A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘spain

[BLOG] Some Wednesday links

  • blogTO considers if the Union-Pearson Express might work as a rapid transit line.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze notes that Earth-like worlds which rapidly lose most of their water can extend their habitable lifetimes.
  • The Everyday Sociology Blog talks about the sociological lessons of party crashers.
  • Geocurrents notes the complexities of Valencian identity and its relationship to Catalonia.
  • Joe. My. God. notes the introduction of a civil unions bill into the Italian parliament.
  • Language Hat links to a contemporary survey of spoken Irish in the Aran Islands.
  • Language Log looks at the Hakka and their distinctive Chinese language.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money notes the impacts of structural racism on the lives of people living in unincorporated communities in California.
  • Marginal Revolution notes some young Argentines are throwing wedding parties without an actual married couple.
  • Steve Munro looks at waterfront transit plans.
  • The Planetary Society Blog’s Emily Lakdawalla notes a 3-d model of Charon.
  • The Russian Demographics Blog shows the 1897 Russian Imperial census’ data on speakers of the Ukrainian language.
  • Window on Eurasia notes the extension of the Chinese transport net to the Russian Far East, argues Ukrainians are losing interest in Russia, and notes potential Russian border issues with the Baltic States.

[BLOG] Some Saturday links

  • blogTO reports on five of the smallest libraries in Toronto. Two of them are near me.
  • James Bow notes the odd recent Facebook slowdowns.
  • The Broadside Blog’s Caitlin Kelly notes there is no such thing as a low-skilled job.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze notes three recently-discovered hot Jupiters.
  • The Dragon’s Tales notes geological evidence of ancient atmospheric oxygen in rocks 3.2 billion years ago and reports on the discovery of water ice on Pluto.
  • Geocurrents notes the lack of support for Catalonian separatism in Occitan-speaking Val d’Aran.
  • Joe. My. God. notes that the kissing marine couple has married.
  • Language Log celebrated Korea’s Hangul Day yesterday.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money notes toxic masculinity in team sports.
  • The Planetary Society Blog considers the role of telerobotics in space exploration.
  • Towleroad notes the definitive arrival of marriage equality in Ireland.
  • Window on Eurasia suggests Russia’s Syria gambit is failing, with implications for tensions among Russia’s Muslims, and notes Crimean Tatar institutions’ issues with the Russian state.

[BLOG] Some Thursday links

  • blogTO looks at atypically-named TTC subway stations, the ones named not after streets.
  • Centauri Dreams examines the protoplanetary disk of AU Microscopii.
  • The Dragon’s Tales looks at China’s nuclear submarine issues.
  • The Everyday Sociology Blog examines the intersections between game theory and water shortages.
  • Far Outliers notes the travails of Buddhism in Buryatia and the decline of Russia’s Old Believers.
  • Geocurrents looks at rural-urban–potentially ethnic–divides in Catalonia.
  • Savage Minds examines controversies over tantra in contemporary Tibetan Buddhism.
  • Torontoist notes that the TCHC is only now investing in energy-saving repairs.
  • Window on Eurasia suggests contemporary Syria could have been Ukraine had Yanukovich been stronger, notes Belarusian opposition to a Russian military base, and notes discontent among Russia’s largely Sunni Muslims with the alliance with Iran and Syria.

[LINK] “Catalonia, Scotland and the fluid concept of democracy”

Open Democracy’s Daniel Coyne makes the compelling argument that the ability of the United Kingdom, unlike Spain, to accept the possibility of separatism is a strength.

If we return our focus to Catalonia, where on Sunday the pro-independence parties won a majority of seats in parliament. The exact levels of support for Catalan independence vary according to who you ask, with both sides in the debate naturally exaggerating their own support base. It is beyond doubt, however, that at least a sizeable minority of Catalan voters want full independence from Spain.

The Spanish government has of course secured its own democratic mandate to govern, having been chosen for office by the entire Spanish electorate. It also has its own perfectly sensible reasons for wanting Catalonia to remain part of Spain. Aside from patriotic notions of Spanish unity, it benefits Spain economically to have the relatively wealthy and productive Catalonia as part of the family.

Yet the national government in Madrid isn’t the sole legislative power in Spain, a highly de-centralised country divided into 17 autonomous communities, each with its own legislature.

Catalan elections consistently garner a lot of support for the independence cause. In refusing to allow an independence referendum to be held, the Spanish government chooses to utilise its own mandate as a democratically-elected body to overrule a subordinate yet equally legitimate body. A body that is simply seeking to serve the interests of the people that voted for it.

Written by Randy McDonald

October 3, 2015 at 3:54 am

[LINK] Two Bloomberg links in separatism in Catalonia

Maria Tadeo’s Bloomberg article “Catalonia Isn’t Really About to Break Away From Spain, Is It?” looks at the trajectory of Catalonian politics.

is Catalonia really about to break away from Spain?

Probably not, no. But regional President Artur Mas will likely get enough support to begin the process of secession and push for more powers. His mainstream pro-independence alliance Junts pel Si is projected to fall just short of a majority, and a smaller separatist group, the CUP, will probably get the movement over the 68-seat threshold.

While this will most likely be enough for the separatists to push on with their fight, without a majority of votes they will struggle to present this as a clear democratic mandate. Polls show votes for independence coming in below the 50 percent threshold.

