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Covering everything from the major news of the week and burning social issues, to expat living and la vida local, EL PAÍS’ team of English-language bloggers offers its opinions, observations and analysis on Spain and beyond.

Spain gets indignant, at last

Por: | 19 de mayo de 2011

 

Sol demonstrators Samuel Sánchez 

“PP and PSOE, they’re both just as pooey!” (PSOE y PP, la misma caca es.) Apologies for the loosely rhyming translation but this slogan and others like it seem to encapsulate the protests taking place this week in Spain’s major cities ahead of nationwide local elections on Sunday.

Yes, unemployment and the economic crisis have clearly brought people’s anger to the surface, but what is fascinating about the nascent Spanish youth democracy movement is that it is not serving the interests of any established political group. It is, and some would say AT LAST, a political movement of young people; it is inclusive, because the great majority of Spaniards are suffering the effects of dysfunctional political and judicial systems; and it does not line up the left in front of the right, but rather the young in front of the old – the latter in this case meaning those who are benefiting from the status quo and whose paternalistic complacency at a time where around 40 percent of young people are unemployed and most of the rest endure exploitative working conditions is finally under attack. Just when they did not want it to be, in the run-up to an election.  

Unemployment and precarious employment on short-term or nonexistent contracts and low pay has been a norm in Spain in recent decades. When I first moved here I was taken aback by the general acceptance among Spain’s middle-class youth of a kind of social contract whereby a period of exploitation was considered part of the rites of passage, and that before you could really plan your life and do things such as get married and maybe start a family, first a kind of apprenticeship period had to be observed. It was like being an intern – but for a whole decade until you reached your early or mid-thirties. In the meantime, you stayed at home as part of another unwritten social contract, where little was spoken in either direction.

The older generation, the one in power, seemed to be trusted to keep this system of slow renewal in place. Then things began to go wrong. First, market forces, fanned by a neoliberal government, saw a pool of cheap labor as a desirable resource that should be maintained and the numbers of temps and fake self-employed workers grew and grew. Meanwhile, property prices took off, pricing a large chunk of society out of the housing market. Then, under the current Socialist government, the wheels fell off what was shown to be a fragile boom thanks to the global credit crunch. Zapatero is right when he says the crash was not his fault; but he had done little to offset the imbalances built in to an economy based largely on construction and low wages.

So what issues have the PP been clashing over since the crisis started in 2008? Mainly, questions such as which judges (progressives or conservatives) should occupy seats in the top courts; what was said to which terrorist and when during ceasefire negotiations with ETA; excluding religion from the school syllabus… In short, a whole series of interesting topics, but hardly ones which are central to the lives of most Spaniards. It might not be all Zapatero’s fault, but to hear the Socialist leader blame today’s unemployment on the policies of Aznar’s 1996-2004 administration is the kind of sterile two-party game-playing which those in need of genuine leadership are sick of. Then there is the fact that corruption is widespread in Spanish politics, but it is hard to hear a politician of any stripe make so plain a statement. Instead, they point to an honorable majority who must not be tarred with the same brush, or cling to the technicality that few are ever convicted of any crime (thanks to the chronic sclerosis in the courts).           

The tone of the current protests reminds me of the tongue-lashing meted out to parliamentarians by Pilar Manjón, the mother of a March 11 victim, when the two major parties were squabbling over the influence the terrorist bombings had had on general elections three days later. “PSOE y PP, la misma caca es.”

And the decision by Madrid’s electoral board to prohibit Wednesday’ gathering in Sol could only serve to strengthen the conviction that politics in Spain is a stitch-up between the two major parties. From such a decision one can only think that either they fear that the message of rejection will spread before Sunday’s ballots and they will lose votes to a broad abstention campaign, or that the red and blue factions simply cannot bear to cede limelight to a gray mass of indignation. The kids in the squares are stealing primetime coverage and spoiling the parties’ meticulously planned parades of ticker tape and chiming anthems.  

So are there, as the BBC has suggested, echoes of Tahrir Square in Madrid’s Puerta del Sol and Barcelona’s Plaça de Catalunya? Well, there are some superficial similarities. The spark of protest has been spread on social networks and can draw on a large mass of well-educated but disaffected youth. Then there is the desire to display maturity in the autonomous organization of litter-cleaning parties and information points where protestors can get legal and technical advice. We are not here just to shout, sing and befoul the square, is the message. But in Tunis and Cairo, the demonstrators occupied the streets until a dictator was removed. These protests are sensibly planned to continue up to Sunday’s elections. The point is not to challenge democracy but to demand better-quality representation. The issues raised by the Real Democracy Now platform are not leftist utopias, but a reminder of how some basic human rights are being abandoned and a demand for an ethical cleansing of Spain's political system. Nothing to get indignant about.  

