Sunday, January 29, 2012

Spain and Israel...25 years of diplomatic relations

At a ceremony in Madrid Spain and Israel recently marked 25 years of diplomatic relations.

Prizes were individuals and institutions that have contributed to the coming together of the two countries over the last quarter century.

Eighteen people received the Samuel Hadas Award, including former Spanish presidents Jose Maria Aznar and Felipe Gonzalez. Hadas, Israel's first ambassador to Spain, was one of the [main figures] in the process that led to the establishment of diplomatic relations between Israel and Spain in 1986.

The ties put an end to nearly 40 years of estrangement following the creation of the State of Israel in 1948 and nearly 500 years since the expulsion of Jews from Spain in 1492.

Read more from the source here.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Latest interview with ABC Radio in Australia

Last weekend I did another interview with Tony Arthur for ABC Radio National in Australia.

To download an MP3 audio file of this, click here.

In what has now become a regular gig, we discussed some of the topics I have recently written about on this blog and also the broader economic situation in this part of the world.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Is Barcelona to become a "Slow City?"

"We want Barcelona to have "slow" neighborhoods. Gràcia, Sarrià, Les Corts ...That's where the citizen lives as part of their own area. They are involved in local associations, in schools, and even spend holidays there. They know and can treat their neighbors well on a daily basis. They buy in local shops, get around streets walking and on a bicycle... In the end,let's protest when our towns are managed badly."

So says Pier Giorgio Olivetti, a Director of the Slow Cities movement during a lecture at the Institute of Advanced Archictecture in Catalunya.

There are 152 cities already part of the international Slow Cities movement.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

UPDATE on Barcelona neo-Nazi bookseller

By his own standards, Pedro Varela Geiss is not wasting his time in prison.

He is refusing to participate in organised discussions about racism, calling them "brainwashing" sessions, instead preferring to spend his free hours reading and making sure that his fellow prisoners know they can read his newly-introduced range of right-wing ideology.

Read more here.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

The real cost of avoiding tax

The cost of tax evasion in Spain is approximately 70,000 million Euros a year, about 23 % of the nation's total production. This is equivalent to the entire budget of the Spanish health system, according to an analysis by the consultants one i2 Integrity.

This report highlights the fact that the most popular forms of fraud are to avoid VAT sales tax, to create invoices for false sales, to contract workers and pay them cash "in the black," to receive undue subsidies and to carry out fraudulent international buisines operations.

Source here.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Not such a Happy New Year for Barcelona Hitler-worshipper

In the continuing story of Barcelona neo-Nazi bookshop owner Pedro Varela, the latest chapter sees him due to return to court.

Currently serving a prison sentence for similar offences, Varela is likely to be released this March but is now facing new charges from the German regional government in Bavaria. They are making the claim that he has vioalted “intellectual property laws by publishing and distributing” Mein Kampf, the anti-Semitic, nationalist book by the 20th century dictator Adolf Hitler.

With the typical doublethink of a bigot, Varela maintains that he is being persecuted, despite having a long history of peddling ideas that persecute entire groups of people.

Varela’s defence lawyers have admitted that he has made a “significant” amount of money selling his self-published copies of Mein Kampf.

A statue of Hitler was found concealed in Varela’s book storeroom when the shop was raided in 2006.