There’s no doubt but that we are all manipulated in some way or another. The media is known for it since it will strive to report the news (and opinions) that coincide with those of the reader, listener or viewer. Conservatives read El Mundo, the ABC and La Razón and watch Tele5 and Ana Rosa Quintana; conspiracy conservatives read OKDiario and Libertad Digital (and probably watch the Catholic Trece TV); socialists read El País (with a certain disappointment as it moves slowly rightwards) or El Huff Post, and get their news from the CadenaSer and RTVE’s Telediario; while the lefties devour elDiario.es, Público and ctxt. There’s not much TV for them, but there’s always Miguel Charisteas on YouTube (who’s much more fun anyway).
But what happens when we didn’t know that we were being coerced, or fiddled with, or fooled?
There’s a Barcelona firm called Eliminalia that meddles with Google and its search engine. We read that ‘…over several years, the company deployed unethical or deceptive methods to scrub unwanted and damaging content from the internet’. Thank goodness for Wikipedia, hey.
We have regular stories of lawfare in Spain – the conservative-leaning judiciary usually either attacking or manipulating Podemos or its leaders through the courts. Stories which are, naturally, bled to the press.
Then there’s the far-right Alvise Pérez who posts any number of bulos in the social media.
More seriously, the news has broken of a furtive Israeli company that professionally plants fake news and has been active in influencing people in various general elections. We read that they claim to have ‘completed 33 presidential-level campaigns, 27 of which were successful’. The article at The Economic Times also notes that: ‘…It adds to a growing body of evidence that shadowy private firms across the world are profiting from invasive hacking tools and the power of social media platforms to manipulate public opinion…’. Cambridge Analytica was such a lucrative idea, it naturally spawned some copycats.
Artificial Intelligence is now taking over the job – for better or worse – of Photoshop. Love means hate, as George Orwell might have explained if he lived today.
We also read uneasily about Russian bots: multiple troll-accounts echoing each other with falsehoods and propaganda.
All of which begs the question (and, after all, this is what all this handling is ultimately about): are you sure you are a free agent when you go to the polling station?
The sudden halt in the purchase and sale of housing and the difficulties in paying mortgages bring about the return to a phenomenon typical of the previous crisis: evictions. CadenaSer says that the desahucios are around 40% up over normal following the rise in interest-rates.
Epe brings us an interesting piece on flat-sharing with strangers: ‘Living in a 'coliving' from the age of 50: "I share a flat with nine people on Gran Vía for 475 euros"’. The article introduces us to Adriana who ‘…reserved her room when she entered during the minimum period established by Kanso Coliving, four months, "to see what it was like and to find out what people were there." In her property you cannot have parties, bring visitors or bring pets. She’s got to know the others sharing the flat during the time that she spends in her place on Madrid’s Gran Vía and she says that "I feel good with the people I'm with". Halfway through her initial term, she renewed for another 11 more months, the maximum that the company allows, and she does not rule out trying other colivings in the future…’
From SVI here: ‘The Spanish left-wing political party, Más País, wants to scrap the country’s residence by investment scheme for foreigners who invest in real estate in the country. The scheme, which is also known as the Golden Visa and was introduced in 2013 in Spain, amongst others enables foreigners to obtain a Spanish residence permit by purchasing real estate worth at least €500,000 in the country…’
The Majorca Daily Bulletin runs the most expensive streets to live on. Madrid’s Calle Serrano leads the pack at 11,400€ per metre, followed by the Paseo de Gracia in Barcelona.
From SVI here: ‘ETIAS stands for European Travel Information and Authorization System. It is a completely electronic system that allows and keeps track of visitors from countries who do not need a visa to enter the Schengen Zone. In a way, it resembles the U.S. ESTA, which serves a similar purpose’. It should be fully operational by November this year.
LaSexta has the update on the Next Generation EU Funds for Spain. ‘Brussels approves another 6,000 million aid for Spain from the Recovery Plan. The European Commission gives the go-ahead to the third tranche of the funds of the recovery plan that correspond to Spain after endorsing the control system for the finance. These 6,000 million euros are added to the 31,000 million that our country has already received in the two previous disbursements...’.
From the La Moncloa website here: ‘Sánchez points out that, for the first time, Spain has created jobs in a global crisis and has more companies now than prior to the pandemic’.
(We remember a recent editorial at BoT regarding the banks’ reported profits for 2022). From Pablo Iglesias on Twitter: ‘“The Banks this week called in alarm to the newsrooms of the media to complain about the informational treatment of their avalanche of benefits”. Imagine (he writes) what might happen if the media depended on or was in some way owned by the banks!’ From elDiario.es here, we read that ‘The big banks closed almost four branches every day in 2022. Furthermore, the final effects of the major downsizing in employees of the previous year has left the workforce balance of the five main entities with a reduction of more than 5,400 workers. The big banks earned 20,800 million in 2022’.