Photograph by Samuel Sánchez. 

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In Crazy Taxi you are a mad Taxi Driver. Traffic Jams and impatient passengers are part of your everyday life. Rude Customers may even force you to to drive through a red light or pay you a little extra for breaking the speed limit. As always your Taxi has been in the car wash. The leather seats and the dashboard are brightly polished. But today will be a special day in your Taxi driving career.

Your on a 3 lane freeway and your mission is to drive as fast as possible to reach the next checkpoint. Dont waste time as you only have a small time frame to pass each section. If you succeed and pass a section in time a time bonus will be added to your clock. Many classic Arcade Games have been using this idea for many years. You may recall the great Out Run. For information about Crazy Taxi Games which have been released on various console systems and pc you may take a look at Crazy Taxi

But reaching the checkpoints is not as easy as it may seem. Multiple Cars are blocking your way. Sometimes every lane is occupied and there is no way for you to overtake. Furtunately your car is equipped with some extras. Once you press Space-Bar it becomes airborne. This feature lets you jump over cars which are blocking your way.
The difficulty level raises as you pass a checkpoint. More and more cars are getting in your way. You will need some skills to pick the right lanes and jump over other traffic participants.

At the end of the day this really is a very addicting online Game. The difficulty level increases steadily. Everytime you run out of time you will be forced to give the Game another try. Getting more points, reaching the next checkpoint, in short Crazy Taxistill offers a challenge even after many hours played. You may also try Crazy Taxi 2. Maybe you wanna experience more freedom in game, move freely around in a city and perform a good taxi driving job. In this case take a look at City Taxi. If you have some time to waste or you just wanna relax after a hard and frustrating working day playing a funny free online Game, Crazy Taxi should be your first choice.

The Excitement Begins with Crazy Taxi
Gamers will not pass up an exciting game when they see it, no matter how silly it may seem. There are some games that you will need to have a sense of humour in order to play. Some games out there will get your heart pounding with excitement and one of those games is Crazy Taxi. Of course, not everyone likes this video game because everyone is different, but Crazy Taxi has received a lot of good reviews. This video game was first introduced to the arcade by Sega in 1999 and ever since then, it has become a big hit. While the taxi driver may act like he is from New York City, these are not your every day passengers that you see in New York. These passengers seem to have a suicidal note to them. You see, if you do not reach their destination in time, they are going to pounce out of your moving vehicle, without warning. Obviously, they get really upset if you do not reach their destination on time. It must be a mighty important date that is life or death! So, your objective in CrazyTaxi is when a passenger gets in your vehicle, you will be required to drive them to the destination. You will know where to take them because a big green arrow (you cannot miss it) is going to pop up on your screen and point to the destination you need to drive to. When you reach the destination, you will be required to park in a certain zone. Quick, you better hurry!
This game, Crazy Taxi is all about rush and if you do not rush, you will only upset the passenger and lose points. Of course, you should not drive like this in real life and that is what makes this game so fun!
The arcade side of this game has a total of sixty levels to it. Yes, that is a whole lot of levels to rush through, but it is possible to win every single one of them. Some stages are based on California with steep hills. The player will be able to choose from four drivers along with their cabs. Each driver and cab is going to have a different attribute to it. This video game has a neat way of putting out other companies advertisements. You see, the passengers will be able to choose destinations such as Tower Records, Pizza Hut, Kentucky Fried Chicken and Levi's. See, that makes you want some pizza from Pizza Hut, doesn't it? On the side of the Crazy Taxi, there is a WOW! logo on the side. This is a big example of product placement in video games. Because of licensing difficulties these establishments have been replaced with other names that you will not recognize.
In the end, as you play Crazy Taxi and cruise around town in your yellow car, you can count on having a lot of fun. So, who can get the highest score?
In this day and age, with the increase of technology, we now have access to things we normally did not have access to. One of those things would be video games. There are so many different video games out there on various platforms. The one we would like to talk about today is Crazy Taxi. Crazy Taxi was produced by Sega and it was first released during 1999 in arcades. During the year 2000, it was released on the Dreamcast. Acclaim published it on the PlayStation 2 and Nintendo GameCube in 2001. In 2002, Crazy Taxi became available on Microsoft Windows. It was released in 2010 for the PS Network and in 2010 on the Xbox Live Arcade. It has also been featured on the Dreamcast Collection. They are also planning a port for the Zeebo, but currently, there is no release date for that. The feedback to Crazy Taxi has mostly been positive. In fact, this is one of Sega's All Stars. You may also be shocked to learn that on the PlayStation 2, it has earned the status of Greatest Hits and on the GameCube, it has earned the status of Player's Choice. Sega has even made a sequel to this video game called Crazy Taxi 2 for the Dreamcast. The main objective is to pick up customers in your little yellow vehicle. You will then be required to take the customers to their destination as fast as you can. As you could imagine, there is a great deal of heart pounding action in this small, yet large video game. InCrazy Taxi, you can earn in game money by performing stunts. For example, if you miss the other vehicles that come near you, you will be rewarded in game money. A large green arrow will appear on your screen with the individual gets into your vehicle. You will need to follow that green arrow. Take note that it does not adjust based on obstacles, but it does point in the direction of the passengers destination. Once you arrive at that destination, you will need to stop in a certain zone. When the destination has been reached, the fare of the customer will be added to the total money earned. You will also receive ratings. The ratings will all depend on how fast you drove the passenger to his or her destination. If the timer runs out before you are able to meet the customer's destination, the individual is going to jump from your Crazy Taxi. You will be allowed to select your minute settings. You can choose from three, five or ten minutes. If you use the original coin-op version of this video game, you will be playing by the Arcade Rules. The play will continue until the time ends, after that, the car will automatically stop and no points will be given. With the Arcade Rules, the initial time limit will be one minute. You can extend the time as you earn bonuses for fast deliveries. The console version of Crazy Taxi has a mode called Crazy Box, which is a set of minigames packed full of challenges that crazy gamers tend to love.

