Thursday, December 30, 2010

La Ley Sinde....At Last The Talking Begins

So far you have to say that the fallout from the rejection of the "Ley Sinde", which would allow the government to close down websites, may just produce some positive effects. The government has already made it clear that it intends to try and reintroduce the legislation in the Senate by attempting a deal with the Partido Popular. That's the downside.

The brighter side is that it seems that there is at last some dialogue on the issue. When the law was originally proposed the government went through the motions of talking to opponents of the law following the storm of protest it provoked. However, it seems that this was just for show as they didn't subsequently change any fundamental part of the legislation. The dialogue that began today has instead been an initiative from film director Alex de la Iglesia, and both sides of the debate seem fairly happy with their initial meeting. This raises the possibility of some understanding on an issue that has so far been driven solely by the interests of the major entertainment companies.

Another development has been the cracks that have appeared in the facade of unity amongst those who opposed the law. It was always a myth propagated by those who wanted the Ley Sinde that their opponents were all in favour of "todo gratis" and wanting to prevent creative talents from being able to make any income from what they produced. The other day former Público editor Ignacio Escolar decided to investigate a bit one of the most popular Spanish download websites, called Series Yonkis. Escolar was trying to get some idea of how much income a site like this actually earns, given the accusations flying around about people becoming millionaires from pirating other people's work.

His investigation provoked huge indignation amongst many users of the site, who tried to label him as an ally of culture minister Sinde. Escolar has in reality been a strong opponent of the Ley Sinde, but this didn't seem to matter as Twitter rage took over for a couple of days. It's been a useful exercise, because it suggests that these sites are not necessarily huge earners and also because it has separated those who do believe in the "todo gratis" idea from those who accept the idea of artists being remunerated but reject the notion that this should be guaranteed by giving exceptional administrative powers to a government committee dominated by the industry. 

Whether the government will take any notice of these developments is another matter, but if the dialogue that started today is allowed to influence the legislative process it may just be possible for Spain to have one of the best laws concerning intellectual property rights in the digital age.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The El Mundo Journalism Masterclass

Imagine that you go to a football match. There are lots of people there and, who knows, perhaps 60-70 metres away from where you are sitting someone unfurls a banner or holds a placard supporting a political cause. Then a photographer takes a picture of the said placard which captures you along with many other people far away in the background. You might be under the impression that this does not associate you directly with the cause in question. You are wrong to think that, because you have not counted with the journalistic ethics of El Mundo and their ability to draw a circle around your head. Today's front page from El Mundo - how to construct an eye catching headline out of nothing.

I don't have any special affection for Cataluña's new president, Artur Mas, but El Mundo's crude manipulation is just pathetic. Since we're talking about media coverage and El Mundo have already introduced the Basque theme let's give Público a slap on the wrist as well. Their piece on the Wall Street Journal publishing comments by Batasuna leader Arnaldo Otegi is just stupid. Based around the common idea in Spain that the role of journalists in press coverage of terrorism is to instruct people on what they should think, the Público piece looks for  a way to take Murdoch's empire to task for, in their words in the paper edition, being a "loudspeaker" for ETA. 

Things get really silly because they try to hang the accusation on the association between the paper's owner, Rupert Murdoch, and José Maria Aznar. As if this really has anything to do with foreign media giving coverage to what may, after all, be interesting developments concerning ETA's future. There's a bit too much obsession with Murdoch sometimes in Spain with people fearing that the Aznar link was the prelude to him entering Spain's media market. Where Murdoch would possibility find a market opportunity in a country which already has so much flaky right-wing media is an open question.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Merry Christmas Señor Fabra

There was another notable absence from the rogues gallery of Partido Popular leaders featured in the party's Christmas video. Christmas came a little bit late this year for Carlos Fabra, the cacique who runs the Castellón PP. Never mind, his present made up for the delay, as the Castellón courts decided to drop almost all of the serious tax fraud charges that he was facing. It's not that the court declared that no crime had been committed, just that a formal accusation had not been made in time for the statute of limitations to run out on the offences committed.

It's worth remembering that the case against Fabra is not based on speculative mudslinging accusations. His numerous bank accounts have been studied by experts from Hacienda who have checked no fewer than 17,000 financial transactions involving Fabra, his family and their companies. They came to the conclusion that don Carlos had no less than €3,7 million of income that he couldn't justify, and which of course had not been declared to the tax authorities. Around €1 million of this is what is said to be owing to Hacienda, which seems quite a generous rate of taxation for such a large amount. Anyway, it all counts when we have such a large budget deficit to deal with. 