The head of the employers’ union, the CEOE, is Antonio Garamendi. He is against the rise in the minimum wage to 1,080€. Here on YouTube, Oskar Matute has his say in Parliament.
Following the surprise (and unwelcome) visits of the tax inspectors to the Big Four, the main accounting firms in Madrid, the next audits will be with the leading law firms in Spain says ECD here. The article assures us that the larger finance and legal companies consider these visits by the inspectors, under the control of Yolanda Díaz and her Ministry of Labour, to be political. As well they might.
From The Guardian here: ‘Spain passes a law allowing anyone over 16 to change their registered gender. Legislation will also ban conversion therapy, introduce menstrual leave and ease abortion limits’. Al Jazeera also carries the story: ‘Spain approves menstrual leave, teen abortion and trans laws. Measures allow workers suffering period pain to take paid time off, as right to abortions in state hospitals is enshrined’. 20Minutos reports that not everyone is pleased by these (remarkable) advances in Spain and Alberto Núñez Feijóo says that if elected, he will reverse the new trans laws. A graphic shows at what age one can change one’s gender on their ID and other new rules.
From Time here, ‘She spearheaded feminist laws in Spain. Now the Government is in crisis’. An excerpt: ‘…“This law is more than just a law, It’s a process of democratizing society. It is not the ministry’s law, or the government’s, or the parliament’s. It is the law of the women of this country” says Irene Montoro…’ (La Ley de Sí es Sí).
Is Alberto Núñez Feijóo a spokesperson for the conservative-leaning people of Spain, or just for the business-folk? elDiario.es is in no doubt here.
elDiario.es with how the PP made Pablo Casado an un-person. As the article says – the King is Dead, Long Live the King (or, if Feijóo breaks a leg, then Long Live the Queen?)
Some late news from El Mundo here: Ramon Tamames (89) has agreed to be the ‘independent’ candidate for the job of president of Spain in the somewhat doomed motion of censure to be called (shortly?) by Vox.
From Catalan News here: ‘A friend of the suspended parliament speaker Laura Borràs confesses to splitting contracts. Isaías Herrero admits to faking Catalan Institute of Letters budget under Borràs' orders although she denies all charges’. The article explains that ‘…Laura Borràs, also president of the pro-independence Junts party, faces up to six years in prison, and could also be barred from office for 21 years and fined €144,000, as per the public prosecutor’s request, which was made public in July 2022, a few days before the parliament suspended her from her position in late July…’
From El País here: ‘Portugal revolutionizes its housing policy: it will prohibit new tourist apartments and scraps the 'Golden Visa' program. The Government has created a plan that includes the forced rental of empty properties and a maximum price ceiling’. The article says that this is down to the reduced amount of ordinary housing available on the market in the country.
From Público here: ‘The cost of the "colossal mistake" of the British divorce from the EU: losses of the equivalent of 120,000 million euros a year and 330,000 fewer jobs. Brexit has been a bad deal for the UK that now the Prime Minister Rishi Sunak wants to resolve. The now sixth largest global economy has lost 4% of its GDP due to direct damage caused by its exit from the internal market’.
A twenty-second comic video on Twitter: Ayuso blows up a hospital.
There’s a fuss going on in the football world: it would appear that someone was paying off a referee to lead the penalties in one particular direction. The alleged ‘someone’ was the Barcelona Football Club. The referee is question is said to have ‘awarded 33 penalties in favour of the club against just three against between 2016 and 2018’. 20Minutos has the story here. The UEFA may consequently disallow Barcelona to play in any European matches.
Good Lord – they’re going after Santi now. From Agencia6, ‘Earlier this month, El País published a scandalous article in which, with compelling evidence, it affirmed that Vox had diverted almost 5 million euros to the Disenso Foundation, controlled by Santiago Abascal and his clique without any control by the party and without obtaining the necessary member permission…’. The story here.
A senior employee in the UGT union was found to have embezzled some four million euros in union funds over three years to spend on various luxuries, including holidays for herself, her husband and a group of up to twenty (!) friends. The General Secretary of the Madrid branch of the union resigned when the remarkable situation was first partially discovered back in December.
Nothing to see here, move along please. The Mayoress of Marbella: ‘I’m not moving a millimetre’.
