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Web Log Archive

Postings 136 to 140

Log #140. SIMO - The International Fair of Computing, Multimedia and Communications

Gafas Multimedia.The largest digital expo in Spain opened its doors yesterday. 570 companies are exhibiting but no real heavyweight product announcement this year (last year we had the Spanish launch of Windows Vista). Instead, the vibe is of lots of little new funky multi-media applications, such as the Toshiba multimedia glasses (pictured) that can show photos, videos and have little speakers for your music files. Other favourites on display were the iPod Touch, the 'eco computer' (built from 90% recycled material) and a terrific 'tactile' digital blackboard that projects a multimedia presentation onto any wall which you can then annotate or manipulate using a laser pen.

The show is also being hosted virtually on Second Life, so if you 'bump' into it (snigger, snigger) you can see some of the exhibitors and items mentioned above.

Log #139. WTA Championships

¡Hola! ¿Qué Tal? After the men last week, now its the ladies turn to play tennis, and in fairness to gender equality, the ball boys will be male models who will serve as ballboys. Last year, at a well-publicized event, Maria Sharapova helped handpick a few, testing which ones were quick on their feet by asking them: "who's your favorite tennis player?" and one slow-witted candidate who gave someone else's name was rejected.

Defending champion and world number one Justine Henin has been drawn alongside world number three Jelena Jankovic, former winner Serena Williams and emerging Russian youngster Anna Chakvetadze in the yellow group for the round-robin phase of the season ending $3 million tournament that starts Tuesday. World number two Svetlana Kuznetsova, French Open finalist Ana Ivanovic, 2004 winner Maria Sharapova and Daniela Hantuchova make up an all East-European red group.

After the round-robin phase the top two in each group will go on to meet in a Saturday semi-final and the final on Sunday. Who can stop Henin?

Log #138. First Reactions To Bombers Sentencing

Following the announcements of the verdicts handed out this morning to the Madrid bombers, the local TV, radio and newspaper web sites have all been going over the trial, the sentencing and the public reactions to both.

What is most clear is how angry the majority of the victims and their relatives feel. Apart from a couple of people who indicated they would now like to draw a line under the whole, terrible, event, most are not happy at all and have vowed to appeal over what they see as the trial court's lenient treatment of some of the accused. One victim's relative said there had been too few guilty verdicts for such a horrible crime. Isabel Presa, who lost her youngest son in one of the blasts, said: "It has destroyed my life, it has condemned me and my husband to a life sentence, and these people get off scot-free." The president of a victims' association, Pilar Manjon, who lost her 20-year-old son in the attacks, said: "We are going to appeal against this mistake. I don't like to see killers walking free." Maria Jose Guttierez, a Spaniard who lost her sister in the bombings, said: "There are far too few guilty verdicts for such a horrible crime."

Tomorrow is All Saints Day - a public holiday - and we will have the analysis from all the main newspapers and their scribes to digest.

Log #137. Madrid Bombers Sentenced to 40,000 Years

Today, in a court on the outskirts of Madrid, three men were convicted of murder for their part in the Madrid train bombings - Europe's worst Islamic terror attack. The bombers, who killed 191 people, were given symbolic sentences of more than 39,000 years each. However, under Spanish law they will only serve a maximum of 40 years in jail.

Two Moroccan men Jamal Zougam, 33, and Othman Gnaoui, 32, were both found guilty of planning and carrying out the attacks on four commuter trains on March 11, 2004. A former Spanish miner, Jose Emilio Suarez Trashorras, 30, was found guilty of supplying the explosives used in the blasts and was also sentenced to almost 40,000 years. A total of 18 other people were found guilty of involvement in the bombings and given lesser sentences. Seven defendants were cleared of all charges including one of the alleged key masterminds, the Egyptian Rabei Osman Sayed Ahmed, 35, who is serving a prison sentence in Italy after he was convicted of belonging to an international terrorist group.

It had taken four months of deliberations by a panel of three judges and the decision was announced by chief judge Javier Gomez Bermudez shortly after 11.30 am. He spent 40 minutes reading a summary of the 600 page judgement then announced the verdicts and sentences of each of the accused. Amid high security the 28 accused sat impassively in a bullet proof glass chamber within the National Court on the outskirts of Madrid. Survivors and the relatives of victims who died in the blast gathered at the courthouse to hear the long-awaited decision. As well as handing down the verdicts the judge announced compensation ranging from 30,000 (21,000) to 1.5 million for victims and ruled out the participation of armed Basque separatist group Eta in the attack. Now the accused will appeal and we go into round 2.

Log #136. Frente Nacional Have A Demonstration

Frente Nacional supporters marching behind their banner. On occasional Sundays Madrid-Uno likes to go down to the area around Ibiza metro station and partake of a fried-squid sandwich (bocadillo de calamares) which is the local version of the bacon sandwich - yummy, greasy, good for filling the stomach after a night on the tiles. But today the normal route to the cafeteria was blocked off. Supporters of the Spanish National Front (Frente Nacional) were having a March and the police were controlling the streets.

It wasn't such a big turn out - I estimated maybe a couple of thousand - and it didn't have the same menacing air of say a BNP demo, but the Frente's ideology is clear enough from the banner pictured, which says, "A strong hand against the convicted - streets and parks for respectable people." What they're banging on about here is the perceived problem with immigrants, drug dealers and the policing of local barrios.

The Frente has had numerous financial problems and has struggled to survive during a period of economic stability in Spain. This demo was occasioned by its latest re-birth (they've got a new logo and a new executive committee) but it continues to be run by the same leaders as before and attracts people who hark back to a Spain under Franco, characterised by law and order and, let's face it, absence of foreigners.

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