The case against Fabra has experienced an unusually large number of problems over the years, as the local court supposed to handle it has suffered repeated changes of judge which have of course helped the Fabras in escaping the day of reckoning. The anti-corruption prosecutors are going to appeal yesterday's decision on the not unreasonable grounds that if a tax fraud charge for the year 1999 still stands then so should accusations concerning the continued fraud in the following years. Fabra is still also facing charges of influence trafficking, but the strategy will no doubt be one of delaying the process in the hope that an incoming PP government will take care of the matter to his advantage. Prescription is an option that always seems to be almost exclusively reserved for the wealthy and powerful.

There is every reason to think that the PP will behave this way given the manner in which they have celebrated Fabra getting away with it. Champagne corks have been popping inside the party for the man who PP leader Mariano Rajoy has described as an "exemplary citizen". It's still an open question what hold Fabra has on the PP's leadership given that they defend him even more firmly than other prominent figures, such as Francisco Camps, who are not facing such serious charges. The party tries to act as if prescription of the charges is the same thing as proof of innocence, and that massive tax fraud is fine as long as no court ever pronounces on it.

Anybody who pays their taxes should choke on reading the details of Fabra's income and his attitude concerning declaration of his income. On this sort of issue it seems that Spain divides into two, El Club de los Listillos (Fabra & company) and La Clase Gilipollas - those of us who pay the extra cost of the corruption of the listillos as well as all the public services. The worst thing is that the listillos don't depend just on their own cleverness in ripping the rest of us off, they get the votes of a good part of the Clase Gilipollas to tell them that what they are doing is fine. I marvel at the way in which people like Fabra will be defended by those who only lose from doing so, and whose only arguments are the pathetic "but I know of someone in another party who's also corrupt" or the even more hopeless "why don't you talk about <any other problem but this>".

The obvious conclusion to be drawn is that if the PP return to power we should all stop paying our taxes, that should get us a round of applause from the government. Or have I missed something?

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Nepal, Annapurna Circuit....Tikhedunga To Nayapul

At some point you have to stop walking. After 17 days on the Annapurna Circuit trek we were on the final stretch. A short day's walk it was too, but very enjoyable  in beautiful surroundings. We were walking on our own for much of the three hours it took to leave the Annapurna conservation area, as we would only begin to see those who were starting the trek in the opposite direction later in the morning.

Our surroundings were a mixture of forest and tiny settlements set amongst rice fields. As with most days on the trek, we were back following the river valley and of course there were still some bridges to cross. By this point I was able to cross these without too much of the vertigo inspired fear that I had at the beginning. The track went up and down a bit as we kept more or less in touch with the river, and much of the path consisted of stone steps. Even so the hens still needed a bit of help to do the climb.

By the time we reached the village of Birethani we were seeing far more people, this village is also an access point for those who want to do the trek to the Annapurna Base Camp. It was laso the place where we got our last view of Machupuchare, the "fish-tail" mountain.
One last checkpoint and then we really knew we were returning to a busier environment. After Birethani we walked up a road full of small shops and soon we could hear the traffic noise on the road above us at Nayapul. All that remained now was for our guide to find us the taxi that would take us to Pokhara, our entry point back into the world. It was a weird feeling to be sitting in a car again after so many days. We weren't going home just yet, we still  had a night in Pokhara and two days to spend in Kathmandu before climbing on the plane.

I had my doubts before we came to Nepal, I though it was going to be too many days of trekking to maintain the interest throughout. I was wrong, I really enjoyed the Annapurna trek and the changes we saw between the lower parts and the highlands meant that every day seemed to bring something new. The road construction in the region may be making many people think twice about doing this walk, but I can say that in October 2009 we never felt that it spoilt the experience; and I doubt that work has advanced so much since then. Even on those few sections where we walked on the road we saw very little traffic. I have no doubt it's worth it.

