties be shown – without explicit permission. Add to this, applications such as TikTok, Spotify or Facebook will be obliged to block copyrighted content...’.
Google says it is making changes to its platform (Google News, long departed from Spain, will be obliged to disappear from all European Union member states). ‘...Google also has big changes planned for YouTube. They will apparently install or enable in the coming weeks a new filter using Artificial Intelligence. This will review each and every one of the videos and will detect even if a brand or a videogame is named. If the channel is detected, it could receive a penalty, demonetize the video, temporarily disable direct, prohibit uploading videos for a period of time and even erase the channel...’.
Here are the parties which voted in Brussels for this, including from Spain, the PP, the PSOE, Ciudadanos, PDeCAT and the PNV. Podemos and ERC voted against. The senior PP man in Brussels, Esteban González Pons, said “I believe that the legislation is ambitious and protects quality journalism and the salaries of journalists”.
With luck, new politics forthcoming from the upcoming European elections may produce a brake on this corporate wet-dream.
Of course, like any Internet law, there are ways around it – including using a VPN and thus ‘pretending’ that your computer is outside the area of censorship. (The full article is at Lenox’ blog here. Copy it while you can...).
Mainly American and British media are checked by Media Bias / Fact Check here.
Wikipedia has a list of all major Spanish and foreign-language newspapers here (Thanks to CPM for this).
The Olive Press Costa Blanca Edition appears today, Thursday. Our congratulations.
Why pay 1.10€ (or whatever) for one print newspaper, with one editorial point of view, when one can read any number of news-sources on the Internet? Media-tics says here that, of course, many people do just that.
A scandal was bubbling this week at The Olive Press over photos taken off the shore of Nerja showing raw sewage being emptied into the sea, with the added complication of blocked pipes due to ‘wet wipes’. Nine tons of these products cover the Nerja sea-bed (presumably their weight while wet). Forrest Anderson explains: ‘Facial tissue and paper towels have a different design than toilet paper. When you flush facial tissue or paper towels, water in your toilet doesn't cause them to disintegrate right away. These paper products aren't made to break up the way toilet paper is, so they can end up clogging pipes or the sewer system’. It’s an ongoing problem. Valencia City has its sewers clogged up with paper towels, says ElDiario.es here and the town hall is seeking six million euros from the EU to pay to fix the problem. Indeed, Cadena Ser says that cleaning the ‘monster of paper towels’ costs Spain 230 million euros per annum.
Our editorial from BoT 294 on the desert in south-eastern Spain (viewable here) held some information we found in El País. Now El País in English has published the full story at ‘The herculean task of pushing back the desert in Spain’.
Climate change in Spain is the subject of an article in El País called ‘Summers are five weeks longer than they were in the eighties’.
Can smog from power stations cause premature death? El Marea reports here.
An article in Galician: ‘There are now more eucalyptus trees in Galicia than in Australia’. According to Sermos Galiza, there are eighty million of them in the region!
There are now 2.5 million Spaniards living abroad says Público here.
A far-right organisation within the National Police called ‘Primavera Española’ has thirteen thousand members, says Confidencial Digital here.
A bit of wall from the XIV Century Torremelgarejo castle near Jerez de la Frontera has fallen down. So, the (private) owner has fixed it with a tin substitute (photo and article here)
An article at ElDiario.es looks at how cheap generic medicines are kept out of Spain (by their more expensive rivals).
‘The Attackers behind the recent assault on the North Korean embassy in Madrid fled to the USA via Portugal’, says El País in English here. A shadowy resistance group calling itself the Cheollima Civil Defence is claiming responsibility according to The Guardian here.
The president of Mexico has called on Spain to apologise for the conquest of his country in the late fifteenth century. Spain says it won’t apologise for something which happened in the time of the conquistadores (which reminds us, we really must get the Romans to apologise for conquering most of northern Europe a mere two thousand years ago). It now appears, however, that Mexico and Spain had previously signed a peace treaty to ‘forever forget the past’ way back in 1836 - here.
‘Arturo Perez-Reverte is a retired journalist in Madrid and spends his time writing fiction—all of it is spectacular, but not all in English, yet...’. Xenagoguevicene lists his translated work here.
‘Forty of the most beautiful words in castellano’ says Cultura Inquieta here. An inconmensurable list of splendid vocabulary is offered for our pleasure.
From The Guardian comes ‘Málaga, city break with kids. Sandy beaches, outdoor attractions and plenty of culture make for a fun family break in this gateway to Andalucía’.
From last summer, a piece from The Local on Madrid’s best rooftop bars.
Molly at Piccavey anticipates Easter: ‘In the Alpujarra town of Orgiva, Hecho en La Alpujarra is held each Easter week. Located 30 minutes drive south from Granada this area has amazing local produce and traditional crafts. It´s handy to have all the producers from mountainside villages all under one roof in this annual Craft and Food fair...’.
From Eye on Spain ‘You've never seen a vineyard like this one before...’. And, no, you haven’t.
Another great, balanced overview!
Thank you Lenox and team and Happy Thursday!
Another nice informative edition Lenox. Many thanks for your continuing efforts.
Continuing to enjoy BoT.
Just thought you might be interested in Emma Randle's blog as a British migrant living in La Chanca – the run-down Gypsy/Arab quarter in Almería City. www.lachancalife.com
It might also interest your readership.
Barrabás, a hard-rock group from the seventies, was popular once in the USA, under the impression that they were a Black funk band. Their hit was Wild Safari, on YouTube here.
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