Spain’s Top Court Overturns Bullfighting Ban in Catalonia 

Spanish bullfighter Mario Palacios performs with an Aguadulce ranch fighting bull during a bullfight at the Las Ventas bullring in Madrid, Spain, Sunday, Oct. 9, 2016. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)

The ban had little practical effect as Catalonia had only one functioning bullring — in its capital, Barcelona — but neither is the court decision likely to greatly change things.

Spain’s top court on Thursday overruled a controversial local ban against bullfighting in the powerful northeastern region of Catalonia, saying it violated a national law protecting the much-disputed spectacle.

The Constitutional Court ruled that Catalan authorities generally could regulate such public spectacles, and even outlaw them, but in this case the national parliament’s ruling that bullfighting is part of Spain’s heritage must prevail.

Catalonia banned bullfighting in 2010. The decision was part of the growing movement against bullfighting, but it was also seen as another step in the Catalan government’s push to break away from Spain.

The ban had little practical effect as Catalonia had only one functioning bullring — in its capital, Barcelona — but neither is the court decision likely to greatly change things.

“There’ll be no bullfights in Catalonia regardless of what the Constitutional Court says,” Catalan Land Minister Josep Rulls said.

The World Animal Protection group described the decision as “outrageous,” adding that “cultural heritage does not justify an activity that relies on animal torture and indefensible levels of suffering.”

But the Fighting Bull Foundation of breeders, matadors, ring workers, aficionados and event organizers welcomed the news, warning that attempts to prevent bullfights in Catalonia would now be illegal…(read more)

Source: The Japan News

Abbreviated List of Notable Attacks by Extremists in Western Europe 


Here is a look at some past notable extremist attacks in Western Europe:

• Jan. 7, 2015: A gun assault on the Paris offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo kills 12 people. Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it was revenge for Charlie Hebdo’s depictions of the Prophet Muhammad.

• May 24, 2014: Four people are killed at the Jewish Museum in Brussels by an intruder armed with a Kalashnikov. The accused is a former French fighter linked to the Islamic State group in Syria.

• May 22, 2013: Two al-Qaida-inspired extremists run down British soldier Lee Rigby in a London street, then stab and hack him to death.

• March 2012: A gunman claiming links to al-Qaida kills three Jewish schoolchildren, a rabbi and three paratroopers in Toulouse, southern France.

• July 22, 2011: Anders Behring Breivik plants a bomb in Oslo then attacks a youth camp on Norway’s Utoya island, killing 77 people, many of them teenagers.

• Nov. 2, 2011: Offices of Charlie Hebdo in Paris are firebombed after the satirical magazine runs a cover featuring a caricature of the Prophet Muhammad. No one is injured.

• July 7, 2005: 52 commuters are killed when four al-Qaida-inspired suicide bombers blow themselves up on three London subway trains and a bus.

• March 11, 2004: Bombs on rush-hour trains kill 191 at Madrid’s Atocha station in Europe’s worst Islamic terrorist attack.

• Aug. 15, 1998: A car bomb planted by an Irish Republican Army splinter group kills 29 people in the town of Omagh, the deadliest single bombing of Northern Ireland’s four-decade-long conflict.

• July 25, 1995: A bomb at the Saint-Michel subway station in Paris kills eight people and injures about 150. It was one of a series of bombings claimed by Algeria’s Armed Islamic Group.

Source: The Japan Times

Costly Spanish ‘Ghost Airport’ Receives Only One Bid at Auction


MADRID—One of Spain’s “ghost airports”—expensive projects that were virtually unused—received just one bid in a bankruptcy auction after costing about €1.1 billion ($1.2 billion) to build. The buyer’s offer: €10,000.

Ciudad Real’s Central airport, about 235 kilometers south of Madrid, became a symbol of the country’s wasteful spending during a construction boom that ended with the financial crisis of 2008, the year the airport opened. The operator of the airport went bankrupt in 2012 after it failed to draw enough traffic.