The CGPJ remains blocked says elDiario.es here, after four-years overdue for changes in its makeup. We read ‘…The blockade to which the CGPJ has been subjected since 2018 is a consequence of the partisan calculations of the Partido Popular, whose leaders are willing to extend this situation until the end of the legislature after blowing up at the last moment the most recent agreement attempt last October. The body has already served more than four years in office in an absolutely precarious situation: with a president "by replacement" who has his duties assessed, a reduced plenary session (with 18 of its 21 original members) and also limited powers - mainly, its essential function of making appointments in the judicial leadership, which has led to a threat of collapse in the Supreme Court because vacancies cannot be filled…’
The seven full members of the CGPJ receive a refreshing wage of over 120,000€ a year.
El País runs an article here about how ‘the judge in the Neurona case, Juan José Escalonilla, says that he "improperly" included Pablo Iglesias among those investigated. The magistrate has now ordered to correct the error, after the name of the former vice president was entered in the list of accused of various resolutions. An error on the part of the magistrate? Whatever next. Here’s the far-right version (from late January): ‘According to the latest ruling issued by the instructor, to which OKDiario has had access, Pablo Iglesias appears together with Juan Carlos Monedero as being investigated in the Neurona case, although the former secretary general of Podemos has not yet been cited in the proceedings…’.
Pablo Iglesias Tweets ‘A buenas horas, mangas verdes’ (too little, too late).
The Neurona Case, now all but closed, was an attempt to link Podemos to improper financing. Público looks at the trajectory of the judge Juan José Escalonilla here.
The extraordinary (and silly) bulo about how one can now have sex with animals – thanks to the new Podemos animal liberation laws – has worked its way through Vox to, of all places, Pacma (‘Bizcocho for President’). As for the bulo about killing a mouse in the kitchen with your broom and being hauled off to clink for eighteen months… a judge has felt it necessary to point out that there is no such law on the books (nor likely to be). As for not being allowed to own a hamster or a paraqueet – it’s just another wind-up. Indeed, one right-wing TV host said that ‘she would go to jail before giving up her pet chinchilla’, just to keep her viewership numbers up, no doubt…
Macarena Olona (wiki) was the parliamentary spokesperson and later candidate for Vox in the Andalucía regional elections last summer, but failed in her bid to join the PP government of Juanma Moreno. She later broke with Santiago Abascal, becoming a vocal critic of the party. This past Sunday, she appeared on LaSexta in a prolonged interview with Jordí Evole. Some clips from the interview are here. More on the sometime politician (and El Yunque supporter?) here. La Vanguardia has a good revue of the interview here, including the alarming admission that ‘…"They're coming for me," she said. “They are meeting with journalists, with relevant people, to say that I am crazy, that I have mental health problems, which is very unfair. Not only because it is an absolute lie, but because I have given everything for that project… They need to destroy me”, she underlined…’
There’s a list of thirteen personalities that Mediaset TV programs (La Cuatro and Telecinco) are not to mention, invite or refer to says La Razón. Look at it as a change of image. ECD says here that Mediaset directives have ordered that no one in the company may speak to the media at all and that all emails must be available for supervision. No Comment, then?
Twenty years ago, the only newspaper in Euzkera was closed down by order of the court, accusing it of being a mouthpiece for ETA. The story of Egunkaria at Eitb (with video) here. ‘President Aznar, I think it was a mistake closing down Egunkaria’ here.
From ECD here: ‘The PSOE considers that it suffers from the smears found in El Mundo, La Cope and the ABC, which, they say, practice personal attacks. They describe as inadmissible the offensive against the president's wife and the criticism of the use of the Falcon (Spain’s equivalent to the Air Force One) by Pedro Sánchez’.
Facebook is an interesting place. I posted an improbable bulo the other day on Facebook saying ‘this is obviously bogus’, and got a warning from Mr Zuck himself to take it down as it was fake news and I would have my modest readership whittled down if I didn’t. At least he didn’t send me to Facebook Jail like he did to Mr Trump (who’s now out again I see).
Facebook, which runs adverts for showrooms offering free camper-vans with just a small scratch, genuine leather boots at $9.95, closing-down sale of cushions at 90% off and tee-shirt photos with a pithy text superimposed (‘I may be old, but I can still whip you’ etc.).
Oh, and pretty girls from Texas who admire my posts and just want to be friends.
Talking of unlikely material.
Paywalls, and how to get around them. A reader send us this!
Volkwagen say they will build two different electric cars in Spain. The ID.2 to be built in Martorell (Barcelona) and the larger ID.2X in Landaben (Navarra). Their batteries will come from Sagunto (Valencia).
The wind-energy people are asking the Government to rein-back the solar energy folk says 20Minutos here. ‘The Asociación Eólica Española (AEE) has made this request to the department headed by Teresa Ribera, so that it controls the supply of electricity from renewable sources, particularly photovoltaic, within the review of the Ministry of Ecological Transition to adapt the renewable targets targeted for 2030 to the current reality…’. The wind people say they can’t compete and that the solar people could leave consumers with infinitesimal electric bills… (!)
