By Ray Fleming

Very Good News
It seemed to come out the blue. After years of complaints, protests, lobbying, frustration, promises, expectations, cynicism and ultimately disillusion -- suddenly, with almost no warning at all, the Bulletin could put “Victory” on its front page to announce that the Spanish government had undertaken to restore the old style residence card for British and other EU foreign nationals living in Spain.
At the same time we shall be able to enjoy tearing up and burning its useless green substitute, a symbol if ever there was one of meaningless bureaucracy.
How did this welcome change come about? As usual, while most of us have been moaning about the inconvenience of losing the residence card others have been working steadily through the local and international political systems to identify where the necessary decisions for reform could be made. The Bulletin’s editor Jason Moore paid tribute to the “hard work by Kate Mentink of the Balearic government and Europeos por Espana and to Angie Guerrero of the Calvia Council who was instrumental in getting the Council to carry a motion calling for the return of the old style cards”.
He was also entitled to mention the role of this newspaper which has kept the issue in front of public attention while ensuring that no British MP or other influential person visited the Bulletin over recent years without being briefed fully on the need for the residence card to be brought back. As in all such matters there is still some administrative tidying-up to be done but the confident expectation is that the new residence cards will be introduced next Autumn.

Vietnam Thanksgiving
Thanksgiving on 28 November was as usual celebrated by the American community on Majorca although, in a sign of the times, only one restaurant advertised its special dinner whereas in days past half-a-dozen or more would do so. In the Bulletin’s page 2 “Headlines in the last 50 years” a report in 1966 from the Vietnam War was headlined “Hill 875 Taken -- Thanksgiving Dinner is Served” and read as follows: “US paratroopers fought through bursting mortars and grenades and machine-gun fire to take this central highlands hill after a five-day battle in which 107 Americans were killed. North Vietnamese troops were finally dislodged after non-stop bombing and napalm attacks by US Air Force planes. Lt Col Johnson said, “It’s Thanksgiving and we are going to serve our traditional turkey and cranberry sauce on the top of this hill.” The report ended with a quote from Cpl Hale of Buffalo, New York, “i lost a lot of buddies and I don’t think it was worth it.””

Views on President Bauza
l Balearic President Bauza continued to attract the attention of the Bulletin’s columnists. Last week he gave answers to a number of questions put to him by Gerry Mulligan who said that he had found the responses “enlightening”.
A week later, in a column titled, “The Further Rise of Jose Ramon Bauza/ Andrew Ede drew attention to the President’s recent international travels and an appearance on a Madrid TV programme The Interview: “The sudden emergence of dynamic man-about-the-international-scene Bauza inevitably leads some to suggest that he is being measured up for a suit with more than just a Majorcan style.”
The implication that Bauza has ambitions beyond the Balearics was clear as was the quoted comment of an opposition member of parliament, Biel Barcelo, that “You put your political career in Madrid before the needs of the Balearic people.”

Casinos Limit?
If my memory serves, it took several years for the location of Majorca’s first casino to be chosen and recently it has moved from its rather remote site to Palma where it had wanted to be in the first place. Now two more casinos are being talked about and causing some political difficulties. It is likely that a second house will open at the old Teatre Balear in Plaza Olivar next year but a dispute has arisen within the Partido Popular party government because of some preferences for the Playa de Palma. The solution, of course, would be a third casino on the Playa -- but does Palma really need three casinos within striking distance of each other?

Local Rugby
l Cricket now flourishes on Majorca as the Bulletin reports regularly in season but local rugby is a relative newcomer to the sports pages.
A full page of teams, results, fixtures and photographs each Wednesday gives the impression of a sport with an increasing following in the Balearics. There are Seniors, Under 18 and Under14 leagues as well as a Girls Rugby VIIs. Clubs frequently mentioned include El Toro, Pollensa, Ponent, Dimonis, Corsaris, Ibiza, Truc Menorca and sides from the mainland.

Birds or TV?
l I can’t find a definition for “murmuration” in my Oxford English dictionary but I am quite ready to accept Michael Montier’s assurance that it is  something “magnificent” in his Wild Majorca page on Tuesday, thus: “Then just over the horizon I spot the murmuration heading my way. I just can’t believe the size of the flock which the experts say is between half and one million birds.
Who am I to argue as I am certainly not going to try counting them.” Montier was describing his second evening alone watching the magnificent assembly of starlings near the s’Albufera reserve -- and feeling sorry for all the people settled in front of their televisions when they could be seeing “this extraordinary event.”
    
In Brief
There may be strikes by staff at Palma’s refuse and water board over
Christmas and Easter and, again and indefinitely, from 15 June, if no agreement in reached on staff levels and with the EMAYA management over policies.
Of the 105,600 people currently out of work in the Balearics almost 30 per
cent are aged over 45 and 70 percent of them have been unemployed for more
than two years.     
A study by National Geographic predicted that the Balearics will be under water in 5,000 years if, as seems possible, all the world’s ice has melted. Some opinion questions this forecast and says the islands will be under water in December 2013 if the rain does not stop soon.

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