What is Junts pel Si?

An alliance of separatist groups. Mas’s party, Convergencia, agreed to join forces with its traditional separatist rival Esquerra Republicana for this election after their attempts at holding a non-binding referendum were blocked last year.

They’ve been joined by figures from across Catalan society such as Bayern Munich soccer coach Pep Guardiola. The aim is to set aside differences on economic and social issues to bring the separatist vote together under one banner and send a clear signal to officials in Madrid.

Mas and Esquerra leader Oriol Junqueras have drawn up a road map that involves setting up a tax agency, a central bank, an army and securing access to the euro before declaring independence in 18 months’ time if they can secure a majority of 68 seats in the 135 strong regional assembly.

Mark Gilbert’s “Scotland Proved You Can’t Scare Catalonia Away From Independence” emphasizes the extent to which Spain has to make a positive case for itself.

Rajoy said this week that the pro-independence politicians have no concrete plans as to how they’d run a government, and that “Catalans aren’t being told the real consequences of independence.” Rajoy even suggested that Catalans would lose their EU citizenship. The Spanish central bank, meanwhile, insisted that cut loose from the mothership, the region would be kicked out of the European Union, barred from using the euro and would leave its banks without the support of the European Central Bank. And Miguel Cardenal, the Spanish minister for sports, has threatened to kick Catalonian soccer team Barcelona out of the national league.

Catalonia produces about 18 percent of Spain’s gross domestic product, so the region wouldn’t exactly be a pauper. Nevertheless, investors have reacted to the prospect of an escalating fight over independence by driving up the yield premium they demand for lending to the region by buying its bonds rather than those of the central government; they now charge Catalonia 3.25 percent for five-year money, which is about 2.3 percentage points more than the government pays. That’s almost double what the surcharge was six months ago

The U.K.’s eventual change of tactics in persuading Scotland to remain part of the union should provide Spain with a better guide as to how to hang on to Catalonia. Devolution — the transfer of tax and spending powers to the regions — has softened (though not silenced) Scottish calls for independence, and seems to have averted a Welsh move down the secessionist path. Andreu Mas-Colell, a former Harvard University economics professor who is the Spanish region’s finance chief, said a year ago that he was open to the idea. “The more attractive is the offer on the table, the more likely that the vote will end up developing as in Britain,” he said in October.

Written by Randy McDonald

September 25, 2015 at 7:43 pm

[BLOG] Some Wednesday links

  • blogTO notes that John Tory wants private industry to fund a Toronto bid for the Olympics.
  • Centauri Dreams notes a paper suggesting that the effects of panspermia might be detectable, via the worlds seeded with life.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to a paper suggesting that the Earth’s geological composition is likely to be unique.
  • The Dragon’s Tales notes the technological advancement of Neanderthals in Spain.
  • Far Outliers notes the extent to which some opposition to the Anglo-American invasion of Europe in the Second World War was motivated by pan-European sentiment.
  • Geocurrents dislikes very bad maps of human development in Argentina.
  • Language Hat notes that Jabotinsky wanted Hebrew to be written in Latin script.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money reports on the Sad Puppies.
  • The Russian Demographics Blog notes a book talking about a specifically Orthodox Christian take on demography.
  • Spacing Toronto looks at the first ride at the CNE.
  • Torontoist notes a Toronto libraries “passport”.
  • Understanding Society notes M.I. Finley’s excellent book on the dynamics of the Roman Empire.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy notes a bizarre article published in a journal arguing that professors are equivalents to terrorists.
  • Why I Love Toronto recommends Dream in High Park.

[LINK] “Rich Gay Men Wanted: Spain’s Conservatives Make Tourist Appeal”

Bloomberg’s Maria Tadeo writes about how even Spanish conservatives are welcoming GLBT tourists, if for straightforward economic reasons.

Each August, Spain’s second city [of Barcelona] hosts Europe’s largest gay festival, attracting 71,000 visitors this year. During the two-week party Barcelona is plastered in posters featuring male models advertising parties aimed at gay visitors and stores carry signs with special offers, from sun-beds to free gym passes as the city is taken over by non-stop clubbing and pool parties.

With full-access tickets selling for 360 euros ($406), organizers say the events generates 150 million euros for the local economy. After eight years, the festival is expanding to Ibiza this year and the Canaries in 2016, catering to increasing demand for gay and lesbian events.

“This influx of visitors trickles down to local bars, gyms, even taxi drivers want to be involved,” said organizer Tes Cuadreny in an interview from his office in Barcelona. “They know this benefits everyone.”

Such initiatives have made Spain Europe’s market leader ahead of France which generates $6.6 billion of revenue, according to LGBT Capital, an investment firm based in the British Virgin Islands that focuses on gay-themed assets. The U.S. is the global leader with $21.5 billion of revenue.

In Madrid, even the conservative regional government is jumping on the bandwagon. Regional President Cristina Cifuentes flew the rainbow flag, symbolizing support for gay people, from institutional buildings for the first time following her election victory in May. In 2005, her colleagues from Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s People’s Party led 100,000 protesters in a march against legalizing gay marriage.

Written by Randy McDonald

September 2, 2015 at 7:48 pm


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