View Nepal - The Annapurna Circuit in a larger map

Friday, December 24, 2010

A Happy Christmas From Us All

I've got some important eating and drinking to do for a couple of days, so I leave you with Christmas greetings from some of South of Watford's most popular personalities. Some might question the wisdom, giving the origen of the video, of using a song featuring the line "It's Christmas time, there's no need to be afraid". Also, I'm not sure whether the person wearing the shower cap is supposed to be a prominent member of the PP leadership or not. As for Mariano Rajoy, it seems that those classes on distinguishing the grimace from the smile haven't really done the trick yet. It hasn't taken long for some to spot the resemblance between this video and the opening credits to The Brady Bunch.

There are of course some notable absences here, it seems there was no room for either Esperanza Aguirre or Francisco Camps, which is a shame because it would have made for a nice Gürtel Christmas composition. On a similar theme, I'm quietly proud of how the picture of The Aznarines still features prominently in image searches on for "Eurovision 2010".

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Madrid's Crumbling Cathedral

This article by Giles Tremlett describes how poor construction in Madrid's cathedral has forced the moving of Christmas mass this year. No doubt the insurance companies would have had an unassailable case for claiming that anyone hit by falling masonry had been the victim of an act of God. I've never liked the building anyway, and not just because of my lack of religious conviction. Frankly, it's a bit of an eyesore.

Not everyone shares this view. In one of my favourite ever taxi journeys in Madrid, we once went down to the Puente de Segovia in the company not just of the driver but of his wife as well. It was at night and as we passed down by the river Manzanares, the taxi driver's señora sighed in admiration at the sight of the cathedral on the hill and exclaimed "¡aaayyy que bonita!". I held back from offering her my glasses so that she could see the building properly. "Big" or "grey" are words that accurately describe the construction, but not "beautiful".

Anyway, the chief reason why I remember the taxi journey is because of the way the driver tried to cheat me. He didn't put the light on as I paid with a 1000 peseta note, and instead of giving me back the 500 peseta coin I expected as change, he tried to pass me an old Franquista 25 peseta coin that was no longer even legal tender. It didn't work, I'd been in Madrid long enough already to tell the difference from the size and weight of the coin alone and quickly pointed out his "mistake" for which of course he apologised profusely. That was the point when I stopped talking any English in taxis in Madrid. The peseta, for those who never experienced it, is a currency which we may well be seeing again in a year or two. 

If I ever manage to reconstruct enough of the dialogue from my favourite ever taxi ride in Madrid I may dedicate a blog post to it. All of which is a bit of a digression. Returning to the subject of the cathedral, there have been complaints recently about the construction of a new museum spoiling the view of the big pile. The Museo de las Colecciones Reales has started to emerge in between the royal palace and the cathedral after years when it seemed that they were just going to leave a big fenced-off hole in its place. It doesn't look very pretty, at least not so far, but then given the building that it is partially blocking what's the problem? 

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

How To Download A Good Legal Farce

The internet in Spain, and particularly Twitter, was very lively yesterday as the Spanish government's proposed legislation to control download websites was voted on in the parliament. It didn't go at all well for the government and the final vote was repeatedly postponed as negotiations were held to try and get other parties to support the legislation, known somewhat misleadingly as the Ley Sinde in honour of the culture minister responsible for seeing it through. No other parties volunteered to share the burden, not even the Basque PNV who currently guarantee the government's stability. Things reached such a desperate situation that the government even tried to negotiate with the Partido Popular, whose record on helping the government with its difficulties is not exactly a great one. 

In the end the vote was against the proposed law, although this apparently doesn't mean that the battle has finished. The Senate could still resurrect the proposal, although the governing PSOE has less weight there than it does in the lower house. It was always a misconceived piece of legislation which sought to give administrative powers to a government appointed committee to close down websites. The only judicial intervention was a rubber stamping process from a judge. In reality it was an attempt to permit the industry to circumvent the slowness of the judicial process with a fast-track solution that is simply not available to anyone else who has a grievance they need to resolve. The government made no significant concession of any kind over criticisms of this process, despite the evident room for abuse that it would allow. 

In any case it was an odd manoeuvre to attach the anti-download bill to the Ley de Economía Sostenible. This latter law was, until all decisions affecting Spain's economy were outsourced a few months ago, to be the legislation that pointed the way forward to a bright, productive future for the Spanish economy. How dated such notions seem now that we are stuck in the dark gloom of permanent, markets inspired, crisis. In any case it just didn't fit, a law that was designed to protect the old business model of the entertainment industry had no natural place inside another that was intended to be looking towards the future. 