We seem to have a regular royalist spot here in BoT. From ctxt, the estimable Gerardo Tecé writes about the fourth in line to the throne, the notorious Froilán, currently in Abu Dhabi (‘the luxurious Alcatraz for the Borbones’), as the article says ‘in exile with an income of 6,000€ a month and a luxury sea-view apartment (does six thousand go far in Abu Dhabi?). Meanwhile, the fanciest Madrid discos, says Tecé, are in mourning. Meanwhile, an alleged illegitimate daughter of Juan Carlos has appeared out of the woodwork says NiusDiario: ‘She’s a 55-year old Madrid aristocrat’, claims a Royal Watcher called Pilar Eyre without any more detail. The article lists several other presumed or claimed children of Juan Carlos.
Catalan News says that ‘Therapy with dogs reduces emotional crises in children. Research reveals animals play key role as "emotional link" between patients and doctors’. Not that there are many readers who would doubt this. We read that ‘Therapy with dogs allowed to reduce 75% of emotional crises among children in Barcelona's Hospital Clinic's children and youth mental health day-care centre’.
The president of Renfe has resigned over the scandal of the 31 new trains that won’t fit in the tunnels of the Cantabrian and Asturian rail system.
From N332 here: ‘Buying a Left Hand Drive Vehicle in the UK. If you're considering buying an lhd vehicle in the UK and taking it to Spain to register it on Spanish plates, there are a few things you need to be aware of to ensure a smooth and hassle-free process…’. One obvious point is that such a car, even with Spanish plates, has no resale value.
A local view on the notorious Algarrobico Hotel in Confidencial Andaluz here: ‘…Its erection, started in early 2003, became the spearhead of everything that the promoter and the City Council dreamed of doing one day: a tourist complex in the style of Jesús Gil’s Marbella that, in the absence of creativity, would be at least memorable for its ambitious and excessive grandeur, which did not hesitate at any time to plan the introduction of thousands of homes, a golf course, shops, restaurants and maybe half a dozen other hotels in that remote and uninhabited area. The project could be perfectly defined as a sincere exercise in urban onanism, very widespread among our political and business elites in those days. Carboneras was not going to be less in joining the brick fever and, despite the fact that the municipality owed its development and economic activity mainly to heavy industry and fishing, this project would put it back on the map, providing a solution to the long-awaited hopes of having a tourist offer like the one that other neighbouring municipalities had been enjoying for years…’
Wild boar panic – at least, according to The Telegraph (via MSN): ‘The ferocious wild creatures causing chaos in Europe’s cities’.
Do you remember the ostrich business (much advertised in some of the ex-pat newspapers back in the nineties)? There was around a thousand farms in Spain at one point, all ready to make a fortune from the vast demand for ostrich meat and feathers. Apparently it was started by a group of savvy Belgians who provided the first birds to the punters together with some crafty sales-talk. It later turned out that only around 25% of the meat is edible and, another thing, you can’t fatten them. Also, who wants to eat avestruz? El Confidencial recalls the boom and bust of the ostrich business in Spain here.
Brett Hetherington brings us the sad story of the tragic drowning of the Catalan composer and pianist Enric Granados i Campiña and his wife Amparo Gal, ‘who was too heavy to get into a lifeboat’. Brett’s blog is called Standing in a Spanish Doorway.
It’s larger in size than Barcelona, or Seville. El Monte de El Pardo is a 16,000 hectare private Royal hunting estate located on the edge of the city of Madrid, which, beyond a reduced area of 1,000Ha, is not accessible for either the ordinary madrileño or indeed anybody else. It is surrounded by a sixty-six-long kilometre fence ordered to be built in 1750 by Fernando VI. El Pardo makes up 26% of the entire territory of the city of Madrid. The following, as if it were read aloud by David Attenborough: ‘To the northwest of Madrid, in the southern foothills of the Sierra del Guadarrama and irrigated by the waters of the River Manzanares, is the Monte de El Pardo, one of the best examples of Mediterranean forest in Europe. In its hills and meadows, among holm oaks, cork oaks, junipers and rockroses, dozens of species of great ecological value thrive in freedom: deer, fallow deer, wild boar, wild cats, badgers, martens and genets, observed from the skies above by majestic imperial eagles, vultures, eagle owls and black storks. But among all of them, a protected species stands out, of enormous value to our country: the Bourbon monarchy…’ The links are to elDiario.es.
Miles Davis - Flamenco Sketches on YouTube here. Miles Davis trumpet and arrangement, Bill Evans, piano; John Coltrane, tenor sax; Cannonball Add
erly, alto sax; Paul Chambers, bass; James Cobb, drums. Sublime!