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Authors (Bloggers)

Chris Finnigan is a freelance journalist based in Barcelona. He writes for Barcelona Metropolitan and is a book reviewer and reader for The Barcelona Review. He is a graduate of the London School of Economics. You can find him on twitter @chrisjfinnigan

Ben Cardew is a freelance journalist, translator and teacher, now resident in Barcelona after growing up gracefully in Scotland via Norwich. He writes for The Guardian, the NME and The Quietus, among others, on everything from music to digital media. You can find him on Twitter @bencardew

Fiona Flores Watson is a freelance journalist, guide and translator who has lived in Seville since 2003, and has been a writer and editor for more than 20 years. She writes for the Guardian, Telegraph and Sunday Times Travel Magazine. Originally from Essex, Fiona is also Consulting Editor of Andalucia.com and has her own blog, Scribbler in Seville. She has been contributing to Trans-Iberian since 2014 and tweets at @Seville_Writer

Jeff Brodsky is a freelance writer. He arrived in Barcelona in 2013 via an admittedly indirect route, living in Chicago, Arizona, Seville, Amsterdam, North Carolina and Madrid. Despite not having stepped foot in Seville for over five years, he still speaks Spanish with an Andalusian accent. Jeff’s writing has been published in newspapers and magazines in America and Europe.

Koren Helbig is an Australian freelance journalist and blogger enjoying a life of near-eternal sunshine in Alicante. She writes for publications in Australia, the United States and the United Kingdom, focusing on stories exploring smart and positive approaches to social issues. She hangs out on Twitter at @KorenHelbig and keeps a selection of her favourite stories at korenhelbig.com.

Julie Pybus lives in a small off-grid house on a hillside in Catalunya. She usually focuses on helping charities and social enterprises with their publications and websites, but has also written for The Guardian, Country Living and The Observer. Julie launched and runs a hyperlocal website which endeavors to increase understanding between the different nationalities in her area perelloplus.com. @JuliePybus

Paul Louis Archer is a freelance photographer, multimedia storyteller and artist educator. A cross-disciplinary worker, who endeavors to encompass the mediums of photography, audio design and writing. Born in Hertfordshire of an English father and Spanish mother. Based in the United Kingdom. @PaulLouisArcher

Vicki McLeod is a freelance writer and photographer. She has lived in Mallorca since 2004. Vicki writes about her beloved island for The Majorca Daily Bulletin, the only daily English language paper in Spain; produces regular columns for the Euro Weekly News, and articles for Spain-Holiday.com. Vicki runs PR strategies for several businesses in Mallorca and London as well as working on her own blogs and projects. She and her husband, Oliver Neilson, supply photo and text content for private clients via @phoenixmediamlr. She tweets at @mcleod_vicki.

Born in Newcastle upon Tyne and based in Barcelona, Alx Phillips writes about contemporary art, dance and theatre in a way that human beings can understand. For more previews, reviews, interviews and extras, check: www.lookingfordrama.com.

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