It didn't help either that the Wikileaks revelations have recently shown quite insistent pressure from the US government on Spain to introduce this kind of legislation on downloads of films and music. This was not what supporters of the law needed. Even so, film director Alex de la Iglesia is well regarded even by critics of the Ley Sinde for getting down into the trenches of Twitter and arguing the case of the industry. Not so well received was the intervention by singer Alejandro Sanz who called Spanish parliamentarians cowards for not approving the legislation. Many were quick to point out that Sanz could always spend less time in Miami and could even pay his taxes in Spain if he wants to participate in political debates here. 

Despite the battle not being over, there is a certain amount of satisfaction amongst critics of the law today with many seeing this as a victory for cyberactivism. The mobilisation on internet has been quite impressive on an issue which unites many users of the web who would not necessarily feel such a close identity of interest on other issues. How much of the success is down to this campaign, and how much is due to the weak position of the government is arguable. The issue hasn't gone away, but perhaps the terms of the debate will now have to change. 

Monday, December 20, 2010

Waiter! There's A Hole In My Opinion Poll Ratings

Taken as a snapshot of current Spanish political opinion, today's opinion poll in Público is not good news for Zapatero's government. The poll gives the Partido Popular a lead of 13 points over the governing PSOE. Any hopes of a rebound in the polls following the recent government reshuffle seem to have vanished quickly, as the market pressure on Spain's economy has returned with a vengeance.

The 13 point advantage for the PP is more than enough to get them into power with an absolute majority in a general election, Aznar won his majority in the year 2000 with a lower advantage over the PSOE than this. It's worth pointing out that this is not because of a significant rise in support for the PP, who on a little over 43% are still only 3 points above what they got in the previous election in 2008. The Spanish electoral system, like the British one, allows parties well short of majority support to win an absolute majority in parliament.

So where are the missing voters if the PSOE is down 13% on its 2008 performance? The answer for the moment seems to be that most of them are heading for abstention, the same circumstance that made that 2000 victory for Aznar seem so overwhelming. Izquierda Unida would hope to pick up disenchanted voters from the PSOE, given that they represent the only national alternative to the neo-liberal economic wave at the moment. To a limited extent they are picking up support, the poll puts them at 7,5%, but this still leaves a significant number of former PSOE voters not currently opting for anyone.

The continuing troubles for the government have revived speculation about the post-Zapatero era, the perception being that Zapatero is now prepared to sacrifice himself on the altar of the never ending crisis. The chances of economic recovery by 2012 get slimmer with every passing week and every deflationary measure imposed on the country. But the prospect of electoral disaster in the 2011 municipal and regional elections is also stirring talk of the general election possibly being brought forward, even though the government's pact with the Basque PNV is working fine and could still see them through for the full term.

There have been some curious movements in the last few days. Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba, seen as the most likely successor to Zapatero, made a trip to Afghanistan. This was odd because he is the interior minister and such visits to the troops are normally seen as the job of defence; or the prime minister. There was speculation that Rubalcaba was displaying his power to defence minister Carme Chacón, who at one time was seen as being Zapatero's favoured successor in the event that he ever gets to exercise that privilege. The fact that Chacón quickly followed Rubalcaba's visit with a trip of her own to Spanish soldiers serving in Lebanon has only created further speculation about a possible power struggle behind the scenes.

None of this definitely means that Zapatero will voluntarily fall on his sword, even though it has long been suspected that he never intended to serve more than two terms. Letting his most highly rated minister (Rubalcaba) take much of the flak gives him some possibility of staying in control and to play off potential rivals against each other. If he really does want to hand over to someone else, then he finds himself unable to walk away on a high note as a winner; always fatal for a politicians ego.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Nepal, Annapurna Circuit....Ghorepani To Tikhedunga

Back at the hotel in Ghorepani following the early morning ascent of Poon Hill we appreciated the warm shower and breakfast before heading out again for the next leg of the trek. Now we were going to be heading downhill, definitively. There would be no more shocks to the system like the climb up to Ghorepani after days of relatively easy descent. We were almost at the end of the trek now and this was to be our last day of 'real' walking.

Leaving Ghorepani we soon found ourselves back in the rhododendron forest that we had climbed through on the other side of the hill. Only on this side the trees were more impressive, huge gnarled and twisting branches stretched high above the path. Being a bit less tired and going downhill we could appreciate our surroundings a bit more. For two hours we walked down a beautiful path through the forest. As we got further down the valley was narrower and the lack of sunlight coming through at times made it seem more like a tropical jungle.

