Floods - information, and water too

It's been an amazing week or so for news, wherever you live in the world, and even more so for those of us who call Spain our home. Julian Assange was arrested in London, refused bail and put in prison, after his company, Wikileaks, released 250,000 classified documents sent by US diplomats which have embarrassed governments all over the world (my personal favourite was that Gadafi is a hypocondriac who is obsessed with Botox), even if the content of most of them didn't come as much of a surprise. His arrest was on a charge unconnected to "cablegate", as it's known. An internet battle is now waging, with hackers crippling Mastercard, Visa and PayPal websites in retaliation for them dropping their services in collecting donations on Wikileaks' own website. Then, last Friday, Spanish air traffic controller pulled a fast one - they all walked out in a wild-cat strike which caused the shut-down of Spanish air space. This was on the eve of a five-day puente, long weekend. It is estimated that 600,000 travellers were affected, at a cost of 400 million euros in financial terms, and untold damage to the international image of Spain as a holiday and business destination. As usual, the media coverate focused 90% on local Spanish going to visit their families is other parts of the country, and foreign tourists barely got a look in. As I write this, President Zapatero is explaining and justifying to parliament why he declared a state of emergency on Friday night, allowing the Spanish air force to take over the air traffic control towers, so that the planes could take off again. Public feeling is firmly against the controladores, as people who earn more than 300,000 euros a year objecting to a paycut (one of the reasons for their strike) is not going to attract much sympathy from a population of whom 20% have no job. On a more local scale, severe flooding affected Andalucia this week. The western part of the region suffered torrential rain and storms, especially Cordoba and Sevilla provinces. The centro historico of Ecija was inundated when the river Genil burst its banks, caused hundreds of thousands of euros' worth of damage to the 18th-century houses and places. This town in the CampiƱa of Seville province is more normally known as "the frying pan of Spain", for its excessively high temperatures in summer time. More flooding, this time the mighty Guadalquivir in Lora del Rio, caused hundreds of families to flee their homes. Andujar and Marmoleo in Jaen were also affected. In Huelva, the river Odiel burst its banks. A week of dramatic news, not always for the best reasons; let's hope the pace slows and things calm down in the lead-up to Christmas. The good news is, the reservoirs have enough water for the next 3.5 years.
Blog published on 9 December 2010