Chinese group Tzaneen International tabled the single bid in Friday’s auction, Spanish news agency Europa Press said. The receiver had set a minimum price of €28 million. If no better bid is received by September, the sale will go through, the news agency said. Read the rest of this entry »

‘Allegory of the City of Madrid’, 1810


GOYA Y LUCIENTES, Francisco de
Allegory of the City of Madrid
Oil on canvas, 260 x 195 cm
Museo Municipal, Madrid

Researchers Believe They Have Identified Remains of ‘Don Quixote’ Author Cervantes


Cervantes died one year after his magnum opus, The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha, was published in 1615.

MADRID— Jeannette Neumann reports: Researchers announced Tuesday they believe they have identified some of the 400-year-old remains of Miguel de Cervantes, the author of “The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha,” considered the first modern novel.

“We are convinced that among these fragments, we have something of Cervantes. However, I can’t say that with absolutely certainty.”

— Francisco Etxeberria, a lead researcher on the project

Researchers said they weren’t able to individually or categorically identify Cervantes’ remains in a Madrid convent after four centuries of deterioration that have left many of the bones as fragments.

But based on a combination of historic documentation that details where Cervantes was buried and anthropological evidence about the age of the bones and clothing, researchers said they were mostly convinced they had found remains of Spain’s prince of prose.

“Between 1698 and 1730, researchers said construction to expand that church lead to the removal of 17 bodies nearby to what is now the crypt of the Convent of the Barefoot Trinitarians in central Madrid. Cervantes and his wife were among the 17 bodies that were moved.”

“We are convinced that among these fragments, we have something of Cervantes,” Francisco Etxeberria, a lead researcher on the project, said at a news conference Tuesday at Madrid’s city hall. “However, I can’t say that with absolutely certainty.”

Cervantes died one year after his magnum opus, which follows the adventures of the knight errant Don Quixote and his sidekick, was published in 1615. But only in the last 12 months has a serious hunt for his remains been launched. Read the rest of this entry »

Going Dark: Blackphone Aims to Be an NSA-Proof Smartphone

  reports:  By now we’ve learned a lot about how the NSA intercepts private communications, whether it’s tapping into fiber optic cablesbugging laptopsbefore they’re delivered to customers or just collecting mounds of data from tech companies upon request.

Still, a new company called Blackphone believes it can create a smartphone that’s safe from government snooping. Blackphone promises secure phone calls, texts, file transfers and video chats, along with private browsing and anonymized activity through a virtual private network. The phone is a partnership between Silent Circle, which offers encrypted communications services, and Madrid-based phone maker Geeksphone.

Read the rest of this entry »

Tokyo to Host 2020 Summer Olympic Games

Tokyo to Host 2020 Summer Olympic Games

The International Olympic Committee has selected Tokyo to host the 2020 Summer Games.

The Japanese city, considered a favorite to be chosen as host, prevailed over Istanbul in a second-round vote Saturday among IOC members gathered in Buenos Aires. Read the rest of this entry »

Comrade Picasso: The man and the political myth

Picasso's 'Guernica' on view at the Reina Sofia museum in Madrid. Photo: Getty

‘Guernica’ on view at the Reina Sofia museum in Madrid. Photo: Getty

Pablo Picasso has long been hailed as an ardent member of the left and an advocate for peace. New research into his relationship to the Franco regime suggests the need for revision, and an examination of our motives.

JONATHAN VERNON writes: One would expect a game of word association on a busy street to match many a ‘Picasso’ with ‘Guernica’. Commissioned for the Spanish Republican Pavilion at the 1937 Paris World’s Fair, Guernica took as its subject the aerial bombardment of the eponymous Basque town. Heinkel bombers flying for General Franco had razed it to the ground across three days earlier that year. The visual language Picasso wrought from that event gave form to human suffering with unparalleled potency. Read the rest of this entry »