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Location: Minneapolis, MN

Dempsey is a Golden Retriever puppy who is in training to become a Helping Paws service dog for an individual with a physical disability. He lives with his parents Doreen and Paul, and Bailey the cat. None has ever trained a puppy before. These are their adventures. The views and opinions expressed in this blog are strictly those of the blog author. The contents of this blog have not been reviewed or approved by Helping Paws, Inc.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Remembering 9/11

This year, for our annual Thanksgiving trip to Europe, Doreen and I are going to Barcelona. Located on the Mediterranean coast, Barcelona is Spain's second largest city. It's supposed to be a vibrant, cosmopolitan city, and one of the big economic engines driving Spain's growth.

It's also the capital of the Catalan Autonomous Region, one of 17 autonomous regions of Spain. In September, the Catalan parliament passed a new constitution declaring Catalonia not just an autonomous region of Spain, but a "nation." Following a heated debate in Madrid, the proposals passed, which some Catalan politicians see as the first step to full independence from Spain.

Independence seems to be a long-held dream of many Catalonians. Until the end of the War of Spanish Succession in 1714, Catalonia was an independent nation. The day that Catalonia fell to Spanish troops -- September 11 -- is still commemorated in Catalonia as the National Day of Catalonia. (Scroll down to read the text in English.)

The Catalan separatist movement is just one of many in Spain. The Basques have the best-known (and most violent) movement, and there is also the Galician separatist movement. All this talk of separatism strikes many Americans as weird, but it does make you think. If the Catalonians are still itching for independence nearly 300 years later, what's the future like for Iraq? Bush's claim that "old patterns of conflict in the Middle East can be broken" by invading Iraq seems naive at best, utterly and hopelessly stupid at worst.

But don't worry. Catalonia is certainly no Iraq; it's not even as dangerous as the Basque regions. And there are lots of advantages to visiting such a region. The biggest safety threat, from what I can tell, are pickpockets.

Doreen and I will be staying at the Hotel Alimara, and you can reach us there if there's an emergency. We'll be seeing lots of modernisme architecture, the monastery at Montserrat, and the fabulous gay beach at Sitges, among other things. Stay tuned!