When Bulls Attack

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PAMPLONA, Spain: Hemingway's favorite festival, the weeklong drinking-and-bullfighting binge known as San Fermin, has claimed yet more victims. One man died Thursday when he plunged off a wall; another is in serious condition after a bull trampled on his head; a third was gored in the leg by a bull that had rid himself of his rubber horn protectors. Add to that the casualty list of head and jaw injuries earlier in the week, and you have one of the bloodiest San Fermins since -- well, since the last life was claimed in 1995.

The festival's daily routine of allowing all comers to run in front of the bulls on their way into the ring is infamous. Less well known, and more controversial, is that once the runners are in the arena, tradition and a bloodthirsty crowd demand that each bull be let back out of the corral for a second crack at the humans. Participants are then expected to whack the beast's behind with a rolled-up newspaper. It is this display, not the initial run, that causes the most reckless injuries: On Monday alone, this correspondent witnessed a young Croatian being knocked unconscious in a graphic display of El Toro's fury. Most of the victims, of course, are foreigners; as long as travel agencies continue to offer Club Med-style package tours to one of the most dangerous parties on earth, it will stay that way.