Just as we reached the end of the forest we were rewarded with a slightly closer view of 'Fish Tail' mountain than the one we had earlier that morning on Poon Hill.

As we left the forest behind we started to see more villages and cultivation with wonderful views down the green valley. We stopped for lunch in Ulleri, a fine vantage point and the last village before our destination for the day. The path now mostly consisted of steps, and we had the now familiar sight of flocks of goats and sheep being driven down the path presumably to be sold off at the bottom. To me those little black goats have a sort of Hammer horror satanic look about them. For those coming the other way there was a handy information board about what they might see at the top.

The rest of our route for the day took us down the steps, a bit monotonous but we only had about another hour's walk ahead of us following lunch. From above, the corrugated roofs of Tirkhedunga didn't look very attractive but once we crossed a couple of bridges and got into the village it seemed like a perfect place to stop, surrounded by running water and very lush vegetation. Looking down from the village we could see the last bit of walking that we would do the next day.

I spent a very peaceful afternoon on a terrace by the river in Tikhedunga with a book and a beer, only interrupted by the occasional herd of sheep and goats being forced through the narrow main street of the village. I didn't feel unhappy about getting near the end after two weeks of walking, but nor did I feel in any great hurry to return the bustle of the cities.

View Nepal - The Annapurna Circuit in a larger map

Friday, December 17, 2010

The First Pensions Cut Will Not Necessarily Be The Deepest

When we heard that ominous rumbling noise that happens every time the markets think they can make some more money out of Spain's economic troubles, my assumption was that we would almost immediately get the "pensionazo" - the expected cutback in Spanish state pensions. As it happens, we got another emergency package to keep the sharks at bay for a day or two.

However, we have more or less received the announcement of the first part of the pensionazo. The Pacto de Toledo, the all-party group that meets to make recommendations on pensions, has a majority in favour of extending the period used to calculate the final pension. This is currently set at the last 15 years of someone's working life, and now looks almost certain to be extended to the last 20 years. The great advantage of this kind of measure is that it represents a concealed cut in pensions for many recipients, as the latter years of our working lives are often the ones with the highest salary. At least that's how it worked before the latest neo-liberal tsunami took shape. 

For some the change has already been made. Self-employed autonomos have had the rules changed by earlier legislation to extend the period of final pension contribution. The Pacto de Toledo hasn't for the moment reached any recommendation on delaying retirement age from 65 to 67, as the government has proposed. Despite this, Zapatero has today made it fairly clear from Brussels (where he goes these days to receive his instructions) that this remains the aim of his administration and it's reasonable to expect that the announcement is not far away.

Some people say it doesn't matter that much if the retirement age is delayed, after all don't we all live longer these days? Depends. Apart from the fact that average life expectancy is a poor indicator of the number of people actually receiving pensions, it also hides from view the grimmer realities of social inequality. I read something a few months ago about the differences in average male life expectancy in the UK between those living in Blackpool and those living in the London Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. The difference if I remember correctly, was between 73 years for Blackpool Man compared to 83 for K&C Man. Not bad, an impressive testament to how successive governments have happily made the UK one of the most unequal societies in the developed world. 

Apply to that particular case a two year retirement delay from 65 to 67 and you find that your 73 year old loses a whopping 25% of his retirement time, whilst the 83 year old loses a little over 10%. The life expectancy differences are largely based around social class and guess which one of the two will probably have had a longer working life and paid more years of contributions. Yes, that's right, the one most likely to die first. That's why the retirement age is important and why delaying it contributes even further to increasing inequality. Before we even consider the effect of all the other measures currently being implemented with similar results

On my holiday last week I read a book called The Spirit Level which I throughly recommend as an examination of how inequality has a whole series of disastrous social effects in societies which produce great wealth but only for a select minority. It clearly won't be top of the Christmas wish list for those who are currently leading the offensive against public services, they will just be buying shares in the companies that will build the privately run prisons needed to deal with the consequences of their policies. 

Monday, December 13, 2010

Caipirinhas In The Rain

We managed to escape Madrid just before martial law was declared in Spain's airports and have spent an enjoyable 'puente de diciembre' week in Brazil. It started with a couple of days in Rio de Janeiro. This was my third time in the city and despite the reputation it has for violence and social problems I saw it looking better than the other times. Brazil has done quite well in recent years, thanks to having both generals and a greedy and corrupt right-wing excluded from government. Which is not to say it doesn't have serious problems still, the social divide in Rio is very evident where you can have luxury villas on one side of a street and a favela shanty town on the other.

There are now companies which organise tours of one of the biggest and well-established favelas, it's a trip well worth doing to get an insight into how much of the city's population lives. Another sign of Brazil's progress is the strength of its currency, it's an expensive place to visit at the moment. My first visit was at the end of the 1980's when hyperinflation was crushing living standards and banknotes supposedly bearing the value 100,000 were stamped with the number 100 in attempts to stabilise the currency without printing new money.

I'm something of a minor rain god and I often bring rainfall in impressive quantities to places that I visit. I ended Barcelona's drought a couple of years ago, and last year I even made it snow heavily there. Rio was no exception and on our last night before leaving there was a long and torrential thunderstorm that demonstrated how much they need good drainage on some of the streets. I think the only day it didn't rain was the day we left Brazil, which just proves my point.

After Rio we headed south and discovered another paradise island - Ilha Grande. Once the site of a prison and a quarantine centre for immigrants from Europe, this forest covered island is now mostly protected and is a wonderful low-key tourist destination. From there we headed to the small colonial town of Paraty, not a cheap destination and when I saw the price of our hotel the rain god bowed down in homage before the VISA god. It carried on raining but to the huge amusement of the waiters in the bars we were determined to celebrate our last night with a caipirinha in one of the outdoor terraces, umbrellas in hand to keep us more or less dry. It was warm rain.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

The WikiLeaks Cables And Spain....Interfering With The Course Of Justice

It's not entirely satisfying, the way in which WikiLeaks have chosen to make their hoard of US diplomatic cables available. That a single newspaper should be controlling the release of the cables concerning Spain means that we are dependent on their timescales and priorities. We're not yet at the stage where crowdsourcing information has become part of the Spanish media scene, and El País is publishing information from the cables before any of the original documents are made available.

Nevertheless, there is some interesting stuff in the information that has so far been made available. The content of the released cables will come as something of a disappointment to those who faithfully believe in the independence of the judiciary. It seems that US diplomats in the Spanish capital have managed to cultivate some useful contacts inside the Spanish judicial system and have used these contacts to the full to try and get their way on any judicial process affecting US interests.

The most notable case in this respect has been that involving the death of Spanish television cameraman José Couso in Baghdad. Couso was killed by fire from a US army tank as the American troops advanced into Baghdad during the invasion if Iraq in April 2003. He was in a hotel full of journalists, and which the US army knew to be full of journalists. Not surprisingly the US investigation into the incident found that nothing wrong had been done, but a Spanish judicial investigation led to charges against 3 US soldiers.

The Spanish case is still going, which is nothing short of a miracle when you read the cables from the US embassy in Madrid and realise what forces are stacked against it. That the US government should oppose any attempt to prosecute its soldiers in another country is not news, but the cables reveal that the US has been able to count on key supporters both in Zapatero's administration and from the judicial system. The Spanish attorney general and one of the most senior prosecutors have had meetings with US diplomats where they assured the latter that they would do their best to kill off the Couso case. This could not be done too openly without causing a political storm, and the delightful phrase used in one of the cables is that they would find a way to "quietly terminate" the case.

The Couso case is not the only judicial process to have been affected by pressure from the US embassy. The threat of investigation over the Guantanamo prison camp and the flights run by the CIA has also had them talking to their friends in Spain. The cables published so far also provided an insight into the evolution of relations between the two countries, from the tense years when the US representative was a typical Bush political appointee to the smoother times under the Obama administration. Not that the change of government altered in any way the interference with Spain's judicial system.

It's interesting to note, given the timing of Interpol issuing a warrant for the arrest of the founder of Wikileaks, the attitude of the same organisation concerning the Couso case. Interpol have done all they can to wriggle out of getting involved in bringing the 3 accused soldiers before a court, citing a clause which doesn't allow them to become involved in political or military issues. Not that this clause prevented them, to pick one random example, from becoming heavily involved in the elaborate charade mounted around the death of FARC guerilla leader Raul Reyes. Still, I imagine their involvement in that case didn't count with the opposition of the US government.